Well. That was fun.
2016 just wouldn’t quit, would it? I can’t think of another year where the nation collectively said, “This sucks,” and prayed to whatever higher power for the calendar to flip to January already.
I’m safe and cozy behind my computer screen, so I am free to say this: 2016 was not the worst year of my life. That coveted trophy goes to 2014. Or 2015. One of those twenty-four months of hell.
In my mind’s historical catalog, 2016 will be dubbed, “Not That Bad.” This year I really felt I sort-of, maybe, slowlyyyyy started figuring things out.
The lessons I learned from 2014 to 2015 prepared me for this past year. I avoided people who had potential to drag me down. I did a lap around the block when I was ready to punch a wall. I paid attention to people smarter than me. I reconnected with people I never should have let walk out of my life.
I believe every person will look back at their toughest moments, and be thankful for them. As long as you learn something, all the bullshit you go through will one day be worth it.
So in honor of the year that would not quit, here’s what I learned from 2016.
People are actually kind of awesome.
When you get past the whole, “I hate human beings,” thing, do you know how interesting people are? Really freaking interesting! Seven different people stayed at my apartment over the course of 2016, and two of them came twice. I hadn’t spoken to the vast majority of those individuals in years. YEARS. They were simply passing through DC for work, conferences, or job interviews; and I owned a couch they could crash on. I loved having these people around. It was so cool staying up listening to their stories after so much time had past. It’s crazy how people turn out.
Writing is a lot easier if you do it every day.
Writing helped me keep my sanity this year. I quickly found the more I wrote, the more I had to say. To me, writing before work is kinda how people feel about their morning workout: If I skip it, my whole day feels screwed up.
It is possible to do things besides eat and drink.
Do you know you can hang out at places besides bars? Who knew! We’re not discussing Santa Clause here—these places exist. In 2016, time was at a premium. I started catching up with friends over a workout, while meal prepping, or running errands together. I forced my friend Derrick to go to Home Depot and pick out paint colors with me because we hadn’t seen each other in a month. My catch-up time with Keena was usually during a three-mile run. When my friend Paula and I binged on the Gilmore Girls revival, we did 10-minute bodyweight circuits between each show.
Everyone—I mean everyone—has bad days.
Of all the advice I received and conversations I had this year, two things really stuck with me:
- My grandfather, who I consider to be the most successful person I know, told me it is ok to make mistakes. And,
- My college roommate Michelle, who I consider to be the most cheerful person I know, told me she has cried at work. Many times.
Do you know what this means? It means EVERYONE hates their jobs! You know what else it means? It means EVERYONE fucks up! Do you know how freaking LIBERATING that is?! You’re not a miserable, pessimistic human being, you’re just a human being.
Your sanity is priceless.
This year I moved from a beautifully-renovated apartment with a doorman to an apartment without a garbage disposal, laundry in the building, garbage chute, recycling bin, central air, forced air heat, doorman, doorbell, elevator, microwave, dishwasher, ability to pay my rent online, or an outlet in my bathroom. I have never been happier. Being able to live in a passive-aggressive free environment is one of God’s greatest gifts.
Ask for help when you need it, and give it when others won’t take it.
Remember when you offered to help your friend move, cook meals, pick up the tab, or feed their pets? Remember how they stubbornly refused you? Remember how pissed you were at them for refusing your help? That’s how everyone feels about you when you refuse their help.
I have always prided myself on being ridiculously independent. I always thought doing things independently made you a stronger person, and I was wrong. Being able to suck up your pride and ask for favors from family, friends or even you parents (although you are well into adulthood) takes ten times the effort.
2016 taught me to keep calm, ask for help, admit my mistakes, and see the best in people. Here’s to another year.