Lessons Learned in 2016

The year 2015 was one of the most incredible years of my entire life. I remember cruising into 2016 with the hope that maybe, just maybe, it would top the year 2015. Boy, was I wrong. My 16-year-old cat died, I moved five times, Trump was elected leader of the Free World, and I had my heart broken.

I’m ready to see this year go and never look back. But before I do, I’d like to say a proper goodbye — I’d like to shed light on all the good and the growth that this year has granted me. The year 2016 taught me a lot.

  1. Nothing lasts forever. This is something I have to repeat to myself during the darkest days. This is also something I have to remember during the best of times. The impermanence of everything; the good and the bad. Impermanence and change are the undeniable truths of our existence.

2. Meeting people is easy, making real friends is hard. Since January, I’ve floated from Austin, to Madison, to Los Altos, to Palo Alto, and finally into San Francisco. My frequent movement through the world has not made building friendships and community easy, and it’s never been clearer just how unique real friendships are when we’re lucky enough to have them.

3. Question the stories you tell yourself. Our stories are all we have in this world. They help us understand who we are, where we’ve been, why we’re here. They make us feel comfortable. For this reason alone, it’s important to question and reevaluate the narratives I cling to so tightly. What story am I telling myself? Who would I be without it?

4. Live out of strength, not fear. Change is scary, and if there’s one thing this year did not lack — it was change. The times I’ve felt most fearful in my life have also been the times when I felt I was doing something sincere and worthwhile, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

5. Great teachers make teaching look easy. It’s not. Teaching is one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever done. It requires an absurd amount of energy, attention, patience, authenticity, perseverance, optimism and genuine love. In catching up with a previous high school teacher of mine it became clear that what makes teachers question whether they should continue teaching is also what brings them to teaching, and that teachers never stop learning.

6. If you kind of want something, then you kind of get the results you want. There’s value in being all in. There’s value in pouring your heart into something. Which leads me to the next lesson learned.

7. There are things we can control, and things we cannot. Knowing the difference between the two is key to maintaining any ounce of peace and happiness in this life. Maybe the formula is simple: let go of that which you cannot control and own the absolute shit out of what you can.

8. People will surprise you. In good ways, and in bad.

9. The most important thing is to remember the most important thing.Tara Brach said this and it stuck with me, partly because my answer has changed with time and circumstances. It allows me to zoom out; to gain some perspective. If my life were a pie chart, how would I divide it? At the end of the day, what is most important?