2018 gave me a lot of opportunities for growth – I went through a lot of big life changes, rediscovered old dreams, and found new ones. Keep reading for my thoughts and reflections on the year and the five main lessons I learned. Here’s to 2019 – I know it’s going to be a great one!
Happy (almost) New Year, everyone! Looking back on 2018, all I can say is WOW. 2018 was quite a year for me. I graduated with my Master’s degree and started a full-time job less than a week after graduating, my fiancé finished graduate school, we planned our wedding (almost done planning – woohoo!), are renovating our new condo and moved out of the apartment we lived in for almost four years…and of course, I started this little thing called Well Wild World largely on a whim I had in the middle of the night a few months ago. (That may have been my longest sentence ever. Whew, I’m beat from just writing it!)
So, it’s been quite a year, filled with a lot of change, challenges, and a LOT of growth. 2019 will bring its fair share of changes, challenges, and growth, too, I’m sure – but one thing I’m greatly looking forward to in 2019 is feeling more settled. I’ll be settling into married life (so exciting!) in a new home Steve and I have created together, settling into my job, and settling into my new passion as a poet, blogger, and (hopefully soon) badass businesswoman. I’ll talk more about my intentions for 2019 and all the avenues I want to explore in my next post, so for now I want to share the top 5 (cause we know 5 is my lucky number here on this blog…I can’t seem to shake it so why try) lessons from 2018.
1. Just when you feel like you have everything all “figured out,” you learn that you don’t…and probably never will. And that’s a good thing!
Earlier this year I thought I had a clear path. I had a plan. I don’t like NOT having plans, so when one plan doesn’t work out I just quickly find a new one so my mind can rest. I learned this year that quickly jumping to a new path without really stopping to reflect, or let myself rest in the uncomfortable “Not Sure What the Next Step Is” void, can lead to some hasty life decisions.
However, I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without all the other steps along the way. So I’m working at not beating myself up for my past decision-making, and instead trying to learn from it. I don’t need to have it all figured out now. The unknown doesn’t have to be terrifying – it can also be EXCITING. So much is possible! So, I’m firmly sitting in that space for now and trying not to just “figure out” what I’m doing next right this moment, and trust that it will all happen in its own time.
2. It’s okay to change dreams, and to dream BIGGER than you ever thought possible.
Take it from me, someone who has changed dreams a LOT. Instead of beating myself up for continuing to change my mind on my dreams, I’ve come to love that about myself and look for ways to capitalize on that. I get bored easily and like the challenge of learning new things, so that’s one reason that starting this blog has been so much fun. It challenges me in many ways, and is a much better use of my free time than just bingeing Netflix (though I do love doing that, too. But I love TV way too much – I need other hobbies to keep my TV watching in check!).
I also realized I’ve been dreaming small for a while now. I used to have big dreams when I was younger (didn’t we all), and they slowly got smaller and smaller as I told myself what I wanted wasn’t responsible, logical, and/or would never work out. So I convinced myself that I had changed dreams when really I had given up. I could only see my dream happening one specific way…but now I’m realizing there are often many avenues towards our dreams, not just one. And if you just sit down and work at it and stop making excuses, you never know what may happen.
3. Learn to love where you are NOW instead of always looking at what’s next.
This is a really tough one for me. As I mentioned earlier, I love plans and figuring out what’s next. My mind is usually about five steps ahead of any given thing I’m currently working on. This can be great because when I know what I want, I go get it and basically no one can stop me, which has led me to achieve a lot of awesome things. But I’m slowly realizing that if I’m never content with where I am now, I will always be searching after some elusive future goal.
And there will always be more to achieve, more to do, more to search for. So, instead of thinking “I’ll be happy when…” I’m trying to find the beauty in the here and now, and celebrate myself for how far I’ve come. I think in our culture of achievement, we don’t do that enough. Just look at celebrities, who anytime they complete a movie or some other feat, are then immediately asked, “What are you working on next?” It’s exhausting, and as soon as you make it to “next,” you’re already on to the next next thing. So I’m really working on appreciating where I am now and letting that be enough.
4. You can do WAY more than you think you can.
At the end of 2017 I was encouraged to apply for a job I thought I was wildly unqualified for. But I applied, and now I have that job. Taking a job you think you’re unqualified for (spoiler alert: I am qualified for it) is a great learning experience, though – I learned that I can do way more than I thought I could.
I met every challenge of the new job head on, and each time I would accomplish another task I thought I couldn’t do, I realized I had been doubting myself way too much. I also started writing poetry again this year (read more about that in this post) after years of thinking I couldn’t, thanks to the nudge of one of my good friends. Those were great reminders to me to dream big and trust that if something comes my way, I can handle it. It may not be easy, but it will be more than worth it.
5. You can always find time for what matters most to you.
This year has also felt pretty short on downtime as I’ve tried to juggle many things at once – job searching while in graduate school while working two jobs, wedding planning and starting a blog while moving and working a full-time job…you get the picture. There is always a lot to balance, and at times there may be slightly less to balance than at other times, but I’m learning that being an adult is juggling lots of things at once, and being okay with that.
But, I’ve also learned that the things we “don’t have time for” aren’t really a matter of not having time, but are a matter of priority. Because no matter how busy we think we are, we can almost always find SOME time for the things we love to do. It’s just a matter of knowing that there’s never going to be a huge stretch of time where you can focus on just one thing or do exactly what you want to do. But you CAN prioritize and find time for what truly matters.
Final 2018 thoughts
But also, remember to rest. That’s important, too. Don’t burn out, because you can get burnt out, even from doing things you love doing. Take care of yourself. Check in. Take some time to reflect on what you’ve learned this year, because I promise it will be more than you thought.
I hope you all have a wonderful and safe New Year, and I look forward to seeing you here next year! I can’t wait to see how Well Wild World will grow and change in 2019, and you are a huge part of that.
So thank you for your support in 2018…I’ll see you on the other side!