17 Lessons of 2017

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As I scrolled down my newsfeed, looking at all the 2017 memes, I thought to myself: “So this is what it’s like to not relate to new year posts. I like it.”

Photo credits: Sarah Andersen

Around this time last 2016, when I was doing the same thing, I was one with the general sentiment of the public – we had been beaten down to a pulp, surprised by plot twist after plot twist, taunted by everyday existential crisis and we just couldn’t wait for the year to be over.

I’m glad that now, I actually feel different about the year that was. By the grace of God, it has been amazing and life-changing for me. Rather than relieved, I’m ending the year feeling extremely grateful for all the chances I was given and for all the love I’ve received.

2017 was a year of growth and learning what it was to dream again. It’s about winging it and discovering that I could fly. And most importantly, it was about people, rooting my heart in them and understanding how it was to build and belong in communities.

(One important milestone: I started teaching this year. Though I originally planned to teach later in my career, God called me to teach this year and I decided to give it a shot. Best decision ever!)

With all that said, I’d just like to share a few lessons I learned from this past year:

  1. Leave toxic relationships. – When the year started, I was still in a state I didn’t want to be in. I was slowly losing myself – I could feel it – but at the same time, I was scared to do anything to regain myself because I felt like I was merely walking away instead of moving forward. Eventually, I realized that that was the thing about toxic relationships – they will make you feel like you need them, like you have no choice to be with them, like you would be a coward if you leave them. But those are all untrue. You can learn from them and go on with your life. You don’t have to be stuck in a situation where you are unable to grow and be yourself.
  2. Climb your mountain. – This applied to me both literally and figuratively. (Shout out to Team Tagaktak!) Though I’ve only climbed a mountain once this year, it was enough to wake me up and get me going. Physically exhausted, I thought that I’ve reached my limits. But, with good company and motivation I never thought I had, I reached the summit. With this experience, I learned to believe in myself, to believe that I am capable of taking charge of my fate. (It was this climb that pushed me to leave and take a step into a new direction.)
  3. Start your dreams now. – Maybe it was the climb or the desperation. I don’t know. But this year, I learned that you make your perfect timing, so if you have a dream, pursue it.
  4. You are your best self. – I actually reached a state of being this 2017 where I loved everything about myself and my routines. I was super caring about the welfare of those I loved. I took care of myself too. And I was doing everything to the best of my abilities. I called it my best self. Unfortunately, my best self was only good for two to three months, and when it wore off, I was so frustrated at myself. It took a while for me to understand that I am my best self. It’s all within me. I just really have good days and bad days but that doesn’t negate the fact that I have become this person that I can now love and forgive.
  5. Anchor yourself in people (no matter how scary that might be). – One of my biggest struggles this year is in the attachment department. When you’re someone who’s learned to live alone and depend only on yourself, you tend to detach from people or be more cautious in forming new relationships. So when God sent me a ton of good people this year, it was hard to accept immediately. I didn’t know what to do and how to open up (especially since I learned that people can be lost and relationships can be broken). But let me tell you this: anchoring myself in those people was the best thing I did this year. Whatever happens in the after, by welcoming them in my life, I have been blessed with beautiful moments.
  6. When you open yourself up to the world, it will open itself up to you. – Trust me, for an introvert to learn this is a BIG feat. I prefer my world to be small, focused on a certain group of people. But, as it turns out, when you give the world the benefit of the doubt and the opportunity to be good to you, it will respond with kindness.
  7. Sadness, anxiety and doubt, even during sunny days, are valid. – For most of the year, I’ve been showered with blessings. But, believe it or not, even on those good days, I still sometimes feel bad. Initially, I thought that feeling the way I felt was wrong, that people have it worse than me so I shouldn’t mope around. I was blessed, for crying out loud! But it does happen and it’s alright.
  8. Relearn what it means to be a part of a community. – Going back home meant rewiring my brain from strong independent woman living alone to strong independent woman living with her family. Since I already had a taste of independence and freedom, I had to relearn consideration – how to consider other people and include them in my routine. And because of that, I was able to take down the walls I put up when I had to “grow up” and “go away”.
  9. Your happiness can depend on you.  – I’m not saying that only you can make yourself happy. I’m saying that you are capable of making yourself happy. When you go out into the world where your path isn’t as predetermined as you thought it was, you realize that you have to actively participate in your life and to make decisions in order to be happy.
  10. Not shouting back doesn’t always mean that you’ve shut yourself up.  – This applies to arguments. When I was younger, I always just kept quiet whenever I’m at the receiving end of a conflict. Over time, I learned to speak up and I detested keeping quiet. However, maturity helped me realized that the quiet is needed and valid.
  11. Kindness, true kindness, has no concept of self. – Refer to Christmas 2017 or even all the small things. I realized that during the most spontaneous moments of kindness, it’s all about choosing them over you.
  12. Pursing your dream won’t be exciting all the time.  – Hello Haber (my book in the making)! You’d think that when your finally writing it, you’d be so inspired and motivated all the time. You’d think it will finally feel like your doing something right and the whole world is proud of you. Wrong! That’s the idealized version of a dream my friends. Dreams will drag you down in the gutter even when you have nothing to give. But you go through that journey anyway because its your dream.
  13. Every person deserves a massage, at least once. – You’ll understand when you experience it.
  14. Keep track of yourself to better understand yourself. – Thanks to a close friend (henlo, Gims), I was inspired to journal. For the first time in forever, I consistently journaled for roughly four months. Throughout this experience, I was able to escape, pace myself and most importantly, reflect. Because of that, I was able actually detect if I have issues that I’m merely trying to repress.
  15. Allow yourself the comfort of comfort things. – This year it was pizza and donuts. You really need to have something to hang onto.
  16. You will always get tired and stressed. But you can choose what to get stressed and tired over. – I don’t know if this goes with the saying “Choose your battles” or something but what I’m pertaining to here is about career. All jobs will tend to demand from you but you can choose one where doing so wouldn’t be so bad.
  17. Get up, even if your back hurts, even if you had a bad dream, even if you’ve barely slept. – The day gets better. You’ll never know what’s in store if you don’t get up.

If you want to read the 16 lessons I learned from 2016, click this link.

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