It’s coming to the end of the year and what better way to wrap it all up than to summarise all the lessons I’ve- probably painfully– learnt through trial and error. Some are new and some I knew (just hadn’t put into practice). I won’t make this intro or post too long as I am sure we all have better things to do – but hopefully there’s a few lessons here for you here too:
- You Need to Believe in Yourself
Simple enough. I always question myself. In fact, I began to doubt all of my experiences, believing my feelings were only valid if others were equally outraged. Otherwise, it was my problem. It probably didn’t happen- you are/hold the problem. Remove yourself, the problem no longer exists.
I realised it was bad when I had a negative experience and someone asked me: “Did that really happen?”
Loaded words. Instead of being firm and asking in return: Why would you ask that? Would you ask that to someone else? Do I have a history of lying? Am I unbelievable? … I concluded I couldn’t trust myself. I even began to doubt myself. I believed someone else’s judgement over my own. My self confidence suffered. My happiness suffered. I didn’t believe or trust myself, because it felt like others didn’t either. It was a weakness which could easily be exploited. I could literally have my hand in an open flame, feel pain, but because no one else acknowledged it I would try to ignore it too.
Middle of the year, I felt very vindicated. We had some honest conversations with people I grew distant with regarding the past and the “old me”, the younger version of me that didn’t care, and believed in herself. When I believed in my own judgement- regardless of the fear of being ostracised or being “palatable”. I realised I needed to re-centre myself. I needed to believe in myself. I set new work goals, I set new boundaries in relationships, I stood up for myself and I began grappling with the NHS regarding my health again. Amazingly, doors started to open, things started to change, I lost people and gained new ones.
I was not going to deny my feelings, pain, or experiences to make others feel comfortable. 2021 taught me to believe in me.
- Time Doesn’t Really Heal
Loss. So much loss in 2021. I cried. I didn’t cry. Then I cried again. I cried for new loss, I cried for old loss. At one point it seemed like people were passing away every other week, and it was exhausting.
The inability to travel to see family also made it harder to deal with it all. Attending funerals over Zoom, watching on YouTube, lighting a candle at home… It has been a weird experience that (while I’m thankful for the ability to still connect around the world), really made me realise how much of a void there still is.
I still think of those who are no longer here, whether they passed this year or before. I have always acknowledged that they need to live on within our hearts, but realising that time is not a healer really helped me feel normal. It’s OK to still be upset. It’s OK to still cry. You don’t have to be over anything. “Time” is not supposed to give you amnesia.
3. I’m Over Religion and Politics
Long gone are the days of pointless debates over religion and politics and I am happier for it. I felt like I was glossing over reality.
I disowned religious debates a few years back in all honesty. At one point I loved them. In uni, I would sit in the library, not writing my essays, debating religious concepts/theories, etc. The crux of it is, religious debates are riddled with fallacies and (after a while) they become circular. No one has the answers, and when backed into a corner, the only response is to “have faith”. Personally I would prefer to “have answers” – but I digress.
I also cannot help but feel somewhat offended and disappointed when someone you respected enough indicates you will be condemned to burning for eternity in hell or something extreme like that.
Politics has turned into the “educated” gossip mag. It is a complete circus. Throw COVID-19 in there and you have a good recipe for dividing public opinion. Everyone has an opinion, criticism, no solutions, no action. I became tired of being a hypocrite. As such, I have begun to slowly remove myself from political debates. You can keep your opinions- I am sure I have views you won’t like either. With politics, there is a type of venom that people seem to spew. It makes people froth at the mouth and become hurtful creatures. I have watched people I respect(ed) become classist and ignorant.
“You’re uneducated. You pleb. You xxxx and xxxx.”
4. Maintain a Good Heart
I like this person- this me. She takes time out and tries to be a better person to others. She takes pride in the people around her. She takes time out and tries to be a better person to herself.
So many Uber drivers have said I’ve made their day, random people have said I’m a kind person. It’s a lovely feeling to give and love others. It’s a great feeling to overcome the ease of just being mean. But even when I am being harsh, my sharp tongue can sometimes be abrasive to those around, there is nothing ever malicious within the meaning- there is only ever love and kindness.
This year, I know have become kinder because I love myself a bit more. It started with acceptance of negative feelings, and then transmuting them into something productive. Feelings such as:
Envy – I address this internally for fear of projecting onto others. Do not covet things which are not yours. Whatever you want, you can get yourself.
Greed – We can all eat. Share with others if you deem they are in need- but give what you are comfortable with to avoid fostering feelings of resentment.
Hatred – It is natural to feel. Sometimes this can be channelled into art. But this can also be a shackle to the past – release yourself from hatred as soon as you can.
5. Keep It Simple
As we get older, things get more complicated (I think this is through our own volition). We overcomplicate things. At times, I have had to address my own situations with the innocence of a child.
If a person does not make you feel good – don’t spend time with them
If you don’t want to do something – don’t do it
If you are not happy – find out why and try to be happy
If you feel bad about something – apologise
If you don’t feel bad for something – don’t apologise
If you are happy – SMILE, LAUGH, ENJOY
Just live. Stick to the basics. And when problems become too “adult” with all these layers of complications, guilt, vested interests, responsibility… strip it all the way back, and make it simple.
Don’t let life overwhelm you.