Lessons Learned: 2015

1 Jan

This is the only tradition I have surrounding the new year, and I’ve come to really look forward to it every year. Here’s 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

In adulthood, you make your own growth

This year felt weird, in a not-great way, and it took me a while to put my finger on why. Then I realized: for the first time in my life, things haven’t changed. I still have the same job I did a year ago, I live in the same apartment, I hang out with the same people. There haven’t been any major accomplishments this year, just me showing up to work and doing my job and coming home.

It hasn’t been a bad year. There weren’t any tragedies in my personal life, I went on a couple nice trips, it was perfectly serviceable. But nothing happened. My whole life, every new year meant a new grade in school, and 2014 (my first full year graduated) included a couple of major changes. I don’t feel like I grew much in this last year, because you need change for growth.

My whole life, change and growth have just happened to me. This year taught me that I need to make it happen for myself. I’ve got some big plans to make changes in 2016, and I’m really excited about them.

Friendship maintenance is hard

Immediately after graduating (2013/14) I did a really good job of staying in touch with people from college. Regular phone calls, Skyping, writing letters – all of that. It kind of dropped off this year, probably because it’s been longer since we were in each other’s lives. That’s natural, but it was a reminder that when there are people that you really want to stay close to, you have to make a real effort to do that. I’ve been a terrible pen pal these last six months or so, and I’m hoping to majorly improve on that this year – while also calling my friends who don’t write letters.

Good rituals do great things

I’ve tried to think of this as a year where I set up habits for the kind of life that I want to live. Little things – like cooking at home, reading books, writing, getting exercise in – that aren’t that hard once they’re habitual, but are SO HARD to start doing. I’ve found that they make a huge difference – I’m so much happier when I’ve exercised, cleaned my kitchen, and eaten a good dinner. I thought up a whole bunch of resolutions for 2016 (make my bed every day, read for half an hour before bed, do yoga before work, etc.) but then I settled on just one that will make all of them way more likely to happen: no more than one episode of television per day. With Netflix, it’s so easy to hit play when I get home at 5:30 and then do basically nothing else until I go to bed. I’m going to change that.

 

 

Letting go can be okay

When I left Minneapolis in the summer of 2014, I also left behind my best friend. Less than a year later, she was married, and I hadn’t been asked to be a bridesmaid. She visited the town I’m currently in, and didn’t make a point of seeing me. It hurt, and I’m still not sure if I did something to provoke it, but the point is that I had a really hard time letting our friendship be a thing that was good in the past, without feeling bitter about losing it. It felt like a breakup, taking the person I had been closest too and turning her into a stranger.

I’m not sure when, but at some point I stopped worrying about what the heck had happened. I found a way to accept that we had been great roommates and friends and that we weren’t close anymore, but that didn’t mean all of our past adventures didn’t happen or didn’t matter. Now, every once in a while, we’ll post on each other’s Facebook pages or send a text, and it’s okay. Our inside jokes are gone and we’ll probably never live in the same city again, but that doesn’t have to be a personal slight or a tragedy.

This last summer, a good friend of mine moved away, and I was sad to see her go but knew she was doing what was right for her. We’re still friends, in the sense that we text occasionally and I sent her a Christmas card. As far as my former roommate, I don’t feel bitter anymore, and that’s a good feeling.

I need to create

A side benefit of the minimal “WHOA EVERYTHING IS SO DIFFERENT” kind of change in my life this year is that I got a better idea of what I need in my life to feel fulfilled. I need to be doing something, creating something. A job where I don’t make progress toward a goal is not a job for me. I miss the days of creating my student newspaper, where our finished product mattered and impacted people. Again, I have a few ideas already in place for making this a bigger part of my life next year: I’ve been working with a team on a startup idea for the last six weeks or so, and I’m going to actually work on the book I’ve been talking about. I’m continuing to think about ways that I can make a bigger impact on the world, and I hope that this time next year includes really fulfilling work.

So, that was 2015. Nothing major, but lessons none the less. Here’s to moving on.

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2 Responses to “Lessons Learned: 2015”

  1. bonesong January 2, 2016 at 5:12 pm #

    Lauren, I learn so much from your posts. This is just what I needed to see today, someone growing in a positive way. It encourages me as I feel pretty discouraged at this beginning of the year. Thanks for sharing your simple goals of change and your thinking behind it is valuable. I wish you well with your writing project this year and look forward to reading it when you finish! Happy 2016!

    • Stacking Twenties January 3, 2016 at 8:17 am #

      Thank you so much! I hope you guys see some progress this year, too.

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