As I was scrolling through my TL last week, I saw that someone I know posted a blog about the things she learnt in 2014. I decided that I wanted to do the same thing, but with a little twist. There are a few things I learnt and did this year but there are many things that I have identified that I am still learning. So, without further ado, here is the list of those things (in no particular order):
1) I learnt that I am not alone.
Throughout my life, I have had that aching feeling of being alone. I have felt alone in my family (as I am quite different from them). I have felt alone among friends (same reason) and I have just felt alone in general. The most profound reason for this in the past few years has had to do with anxiety and depression. I think it really started around the time my first relationship ended because that person made fun of me and my illnesses with her friends. I remember them joking about how I was suicidal. The haunting feeling of aloneness could have started before or after but that memory stands out. However, this year I got the chance to meet some amazing people who also suffer from anxiety and/or depression. I co-wrote a blog entry with six other lovely ladies (which was posted on a friend’s blog). It basically compiled our stories about our experiences with anxiety. Reading through these entries made me feel much less alone. I remember telling someone close to me how I didn’t feel alone any more. I also remember her saying that I was never alone. Then I realized that I really wasn’t. Though there are people in my life who don’t share the same experiences as me or battle the same things I do, doesn’t mean that they have ever left me. Whether or not they have been physically there, I always have trusted and known that I could go to them, tell them anything, get comfort and be heard. And I guess I’m learning that aloneness (and maybe loneliness, too) has much more to do with me than the persons around me.
2) I am learning to accept uncertainty.
I am the type of person who need to know all the answers. I need to plan everything out to a T and ensure that I have thought out every possible consequence. I automatically assume the worst and try to train myself to think of the best case scenario as well. I crave the ability to control everything. I need it. However, this year I really learnt that, though I want to be able to know things beforehand, I will never. Life is uncertain. Things change. People leave. People come back. Emotions fade and come back. Shit happens. Good things happen. And we will never know when they will occur. For someone who needs to know everything and needs to know that the choices she makes are the “right” ones, you can see how this is pretty earth-shattering. I labelled it as “I am learning” because even though I know life is uncertain I still haven’t accepted it. I still catch myself just needing to know if something will happen and getting anxious about the choices I have to make. To accept uncertainty is to surrender and let go of control. So, till I fully accept it, I’m still learning this.
3) I learnt that people can love you and still leave you.
This is a pretty tough one to learn. I keep telling myself that just because someone leaves doesn’t mean they don’t love you. I used to tell myself that if someone left, they don’t love me and if they stayed, they do. Not always true. I’ve learnt that people leave for many reasons. Sometimes they leave because they have to. Because they need to work on themselves. Sometimes they leave because it isn’t the right time. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you, it just means they have to love themselves first. Writing this now is making me so anxious but I have to continue. I’ve learnt that you have to put yourself first when it comes to life and relationships because if you aren’t okay within yourself, your relationships will suffer. And, ultimately, so will you. I’ve also learnt that people don’t handle things the same way you do and they’re allowed to.
4) I took more opportunities.
I have been saying yes to things that require me to step out of my comfort zone. I took a job teaching English online which requires me to speak to people through skype. Anxiety-galore! I asked a family member of mine if I could get the position she was trying to fill for her company. I had to really be pushed by someone close to me but I stood up and asked even though my heart was racing. I stood up more for what I believed in. I wrote an article to the Gleaner in response to one I completely disagreed with. I applied for a job I didn’t have the experience for. I started a blog. I took a class that helped me improve my poetry (which also meant that my poems were ripped to shreds). I started asking for what I want. I said how I felt even though I was scared of the reaction towards it. I took chances with love. I made new friends.
5) I am learning how to love people who aren’t perfect.
I have always put the people I love on a pedestal. They could never do any wrong. I saw them as perfect and would ignore or rationalize their flaws. This is a very unhealthy way to see people. This year, after a recent incident, I realized that I did this. I realized that people have flaws and they will hurt you (whether or not they love you… it happens). I started learning that I viewed people this way and that I needed to change that. I still have trouble trying to see people as they are (i.e., flawed). But, every time I notice I’m seeing people as how I want them to be, I take a step back and readjust. I’m learning that people have flaws, that they hurt you but it doesn’t mean they don’t deserve love. I’m learning that those same people can be worth the effort. I’m learning how to choose to love a person who is flawed. I’m learning how to love a human.
6) I’m learning the real meaning of love (and how to differentiate between anxiety and me).
Dealing with relationship anxiety is tough because I think in “shoulds”. I should feel this way. I should do that. I should be excited all the time with her. I should be 100 % head over heels in love all the time. I should always miss her. I should never be annoyed with her. She should be everything I want and more and that she should fill me up entirely. We should always agree on everything. Completely illogical, I know. Yet, though I know it, I haven’t accepted it as yet. I think I’m in that stage of grieving. Grieving that the perfect partner doesn’t exist. Grieving for the death of old ways of thinking. Trying to move into a new way of thinking and identity. Rather hard. I also deal with intrusive thoughts that come up as a result of these “shoulds”. “Because you don’t always feel this way means that you don’t love her” “Because she doesn’t do this means that she isn’t the one”. I’m learning that intrusive thoughts are just my fears; that they’re just a result of anxiety. I’m learning that “the one” doesn’t exist. I think it ties in with the aforementioned lesson. We’re raised in a society where we’re taught that love should be a certain way and I’ve really internalized that. But, I’m realizing that there are many ways to love and that love isn’t just a feeling; it can’t be. Feelings fade and are influenced by many things (menstruation, mental illnesses, hormones etc). Love is a choice. It’s choosing to love a person even when you don’t feel like it. It’s feeling grateful for that person. It’s realizing they’re worth the effort. Because love is effort. It’s hard as fuck. It involves us being vulnerable, taking risks. It surely isn’t easy. I’m also learning that just because you have a thought doesn’t mean it’s true. I’m learning to allow feelings and thoughts to just pass through me (they’re just energy). I’m learning that when I think “should”, “always”, “only” & “never”, that that’s me needing control. I’m still learning all of this and accepting that I won’t feel great all the time. And I’m learning that the distance I feel sometimes, and the blocks I feel have nothing to do with my significant other (or some close friends and family I feel it towards, as well) but everything to do with me and the way I think. Welp!
These are the most prominent things I can think of for this year. It’s very hard to rewire our brains to take on a new way of thinking and living, but it has to be done. Change is inevitable. Growth is necessary. I still have a lot to let go of and a lot to learn but I’m taking my time to learn them and I’m expressing gratitude each and every day for the lessons I have learnt and the people in my life who I believe are worth it.
So, this is my list. What’s yours?