2016 was one hell of a mess. Despite this, there were still some meaningful takeaways that helped me grow up and shift my life perspective in preparation for a, hopefully, smoother 2017 and beyond. I will share them with you below.
What did you realize this year that you think helped you become a better you?
1.) One unforgettable thing about 2016 is the political drama. Families divided, friends broke up, dreams set on fire. Political opinions are like a loved one’s bad cooking – they’re hard to swallow and leave a funny taste in your mouth, but saying what you really think will likely end up hurting both of you. I’ve realized there’s almost zero chance of persuading someone to sing to your tune. We can only politely engage in discourse to give others a glimpse at our point of view, but we shouldn’t expect unique individuals to do a complete 180 on their set beliefs and principles from a Facebook conversation.
2.) In the likely event someone declares their support for Trump or your country’s dictator regardless of the fact this guts you on a personal level, respect it. We must be open to diverse perspectives. Respect people’s choices and opinions no matter how misguided or ’incorrect’ they may seem TO YOU.
As frustrated you may be enough to tweet “I don’t understand why people can’t just move on from the elections!” or “I will never understand why you voted for an orange monkey who hates human rights,” take a moment to self-reflect instead. I don’t mean to say you’re the problem, but you don’t have the same reality as people with opposing principles as you. I assure you there are legitimate underlying reasons why people think and vote the way they do.
It’s difficult to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, but you don’t need to fully understand someone in order to empathize with them. Be compassionate and receptive. Don’t talk down to someone if they initially sound ignorant.
If the only act you’re doing is looking down on Trump supporters by calling them idiots, racists, sexists, etc. will they really be willing to open up and understand YOUR side? We have to empower others with the knowledge and information we were fortunate enough to gain early on and invite them in the movement. If you are unable to wrap your head around someone else’s POV, extend your empathy to gain some level of insight.
3.) That said, do not blanket somebody’s ignorance to protect their ego. The moment you explain why you feel oppressed by someone’s privilege or why you think someone’s beliefs tramples over your rights, but all you get is condescension and close-mindedness, then unleash your justified wrath. If a person calls you or others ”Libtards,” ”Democunts,” ”Stupid,” etc. after you’ve pursued a mature discussion with them, then you don’t need that kind of person in your life. Bye, Felicia.
(Side-note: The word ”Millennial” is not and will never be an insult.)
4.) This is the year you come to terms with all the toxic relationships in your life. By toxic, I don’t mean to say you were a victim and other people were solely at fault. It could also mean people you’ve hurt in the past who don’t want to forgive you; people who maintain a passive-aggressive treatment of you; people who, despite your efforts, don’t want to recognize the good in you or give you a chance to better yourself; people who just plainly dislike you.
Some people may think you don’t deserve a shot at happiness and success or you don’t have a right to promote unapologetic self-love because once upon a time you did them wrong. That’s not true! You deserve every second of positivity you achieve and it’s not your burden to make them see why.
Don’t be around people who trigger you to revert to old habits. Don’t be around people who intentionally make sure to let you know they don’t like you, they don’t believe in you, and they don’t want you. If a person deliberately makes you feel crap without any constructive motive, remember: how a person treats you has little to do with you and has more to do about the other person’s character.
5.) Say goodbye to your internalized guilt. Doesn’t matter if you were a toxic person yourself with your share of screw ups. As long as you’ve made peace with your mistakes, continue to embrace yet improve the nastiest parts of you, and consciously extend your amends or apologies with words and/or actions, then it’s okay to let go of that shame.
Merely avoiding your past self won’t help. Face it head-on and give it the middle finger before finally waving farewell.
If people still don’t want to acknowledge how you’re trying to be a nicer, healthier person, then whatevs. That’s their prerogative. Other people are under no obligation to make you feel good about yourself or your journey.
You don’t need someone else to forgive you. You need to forgive you.
6.) In order to progress we must distance ourselves from that which triggers us to regress. Self-healing can come with consequences and sometimes it’s in the form of people leaving you or you leaving them. You may feel like ”I don’t want to risk cutting people off because I’m afraid of losing many former friends I might reconnect with,” but this is a normal emotion you’ll have to experience if you want to take a step forward in your healing process. Delete people on social media, stop texting back, sever years-long ties. Do what you think is best for you.
7.) Surround yourself with people who celebrate you at your highs and guide you through your lows. Treasure those who don’t only see the bad side of you, who don’t hold your shortcomings against you. You will find people who will know about the goriest uncensored parts of you and still adore who you are now. Even if you’re already 25, 35, 45, or 55, there are always opportunities for building new close friendships. You will meet loads of people and become close friends with the most unlikely individuals in the most unlikely circumstances. How cool is that? (Hi besh!) Also, durable old friendships will last the test of time and distance, even with low maintenance.
8.) Cut off those who think it’s okay to belittle you or your journey because it doesn’t feel real to them. It’s real to you – you are who dragged your ass to therapy; who slaved for hours on your job so you could pay for medication and counseling; who made the hard work to reevaluate your entire self, unlearn negative behaviors, and painstakingly strive to change rooted personality traits. Nobody else but you knows the genuine challenging labor you’ve done, and continue to do, to be in the healthier state you are in right now.
9.) You don’t need someone to validate you, your niceness, or your self-improvement. You’re trying to be a good person for you, not them, not anyone else.
10.) There’s a chance your parents may be disapproving of your life choices. Rebel against your inner nature to be an obedient, pleasing child.
11.) Although you’ve successfully distanced yourself from an abusive parent (or other loved one) you may still get hurt or affected when they do something akin to their old maltreatment of you. Again, this is normal. You can’t control how you feel towards an abuser, but you can control how you react. Don’t allow their words/actions to have a lasting impression. Squish that rising resentment and self-doubt like a cockroach smacked with a shoe.
12.) In the event of depression, seasonal or otherwise, stick to your routine. A once-in-awhile-lay-in-bed-all-day break is fine on your absolute worst day, but sticking to your routine is essential for you to get back on track again. Force yourself to go to work, to bike to the gym, to take a shower, to do your makeup, to have a date night, to take a walk outside, to clean the house, to buy groceries, to cook food and eat it, to cross the 10 short steps to the kitchen to take your meds.
13.) If every day is beginning to feel like your worst day, seek help. It’s okay to voice your vulnerability and ask others for help. You shouldn’t keep it bottled up all the time. I promise people won’t think less of you when you do it.
14.) As straightforward as this sounds, it’s quite easy to forget: just because you’re depressed today doesn’t mean you’ll be depressed tomorrow. Just because things are shit this week, doesn’t mean they’ll be shit the next. Endure, have patience.
15.) Learning a new hobby can make a huge difference in your daily survival.
16.) Start doing the things you promised your childhood self you’d do: stuff your face with cotton candy, buy a ton of chocolate only for yourself, learn how to do a cartwheel, cross-stitch, visit Disneyland, marathon episodes of Scooby-Doo, bake cookies on a Monday and lick raw cookie dough from your fingers without mom forbidding you.
17.) You don’t have to watch a TV show all the way to the end just because you feel obligated to know what happens next. If your favorite TV show is beginning to suck or be boring, let it gooooo and invest your time elsewhere. #byeTWD #byePLL #byeHTGAWM
18.) As long as they are not hurting anyone, allow other people to enjoy things even if they are things you don’t like. Allow other people to make grammar mistakes without mocking them. Allow other people to feel what they feel and say what they want without you dictating them to ”stop whining” about it.
Do you really have to complain about LGBTQ+, African Americans, or other minorities who are understandably upset over Trump winning (especially if you are white and upper middle class)? Is it necessary to bash others as ”fake fans” because they just discovered Coldplay today instead of back in 1996? Will there be any positive impact on society after you complain about such petty things?
If someone on social media annoys you so much then unfriend or unfollow that person instead of typing another blind item Facebook status. Otherwise, learn to scroll past.
19.) Stand up for your principles. Yes, be nice and try your damnedest to be nice even when you are tempted to be otherwise, but know when it’s a circumstance that needs calling out misogyny, ignorance, sexism, racism, rude neighbors, or just social media pettiness. Pick your battles wisely, but don’t be afraid to raise your voice regarding topics you are passionate about.
20.) The universe treats you only as good as you treat yourself.
21.) The view is magnificent from atop a ferris wheel even though your height phobia is literally making you weep. You will miss out on a lot of great experiences if you do not try to overcome your fears every now and then.
22.) Take risks not just with yourself but with others. Trust when someone is kind to you. Trust the good in you. Trust when things seem too wonderful to be true. These moments do not come as often as we would like so savor them.
23.) Do not be threatened by outspoken social media lovers or other people’s seemingly more exciting relationships. Focus on you and your partner. Lavish romantic gestures do not equal domestic/marital bliss.
24.) Try not to buy too much into the practice of materialism. The less unnecessary things you own, the more space you have to live.
25.) Demand love. Demand respect. Do no expect these from the get-go, but don’t let it slide when you sense you are not being treated as a social equal by someone. If a person is not as emotionally invested in you as you are with them then give them a wake-up call.
26.) Honestly? Fuck what people think of you.
27.) Never forget the people who love you and care for you. On your darkest days, they can be your light. Never forget to show them you appreciate them.