As sang by the great T-Swift,
"It was the end of a decade but the start of an age"
2020 marks the beginning of a fresh new decade, a new age. There were some things in this past decade that should most definitely remain buried in history: my deep side part verging on combover from 2012 (unfortunately pictured right), those black velvet chokers we all seemed to wear in 2016, copious consumption of "coffee" in the form of sugar filled Starbucks frappes. The list seems endless...
While these misguided trends will not make the cut coming into 2020, there are many lessons learned in 2019 that will accompany me through this coming decade. 2019 was filled with challenges, adventure, and growth. I took the MCAT, I spent a semester abroad in South Africa, I bungee jumped, I rethought my career path, I started my senior year of college, I took a two week camping road trip, I picked up a couple of new jobs, I laughed, I cried, I started this blog. What a year!
I am sure many of you experienced a similarly transformative and action packed year. I have come to learn that is the nature of life. With the start of the new year comes an important opportunity to slow down for a moment and reflect. Below are some of my most important lessons learned in 2019:
1. Growth HURTS.
There is a little thing called life and it has this awesome tendency to really smack ya in the face. Sometimes things happen that are laughable in hindsight, like your bathroom ceiling caving in while you are living abroad in South Africa. Other times, life presents you with events that shake you to your core. Mental illness. Financial struggles. The loss of a loved one.
No matter the challenges and struggles you faced this year, you learned something from them. You are stronger for it. Something I came to recognize this year is the price of growth. Is it worth it? Absolutely. The truth? It is downright uncomfortable to grow. It makes you cry. It makes you question your choices in life. Growth makes you rewrite your identity and your values. It is both horrible and wonderful and I hope you all experience it often.
2. Ground yourself with good company
When life gets you down (not if, when), it is important to ground yourself with good company. Your friends and family are there to rightfully tell you when you are being overdramatic while also offering a shoulder to cry on during tough times.
If we are being honest, I experienced some sad girl days in 2019. I am so thankful for each and every one of my friends, my boyfriend, my family for being there when the world seemed too heavy to carry.
The no questions asked, bottle of wine locked and loaded, friends are the best types of people to keep around in life. Roll the windows down, cry and sing songs so loudly it makes you lose your voice with these people. Hold them close and never let them go!
3. Human beings are flawed
You are flawed. Your parents are flawed. Your best friends are flawed. Your significant other? Flawed. And you know what? That is okay.
This year I learned that everyone you come in contact with has an unfavorable side. One of the biggest lessons of 2019 was learning what to do with this information.
It is important to accept the flaws of those around you. Choose to look past mistakes and negative traits. Instead, recognize their good parts (hint: everyone has these too). Each person you come in contact with deserves kindness and grace in their unfavorable times. This includes yourself as well.
4. It’s okay to take up space
For much of the year, I will admit that I was afraid to take up space. If the world has taught you to be small, to bite your tongue, to avoid taking risks and making waves; If you have been praised for the way you conform to those around you to the point that you flatten and diminish all together: I am sorry.
In 2020 I want you to know that it is okay to take up space. It is okay to be big and to be heard. I challenge you (especially young girls) to speak your mind and express your individuality. Above all, I challenge you to do so unapologetically.
This world is a much better place when we do not dull our true selves.
5. Don’t be afraid to change what you are doing
This lesson deserves its own post at some point in the near future. It is easy to get trapped in complacency and in contrast, quite difficult to change course and take a risk.
In 2019 I took the MCAT, sat down to write my medical school application, and realized I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a doctor anymore. I had prepared for this application since the 8th grade. Realizing that I wanted to change my direction was terrifying. Doubts came streaming in. What will I do with my life? How will my parents respond? Will the world think lesser of me if I choose a different career path?
At the end of the day, I decided it did not matter what the answer to any of those questions was. My heart was not in it anymore. I was reminded that I should not be afraid to veer off in another direction. I am still terrified, believe me. This fear pales in comparison to the excitement of exploration and the empowerment in walking away from things that are not right for me.
6. Every day can be enjoyed
I thank the incredible people of South Africa for this lesson. Their appreciation for living a slow paced lifestyle and thoroughly rejoicing in the happiness that comes with each day is inspiring. This mindset made it difficult to return to the fast paced, productivity obsessed, lifestyle of the United States.
In 2020 I challenge myself to slow down and enjoy each day. Tuesdays and Saturdays were created equally for laughter and enjoyment. Take a walk with a friend on a Wednesday. Dance around in your bedroom on a Monday. This is the year to not live for the weekend.