Well, another year is coming to an end and I am struggling to understand where 2023 went. Thankfully, I didn’t subscribe to the new year, new me agenda in 2023, so my disappointments are quite manageable this year. That’s not to say I didn’t learn something new in 2023. I most definitely did. Will those lessons stay with me in 2024? I sure hope so. In all honesty, 2023 wasn’t a big year for me – I didn’t win any awards, didn’t start a business, or get a big promotion, but somehow, I was able to find some semblance of peace this year. So, before we bid adieu to 2023 and say hola to 2024, here are some of the crucial life lessons I learned this year.
Being 30 is exciting
I am one of those people who loves growing old, even if it comes with back aches and lethargy. Because I truly believe I am growing wiser as I grow older, and wisdom is always welcome. But, to all the people who are quietly approaching 30 with fear in their hearts, don’t be afraid. Being 30 is better than being 20 because you suddenly feel a sense of coming into yourself and you become a lot freer in your mind and accepting of things you weren’t before.
It’s okay to change your beliefs
Being principled and having strong beliefs is a great thing, but it is perfectly okay if those beliefs change with time. As someone who is hyper-independent and believes I can only be happy if I am alone, I have learned that friends and family make life a lot easier. That doesn’t mean that I no longer want my independence, it just means that I can come to a middle ground where I can keep my independence while also being with my family. And this is a huge life lesson I have learned in 2023 that I am immensely grateful for.
Being selfish is important
Being selfish has such a bad reputation, but the truth is it’s perfectly okay to be selfish. If you can’t choose your peace and your mental well-being, then your selflessness isn’t worth it. No matter how close you are to someone, no matter what someone says, make it a point to choose yourself and your mental health, even over your friends and family. Because, let’s be honest, if you don’t choose yourself, no one else will.
Therapy can be a mixed bag of emotions
Going to therapy can be healing, but also uncomfortable. It requires you to put in the effort to actually get better, and that isn’t always easy. Like anything else in life, therapy also has some push and pull. Despite therapy and medication, there will be days when you will feel like the world is going to swallow you and other days when you want to dance your heart out in your underwear.
Sometimes, it is difficult to follow through
We often set goals for ourselves like “I want to lose 10 kgs this year”, “I want to start my own business this year” and something else altogether. Having goals is a great thing, but you also need to realise that, sometimes, it is difficult to follow through with your plans. Life gets in the way, mental health goes for a toss, or maybe you just don’t have the discipline for it yet. Either way, don’t feel too bad if your plans fail, just keep trying your best.
Bad days are important for you
I know, I know we all want good days to overpower the bad, we are human after all. But if there is one thing that 2023 has taught me, it is that bad days are equally important. I need the days when I can break down in the comfort of my home, cry a river, scream into the void, and just be. Because those were the days that helped me loosen up and get back up with a fresh slate. Those were the days that gave me a new perspective and helped me figure out what I should do next. So, no matter how much you like the good days, try and appreciate the bad days as well.
Gratitude makes life a lot easier
Gratitude is a virtue, dearie, and being thankful for the things you have in life makes life happier and easier. I am a perpetual pessimist and I always look at the glass as half empty instead of half full. You tell me something and I’ll tell you everything that is wrong or could go wrong with it. But a major life lesson of 2023 has been to be grateful for everything I have in life – from the food on my table to the cab that dropped me to work on time. The thing with gratitude is your mindset changes when you start being thankful for the little things. Because now you start to see what you have instead of what you lack, and that in itself is a mood booster.
It’s okay to be a pessimist sometimes
You DO NOT need to be positive ALL. THE. TIME. You don’t have to look at the bright side of things when your heart is breaking or when you are having a tough time. Crib, vent, cuss. Complain about everything wrong in life. It’s perfectly okay. I definitely do so. Because I do not believe in toxic positivity and nothing good comes out of it. If there is one thing, I have realised this year, it’s that trying to be happy all the time is only going to lead to the bottling up of emotions and, eventually, an emotional and mental breakdown. I’d rather take a day of cribbing than a panic attack.
You don’t have to hustle every day
I don’t believe in the hustle culture. I am pretty content with my 9-5 job, zero side hustles, and the lack of constant work 24/7. Sure, I sometimes get anxious thinking about how far behind I am, compared to my peers, but then I realise that I just don’t want the hustle. I don’t want to build a trillion-dollar business empire or work a full-time job while running a successful side business. I am quite happy in what most would call an average life, and that’s alright. It’s okay if some people want to work round the clock. More power to them. But it is just as okay to want a perfectly average, content life.
There is no strict timeline
I’m rapidly rushing into the 31st year of my life and I am nowhere near where most of my peers or even those younger than me are. I don’t have a fancy-sounding job that pays for a luxurious lifestyle, I am nowhere close to dating someone, let alone marrying anyone (much to my family’s chagrin), I don’t own a house, a car, or even a pet. What I do have is anxiety, bills, rent, and a whole lot of health issues. Despite it all, I have learned to slow down and not pressure myself into following a timeline that society has set. And more importantly, I have learned to accept that it’s okay that I am not progressing as rapidly as some others. I have my journey and my own pace, and I will get where I want to get when the time is right.
New experiences always pay off
For an introvert like me, it is not always easy to try something new. But one of the biggest life lessons of 2023 was that new experiences always pay off, like the chair dance workshop that I did. It made me a little more confident, a little more in love with myself, and just helped me have a gala time. It might sound like a small thing, but it is always the small things that build up to give you a big payoff.
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