2019, I will never forget you. The lessons you taught me will forever linger in my mind like the aftertaste of black coffee I've never enjoyed: unexpectedly intense, dark and persistently bitter. You are a chapter I am very happy to finally conclude. You have been one of the most difficult years of my life, from the time I received the news my visa petition was denied in January, to the moment I decided to move to Los Angeles by myself to pursue fulltime entrepreneurship in September. In this year's annual self-reflection, I will share what these challenging experiences in 2019 have taught me.
MY LIFE LESSONS OF 2019
1. Stop making everything about you.
The first life lesson of 2019 I want to share with you is one that I've have only learned at the end of this year, yet has probably impacted me most of all: stop making things about yourself, when in most cases, they are not. Not every thing revolves around you - and yes, it's okay to feel personally attacked reading this, I felt the same way too. The truth is that people treat others not depending on you, but on themselves. This year, I found myself wondering what I could have done differently to not get ghosted by a guy I liked, or asking myself if I could've done something different to avoid losing a friend. By thinking like this, you tend to make the situation about yourselves, rather than putting the focus on the other person. Their behaviour is a reflection of their personality, their state of being, and the current personal situation that they're in. It has nothing to do with you. So stop worrying and burdening yourself with what you could have done better, because it would probably not have changed anything at all. Other people's behaviour was never dependent on what you did or did not do, it was always about their own story - and so should yours be.
2. Don't compare yourself to others - or yourself.
One of my life lessons from 2018 was to stop comparing yourself to others, and instead compare yourself to you. I was fully convinced that 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.
Life can be quite ironic sometimes. Something I believed to be true one year ago, I've completely abandoned now. Comparison in general, even to yourself, is a toxic mindset you should leave behind for 2020. I don't agree anymore with the cliché sayings that life is about becoming the best version of you, or that the only person you should comparing yourself to is you (anymore). Life is not about comparing yourself to others or about being better than you were, because there is no best version of yourself. There are only different versions of you, but none of them is the “better” you. There is beauty and horrid to be found in every self you were, are and shall become.
3. Letting go is not failing.
For the longest time, I felt like letting go of things or people meant I failed. Don't take me wrong; if something or someone has not been right for me from the beginning, I never had an issue cutting them out of my life. However, when it's something I invested a lot of time and effort in, or a person I've come to care for, letting go made me feel like was failing them, and myself. I would try everything in my power to try to "fix" whatever wasn't working, ignoring my inner voice telling me that maybe there was nothing left to fix. It's hard to let go of things that have been part of your life for many years, but sometimes it's the best thing that you can do. The fact that they played an important role in your life in the past is beautiful, but does not mean they should continue to be part of your life in the future. And that's not failing yourself or them; it's accepting that life is in constant flux and motion, and everything and everyone is constantly changing. Letting go of things and people that don't serve you anymore is the best thing you can do for both yourself as for others.
4. Time is your most valuable luxury.
Haven't you noticed how time flies? Not only is that my favorite song of all time (look up: Time Flies by Pete Philly & Perquisite), it's also something I've really come to understand this year. The time you have to live our lives is the most valuable luxury you own. Not that Gucci Dionysus bag, or your favorite YSL lipstick. And more often than not, you treat your time like it's worth nothing. By procrastinating instead of working toward your dreams, by hanging out with people that give you negative vibes, or by reply to a bootycall text from your fuckboy. Start treating your time like a valuable luxury, and you will not waste it on things and people that don't deserve it.
5. You decide who you are - everyday.
2019 was filled with turbulent changes, and sometimes that made me question who I am. I never realized how much my identity has been tied to the people I surround myself with, the places I lived, and the memories I created. By leaving my home country behind, re-starting my life in a new place with no friends nor memories, being my own boss and dictating my every days myself, I sometimes felt like I had no identity left. Who is Lilia when she does not have all these external factors that defined her, really? This thought process made me understand that every single day, you have the opportunity to re-define yourself. Every morning you wake up, you can choose whatever you want to be. You are not as tied as you think to these external factors that dictate your life and personality. And even though this can cause a little existential crisis from time to time, it can also make you feel incredibly free and empowered. And with that mentality, you are ready to chase after those big dreams of yours.
2019: you were a year that has changed me irreversibly. Like a crystal glass shattering into a million different pieces on a marble floor, I will never be able to go back to the Lilia I was before. But maybe that's been the point of it all. The painful experiences that broke me have enabled me to transform myself into someone who does not fear setbacks and challenges, and instead, distills their hardships into valuable life lessons. Without breaking the glass, the most beautiful mosaic would have never been created. 2019 was a tough year, but without it, I don't think I would be prepared to make the best out of this new decade. 2020, I am ready for you.
WHAT ARE YOUR LIFE LESSONS OF 2019?