5 Lessons Learned in 2016
This year has been a real eye opening one for me. I feel like I've learned and grown so much that now when I look back at the start of this year, I barely recognise myself. I'm genuinely so proud of just how far I've come, and because of this thought it would be nice to share the five biggest lessons that helped me in, and will stick with me from, 2016.
Make time for yourself
I have finally come to realise how taking time for myself isn't wasted time. In fact it is the opposite. It's so important to spend time on yourself and doing what you love, to relax, re-inspire, rejuvenate and recuperate; all in order to live a healthier lifestyle. Instead of watching the clock, distracted by the idea that my time could be better spent working, I feel like I've done so much more. Learning that spending a couple of hours watching movies, tucking up in bed early to read or indulging in time to create (whether that be wandering outside taking photos or cosying up in a cafe to write) isn't wasting time, has truly been the gift that keeps on giving!
Talk it out
Situations that involve any sort of conflict or confrontation aren't ones I approach willingly. I've always been one to keep my feelings to myself and just let things slide. This has not only meant I have let people walk all over me, but it has led to me developing unhealthy grudges towards all sorts. It wasn't until I was in a situation where there wasn't an opportunity to talk things out, that I realised I can't anticipate change (from an event or person) if I don't communicate my feelings or create the opportunity for change.
My motto for this has become:
I can't do anything, about anything, I don't know anything about
- and I now see that this works the other way around too. With this in mind, instead of expecting the worst and biting my tongue, I went with my gut and bit the bullet instead. Opening up and telling people how they had made me feel offered closure in one instance, and a reestablished friendship in another. Finding the situation to be a lot more positive and a lot less explosive than feared, has made me feel more confident in sharing my feelings and concerns in the future to progress, rather than letting problems escalate.
Mental illness does not define me
After so long of believing unhealthy habits I had built up and fallen into over the years were just part of who I am, it was freeing to learn I was suffering with two undiagnosed mental illnesses that explained
. Diagnosis let me learn more about the illnesses and myself, as well as distinguish between the two, which has helped me progress quite staggeringly in a relatively short space of time. After being affected by these illnesses for years, and now having the awareness and means to lead positive change, it's been liberating to realise that they don't define me. There is so much more to me than they make me feel or cause me to believe, even if they have masked those facts in the past. I am in control and I will continue to get better, and better, and better!
The importance of friendship
It's true what they say about real friends. You don't have to talk every day, or for weeks, months or even years, but if you can pick up right where you left off, that's saying something about the strength of your relationship. Especially when you can talk about your fears, your health, your secrets and call each other out without there ever being any form of detrimental backlash.
During my time at university when my mental health was at its worst, I lost contact with so many people as I shelled up and consequently cut people off. Sucking it up and reaching out to those I sorely missed allowed for me to experience the saying first hand. I'm so incredibly lucky to have the friends I do, as well as the friends I've made online this year, and I love them all so dearly. Big shout outs to Luke, Steph, Emma and Kelsey in particular. You've all been so supportive and I'm so grateful for you all. So thank you, and here's to all the adventures we'll get up to next year!
There is a lesson in everything
This may seem like a cop out for my final lesson, but this has been one of the most valuable things I have ever come to realise. Whether I've experienced something awful or incredible, being able to find a lesson in it has made every single thing completely worthwhile. Everything ALWAYS happens for a reason. Even if the lesson or reason isn't always apparent at first, particularly in the case of bad experiences, with time and the opportunity to think deeply, they will always reveal themselves in the end. Because, as the quote goes, "Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end."