The 8 Biggest Lessons I Learned In 2019

It’s sort of in the nature of years to feel arduous in retrospect. This world can be emotionally draining, aided by the fact that humans tend to have a strong cognitive bias that makes us recall bad events more quickly and vividly than good ones.

This concept held true for 2019. Simply put, the year felt like one big sleepless night spent absorbing an endless series of nightmares projected on my virtual screen, one after the next, with no break in between. It was a vortex of emotions that I could only escape temporarily before getting sucked back in: distress, sadness, fear, uncertainty, doubt, situational depression, with just the right amount of hope that it’ll all turn around because nothing is forever.

2019 was a giant cloud that rolled in, and in hindsight, the downpour rain was a string of lessons preparing me for my bloom.

1. Stay away from poisonous narcissists

The reality—aside from the list of negative traits—is that narcissists can seem to enrich our lives. They can be sweet, funny, charming, intelligent, and loyal friends. This was perhaps one of the biggest lessons I learned in 2019. A crucial test of the relationship comes when you succeed in a certain area, like love, work, or other milestones. If the narcissist responds primarily with envy, either overtly or covertly, you can rest assured that’s the beginning of the end of your relationship.

A narcissist will usually start by complaining about your behavior but distorting what actually happened between you. Your thoughts will span from: “I never said that,” and “Weren’t you the one who actually did that?” to “What are you talking about—that didn’t even happen at all!” because narcissists live on continuous projections of their inner flaws and constant outward blame as a defense mechanism. With conflict running through the veins of a narcissist, pointing out false accusations or resisting in the least will bring about a wave of rage you won’t see coming. To put it simply, you will always, without a doubt, be blamed for problems that are of the narcissist’s own creation.

2. A degree does not mean education

I’ve met people disguised as smart, sophisticated, educated beings with PhDs and other prestigious degrees but was shocked to see they’ve received no education at all. A degree is a flimsy piece of paper, fragile and destructible, crediting you with expertise in one field. True education is in one’s character, their manners, and how they treat others—especially in difficult times.

A petty, egotistical maniac holding a Ph.D., demanding respect while constantly putting others down through their own warped self-perception, is not an educated person worthy of praise.

A humble person who’s made it their life’s mission to collect as much information in search of how to be the best version of themselves is a well-rounded, educated person worthy of respect. Education a lifelong process beyond a piece of paper.

3. People who refuse to take responsibility for their actions are the most hopelessly self-destructive humans out there

Non-apologists: You really need to learn how to separate your actions from your character. If you’ve wronged someone, that does not automatically mean you are a bad person. Stop letting the word “I’m sorry” present a major threat to your ego and self-esteem. Refusing to apologize when you’ve blatantly wronged someone only serves to reflect a weakened effort to protect a fragile sense of self. “I’m sorry” leads to an opening up that is incredibly cathartic and empowering and releases you from that poison you refuse to let go of. You should try it sometime.

4. There are always small blessings

No matter how difficult a time you’re going through, there is always a light, a blessing that you will see if you look closely enough. When nothing seemed to be going right this year, I was constantly reminding myself to look for small blessings. I questioned the intentions of some people who were in my life, and they were replaced with the better. I married my soulmate. The universe opened doors for me that I thought were locked. For every bad situation I encountered, there were more good things to tip the balance, and I’m blessed to have recognized that.

Life is a perfect yin-yang—a balance of light and darkness—and in darkness, there is always hope that things will get better.

5. To heal a wound, you’ve got to stop touching it

Stop replaying the events in your mind. Stop wallowing over why it happened. Stop seeking closure from the person who’s caused you pain. Truly let it go and give yourself closure so that you can create more space—energetically—for something and someone much more worthy of your time to come in. Rehashing it over and over only serves to drain your energy and block light from entering and truly healing your soul.

6. Ghosting says nothing about you

It does, however, say a lot about the person doing it. Ghosting is having someone that you believe cares about you disappear from contact without any explanation, communication, or any chance to salvage what was once solid friendship. And it’s not new. Years and years ago, I believe this kind of behavior was reserved for a certain kind of scoundrel. Today, this phenomenon is rampant, and the reason why it hurts is that it leaves you in limbo with zero cues on how to react. Should you reach out? Again? Is this person okay? Are they hurt? Can you at least check on them? Should you be upset? You will never know.

And as humans, we crave connection. Staying connected with others enables our brain to scan our surroundings for cues on how to react to certain social situations accordingly, thus regulating our own behavior. Ghosting robs us of that.

How do you move forward? By understanding that ghosting says nothing about you or your worthiness of love but sends a clear, loud message about the person doing the ghosting—that they simply don’t possess the courage to deal with their own personal conflicts or your disappointment in them. It silently screams, “I don’t have what it takes to have a healthy relationship with you. My ego will not allow me to.” Be the better person and let them go peacefully. You will be astounded to see how the universe replaces them with someone who is much more worthy of your time and respect.

7. We really do take our loved ones for granted

I don’t think we as humans fully grasp the finitude of this world. Two people in our growing family passed away 6 months apart this year. That’s the thing about life, it always seems to take us by surprise. It throws curveballs at us. Some are misfires, and others slam into our faces unexpectedly. We don’t realize that at any second, things can change, and we won’t always have time to tell our loved ones that we love them.

Love the ones who are near and dear to your heart and appreciate what you have. Drop the petty grudges, because you will miss these people and they will never return.

8. You will always know who your true family is

One of the most important reinforcers for me this year was that my immediate/extended family is everything to me. They are the only rock that stays steady in a world that’s moving faster than I can wrap my head around. And even though the most important members of my extended family live on a different continent, they’ve shown up when I needed them. The past two years really revealed to me a lot that I took for granted and sometimes totally overlooked.

Think of who this is for you. Who supports your endeavors, who cheers for you, who wants to see you succeed, who loves you unconditionally, who isn’t toxic, and who is always there. Thank them, love them, and don’t let go. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

About the author

Endless stream of thoughts in a forever-searching mind.

Follow Sara on Instagram or read more articles from Sara on Thought Catalog. Learn more about Thought Catalog and our writers on our about page.