6 Important Life Lessons I’ve Learned This Year

It’s somehow June already, and that means it’s reflection time.

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I’m writing this partly to remind you all that we are here, near the middle of the year. And as surprising as that may be, it’s time now to reflect on the last six months. 

I’m not going to give you a “how-to” on revisiting your New Years’ Resolutions, or a step-by-step guide for setting a course for the rest of the year because one of the more recent things I’ve learned is that I far too often rely on other people telling me how to do things

I’m also writing this because it’s all too rare that people share what they’re thinking/feeling anymore; there’s a tendency on the internet to be focused on self-improvement, without seeking connections with those we’re trying to help. I’m as guilty of this as anyone. 

My hope is that somewhere in my brief stories of the last six months, you’ll find echoes of your own life. 

1. Political engagement is cool.

I promise I’m not going to launch into a political tirade. I merely want to point out that, for many reasons, this year has seen more political engagement from the general public than has been seen in years. 

People know what’s going on, and more than that, we care about what’s going on. 

While we live in a politically difficult time with fierce partisan opposition, I’ve been trying to remember that while the current state of our country’s politics may not be what our Founding Fathers hoped for, this level of involvement is

I have really enjoyed learning about everything going on, experiencing a variety of perspectives, and just being an informed citizen. It feels more like I have a vested interest in my country, and that’s something I want to maintain for the rest of my life

2. I need to stop keeping everything.

A couple weeks ago I ran into someone I knew from a long time ago, and I kind of freaked out (internally). The encounter showed me how much emphasis I put on the way things used to be. 

So I went home and found all my old journals that I kept (for some weird reason), and went through my big bucket of souvenirs. In this process, I learned that I have a tendency to keep everything — not just journals, but also random stress balls, weird-looking rocks, and plenty of bad memories. 

At the same time, I also found a lot of reminders of really good memories I’ve had. It sounds cliche — it is cliche — but it helped me move on and see my present in a totally different way. 

So I threw away a bunch of stuff (fourteen journals and four grocery bags of trash, but who’s counting) and moved forward. 

3. I need to keep things simple.

I tend to feel like I need to be 100% put together all the time in order to accomplish anything, which is partly why I obsess over lifestyle advice about mourning routines and productivity hacks. 

These last six months, though, I’ve been anything but “put together,” and I still managed to do well in college, keep a job (or two), and work towards some of my personal and professional goals. 

I’ve been realizing that I tend to over-complicate my life when it really is as simple as waking up and moving forward. Failures, big or small, don’t necessarily mean I need to do a complete overhaul of my life; I just need to get up tomorrow and try again to do the best that I can

4. Nobody has it figured out.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

This is one of those things I feel like I’m always learning, because I keep forgetting that no one else feels like their life is entirely put together

I read Mindy Kaling’s book Why Not Me? and in it she talks about her life in terms not unlike those I use in my own life — but she’s the showrunner and star of her own TV show, and is writing and starring in movies and has an amazing wardrobe. 

But she, just like me, does not have it all figured out. And if my hero can be struggling to maintain balance in her life, then I can stop fighting that struggle in my own life, and start embracing it

5. Enjoying the little things is actually so important.

Rule #32: Enjoy the little things

It’s a quote from Zombieland, my personal life motto, the inspiration for my future production company’s name, and probably a tattoo I’ll get someday. 

Despite its prevalence in my life, I often forget (which seems to be the theme of this article). And then I’ll get stressed, have a tiny breakdown, and only then remember that the big stuff pretty much always works out, but none of it will be any fun unless I enjoy the little stuff

This week I’ve been elbows-deep in a postfeminist analysis of The Mindy Project for school, and in the midst of turning my brain to mush with all the research I’ve done, it was little things that kept me sane

These things included: My nightly cup of tea (Celestial Seasonings’ Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride), all-pink packages of Starburst, and bingeing Netflix (House of Cards).

For some reason, my first instinct when things get hard is to panic, but I have learned this year that it doesn’t have to be — there are always things to enjoy, even in the most stressful times. 

What about you? 

Share in the comments your stories about what you’ve learned this year so far. What are your go-to “little things”? 

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