Wednesday, December 30, 2015

15 things about 2015.

Well. It's been a year. I already blogged about the things I loved this year, now here's the (annual) list of what I've learned...


1. You have the right to believe in yourself.
This was probably the biggest thing I learned this year that proved to be a game changer. I think many of us have gone through life with others telling us to "believe in yourself" and "have confidence," but there's something deeply empowering about telling yourself these things. Yes, you are allowed to believe in yourself. For me, that's been a challenging thing to do for as long as I can remember.

But once I made the decision to tell myself that I deserve to be confident, that I deserve to believe in myself, then nobody can take that away from me. It's given me the push I've needed to walk into a room and assert myself. That's been huge.

2. Develop routines.
I began the year still on a really early morning shift, and I liked my routine of waking up early, grabbing a travel cup of freshly-brewed coffee, and microwaving a frozen breakfast burrito (which I made by the dozens on weekends) to go with my 40 minute bus ride. 

It was comforting and lovely to have that, and it's weird to feel like you can get used to things -- at least, it is for me. For the past few years, I'd been moving every 6-12 months -- changing jobs, changing phone plans, whatever. It was challenging to develop routines I could grow used to and not feel like I had finally settled. I've always been hesitant to develop routines I was comfortable with because I was scared of change.

But you know what? Routines can be nice. And having them doesn't mean that my life can't change anymore. Routines provide stability, and everyone needs a little bit of that in their day, right?

3. Don't be afraid to dream out loud.
Have goals, make bucket lists, desire to do things -- and then say them out loud to others. Not only is it a way to be accountable, but I really do believe that the words you speak over your life and over your future matter.


4. Invest in good heels.
They'll last longer, you can walk further, and you'll be less grumpy when you're forced to stand at a reception for three hours straight with nowhere to sit.

5. Admit flaws. Let them show.
In this current era of social media, it's easy to hide the bad parts of life and to keep the "mask" on of happiness. But life isn't perfect and it isn't always full of sunshine and smiles. If the version of you that people know in real life is just the Instagram version, filled with filters and emojis and perfect little cups of latte art, then what happens when you have your stumbles or your dark days? Will they just turn away until you're "back to normal"? So then what is "normal"?

I think that's one of the reasons I blog. To dump out my thoughts, as imperfect and as difficult as it can be some days. It's OK for people to know the real me online -- the me that's filled with the good and the bad. And if people judge me for it, then that's OK too because they'd be judging me in real life too anyways.


6. Declutter.
After four years of living in the same place, I decided in October to finally clean out my closet. It was a nightmare to go through, but it was necessary. Would I really consider wearing that one dress that I haven't worn for two years again? Probably not.

The other nightmare, of course, was trying to get someone in Manhattan to come pick up my stuff. I suppose I could've spent a weekend making multiple trips by subway to drop off donations, but luckily the City Opera Thrift Shop picks up donations anywhere in the city (and it's for a great cause too). It took a couple of weeks for them to find an open appointment to send a truck, but it was totally worth it and now I can actually see what's hanging in my closet -- and I've been feeling way more organized because of it lately too.

7. The TSA pre-check line is wonderful.
The only reason I hadn't gone through the Global Entry process before was out of pure laziness. I finally gave in though and, after spending an entire Saturday on the A train to go out to JFK to finish the process, it's been glorious.

8. Don't view life through a camera lens.
I used to be the kind of person who would photograph everything. In high school, I always had a disposable camera on me (a digital camera in the last two years). These days, with camera phones so sharp and so ubiquitous, it's tempting to want to document everything -- to think every moment, every meal, every sunset is photo-worthy and needs to be captured and shared to whatever social media network you prefer. 

But sometimes that just makes you miss out on life, on conversations, on things around you. Why would you want to view a concert through your camera screen? Why wouldn't you want to make eye contact and engage in a conversation instead of staring at your camera app? I'm not saying never photograph anything, but know when to put your phone down too.

9. Decide on the kind of person you want (and don't want) to be.
This is a difficult one because we're always changing as people. But there are certain traits that I know I do want to aspire to have, and others I want to avoid. A lot of it, truthfully, has come from observing and getting to know my parents over the years (I dare anyone to not envy my mother's patience). 

10. Family matters.
My mom used to tell my sister and me when we were little something that her father always told her and her siblings: at the end of the day, sometimes all you have is your family by your side. It's a version of saying "blood is thicker than water," basically -- and I think that whether it's the family you're born into or the family you choose, you're going to want those people to stand by you no matter what.

I know I'm lucky to have the family that I have, and it's so important to never take that for granted or to push them away over something petty because you never know what can happen in the blink of an eye.

11. Make reservations. 
There's something underrated about making reservations. People tend to do it when they're afraid a place will get too crowded or if it's for a special occasion. But the act of making a reservation for a regular dinner can also make a difference -- not just because you won't run the risk of it being too crowded and be forced to hop around to multiple restaurants until you settle for the least crowded option, but because it's showing that you're making a commitment to spend time with someone. That's nice.

12. Don't try to blog every day.
It's. Exhausting. I did it in August to see if I could, and I did, and I'm glad I did it. But it was stressful and I think I did it primarily for a need for stability at a time when things were chaotic and life was uncertain, but it was really draining and I don't think I'll do it again. (Of course, I say this now, but I'm already making plans to do it again. Because I'm a nut.)

13. Enjoy your guilty pleasures.
We live in a day and age where some people can be TFC for anything and everything. But you know what? Who really cares? Let people like what they like. Let people don't like what they don't like. Yes, I think Justin Bieber's "Purpose" album is awesome, and yes, I will watch any One Direction YouTube video you put in front of me. So there.

14. Apologize. Forgive.
I blogged a bit longer about this in April, but in summary:
"Sometimes our apologies don't go the way we want them to, but it's not up to us to write our own endings in these matters. We do what we can to right the wrongs of our past, and if the scenario doesn't play out as we hoped, then there's no point in being angry or disappointed. We shouldn't apologize for our actions just to make ourselves feel better. As this friend and I pick back up where we left off, her presence in my life is a reminder of the kind of unselfish humility that I hope to aspire to."
15. Your faith will be tested.

There's been a lot that's happened in the past 12 months that have made me wonder what the end goal of it all is. I think that's natural though when life gets rough. As difficult as it is to remember, strength is found not in what we run from, but who we run to. I've been struggling with that, but I've also been reminded lately that the challenges are part of the journey. It's OK to have questions. It's OK to be lost. In the end, it's not about me

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