As we approach the end of the 2016, I’ve been reflecting on the year. It hasn’t been an easy year, one look at the news reports will show you that we’re living in a difficult time. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t all grow, and learn from our experiences.
Today, I’m going to talk to you about 16 of the most important things I learned in 2016, hopefully they’ll help you have the best 2017 possible.
1. You can’t please everyone, no matter how hard you try. This was a tough one for me, especially in a work setting. I learned this on my gap year in New Zealand. I won’t go into details, but to give you the gist, my boss was extremely judgemental of my personal life, and made working with him a challenge. It was a long time before I realised that it wasn’t my fault. I worked my butt off, the kids loved me, the other staff loved me, we just had a difference of opinion about what areas of my life were his business. Learning to work for yourself and for those you care for to the best of your ability is so much more fulfilling that working to please your boss. I’d highly recommend it as a work ethic.
2. Bullet journaling is life. I have had many planners throughout my life, especially at school. However, this year I started bullet journaling and I’ve got to tell you – I’m never ever ever going back!
3. Never let your kindness be mistaken for weakness. I was constantly told that I was ‘too nice’ and that I needed to be tougher with the kids. However, I didn’t have any real problems with them listening to me. Kindness is an asset, it makes you empathetic, caring and shows you care – it doesn’t mean people can walk all over you, so don’t let them.
4. No zero days. I’m a pretty productive person, however, I hate that feeling at the end of the day where you realise you’ve wasted six hours watching Netflix. This year, I began using the ‘no zero days’ philosophy. Essentially, I work every single day, even if it’s just one small thing, at least I can look back at the end and say I achieved something for myself.
5. You can’t change other people, unless they want to change. I had a tough time in New Zealand with a friend of mine. Once again, I won’t go into too much detail, but essential he became depressed and extremely unstable after a bad relationship. At first, I felt it was my job to take care of him, to make sure that he was alright, but no matter what I did, he wasn’t getting any better. That’s because he needed to want to change for himself. He wasn’t willing to let go of the hurt and attention. So, next time you want to help a friend, by all means help them, but don’t expect anything you do to change them.
6. Opinion polls are useless. I don’t have a whole lot to say about this one except: Scottish referendum? WRONG! Brexit? WRONG! President? WRONG! – please stop guessing and stop getting our hopes up!
7. People who look confident are usually the most insecure. I went to New Zealand with a girl from my secondary school. She was popular, had a stream of boyfriends, went out clubbing and generally seemed to ooze confidence. It was only when I lived with her that I saw through the charade. The skimpy outfits she wore to clubs and her drunken antics with the opposite sex were all manifestations of her insecurities. She didn’t feel good enough about herself, and so she looked for validation from others. After realising this, I learned that I’m actually one of the most confident people I know. I’m myself, I wear what I want, I do what I want – and that’s actually a surprisingly rare thing in our world.
8. Making friends is easy if you just be yourself. I know, I sound like a sesame street character, but it’s true. When I first started university I was terrified, I was so afraid that I wasn’t going to make any friends – I was commuting, so I didn’t have any automatic flatmate friends and I was scared that meant I wouldn’t have anybody. So untrue, in those first few weeks, I was myself and I allowed that to filter out into the room. I made a few really good friends those first few weeks, and I know I’m able to talk to anyone I want, even if I don’t know them! It’s a great feeling when you put yourself out there and you’re rewarded – it’s not going to happen every time, but your successes will make your failures unimportant.
9. I love studying. I know, this sounds nerdy, but I really do. After a year away from the books I was scared about getting back into it. However, I’ve got to tell you, I feel great. I love learning and having things to do, and writing essays and talking about my ideas – I guess that’s probably why I want to be a teacher.
10. You are 100%. As you may know, I’m in a long-distance relationship. At first, I found long distance really tough, until I realised this important truth. When you get into a relationship, you’re not 50%. Just because you choose to be with that person, doesn’t take away from the fact that you’re 100% all by yourself. Yes, when 100% and 100% get together it’s better, but it’s only improving on the whole person you are all on your own. Rather than feeling like I was being torn apart, I started feeling good about myself, I was allowed to go out and have fun even though my boyfriend couldn’t be there, and he was allowed to do the same – You’re an independent person, and that doesn’t change when you get a boyfriend.
11. The One Touch method will save your life. When you come home from uni and you kick off your shoes, throw down your school day, chuck your coat on the bed and walk away – nobody feels good about having to clean up that mess a couple of hours later. Making sure that I follow the One Touch method (whenever I can of course, I’m only human) has really helped me become a more consistently tidy person – highly recommend this if you live alone and don’t want to spend your entire Saturday cleaning.
12. I need 8/9 hours of sleep. To all you people who can function on 6 hours a night, well done. Without at least 8 hours of sleep I am not a whole person. Not to mention the fact that there’s a strong chance I won’t even be able to pull myself from bed with less than that.
13. Being different is not a bad thing. When I went to New Zealand I was one of the few who didn’t really drink, didn’t really play sports, and didn’t watch Geordie Shore. At first, this made me feel like an outsider, but I soon learned that they just weren’t my group. One of my good friends from New Zealand is like me in many ways, but she changes herself to fit in with the crowd. Be different! Be purple! It doesn’t matter what other people think (so long as you aren’t rude), you do you and everyone else just has to deal with it.
14. You can never travel enough. I spent the first six months of 2016 on a plane travelling from New Zealand to Australia to Thailand to Singapore – and I honestly can’t tell you the immense wanderlust I’m fighting these past few months to stay put. Travel is so important, especially in a world where lack of information still leads to prejudice, racism and bigotry. Seeing different cultures not only makes you a more accepting person, but it also helps you learn about yourself. If you haven’t done a lot of travel, make it your mission in 2017 – personally I’m heading to Tanzania, but wherever you want to go is perfect!
15. Everyone else will have an idea of what they want you to be. Again, this goes back to my boss, everybody compares you and judges you – everybody wants you to be their idea of perfect, and trying to fit everybody’s expectations is frankly exhausting. Be what you want to be and do what you want to do, if those things correlate with the masses, hooray for you, if they don’t, meh, in the digital age, you’re sure to find someone who shares your passions.
16. Opportunities don’t just present themselves. I’ve been looking for a job for the past few months, wanting to find something working with kids and never compromising. Eventually, I had exhausted all my options and applied to work in a shoe shop. Two days later I heard from a daycare centre, asking if I was still available. Opportunities present themselves to the person who goes out and is willing to do whatever it takes, if that’s in a show shop that’s fine, if it’s in McDonalds that’s fine, if it’s in a bank that’s fine – just put yourself out there in all aspects of your life and life will reward you.
I hope you’ve all had an amazing year and that you’ve got your own little bank of lessons for the future, if they’re not too personal, please share them down below, I’d love to hear them. I hope you all had an peaceful Christmas and are excited for all the good things 2017 can hold for you, I think it’s going to be one of the best years yet.