I know it’s technically two days late, but better late than never, right?
2015 was undoubtedly the greatest, and worst, year of my life. I myself am still trying to figure out how this could be, so I understand if you’re a bit confused.
The “worst” part was right at the start. I began the year far differently than I had imagined. Every aspect of my life, it seemed, had taken a nosedive. This was the first time I had ever felt that everything was out of my control.
My first instinct, which maybe would have been yours as well, was to reach out to my friends. In 2014, they had been great and always there when I needed them (granted, this was usually for picking an outfit to wear out or someone to go along to Target). Shortly after talking over the situation, the whispers began. I heard them in the halls of my sorority house. I saw them in screen shots of GroupMe messages. This was the first lesson 2015 had in store for me: Most people don’t actually care, they are just curious. Am I telling you that all of your friends don’t love you? Not at all. As I’ve grown older, and especially as the problems I’ve been faced with have increased in severity, I have found that there is only a fraction of people who truly ask about you for YOU; not for gossip, not for information, and not for their own gain. I know now that there are some friends who you can shop with, go out with, and brunch with, but only a few that you need by you when you’re crying, eating ice cream out of the tub, and watching a rom com for the fifth time that week. Quality over quantity.
Realizing I couldn’t rely on others to get me through the rough patch led me to turn to a new hero, myself. 2015’s second lesson: Love yourself first. It’s kind of crazy to expect someone to love you, whether it be a friend, a crush, or even a potential employer, if you are not already 100% in love with yourself, even your imperfections. I bought myself my first journal since middle school and began having honest (written) conversations with myself about each and every thing that crossed my mind. This led me to learn a great deal about myself that I had never really picked up on, or had disregarded as unimportant in the past. For example, I really love music. I started playing violin when I was 7 and used the treble clef to teach myself piano. I was in musicals from age 5 on to when I thought they weren’t “cool.” Had I taken the time to give myself that joy recently? Unless you count pregaming to a Spotify playlist I had made (though I am SO proud of middle school turn up) I had not. Long story short, when a guitar was up for grabs toward the end of spring semester, I figured I’d be its caretaker for the summer and finally gave myself the opportunity to love music on an intimate level once more. Another anecdote is that I had never really lost my religion, but this soul-searching made me find God all over again in a way more personal way than PSR had ever taught me. He is good, all the time, even when I feel like the sky is falling. A summary of all the million other stories I could add in here: The more I discovered who my innermost self was, and the more I let that branch outward, the more positivity I attracted.
As the dreary first few months of 2015 faded away, the temperature rose, and the spring semester was nearing its end, I was back on top of the world. I had made wonderful new friends (shout out to PUDM Exec 2015) to add on to the quality old ones. My classes were going fabulously. Most importantly to me at the time, I was going to be interning in Chicago over the summer. I’ll give you the short version of this story: I ended up interning at home in Saint Louis based on changing family situations. As we left my childhood home on my 21st birthday (yes, you read that right) I instantly resented the new home I found myself in. I was “mopey,” according to my mom, for quite some time until I realized there was nothing I could do about it. I had to be home for the summer, and I now had to be in a new home. I could not possibly change either of these facts. This brings me to lesson three: Your situation doesn’t define you, your reaction to it does. At first, I was sulking around, throwing myself pity parties, but it got me nowhere. I had simply wasted time complaining instead of accepting things I cannot control and moving forward. I had moved 40 minutes away from my home town and my high school friends, so I had a lot more alone time than I had previously. It sucked, but I tried to find something else to fill that time. I decided to revamp my online portfolio from class the previous semester into the full-on blog that you are currently reading today. Making the hosting switch and learning a whole new system definitely ate up all my free time, and it gave me something to be excited about. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
After summer ended, I began to eat, sleep, and breathe PUDM. Ask literally anyone who has me on Snapchat, and they can back me up. Time was a luxury, so I had to come to terms with the priorities in my own life (saving kids’ lives > schoolwork and basically all other activities) and those around me had mixed reactions. I received texts saying “What happened to you? You used to be fun!” from my pledge sisters on numerous occasions when I chose to stay in with the aforementioned ice cream-eating, rom com-watching friends instead of going out on a Thursday night… Bringing me to 2015’s fourth lesson: Surround yourself with positivity. As DJ Khaled would say, positivity is the *key emoji* to success. Throughout fall semester, I chose to do what I wanted, not what was expected of me. I had the mindset of those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind. I also took this a step further and tried to phase out any and all negativity, even doing a social media cleanse. Hint: It’s amazing how freeing unfriending someone whose negativity seeped into your life can make you feel!
The last lesson I learned: Good and bad don’t have to be on a binary. So many of us instinctually say, “That’s good!” or “How horrible!” when we hear news, and I’m guilty of it myself. The truth is, the biggest things in our lives are bittersweet and can’t be classified as inherently good or bad. Some of my dearest friends graduating in December was a “good” thing. I am so incredibly happy for them and their bright futures ahead, but I am also deeply saddened that I will never be within walking distance of them again. On the other hand, my grandfather’s worsening Alzheimer’s is a “bad” thing that I’ve learned to see the good in. I have gotten closer to him than ever before since he requires more supervision, and I have learned so much about his life and our family history. Not everything is as black and white as we’d like it to be, and I am learning to live in that grey area with more empathy for others.
2015 was a lot of character development. Stay tuned for the action and story progression that 2016 will bring 🙂