After Christmas but before the New Year we always find ourselves in a sort of end-of-year-limbo where we don't really know what to do with ourselves and just fill up the days watching films and eating left over chocolates until NYE celebrations come round. Personally, I spent today watching Aladdin and Mulan while simultaneously reminiscing about this past year. As this year is slowly rolling to an end, I've decided to collect a few well needed life lessons from 2014 and two things that I'd like to improve on in the New Year.
Just do it
So, first lesson of 2014 is: if you want to do something, just do it. I haven't just stolen that from Nike, I promise, but if there is something you have been thinking about trying out then get up and go do it, no excuses, no 'what ifs' 'buts' or maybe'. I've learnt that if it's something that you are thinking about and you know that if you were to succeed in it, it would make you very happy, then you owe it to yourself to give it a go. Make plans if you have to, build up the courage to begin your journey and start somewhere, anywhere.
Say what you have to say
Certain personal and world events throughout the year have taught me that it is important to say what you have to say. Ferguson and Eric Garner protests in New York against police brutality have spread right around the world while earlier this year we witnessed protests to save Gaza and recently calls for democracy in Hong Kong with the umbrella movement shows that people are calling out and demanding justice, freedom and democracy. These are only a few examples I can give that represent a wide spectrum of social and political issues and I don't want to take away from the importance of these events but if there is one thing that they have showed me, it is that you have a voice and you can use it any way that you want. Whether this is on a global level, a local level in your community or a personal level among family, friends or anyone else in your life; you have the rights and freedoms to speak what is on your mind, say what you feel and just be honest with your emotions.
Learn to Listen
So this might contradict the point above but in 2014 I learnt to listen. Ok that sounds really weird because obviously I do listen but what I'm trying to say is to actually listen to what people are telling you, not just spend the time thinking about what you're going to say next. Listen to what people are saying and what they're not saying. Be wholly present in a conversation, keep your phone in your bag if you have to, and just listen and respond without pre-planning your reply in your head.
Be spontaneous with your free time
I spent the majority of 2014 feeling bleaurgh and just meh. I don't really know why or how I got to that place but I found myself in such a rut, feeling unmotivated about a lot of things. I remember a particular period just before summer where I spent my free time after exams just staying indoors, not really doing much. I think it can be so easy to let these sorts of feelings linger but the longer they do, the more it can effect your mood and outlook on life. So I learnt to become proactive - I got out of the house, I went for walks both with and without friends, and became more spontaneous with my free time instead of spending it infront of my computer or just 'chilling' at home. Doing nothing can be nice and relaxing, but making plans, making the effort to meet up with people, hosting dinner nights (if you have your own living space) or just planning day trips away can be even better. The thing is, I knew all of this already, but 2014 made me forget how awesome it could be.
People are people
Growing up I had many diverse friendship groups and I never really paid that much attention to how amazing that was but this past year I've really appreciated that fact. I've learnt that country of origin, race, religion, sexuality or gender really does not matter - people are people and if you click then that's great, if you don't, then you move on. I did my masters this year in International Relations so you can imagine just how diverse my course was and it just made me appreciate my own diverse friendship groups while also making new ones. Some of my best friends are of different races, religions and backgrounds to me and I think that's a great thing. It's great having friends who are similar to you as there are certain things you won't have to explain - they will just understand because they've experienced it too. But it's also a great thing to make the effort to build strong friendships with people who have lived in different situations and experiences to your own. They can challenge you to see the world a little differently or bring a completely new perspective to your life. To me, there is nothing better than being able to broaden your mind.
What are some big ol' life lessons you have learnt this past year?
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