Part of my New Year’s tradition is to develop a list of things I’ve learned throughout the past twelve months. Each year is different and filled with unique challenges and opportunities, and it’s nice to look back and think about what I’ve learned throughout the process.
2017 was no exception. Personally, it was a year of massive change on many levels, capped off with the birth of my first child. And for America as a whole, it was a shit show of a year with natural disasters, social issues, and political drama at every turn.
But despite these challenges, 2017 taught me a great deal about life and the part I hope to play in it. Here are just some of the things I’ve learned over the course of this crazy year:
You will never, ever be ready.
Stop waiting for the perfect moment. Stop waiting to feel prepared. Take a deep breath and make the leap. Take the risk. The anticipation of the thing is often worse than the thing itself. Waiting for ready is just another form of procrastination.
Always give an additional 10%.
It’s usually not that hard and people will always remember it. It’s true what they say- going the extra mile is never crowded.
Your relationship with your body is allowed to change.
Self-love doesn’t mean constant adoration. Sometimes it just means quiet acceptance.
The best things in life are not planned.
Meeting the love of your life, finding your tribe, pursuing your passions. These things are not scheduled or brainstormed or analyzed. They are seeds that have already been planted inside of you. The things that are meant for you have always been meant for you. You cannot plan your way into your destiny. And you can’t screw yourself out of it either.
Do not abandon yourself.
Stop assuming the worst. Stop taking the blame when it is not yours to take. Trust in the person you have become, in the life that you’ve created. Love yourself fiercely.
Take the time to do the things your soul loves.
Music, books, nature, travel. You cannot afford to live a life void of inspiration.
Do not settle.
Remember that it’s easier to walk away from a horrible thing than to leave a good situation that no longer feels right. Trust your gut and honor your instincts. Otherwise you’ll end up in a picture-perfect version of someone else’s life.
When life takes your breath away, let it.
Soak up the goodness. Practice the fine art of letting yourself be really and truly happy. Stop waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Treat people like people.
This applies to everyone you encounter- your boss, the janitor, your second cousin, the Trump supporter on the internet. Recognize and honor the humanity in everyone.
You have to choose faith over fear every. single. day.
Fear will steal your joy. Fear will steal your dreams. Fear will steal it all if you let it. The secret to conquering fear is to choose faith instead. Choose to become a person who sees the light instead of the darkness.
Be informed about the world around you.
You are an active participant, and what you say counts just as much as the next person. But don’t let other people tell you how to feel. Few issues are truly black and white, and you’re allowed to carve out your own spot somewhere in the middle. Your voice is unique and powerful simply because it’s yours. Use it.
You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.
You really and truly don’t.
Celebrate all the things.
Put forth the extra effort to make things feel special. Honor your achievements big and small. Host the parties. Make the dinners. Create the traditions. You won’t regret it.
Grace is a beautiful thing.
Give it everyone, especially yourself. No matter how old you turn, you’re still learning. You are always a student. Cut yourself some slack and slather on the grace. We’re all a work in progress.
There’s profound joy to be found in hard times…
…just like there is pain and sorrow mixed in with happy occasions. Look for the joy amongst the pain, and honor the discomfort in the easy. Emotions tend to blend into each other and as soon as you can accept that, the better off you’ll be.
Keep moving forward.
Take baby steps. Life changes slowly and then all at once. Just don’t remain stagnant. You don’t have to know where the road leads to start moving forward, just put one foot in front of the other.
Remember that life should be enjoyed more often than not.
This year, this month, this day, this moment even, is a true gift. Enjoy it.
Jillian is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty on Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click here.