The takeaways from last year that will shape my 2016.
I’ll keep this intro short. 2015 has been a year of both struggles and triumphs. I have had a lot of wins, but not without a couple of losses along the way.
As we reach merely hours before the ball drops on this year, you’ll see a lot of recaps of the best moments as well as a down pour of New Year’s resolutions, a lot of hopeful promises that unfortunately never get achieved. I’ve fallen a number of times to this perpetual cycle, and in an attempt to break it, I’m bringing a fresh twist to an old trend. The end of 2015, leading into 2016 is all about reflection, looking back, but not dwelling on what has been and carrying those lessons into the future. Here are my reflections and lessons of 2015.
1. I let age become more than just a number.
Reflection: Drake made it big at 25. And there’s a bunch of kids that make millions even before they hit 18. This is what I’ve told myself for the past 12 months. I’m 23, and I told myself that aside from hard work, the key to success is achieving it at a young age. To most twenty-three is young, but I consumed myself with the idea that I have failed and soon enough, will have let my dreams pass me by.
Lesson: I am young. I’m not sixteen anymore, but it was never in my plan to become successful at that age. I wasn’t ready then, and I’m pretty sure I’m still not ready. The only way I could’ve wasted the few years I have lived, is if I decide to give up and quit putting in the work.
2. I adjusted my personality to fit in.
Reflection: Before I realized that I no longer liked making New Year’s resolutions, I would set a goal for myself to fit in, to not act weird or do anything out of the ordinary. This year I reached an all time high in masking my identity. I stayed quiet when I should’ve voiced my opinion; I failed to have a voice in fear that it would overpower or turn away others.
Lesson: I don’t need to go where I’m not wanted, or where I can’t give 100% of myself. I can’t alter myself for other people; I can’t hide the real me for likes or brownie points. No environment will benefit from me giving only a portion of who I am. There are atmospheres that will embrace whatever I can bring to the table. I just have to find them.
3. I allowed money to steer me astray.
Lesson: This year I made big moves, literally. I moved to New York in pursuit of a fresh start and ultimately a job. Instead of a permanent, salaried gig, I landed an internship and in order to make rent, I picked up a side job. The goal was to start saving up with the money from my side job while I kept looking for another position in my field of study. All it took was a couple of months to lead me astray. I allowed the steady paycheck to drag me into a state of complacence. In addition to being okay at where I was in that time, I also let my job run me into the ground, growing too tired to look for anything even if I wanted to.
Lesson: I can’t lose sight of the main goal for a temporary source of income. I’m too good at what I truly love to give it up for something that I dread doing, simply because it pays the bills.
4. I let stress and anxiety win.
Reflection: I get stressed when I lose my keys. I’m on the verge of an anxiety attack every time I think about the future. This year, I succumbed to my inner thoughts.
Lesson: I can’t tell myself to not let the anxiety build up or to not get stressed because at this moment, I don’t having a clear way of reaching that goal. So instead of suggesting the impossible, I need to find steps or a process to silencing the noise or clearing the skies when things seem to be overpowering.
5. I didn’t value my friendships.
Reflection: I’m the friend that never picks up the phone. I’m the one that can never be found, but once I am, I act like no time has passed at all. I hate phone calls and I barely like texting. I like to say that a good friendship is one where you can go months without speaking to each other and then act like nothing has changed when you link up. For me that works, but my friends have never been too happy with my out of sight, out of mind mentality. I can say all day that I love my friends and I value my relationships with them, but if I don’t make the efforts to reach out and talk to them other than when I’m physically next to them, then I can most likely kiss my relationships goodbye.
Lesson: If I value their friendship, I have to demonstrate that sentiment by reaching out. I can’t hope for people to see how I feel about them; I have to make the effort.
6. I engaged in competition.
Reflection: I like to win. I feed off of competition in every aspect of my life. While competition can be healthy in pushing oneself and sports, it’s not always the best mantra for the rest of life. I let the competitive drive in me back me into a corner of comparison. I looked at what others were doing and aimed to do and be better. I saw something they had, and sought to have something ten times better.
Lesson: The only person I am in competition with is myself. Comparison will only drag me down instead of building me up. I have to turn a blind eye to what everyone else is doing around me when it comes to my personal growth and journey. Wanting to be the best is okay, but I should aim to be the best in my profession, my career, not for the merits of having bragging rights.
7. I listened… too much.
Reflection: With the exception of my mom, I listened to way too many people. I sat back and allowed other people to tell me what I needed to do or what direction I should go in.
Lesson: You have to crawl before you walk and you have to listen before you act. But I can’t allow too many voices to overshadow my own. I will always need a little guidance along the way, but the most powerful voice to listen to is my own.
8. I became fearful instead of fearless.
Reflection: Fear has determined most of my decision this year. I didn’t speak up because I was afraid of what people would think. I didn’t go for certain opportunities because I was afraid I would fail. I’ve let fear get the best of me.
Lesson: I have to follow my initial gut. I have to take practical risks. I can no longer hide behind fear. If an idea comes to me and it seems like it’s possible, I should go for it.
9. I succumbed to gossip.
Reflection: I’m a girl, I like to partake in gossip. I know that is a terrible excuse, but it’s the truth. I’ve never thought it was a problem to listen to gossip; I wasn’t doing any harm. It was only until I actually took a hand in sharing gossip that I had to reconsider.
Lesson: When I hear gossip, my only job is to run the other way. Gossip is fun and it fills the time, but being an accessory in its madness can only lead to trouble.
10. I didn’t give myself enough credit.
Reflection: I am my biggest critic. I punish myself for not something, and I punish myself for doing it. Whatever it is, I’m the first person to attack and the last one to let it go.
Lesson: I have to learn to give myself credit when it’s due. It’s okay to acknowledge areas where I could use improvement, but I have to also look at the things that I get right. When accomplish something, I should give myself a pat on the back. It doesn’t have to be a long celebration, just something to say good job.
11. I imagined success but never made plans to achieve it.
Reflection: We all have different perspectives on what success looks like. Some people see a big house and a bunch of cars, others see a lucrative career. I haven’t mastered my final view of success, but I have spent a lot of time constructing it in day dreams. And for the most part, that’s where the planning has ended.
Lesson: Daydreams aren’t plans. It’s wonderful to dream about you want, but it’s even better to act on it. This year I have to implement what I see when I close my eyes. And instead of going in blind, I need to execute a fully thought-through plan.
12. I dwelled too much on past mistakes.
Reflection: I wanted to move forward this year and forget about all of the mistakes I’ve made and the wrong that I’ve done. That was my plan, but some how I let the memories force their way into my current situation.
Lesson: I can’t move forward if I’m constantly looking back. This year is all about reflection and letting go.
13. I didn’t surround myself with likeminded people.
Reflection: They say the best way to achieve your potential is to surround yourself with similar or smarter people even. This year, I didn’t surround myself with anyone. I chose solitude in the comforts of my bedroom instead of going out and engaging in conversation and forming relationships.
Lesson: I need to get off my ass and make something of my days. I can complain all I want about not having the right group of friends to spend my weekends with or how expensive it is to be in NYC, but if I’m not willing to first get dressed and get up, then I can’t expect much to change. Surrounding myself with people who have the same drive and goals will only heighten my level of success and growth.
14. I let romance cloud my judgment.
Reflection: I hadn’t been in a healthy relationship before, so when I came close to the possibility of being in one, I think I ran instead of walked. I wouldn’t say that I lost myself, but I prioritized differently than I would’ve before.
Lesson: A relationship isn’t a priority. It’s nice to want to share happiness with another person, but priorities can’t change because of it.
15. I didn’t share my work.
Reflection: I’ve been in this game of creating for some time now, and 2015 was a great year for creating. I had the opportunity to publish a lot of work for other publications and even write a couple of things for myself. But no one would have known that I’ve written more than the 140 characters I posted on Twitter. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of the work that I’ve done, but when I comes time to sharing it, I hold off. Published work is for people to read of course, but for some reason I’m scared for people to read it. Generally, I tell myself that if my work is really that good, some one will eventually discover it and share it for me.
Lesson: Whether I write a feature story, personal essay, or a short blog post, I need to promote my work. I have to be proud of the work that I put out in the world and believe that it is worth at least on read.