Been a few months but better late than never, right?
It was a year ago today that I sat down and wrote on this website for the first time. Back then it was called "The Forum". Back then I was also in the middle of one of the darkest periods of my life, and at that time, I sat down, and I wrote down 10 things I thought I needed to learn to carry forward into the New Year of 2019. My mistake, though, was thinking that my year would go as planned, and if nothing else, I can tell you that I learned quite early on that this was not the case. That being said, that brings me to my first thing I learned:
1. You Must Be Able to Adapt!
It has been said that "failing to plan is planning to fail," and in many ways this holds true. BUT, if this last year taught me anything, shit will evidently hit the fan at some point and an inability to adapt in a world that can take you from fitness advisor to boyfriend to coach to insurance salesman to shoulder surgery patient to photographer and filmmaker in the span of 12 months.... for lack of a better term... you are shit out of luck. The ability to roll with the punches and readjust to your current state is perhaps more important. After all, thats what makes life so unpredictable - you never know where the next opportunity is going to come from.
2. It's okay to have bad days
Look, it's no secret that I have had my struggles with mental health. About 10 months ago I was staring down a bottle of prescription medication ready to take the ultimate plunge. But I didn't, and I got the help I needed, and I can honestly say I'm in a much better place now. That being said, not every day is perfect and not every day is better than the last. It's been close to a year, and I'm still working every day to make sure I stay on the up-and-up. It's a process, but healing is not linear. You will fall back, you will have days when things seem dark. Healing isn't about eliminating those, nor pretending they don't exist. Healing is about embracing those, limiting their damage and waking up the next day ready to kick some ass. Anyone who tells you differently is lying. Sometimes days suck. Not everything is sunshine and rainbows, but if you're able to isolate the negative and find the collateral beauty in this world, you'll be much better off for it.
3. A few good people
When shit hit's the fan, and it evidently always will, who's really going to be there? What I learned this year especially is that it's not about having everybody like you or being everybody's best friend - what makes this life meaningful is having a few good people you can rely on and who you know can rely on you.
Furthermore, it's not about who's been around the longest either - I have better, deeper friendships with people I've known for 6 months than with people I've known since elementary school. Find your people, a few good people, and love them with all your heart.
4. A text message can go a long way
When I was at my lowest, I cannot tell you the amount of times a timely text calmed me down. A simple "hey, how are you?" or a "hope things are good, was thinking about you today." To some it may seem corny, to some it may seem annoying, but I can tell you from being on both ends of that message that sometimes it is exactly what that person needed to get through the day - to know someone is thinking of you and caring for you, a chance to talk their way through some issues. I know for fact how easy it can be to get lost inside your own mind, and sometimes this text can make all the difference in the world. Everyone's got their own shit, but maybe we can get through it a little easier with the help of one another. Send the text, I promise you won't regret it.
5. You are responsible for your own happiness
It's important to follow #4 with this, because it's often confused. You can look to other people to help, but ultimately, you alone are responsible for your own happiness and well-being. You can find inspiration in those around you, but when it comes to self-love and happiness at your core, Nobody can do that for you. It's cheesy to say, but happiness does come from within, and when shit evidently hits the fan (apologies for the broken record treatment here), you are going to be the one who gets yourself through it. You need that base in order to overcome obstacles. This is one I'm still working on myself.
6. Be Spontaneous
I used to plan ahead. I used to be so prepared. I used to calculate every choice I made before I did it, and then for some reason, nothing ever worked out! Wild. So what did I learn this year? Sometimes, you simply have to say "fuck it" and just go for it. Whether it be a spontaneous night on the town, taking off your shirt and singing karaoke on the kitchen island at a party, or booking a spontaneous trip to Peru based off a coworkers "Magic 8-Ball" desk toy encouraging you to do it, sometimes the things in life that bring us the most joy come from the least planned of places. It doesn't hurt to keep yourself on your toes.
7. It's okay to put yourself first
Pretty self-explanatory but definitely something that needs to be said. There are many in this world who prioritize the needs of others over the needs of themselves and these people are among my favourite to interact with. Everyone knows the person - the one always planning things, checking in on you, etc. You guy's are awesome, but please, do us all a favour and don't forget about yourself. (side note: if this isn't you... refer to lesson #4. Sometimes those who exude the most joy are just the best actors. Check in on these people too).
8. It's not corny. Ever.
I don't care what it is. Truly I don't. Anime, Pokemon, Sports, Comedy, Music, Photography, Drawing, Painting, Cats, Bugs... I can promise you one thing - it't not corny. If someone cares deeply about something, if they're truly passionate - that is fucking awesome. You have to be
some kind of asshole to make fun of something else someone gets joy from if it doesn't infringe upon your liberty to enjoy what you find is awesome yourself. If someone loves something, let them love it to their fullest. There are many ways to get enjoyment in this life, and just because someone's version is different than yours doesn't make it any less valid. Find something you're passionate about and allow it to fulfill your days. After all, if you can't chase your passions what's the whole point? The same goes for you, dear reader. Do not allow the opinions of others to dictate the person you are and the things you enjoy. Be unapologetically you - I promise those who actually matter will embrace you all the more for it.
9. Look in the mirror
I don't know who needs to hear this (I'm talking to you, Dave a year ago), but you're not always right. Your opinions are not always right. You are not the moral compass that guides all almost 7 billion of us in this world. You are not the centre of the Universe. You know what, I'm actually going to take this one step further, and say this - you might actually be wrong sometimes. Wild, right? But being wrong is how we grow, and how we widen our views, and how we learn. Be willing to be wrong, and be willing to learn. Be willing to look yourself in the mirror and challenge yourself to be a better version of that person today. The world is changing every day and with that comes a chance to change with it. Men suffer more from imagining too little than too much (Greatest Showman quote, thank you very much Hugh Jackman).
10. Kindness Comes at very little cost
There is a lot of evil in this world, but there is a lot of goodness too. What side of the scale do you want to align yourself with? Whether it be someones gender identity, their political beliefs, their favourite sports, anything - ask yourself this one simple question: "why do I care?" If the answer is anything other than "I care because this directly effects me" or "I care because this is universally wrong".... LET IT GO. I'd say about 98% of the world's problems comes from one group of individuals trying to unnecessarily enforce their belief system on another, and if we all just leaned to say "you do you" a little more in the face of seeing something we don't necessarily agree with, the world would be a much happier place. Stand up for what matters and fight like hell, but choose very carefully what it is that you're going to care about. In the words of Mark Manson in my favourite book I've ever read "The Subtle Art fo Not Giving a F***," there are only so many fuck's to give in this world, choose wisely. Probably not a direct quote, but it'll have to do. Apologies to my high school librarian if this was not cited in proper MLA Format - I DO NOT OWN THE RIGHTS TO THIS THOUGHT... but it is a good one nonetheless. It takes a lot more out of you to be miserable all the time than kind, so chill out.. would ya? Life's a lot brighter when you just let people live their life instead of trying to align everyone like you.
That's it. 10 lessons revised for what I actually learned. Take it all with a grain of salt because I am, notoriously, known for making a few mistakes every now and then (talking to you again, 2018 Dave). But hey, even if one topic in this list brings a few things to light that may have otherwise slipped through the cracks, then it's worth it for me.
And from my main man Leo and I (don't worry we're on a first name basis), Here's to hoping 2020 brings a whole new set of lessons, and most importantly, a lot of joy to us all.