2017: A Year of Growth

As 2017 comes to an end, I realize this was a year of hardship and relearning for me. I went through some dark patches and had to stand back up and keep fighting. This year like any year was filled with ups and downs but I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the good and bad that made 2017 the year it was. Here are the 8 things I’ll remember when I look back on 2017.

1. I learned to say no. As girls we are often taught to be kind and grateful, but somewhere along the way society confuses kindness for complacency. I can’t say my parents have ever told me to be complacent. In fact, I’ve been blessed with the kind of parents who tell me don’t let anyone push your buttons, but for me to actually learn that has taken a long time. This year I’ve learned to say no and by that I mean drawing boundaries for myself. I’ve always changed my schedule and would go out of my way to meet with someone or get something done, but I’ve learned it’s okay to say “hey, I’m busy” or “this time doesn’t work for me”.

2. I learned love isn’t easy. Media portrays love as this magical fairytale-esque feeling. Something where both people are perfectly in love and happy all the time. Where the guy and girl go on magical adventures and fall in love over some macaroons in Paris. However this year I learned, love is beautiful but it can also really suck. It can be brutal and harsh and it can hurt a lot. It’s easy to be disappointed when it doesn’t play out the way you want it to. Sometimes you give and give and you might not get anything back for awhile. Sometimes you feel lonely and sad. Sometimes you don’t feel good enough or like you deserve love. But I’ve also learned that when both people in the relationship are happy and present it’s a beautiful thing.

3. I connected with people. This summer I had a great opportunity to volunteer at a hospital in Southern California. During my time at the hospital, I got to meet a lot of patients and their families, but more than that I got to really connect with some of the patients. It wasn’t always easy, sometimes I had to deal with hard patients but anytime I got an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with a patient or a staff , it made everything worth it. I hope I get more opportunities this upcoming year to have more meaningful conversations.

4. I practiced patience. This year my patience has definitely been heavily tested. I’ve had to be patient in my relationships, my education but most importantly with myself. With the rough year I had, I had to be patient with myself as I relearned a lot of things that I thought I had perfected in the last few years.

5. I started group therapy. One day in college, while sitting on my bed, I broke down and had to call my therapist because I wasn’t sure I could keep myself safe. My therapist told me to go to the crisis clinic at my university and talk to someone. As I sat down on a white couch and cried my eyes out to a therapist in the clinic she suggested group therapy for me. I was excited to try therapy with a group of people but when I went to my first session I was more nervous and afraid than I expected. However at the end of my 10 weeks, I was really glad I had taken time out of my busy schedule to take care of myself. I really enjoyed group because it forced me to be vulnerable to a group of strangers and also forced me to be honest with myself and those in group. One of the most surprising things about group was that I had all these ideas of how people saw me, but the people in group had very different idea of what they thought of me. Often times we are our biggest critics and we don’t get to see the way the rest of the world sees us.

6. I paid for a homeless man’s shoes. This summer I decided to redecorate my room and so I headed to Ross. As I was in line to buy my stuff, there was a guy who cut me in line and went to the next open cash register. He was wearing torn up shoes and ripped clothes. It was a little odd he cut, but I didn’t think much of it. As I went to the next open cash register, the man was standing at the cash register next to mine. I saw him empty his pockets and pull out a crumpled up 5 dollar bill and a few coins. He was trying to buy a pair of shoes that was worth $35 with whatever was in his pocket which was about $5. Something about the man’s honesty struck with me. He didn’t try to steal, he didn’t try to say he had more money, he simply gave the cashier what he had and was hoping to get a new pair of shoes. The cashier told him it wasn’t possible to sell him the shoes for $5. The man was trying to show her that the shoes he had now were broken and they really hurt his feet and he really needed a new pair of shoes. As I was watching all this happen, without really thinking I asked the cashier, how much his shoes were. I turned to the man and asked him how badly he needed these shoes. His answer was genuine, as he said badly. I decided to buy him his pair of shoes. He was so grateful. He left the store wearing his new shoes, he didn’t even wait to get outside to wear the new pair. I left the store feeling a sense of satisfaction I couldn’t even explain. This was one of the biggest highlights of this year for me.

7. I considered taking a break from school and moving back home. Early fall quarter, I was doing pretty bad mentally. My parents asked me if I wanted to take a quarter off and come back home. I’m really hard on myself, I love pushing myself to unhealthy boundaries. It is not easy for me to accept defeat so when I reached the point of possibly taking a quarter off I felt like a failure. I flew home that weekend and talked to my therapist and my family to figure out what would be best for me. My parents made me realize that it was important that I take care of myself and if that meant taking a break then I should do that. Fortunately as the quarter went on, I was able to pull myself out of the hole I was in, but this upcoming quarter I’m only taking 14 credits which means only 2- 5 credit classes, 1- 1 credit class and research for 3 credits. I had a very hard time coming to this decision but as fall quarter ended I knew that I needed to take it easy this upcoming quarter.

8. I gained weight. This year I saw my body changed. I gained weight in a way I didn’t know was possible. I finally moved from being underweight my whole life to finally reaching the normal weight range. However, it meant that now my thighs were thicker and the 00 sized jeans I used to wear didn’t fit me anymore. I couldn’t wear body fitting clothes because I had gained more weight in some areas than others. I had taken a long time to love my skinny body and I finally achieved that two years ago, so it was hard for me to get used to a new kind of body shape. My old clothes didn’t fit me anymore and so I had to change my wardrobe for clothes that hid my imperfections.

My personal goal for 2017 was to remember the good and let go of the bad. As I reflect back on 2017, I can say I definitely tried to do that even if I wasn’t always successful. 2017 was a hard year for me but I learned a lot this year and for that I’m very grateful. My personal goal for 2018 is to take better care of myself, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

To those who have reached the end of this long post, thanks for reading. Wishing you, your family and your loved ones a happy new years!