Hi, my name is Lilia. I am a girl - or should I start saying woman now that I am 23? - with unstoppable fire in my soul, crazy love in my heart, and a philosophical mess in my mind. Welcome to my annual catharsis of all the lessons I have learned in 2017. Looking back, I feel like I have realized so many valuable things this year, and as many other aspects of my life, I want to share those life lessons with you.
MY LIFE LESSONS OF 2017
1. TIME IS OUT OF OUR CONTROL
The fact that I do not even know where to start describing everything that happened in 2017, gives a good understanding of how this year felt for me. On the one hand, this year flew by in seconds; On the other hand, 2017 was filled with enough life changing experiences for multiple years. This brings me to the first life lesson I want to share with you, and that is: Time is out of our control. Time is one of the most mysterious forces in life I was never able to understand. Why do some moments seem to fly by, while others seem to last for eternity? How come some memories never seize to exist in our imagination, while others only pass our thoughts once in a blue moon? Why does it feel like it was just yesterday when I was writing this blogpost for 2016, but I can also remember how many things happened to me this year? Ancient Greek mythology described this difference in time as Chronos and Kairos. Chronos is how we usually understand time: It is chronological or sequential, just like the time is measured on your favorite watch.
However, Kairos stands for the opportune time or right moment. It is non-chronological, and can make us feel like the world has just stopped turning: It is time defined not by external factors, but by our internal experience. It is that moment when you suddenly feel a rush of inspiration going through you, and you can think of so many new ideas just at once. It is that moment when you first kiss a person, and you know it is the right person for you. And it is that moment when you are so deep in your thoughts, you forget everything in the world around you. This brings me to my point: Not only time itself, but even our experience of time is out of our control. Simply put, when it comes to time, we do not know. So many of us are focused on questions like "where do you see yourself in 5 years" or "what is your plan for the future". Although it is always a good idea to plan and to dream, you should never forget that in the end, we do not know. We do not know, because time is not in our control. Realizing this made me feel more peaceful about my life.
Leaving my life in Groningen and moving to Washington DC, realizing that I do not want to be a lawyer and instead want to pursue online entrepreneurship fulltime, and choosing to be alone, are all decisions that were hard to make for me. Nevertheless, becoming aware of the fact that it does not matter if a choice is "risky" or not - because in the end, we do not know how it will end up anyway - made me feel more confident and relaxed about my own Dao.
2. NO ONE KNOWS YOU, BUT YOURSELF
Speaking of Dao: Another thing that I have come to realize this year is that no one knows you, but yourself. No one can know how you feel, what you want, or who you need in your life. I have realized that everything I have achieved this year was because I wanted it. I did not do it for the sake of someone else's happiness or wishes, but because I thought it would be good for me. I know that people may not understand or agree with me, but that is not something I should be worried about. In spite of many people having opinions about my choices, I always trusted my own intuition, my own Dao. I have spoken about Dao before, but in short, your Dao is the path of your life. It is the flow of the universe and of your life - the path that you should follow. This path is different for everyone, and that is why you should never judge, or take judgment from other people about the Dao. Becoming even more aware of my dao made me feel more at peace with myself. I understood that in the end, I should not listen to what others had to say about me, and just go with my own flow. That is also one of the reasons why I wanted to move to DC and study at GWU, even though I was not certain if I even wanted a legal career at all. To me it made sense - I love law, the knowledge that it gave me, and the way it boosted my confidence and strength - but for others it did not. However, that does not worry me, as long as I know that I am following my own path.
3. IT IS OKAY TO BE ALONE
With that being said, another aspect of 2017 that stood me by is that it is okay to be alone. Our society is so focused on finding your "true love", being "social", and building "relationships". I am not saying that that stuff is not important. What I am saying, is that it is more important to first learn to be okay with yourself, before embracing any of those other things. Previous year, I was trying to find someone that would fix how I felt about myself and my life. This year, I taught myself to be completely comfortable alone. 2017 was a year where many of my decisions I made before, manifested themselves. These decisions were risky, and made me feel insecure. That is why I missed having someone by my side, a person that made me feel more comfortable in these unstable times. However, trying to find a balance is not an external, but an internal process. I have realized that the only reason why I could even make these risky decisions in the first place, was because I was alone. I made choices solemnly by myself, for myself. And no, that is not selfish. I used to be this girl that always relied on someone else to feel comfortable. Today I am completely comfortable alone. I do not need others approval to know what is right for me. I do not waste my energy on people that are only taking my strength away from me. And most of all, I do not need anyone else, in order to feel happy. I have realized, that being okay with yourself requires you to be alone sometimes. 2017 was that year for me.
4. ACCEPT YOU'RE CHANGING
Another life lesson I have learned this year is about change and growth. Accept you're changing. You do not want to know how often people said to me that I've changed. I feel like especially in the online community, change has a negative connotation to it. We want people to stay the same, to be everlasting, in order for us to find comfort in their stories. However, like everything else in our existence, change will always be an inevitable process of life and death. I am not sure if I realized that I have changed so much because I have been documenting my life on the internet for years now, or because I am just a person that notices things like that in general. However, I am going to be honest with you: I find it so confronting to see how different I am from before. Not only when it comes to my appearance - that's not even the shit that matters - but when it comes to how I feel, and think, and act. The crazy thing is, it is not like I am more myself than I was before. My existence was always marked by Lilia, but my essence seems to have changed to a different person, or I guess a different "Lilia". It's like one of my favorite quotes from Heraklitus:
"On those stepping into rivers staying the same other and other waters flow." (DK22B12)
With this quote, Heraklitus meant to say that even though the "existence" of the river stays the same, its essence - the water - changes. And that's how I feel. 2017 made me even more aware about how much my essence has changed. The Lilia you know now is different than the one in 2016. And I cannot wait to see how different I will be in 2018.
5. PROTECT YOUR INNER PEACE
My last, but very valuable yet difficult lesson from 2017: Protect your inner peace. What I have come to realize is that everytime I had a negative experience with someone and I was treated unjustly, I would carry this burden around with me - not the other person. If I felt angry or sad about someone, the only person that would be hurt was me, not them. You should not lower yourself and your standards based on other people's behavior. If someone is treating you bad, protect your inner peace by being kind to them. I know that this is extremely hard, and may even feel unfair sometimes. However, keeping your inner peace is the best thing that you can do in every situation. Do not let their bad behavior get to you.
It's time to conclude the chapter of 2017. You were an intense year. I've finished my first year of being a Research Master LL.M. and a Philosophy B.A. student. I've had some amazing collaborations with brands, universities and organizations I love. I've hit the 150k subscribers on Youtube. I've travelled a lot to old and new places. I've moved accross to world to build a new life. I met people from all over the world and started new friendships. I dated with some guys, just to realize I am not ready for things like that yet. I finally managed to find closure for my bad break-up in 2016. And most of all, I have learned so many lessons I cannot wait to translate into actual deeds in 2018. I do not know how 2018 is going to turn out to be - no one does. However, I do feel like next year is going to be a good year for me. I hope it will be a good year for you too. Thank you for all of your support and constant love. I could not have done this without you.
WHAT IS YOUR LIFE LESSON OF 2017?