As the year comes to an end and the holiday parties start dimming down, everything starts to get quiet and the mood becomes pensive. We start thinking more, reflecting on the year that was and what we expect in the new year. I have had quite the year and through it all I’ve picked up a few lessons that I thought to share and what better time than now. It also happens to be my birth month so I’ve upped the self-reflection a notch higher. Here are some of the key learnings I’ve had in 2022.

Good things don't come easy

There are several times this year as I tried to balance my personal life, projects, my masters degree with my career when I got completely overwhelmed. “It isn’t supposed to be this hard…… or is it?” I pondered constantly.

I have looked at some people I admire and thought “wow, how do they do it so easily? Their lives seem so much easier but then again most of the time, we tend to focus on their bright side disregarding the possibility that there could actually be another reality that these people generally do not want to show. The hard parts. The struggles. The sleepless nights. The failures, you name them. Personally, I have learnt that the best things come from your own sweat. It gets hard, yes but then again, life sometimes is hard. Embrace it.

There will always be problems. There is no such thing as a life without them. The trick is to learn is how to enjoy life while solving these problems. Besides, it feels different when you finally achieve your goals after the hardship. It is more fulfilling. At the end of it all, we realize all the work we put in, was all worth it. Life doesn’t get any easier or forgiving. Instead, we get stronger and more resilient.

Consistency is more important than perfection

The quest for perfection has robbed many of happiness, especially if they’ve let that drive their purpose and meaning in life. For example, in recent times, the numbers of books we read as adults has become some sort of strange status flex and I remember beating myself up one time for not finishing a book I was reading, as fast as my peers. They were already on their next one while I flipped through the same pages for weeks. I was so bogged down by the fact that I didn’t finish the book as fast as I wanted and completely dismissed the progress I had made to finish the whole book in the first place. Believe it or not, this made me stop reading for a while.

Picture this, when a child is learning how to walk, no doubt they trip and fall over several times, right? However, they never stop and say, ‘Maybe this isn’t for me’. They keep at it and try again and again. What’s more interesting, is that as adults, we are always there cheering for them regardless. Why can’t we do that for ourselves? There is power in small daily consistent habits as opposed to the one big act that we put so much pressure on ourselves to achieve.

You are enough

Most of us have a tendency of tying down our worth and value to our accomplishments, our jobs, our physical appearances and the attention we get or even our relationships. The problem with that is, what happens when all these fade away? What then?

I read somewhere that it doesn’t matter how much people around you say, “I got you”. Make sure “you got you” in case they fold and It all starts with how we see and value ourselves. You have to start seeing yourself as more! More than peoples’ actions towards you. More than your mistakes. More than your past.

It’s time for you to start loving yourself the way you love other people. You are important and an incredible blessing just the way you are but not everybody will see that and that’s okay. That opinion is none of your business.

Take time to heal

There has been a lot of banter around mental health in the recent past and I remember telling my friends that though I sympathize with people who have had issues in that sphere, I don’t think I would ever get to that point. Often I would brush off any problematic emotions under an imaginary rag and pat myself on the back saying, “you’re stronger than this”. This usually works most of the times but then sometimes it just doesn’t. It gets to a point when you are triggered by something so small but the reaction is so overwhelming because you had built up so much overtime.

Then, while working through it, you realize that all it took to avert such a crisis was firstly, acknowledging that this was an actual issue that bothered you and not be in denial as has been the norm. After which you can now take the responsibility for dealing with the issue whether internally or externally. Whether the situation changes is a different story but I have personally felt better mentally, expressing myself and putting it out there so that the people around me are aware of it. In addition to that, it’s really important to learn your triggers towards negative spaces so that you take responsibility for removing yourself from such spaces instead of being helpless. Playing victim doesn’t work. It makes you stuck.

Change is inevitable

They say change is the only constant thing in life. Go with the flow – such a common phrase but what does it really mean? Adaptability; the ability to flex through rapidly changing external conditions. Whether setbacks or progress. Life can literally throw anything at you and rather than being distressed over these unprecedented situations, you need to quickly adjust to the new normal.

Everything is seasonal and that’s why they say you should cherish every moment. This year alone, two of my closest friends moved out of the country and I also moved out of town for work. As you can tell already, that was a serious shake up to my routine which didn’t seem like something positive at first but with time I adjusted. I realized I needed to let go and make do with what I had.

Talk less, listen more

Most of us tend to fall into the trap of treating conversations like competitive sports. Where one listens only to reinforce their point of view or showcase their prowess in certain topics. Some of us even fail to listen to certain people at all, unfairly judging them as lesser people. I took a chance this year and listened to a total stranger. He was hawking particular items where I was and he happened to take a seat next to me. At first, I dreaded hearing the same old sales pitches usually thrown at unwilling customers but little did I know that this complete stranger would give me the solution to a project I was working on without even knowing it. All I had to do was just listen to his story.

If you’re always the one talking, you’ll miss out on learning something new. By only talking and not listening , you’re repeating what you already know.

Don't worry about things you cant control

Sometimes as human beings, we have this unrealistic desire to control life itself; its outcomes, our environment and even other people. Unfortunately, in most cases, this leads to nothing but frustration, anxiety, hurt and complete disappointment.

Personally I didn’t know how crippling having anxiety was, till I saw myself into spaces where I was continually trying to control my environment and certain outcomes. The expectations I had of myself and other people were so high such that when things didn’t work out the way I planned or if people didn’t act in certain ways, I would be so disappointed. As a result, I would constantly stress over why things didn’t work out as planned and blame myself for other people’s actions that I had no control over.

The only thing for certain that we can control as humans is our own personal effort and our attitude. We can’t control what life throws at us and most certainly we can’t control other people and their actions. Allow for everything to be. Allow people to be who they truly are and let them show up in the way they naturally do. Then you can make your decisions based on that.

Spend Less time in Your Head

Life is so much easier when we are present, enjoying every experience as it comes; the good and the bad. However, sometimes we forget to do that. Instead, we close ourselves to realities in the mind that do nothing but harm our wellbeing.

Most of our thoughts have little practical use, unless they are solving a problem or you are actively learning something new. All other thoughts are looping existing thoughts and that keeps you continually thinking about things that don’t necessarily bring you value. Self-doubt, fear, overthinking, you name it. In addition, sometimes our emotions tell our truth, not necessarily the truth and this may be because of our biases or trauma that we have experienced before.

Take your time to go slow and enjoy every moment. Look for the beauty and opportunities in the small things as they occur, the sunsets, the hugs or even the walks in the evenings.

You're going to be just fine

You can’t mess up things that are meant for you, so stop being so scared of what will happen. Even when the signs of ruin are evident. You can only do so much, so learn the practice of letting go and allowing things to flow. As long as you know you have done your best, just leave the rest to God.

Things may not happen as you wish but trust yourself to be strong enough to overcome anything that may happen and move forward. You’re stronger than you think.