2018, you were a pivotal chapter in my story. You have been a stepping stone toward my bigger dreams and goals, and I feel extremely grateful for that. This year, many important storylines have come to an end in my life, creating space for new adventures and experiences to cross my path. 2018, you have taught me many invaluable lessons, and in today's blogpost I will be sharing 5 of my favorite life lessons of 2018 with you.
MY LIFE LESSONS OF 2018
1. No one knows what the f*ck they're doing.
It sounds a bit harsh, but it is true: No one knows what the f*ck they're actually doing with their lives. We are so dependent on the idea of having control over the outcome of our lives, or a certain stability in our daily routine. In reality, the only certainty we have in life, is that nothing in life is certain. Everyone is just trying to live their best life, in the best way they possibly can. So why does this matter? Well, if no one really knows what they are doing, then you should not worry too much about what those others have to say about your life. Over the past year, I have made many life altering decisions that stressed me out a lot. Rather than following a traditional path, I decided I wouldn't pursue a legal career after graduating from law school. I felt a constant pressure to justify this decision, until I realized that I didn't have any obligation toward others to actually do this. This realization felt extremely liberating. Instead of worrying what others would think, I put my energy into developing myself, working on my goals, and becoming a better person. And yes, I was able to do that with or without the unasked-for-and-usually-well-meant-but-quite-annoying-opinions of others.
2. Compare yourself to you - not others.
It's a saying you could probably find on one of your grandma's tiles or a heavily discounted mug at a thrift store, but that doesn't make it any less true (or difficult to live by): you should not compare yourself to others. Living in the age of social media, and personally, working in the industry as well, it is extremely easy to feel like you are not good enough compared to other people's picture perfect lifes on Instagram. Not only are most of these pictures unrealistic, artistic bullsh*t. To create imagery like that, social media influencers spend hours on getting the perfect shot and post-processing, which is admirable as a form of art, but not in a life goals type of way. Most importantly, it is also completely irrelevant for your own dao, or path of life. Everyone's path is unique, and comparing yourself to someone who you think has it better than you, will only make you feel unsatisfied, failed in life, and sad. However, if you compare yourself to you a few years, months, weeks, or even days ago, you will be able to see your growth. Rather than a negative mindset caused by comparing yourself to others, create a positive mindset by comparing yourself to you. By giving yourself time to reflect on your past, you will realize how far you have come, and how much you have accomplished. Use this mindset to strive to become a better version of you, everyday.
3. Don't be too hard on yourself.
Another important lesson for me in 2018 was to not be so hard on myself. Although this is yet again a cliché you are probably aware of, it can be challenging to incorporate it in your day to day life. Being my own worst critic, I was never satisfied with whatever I accomplished. I was never enough. I always pushed myself to be better, work harder, and become more successful. This feeling made extremely motivated to keep on striving for those dreams I had, but it also caused me to feel stressed, anxious and insecure about myself on most days. In 2018, I finally learned to let go of the toxic part of this mindset, and found the right balance between wanting to better myself, and being happy with how far I have come. It's not easy, and I have days I fall back into that extreme perfectionism. Nevertheless, there were definitely moments this year I was really proud of myself.
4. Trust yourself and your intuition.
As I mentioned earlier, I have pretty much never followed a traditional path. I always had a strong sense of what I wanted in life, and felt comfortable enough to trust my own intuition. I have always appreciated people offering me help or guidance, but this year I have come to terms with the fact that the only person I should really be listening to is myself. In the end, it's always going to be you that has to carry the burden of decision-making, not them. Not because I know things better than others, or because I am always right, but because this is my life, and I want to live my life in a way that makes me feel good, happy & positive. I am my choices, and I will never be truly happy if I give the power of making those choices to other people. Even though this truth sounds simple, it took me years to really feel comfortable enough trusting my own gut. So in 2018, I truly learned to trust myself and my own intuition.
5. In the end, it will always work out.
My last, and probably most valuable lesson of 2018 is to stop worrying about things working out for you or not. One way or another, you will follow your best possible path. This road you are on will sometimes be a perfect straight line, and sometimes it will be crooked af. Whatever part of the path you are travelling on - you will reach your desired destination. I have learned this year that you can get through whatever obstacle you are facing, despite the odds. It doesn't matter what life throws my way; I have always endured it, even if I thought I could not. I have travelled to far on my path to let a couple of holes in the road stop me from reaching my destination, or even better - my destiny. So whatever way 2019 will go: I know I will overcome it. And so will you.
It's time to turn the page, and say goodbye to everything that happened in 2018. I will always remember 2018 as the year I finished my American LL.M. and graduated from law school. I will cherish you as the year I met new kind souls, and stayed in touch with old ones. I will reminisce about the amazing brands I worked with this year, as well as hitting the milestone of 200k subscribers on Youtube, and 50k followers on Instagram. You were the year I started my own business in the US, and decided to pursue fulltime entrepreneurship. I will think of 2018 as the year I travelled back to my old home in Groningen, the Netherlands, and created a new home for myself in Washington DC. You are the year I said goodbye to my life in the Netherlands, and the year I pursued a new one in the US. And 2018, you were the year I dated many, very disappointing men, but ended up with an amazing one I can call my love.
I have faced many doubts, insecurities & fears this year. Doubts about not following a traditional legal career even with a law degree, insecurities about my ability to grow my business and gain financial stability, and fears about making a mistake moving to the US, and ending up all alone. I would like to say that I overcame them all, but the truth is that I still don't know if the decisions I made will work out in the future. No one does. And that's okay. I am starting the 2019 with a huge aspect of my life still being undetermined: will my US visa be approved or not? I still have to wait til mid January for me to know if I can continue my life in the US, or if I have to pack up all my things and leave to the Netherlands. Whatever will happen, I know one thing: It will work out in the end.
WHAT ARE YOUR LIFE LESSONS OF 2018?