3 Huge Forever Lessons That 2016 Taught All Of Us

Caleb Frith
Caleb Frith

Closing in on 2016, I have to say I’m happy to see it go. I don’t like to rush the time away, but this year has exhausted itself. 2016 brought challenges across the board, and surprising turns of events. Who would’ve thought that the death of a gorilla and everyone freezing randomly on video would be some of the biggest trends this year?

If you asked me at the beginning of this year how I imagined 2016 to go, I would be wrong about more than half of the things I said. As much damage as this past year did, there was some good woven in the warpath.

There were blessings and lessons to be had around every corner, and hope for better tomorrow’s. I felt inspired by the people in my life all the time, old and new, and I’m more than thankful for that. 2016 presented a lot of opportunities for learning and growth, even more so than intended.

1. Be kind

A lot of mornings on the walk to work from my parking lot, I pass by an somewhat elderly man cleaning the windows of a hotel. Every time I see him, we exchange the ‘good morning, how are you’s’ and go about our days.

After a couple months of doing this, one day after our usual greeting he stops me with a grin to say that I’m one of the few that walks by him and actually responds to him, and that he greatly appreciates it. As I walked away, I heard him whistling while getting back to his usual routine.

Skin color, income, gender, sexuality. They define us, but at the end of the day we are all human beings. I know that it seems like such a simple statement, but we forget it so easily in times of conflict and anger.

You don’t know what anyone is going through behind closed doors, and often times you don’t know their story. Be open to others, because you might find that you have more in common than you think. People are always capable of more than you assume. We are full of surprises—it’s one of the best things about us.

Never forget that you make more of an impact on people, even complete strangers, than you realize. So be kind, always—you never know when you’ll make someone’s day.

2. Trust the journey

Since the 7th grade, I had a specific dream in mind. I was going to go to NYU, get a degree in Journalism, and land a job at Cosmopolitan magazine. Well, I ended up doing almost the polar opposite—I went to a college essentially in the middle of nowhere, and currently still live at my childhood home postgrad working at a marketing job in the nearby city.

It’s easy to ask the question, ‘what went wrong?’ I’d be lying if I said the thought didn’t cross my mind a few times over the years.

I’m a full supporter of having dreams—they are what keeps your fire alive, and sometimes the very thing that keeps you going in periods of darkness. But what they forget to tell you about dreams is that life just happens. It has a way of blowing out the candle, challenging you to rethink almost everything you’ve ever believed in.

Sure, it can be discouraging. My 15-year-old self would probably have a quick meltdown if she foresaw my current 22-year-old situation. But what I would say to her, as I’m saying to whoever is reading this, is to please trust in the journey. From the blind leading the blind, I’m here to tell you that it’s OK.

Life isn’t supposed to be rushed. It’s meant to be lived, taken in day by day. The big moments, the laughs, the trips down beaten paths—they are all supposed to happen, to be a part of the puzzle that will be completed however many years down the road.

Things might not be going exactly the way you want to right now. Hell, you might be thinking that everything is a complete and utter train wreck.

Whenever you find yourself dwelling on it, remind yourself that everything is happening for a reason. Take a breath—I promise that you will get to where you need to go in no time.

3. Don’t lose yourself

Life often presents us with choices that we don’t want to make. They’re the decisions that could potentially change everything. While you try to turn the other cheek for as long as you can, these things unfortunately can’t be avoided forever.

When it comes to relationships, a lot of times we end up making a choice based on our hearts rather than what the voice in our head is telling us to do. In my experience, your subconscious usually is the trustworthy choice of the two.

The more you love someone, the more you tend to put this person before yourself. Maybe it’s because you fear losing them, or that you could end up saying too much.

But if you don’t speak up, you will inevitably lose yourself in the silence. Things could go great, orrr not so great. But it will be a fit if it’s supposed to be. Fair warning if things go South: it will hurt. But it’s only going to hurt because it matters.

As scary as it seems, you need to do what you is truly best for you. When it’s all said and done, you are your first priority no matter what. Don’t ever lose sight of that.

I hope that 2017 brings everyone more joy than pain. I hope you love harder, dream bigger, and fall on your face once or twice more. Take plenty of risks, even if it ends in regret. And if/when you find yourself really wanting french fries, you better put down the goddamn salad and go get some.

So see ya in a few, 2017. I can’t wait to see what’s up this sleeve. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Related

More From Thought Catalog