Today I’m sharing the lessons I’ve learned in 2019. At the beginning of each new year, I set intentions for personal and professional goals. I feel more motivated to make the best of my time when I have a plan set forth before me. What’s funny is that these goals I make aren’t the end all – be all for quantifying my success and happiness. What is more profound is my ability to reflect on my growth and learn from my mistakes. Enjoy the lessons I’ve learned this year… and share yours with me in the comments!
It’s okay to worry.
One of the first lessons I’ve learned in 2019 is it’s okay to worry as long as it’s done right. Worrying shows I care, helps me solve problems, and motivates me in many ways.
If I were to live a worry-free life, I wouldn’t work so hard to contribute financially to my family. I’d never make an effort to strengthen my relationships with family and friends. There’s also the big chance I’d have missed the signs my daughter was being bullied at school.
I read an article about worrying that describes my feelings about worrying the right way – mindfully. “The opposite of worry is not a still and unchanging state; rather it’s a flow of emotions that enables us to acknowledge whatever we are feeling, to express those feelings when necessary, to take action if possible, and then to welcome the next feeling that emerges. To sum it up in a word, the opposite of worry is “mindfulness.” (source)
I have to dance.
Despite efforts to worry less, my anxious thoughts are still deafening at times. One of the ways I’ve learned to quiet the noise is to focus on something that requires a lot of concentration.
Dance requires every bit of my being: physically, mentally, and often times emotionally. For the first time in 10 years, I am taking tap and ballet classes once a week. The emotional release I feel while I’m dancing is indescribable and I leave each week a little bit lighter. I HAVE to dance to quiet the worries and the stress of life.
Acceptance is overrated.
One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned this year is regarding acceptance. Over the last 12 months I fought against myself, hiding my real personality at times for fear someone might not like me. At night I’d lay awake brainstorming unique ways to please my audience, find new followers, or solve a fabricated mystery as to why more people aren’t reading my blog.
ACCEPTANCE is the word I focused way too much on, instead of finding satisfaction in what I have around me. After my interview in The New York Times elicited a negative reaction from readers, I began to see the truth. Acceptance is overrated and self worth cannot be measured by validation from others.
I write to make connections with the world around me, not to be accepted by others.
The only way to spend more time with my family is by turning off my electronics.
I spend SO much time on my computer and phone for work it is nauseating. My family takes a back seat on days when they should be riding up front and I’ve missed too many memorable moments. This year I’ve learned the only way to spend more time with my family is by turning off my electronics.
Isn’t this an obvious lesson? YES, but sometimes the most important answers to life’s problems are easily overlooked.
You CAN slow down time by taking life one step at a time.
We all beg for time to slow down, but never stop to address why it feels like it’s moving so quickly. In the chaos of the last year I realized I do TOO much at once. The days that pass by the fastest can be carefully scheduled over overbooked. What they all have in common is the pressure to check everything off the To Do list.
I’m always applauding those that can multitask in every aspect of life – but perhaps I should celebrate the people who move a little slower. The ones that meet a deadline on time, but don’t wait until the last minute to finish the project.
The Most Important Lesson I’ve Learned
Life is too short to waste time feeling sad. Whether it’s support from my tribe, a self-care plan, or a 2 minute dance party, there is joy around every corner. Feeling lonely? Look for pleasure in the inanimate. The sounds of a favorite song, the feel of fresh pages in a new book, the first bite of comfort food – it all can make you smile.
In the new year I’ll be working towards making peace with my realizations. The lessons I’ve learned in 2019 aren’t particularly profound, but they have helped me look at life in a different way.
Oh hey 2020, I see you… and I’m ready for you.
Caitlin Houston is a Connecticut based life and style blogger.