As mentioned in my introductory post, a lot happened to me in the year of 2016. I listed all of my accomplishments, but I didn’t list any of my shortcomings and mistakes. Trust me, I am the furthest thing from Little Miss Perfect , but I get one step closer to being a better person after learning from every mistake I made. Here are sixteen things I learned about myself – and others – throughout the course of 2016.
1. The length of a friendship is insignificant if it carries no substance. Quality over quantity. There are people with whom I’ve been friends with since my teens that I just drifted apart from, and there are people with whom I’ve crossed paths with a year ago that I just couldn’t live without. It doesn’t mean that you or the other person did anything to sever the ties of the friendship, but distance just may be what’s best. People grow apart and there’s not really much you can do to help it because you can’t force it.
2. Cut the cord. Do not hang onto something just because you like the idea of it and you
favour its potential over what’s actually right in front of you. Whether it be a best friend or a relationship with a significant other, unhealthy collaboration is never the solution to getting things done. Sometimes you have to just let them go.
3. Do what’s best for you. I came to the realization this year that my twenties are my years to be selfish in the best way possible, even though that sounds extremely contradictory. Oftentimes more than none, people sacrifices their needs for the wants of others. Do what makes you happy. Unless they’re feeding you or financing you, people do not have any jurisdiction over your happiness. That includes best friends, family members, boyfriends, and girlfriends. If you know that they’re holding you back, it’s either they come with you for the ride or you let them go. Plain and simple.
4. Don’t seek happiness in the wrong places. I am very guilty of seeking pleasure where pleasure shouldn’t be sought. Don’t resort to drinking, partying or sex just because it makes you feel good in the moment. Try to take a step back and think about if you’re going to feel the same way when you wake up the next day. A minute of mistakes can lead to a lifetime of regrets.
5. Know your own limits. When I was watching the new season of America’s Next Top Model, Rita Ora told a story about posing nude on the cover of a magazine. While she was comfortable with exposing “the girls”, she dictated that she would not be showing her lower half and it would not be compromised. Know yourself and never compromise who you are.
6. Push yourself past your comfort zone. Be bold. Be daring. Be proud. Be aggressive. Have you always wanted to move to the big city to start your career as a news anchor even though you’re from North Dakota? Studying abroad for six months was the most scariest, heart-dropping, life-changing, most wonderful, beautiful experience I have ever embarked on all because I pushed myself to go and I know I wasn’t ever going to be able to get that experience again. Don’t hold yourself back.
7. Life is too short. Self-explanatory, really. Why spend all day glued to the computer watching YouTube videos, when you can make your own channel? Why spend all day reading books when you can just write one? There are only twenty-four hours in a day and if you’re like me, by the time you wake up, the day is pretty much over. Spend your days being productive and figuring out ways to live your life to the fullest.
8. Find a creative outlet. Throughout my last semester at Spelman College, I struggled to balance my seminar papers, my social life, dating (or at least trying to), and looking like I actually love myself. It’s important to take a step back from the things you have to do and find time for something that you want to do. My creative outlet was joining Groove Theory Dance, and even for those two hours of rehearsal on Sundays and Mondays, I was completely taken away from every stressful situation that was going on. A creative outlet doesn’t have to be anything that requires getting up. You can watch makeup tutorials, write a short story, or even meditate. What’s yours?
9. A relationship isn’t everything. I told myself last year that I was ready to get back into the whole dating thing considering that I was officially over my ex, his clothes were gone and all of his pictures were deleted after spending hours on my social media accounts. I was really excited to have someone love me and tell me I’m pretty (yes, I’m one of those girlfriends) and realized that my head was in the game for the wrong reason. In 2017, even though I am single, I am happily single and do not want to go out looking for a relationship. When it’s time for me to find someone, it’ll happen, but I am totally done forcing it.
10. Self-love is key to survival. One of my internal demons would have to be struggling with self-confidence, but I came to the conclusion that you feel good when you look good. It doesn’t matter if you like shopping, makeup or spending hours in the bathroom getting ready. There’s nothing wrong with a little pamper session, whether it be treating yourself to a pedicure in the middle of finals week to going out and buying that new sweatshirt you like with your refund check that would look pretty dope with those new Timbs of yours. A little bit of self-love will definitely increase your confidence anywhere you go.
11. Be your own person. Don’t spend your life waiting on others to tell you what to do or give you a sense of direction as to what you should do. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with asking for advice – which is an area in which I struggle – but don’t make their word some type of biblical law. Don’t be known as the person who followed the trends, be known as the person who started them. Just because all of your friends are going to graduate school, doesn’t mean you have to. Just because your family wants you to take the practical path, doesn’t mean you have to. Be your best you.
12. Slow down. I’ve always been an on-the-go person, but that was what led to one of my major psychotic breakdowns. I didn’t know how to stop. I was like the Energizer Bunny and the Road Runner had a baby and the amniotic sac was filled with thirty-five shots of espresso shipped straight from Colombia. I was so busy worrying about what job I was going to have after college and making sure my resume had zero spots, that I lost sight of what it was like to really enjoy life as a college graduate. I’ve always had the mentality that if I’m not doing something productive, then someone could be doing something to take my place. Nevertheless, it’s okay to stop and smell the roses, pansies or whatever and take a break from this thing called life.
13. Not everything requires a response. Yeah, you know those kids that you see pretty much wildin’ out and you just want to put a muzzle on them? Guilty. My best friends always tell me that my mouth is completely reckless and I tend to fly off the handle sometimes with my responses, but there is nothing wrong with taking a step back to analyze the situation and returning to it when you have all of your thoughts together.
14. Communication is a major key. How is a problem ever going to get solved if you never express what said problems really are? Whether you’re having a problem with a professor at school, your parents, or a significant other, tell them what’s on your mind in a respectful manner, or else they won’t know what’s wrong and they will continue to offend or annoy you because they didn’t know. At that point, who is really to blame?
15. Competition can be cute and classy. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition here and there for the highest grade in the class or the solo in a dance routine, but there gets to be a point where there is no competition needed. At Spelman College, I have no problem admitting to the things I have seen when girls have gone completely bananas over a guy that doesn’t want them, a spot to pledge, or a pageant that wouldn’t matter once they got their degrees. Guys, you all are no better either. Synergy and collaboration are the only way in which the Black community can succeed as a conglomerate and put ourselves up top and be a force to be reckoned with.
16. Learn from your mistakes doesn’t mean running away from your problems. Going
into a new year is a time where people choose to reinvent themselves and start over completely, but there’s really no such thing as completely starting over. You can’t just wipe away your existence as though you never were. Reflect on the new year, learn from your mistakes and take those lessons into next year with an open mind.