As 2019 approaches, it’s funny to look back at the things we expected from the previous year and ourselves, because they are so rarely the same as what we actually ended up learning throughout the year. 2018 brought so many challenges and lessons I never saw coming. So with that, here is my sage wisdom from an exhilarating, challenging, and ultimately rewarding year.
Believe you can, and you will find a way. Halfway through this year, I was incredibly burnt out. It felt like I’d lost the confidence and motivation I’d always taken for granted as part of who I was. Finding them within myself again took time, patience - from both myself and those around me - and most importantly, faith that I could. We are all going to be thrown into unfamiliar situations in life and feel in over our heads. We are also all going to experience burnout. When that happens, believing in yourself, even if it feels unwarranted, is the best way to help yourself get out of a funk. When you do, you can, in Gabby’s words, “own it” and “become the expert” - even if you haven’t felt like the expert yet before.
Be honest. You have to be honest about what you need, which is harder than it sounds. Whenever Gabby asks me seriously what I need and don’t have, it takes a lot to swallow my pride, and the worry it may come out wrong, and open up honestly. Honesty is daunting, but it’s the way to build strong work and personal relationships, and ultimately do better. But that also means being honest with yourself. As an optimist, I’m so accustomed to seeing the silver lining that I sometimes block out the bad stuff altogether. But the bad stuff isn’t all bad - admitting the things that you’re unhappy with, whether it’s work, your attitude, your friends, or your city, is the beginning of changing them. You owe it to yourself to accept it, confront it, and make things better.
Forgive yourself. You’re not done growing. Earlier this year when I was criticizing my own work to Gabby, she said “Whoa. Give yourself some grace. You cannot be this hard on yourself.” It was a moment of jarring perspective for me, because it reminded me how disproportionately hard on ourselves we can be. There’s a point where self-reflection just becomes self-criticism, and it’s important to remember that it’s okay when we make mistakes, because we are not done growing. Forgive yourself your mistakes, and treat them as an opportunity to learn rather than an opportunity to bully yourself.
It’s okay to not know everything 100%, always. When I write an essay for university, I fall into a trap I call the reading vortex. I read a bit about my topic, realize how much I don’t know, and then keep reading. And then I. don’t. stop. And before I know it, I’m 24 hours away from my due date with endless notes and no essay, because I let myself believe I didn’t know enough to start writing. Let me be clear: this is not a sustainable way to live life. Sometimes, you just have to start. You have to accept that you don’t know everything, you can’t know everything, and you will never know everything 100%, always. Have faith that as you go, you will figure things out, learn things, and change yourself and your work throughout the process. You won’t know 100% of everything, but you won’t need to to excel.
In the spirit of Simon Sinek and Gabby’s infinite appreciation for his teachings, let me close by saying that 2018 has taught me a lot about myself and the world through these lessons. It’s reminded me that the most important values to me are courage, positivity, kindness, resilience, and loyalty. I have been lucky to be a part of a work team that embodies all these values, and hope that all of you reading this go through 2019 - and life - empowered with them and more. Good luck next year.
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