With 2017 quickly coming to an end, I wanted to share 5 life lessons I learnt in 2017. Seem familiar? I wrote a post just like this last year. This is going to start becoming an annual thing 🤔 I find it awesome to see how my mindset has changed over time!
1. Travelling isn’t *that* scary
I still remember when I first got onto the plane to Lisbon in March. It was the first time I was travelling without my family by my side comforting me and my irrational fear of travelling. Minutes into the flight, I found myself staring outside – instead of avoiding – the tiny plane window in awe.
Our world is so beautiful.
Over my travels this year, I learnt a hell lot of lessons. It wasn’t all glam and incredible shots that you see on Instagram, it was full of challenges, like trying to navigate countries I didn’t know the native language of, having creeps following us around and asking me to marry them because “love at first sight” apparently exists, trying to understand how the transport system works without breaking down for fear of missing a flight and you know, actually missing a flight.
On the flip side of the challenges we all face eventually on the road, there are a lot of positives that outweigh them. My experience of …
- 🇫🇷 Running into the freezing cold Medeterrian Sea, thinking that it’s warm.
- 🇵🇹 Taking a train away from the main tourist city to a quieter calm town and seaside (I used to be afraid of taking trains in the UK, so this was such an achievement)
- 🇳🇱 Going to an incredible museum of Science and Technology covered in daffodils
- 🇪🇸 Laughing at my first sunburn
- 🇲🇨 Feeling super underdressed and the odd one out in a sea of rich, fancy-owning car owners
- 🇮🇹 The cold breeze in Lake Como
- 🇺🇸 Realising what love is, how exciting life is, how New York City is pretty dang real.
- 🌎 The exciting life beyond everything I had known.
I thought my life in Sheffield was everything life had to offer, but I was proven wrong with each adventure and now I’m hungry for more!
2. Generalising sucks
It’s embarrassing for me to admit but there was some sad emotion that empowered me whenever I said the words: MEN ARE TRASH.
It might’ve been because of the failed, hurtful relationships from the past and the numerous guys who have said degrading things over time. I think it’s common for us to go on an anti-men rant and start generalising every guy on the planet and beyond after a break-up.
I admit I did it too. For a long time.
I was so convinced that every guy on this planet has the same thoughts, the same intentions of doing nothing but to degrade, put down and make us feel like shit. While this is true with some guys (actively avoid them, please ladies), not all of them are. When I realised this, I stopped saying it because I disliked how it made me feel about myself. I didn’t like people generalising me because of my gender and/or race, so why I should generalise other people?
It wasn’t until I became willing to meet new people that I realised that not every guy is trying to stop me in my tracks. It surprised me that some even are lifting me up as high as possible to help – something not even some fellow sisters would do. Or when I started dating again, not every guy I started seeing wanted me for just one thing
(apart from that one guy I punched in the face, but that’s another story) in fact some actually cared about me as a fellow human being.
I learnt how to stop generalising and tried to interact with people without already having an opinion about them based on my experience with guys in the past. I believe that I’ve formed better relationships because of this.
**Men who are trash are those that are oppressive, sexist, disgusting, vile with the things they say and action against humans
and look like a bag of Wotsits.**
3. Not everyone is going to like you
And that’s okay.
This year, I put myself out of my comfort zone countless times. I was eager to see how far I could go by pushing myself and where my potential lay. So I spent a lot of time documenting, reflecting, writing and sharing my discoveries through my blog and social media.
Putting the work in my online presence this year resulted in positive growth online and that was fantastic for me. Afterall, I wanted my work to be seen by as many people as possible. What lifted this positive growth even higher is the incredible support group I have that continue to share my excitement. But I learnt that it is inevitable that not every single person in the world is necessarily going to like my work… or me.
Unsurprisingly, almost hand in hand with all the love I’ve received, I’ve had a lot of criticism (which is fine!) but more so, unnecessary hate. I received comments from, “there’s something wrong with you for sharing your progress” to “nobody is jealous of you. There’s nothing to be jealous about.” I’ve also been blocked by “friends” and actively excluded from events more times than I can count this year.
When this first started happening, my anxiety took over me. I wanted to quit everything I loved doing and just disappear. After reminder after reminder, a hell lot of meditation and my incredible supportive circle, I snapped out of it.
My reaction is no longer to be upset or feel bitter about it. Instead, I’ve focused on fully understanding that other people’s hate and jealousy have nothing to do with me instead it is a reflection of them. Their negative feelings suck, but it sucks having them too! So now whenever I can, I treat these people with compassion and love or choose to ignore and distance myself because life is too short to consume myself in other people’s personal problems (like their relationship with themselves.)
This thread on Twitter summarised this lesson for me SO WELL.
4. I am my most important project
I learnt that everything starts with myself and that I am my highest priority at all times.
How do I feel about myself? How do I see myself? Where do I want to be? Am I where I want to be right now? Am I happy with how I look at myself? If not, how can I improve?
In previous years, I started to dislike everything I saw in the mirror – my mind was “too weak”, my body was “too fat”, I wasn’t smart enough, I was never good enough – I insulted myself daily until those insults became something I lived and breathed.
It wasn’t until I sat down and started practising meditation and mindfulness that I realised that it was a huge issue. Eventually, I became my biggest bully, my biggest hater. I grew tired of it and promised myself to change.
I actively committed to this project: Project Me (ASF)
- saying anything bad about myself from the way I look to my abilities. I shifted my mind to praises, and yes, that means talking to my reflection and screaming “Wow, Pauline. You are looking mighty fine and that brain is a cherry on top, amirite?” I am kinder to myself.
- blaming myself for things that went wrong that were totally out of my control.
- comparing myself to others. I am me; I am not her or him or them. They have completely different stories and situations.
- trying to get everyone to like me. Because some people are just going to hate for no reason, that’s their problem. NOT MINE.
- saying that I am fat. I have fat, yes. Just like everyone else. And they’re amazing because they protect my organs. Fuck yeah.
- to maximising my physical health. I started working out, 5-6 days a week for a whole year. I am now the most body-positive I have ever been.
- to self-care. Whenever I’m stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, I take a minute to focus on things that help me calm down. I established a coping routine full of loving-kindness towards myself when I’m about to launch into a panic.
- to mindfulness with everything from building better relationships to the food I put in my body.
- in letting go of things that weren’t bringing anything positive to my life.
- to believing in myself.
And you know what? I deserve it, and you do too.
5. The impact of saying I can x100
I will chant it in my head every day as challenges slap me in the face. This year I witnessed the power of believing in yourself…
- I went above and beyond my placement year – completed, nominated, won and shortlisted for several awards.
- I went on to do two more placements in the tech industry, an industry I didn’t think would welcome me with such open arms.
- I spoke in public at meet-ups, conferences and seminars (I still can’t believe this happened!)
- I secured a Web Developer freelance job and several creative projects where I got to try out different ways of expression
- I was nominated for two Northern Power Women awards
- I smashed my fitness goals: I’m stronger, healthier and happier
…All because I said I can!
And if I couldn’t do anything at the time, I religiously told myself that “If I can’t do something now, I will learn until I can.”
Rewiring my mind to think more positively about myself, others and life have been life-changing, I saw the results all unfold in front of me this year… It’s powerful.
What are the 5 things you’ve learnt this year? Comment below or link me to your blog posts!
I wish you all a wonderful Christmas!