It's time to close out 2016, one of the most influential and positive years of my life. It would be a lie to say it was all good. Of course the year had it's ups and downs, but for the first time I have allowed myself to grow from the downs instead of letting them consume me. Throughout the year, I have done more things and learned more things than I could have imagined, so here is a little reflection of just a few things I've learned during this crazy, beautiful year.
I took a leap of faith and left the country, for the first time, on a solo trip to South Africa.Having the courage to step onto the plane on January 1st and expand upon the things I know in this world is the best thing I have ever done. I surfed. I hiked. I jumped off bridges. The things I saw and did over the course of my month stay were breathtaking but none of it can compare to the people I met. I didn't know it was possible to learn so much about myself through a group of people that I had just met, each one of them helping to shape my experience while in South Africa and helping to shape what it is I took home with me. I am forever thankful for my experience and new friends from my month in Muizenberg.
Stepping out of your comfort zone is the best thing you can do.Do things that terrify you. Do things you never pictured yourself doing. Do things that make you uncomfortable, because it is in these things that you grow. It's in these things that you find out what you like and don't like, what you want to experience more off and what you can do without. It is in the things that lay outside of your comfort zone that create memories. So get uncomfortable, make some memories, have some stories to tell.
I learned to accept the path that I am taking.I will be the first to admit, I am not taking the typical path that most people my age are taking, I'm exploring. Being on different path than most people, however, does not make it wrong-no matter what other people's opinions are or what they may tell you. When you take a step out of the little bubble of what you know, you find out that there is an endless number of paths to take. So, pick which is best for you. Believe it or not, you will most likely run into some people taking a path very similar to your own. And maybe you get lost a few time along the way, maybe you stop to think about redirecting and trying a new path. That's cool, that's encouraged. Take whatever path feels right for the moment you are in and just see where is takes you. No path is the wrong path. A friend of mine that I met this year wrote me a letter and finished it with this important reminder, "You'll figure it out eventually. Remember, we are all just as lost."
I learned that happiness is a choice and is something you have to work for.Okay, I think I learned this a while ago, but I just started to believe it and for me it involves a few steps:
Try to be present. Think of where you are now instead of stressing about what is behind your or ahead of you. This summer I read The Alchemist and a quote really stuck out to me-so much so I painted it and put it on my desk at work, "If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better."
Take a step back. Whether it be closing your eyes and taking a deep breath or taking a vacation for a week, a step back can refresh your outlook and keep you from burning yourself out.
Do your best to stay positive. Look for the good. See the glass half full. I have always had the tendency to have a negative outlook, but slowly I have started to work on shifting from a negative perspective to a positive one.
The days I remember these things are always happier and less stressful. There are plenty of day I still forget though-it's a work in progress.
A surfboard can always clear my mind. Whether it be actually surfing or just paddling out on a flat day just to sit on my board, being on that board is just about the only time I can really clear my mind.
Saying "Good-bye" to a job can be much harder than you may think. I don't think any job will ever compare to Beachside Oasis. Five summers, crazy people, amazing people, a second home: it was a hard chapter to finish. It was such a bittersweet ending and "good-bye" but we sure went out with a bang! Free beer for everyone!
Focus on the things you can change. There will always be things that you can't change, try not to stress about them. Let them brush off your shoulder. Focus instead on the things that you can change and then work to make the changes. Again easier said than done-another work in progress.
Bad days make the good days better. Take the bad days for what they are worth-they make the good days extra sweet.
Your body appreciates when good things are put into it.Drink some green tea, take your vitamins, drink lots of water, and eat a salad occasionally. Your body will thank you for it.
The people you surround yourself with influence who you become, so pick good people.Surround yourself with people who support you, encourage you, give you some tough love, challenge you, and make laugh until you cry. Those are the best people. The people around you make such an impact on you-make sure it's a positive one.
I refuse to go into 2017 with the "new year, new me" motto. I don't want a new me. I have come a long way this year and I really like who and what I have become. So, why start over? I'm going to fill my new year with new places, new people, new opportunities to learn. I am going to use all these new experiences and things to help me continue to shape myself into the person I want to be. So, maybe "new year, new opportunities to grow" is a better mantra to use going into 2017.