Sixteen Important Lessons 2016 Taught Me

As I type this, it’s Christmas Eve and I’ve just gotten home from delivering all my presents to family members around town so I’m feeling super festive and ready to sit down and talk all about the big, chunky year that 2016 has been! (Also take this as an apology if you’re reading this mid-May because I’m feeling so Christmassy that I can’t guarantee there won’t be seven million references to the Christmas period in this post!)

Last year, I wrote a post similar to this about 9 things that I’d learnt through 2015 – I’m not sure why I chose 9 things: I feel like I aimed for 10, got to 9 and thought “eh, that’s probably all the learnin’ I’ve done this year”. Well. This year has definitely been a LOT more productive – because I’m coming at you today with a whopping 16 things! And without further ado, let’s get into the nitty gritty..

2016 lessons

RADIATE POSITIVITY

Okay, okay, the term “radiate positivity” gets thrown around a heck of a lot online. And while I’m sure I can hear the collective rolling of eyes by readers of this, let me just back myself up for a sec. This year has been pretty damn hard. Like, I’m surprised at the roadblocks I’ve come up against these past 12 months. And if I’ve come away learning anything from them, it’s that life is too short to be negative all the time.

It’s too short and it’s too important to spend your days ignoring that glinting silver lining peeking behind any clouds covering your skies. From just calming myself down in times of stress and reminding myself to look on the bright side, I’ve actually made myself feel better and actually have a better experience each and every day. So definitely try and radiate positivity, because you never know – people you come across could be having awful days too and by seeing you being all positive they could be encouraged to not feel so glum either.

NEVER STOP LEARNING

I don’t think much more is important than to be constantly learning and growing in this world: whether that’s from your experiences, or from new skills or even just in better and different ways to accomplish things that you do day in and day out. I’ll always stand by the idea that nobody knows so much that there’s nothing new they can learn in their field. Education grows you as a person, and from opening myself up to learning as much as I can, I feel like I’ve grown a bunch this year and can’t wait to grow more and more next year too.

BE PASSIONATE

Passion is such a beautiful thing. It’s a beautiful, shimmering thing that I’ve seen be discouraged and mocked again and again while taking on full-time work. With that, I can’t stress how important it is for you to embrace your passions and not care what anybody says about them: because when you put them to good use, not only will you get so much satisfaction but you’ll be creating something beautiful in this world too.

FOCUS ON YOUR OWN JOURNEY

With social media, it’s so easy to look at other people on the same path as you and constantly compare yourself to them. The way the world works, we’re seeing people compared against each other on the daily. Magazines, TV, all forms of media do it. “Which celebrity wore it better.” “Which celebrity is dating which celebrities ex and makes them happier.” “Which celebrity is more successful than which celebrity.” But you can’t compare your page one to somebody else’s chapter twenty, or anything else to that effect.

Everybody is on their own journey: you’ll get to the destination at some point, but in the mean time you need to enjoy the present.

“HEALTHY” IS A SUBJECTIVE TERM

Constantly having “body goals” shoved down our throats day in, day out is an extremely difficult thing to deal with. I know on a personal level I’ve fought (and still am fighting) a continuous battle with body image and what the media portrays as healthy vs. what actually is healthy. I think everybody comes up against that feeling of falling short because their body isn’t like somebody on the cover of a certain magazine, or as a character on a certain television show that they love. And that sucks.

But it’s so important to remember that health is a vastly subjective term. What a lot of magazines brand as healthy is not healthy in any way, shape or form – and the path that a lot of models are unfortunately under pressure to take so they can achieve these body types are extremely unhealthy also. A healthy body is about loving yourself, and feeling confident in the skin you’re in.

HAPPINESS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PRIORITY

Continuing on from my last point, a healthy mindset is as important, if not even more important than physical health. And that’s why one thing you should prioritise the most is your happiness. Make sure what you’re doing is making you happy: that it’s fulfilling your life and is making you feel accomplished. We’re only put on this Earth once and nobody should spend their days feeling like they aren’t happy or fulfilled.

LIFE IS A TWO-WAY STREET

Human interaction can be hard sometimes. Ignore me if I’m sounding incredibly feeble, but sometimes it’s pretty easy to just assume someone’s going to do something and then get angry when they don’t without even assuming that: hey, you – yeah, you – life is a two-way street ya know. You could do exactly this thing instead, and sometimes other people can be living their lives and just forget what it is you’re expecting them to do. Does that make sense?

Basically, if life was a dance: sometimes the choreography can get so difficult for some people that they might miss a step or two, and if you’re waiting on them to perform a certain move for you and they don’t then sure, that can be pretty sucky – but ya know you could just perform the move instead and then you two can finish the dance and everything will be brilliant. Does that make sense?

BE BRAVE

Excuse how cringe-y this might sound, but every time I’ve come up against something I’d usually refuse this year, I’ve muttered to myself “life begins at the end of your comfort zone” as some sort of motto and found a strange sort of strength in that. Last year, I spoke about how my comfort zone had been stretched just by driving on a motorway – this year, I pushed that even further by flying to America and driving around there too. Whereas, if I’d never pushed myself to drive motorways alone in the first place, I probably wouldn’t have accomplished either of those things. And my work would be a lot more difficult because nobody would hire a cameraman that can’t get around the country!

But seriously, I can’t emphasise how important it is to be brave and maybe find a quote that resonates with you too, then in times of difficulty you can repeat it and find strength in yourself.

NEVER TAKE KINDNESS FOR GRANTED

Kindness from others can be a fleeting thing. That’s a sad fact: I wish people were a lot nicer to each other constantly. Heck, I’m going to go full Mean Girls and say I wish everybody could bake a cake of rainbows and love each other. But I guess I just have a lot of feelings. Anyway, a lesson I’ve learnt this year is not to take other people’s kindness for granted: because people will hold out a hand of kindness to you and if you appreciate it, it’ll mean a lot more to them than if you didn’t.

TRAVEL WILL TEACH YOU UNREADABLE LESSONS

THIS. This to a thousand degrees of yes. After Brexit, Scott and I looked at each other and collectively decided that now is as good a time as any to see the heck out of Europe. I had shamefully neglected this gorgeous continent over my life, and now that I’ve booked and been on trips (with a lot more coming up, too!) I can’t even begin to deny the lessons I’ve learnt from travelling around. From seeing these beautiful, humbling sights of nature in the most gorgeous way. You just learn things not only about yourself but about the world too, while you’re experiencing and seeing as much of it as you possibly can.

TREAT EVERYBODY WITH RESPECT

This is a pretty obvious one, but it’s something I’m sure everybody’s had difficulty with once or twice in their life. Sometimes you’re just having an awful day and you take it out on people you really should never – or sometimes somebody who’s having an awful day comes and takes it out on you when they really should never – regardless of who is doing what, everybody should check themselves. Every single person and animal on this Earth deserves to be treated with respect.

“THE IDEA THAT SOME LIVES MATTER MORE IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL IN THIS WORLD.”

Nobody knows each other’s story, not fully, and not only based on what somebody might be going through at any given time – I just wish people treated each other with a lot more respect.

BOOKS ARE BEAUTIFUL: READ MORE OF THEM

Books. I love them so much. I don’t know if you can tell by my previous posts, but I’m a bit of a bookworm. Last year, I hadn’t read nearly as many books as I’d intended, so I got myself a Goodreads account to keep myself accountable for what I have read, want to read and generally to keep up with seeing what other people are reading and loving at the moment! (If you’re interested in following me, my Goodreads page is here.) Because of doing that, I’ve actually had such a good time this year setting a reading goal and accomplishing it while also ticking off books from my TBR.

I’m hoping to write a reading wrap-up post before the New Year, but reading is something I’m super passionate about and I just love the expression of writing/reading and can’t wait to do more and more of it next year too!

DON’T GET CAUGHT UP IN THE DESTINATION

I touched on this before about comparing yourself to others – it’s so easy to have your mind set on where you’re going that you forget to look around at where you are and really take it in. You might be working a job you’re not a big fan of to get you through Uni, but when you’ve graduated and look back on the days spent working at that store with the people you’re working with, I can guarantee you that you’ll miss it even if it’s only in that tiny amount of missing something that happens in a secret part of the back of your brain that you’ll never admit to anyone ever.

Enjoy your present, because before you know it, it’ll be your past and like everybody says: you can never relive your past. Unless you’re in Groundhog Day.

ART IS SUBJECTIVE: DON’T LET OPINION STOP YOU

People have a lot of opinions. I feel like opinions are the most human thing ever, the whole world is based on people’s opinions: what people think is good and what people think is bad. A lot of people I surround myself with have lots of opinions, and sometimes their opinions scare me. I’m not going to lie. I’ve held back from making things or suggesting things because I’ve been anxious that their opinion of me will change in a bad way by thinking less of me for creating or suggesting what I just did.

But in 2017, I’m going to try harder to silence that voice that yelps “what if people hate it!?” and make more of what I like. Like I said in the first point, life is too damn short. Create that art. Make that suggestion. Those who matter won’t mind, and those that mind don’t matter. Thanks for that little lesson, Dr Seuss.

YOU’RE NEVER TOO BUSY

*Deep point alert, deep point alert* Life can get pretty damn busy at times. Sometimes you blink and a whole month has gone by – sometimes you’re living your day running from thing to thing to thing that you get home at the end of the day and just aren’t mentally capable of doing anything other than sleep. But showing others that you love them, whether that’s by something as menial as sending a little text to let them know you’re thinking of them, is such an important act especially when you’re busy and rushing around because it lets other people know that even when you’re busy as heck you still care.

That might sound really lame idk but it’s something I think I’ve learnt this year: to just show other people how much I love and appreciate them more and I wanted to put it in here because it just really warms my cockles (I might have just ruined this entire post by using that saying. If I have I apologise. Kinda.)

FIGHT NEGATIVITY WITH A SMILE: NOT POISON

Some people aren’t the nicest. And sometimes, when you’re faced with people who can sometimes say things so mean it makes you lose your breath just a little bit (it’s happened to us all I’m sure) then some creature of anger and humility shows up in your place and says something they reeeeeally shouldn’t say and makes the whole situation about a million times worse. This sounds like you? Yeah, it’s literally me too. Literally me more times than I’d like to admit.

Now, though, instead of groping at the first retort my mind can conjure: I just smile. Because I refuse to let somebody’s cruelty drag me down to their level. Instead, just let their comments roll off you like water – this is toxic water that definitely shouldn’t be consumed at any cost.

As always, thank-you so much for reading this post.

I hope you’re having a lovely day and have had a lovely year, too. Merry Christmas, and I hope you all have a very happy New Years.

Thanks for everything 2016.

Michael
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