I sit here a little under a month into the new year wondering how I got here. Wasn’t I just sitting around with my friends drinking cheap champagne, discussing our ambitions, and ringing in the shiny new 2015?
In what feels like a few weeks, I have somehow made the journey from January to January in a whirlwind that will go down as The Year of the Shit Show. You see, before 2015, I considered myself to be a normal and relatively sane human being. But after a series of unforeseen events, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am an entire season of Broad City worth of crazy. Ok, maybe not an entire season, but definitely three to five episodes. While I once feared being one of the crazies, at the end of the year, I found solace in knowing everyone around me is also off their rocker.
In the last year, I’ve fallen out with friends, apologized, tried to reconcile, gotten drunk more than I should have, smoked more bowls than I’m proud of, been awful at my job, been pretty damn good at my job, reconsidered my life goals, and even given more than a few minutes of thought to leaving my entire life behind and applying for a gig at a Boys and Girls Club in Hawaii. Yeah…it got real.
While 2015 wasn’t perfect I learned more about myself and life in general than any other year prior, and for that, I am grateful. Here are 10 things I learned during The Year of the Shit Show.
1. You are in control of your life… kinda.
Sitting here I recognize that everything that happened over the course of the last year has been a direct result of my own decision making and behavior. Granted some of these events have been a result of chance, God, destiny, the universe, or whatever or whoever it is that aligns our path, with the people and opportunities we stumble upon. Life is an act of creation. We decide what each day will look like and ultimately what our lives will look like. Set your own path.
2. Prayer is powerful.
This may be the most important lesson I’m taking away from this year. Transitioning into adulthood –I’m a ripe old 27 – has at times been difficult. One day while sitting in bed pondering the multiple messes I’ve made this year I had a memory of myself as a child praying. I remembered how unstoppable I used to feel and decided to see if God would answer my call even though it had been some time since we’d last spoke, and things have been on the uptick ever since. Reconnect.
3. Love is crucial to being.
I know this sounds like something off a cheesy Hallmark card, but I believe it wholeheartedly. During the craziness of 2015, I was forced to face myself and learn to deal with parts of me I wanted to keep locked away. I’ve begun to recognize the importance of learning to love all of myself. This is a continual process, and at times difficult, but I’m glad I began this work. Love is something we must do for ourselves. Get into it.
4. Money isn’t everything but its important, and developing a savings fund is a necessary part of “adulting.”
While I never intend to be the type of person that structures my life around the pursuit of money, establishing a solid savings fund is crucial to the ability to live the type of life I want. Saving requires a bit of discipline and some sacrifice but I’m better for it. It’s ok to miss a happy hour or three.
5. Everyone is bat shit crazy.
People, all people, including myself, are absolutely insane. We are insecure, confused, terrified, conflicted, and lost. All while attempting to prove to ourselves and those around us that we aren’t; that we are somehow normal when in reality normalcy is a myth, a farce, an idea that is unattainable, and ultimately, it’s just boring. I realized the only way to live well is by embracing my outlandish, irrational self and to attempt to find a tribe of similar lunatics I mesh well with, and trail happily off into forever. Find your crazies and love them ferociously.
6. Self-discipline is hard, not fun, and sucks, But it is absolutely necessary.
If I’d been able to control myself and harness my focus before this point in life, I can only imagine where I would be right now. Discipline is key. Nothing happens without it. There is no magic trick to achieving your goals, and no amount of Oprah inspirational quotes that can motivate you until you decide to start making moves. It’s all up to you. Move your ass.
7. Speak up. Say what you feel.
A few weeks ago, I promised myself I would answer every question asked of me in complete honesty no matter how uncomfortable it made me. What I’ve learned so far is the truth often prompts others to express themselves more honestly, and deepens real connections. Say what you’re feeling. The world will not stop spinning, the sun won’t fall from the sky, and you’ll be freer.
8. You can’t plan for everything.
Life happens, and when you think you are relatively, stable some unforeseen event will come out of left field and knock you on your ass. While on your ass, things will likely suck for a while but eventually you’ll find your feet, get up, and keep it moving. Life is full of change and uncertainty, so you might as well get comfortable with this fact and settle in. Stop worrying about things beyond your control and deal with life as it comes.
9. Gratitude is essential to living the good life.
I believe we control our own happiness and this begins with being grateful for the lives we lead. Awareness of the numerous blessings we are afforded each day is a great way to be mindful of the many reasons we have to be happy. Things may not always be perfect, but if you take a moment to reflect I imagine you’ll realize they could definitely be worse, and often they are actually pretty damn good.
10. Fear is the enemy. It will keep you from life.
Yes, the world is a scary place. We live in an era where ISIS, Donald Trump, and the Kardashians exist simultaneously. It’s rough out here friends, and while there are legitimate reasons to be afraid, the vast majority of our decisions do not require use of this particular emotion. In 2015, I realized I make most of my decisions based on the possibility of things going wrong. Now instead of thinking “What if I fail?” or “What if people dislike me?”, I’ve started to force myself to think “What if I win?” or “What if it’s amazing?” when making decisions. This small bit of positive thinking has changed the way I pursue my goals, and life in general. Leave the fear behind. It’s really not as useful as you think, unless you are running from a rogue tiger or Donald Trump. In either of these, cases you should probably tap into your fear and haul ass.
Last year was a mess but I am beyond grateful I had the opportunity to experience it. I’m going into this year surer of myself, and with a clearer picture of how to create the life I want. I hope 2016 is ready for me because I plan on kicking its ass.