3 Life Lessons From 2018

In the form of super cheesy Pinterest quotes, as all life lessons should be.

I don’t want to dwell too much on 2018, now that it’s over. For a start, I’ll just end up crying, and now that that year is finally over I think I’m ready to move on. What I will say, however, is that 2018 was undoubtedly the hardest year of my life. It was always going to be a hard year, with it being an important point in my degree path, but I didn’t anticipate just how much shit would hit the fan in all of the other parts of my life.

Throw in the fact that my instant reaction when I feel any sort of stress or overwhelm seems to be to distract myself by giving myself even more work to do, 2018 was a bumpy ride. But it’s over now. Thankfully.

Difficulties aside, I know that I grew a lot as a person in 2018. Challenging circumstances can have that effect on a person. Instead of wallowing in the pain that 2018 caused, I thought I’d take a moment to celebrate the valuable life lessons that the year taught me. I learned a lot about myself, and the people around me, throughout the year, and as awful as it was I’m definitely grateful for how it made me stronger.

Here are three of the life lessons I learned in 2018, summed up in cliche “Pinterest worthy” quotes because that’s how I roll.

A bottle of Marc Jacobs perfume with a flower lid sits on top of a grey diary with 2019 embossed in metallic lettering. Two rose gold necklaces sit on top of the diary, one is a four leaf clover charm and the other is inscribed "one in a million".

Life Lesson 1: You are stronger than you realise

I think I had this epiphany around about June. I’d just been given my results for my HND, and I’d got the grades (and then some) that I needed to get into third year at my first choice of university. I cried a lot when I found out that I’d actually managed to get the A that I so desperately wanted, and it showed me just how much I can actually deal with.

I don’t want to deal with anything like that again, particularly the part where my dad nearly died, but if 2018 taught me one life lesson, it’s that I’m fully capable of handling it. Yes, it was difficult, and yes, I had moments where I thought I couldn’t do it – but I did. 

If the events of 2018 had transpired just a few years earlier, I don’t know how I would have coped. I wasn’t strong enough to handle things then, and it probably would have broken me. 2012-2017 had been tough years (or so I thought), and it took a lot of work to get me to a point where I was able to cope with everything life threw at me last year.

If I’d been in a different place mentally, like I was in the years before, I would have found it even tougher than I did. In a way, I’m kind of thankful for the fact that I’d ended up in a place where I’d needed a lot of counselling beforehand, because it certainly came in useful when I felt so completely helpless. It’s been years in the making, but I know now that I am a strong person and I am proud to say that. 

Two rose gold necklaces sit on top of a grey diary with the year 2019 embossed in metallic numbers. One necklace has a four leaf clover charm, and the other is inscribed with "one in a million".

Life Lesson 2: The only way out is through

I’ve got this habit of wishing time away, particularly when it comes up to the end of a year, and even more so if it’s been a difficult one. I spent a lot of 2018 on autopilot, just trying to make it from one day to the next without any major disasters, and it showed me that sometimes you have no choice but to do the best you can to get through.

Again, a few years ago, I wouldn’t have appreciated that this was the case. I’ve had friends ask me how I managed to make it through the year, and my honest answer is I don’t know. We just did. Now, at the start of a brand new year, I’m feeling quite optimistic about what’s ahead. Six months ago, I was terrified. I know that the tough times make the good moments that little bit sweeter, but you can’t get to that stage without experiencing the bad stuff too.

Or to put it into the terms of another “inspirational” quote that’s thrown around all too often – stars can’t shine without darkness. Or you can’t get a rainbow without the rain. Or every flower must grow through dirt. I could go on all day, really, Pinterest is a goldmine for cheesy quotes.

Life Lesson 3: Self care isn’t selfish

Right back at the start of 2018, I set myself two words for the year – selfish and strive. Little did I know just know much I would have to put them into action! I wanted to put myself first as much as I could, with clear boundaries and better attention to self-care.

For the sake of consistency, I’ll tie this back into yet another cheesy life-affirming quote: you can’t pour from an empty cup. 

With everything that was going on in my life I was incredibly close to burning out in the brightest way, and so when things started to calm down I learned to make myself a priority. I started scheduling in my down time to force myself to stop (a bit more than usual, anyway) and I stopped being afraid to say no to things. 

I got better at keeping my room tidy and drinking enough water and learning to take a step back from my phone and social media. I recognised when I needed time for nothing – which is ever so crucial when you’re a bit of a workaholic. I’ve definitely got better at doing “nothing” and not feeling guilty about it, but there’s still some work to be done there. Recognising that being selfish isn’t always a bad thing was a huge life lesson from 2018, and it’s putting me in good stead for a better year in 2019.

I think 2019 will be a good year. I want need it to be a good year.