Sunday, January 31, 2016

31 Things I Learned In The First 31 Days of 2016

Being the final day of January 2016, I decided to reflect back on the past 31 days, as they were surely a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. 

1. Home is not a place, but the people you surround yourself with. 
Having spent the first seconds of 2016 in New York with my best friend and her family, the year started out great. I wasn't physically at home, yet I had never felt so at home in my life. When the ball dropped and everyone's glasses clinked together in celebration, I found myself delighted to be a part of not one, but two families. I was home.

2.  Facetiming your dog really does brighten your day.

3. There's something about road tripping with your best friend with music blaring as loud as it goes, that makes you forget everything you've ever worried about. 
These are the times you'll remember. You and your bff. Sitting in the backseat of the car, singing Jonas Brothers 2007 top hits at the top of your lungs. These are the moments. You won't remember tripping on that ice patch in front of a group of teenagers walking back from class. You won't remember how you were forced to sit alone at lunch one day and spent the entirety of it feeling your face burn hotter than the sun. You wont remember any of it, so stop worrying, and start living. 

4. Three isn't a crowd when you surround yourself with the right people. 

5. Feel everything. There's a difference between living and existing. 
Feel hurt. Feel ache. Feel butterflies in your stomach before entering the busy cafeteria because your anxiety doesn't ever leave you alone. Feel your skin burning when you look like crap in public and a group of good looking people stare you down. Feel brand new again when you go outside and the sun kisses your cheeks for the first time in days. Feel everything- good or bad. It's the only way you'll exist in this world. (And hey, if you're like me, you'll get some great writing out of it too). 

6.  You'll experience serendipitous encounters of joy when you stop searching for them. 

7. Pain is good for you.
If we didn't experience hurt, we wouldn't know the capacity of our strength. You live and you learn and you grow, and only through pain do you build yourself up enough to see what you're really capable of handling. Everybody in the world is a little bit broken, one way or another- it's how the light gets in.

8. Just because you'd take a bullet for someone, doesn't mean they'd do the same for you.

9. You'll find little parts of your family in everywhere you go and everything you do.
When you're walking through Kroger and you're in a hurry and you can't find the olives for the life of you, there's no doubt you'll think of your mom. You'll feel frustrated and nostalgic all at once because you know if she was here she'd laugh and whisper "isle three" and your search would be over. When I'm walking through the mall, minding my own business, and develop a headache because two siblings won't stop screaming at each other, I'll think of my siblings, and I'll probably smile. 

10.  It's more than okay to be yourself; you don't owe anybody an explanation for who you are. 

11. You have to stop making excuses for people that continue to hurt you.
Love will make you do crazy things. Your heart will spend every day fighting your head, and it'll leave you in shambles with nothing but confusion. When the person you love puts you on a shelf for weeks or even months and only talks to you when they decide it's convenient for them, you HAVE to walk away. You're afraid because this feeling is so real and so raw and you're terrified that you'll never feel it again but you WILL. It'll be the hardest thing you'll ever have to do in your life and it'll hurt like hell but toxic relationships are a drug and you deserve better than to be hooked on someone who hurts you 90% of the time; don't hang on for that last 10%, you deserve more. Walk away, your heart will break but it'll heal; it always heals. 

12. Sometimes the best cure to a bad day is a good cry. 

13. You'll get closer to your little sister, the further away you are from her.
Since the day I moved into college I've missed my little sister, but not the way I do now. When the new year rolled around and it was time for me to move back into school, I think it hit me that I've only really spent maybe 10 days out of the last five months with her. January has brought me a lot of loneliness and heartache, and I miss her curative laugh. Even though she's a whole six years younger than me, she teaches me things about myself that I never knew I needed. In the time we spend apart, I feel closer to her than I ever have before. 

14. Catching up with friends you haven't talked to in forever is good for the soul. 

15. Sometimes being selfish is the best thing for you. 
The most important thing I've learned is that there's a difference between being selfish because you don't care about anyone but yourself, and being selfish because you need to love yourself for a change, too. While you're so busy making sure everybody else is alright, you just might be crumbling. Cancel your plans with your friends for a day if you have to. Lie in your bed all day eating chocolate and reading a book; you don't always have to go out and please somebody; let yourself come first. 

16. You wouldn't be human if you didn't have an occasional breakdown. There's no shame in crying in public.

17. Saying goodbye to someone you care about never gets easier, no matter how many times you do it, and that's perfectly okay. 
As I boarded my flight back home after spending a week with my best friend, my heart was heavier than it had been in months. You'd think I'd be a pro at saying goodbye to her by now, as it's something I've done a number of times before. Yet, I still felt broken. I was 32,000 feet up in the air and only 32 seconds away from tears streaming down my face when I realized that it was okay to feel like this. Of course it's going to hurt if it means something to you. And she does; she means the world to me.

18. Don't let the opinions and judgements of others lead you astray from who you are. 

19. Occasional "treat yourself" days are a must. 
I'm a broke college student, so naturally I'm as cheap as they come; I typically won't spend more than $10 on an article of clothing, and even that is a stretch for me. Thrift stores are my best friend. Sometimes though, shopping is therapeutic. Spend a little extra money on yourself; get your nails done, buy yourself a large milkshake instead of a small. Spend $30 once a while to go see your favorite band play, they'll mend every scar on your heart and leave you smiling for days. It's the little things in your everyday life that make all the difference in the world. Money doesn't buy happiness, but it can buy memories, and those are one in the same if you ask me. 

20. Saying "Hi" when you pass the people who have hurt you makes you feel powerful and at peace.

21. Take pictures of EVERYTHING. Memories are the most important thing you'll ever have and are the only thing you're guaranteed to never lose. 
I used to get self conscious when pursing my love of photography in public. People would stare at me like I was crazy for taking a picture of my brand new fancy shoes. Try not to care what the people in the booth across from you think if you take a selfie with your sister at dinner, do it if it makes you happy; freeze the moment in time so you can remember it for the rest of your life. Document everything. I never want to forget these moments, even if they're something as small at walking to the park with my dog. Life is short; each and every day is all at once, a mixture of beauty, cruelty, and pleasure, and pictures are proof that you survived each and every one of them. 

22. Don't let the possibility of failure keep you from having a blast. 

23. Music has a way of unclogging your thought clouded head. 
Having yet another rough day, my friends and I decided, spontaneously, to go to a free concert held on campus. I didn't know a single word to a single song but there was something about the sweaty bass and the lead singer's beach blonde perfect hair that made me feel alive in my own skin for the first time in forever. Music has a way of making you feel infinite during the times when you need it the most.

24. Distraction is the best medicine for heartbreak. Go out and explore the world and you're guaranteed to fall in love all over again. 

25. Talking to your mom really does make everything better for the time being. 
I was sitting in my dorm after having a rather shitty day, and decided to call my mom, just to catch up. As soon as she picked up and I heard the excitement in her voice from hearing mine, I started bawling. There was zero control over my tears as they forced their way down my cheeks. I told my mom everything, and even though we're miles apart, I felt as if we were together, and somehow, she had made everything more than okay again. You never outgrow your mom. 
 
26. As annoying as little siblings are, they're a blessing. 

27. Writing is one of the most therapeutic things you can do.
As a writing major, I've known forever that writing can be remedial. This year, my new year's resolution was to write a journal entry at least once a day. I've made it a habit of mine to make sure I never leave my dorm without my journal, since I never know when a moment of inspiration might strike. As I've made it very clear throughout this post, this month was not an easy one for me. It really is amazing how much better I feel after jotting down every emotion I feel, down to the very core of my mind. When you're not having a good day, pouring yourself into your writing and being as raw as you possibly can, drains all of the pain. All of the hurt that you have bottled up, is now out in the open, plastered to a page instead of etched on your heart, and trust me, it's one of the most refreshing things you'll ever feel. 

28. There's something about walking to class in the pouring rain with your headphones blaring the words you're too afraid to say aloud, that makes you feel alive. 

29. In time your heart will begin to conform to its new reality. 
This may sound cliché but it's something I've experienced recently. One week your heart is completely shattered and the next week you can feel it becoming whole again. Humans are meant to feel everything, good or bad, and after feeling comes accepting your fate. It's been about three weeks since an important part of my world came crashing down and after surrounding myself with loving friends and family, the cliché has been proven; I can feel the broken pieces inside of me starting to stick together again. 

30.  Discovering new music never gets less exciting.

31.  The January Blues most definitely exist. 
Maybe it's walking to class everyday in freezing cold temperatures when I'd rather be sleeping. Maybe it's because I stay up until 2am studying biology terms and will probably still end up failing the test because I'm exhausted. Or maybe it's because I'm missing my mom's home cooked meals when I'm tired of eating cafeteria slop for the millionth day in a row. I don't know what it is, but I'm feeling depressed. The sun has only really been out 12 days out of the 31 and I don't think I can take another day of seeing nothing but grey and white outside my window. It's nothing serious, January sucks the life out of everyone.