17 Important Things I Unlearned In 2017

woman standing in winter
Becca Tapert

1. Timing is everything.

There comes a moment when you realize that timing only has so much power over your life because you make it that way. We convince ourselves out of facing reality in the hopes that “time will tell.” Although difficult to admit, we often don’t need time to give us answers; we already have them within us. Things that don’t work in the moment will probably not undergo a miraculous change in the future. People who don’t treat you with respect today probably won’t do so down the line. Some things are meant to be in your life and others are not; all of the seconds, weeks or years in the world won’t change that.

2. You need closure in order to move on.

How do you close doors that were never fully opened in the first place? It’s only human to want a distinct beginning, middle and end to every situation we encounter, but life simply doesn’t work this way. Think back to every relationship you’ve had thus far and you’ll realize that they probably didn’t follow a linear path. Connections sometimes occur spontaneously and often take years to fizzle out. Not every bridge of your past has to be lit in order for you to keep moving forward.

3. You need to be better than you were yesterday.

We live in a society that tells us we need to constantly improve; act better, look better, eat better, think better. Of course, we all want to strive to be the best versions of ourselves, but that isn’t going to happen unless we give ourselves the space to live fully. We are often so quick to mask our humanity that we fail to realize it is our saving grace. Make mistakes and accept that you will not be perfect all of the time. Let 2018 be the year you embrace the highs and lows of your journey to becoming the person you were always meant to be.

4. Life is lived for tomorrow.

If you break it down, mostly every major decision we are faced with in life is to secure a future where we will be happy, whether it be choosing a school program, career path or even a possible relationship. But if there’s one thing 2017 has taught me, it is that life in its very essence is unpredictable. We can’t control neither good nor bad things from happening to us all the time. Is there a point in sacrificing our well-being in the present moment for the possibility at a better future? You don’t know what the next 24 hours of your life will bring, let alone the next couple of years. Live to make today the best as it can be; life usually has a funny way of working itself out in the end anyways.

5. Putting yourself first is selfish.

I, for one, am someone who has always struggled with making myself a priority. I have this tendency to bend over backwards for people who never quite do the same. And while reciprocity is by no means a virtue to base your entire life on, sometimes you need to make decisions that will better you and only you. Without your physical and mental health being taken care of, you won’t be able to take care of others regardless. Put your foot down sometimes and stand up for the things that you believe in. Don’t let others silence you because you feel bad for speaking up. Your voice is yours and no one else’s- use it, always.

6. Everyone deserves a second or third chance.

You aren’t an asshole for deciding that someone is no longer worth any more of your time. You don’t have to risk being treated horribly yet again for the sake of trying to be a good person. At the end of the day, you know what and who is best for you. Everyone deserves a chance at redemption, but it doesn’t have to come at your hands. Sometimes you owe it to yourself to walk away and leave it up to the hands of a force much more powerful.

7. Building up walls will protect you from getting hurt.

When others have hurt us in the past, it is only natural to react by defending our hearts. No one wants to risk being broken yet again. Yet, when you close yourself off from the world, you are shunning both darkness and light away. Shielding your heart won’t get you to where you want to be. I know it’s scary beyond belief, but find strength in your vulnerability in the new year. Wear your heart on your sleeve. Own your scars. Say the things you need to say, because the only thing worse than getting hurt again is never giving yourself a proper chance to heal.

8. The people who have turned you into ice are the only ones able to melt you back.

The person who broke you will not be able to put you back together. You don’t need them to return to be whole once again. If anything, you are more whole now that they are no longer in your life. I know it’s hard, but better people are on their way; people who won’t blow out your spark in the first place. People who will make you shine even brighter than before.

9. To live comfortably is to live happily.

I find it quite ironic that we call our blankets of security and safety a “comfort zone”. Because the truth is, there is nothing comfortable about it. Settling for mediocrity is not comforting. Limiting your physical or mental strength is not comforting. Remaining in the same situations that are “meh” at best is not comforting. Breaking out of you “comfort” zone will hurt much less than the haunting discomfort and regret you will experience by staying in it. Take risks while you can.

10. Fall in love with a person’s potential.

It can be so easy to overlook a person’s past or current actions because you believe that there is good to be found within them. When you care about someone, you become their cheerleader. You root for that part of them you know exists somewhere deep down; the part that is sick of all the games and selfishness. But when doing so, you often forget to root for yourself and the respect that you deserve. Falling for who someone may become and falling for who they are, are two completely different concepts. It isn’t fair to yourself or the other person to pin them against this idealistic version of them you’ve created in your head.

11. Wait until you are ready.

We’ve turned life into a waiting game. Wait for the perfect moment to tell someone how you feel about them. Wait for the day you suddenly wake up “ready” for love. And while these “aha” epiphanies sound great on paper, reality is a bit more complicated than that. Life happens as it happens. There will be no “perfect moment” to go after the things that you want. There will be no sign from the universe telling you that now is the time. Your fears often blur your perception of how much you are capable of. In 2018, don’t wait for the things that will make you happy to fall from the sky. Go after them once and for all.

12. People don’t change.

2017 taught me that people can change, but not always in the ways you want them to. You can’t alter someone’s behaviors or thoughts to match your preferences. We all have flaws and vices that aren’t going to vanish overnight, nor should we want them to. You can’t go into a relationship expecting that a person will be malleable to your demands. You can’t hold on to something that isn’t holding back because you think that you can make them change their mind. Accept people as they are and let them be the agent of their own transformational growth. Trying to fix someone will only create more problems.

13. Forgiveness is only for those who ask for it.

Not every person who has hurt you in your life is going to apologize. Some may be unaware of the damage they have caused you, while others may know and simply not care. Either way, forgiveness has more to do with you than it does with them. Holding on to bitterness is physically, mentally and emotionally draining. Trying to get even or feeding off of their negativity will take a toll on you in the long run. You owe it to yourself to let go of this vindictive side of you that others bring out. Focus on positivity and relieve yourself of that emotional deadweight. Show your strength by being kind to those who need it most.

14. Temporary people don’t deserve a place in your heart.

Not everything or everyone that is a part of your life at one point or another is meant to stay, but that doesn’t make the role they played any smaller. There is beauty to be found amongst the people who come into our lives for a short period of time and still leave a long-lasting mark on our hearts. Maybe you crossed paths so you could find the one that feels right. Maybe they showed you a side of you that you’ve kept buried for the longest time. There is a silver lining or lesson to be learnt in every connection we make with others no matter how temporary they may be.

15. Getting your hopes up will only set you up for failure.

Most people believe that having high expectations breed discontent or thinking “unrealistically” will cause you to be unhappy with life’s outcomes. Yet in truth, feelings are inevitably fleeting despite how high or low your standards may be. You will experience sadness and disappointment, but you will also experience joy and excitement. Don’t stop dreaming simply because you think doing so is immature. Understand that every decision you make in life is a risk and never let go of hope for the ones that are most worthwhile.

16. Someone is always at fault.

When things go wrong, we need to have a reason why. We are driven by an innate need to explain the inexplicable. We make scapegoats of others and even more so, of ourselves, in order to find clarity. It’s hard to admit that things don’t always have a reason for happening or not turning out a particular way, but some things in life happen just because. No matter how many times you point fingers, blame the universe or curse the skies, life’s storms are full of the grey areas in between what we have learned is black and white. Once you realize that life is anything but simple, you’ll see that the next best thing to do is to soak in the beauty of just how complex the world truly is.

17. Following your heart instead of your mind is naïve.

In 2017, I learned that life is not lived inside your head. The countless hours or even days you waste overthinking could be spent actually living and experiencing all that life has to offer. Not every decision you make in life is going to be the most well-thought out. You aren’t a bad person simply because you’ve made a couple of “bad” choices along the way. Logic isn’t always enough to make you happy. Fight for the things that keep your heart beating. Trusting your gut and listening to that part of you doesn’t make you stupid; it makes you human. TC mark

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