Five Things That 2017 Has Taught Me
As I sit in my freshly settled apartment in my new city of Atlanta. I'm thinking to myself, "wow, what a year!" From set backs to come ups, this year has had its share of ups and downs. This year I learned how to love on myself more. That love includes taking accountability, acknowledging childhood trauma, creating ways to reflect, accepting criticism, and creating healthy boundaries in my outside relationships. As a naturally curious person, I am incessantly in a state of reflection and I always try to find time to place my pondering in writing. With that said, I wanted to share with you a few things that this year's laughter, pain, and blessings have taught me.
In order to forgive, you have to take accountability for your actions
This year I experienced more emotional maturity and growth in all of my relationships. That maturity included taking a step out of the victim role and being liable for some of the extremely disappointing situations I found myself in. I realized that if I didn't hold myself accountable for my actions, I would continue down a vicious cycle of narcissism.
It hurts, realizing that you possibly caused the issue. The aching feeling that maybe, you did too much. However, what feels better is acknowledging where you fell short and how you can grow. While it didn't go the way you planned, it's a part of your journey and you have to accept all parts of it in order to forge a more invigorating and fresh path.
It's okay to not know everything
This year, I started a career in education. As you all know, my experience (and passions) lie within event and fashion management; so I was extremely surprised at myself when I said "yes" to a teaching position as an elementary school teacher. The first six weeks of my job were horrible. I was seriously depressed. I'd never been in a position, professionally or scholarly, where I felt bad at something. Here I am, 22 and fresh out of undergrad, responsible for the intellectual development of about 18 extremely impressionable ten year-olds. I started to become persistently self conscious of my habits. Am I being a great role model? Am I maximizing my time and position effectively? Do they even like me? There has been a lot of trial and error, but classroom leadership has taught me a lot about my work ethic, attitude, and ego.
Most importantly, it's taught me that it's okay to not know everything. It's okay to call on your village for help. I've learned how to recognize people in my life that are on my side and committed to my growth (love you ms. weems!).
As I've discussed in previous posts, I suffer from anxiety. Recognizing this part of my identity as well as my impending responsibilities as an adult and citizen has led me to create strategies to cope and push through. Meditation, working out, and journaling have been very important to me. Apps like Headspace have helped me recover from anxiety disguised as mid-day breakdowns at work and heartache from men that I (thought) I loved. My initial reaction to stress is aggression. The Aries Ram in me initially wants to attack anything (or anyone) that has disturbed my carefully crafted peace. In turn, this has ruined a lot of relationships in my life that meant a lot to me. Learning how to press pause, however, has saved me from retreating to very dark places as a result of my extremely sudden bouts of rage.
Your more similar to your parents than you may think
Like most young men, when I left my home at 18 for college, I was excited to start my life, free from my parent's watchful, tight grip . What I didn't realize is that I brought with me a lot of habits picked up while under their roof. Naturally we want to be like our parents, and that want subconsciously causes us to pick up on their habits. I must say, I have inherited many great things such as a strong work ethic and an amazing sense of style; however, I've also picked up on things such as procrastination and very low financial responsibility. This year made me take a step back and figure out how to deconstruct bad habits I have and break them down once and for all. Some behaviors are in fact learned and will take very hard work undoing in order to form your own identity as an adult.
Creating boundaries is necessary for self progression
This was probably my hardest lesson learned. I'm naturally a giving person. I was raised by women who would literally give the clothes off of their back to people in need. My need for wanting to help and give myself away has caused my kindness to be taken advantage of by people I love. I used to think that creating a contract around a friendship or relationship was weird and the thought of it made me uncomfortable and insecure. This same discomfort caused me to unequally give to others close to me that did not have anything to give in return. By taking accountability of my actions, I have began to release a lot of the blame on them and understanding the role my naïveté has played in my physical and emotional burnout. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same heart as you, and it's less about being taken advantage of and more so people accepting as much as you allow. Recognizing my strengths and learning how to create boundaries with people I love has created such a warm and cozy space for me to take care of my physical body and my soul. Understand that yes, I love you, but I cannot be whole until I fully love on myself.