I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, 2017 has passed as quickly as the blink of an eye. When one year ends and another begins, I’m always left with the strange sense of finality which comes with all new clean slates. One of the ways in which we make sure we continue to move forward is by learning from our experiences, and these are the biggest of my own 2017 life lessons.
Its Okay to Take a Break
I’m proud of the fact that my first experience of work was at 14 years old. Since then, I’ve always kept myself busy and have enjoyed the independence that comes alongside making my own money. I worked through high-school, college, and my gap year. I worked through my first year of university at UEA and for two years after that while deciding whether university was actually for me. For part of 2017 I worked (full-time) alongside blogging, my degree (that I chose to continue through OU) and everything else that comes with life; family, friendships, relationships, etc.
It was draining.
I’ve always been proud of my employment and have strived for an impressive answer to the seemingly constant question ‘so what do you do?’. Thats not to mention that I am extremely motivated by money and the freedom it gives you. Splashing out on luxuries, investing in short term savings for holidays and new cars, and long term savings for a property and rainy days.
I was told quite early on in the year that I was going to be made redundant. Instead of finding ultimate employment, I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to just take a break. I finally realised that I had bitten off more than I could successfully chew, and decided (for now) to prioritise my degree and my blog. My ability to do this can be contributed to two things. Firstly that I’m very lucky and have people in my life who have supported this decision and have enabled me to do so without worrying about money. Secondly, all that saving I did whilst earning has allowed me options. Unlike me, maybe work isn’t something that you need to give up, maybe its a draining relationship, saying yes to someone who asks too much of you, a hobby that you no longer enjoy, the list goes on. If its getting too much then take a break.
This kind of leads into my next lesson which is to…
I’ve learnt the hard way that its better to give your all to fewer things than to spread yourself thin over many. In the later part of 2017, I was trying to do too much and wound up unhappy and irritable. I felt like I had no time to do anything that I actually wanted to do, as all of my time was already committed to work or education- the things that I’d told myself I had to do. Sometimes its okay to turn down opportunities in order to thrive in other ways.
There’s no point in doing something unless you do it properly.
I’ve also learnt that prioritising career opportunities is really important. I was open to working (part time) alongside everything else going on, but I turned down jobs because they just weren’t right for me at that time. They were too many hours or too demanding for not enough pay… you get the gist. I’ve now found a job that I’m starting in the new year that is exactly right for me, the hours are on my terms and its something I want to do rather than something I feel I need to do. Sometimes prioritising your happiness or your education or whatever else it may be, and saying no, is the only way to allow better opportunities to fall into place.
Regaining Self Worth
By learning the above lesson and allowing myself to say no sometimes, I gained an odd sense of power. There are people in every walk of life, who will take advantage of your willingness to say yes if you let them- be it a boss, a friend, a relative, the principle and the lesson are the same- don’t let them! One day, someone pushed me a little too far and asked too much of me and I said no! It was that easy. I realised that saying yes all this time hadn’t helped me in the slightest, it wasn’t appreciated, I wasn’t paid more, and I didn’t even get so much as thank you. My happiness and my health are more important than a job and/or the momentary offence of someone who I’ve had to politely turn down. I’m worth more, and so are you.
Don’t Copy or Compare
I’m a social media addict.
Instagram showcases some beautiful people, in beautiful places, wearing beautiful clothes.
Facebook allows you (if you’re really that interested) to see what the people you used to know are up to now- if they’ve been promoted, if they’re engaged or are starting a family… you get the idea.
Its so important to remember that everyone is different, that picture on Instagram has 70k likes but you think her dress is hideous!? The one of the cute shoes only has 20 likes!? People have different likes, different interests, different situations and different goals. Being able to take inspiration from other people online is definitely a benefit! But draw a line- comparing yourself to them is silly and guaranteed to make you think negatively about yourself. One of my best friends is a month older than me, she’s married with two children and we couldn’t be any more different if we tried! People are ready for different things at different stages of their lives. You don’t know peoples struggles, how many relationships they’ve lost to their career, how much time they’ve put into getting the perfect shot, whether or not those followers have been bought or whether that promotion is actually a big deal or whether they just want it to seem like one. The less time you spend trying to compare yourself to someone who you have no clue about, the more time you have to work on yourself. This year I’ve spent so much time comparing myself to people. People who were in my academic year and have now graduated while I haven’t, the blogs of people whose sites have been established over years rather than mine which was started a matter of months ago, the car of someone who chose it whilst I chose holidays. Its absolutely pointless! Be confident in yourself and your decisions, all you can do is try to continue to improve on yourself.
I know that none of these lessons are exactly groundbreaking, but I hope that they help you in the way that they helped me- as small reminders to put yourself first, to re-evaluate, and to make the changes you need to in order to be the best version of you in 2018.