With 2020 being the hardest year of my life, I never thought another year of my life would ever come close to being as challenging. But then… *Insert 2021*
Losing my dad in 2020 was hard for an infinite number of reasons but when I compare it to this year, I can be at peace with 2020 because none of it was my fault or in my control. 2021? All my fault. All in my control. And knowing I am the only person responsible for my stress and struggles has been really hard to deal with. Don’t get me wrong, losing my dad is the hardest thing I have ever been through. But 2021 is the hardest year I have ever put myself through.
Despite the challenges, I have learned a lot this year. Here are just a few lessons I will take away from 2021:
Don’t settle in the workplace: This month, I started my third job in a 364 day period. During my most recent interview process, one gentleman commented on my “job hopping” and said, “We are looking for someone who wants to begin their career.” I thought to myself: “Bitch, what the hell do you think I’m trying to do?” After leaving Spare Time, I took a job that just wasn’t at all what I thought it would be. I wasn’t interacting with anyone all day, I wasn’t able to express my creativity, and I just simply wasn’t interested in the business. When I expressed my feelings, they laid me off. Then I took a job at a nonprofit that I thought would be my dream job. I was wrong. I was sooo bored. They kept saying, “This is busy season” and I was like, “Huh?” Busy season to me was 30 birthday parties and 10 corporate events a week, two hour waits for a lane, and no open laser tag for three hours. This job was the opposite of busy. Not only was I bored, but I felt insignificant, over-experienced, and like I wasn’t using any of my skills. The boredom at work + my desire to get back to Connecticut was not a healthy mix. Luckily, my current job was worth the wait! I feel supported, appreciated, safe to share my ideas, and overall really grateful to finally be challenged, learning, and using my skills. So as frustrating as it was to have two back-to-back jobs that weren’t the right fit, I am glad I kept searching. There is no shame in “job hopping” in order to find an environment where you can thrive. Don’t stay somewhere out of fear of starting the process over again. And most importantly: don’t settle.
Qualities in friends: This year I became very aware of what kind of friendships I want in my life. I want friends who support me, ask me how I am, let me cry, make me laugh, and allow me to be myself. I have always been lucky enough to have people like this around me but this year really made me appreciate those qualities. I was just watching Real Housewives of Orange County where Noella is having a mental breakdown at a restaurant and Nicole is trying to get her to leave. Nicole is doing the exact opposite of what Noella needs her to do but she is so worried about her own discomfort and being embarrassed, that she’s being a horrible friend. Don’t be a Nicole. Be someone who listens. Ask your friends how you can help them and provide a safe space for them to be vulnerable.
Home is not a place: What a nightmare it has been to learn that home is not a place, it’s a feeling. However, regardless of everything, I am so happy to be back in Connecticut, the place that currently represents home for me. It is where the most important people in my life are and right now it’s where I belong. It took A LOT for me to realize this and I’m still struggling to forgive myself for leaving in the first place, but no part of me is upset about coming home. The relief I feel being back feels like a small yet paramount victory.
I need to journal: A question I ask myself a lot lately is “What the hell was I thinking?” and not just figuratively. For whatever reason, it’s hard for me to channel certain feelings, especially when it comes to internally justifying past decisions. Because of this, I started journaling again to hold myself accountable for my thoughts and feelings. Although I still feel like shit, it is helpful to go back and read my thoughts, bring myself back to that headspace, and see how much progress I’ve actually made. Reflecting, acknowledging, and setting goals have been crucial in my healing and journaling makes those processes easier. I definitely need to be better at writing all the time and not just when things are bad. I think it will be just as healthy to reflect on the good moments so I can appreciate them and not take them for granted. While I don’t think journaling is for everyone, for me it’s an ideal form of catharsis and I am glad to be consistently writing again.
Aside from those lessons, I have also learned that I need to work on: communicating (in general), expressing my needs from loved ones, being grateful for what I have, thinking about the “why” before making decisions, and not being so hard on myself. While I continue trying to forgive myself for the hardest year I have ever put myself through, I am grateful for the moments of growth and learning. I know all my problems won’t magically disappear when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, but I am eager for a fresh start and to put this year behind me.
To anyone else who had a rough year: If things didn’t go as planned, if you feel like your whole world has been rocked, if you’re regretting certain decisions, if you’re struggling to heal from pain, just give yourself some grace. Surround yourself with those who support you. Do things that make you happy. You are strong, you are brave, and you will get through this.