2018 was a year of learning for me—learning about myself and learning about others around me. It was the first year of my life that I truly felt I was making an effort to be happy, to uncover my purpose, and really go after what I wanted. Below are a few of the main things I learned throughout the last 12 months and how these lessons change my overall perspective and helped me grow.
Therapy Is A Vital Tool For Mental Health
I really didn’t understand how effective therapy was to my mental health until I made it a point in April to find a therapist I liked and learn as much as I could about myself. In that time I uncovered the reasons behind certain habits I had and also the key to changing aspects of myself that I didn’t like or that brought me anxiety. We are often told that we shouldn’t share our problems with others because it can be seen as narcissistic or overly negative, but the act of talking things out and unburdening our minds is oh-so-necessary in maintaining mental stability during difficult situations.
I Am Capable Of More Than I Think
I’ve never been the most confident person and often that has led to me not approaching certain opportunities out of the fear of failure. However, after pursuing my writing more seriously, making it my source of income and also moving to a different country within a few months time, I learned that I am capable of more than I give myself credit for. I often tend to shy away from new things because I never know how they will turn out or if I will succeed at them, but after 2018 I feel more comfortable saying ‘yes’ to more situations without as much fear of anxiety as I’d experienced in the years prior.
Physical Exercise Is The Answer To Most Of My Problems
Every time I stop working out for a long period of time I forget how much better I feel when I am moving my body regularly. After almost 2 years of not running, I started running regularly again in the summer of 2018 and it made a huge impact on my mental health and my body image issues. It showed me the importance of setting goals and following through with them as well as helped me clear my mind during the stressful few months before I made the move to London. When in doubt, go outside and move around!
It’s Not Lame To Get A Good Night’s Sleep
As someone in their 20’s, I always felt the pressure to want to stay up late, partying all night long and not really carrying about my overall well-being as much as I should. But, after a few months of really bad sleeps in 2018 I realized how important is it to rest your body as much as it needs to and not be ashamed of it. It doesn’t make me ‘old’ or ‘uncool’, it makes me smart and self-aware. I’m making it a point going forward to listen to what my body wants and follow through with it despite what I think others might think about it.
There’s No Reason To Force Myself Into Opportunities That Don’t Suit Me
I’m sure we all have an idea in our heads of what success looks like, but I didn’t realize how mismatched my version of it was to how I actually wanted to live my life. The idea of being in an office job and working my way up the corporate ladder in order to make more and more money had always been in the back of my mind, but it never quite felt like the right path for me. I enjoy working on my own and from the comfort of my home—clearly, freelance work is the right career path for me, but I never really knew that before 2018.
Granted, the lifestyle is very all over the place and you can never really be sure about how much money you will make every month, but I had always ignored my passion for writing as a career and tried to force myself into more traditional work. However, in 2018, after months of working with a regular client on a freelance basis, I realized how much more aligned with my values this type of working lifestyle was. I could make my own schedule and spend my days doing what I loved most—writing. I let go of any visions of what I thought I should be doing and worked toward cultivating what I actually enjoyed doing.
It’s Important To Treat Yourself (…Sometimes)
I wrote a post in November of 2018 about the importance of treating yourself and I still stand by it. I think it’s so vital to show yourself some love, especially on days that you might not be feeling your best. Of course, this treating should be done within reason and with fiscal responsibility, but i don’t think you should always shy away from buying that clothing or beauty item you’ve been lusting after. There have been instances in my life where I was going through physical and mental distress and bought something to make me feel better, only to instantly hate myself for doing it after. In 2018, I let all of that go. So what if I want to splurge a bit and enjoy myself? Money can always be made, whereas the burden of anxiety and unhappiness can last for a very, very long time.
Work/Life Balance Isn’t Just A Myth
I always thought that people who had a hard time balancing their work and their personal life were just exaggerating. Who wants to work more than they relax? It was only after I started working for myself and with a team I actually enjoyed that I realized it’s easy to forgo taking care of yourself in order to meet deadlines or to stress just a bit too much over a project that doesn’t need that much worry. Obviously, sometimes you need to work more than you want to, but after setting myself the rule of taking weekends off I began to feel much better about how I let myself enjoy my down time and also allowed my mind to prepare itself for when I had to work again.
I Don’t Have To Care About Everything
I am someone who cares a little too much about everything. I attribute that to the incessant anxiety I have, but it’s never something I thought I could stop until 2018 when I started working with a therapist and meditating regularly. It’s still a struggle to let go of certain things and not ruminate over mistakes I’ve made or what I could have done better, but I have improved when it comes to the kinds of things I care about. The things that don’t involve my family, friends, and partner are not taken as seriously.
Sure, I care about work, but I’m no longer going to let it stress me out to the point where it affects my mental and physical well-being. I’ve been down that road before and it was not fun. While I want everything to work out and be perfect, the reality is that it’s not possible. Perfection isn’t real and I’m beginning to realize that I only have control over certain things—the rest has nothing to do with me so I shouldn’t waste my energy on it.