2016 had highs and lows just like any other year. Many of us lost our footing, our way, and people we loved. I can’t promise you that 2017 is going to be easy, or better, but I can tell you that from all of these challenges comes strength. The strength we find in times of adversity and the people we cling to will continue to bring light into our lives in ways we can’t predict.
2016 taught me many things, and not all of them were easy to learn. A few of the lessons that I learned throughout the past year, I will carry with me for years to come.
- Pushing Your Limits is Beyond Rewarding! This year I didn’t back down from change, I embraced it and it taught me so much about myself. I pushed myself to travel and fulfill dreams I’d had that always intimidated me, and what I gained from that is more than I can put into words. I met new people, experienced new things, tried new food, and in the end I not only accomplished a dream of mine, but created many more.
- Independence is liberating. I learned that I am capable of being entirely independent, and more than that, I enjoy it. It’s okay to feel lonely sometimes, and it’s okay to rely on those you love. However, if you never force yourself to be truly independent, then you’ll never know the possibilities that come from it. For me, I learned that the more “me time” I had, the more I got to know what I really wanted from life.
- The Importance of Creativity. Growing up I always loved to write, but I don’t think I ever took the time to understand why that was. This year I learned that creativity, in any form you choose, is not only an expression of yourself, but an outlet that allows you to form and let go of emotion. The more you express yourself, the more you and those around you come to know and understand who you are as a person.
- Forgiveness is vital. Each and every one of us carry our share of burdens around with us. What I didn’t realize was just how much mine were weighing me down. This year I learned that forgiveness is a long and grueling process, but it’s so immensely important that we push ourselves to get there. With forgiveness comes opportunity, and it’s worth every aching second in order to get there.
- Above All, Be Open-Minded. This year I met people from all around the world while I travelled. These people ranged in age, sex, race, and culture, and I often made the mistake of relying too heavily on my ability to read people and not enough on my ability to get to know and understand people. The world is not made up of like-minded people, but people of all kinds, shapes, and sizes, and it takes more than a snap judgement to understand others. While I was too busy glaring at a couple fighting, I never stopped to think that maybe they had just lost a child. While I was too busy judging the dramatic drunk girl at the bar, I never stopped to think that maybe she had just had her heart broken. Every single person we meet is fighting their own battle, and never was this more important than in this past year.
Lately all I have read and seen is comments about how horrible 2016 was for everyone. What I haven’t seen enough of, is what people are willing to do about it, and what people learned from it. These are five lessons that I learned, and not all of them were learned out of positive experiences. In a way though, that’s what makes them so important. 2017 is unknown, and the best way to enter into this unknown, is to remember everything you have learned so far and prepare yourself for whatever comes next.