As the Year in Review statuses saturate our Facebook news feeds and we sift through the impossible, mounting pile of recaps about friends who have gotten engaged, friends who have had babies, friends who have traveled the world, friends who spend their youthful years recording themselves at the top of the Eiffel Tower with selfie sticks: as all of these things happen, the question inevitably arises. Has anything really changed for us?
The answer might be a simple one for you to answer, or perhaps it’s really difficult, depending on what has happened in the past calendar year. I find myself somewhere in-between: exciting things have happened (I passed my qualifying exam, earned my Master’s degree, moved back to school, met Jonathan Gold, started collaborating with some amazing companies and bloggers), but so have mundane everyday things like 72-hour research marathons in my grubby sweatpants or dragging myself out of bed at 1 PM after a late night so I can begrudgingly squeeze in my 8-mile “morning” run. If there’s one thing every year can offer, however, it is life lessons learned. So here’s a list of my favorite, funnest, and nearest-and-dearest ones–after you read them, make sure to share a few of your own in the comments!
1. Don’t say ‘no’ until you give yourself the chance to say ‘yes.’ At the start of 2014, I found myself on multiple occasions defaulting to ‘no’: no to that party happening all the way across the city, no to that guy who asks for my number after a 10-minute conversation at the coffeeshop. This year quickly turned into a year of ‘yes’ when the wonderful Nancy showed me a book called The Year of Yes. No, I haven’t read it–but spending a whole year saying ‘yes’ to dates (including one with a homeless man, another with a divorcee with two kids) is one way to change a mindset!
2. NOW is the time to say it.
You love me? Tell me. Think my nailbeds suck? I want to know. (Though maybe we could start the barrage with a compliment?) The average human life span is 84.3 years, and squandering even a second of it is a pretty foolish percentage wasted. So yeah, in the words of that really annoying John Mayer song: Say what you need to say!
3. Good things come to those who are willing to see the good in things.
As Anton Ego from Ratatouille says: “You provide the food, I’ll provide the perspective.”
Interestingly, this Pixar villain also coined what has become one of my crowning mottos in life:
And then he had to go and ruin it by saying this:
…which like, isn’t true at all, because I’m a freakin’ garbage disposal and will eat most anything you throw in my face. So, yeah.
4. Good things come to those who put down their smart phones, too.
Because this video poem happened, and also because let’s face it, that Facebook notification wasn’t worth missing the little girl who just smiled a big, front-teeth-missing smile at you as you walked by.
5. No oceanliner ever spotted an iceberg and thought: “Gee, great, let’s just keep heading in that general direction, shall we?” The same applies to life. Ask yourself at least once a day: “Am I happy right now?” If the answer is yes, smile and carry on. If the answer is no, smile bigger, evaluate, and redirect your course.
6. Cuddling a furry companion makes everything better. And I really mean everything. I used to wake up crying with a mixture of joy and sadness over dreams of hugging adorable puppies in my arms (I’m allergic to most dogs). Having had the wonderful experience of cuddling for three nights with my cousin’s toy poodle this winter break, I must admit that no experience will make your troubles evaporate into so much inconsequential dust faster than a doggy nuzzle. If no furball is readily available, ask a friend or neighbor as uncreepily as you can if you can borrow theirs for a quick cuddle.
7. There is nothing quite like the feeling of experiencing a great new book for the first time. The rush of reading Harry Potter books for the first time at midnight releases has long passed, but in November I marathoned The Hunger Games series in 96 hours, in preparation for the third movie installment. During that time, I forgot how to eat, sleep, and socialize like a normal person (I actually carried a copy of the book with me to a coffeeshop date at one point during those hazy days), but damn, was I happy to be reading something exciting, unfamiliar, and published post-1850 for a change. Team Peeta #always.
8. Try something new once a week.
Last month, my friend C and I were hanging out and decided we needed to make goals. Inspiration. Achievement. Wonder. So we made a pact to try something new every week for the rest of our lives. –Okay, we actually decided to try it out for a month, but since then I’ve eaten my first caramel apple; explored an entire city on a 14-mile run; dated someone like, properly for once; and cuddled a dog to sleep. And Lawd save me, if it wasn’t all ahmayzing.
9. Good friends are the ones you can share feelings with. Great friends are the ones you can talk about poo and stuff with.
But seriously: think about this one. True, right? For instance, I have so many potty jokes I could tell you about right now…
10. Keep a physical running list of things your friends mention to you–their likes, their dislikes, their wish lists.
I’ve started keeping a bunch of separate wishlists on Amazon, as well as a color-coded Excel spreadsheet of all my friends’ and families’ favorite baked treats. Trust me, you will thank me for it when the holidays roll around again this time next year!
11. Shelf your pride for a month–a week–a day.
This was a big one for me in 2014. Is that argument actually worth having? Will it make me a better person if I make my mom realize that I’m right and she’s wrong about the way water filters work? Arguments–especially the pettiest ones–often leave me feeling irritable, upset, and above all plain frustrated with myself. Next time you’re about to start a row about something on which the world’s fate does not depend, consider putting your pride on a holding shelf and (in the words of a little-known Frozen song) letting it go!
Image Creds: memespp.com, weknowmemes.com, memecenter.com
12. Everyone else’s life looks cooler than yours. Meanwhile, everyone else is looking at your life thinking the exact same thing.
I talk about this close-to-home subject in this post.
13. Don’t settle for “fun” in big fat quotation marks. Also: There will never “be enough time” for FUN; you have to make time for it. Make having fun a priority on your to-do list.
Too often I’ll leave a sophistimacated dinner party or something and the hostess will hug me in her shining pearls and purr, “That was so fun, let’s do it again sometime, dear.” Well, this year I learned that I was having none of that–that “fun” does not equal FUN–and that if I really want to have FUN, I need to get out there and just have it. And yes, I realize there will never be a “good time” or a “guilt-free” time for having fun, so you just have to make some, just like you need to make time to exercise or do boring things like laundry and stuff. In other words, make FUN a priority because again, you might only have 525949 hours left to live, give or take 100000 or so.
14. “Virtual” friends is the same thing as simply saying: friends.
As Wallflour Girl has grown, as I have been lucky enough to meet such a wonderful crew of new bloggers this year, I am proud to call each and every one of you a real, honest-to-goodness friend. Whether I have “met” you or have actually met you IRL, thank you for making this year an amazing one filled with the most amazing friendships I could ask for. Here’s to making 2015 great!
Share your favorite life lessons from 2014–and see you all on the other side of the new year!