Around this time each year, I think "Wow. This has been my biggest year yet!" I'm not sure if everyone feels this way or if it's just because, at 23, I still have a lot of learning to do. With the hours winding down, now is the perfect time to look back on 2015 and note the life lessons I've learned along the way.
"Reflect upon your present blessings - of which every man has many - not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some." - Charles Dickens in A Christmas Dinner
The more you read, the more you learn
I've loved books for as long as I can remember. My favorites growing up evolved from Captain Underpants to A Series of Unfortunate Events to, dare I say it, Twilight. My taste is a little different now and, thanks to technology, digital literacy is at our fingertips 24/7. I'm fortunate that 2015 gave me the opportunity to read something every single day. It varied in length, based on the medium, but I learned something from magazines, online newspapers and even tweets every day. If you're not taking the opportunity to read or learn something more often than not, you're missing a chance to grow. I have a stack of books and magazines I can't wait to crack open in 2016.
Don't compare yourself to others
It's easy to get overwhelmed when you're trying to keep up or outdo the person next to you. Especially as a woman, I used to worry that I wasn't wearing the right clothes, saying the right things or appearing as "cool" as others my age. And I'm not the only one! According to the Huffington Post, comparison breeds feelings of envy, low-self confidence, depression, and compromises our ability to trust others. "When comparing leads you to devalue yourself or others you've entered dangerous territory." This past year taught me that everyone has their own path and trying to follow others puts you at risk of losing where you were meant to be all along.
Block out negativity
Your environment has a huge impact on your outlook and state of being, so why do we allow ourselves to get caught up in negativity? A study conducted by Facebook and Cornell University found that people who saw fewer negative posts were more likely to write positive things on their own walls and shared fewer negative sentiments. "Online messages influence our experience of emotions, which may affect a variety of offline behaviors," said author Jeffery T. Hancock in a statement on the findings. This wasn't an easy lesson for me to learn. It took taking a step back and reevaluating who and what makes me happy to be able to tune out the negativity. I still occasionally fall in the hole of reading hateful Facebook comments but I now know to exit my browser and spend time with those who I share laughter and love with. If you're starting the new year feeling down, remind yourself that there are good people out there and if you send out positivity, it will come back to you ten fold.
Your body is machine, fuel it well
For those of you who have not seen Fed Up, stop what you're doing and watch the trailer now.
This movie changed my life. I started 2015 addicted to sugar and completely ignorant about how I was treating my body. The 2014 documentary forced me to look at what I was eating and how it was making me feel. That's when I made a change. I almost completely cut sugary snacks out of my diet and I focused on eating right. I'm happy to say I'm starting 2016 ten pounds lighter and my focus is shifting to building muscle. My boyfriend and fitness guru, Nic, is helping me creating a new routine that focuses on building strength and using cardio as a therapeutic release. Once I settle into my routine, I'll share it with you all!
Don't be afraid to take risks
As someone who usually doesn't jump before calculating every possible outcome, taking risks isn't my strong suit. 2015 allowed me to take risks I never thought I'd have the guts to do. Chopping off my hair was the first of them! I had long, thick hair for almost all of my life (and pretty much any time I cut it, I immediately regretted it). With shaking hands, I asked my stylist to give me a lob back in May and I haven't looked back since! I've come to love my short hair and the convenience it provides so much that my hair hasn't been longer than my collarbone since.
The cut must have started a snowball effect because shortly after I started The Modern Mosaic! I had always loved to write but wanted to be able to do it on my own time, with my own rules. But would people even care about what I had to say? Who was I to give people advice on what to wear? I published the post on my new look and waited for the imposter syndrome to set it. What I received instead was a flood of support from friends, family and even people I had never met. Since then, this blog has become my personal project. I write when I can and brain storm ideas for the future any time inspiration hits me. 2015 taught me that instead of focusing on what's trendy, I need to write what I'm passionate about and the readers will follow. If you write what you're really thinking or feeling, people will recognize that and connect with you in a more authentic way. I hope to share more of my thoughts and passions with you in 2016!
Now that the year is over, what did 2015 teach you?