16 Things I Learned in 2016

I know, I know, this is late for 2016 but better late than never!

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I saw this idea from Kalyn Nicholson from YouTube and I thought, “Hey that seems like a good idea!” (and totally not because I’m the greatest sheep in the planet..:P I’m just kidding). Besides, it’s a nice evaluative technique that I can employ to just see if I did learn a thing or two in 2016. Much to my relief, I had plenty of things that I learned and I was able to fill up the sixteen slots. Haha! Mind you, I’m not trying to be high-minded and all that shit but I did want to summarize what I really learned from the seemingly, phew, tedious year that is 2016.

1. Acting strong will only get you so far.

There’s nothing wrong with acting strong but pretending will only get you so far. You have to sit down and contemplate what you have to do to get out of this certain situation or difficulty that you are having, whether it be a reading rut, a writing block, etc. I’m not saying acting strong is bad, what I’m trying to point out is that you have to have that time when you have to recognize that “Hey, I have this problem and I cannot run away from it anymore by acting like I have everything under control so once and for all I’ll sit and down and pin down what this problem is and plan my way to finish this.” Recognizing that I had a big problem in 2016, especially in the first quarter of the year, made me handle my life a little bit better.

2. Sometimes, God has to break you.

For me, this happened to me because I was so out there feeling like I have everything under control. I was wrong. God had to break my heart all over again and in that process I realized how utterly human I was and that I had no ability but all is His. It was the only way for Him to make me get back down to earth. It was also the way to shake my world up because I had this plan, oh trust me I had an intricate one. But again, I failed to incorporate Him to that plan. I was wrong all along and He made me recognize that while I was kneeling down gathering the pieces of my heart together. He had to break me to make me recognize that I’m nothing and He is everything. Everything. It made me a lot stronger–both in the faith and as  a person. It made me recognize how limited I am. And that He has the full control of my life.

3. Forgiving yourself is easier said than done.

I had a battle of depression in the first half of the year. It was crazy how when my mom and I were talking about a relative who had depression I just scoffed and said, “Are you sure she’s just not going crazy?” I hate myself now for saying that. I didn’t realize then what depression meant, or what it did to a person. Succumbing to this dark chapter of my life made me feel for my distant cousin and it had been really humbling. It didn’t really help that I was a person that has trouble on forgiving myself for all the mistakes I’ve done in the past. I often see these inspirational messages that says that we ought to be good to ourselves, too. But how am I supposed to do that when all my life I had been striving hard on everything? How am I supposed to do something that feels new to me, nevermind it being something that I actively don’t like the ring to? I like pushing myself further everytime. As of now, I’m still trying to learn giving myself a break when I need it. And trying not to beat myself too hard when I commit mistakes.

4. Failures seen in a bad light will haunt you.

Following the point I said in no. 3, I had trouble cutting myself some slack when committing mistakes. Failures I have had in the previous years followed me around, haunting me on random times of the day. Actively deciding and reconciling to myself that everything I have done was in the past took me a copious amount of time but it is easily one of the best things that have happened to me. Sometimes you just have to let it go and just move on. I love this comment I found in 9Gag saying that we should not be looking back so often because that’s not the direction we’re going. And honestly, it’s not easy just letting it go especially when those failures you have had made you invest thousands of hours on them. But sometimes you just gotta shrug it off and go your way.

“…forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Phil. 3:13b-14, KJV

5. There are times when sleeping on your fears will stop being the solution.

I know it seems stupid of me to think that I can run from my problems by sleeping. It really seems silly now upon looking back, but I thought that by escaping the reality through dreams and all would magically help me land on my feet again after waking up. But more often than not, I get more anxious after.

6. An intellectual space will help you more than you will ever know.

I think I have underappreciated my little home office because it is literally where I do all things especially when I need the focus. It’s true what people say that doing work on your bed would not help you–I always ended up taking a nap after an insanely insignificant time working. Having an area where you can just focus and throw ideas around–somewhere bright is preferred–would be magical for the work you need to get done.

7. Having a creative outlet is very important.

Although I may not be the greatest soul to be blessed with creativity, I try really hard to get my creative juices to be flowing. I write some useless things no one will read in the future, I draw cringe-y doodles (drawing sundaes is a real delight y’know haha), I try to paint color things, etc. No matter what it is, kicking back with a specific activity certainly helped my otherwise too grey a year to be a little more colorful.

8. Coffee makes me sleepier.

I don’t know, man. It’s just something I have observed. Now, I don’t drink coffee for late nights but rather drink more water.

9. Powering through is a hit-and-miss thing–never trust it.

I have found myself multiple times waiting until the last minute to write some portions of my thesis and I am not proud of it. The rush certainly makes me write a little better and makes me shed all the bullshit, but at the same time it makes me feel hurried that I often have really barely passable things. It’s a double-edged sword that seems to be inclined to wound me rather than my enemies.

10. Underestimating yourself will take you nowhere; Overestimating yourself will take you nowhere.

My self-esteem was not really stellar this year. However, there were times when I have kept my head too high that I oversee most errors that I have had which consequently makes me get whooped in the ass. (Exhibit A: My thesis defense. :P) Underestimating myself led to me doubting myself while overestimating myself filled my head with unnecessary (and often false) hopes. Just trust yourself the right amount and you’ll be good to go.

11. There will be plenty of lonely nights.

Sometimes in a room full of people that I love, I can feel so utterly alone that it makes me wonder why. Some nights I lay in bed looking up and I just feel lonely. It’s an inevitable occurrence for myself that comes and goes…and no, it’s not just because I’m getting my period. I am mostly a solitary person but there are just those times when you need someone–whether it be friends, family, etc.

It doesn’t really help that I don’t get to see my friends a whole lot of times because we live so far away from each other since almost all are friends I have met in uni. My bestfriend lives twelve hours away from me. Yah, you heard that right, twelve hours. I cannot, too. Hahaha.

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12. Keep a notebook and try to write well.

Not neat, but well. I have proved time and time again that keeping a notebook, however scrappy or simple-looking it is, gets me through tough times. It doesn’t matter if it’s a neat notebook or one that I just jot random notes, it was a nice comfort for me that I can write down my thoughts anytime, anywhere. In the process of writing down most thoughts I have through the day, I have noticed that I have made the active decision to write better. I compared notes I have had from the start of the year to the latest ones and I can tell you that I have somewhat improved.

13. You don’t always have to plan.

I have always been that person who actually likes the process of planning. I’m a Monica and I am unashamedly so.

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However, I have also considered the forces that are not of my own. No, I’m not talking about paranormal stuff but rather those that are not really out of my control. I cannot foresee things so I have recognized that I cannot plan a day ahead complete down to the minute. I live my life one step at a time and, yes, it is generally good to have a plan but not always. 

14. Most of the time, you just have to shrug off people and their negativity.

Sometimes those people are your family or your friends or a person in social media. Whoever it is, you don’t deserve to take in all of their bullcrap attitude. You do you and you just gotta take the high road and shrug those people off along with their shitty footing in life. This is exactly how I learned to respect people along with their attitudes and opinion and shut my mouth when it is not really needed for me to speak. Most of the time it’s a struggle…it still is. But I’m happier when I decided that I’ll be shunning off these negativity in life–it felt like I was unloading a very heavy burden I had been carrying for no apparent reason.

15. Every suffering you have is building towards the greatest conclusion.

I may not have seen it in the forefront, but it certainly made my 2016 sweeter. Finishing my thesis may have been the greatest reward the Lord has blessed me with in the year. It never fails to make me smile regardless of the countless nights spent reading, crying, etc. Most of the time crying though. Hahahaha. My thesis is my baby that’s the fruit of my blood, sweat and tears. A lot of tears.

I learned that if I want my desired results to actually happen, I have to work for it and not just sit around.

“Success is not easy, and it is certainly not for the lazy.”

Samantha Berngard

16. Being kinder won’t hurt you.

I have a resting bitch face so in order to make friends I have to go out of my way to actually look like someone who is not going to snark on you on a whim. Being kinder–and I mean genuine kindness–won’t hurt you or anyone around you. Being a good person doesn’t hurt anyone. Being an asshole does.


At the end game, here I am in 2017 and I am hoping to learn more for the better. 2016 really has been a year of realizing stuff for me. Realizing that I am but a speck of dust in the world, that nobody really cares about your appearance, that your attitude and actions shine through more than anything else, that it’s better to be advanced rather than late, and many, many more. What a hell of a year! 2017 will be great not because it will be picture-perfect, but rather I know now that life is not perfect and that I cannot always plan everything. Life is meant to be lived one step at a time.


Gifs via Giphy

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