16 Things I learned in 2016

Hey end-of-2015 Em,

How are things? If I remember rightly, around about now you are pretty damn happy, probably the happiest you’ve been in 2015. You’re working a lot because of the Christmas rush, you’re dating a nice guy and you’re excited to be returning to university in January. For once, you feel like things seem to be going in your favour.

I don’t want to burst your bubble but a fair amount of unexpected and not all that pleasant stuff is going to happen this year. Aside from global politics going really, really bananas and every cool famous person dying, your own life takes quite a few unusual turns. The good thing is, you learn a lot about yourself because of them.

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1. It turns out, you deal with being cheated on like a rockstar. Really, I didn’t know you had it in you. The sad part is that despite being awesome about it, he doesn’t really talk to you again. Which still hurts, even now. But stay strong in the knowledge that it was nothing that YOU did wrong. You are tough, kind and patient and sometimes there isn’t anything you can do to stop people walking out of your life, no matter how strong your friendship once was.

2. You are going to drop out of university.

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Yeah, I know. And guess what? It’s not the end of the world. For a while you’re gonna feel like a massive fucking failure and it’s going to be hard. But then in April you’re going to get accepted into the University of Manchester despite them originally saying no, because you don’t really do giving up very well and decide to go over everyone’s head to the course co-ordinator who loves your application even though you can’t speak Portuguese. Well done you.

3. Oh yeah, you sort-of speak Portuguese now. Which means you’re one step closer to your goal of being fluent in five languages. Yay!

4. Repeat after me: There. Is. No. Way. Of. Controlling. Every. Aspect. Of. Your. Life.

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Yes, in 2016 you FINALLY come to terms with the fact that you are a control freak (due to issues from childhood blah blah). You realise that it is no-one’s fault that they can’t read your mind – really, you should be quite glad of that – and you are also trying to deal with the idea that you can’t always predict what other people are going to do either. This is an ongoing struggle that you’ve not long begun, but you’re already seeing so many improvements because of it.

5. You’re finally going to be OK with your sexuality. After all the years of pretending to be super cool about being bisexual/pansexual, but actually falling apart on the inside because you’re so confused, one day it’s just going to click. That day is in October. You’re going to have a conversation with your therapist about it, cry to your Mum in Morrison’s car park and then somehow, it’s just going to make sense. You like girls and boys and people of all genders and it’s OK.

6. You are not losing your mind. Even when it really, really feels like it. Breathe. Calm. It’s OK. The depression lifts and then PTSD kicks in, which wasn’t really what you’d bargained for, but you’re going to get through this. You had your first trauma therapy session last week.

7. Stop calling yourself ‘crazy’ and ‘unhinged’. It’s unhealthy and you start to believe it.

8. You don’t have to take other people’s advice. You are going to do some things this year and people are going to tell you that you are wrong to do them. Repeatedly. Don’t listen to them. Go with your gut and do right by you. I promise it will save you a whole lot of trouble.

9. Forgiveness is beautiful and powerful and freeing. You have to forgive a few people this year for some pretty big things. Well you don’t have to, but you choose to. It is worth the trouble, I promise.

10. You go back to Mexico. You go back to Mexico. For a whole frigging month. It is wonderful. You’re planning to go again this summer. You can’t wait. You’re no longer afraid.

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A bunch of beautiful humans, Mexico City Airport

11. There is no right way to have a relationship. I know you’re not one for rom-coms but you do seem to think that that’s how relationships should look. Problems with this are:

a) That is a stupidly impossible standard that not even you could reach

b) You don’t like drama

c) You don’t like conforming to stereotypical gender roles so stop trying to do it (seriously, you suck at it anyway)

The moral is, just be yourself and relax. Everyone is making this stuff up and you’ll be a lot happier if you stop analysing things all the time.

11. Oversharing when you are upset doesn’t make you a bad person.

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I mean, it’s probably sensible to think a little more about who you tell private details of your life to, but at the end of the day, spewing the truth when you’re down isn’t the end of the world. Honestly, everyone is too wrapped up in their own lives to get be caught up with what’s going on in yours. You do not need to obsess over and regret the things you did when you were feeling low and seeking reassurance. Move on, try again and do better next time.

12. You’ll be surprised at just how much you can do by yourself. For a few months in 2016 you’re going to feel extremely lonely. Some stuff in your life is going to blow up and people are going to need to walk away for a little while for their own self-preservation. It’s not fun. It’s scary and difficult and you cry a lot, but ultimately, you get through that time without the help of those people. And even better, they actually come back in the end. Not everyone walks away forever, it turns out.

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Solo Nando’s trip because YUM

13. It’s also OK to ask for help or not want to do things alone. You’ve learned a lot about balance this year, about not taking too much on, but also that you can do more than you thought. In all the independence and realising that usually, you don’t actually need anyone else’s help, don’t forget that it’s still OK to want it and admit when you are struggling on your own.

14. Being ill hasn’t ruined your life. It has made you slow down. It has made you do some serious self-reflection. It has made you realise the value of so many things.

15. You need to stop taking life so seriously. You like to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, which is dumb because you are one human in billions and you can’t fix everything. You don’t need to feel so guilty when you spend a day having fun instead of trying to put the world to rights. Enjoy yourself, play board games and read Terry Prachett without feeling like you’re wasting your time because you’re not. Any time spent being happy is time well spent.

16. Finally, don’t forget to remind yourself just how far you’ve come. You are so much better than you have been in a long time. You have made mistakes and worked through them. You still haven’t given up. I’m so proud of you.

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Love,

End-of-2016 Em

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4 thoughts on “16 Things I learned in 2016

  1. Fantastic list! Number 4 – YAS! If there’s one thing I have learned it’s that life is unpredictable and things never go as planned, no matter how hard I try to make sure they do. 15 and 16 too. I don’t stop often enough to just look around me, and to acknowledge all the good things happening in my life. Very uplifting, inspiring post to end the year with. Lovely blog too.

    Would you be interested in writing/sharing a couple of articles regarding issues such as life, identity and self-awareness on Creators.co? I’d love to see more if this kind of content on the platform as we continue to branch out. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail for more information. You can find my contact details on my blog. Hope to hear from you.

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