I’ve stopped making New Year’s Resolutions years ago because I realized that if I want to change something about my life, I shouldn’t have to wait until the new year to do so. So now, whenever I’m unhappy with something and I make the decision to change, I change it then and there.
What I have started doing since last year though was write down all the things I’ve learned from the year that I could look back at and reread in the coming year. I have found that that exercise not only helps me be more grateful for everything that has happened but also allows me to refocus my energy on the things that did work and dump the things that didn’t.
Here are some things that I’ve learned this year – I’m bolding words to make it easier to follow the main points. Also, they’re not listed in any order. I’m just typing as I go:
- When someone (almost always, it’s not a person I’m very close to) asks me for my opinion on something, they don’t really want to hear it. All they really wanted was for me to agree with them and if I don’t, then they get upset and will try to defend their choices and the reasons they decided on those choices. So, the next time someone asks me for my opinion, unless I can trust that they want my opinion, then I’m not going to share it. It’s a waste of time and energy. I’ve spent countless late nights talking to some people who had asked me for my help and opinion to be shot down every single time. Not only was that an exercise in futility, it also hurt my feelings and sense of self-confidence.
- Writing and Drawing (or any other creative pursuits) saved me from myself and my depressive episodes. Just a few days ago, writing on this blog helped me overcome my desire to self-harm. So I’m going to keep doing this as much as I can.
- I am not bad at math as I’ve been led to believe all my life. In fact, I’ve fallen in love with it. Though I still don’t understand a lot of it, I do like it enough now to want to stir up the same love in others. I also like it enough to pursue a Minor in Mathematical Science! I learned that math isn’t all that hard as long as you work hard at it and have good teachers. I was thankful that I did have good teachers.
- Depression and Anxiety lies because they want to keep me in the dark with them. They tell me that I’m not worthy, that nothing I do is ever enough and that I will never be better. The worst part is, I’ve learned that I not only believe them, I’m also addicted to their abuse.
- I’ve learned to overcome my own misconceptions about people with disabilities and mental illnesses because I myself became a part of that community of people. I learned that everything I knew about this community were false and that I had been blinded by what the media tells me to believe about this community. In fact, I’ve learned that I’ve not found a more supportive and kinder group of people than those who have mental illnesses and disabilities!
- If I don’t speak up and advocate for mental health, people will continue to be ignorant. I hear many ignorant statements about mental illnesses daily – especially when people find out that I’m mentally ill. It has spurred me on to want to keep talking and writing about it. I’ve recently also realized my purpose in life – that is to share my life and experiences to others so that they may also be helped.
- I learned who my real friends are and made some new friends that I hope I’ll always be able to depend on and trust.
- I’ve learned what empathy really means and am still learning how to show empathy towards others as well as speak emphatically towards others when they are in need of a shoulder to lean on.
- I’ve learned that psychotherapy works and I’ve learned to put my trust in my psychologist. I’m still resisting him because of point #4 where I’m still addicted to my depression but I know that he’s there to help me. I’ve overcome my skepticism about therapy and how talking can really help a lot.
- I learned that my expertise in art seems to be skyline drawings and working with ink. I’ve produced some pieces that I’m really proud of and that’s saying something because I’m usually never proud of my own work.
- I am stronger than I ever thought I was. I slipped into a major depressive episode sometime in the end of August and am now crawling out of it. It had been 4 months of pain and suffering in which I had started self-harming and my suicidal thoughts went to extremes, but now that I’m starting to come out of it, I realize that despite it all, I’m still here. It proves that I can go through the same pain and suffering again and still emerge on the other side. I realize that it all sucks but despite the pain, I’ve learned so much about myself and my own resilience.
- Resilience can be learned and cultivated. Practicing resilience is a daily affair and the more I do it, the easier it is for me to accept other people’s differences and to not allow myself to get too worked up over things that I can’t control.
- Going to see the on-call psychologist is not a reason to feel ashamed and that asking for help when I need it is not a reason to feel like I’m a burden to others. It’s something I need to continue to affirm – that it’s ok to ask for help.
- I can physically relocate but unless I process and deal with the issues that made me relocate in the first place, the memories and thoughts will always continue to haunt me wherever I go.
- It’s never too late to change. It’s never too late to learn new things. It’s never too late to change my career trajectory. It’s never too late to go back to school. Going back to school has made the hugest difference in my life!
- I have an amazingly loyal, loving and kind husband who is always there for me despite how shitty I am towards him some days. He has told me yesterday that my happiness is the only thing that matters to him and that he’ll do whatever it takes to make me happy.
- Quitting sugar isn’t as hard as I thought it would be – it is possible to cut down on the amount I consume and still feel okay. In fact, it feels better than ok because I’ve lost almost 30 pounds since I started cutting out sugar and physically, I feel better than I have months ago!
- Star Wars isn’t a bad franchise when JJ Abrams rebooted it and it is actually a franchise that has characters that I really relate to. The Force is like a metaphor for my own life and I’m blown away by how mindfulness is a prevalent theme in the series. I’ve since watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens 6 times now!
- I still need to figure out how to overcome myself and slow down my thoughts when I’m overwhelmed because I’ve learned that nothing really seems to help. I thought that having temporary tattoos or bracelets or visible reminders of my struggles would help but they really don’t. Not even the self harm wounds and scars help me slow down. It must be the ADHD impulsivity overcoming my more rational mind.
- Every day is a new day to try again. If I fail the first time, I get up and I try again.
I’m sure there’s more and if you let me, I’m gong to keep writing so I’m going to stop at 20. These are 20 things that I’ve learned about myself this year and I hope that I will not only carry all these lessons forward but also learn new ones!
If you’ve read this far, wow, that’s amazing. I usually don’t have the attention span to be able to read long posts and I admire those of you who do and are able to get this far through my ramblings. You have my gratitude for your attention!
Happy 2016 and may this year bring you lots of new opportunities and lessons!