Yesterday I shared with you 18 of my resolutions for 2018. Click here if you haven’t read that yet. Today, I wanted to follow a similar theme and share with you 17 things that I learned in 2017. Although I’m young and inexperienced in the ways of the world, this past year has taught me some very important messages and I’m happy to be sharing them with you.
1. People aren’t always going to be worth your time and that’s okay.
My best friend Kay likes to believe that the inhabitants of Earth are inherently good. This, of course, brings up the whole controversy between whether humans are inherently good or evil. I’ve never been one to have strong standings on either side, but Kay wholeheartedly believes that everybody has good intentions. I love it about her, but it breaks my heart every time she realizes that someone she was rooting for might actually be inherently, bad. 2017 taught the both of us a lot about realizing the true intentions of people in our lives, and although it sucks to discover, I’m thankful to have learned this early enough in life.
2. Everybody experiences things differently and it’s not worth trying to fit into somebody else’s memory.
Matt lived a very stereotypical high school experience. And with him being my only sibling, growing up I thought that was how my high school experience was supposed to be as well. So you can imagine the disappointment when from the beginning, my time in secondary schooling didn’t prove to fit the mold that I thought it should. In my eyes, Matt was constantly going to parties, football games, hanging out with friends, and being really just, well, popular. I’m no social hermit of any sorts, but my experiences have been phenomenally different than my brother’s. But the thing is, my experiences here are mine and mine alone, just as Matt’s are Matt’s and Matt’s alone. No use in trying to force myself into a Matt-sized box. I won’t fit.
3. Everyone is going through a battle, we just don’t talk about it.
I’ve mentioned this before, but when I started being more open about my mental health experiences, I noticed a lot more people willing to be open with me about theirs as well. At first it wasn’t so unexpected. But this year, after a friend’s unsuspected suicide attempt and several tough jocks self-diagnosing themselves with depression, I realized just how prevalent these types of issues are among everybody in my town, no matter the background. I wanted to be the kind of person who was able to offer help and advice when my friends were going through a hard time, but this year I also realized that I am not enough for them. I’m not a trained professional, and I still don’t know how to force them to get help. But I realized that the more people open up about their battles, the more recognition mental health can get and the more we can work towards finding solutions.
4. Acceptance is key.
My time in acme taught me a lot about self-acceptance and the acceptance of others. Everybody came into acme with a different story. For me, I was a straight, cis-gendered cheerleader obsessed with popularity – definitely not the type you’d think to be participating in extracurricular theatre. But I owe a lot to the acme community and the time I spent with them. Through making friendships there, I learned that I didn’t have to be liked or popular to be happy. I was happy here, with my friends from all different backgrounds, who came together to put aside their differences and a share a love for theatre. Acme also taught me a lot about the acceptance of others. It taught me that there is no right “box” for everybody to fit into. It made me realize even more how much happier everyone would be if acceptance of differences was ingrained. I can only hope that future generations will see differences not as something to fight over, but something to celebrate.
5. The world will throw terrible things at you to see if you can handle it.
Manchester. Las Vegas. Trump’s Presidency.
I haven’t ever really talked about current events on the blog. I am always amazed by how the rest of you are able to formulate your thoughts and feelings about them into words. I always find myself absolutely speechless. There isn’t anything for me to say except for the fact that I am sorry and I am saddened. It is hard for us to stay united when the world so badly wants us to be torn apart. But I’ve learned this year that solidarity will save us. The world will throw things our way. But we will throw back.
6. Your voice matters.
I’m a sixteen year old girl from a small town in California. I used to think that my voice meant nothing. Why protest, why stand up? One small splash in the sea won’t cause a tsunami. This year I learned the opposite. One small splash will trigger other splashes and together those splashes can make that tsunami, sure enough. I made an effort to really get involved this year. I attended the Women’s March on Sacramento with my mother and aunts, and I intend to do so again this January. I wrote (and continue to write) letters to Congress weekly about saving net neutrality. I sign petitions for Planned Parenthood, I donate when I can. I try to educate others. My voice is doing something, even if you say it is too small. I can’t hear you over it.
7. Love thy neighbor as thyself.
I am not one to apply the Bible to situations, especially because it can be so controversial. Of course, I have some verses that inspire me when I need them. This commandment is one of them. I think it applies so much to today. This goes along with the idea of solidarity. We cannot ever become united if we can’t spread the love we have for ourselves to others. In fact, sometimes I believe in loving thy neighbor even more than you love thyself. A little extra love never hurt anybody.
8. You don’t have to be grateful that things aren’t as bad as they could be.
I read this a while ago and it really resonated with me. I’m sure you’ve heard somebody once tell you that “things could always be worse!” And they aren’t wrong. Things can always be worse. To quote the little article I read, there is somebody out there that has it the worst of all. But they are not the only one that is allowed to complain. If things are bad for you, they’re bad for you. You don’t need to justify it in order to not appear sorry for yourself. You are allowed to feel bad when things are bad for you.
9. Other people do not determine your worth.
Another thing I learned this year is a mindset that I really want to apply to 2018. I struggle a lot with worrying about whether or not I’m good enough – good enough to hangout with certain people, good enough to be talking to certain boys, etc. I read somewhere that a strategy for this is to rephrase the negative thoughts. Instead of asking yourself if you’re good enough, ask if others are good enough for you. Think, “I know I’m good enough. Are you worth my time?” By applying this mindset, I learned that it’s easier to cut out people that don’t care about you.
10. Self confidence isn’t bitchy, it’s impressive.
(Sorry for the bad language, Mom). For years on years I considered myself not good enough. I fit the perfect girl stereotype, where I relied on other people’s compliments and approval in order for me to believe it. When making new friends, or especially when talking to new boys, I always found it difficult to tell whether or not they actually thought I was worth it. But applying this back to the last one, by realizing ahead of time that I am worth it, I am cute, I am funny, I’ve found it a lot easier to make connections with people. And I know that some will say that self confidence comes off as being a little, well, self-absorbed, but I disagree. Self confidence is sexy, you guys. Use it!
11. People will never stop talking.
Here’s one that may be one of the most important lessons I learned this year. You can be the happiest, most positive, most well-liked person in the world, and people will still talk badly about you. You cannot please everybody no matter how hard you try. My friend Alissa really helped me to understand this. Alissa is this beautiful, amazing, positive person that I respect so so much, but people talk about her, and she knows that. She used to let it get to her, but she doesn’t anymore. A while back I had a rough patch with this type of thing and Alissa really helped me by talking about her experiences. She taught me that people will never stop talking about you, but you can’t let it get to you. There’s no use in trying to stop it, or dwelling on it. Consider it flattering and move on.
12. Therapy might be the best thing to happen to the world.
I connect this one back to number three. I truly, deeply believe that everyone should be in therapy, regardless of any prevalent issues. Therapy definitely has a negative connotation and I think a lot of people see it as laying and talking about how sad you are. But that’s not necessarily what it is. I started therapy last year during my bout of depression, but I still go bimonthly. I see my therapist for fifty minutes, and we spend that time talking about life, boys, drama, really anything I feel like talking about. I spent one session talking all about my favorite Twenty One Pilots songs. It’s really healthy to have an outlet, a professional listener that you can tell literally anything to. If you aren’t in therapy, make that one of your resolutions for 2018. You’ll feel so much better.
13. Learn from your mistakes and don’t beat yourself up for making them.
We are human and we mess up. Mistakes are embarrassing: sometimes they’re not so bad, sometimes they’re really bad. And like the saying goes, it’s important to learn from your mistakes and not make them again, but it’s also important not to beat yourself up for making them in the first place. I’m the kind of person that will dwell on my mistakes for days, even weeks after I make them. And when I would mention that to my mom, she would tell me to not worry about it and just learn from them. And I always do learn from them. But I learned that it’s also important to accept that making mistakes is a part of a life and it’s nothing to obsess upon.
14. You need not impress anybody but yourself.
Noticing a theme here? 2017 was definitely the year of learning my worth. In high school especially, it’s so hard not to worry about fitting in and seeming good enough for everybody else. But here’s the truth. We’re born alone, we die alone, and in between we surround ourselves with temporary distractions. In the very end, it’s only going to be you. So you need to make sure that you like the person you are, instead of turning yourself into somebody you aren’t. I don’t want to look back on my life in seventy years and regret spending all of my time trying to be something I couldn’t ever be. I want to look back and be happy with myself, and feel secure in knowing that I spent my life being absolutely, unapologetically, myself.
15. Good friendships are important and learning to recognize them is important as well.
This was a hard one for me to learn. I am very different from my friends, but that’s okay. For the better part of the year, and even a little still, I had wanted so badly to be friends with the populars, because they were always the ones going to parties and having a good time. For a while, I was friends with a girl who was considered popular, but it turned out to be a very toxic and unfortunate friendship in the end. I have amazing, beautiful friends that have stuck by my side from the beginning. We are not the most popular bunch, but it doesn’t matter. I love them to death and they’re the best friends I’ll ever have. So basically I learned that making friendships solely for the purpose of increasing your social status is absolutely ridiculous. No point in it, and a sure waste of time.
16. It is important to stay grounded.
When life gets busy, it’s easy to miss out on things. But it’s important not to lose yourself in the flow. I was supposed to have this post done and posted a couple of hours ago, but I stopped writing to help my aunt prepare dinner. I love cooking and I love learning from my aunt; her teaching me how to make the best Vietnamese salad dressing, how to cut an onion, and how to season salmon and steak. These little moments reminded me once again of the important things in life. This blog is important to me, but sometimes I feel like I spend so much time in my virtual world that I forget to enjoy the real one in front of me. So it’s important to remember that when life gets busy and hectic, to take a moment and a breath and remember just who you are.
17. Like Rome were built on ashes, and you, like a phoenix, know how to resurrect.
On December 22nd at 10:20 a.m., I officially finished my first semester back at the high school. It wasn’t anything big, I had gotten so used to being there at that point that I had just breathed a sigh of relief from finishing my finals and headed home for a nap. But here’s what I learned from that. Things will beat you down, spit on you, drive their heel into you so they’re so sure that you’re dead. But from the dirt you were just pounded into you will rise. Earlier this year, I would have never imagined myself even finishing a month back at the high school, no matter how much I said I missed it. I put off being afraid of it until the summer, and then I put off being afraid of it until August, until finally I took a breath and hoped to God to make it through. Four months later, I visited my psychologist for a checkup and she asked me if I was anxious being back at school. My answer? Not even a little bit.
I’m done preaching to you all at this point. But I wanted to let you know that you can rebuild. It is possible. Look me in the eyes and tell me it isn’t. I dare you.
Phoenix quote by Nikita Gill.