2018 has felt at least 84 years long for sure. But as it draws to a close, I’ve found myself in an introspective mood. I can easily say that 2018 has been the year that I’ve felt the closest to being an actual adult. I’ve learned a lot about the world and about myself and how I exist in it. I’ve learned a lot of lessons — some practical, some more philosophical — and I’m here to share them with you as I carry them into the New Year (let’s not call them resolutions: that only increases the likelihood that they won’t be taken to heart).
1. Hydration is Key: On the list of practical lessons I learned this year: I don’t drink enough water, and I probably consume too much caffeine. Since our trip to Thailand, I’ve been on a deliberate mission to increase my daily H²O intake and decrease my caffeine levels. I was forced to do this during our travels by both the extreme heat and lack of Diet Coke in Southeast Asia, and it seemed simple enough to keep it up when we returned to American soil.
Also, it’s been a good excuse to buy a pretty new water bottle.
2. Woman Cannot Live by Seamless Alone: Here’s a harsh truth I had to confront with myself: I eat like a college student. In fact, I probably eat worse than my college self, since my college actually possessed a decent dining hall selection. Any one of my friends or former/current roommates can tell you that I hate cooking. I’m not bad at it, necessarily, but I mostly find it more trouble than it’s worth. I don’t like the fact that I have to use five different pieces of cookware and every available piece of the (already incredibly limited) counter-space in my kitchen to come up with one bowl or plate of something that looks like a balanced meal.
Still, at the end of 2018 and heading into 2019, I am endeavoring to change this. I’ve started a meals-in-a-box system in an effort to embrace the chaos of cooking more. I still don’t love the process, but the results are good.
3. Personal Style Isn’t About Fashion: I feel like I should have learned this lesson a lot earlier, but I’m going to go ahead and chalk my late-blooming style up to the fact that I wore a uniform every weekday from the age of five to the age of eighteen. It’s hard to develop a ton of personal style when you haven’t had a lot of time to try things out. Ten years out from my plaid skirt-wearing days, I feel like I’ve finally developed some sense of what I feel good wearing. I’ve started to embrace what makes me feel confident as the defining factor of my sartorial choices.
4. Don’t Hide Your Inner Nerd: This was a lesson I started learning in college. There is no point in not embracing the things you’re passionate about. If your friends want to dissociate from you because of it, maybe you don’t want to call them friends anyway. I’ve definitely got a personality that hyper-fixates, that goes all in on something and wants to learn everything possible about it. And for a lot of my life, I’ve attempted to curb my enthusiasm for things so as not to seem weird. But I think I’ve finally learned that that’s been to my detriment. Zelda and I could have been having long and intense chats about figure skating for YEARS, if I hadn’t been so concerned that people would think I was weird for being obsessed with a very niche sport.
Embracing our mutual love for the sport this year has brought us closer and gotten us through some tough times. And my love for certain shows, books, podcasts, and other niche interests has brought me to some of the best friendships in my adult life.
5. It’s Okay to Unplug: Sometimes the shit that’s going on in the world is terrible and frightening and hard to deal with. And sometimes you just have to not deal with it for a little while. I’m learning to accept that needing a break doesn’t mean I don’t care: It means that it hurts me mentally and sometimes physically to care as much as I do. While it’s a privilege to be able to do so, if you can, sometimes it’s okay to retreat into yourself and turn off those news notifications. You’ll come out on the other side more able to do something about it.
6. Don’t Let Your Job Define Your Total Self-Worth: For much of my life, I was a person who put a lot of value on how I did in school. All the way through grad school, my main concern was my grades and getting ones high enough to do well in the next step: getting into the best college/grad school/work place. But now that I’m five years out of grad school and nearly three into my full-time adult job, I’m learning that I can’t put all my personal value into said job. It’s part of who I am, but it’s not the only part.
I am a better, happier person when I try and find other things to hang accomplishments on: I’m learning to cook, I took an awesome vacation, I signed up for ice skating lessons, I have all these amazing friends that give me the greatest support system I could ask for. Those are just as important as doing well at my job. Professional success can help, yes, but it’s not going to make me completely fulfilled.
I hope maybe you can relate to these lessons, big and small, and maybe they’ll help you as much as they’ve helped me. Now go drink some water.