9 Interesting Things I Learned About Myself in 2017

2017 ate me up.

I’m not alone. Don’t even try to tell me I am. This year was tough. For real y’all, we all survived dumpster fire 2016 for this? OOF.

With all the good and bad going on around me, and within my own life, I spent a long time reflecting on 2017 this December. 2017 started with no direction or purpose. The only thing I really cared about was getting to April so I could escape to Europe with my husband for the first time.

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The proposal I never got, but always dreamed of.

After that, the rest of the year felt like a wild blur of extreme happiness and depths of sadness I wasn’t aware existed. Through all the lessons, here are 9 things I learned in my second dumpster fire year in a row:

1. It’s ok to have a bad day. Or Week. Or Month….. hell, it’s ok to have a bad six months:

This year particularly could be described as a roller coaster. Not one of the coasters you have at the local county far. No, this was the big papa of a roller coaster year in my life.

The Good: My middle school best friends and I went to Vegas in January to see Britney Spears. I got to see the Cursed Child in London after a 532 day wait. My husband and I got to Europe together. I was randomly the cover of an international snap chat story. I sang, no screamed, Bohemian Rhapsody during a house party. I reunited with a close friend from China after nearly 3 years. I celebrated an incredible couple that I met through Bumble BFF. I saw more of the U.S. finally, which I’ve avoided for years. My family got together one last time to celebrate my grandparents in August and Grams remembered my husband for the first time since I left for China. My niece and I became besties. I got to spend one more night alone with my Grams, telling her all my dreams for the future and how much I love her. Technology allowed me to see my Pops an hour before he joined Grams.

Truly wonderful things happened this year and I hang on to those memories and the people I made them with.

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My niece will always be cooler than me.

The Not-So Great: The first six months of 2017 were fun, but some reason the last six months were one chaotic event after another. I felt the spiral starting in the beginning of July and it continued through most of December (not to discount the adventures I went on in the last 6 months!).

A week before my birthday Pepperjack got sick and we had to rush him to the animal E.R…. where we paid $666 exactly to find out that he was:

A. suffering from a stomach ache
B. a little chubby

That’s right, I rushed my dramatic pug-mutt to the E.R for a stomach ache to find out he was chubby and might be satan due to the price of his visit*.

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*Full disclosure: I’d probably rush him to the E.R. for a lot less.

Three weeks later my car started vibrating and I had to get a new set of tires. This adulting thing sucks. Right after that I started up a grad school class just to add insult to injury.

I got the phone call the second day of October from my dad to tell me Gram’s was actively dying. I jumped in my car and made the eight hour drive home. 48 hours after arriving my Grams passed away holding mine and my cousin’s hands at 5:55 in the morning. We lost Pops (Gram’s husband of fifty six years) 53 days later. This holiday season was not the same and my family felt it. Christmas felt a bit empty without my grandparents and I am still reeling.

What I learned is that with the good comes the bad. We are thrown the bad to learn and grow. These lessons haven’t been easy, but I’ve learned, I’ve grown, and I have a healthy(ish) dose of optimism for the future.

2. I am a better person if I eat breakfast

I would love to insert the Dwight Shrute “it’s true” gif here. I probably should have figured this out years ago, but it’s true. I’m a better human after I eat breakfast.

3. I am allowed to say no

I can be a people pleaser. I enjoy the peace among my worlds. More often than not I stretch myself so damn thin that I burn out. At the end of this year I finally learned that it’s ok to tell people no and set boundaries. My alone time is sacred. Some days I want sit at home without pants on, be a crabby mess, and watch countless hours of Law and Order reruns while having life talks with my dogs. I need those days to recharge and be a better me.

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4. Not having a plan when you travel is actually kind of fun

I enjoy a well though-out plan of attack. If we don’t have a plan or if the event is not in my agenda then it is fake news. I am known in my office for carrying around my well-loved planner that I write everything in by. the. hour. If not, I either forget to do whatever I need to do or I put it off entirely.

Imagine this: you and your significant other (S.O.) are finally going on a trip that you jokingly talked about on your first date. You feel like you might explode a little from happiness. You save up for almost two years and block two weeks from your work schedule to do it. You have countless Pinterest boards, friend’s recommendations, and read far too many travel blogs. You and your S.O. decide since there are two weeks in the trip that you’ll each get a week to plan in the name of spousal compromise. Your inner control freak is already mildly panicking. What if your S.O. falls through and you miss out on some humongous cultural experience? What if they haven’t researched the places thoroughly enough? What if they forget to confirm a reservation?

What if your expectations were blown out of the water? Because mine were.

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To my S.O.: I apologize. I apologize for yelling at you that first 24 hours in Munich because it was freezing rain and your directions to our apartment weren’t quite accurate. I’m sorry I questioned you. I promise to give you the benefit of the doubt in the future. Germany was amazing and not having every second of every day planned allowed me to relax for once and have a great time. Also, the beer helped.

Going to a new place without every minute set in stone is actually kind of exciting… and, dare I say it, fun.

5. A bad haircut is only a bad haircut if you think it is… and your dad asks what the hell happened to your hair

The only statement I have on the matter is the one you just read above.

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Thanks dad.

6. I don’t tell my friends I appreciate them enough

My friends are my family. I have an amazing group of friends that I met in 7th grade. They’ve all spent countless hours raiding my parents’ fridge and hanging out at my house. I am lucky enough that I still talk to those friends often.

In the last few years I met some other pretty incredible human beings that, in lack of better terms, changed my life. To all of these human beings: thank you. Thank you for listening to me complain and mourn for the last year. Thank you for your brutal honesty and support. I appreciate you more than I can express and I love you for always being there for me.

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7. Sharing my vulnerabilities are as important as sharing my strengths

I love the appearance of having it all together at this point in my life even when I feel like I am falling apart. I recently shared my fears with some one I look up to and it felt as if a massive weight left my shoulders.

I can be passionate to the point of unhealthy obsession. I get inside my own mind far too often. I bottle emotions that I only let out in erratic bursts. On the other side of that coin: I have a ton of creativity and random ideas that come from no where. I love teaching and learning. I know what I excel at and I hope to emphasize all these things next year.

8. For the first time in my life, I actually love my body

I do! I love my caterpillar eyebrows that my brow lady talks about every time I see her. I love my nails that are always too short on my long fingers. I love my perpetually cold and large feet. I love my eyes because they remind me of my family. I won’t be the 140lb girl that I was junior year of college and that is perfectly normal because I’m not perfect. Imperfection is awesome because it defines me and I love that.

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And finally, the hardest thing I learned in 2017:

9. I’ve spent about 95% of my life so petrified of failure that I refuse to try

The F word puts my stomach in knots. I hate failing or the idea of it. I hate it so much that I won’t take chances unless it’s the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded. Even then my fear of failure kicks in. What if the opposing team miraculously hits a grand slam for the win?

I find an excuse to not try if I think I will fail at something. I start things and don’t finish them and I surprise myself when I decide to try. I shock myself with my capabilities to complete something I convinced myself was going to be too difficult. Here’s to putting actions behind my intentions in 2018. To start, I’ve scheduled a test that I’ve avoided for one ridiculous reason or another at the end of January.

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Coming in hot ’18.

2017 definitely won the round, but the fight was only beginning.

-J

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