14 Lessons from 2014

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”
– Zora Neale Hurston

Like most years, 2014 was quite eventful, to say the least. We witnessed “Frozen” take over as the highest grossing animated film ever (along with the resulting “Elsapocalypse”–or “Elsaween,” if you prefer). We were a part of the epic announcement of the Apple Watch, the first new product from Apple since Steve Jobs. We cringed as we watched Robin Thicke relentlessly beg for Paula Patton’s forgiveness, and George Clooney crushed the hopes of millions of women as he finally tied the knot. But along with the usual scandals, deaths, hashtags, and headlines, 2014 was undoubtedly a year that answered questions and brought tremendous clarity.

This year, I’ve learned that:
  1. Inner peace is absolutely priceless. Big decisions often come with a lot of doubt and second guessing. Facing the unknown is scary, especially for those of us who don’t necessarily like change, but the peace that comes with knowing deep down that you’ve made the right decision adds a sense of comfort that helps fuel us through the scary unknown.
  2. As painful as it may be, sometimes stepping away from a situation is necessary. Sometimes, that’s the only way you’re able to see the truth. Sometimes, you just have to walk away, and I’ve truly realized–and enjoyed–the liberation and feeling of true happiness that’s come with moving on and letting go.
  3. In any relationship/friendship, an expectation of reciprocity is not a high expectation. There is nothing wrong with expecting more than a one-sided situation. Expecting a friend to be the kind of friend you are or expecting your level of generosity in return in any relationship is not crazy. [Original post]
  4. People who want you in their lives will find a way to keep you there. Likewise, when they don’t, it’s in your best interest not to ignore the signs. Don’t fight it. Don’t be afraid to let go. There’s always something better. “If the feelings are mutual, the effort will be equal.”
  5. When people misuse you, mistreat you, discard, and dismiss you, it’s a reflection of their character, not yours. The same is true for those who talk about you behind your back and smile in your face. Their ability to do so so easily shows you who they are, which is not your fault in any way. Not everyone places the same value on trust. Act accordingly and proceed with caution in your interactions, and be grateful for the awareness.
  6. It’s ok to re-evaluate, regroup, and restart. Not everything will go exactly as you planned. [Read more]
  7. God truly does laugh at your plans. You’re not as in control as you think you are. I love the saying, “If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.” I am one of the most compulsive people on this earth, and I had my year planned exactly the way I thought it should go. My plan was thrown off by about 3 months, and the outcome could not have been more perfect! Someone actually recently said to me, “Oh! You planned that perfectly!” Little did she know, I didn’t. Another perfect example of letting go.
  8. Once the dust settles and anger dissipates, reconciliation is possible, no matter how explosive the incident. This certainly isn’t always the case, but it was for me this year in a relationship that I thought would never recover. But it did, we’re stronger, and I’m grateful. Some relationships will never experience reconciliation, but quite honestly, that realization can also be quite liberating (see #2 & #4).
  9. There is nothing wrong with being emotional and sensitive. I am emotional and I am sensitive. And it’s ok. I don’t need to apologize for it, and I won’t.
  10. Sometimes, though it may take every crumb of energy in your body, it’s worth it not to cry. We all know that (unfortunately) crying can be seen as a sign of weakness, and in some situations, it’s best not to give some people the satisfaction.
  11. Your mistakes don’t define you. We all have instances in our lives that we wish we could erase, and would go to the ends of the earth to keep concealed. We’re human, and we screw up. But those instances don’t define who you are or your life’s destiny, and as much as we may hate it, they’re part of our story.
    “We work hard to disown the parts of our lives that were painful, difficult, or sad. But just as we can’t rip chapters out of a book and expect the story to still make sense, so we cannot rip chapters out of our past and expect our lives to still make sense. Keep every chapter of your life intact, and keep on turning the pages. Sooner or later you’ll understand why every scene, every chapter was needed.”Sandra Kring
  12. The only outcome of punishing yourself for poor decisions is misery, and you deserve to be happy. Financially, for instance, sometimes you just have to pay your “stupid tax” (in the words of Dave Ramsey) and continue to move on. Whatever your “stupid tax” may be, in any situation, pay it, move on, but learn from it. It’s possible to remember the experience in order to not forget the lesson, without beating yourself up.
  13. Recognize the loyal people in your life and cherish them. Don’t take them for granted. I am so blessed, because I did take them for granted, blinded by what I thought was gold since it glittered, and through it all, they remained steadfast. Through my selfishness, my haughtiness, my desire to be accepted, they were there. Those are the ones you should hold dear. You won’t have to look hard. They’re the ones who have always been there, even when you’ve shut them out. Those are the ones who deserve your loyalty and appreciation. Tell them. Show them. If needed, ask for their forgiveness. I didn’t deserve it, but I got it, and I’m beyond grateful.
  14. People are rarely who you initially perceive them to be. Friendships can develop out of the most unlikely of circumstances. Be open to those, and resist the urge to only entertain the shallow, meaningless ones (deep down, you’ll know them when you see them). 2014 has forced a huge slice of humble pie down my throat, as I’ve discovered friendships that I swore could never be, and I’ve seen beauty in people and relationships that I was too stubborn to realize. And once again, I’ve been blessed to have been given another chance. I got in my own way, but only temporarily.

This time of year has always been sad for me. I hate endings. But looking at this list and reflecting on this year, I can’t help but smile. I’m so blessed, and so are you. Here’s to another one…


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