The Most Important Life Skill I Acquired in 2019
It’s one I’ll use for the rest of my life.
2018 was a rough year for me.
I tried my best at a job I hated, only to get fired. I went through a tumultuous relationship that neither of us was ready for. My best friend at the time decided our friendship ran its course. I went through my worst bought of depression thus far.
But for whatever reason, I had a gut feeling 2019 would be a much better year.
And boy, was I right.
There’s one life skill that I equate all this change to; one thing that made the difference in allowing me to create a life I love.
And that, my friends, is self-awareness.
Self-awareness is defined as:
“conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.”
You may be thinking, “Well, that’s easy. Who isn’t aware of what they’re doing?” But it’s actually a lot more complicated than that.
If you really stop and think about it, a lot of us live our life on auto-pilot. We go through our daily routines and engage in deep-rooted habits. We live in our little bubble where everything is as it was the day before and will be tomorrow.
Rarely do people really consider their lives, especially when it comes to questions like:
Am I happy or just surviving?
Why am I scared to pursue something that would make me happy?
Do the relationships in my life fill me up or drain me?
Do I even like myself?
All of these require taking a cold-hard look in the mirror and revealing some not so pretty truths.
For me, those answers held what I needed to hear and ended up rocking my 2019.
To create change in my life, self-awareness was crucial.
I lived on auto-pilot for a long time. I allowed the need to impress people with my job and to seek validation from men to control my decisions.
Basically, I took jobs I despised and men that mistreated me.
But I never stopped to ask myself why I made the same decisions until this past year.
After my worst bought of depression in the summer of 2018, I considered every aspect of my life and why I was so unhappy. I knew that healing couldn’t be done with yoga classes and face masks; I’d tried that, and they turned out to be temporary bandages on bigger issues.
I started to do something radical: I became aware of my beliefs, actions, and feelings throughout my days.
And that made all the difference.
I wasn’t pursuing a career I truly loved.
I lacked boundaries with the people in my life.
I didn’t love myself but expected everyone else to love me.
And I cared way too fucking much what other people thought of me.
Yes, I had to admit I wasn’t perfect. I admitted my faults and that I was often a bully to myself. I accepted my reality for what it was and didn’t blame myself because up until then, I lived the only way I knew how.
And though it’s sometimes painful, self-awareness has been the best skill I acquired for navigating life.
No longer do I feel at mercy to my feelings and what life throws at me. I monitor my emotions and do things that make me genuinely happy so that I can manage my depression.
With self-awareness, I’m able to feel sad and lonely without letting those emotions completely consume me.
I’ve learned to communicate with others healthily. No longer do I bottle things up until they burst through my seams; I know how to express what I feel in a way that benefits both the people in my life and me.
I work every day to build a life I’m not only happy with but heals me. I don’t see a career as just a means to make money. I see it as an outlet for me. I see my work as something that helps me do activities that set my soul on fire. I see life as something I have a lot more control over than I thought.
Because I’m not perfect, I’ll never be. Nor do I want to be.
In high school, I believed adults had it all figured out. I was fed the notion I’d get a job, find a husband, have kids, and life’s troubles would be behind me forever.
While journeying into adulthood and finding out that is complete and utter BS sucked, I just had to shift my mindset.
Life comes with highs and inevitables lows. Some days I’ll feel on top of the world, other days I’ll want to lay in bed and question where my life is going.
That’s just how life is, and I’m ok that life is so unexpected because I know I can check-in with myself. I know I have the awareness necessary to get myself through anything.
But self-awareness isn’t the only factor in the equation of change; you need self-management as well.
I don’t want to sit here and paint self-awareness as a cure-all.
There are plenty of people out there that know they’re stressed AF, asshats, or incredibly negative yet do nothing to change things.
So while you can be incredibly self-aware, self-management is the next step in the process of change. It’s making conscious decisions to change or challenge a particular belief, habit, emotion, etc.
As I said, change isn’t the prettiest journey. You have to question strongly held behaviors and beliefs that will sometimes evoke negative emotions.
But if you want to live a life out of auto-pilot and in control, self-awareness is going to be your best skill.
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