This is 24

It’s been a hard year. I’ve had to deal with the loss of a parent, the re-connection to another and the rediscovery of myself. To be quite honest, I’m still in the process of the latter. It’s been, by far, the hardest process I’ve ever had to deal with.

This year has taught me a lot, and it has brought me some amazing things as it has some compelling things. I won’t say they were bad, but compelling because they stirred something in me. They motivated me to make changes, to acknowledge my cycle of behaviors and the role I play in them. They motivated to find ways to break them and grow from them. This year has put a lot of my values into perspective; values like materialism, friendship and self-care.

While I’m still figuring out what this all means to me, as I’m sure I will for a long time in this journey of life, I hope you’ll indulge me as I share some of the strongest lessons of 23:

1. Some friendships need to end and that’s okay.
I have a hard time letting go of things and of people. I have a deep fear of ending life by myself, with nobody around me. Because of this, I often stay in friendships that don’t serve me a positive purpose. I stay in them willingly, for a time longer than I need to. I’m afraid of losing friends, but my hesitation to allow things to end had caused me to lose myself in the process. Sometimes you need to let friendships go so new friendships can come in. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that this relationship isn’t serving you a positive purpose, and there’s nothing wrong with closing the chapter. Maybe it’ll be picked up in the future, or maybe it’ll lay where it lands forever.

2. Self-Care is more than what you think.
Self-care has become a bit diluted to the point that we think taking ourselves to the movies or buying ourselves clothes is the only form of acceptable self-care. Self-care is so much more than spoiling yourself once-in-a-while. I’m not trying to diminish those moments at all, I’ve just realized that self-care also includes being honest with yourself and your feelings. Sometimes it means letting yourself cry in your car. It can be Sometimes it looks like leaving a relationship or a place that isn’t benefiting you anymore. Sometimes it looks like getting yourself a therapist, a gym membership, consuming self-help books or twerking it out in your bedroom. Self-care is about equipping yourself with the tools and resources to do more than survive, but thrive. And it is an act of societal rebellion. We’re never taught how to care for ourselves and learning how to do it is an ultimate act of political defiance. Relish in that.

3. Shift your perspective.
The day my father passed, so many things that I thought were important to me, weren’t. Things I thought mattered to me, didn’t. Loss makes you take a step back from everything and re-evaluate what everything looks like. I will say, because of this loss, I’ve really shifted how I view things. Complicated situation or difficult decisions, I look at them with a different lens now. I think a lot in the scope of “what purpose does this serve?” or “does that have a positive impact?” and I make more decisions from that place. And I don’t punish myself for not thinking “fast enough” or being unable to always decide. We need to stop punishing ourselves for mistakes we make or not always having the answer - we’re growing and learning. Every mistake is an opportunity and every opportunity is a lesson. Lessons lead to growth, so shift that perspective.

4. You can’t control everything.
This is the biggest thing I’ve learned in 23. I don’t know about y’all, but I often feel like I need to be in control of something; my life, my education, my work, etc. I feel like if I’m not in control then I’m not taken seriously and if I’m not taken seriously that I’m failing something or somebody. Personally, I believe in a higher power and that means that I have to learn to relinquish control of things to that higher power. As I write this, I’m reminded that my word of the year is “Relinquish,” and I’m reminded of how much I need to practice that more for the rest of this year. Relinquish control.

5. You don’t always have to be ON.
I’ve always strived for authenticity within how I present and how I communicate. But this year I’ve also realized that sometimes our authenticity is manufactured by our need to always be on. We have a need to be a something to someone, and we need to remind ourselves that we don’t always need to do that. It’s okay to switch off. It’s okay to not want to be high-energy, or say more than “I’m fine” when someone asks how you are. Authenticity works both ways, to other people and to yourself. If you’re always ON then I guarantee that your authenticity is OFF. Don’t hesitate to flip the switch sometimes.

Well, those are my 5 lessons I’ve learned from 23. These has honestly taught me a lot this year, and have challenged me in ways I didn’t think could challenge me. This year has been the hardest year of my life so far, for a plethora of reasons, but I also know that I am on my journey and it will lead to thriving. I trust that. I trust that for all of us. I look forward to what 24 will bring, and I’m excited to welcome it into my life.

I hope that you may have learned something or identified with something in this post! If not, well I don’t know what to tell ya! 23 year old me would look for a way to wrap this up with a bow, but This is 24!