10 Things I Learned in 2017

2017 was a big year, full of excitement, disappointment, stress, and happiness from the minute it started until the countdown to midnight on December 31st. I learned more about myself than I expected, but there were some lessons that stuck with me more than others, ones that I will carry into each year afterwards. Here are the 10 most important things I learned in the 52 weeks of 2017:

 

 

1. Don’t stress about what everyone else is up to

No matter how well things are going for me, I ruin it by comparing my progress to that of others. As soon as I see someone I know - regardless of how I feel about them - outpacing me, I feel that everything I’ve done isn’t good enough and my achievements are worthless. As ridiculous as that sounds, in the moment, I can’t help it. While I’ve always been this way, in 2017, I learned that feeling this way is a waste of time, and only detrimental to me. I had many achievements that I should be proud of, regardless of what anyone else was up to. I doubt anyone would feel worse about their individual paths by comparing it to mine, so I shouldn’t do the same to myself. I need to be proud of myself based on how far I’ve come compared to where I started, not compared to where others are.

 

2. Not knowing how to “adult” isn’t cool for much longer

It’s been a running joke for a long time now - taking baby steps towards adulthood and being rewarded for “adulting,” while still being unable to handle major adult tasks, has got to go soon. Once you enter the workforce, “real grown ups” don’t find that kind of cluelessness charming. Think about it this way - on a job interview, would an employer want to hire someone who can barely manage their own life? They probably won’t want to take a chance on someone they are unsure if they can trust. As you enter the end of the college years and the beginning of the young adult years, be aware that failing at “adulting” is not as appealing to your boss and colleagues as it was to your high school friends or freshman roommates.

 

3. By now, you should be doing things on your own

Not everything. But there are some things that we, as college women, should be able to do alone without difficulty. Making our own doctor appointments, navigating an airport and flights, taking care of an apartment, some cooking basics, etc. No one expects college kids to be five-star chefs or world travelers, but making chicken and getting from Point A to Point B solo should be simple tasks that come naturally, not stressful challenges.

 

4. There’s more to life than the race to find a job

I’m surrounded by constant social media posts and celebrations of my peers who have found jobs, as well as the stresses and disappointments of those still searching and turning up empty. I’m not denying that it’s important to find a job (it’s what we’re in college for, after all), but it feels like everyone is getting too caught up on finding their dream job as soon as possible. No one can graduate college with the job they have always hoped for, it takes time. Some even feel like a failure if they are unable to secure a job before graduation; why is this the case? It takes time, and landing a job after graduation should not have a negative connotation. Starting a career is important, don’t get me wrong, but there shouldn’t be a race to see who can get the best job the fastest.

 

 

5. Taking time for yourself is so important

No matter how busy you are, taking time to relax each day is necessary to stay healthy and happy. It feels counterproductive to stop working or studying to just sit and do nothing, but in the long run, it will be beneficial. Moving nonstop leads to being sick and stressed, which slows you down. If you really want to do well, take some time for yourself every day - anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour - to sleep, read, watch Netflix, whatever helps you relax. In the long run, the time spent will save more time than if you had kept moving.

 

6. Life is boring if you never leave your comfort zone

Leaving your comfort zone is the scariest feeling - it’s tempting to not do it at all. 2017 forced me out of my comfort zone more times than I can count, and I’m thankful that it did. If I hadn’t been pushed out, I don’t know if I would have left…but then how boring would every day be? It’s scary, yes, but it’s also rewarding and exhilirating to do things that you don’t think you are up to. It feels better to be proud of accomplishments you didn’t think you were ready for than being stuck in the same place.

 

7. At this point in life, nothing is the end of the world

I spent so much time this year stressing over things that felt colossal in importance, but it turns out that none of them were worth the amount of energy I was giving. Are you having a hard time finding an internship? What’s the worst that will happen if you don’t get one? Are you breaking down over an exam? What’s the worst that will happen if you bomb one test? While you should still apply yourself, put everything in perspective. More likely than not, what you are stressing about will not end in a life-or-death situation. Remember that when anxiety starts to creep in.

 

8. Toxic people have to go

It’s a lesson that can only be learned the hard way, but it’s a valuable one. Cutting the toxic people our of your life is easier said than done, but it’s important as it helps you grow up and will always leave you better off. Even if it’s easier to avoid the confrontation and keep a friendship on autopilot, if someone pulls you down, they should be cut loose. It’s the only way to grow and become a better version of yourself.

 

9. Holding grudges only hurts yourself

As the world’s best grudge-holder, I can hold grudges for an impressive amount of time. No matter how much time has passed, I can still feel the sting like the first time. The thing is, it does nothing to solve any problems, and only makes things worse for me. Holding onto anger will never harm the person you are angry at, it will just make you feel worse. Even if it seems impossible, the best (and only) decision is to let it go - whether that means fixing the problem or ending a relationship is up to you, but a bridge must be crossed either way.

 

10. Look forward to the future instead of holding onto the past

2017 was my best year yet; it was full of highs that I never could have imagined, and the lows taught me so much that I’m grateful for them. It’s hard to see the year end, and I would rather stay in it than move on, but that’s not healthy. A new year is going to come whether I like it or not, and so instead of aching for the past, it’s time to embrace what’s ahead. Wanting 2017 to last longer won’t make that happen, and will ruin the beginning of 2018 by starting it with empty hopes.

Here's to 2018!