10 Things This Year Taught Me About People, Life, And Letting Go

I believe everything happens for a reason. I believe we go through such dark moments in life only to better appreciate the light once we find it. I believe we go through heartache and loss, but it is only to create space for new people to come into our lives. I believe you truly are exactly where you are supposed to be; even if you may not immediately understand why, eventually it all makes sense. 2019 was certainly a year filled with amazing moments, memories I’ll never forget and ones I wish I could. I learned so much about the people in my life, the people who left it, and who I am as a person.

1. Forgiveness is the best gift you can give to yourself.

Holding on to anger, pain, regrets, and sadness does no good for the mind, body, or the soul. By learning to forgive yourself and forgive those who have hurt you, you’re allowing yourself to continue to grow as a person. We all make mistakes, we all have said things in the heat of the moment that we didn’t mean, and we all have something we regret or wish we did differently. Even if you don’t feel as though they deserve it, forgive someone for your own peace of mind. Forgive them so you can release the pain they caused and move on. Forgive yourself and take it all as lessons learned so your future self knows better.

2. Acceptance takes time.

You have to try your best to focus on the things you CAN control, not the things, people, or situations you can’t. I know sometimes this is easier said than done, but you really have to stop and ask yourself what you’re in control of in a situation and what you can do to help make it better—and sometimes, that may mean doing nothing at all or adjusting your mindset. You can’t control the opinions others have of you; you can’t control how they choose to treat you, their attitudes, or their outlook on life. You must remember, you’re not responsible for the actions of others or circumstances that are beyond your control. What you can control is how you respond. You can control how you want to handle bad situations (ruminate or learn from it) and who you choose to surround yourself with (positive people or unkind humans).

Accepting things for the way they are frees you from carrying unnecessary weight on your shoulders and frees you from the shackles of endless frustration from trying to change situations or people that you simply cannot change. Release your grip, take a deep breath, roll with it, make changes for yourself when you need to, and take it all as a learning experience. Practicing acceptance will also release you from feeling like you could or should have done more and will help you come to terms with recognizing that whatever happens, happens.

There will be times when life feels like it’s spinning out of control, but if you learn to accept the bumps in the road, accept yourself, and understand your needs, you’ll realize everything happens for a reason, even if you may not know what that reason is right now.

3. Set boundaries for people who create negative energy in your life.

Some people are unhappy with their own lives and they tend to take it out on those closest to them. Don’t be someone’s punching bag. Take the space you need for yourself. You may really care for a toxic person and be unsure about removing them from your life completely, and that’s okay. Just be sure to have those boundaries set and stick to them. It’s okay to take your space—you don’t have to talk to them or see them every day, and you also don’t need to be available to them 24/7. If they can’t respect your boundaries, you may have to eventually cut off communication.

It’s 100% okay to let go of toxic people, regardless of them being close family or long-time friends. Just because someone is blood does not mean you owe them anything, especially if they’re harming your mental health. Your well-being comes first. If someone is overstepping their bounds and has unrealistic or extreme expectations from you, it is okay to step back and take a break from that person. Maybe during that time, they’ll re-evaluate the way they treat you and learn how to better respect you and your boundaries.

4. No matter how hard you try, you will never be able to please everyone.

People come with their own set of thoughts and opinions—attempting to find what makes all of those people with all of those different preferences happy is exhausting and often a recipe for disaster and pure stress. You can (and should) definitely make an effort to try and create some happiness for the people in your life who you love and care for most, especially those who you know would do the same for you or will be appreciative of your efforts and your kindness.

Also remember, you’ll never be able to make a person who is internally unhappy happy. It just doesn’t work that way. No matter how much good you do for them, how much support or love you give them, or how many times you’ve showed them you care, it most likely will never be enough in their eyes. These are the people who only focus on what you don’t or haven’t done for them, rather than all you have done. They have no sense of appreciation, and that may be because they’re so unknowingly lost in their own issues. They probably don’t even notice how unhappy they are or that they’re projecting and taking things out on you. If they want to view life through such a negative lens, let them. You’re only growing your karmic energy by doing selfless things for others and by being the bigger person, whether they ever notice it or not. And at the end of the day, their battle is within themselves, not with you.

5. You will lose friends as you grow older.

I’ve been learning to accept this as a part of life and a sign that you’re maturing. The older you get, the more you start realizing who has your back, who makes an effort to be in your life, and who never really had your back in the first place. Your twenties and thirties are a time when you and your friends are all at different points in your lives. Some are getting married and settling down, some have kids, some are buying a house and landing that dream job, while others are still living at home or just trying to figure out which path to take—and all of these are entirely okay and part of the journey. Everyone’s path is different.

But this is what happens: friends start to disconnect if their responsibilities and values have changed or if they’re on greatly differing paths. If you have a baby, you won’t be out at the bar as much (or hardly at all) with your party friend, and if you’re partying all the time, chances are you don’t want to hear about how your girl pal can’t go to the club tonight because she has work in the morning. This isn’t the case with true friends, though, and this is how you begin to learn exactly who those are. True friends, regardless of where they are in life or what’s going on in their world, will always be there for you, no matter what.

This is also the age when people may start to resent you for your growth and happiness until they decide to do the same for themselves. Focus on yourself and your own life, and those you truly love you and want the best for you will be nothing but excited to be by side through those joyful moments.

The haters will probably further distance themselves from you and will start giving you some weird vibes. They might even leave your life altogether without any real explanation. Or it may have even turned into an argument that got out of hand and you haven’t spoken since. They may be gaslighting or manipulating you to make you feel as though you did something wrong or try to paint you as a bad person when you’re not. Whatever happened, let the resentful ones go, even if it hurts—especially if they aren’t willing to hear you out or see your side. They need to work on finding themselves before they can ever be happy for anyone else. They might have been put in your life simply to teach you a lesson that needed to be learned.

Life is too short—make sure you spend it surrounded by people who make you laugh, support you, sincerely care about you, and who make you feel loved.

6. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone.

Live your life, focus on you and bettering yourself each and every day, do your best, do some good, care for others, continue to discover who you are, and live to be your true self. There are times to speak your mind and times when silence is much more powerful. Follow your heart in these situations and do whatever will bring you a sense of peace. Don’t hold things in out of pride or fear, but also don’t say things you don’t mean just to try and get back at someone.

Some people only want to see things from their perspective and never make an attempt to put themselves in someone else’s shoes or hear someone out. No matter what you say to people like this, they’ll never try to understand or see where you’re coming from. You must learn to be okay with people not knowing your side of the story. If they aren’t willing to hear it anyway, then why waste your energy and effort on them?

7. No matter how much we worry, things tend to have a way of working themselves out.

Look back and remember all the energy you wasted worrying about something and you’ll realize it probably turned out to be okay. There’s a wonderful quote by Dale Carnegie that I keep on my desk as work: “Do you remember the things you were worrying about a year ago? How did they work out? Didn’t you waste a lot of fruitless energy on account of most of them? Didn’t most of them turn out all right after all?”

I worried endlessly about my wedding day (as do most people). I worried about the weather, about tripping as I walked down the aisle. I worried about something going terribly wrong, but guess what happened? Everything turned out to be absolutely perfect. In the months leading up to the wedding, I exhausted myself by stressing out and playing out scenarios in my head.

Now, I’m not saying everything will always be perfect or go exactly the way we plan. Things hardly ever go the way we envision them to, but if you accept that yes, things may go wrong, and yes, there may be hiccups or unexpected moments that were unaccounted for, then you’ll be ready for whatever comes your way—just like I was on my wedding day. It was only perfect because we agreed to just roll with it. We knew it would never go exactly the way we planned, so we promised each other to focus on the things we could control and laugh about the things we couldn’t. Did stuff go wrong? Of course! But we handled everything as best we could and then made sure we immediately got our butts back to the dance floor.

Things always have a way of working out, but remember to try and keep a positive attitude and mindset along the way. You may be worried about an upcoming job interview or that first date you have with someone, or you may be weathering a rough patch in life. But the thing is, no matter how many scenarios you play out in your head, no matter how much time you spend dwelling or how much stress and pressure you put on yourself, whatever’s meant to happen will happen. And think about it: No matter what, this time next year, you’ll be in a totally different place in your life. 

8. Your life partner should be your teammate.

Every relationship is going to hit rough patches, there are going to be arguments big and small, and there are going to be times when the strength of your relationship is tested. Life isn’t perfect, and no relationship ever will be. But the thing is, if you’re with the right person, you will be able to get through anything if you work together as a team.

You should be able to talk to each other about anything, even if it’s something seriously uncomfortable or painful. You should both be putting in the effort to keep the spark alive. You should be able to lean on each other, lift each other up, and help each other get through darker times. You should never have a doubt in your mind about that person. Through it all, you know there is no one else you’d rather go through life with—through the ups, downs, and every challenge you may face together.

Relationships should never be an everyday struggle. If you’re finding yourself running in circles, facing the same issues time and time again with no changes being made or no serious plans for change, then it may be time to reevaluate the relationship in its entirety. A partner should not only be a teammate but your best friend and support system, willing to do whatever it takes to keep the relationship alive, stable, and joyful.

9. Remind yourself that it’s just a bad day, not a bad life.

There will be some days when you feel alone, down on yourself, and lost. I describe days like these as if I’m living in a “black hole” or I’m “drowning.” On days like these, be patient with yourself and know you are not alone—we all stumble across bad days or even bad weeks. Be sure to practice extra self-care during these times, and know that self-care is more than just going to a spa.

Self-care is spending time in the sun. It’s seeing friends who make you laugh. It’s taking necessary alone time and unplugging from social media/news/your phone. It’s reading a book or taking a long, luxurious bath. Self-care is all about doing whatever will give you that extra boost of happiness, especially when you need it most. Think about all the time you spend taking care of pets, plants, friends, or family—don’t forget about taking care of yourself! An empty cup cannot fill another. You can’t help those you care about if you’re running on empty.

Every bad day will always pass, I promise. The sun will rise again and tomorrow will come. You will get out of that black hole; you will have better days. For now, surround yourself with people who love you or take time to be alone and process. Whatever you need, just do what’s best for you.

10. Letting go is difficult but necessary.

I’ve had to let go of a LOT this year, more so than any other year in my entire life. I’ve had to let go of people who hurt me countless times despite my love and care for them, people who were so miserable with their own lives that they unknowingly used me as their punching bag and put blame on me when I wasn’t at fault. I’ve had to let go of trying to make everyone happy when I discovered that it’s impossible. I’ve had to let go of worrying SO MUCH about what people think of me and how people perceive me. I’ve had to let go of being so hard on myself that I was becoming my own worst enemy, and I’ve had to let go of this notion that if you do your best for someone, they’ll do the same back for you—because honestly, that’s not how it always works.

Letting is so damn hard. It takes time, it takes grieving, it takes letting yourself feel all the emotions even though it sucks—the sadness, the anger, the frustration—and then releasing it all into the universe and getting it out of your mind and heart. If you don’t let go, you may become a resentful, hateful human being. You will end up taking your pain out on others. You will end up holding on to negative emotions and deter yourself from growing as a person. You will never heal if you don’t learn to let go.

Face your demons, interact with them, feel them, and then release them. If 2019 taught me anything, it’s that you must let go. Start by letting go of anything bad that happened this year. The heartache, the bad days, the things that went horribly wrong, the people who let you down, the people who hurt you, the times you wanted to scream, the times you wanted to give up—take it all and let it go. Write it all down on a piece of paper and burn it or cut it up into tiny pieces and let it go into the wind. Shout it from a mountain top. Talk to the moon about it. Write it in the sand and let the ocean wash it away. However you choose to do it, let it go, and set your sights on 2020. A blank slate. A fresh start.

Happy New Year, everyone. May it bring you peace, happiness, adventures, growth opportunities, and beautiful memories. TC mark

About the author
I hope to help others by sharing my experiences through writing. Follow Nikki on Instagram or read more articles from Nikki on Thought Catalog.

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