2018 was the best year of my life. It was filled with love, career growth, and friendship. I felt comfortable sharing every bit my personal highlight reel on Instagram. While those posts tell part of the story, they leave out the moments of heartache, failure, and loneliness. Ironically, those were the moments that brought me enough humility and self-awareness to become closer to the person I want to be. I’ve found that on the other side of hardship and mistakes is self-discovery. Here are the lessons I left off Instagram in 2018.
1. Life isn’t black and white.
I used to think life could be boiled down to a predictable script. To be healthy, I had to eat perfectly and exercise like a maniac. To be a hard worker, I had to stay late and produce the most. To be a good person, I had to never have a bad or jealous thought. Whenever I fell short of “good,” whether it was something small like eating a cookie or something big like getting in a fight with a friend, I would think I was all bad. But the truth is life is too complex to categorize. It will never be all good or all bad. Life doesn’t have a script, and there are a million different shades of gray in every person and situation. You don’t have to be perfect, and neither does anyone else in your life.
2. Feel everything. Act wisely.
I still remember a dear friend telling me during a fight, “You don’t have to apologize. You are entitled to your feelings.” I wish she had also told me that there are some words you can’t take back. We are still friends, but our relationship is much more guarded than it was before I said hurtful things. While it is true that you can’t control your feelings, it is also true that you don’t have to let your feelings control your actions. No matter how powerful or true an emotion feels, give it space and time to pass. I am not advocating for bottling up emotions. I am advocating for processing your feelings, allowing them to move through you, and recognizing that you are not your emotions.
3. Love is an inside job.
For most of my life, self-worth came externally. It would rise and fall based on how someone perceived me in a given moment. I was unsteady, and eventually, the relationships and things I looked toward to define me fell apart. In 2018, I resolved to look inward. Was I living with integrity? Did I love myself? At the end of the day, you are the only person that can save you from yourself. Love won’t fully touch your heart until you love yourself.