Tuesday, January 26, 2016

2016 + A Few Life Lessons

Now I'm in no place to give advice.

(The other day I was hungover and googled how to make homemade McMuffins because I missed the breakfast menu at McDonald's and yesterday I literally drove without pants on because they were too constricting)

Nevertheless, throughout 2015 I have learnt valuable lessons/made important realisations and I feel like it would be really selfish not to share my newfound wisdom — if you can call it that.

I was reading my last new year's post before and it really got me thinking. I don't know about anyone else, but I feel like every new year I look back and I think, "Gee whiz that was a full on year, I cried a lot for no reason and ate way too many burritos, and I sucked at my new year's resolutions. Oh well let's hope this year is kinder to me." or "Well that was more drama than I was expecting for a mere 365 days, but at least I got a cool job and maybe next year I'll try not to get involved in so many depressing Facebook arguments about feminism and abortion."

I think we look back a lot of the time on our year and we see mostly the negative stuff jump out at us, and we forget about all the cool things we did, and the new people we met, the groovy times we shared. That being said it's also important to acknowledge the heaping mound of crap we've all dealt with in a year, not in an effort to be pessimistic, but to look at it like an obstacle we've overcome and as something to take pride in. Because whilst shovelling poo for 52 weeks might suck, at least you have a nice big pile at the end to look and smile at, and say, "Hey. I did that. I achieved that. That mound is a product of my efforts."

In all seriousness, I don't want to look back at the year I've had and see it as a "bad year". I want to see it as a year that made me grow a lot as a person, that taught me valuable lessons that I can put to the test the following year.  I used to look at a new year like a blank slate, but I think it's better to look at it for what it is: an extension of the years you've lived, an extension you can build on and improve. So let's not hate on 2015, maybe it was a great year for some, maybe it was bad news for others, but I think we can all agree we'll be better, wiser, people for it in 2016.

And so, after all of that, here are 7 handy tips, tricks and lessons I've learnt in 2015, and will continue to practice in 2016.

1. Elaborate on your corny resolutions, and make more specific ones instead (they're better value, I promise)
e.g, "Be a better person" is sort of vague and abstract, so be more specific like, "Be a better listener"

2. Actually do regular exercise, because you feel fab afterwards and it actually helps maintain good mental health, physical health and general sexiness
e.g, Join a gym, become part of a sportsteam, go to a bootcamp with some pals, run along the beach, take up mermaid dancing

3. Have a morning routine — makes you feel like you're proactive even when you're just lazing around the house.
e.g, Wake up with an alarm, make your bed, wash your face, have a coffee and then start your day

4. Read. Go to a bookstore, buy yourself a book you'd want to read the crap out of and then actually read it. Maybe do it every night before bed, or every morning after breakfast. But definitely read. It helps relax you and actually forces you to stop thinking about everything else in your life and just focus on the words on the page.

5. Develop them hobbies/do fun activities. Can be on your own or with someone else.
e.g, I'm talking writing, painting, gardening, baking/cooking, ~mixology~, building stuff with your bare hands like a stool or a table, go all Pinterest and revamp some old furniture, sketch things, play instruments, fold up a tonne of origami, COLOURING IN BOOKS — hobbies and leisurely activities are seriously underrated by us crazy youth. But they're therapeutic and they're fun and they're something that falls outside the "Eat, Work, Sleep, Repeat" scenario, that a lot of us fall into in the middle of the year when summer is over and uni or work is in full chaos.

6. Say yes to social invites, but know when to say no. 2015 was a big year for me in terms of meeting a whole new bunch of people — through work, through sports, through uni. I was so excited to have access to all these new groups of people, but it also came at a time when my self confidence wasn't all too high. This sort of resulted in me avoiding social gatherings with people I didn't know super super well and that were slightly out of my comfort zone. I wasn't confident enough in myself to put myself out there or try something new or do something new. Even if I knew a handful of people attending an event I'd be scared to go in case I was left alone and I'd look like ~a lonely fool~. In reality, it probably would've been fine and a whole lot of fun. I was like that for the better part of 2015, but towards the end I decided to just push myself to go to something. And I did. And it wasn't bad at all, in fact, it was really fun and just what I needed. That gave me a little boost of confidence, and it made me feel like I could do it again, and again, and again, and everything would be fine. So if there's any advice I can give from living through that weird socially anxious period, it would be to say yes to things or evaluate the reasons why you aren't saying yes. If you're not saying yes because you're sick, or you're tired after a hectic week and/or you need to have some alone time, then go for it. Have your Netflix and pizza in bed. Do you. If you're not saying yes because you "can't be bothered" or "I'll just go next time" or you're worried you won't know anyone, SAY YES AND GO. You'll probably be pleasantly surprised. If you say no, you'll fall into a rut and you'll get used to just not going to things, for reasons that aren't that clear/don't even make that much sense. So know when to say no and when to say yes. Social interaction is important, but self-reflection and alone time is too, so keep that balanced.

7. Lastly, and this somewhat ties in with my above advice, I gift you the golden midnight rule: If you're out somewhere and your night isn't getting good vibes by midnight... Go home and go to bed. Midnight is the great decider for me. If the night is going good, then definitely stay after midnight, but if the night is going poorly, don't wait too long after midnight. It's probably not going to get any better. Same goes with changing venues. Do it before midnight or don't do it at all. You know when your night is a 10/10 and everyone is loving life, and as it gets super late and the night feels like it's drawing to a close, someone pipes up and says, "Hey guys let's kick on!!! We should go to ___ !!!", don't do it. End the night on a  high note. A new venue means figuring out how to get there, getting there, getting used to a whole new atmosphere and trying to get back to the pumped up feelings you had earlier, but lost in the scramble to change venues. So midnight rule.

That pretty much wraps it up. I myself am by no means an expert on any of the above advice, and I am still trying to get better at taking my own advice, but I did do these things and they did work/help/were good things. So give them a go, they worked for me, and maybe they'll be good for you too.

I did also want to give a quick honourable mention to Sydney's great coffee for getting me through the year, but also, since this post is all about advice, if you're taking your coffee to go, maybe plan ahead for toilet options. And don't drive for 45 minutes after consuming your long black either. It's going to be a shit time.

// Margot Ana

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