For want of a better phrase, 2016 has, frankly, been a shit year. World-wide, terrorist attacks have devastated cities and ruined innocent lives, some of our greatest public figures have passed away, Brexit happened and pissed off a generation of millennials and Donald Trump proved that sadly, anything is really possible. Many lovely people I know have had some horrendous, unfair things happen this year and personally, it has been hands down the worst year of my life. Let’s just say 2016 hasn’t really been our year, has it.
However, emerging from the rubble of the ruins that is 2016 and dusting itself off are in fact a few positives from the year. 2016 has taught me a wealth of life lessons, all of which I’ll carry into the new year ahead of me. December is always a time of reflection on the year that has passed, a time to realise just exactly what matters, to refine our goals and move forward with fresh determination into the new year. Which is exactly what I plan to do with this blog post.
Here are 16 (apt) lessons that 2016 (see what I did there) has taught me:
1- If people try to con you into thinking that A Levels are the hardest form of education you’re ever going to face, please, please, please, do not believe them
University is a whole different ball game. At school, you know what is expected of you. A Levels are tough, they are challenging, but you know there is teaching support if you’re struggling with a certain part of your course. However, at university, be prepared to literally feel completely alone. No longer being spoon-fed information to regurgitate in an exam at the end of the year, you’re on your own in the very confusing world of referencing, critical analysis and continual assessment. It takes a while to adjust to this style of learning, and boy am I still adjusting.
2- Sometimes it’s okay to do things for you
It is human nature to want to please everyone. But it can detriment yourself if you spend your life pleasing others and not actually doing what is maybe right for you. Go with your gut, trust your instincts and if you know something will make you so much happier, do it. It’s important we look after ourselves as well.
3- Make sure the people that matter the most to you know how much you love them
It can be so easy to naively believe that those we love the most are just going to be around forever. Some people in our lives seem so invincible, like they’ll keep going through anything and that they’re always going to be around no matter what. Sadly, that isn’t the case and I know many people including myself have seen death take those we love so dearly this year. More than anything, this year has taught me that we need to remind those around us whilst we’re still able to how much we love them, care for them and how much we appreciate them. Make sure to tell your loved ones just how special and cherished they are.
4- Take small steps to move your goals from unattainable, to a reality
We all have a vague idea of what we want in life. Whether it’s a goal for the present, like wanting to get an assignment finished and out of the way, or if it’s a goal for the future, such as getting that dream career, there are steps that we can take to get closer to the things we’ve been wishing for. For example, I really would love a career in journalism. Since A Levels began, I’ve been taking little steps to push towards what I hope could be my reality in a few years’ time. I got involved with a local hospital radio, I’ve written for my university’s newspaper and I set up this blog. These are absolutely tiny steps in the path to a career in journalism, but I’ve taken them and I’m hoping for bigger and better things. Keep pushing for what you want and with hard work and determination, you’ll get there.
5- Grief is an emotion that doesn’t actually get easier over time; it just becomes slightly more bearable to deal with, but that’s okay
The most banded about phrase concerning the grief you naturally feel after losing someone is ‘it’ll get easier over time’. A sympathetic touch from people who want to make you feel better, it’s understandable a phrase such as that is often used. However, grief affects people in different ways and grief can be an all-consuming, crippling emotion to feel. From personal experience, it’s not that the grief dissipates after a few months, it just starts coming and going in waves. When you first lose someone, your every thought is suffocated with grief. As time goes by, thoughts become clouded by grief; your eyes adjust and are able to see through the mist a little clearer. You will start functioning again, the grief will not be there all the time and you are able to bear with it slightly easier when the wave does hit you again. And that’s okay.
6- Be the purest, truest form of yourself
Countless Tumblr quotes tell you in perfect clichés to ‘be yourself, as everyone else is taken’ and although inducing an absolute cringe fest of emotions, it is true. We live in a world where we constantly compare ourselves to others and wish for a perfect lifestyle that doesn’t exist. This is the downfall of social media. We shouldn’t compare ourselves to others; we should be content with the lives we lead. Each of us are unique, special and perfect in our own ways and being the purest, truest form of yourself is the best version of yourself that you could possibly be. Cringe, I know, but definitely true.
7- Another cringe-inducing cliché, but: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Life isn’t easy, for anyone. We all sadly experience tough times at some point in our lives. But these tough times can be the making of us. Everything happens for a reason, and each thing we experience has a lesson that can be taken from it, something that’ll help us tackle the treacherous path that is life. Don’t ever underestimate your potential and how strong you actually are. You can do it.
8- When times really do get tough, remind yourself of the little things that are actually going okay
It can be the simplest of things, like enjoying a TV series you’re binge-watching on Netflix. Or it can be the love and support you receive from someone close to you. If you find the little things to keep you going during the toughest times, everything will be easier.
9- Really work on relationships in your life
Friends, family and romantic relationships are the most important and valuable things to anyone. I’ve found it so important this year to have those family members, my boyfriend and my closest friends to turn to when things are a struggle. It helps to have your little army around you to pick things up when the going gets tough.
10- But, also take time for you
I’ve had to remind myself of this whilst at university. You do want to keep up with your friends and especially when starting uni you’re putting your all into socialising, trying to make some amazing friends and creating memories with them. However, you reach a point when you need to take some time out for your own sake. Me time is hugely important, so make sure every day you indulge in some time for you.
11- Hard work will be rewarded
If you’ve got a massive assignment deadline coming up, and it seems as if there will never be any gleam of light at the end of the tunnel, it’s quite easy to give up and throw in the towel. However, it is true that hard work will be rewarded and the more effort you put in, the further you will go.
12- Saving money (literally) pays off
This next year, I’ve decided I’m going to travel as much as I can. I want to get out and see the world, but travelling is expensive. The temptation to spend insane amounts of money on night outs and pop into the shops every weekend is very real, however if you rein yourself in a little and don’t go too crazy you’ll have more money to put towards bigger things, like fulfilling that wanderlust.
13- If you really want to do something, just do it!
At the end of the day, life really is too short. For years now, I’ll decide my resolution at the beginning of the year will be something like ‘exercise more’. 2 weeks later and I’ve already given up going on a morning run. Then, I’ll spend the rest of the year moaning that I’ve not got any healthier and those running shoes I bought were actually extortionate seeing as I don’t even use them. It’s time to get yo act together. If you want to do something, work for it!
14- Family are so, so important
Since leaving home and moving to university, I’ve really missed my family. People that act as if they’re coping fine and won’t go back home at all until the semester ends are just kidding themselves. Family are so important and it’s equally important to cherish the precious time you get with them.
15- Being kind is the most valuable quality a person could have
Treat people how you’d wish to be treated. There is no better saying than that. Just be a lovely, decent human being. There’s enough poop in the world without us guys adding to it. Smile at people when you walk past them in the street, pop round to your friend’s if they’re having a down day, treat others with kindness. Try and add to the world what you know is missing a lot of the time. Being a good person is the most fulfilling thing you can do.
16- Don’t live in the past: move forward
2016 may well have been a pretty rubbish year for you. But don’t let that stop you from moving forward. 2017 WILL be your year. Have a ball because you deserve it!