Lessons Learned: 2014

1 Jan

This has become one of my favorite traditions. Another year, another post! To read those from the past:

2011
2012
2013

Home isn’t found, it’s built

Since graduation, I’ve think I’ve been hunting for home, thinking that somehow I would land somewhere and it would fit immediately. I had three “homes” in 2014, not including my parents’ house in Seattle, and I’ve found that none of them are perfect. I can’t dance in Spokane, Minneapolis was far from my family and cold, Seattle is too expensive and crowded, and Williston … is Williston. And yet I always miss the places I’m not in, at least a little bit, because there are parts of all of them I love. Even if in Williston that’s just one particular bookstore/coffee shop.

All these places are home because there are people and places I love in all of them. If I go somewhere new again, that place will become home too. Minneapolis was lonely & cold when I first arrived, and now it’s a place where I’ll always be thrilled to visit – or maybe live again someday. Home isn’t out there waiting for me to find it, it’s wherever I decide to build it.

If it isn’t working, change it

In a year in which I moved twice, had a period of time where I was crying daily at work, started a new job, went through a breakup, felt lonely and depressed, met a few dozen incredible new people, felt more confused than I ever have, and more confident, I think this was the most important thing. I started to learn this in 2013, but this year really hammered it home: my happiness is up to nobody but me. Part of that is about being positive and changing my attitude, but a lot of it is about taking the initiative to change circumstances when they aren’t working.

Going into 2015, I once again have no idea what my life is going to look like in a year. Maybe I’ll move again. The company I work for won’t exist in a year – and I have no idea what that’s going to do to me. Maybe I’ll meet someone. Maybe something tragic will happen, or something incredible. But I do know that it won’t do me any good to complain and I can always pack up and go somewhere new, try something new, and make it better.

Everything will be alright

This is sort of related to the above, but I’ve relaxed a lot this year, and become a lot less stressy. Things keep changing in ways I never would have predicted, and I think I’ve finally accepted that I can’t actually plan my future. So instead of constantly freaking out – what do I want to do with my life? will I ever get married/have kids? where should I live? do my friends actually like me or are they all taking pity on me? will anyone hire me?  – I’m just doing what I can and not freaking out about it, because every time things change they seem to settle back into a form that’s almost unrecognizably different, but still good.

No one knows how to make friends, but they all want to

When I moved to Minnesota 50 weeks ago, I only knew two people, and neither of them very well. I knew I’d need to try pretty hard to make new friends and avoid the loneliness of North Dakota. It’s hard to do in the Real World, especially since I only worked with three other people who were all 20 years older than me.

So whenever I met someone who seemed vaguely interesting, I would make them my friend. I don’t mean by engaging in conversation and hoping that maybe we would hang out sometime. I mean I would just say, “Hi I’m Lauren, I just moved here and don’t know anybody. We should be friends.”

Shockingly enough, it worked. I had to do most of the follow-up work, but a brief conversation often turned into meeting for a drink turned into another link in my quickly-expanding social network. Everyone in their twenties isn’t really sure how to make friends, and I found that most responded pretty positively to my awkward request for their company.

Other lessons: I started living alone for the first time, which is something I always thought would be too scary, but it’s just fine (as long as I check the deadbolt three times before bed). When my car makes a nasty noise, it’s really a problem and really needs to be fixed. I love love love dancing and having dancing friends (a re-lesson, which I learned in high school and forgot in college, but it counts!). How to make quiche. That even if it seems like something (a job, a relationship, whatever) couldn’t possibly work out, it’s worth trying.

Oh, and the last thing I learned in 2014: a violin and a fiddle are the same thing. Who knew?

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