2016 has been a strange, unpleasant, and challenging year for many of us. There were lots of changes (expected and unexpected ones) that happened, as well as a lot of lessons to be learned. In 2016, the biggest lesson that I learned was that I needed to love myself…and almost everything else will follow. That piece of advice is so simple, yet it is so complex to unpack and implement in your life. I have three takeaways from this lesson that I will share, and how the importance of loving yourself comes to play with all that.
For the most part of the year, I was filled with a lot of self-doubt about my own skills and abilities, to the point that I needed external validation from others often. I don’t want to sound like I am exaggerating, but the last few months of 2015 up to the first quarter of 2016 was one of the worst times in my life. At that time, I was working at a job that would make me look more agreeable in the eyes of other people. At the back of my mind, I’ve always known (and felt) that I would flourish more in creative work and in an open and encouraging working environment, but I still insisted on taking on a job or an opportunity that will make me seem like I have my life together or that I am not the strange, creative kid that my peers used to fear back in elementary school.
Looking back, I realized that also every project or every opportunity that I take on wasn’t really aimed at my personal growth and improvement, but it’s almost always aimed at proving other people wrong or seeking parental approval. Because I was so fucking used to being belittled all the time, I’ve always felt that I needed to defend myself and prove to them that I can do things and live my life according to what they think seems appropriate. I wanted to end that, so I slowly started taking steps away from that direction. One of these steps was to start making a lifelong dream/passion into a reality.
If you have been a reader of my blog, I’ve been vocal about writing again in 2016. Whether it’s updating my blog on a regular basis, looking for freelance writing opportunities, or even just writing in my journal, I was so adamant about nurturing this passion of mine again. I love writing so much, and I am willing to endure many things for it. Eventually, I left my first job and decided to pursue writing full-time. This decision disappointed a lot of people, but this was probably the first decision that I truly made for myself. I’ve always seen myself as a writer, and I realized that I needed to pursue this passion already because I’ve been holding myself off with this for too long.
Although this journey of becoming a full-fledged writer brought a lot of challenges and moments of self-doubt, I am still happy that I was able to achieve this dream at a certain capacity. I never knew that writing would bring me closer to my idols, open me up to new experiences, and learn more about myself. As a writer, I know that I still have a long way to go. There are stories to be written, people and experiences to learn from, and habits to develop so I can continue to grow as a writer (and human being). My writing is far from perfect, but I have faith that it will grow, bring me closer to my truths, and help me accept myself.
Aside from pursuing writing, 2016 was the year where I tried to attempt to address the grudges that I’ve had in the past, and find the strength to forgive myself (and others) for the sins of the past. I thought confronting the people who hurt me before would help me heal and move on, but it backfired. I guess a lot of this is placed on to me; I still can’t bring myself to forgive myself for the past screw-ups and failures that I had, and instead of doing so, I sometimes project it on to other people, or overcompensate in every other opportunity just so I can be able to avenge myself from those who have hurt me. It’s so fucking exhausting. I could’ve spent the time trying to avenge myself from those people in improving my craft, honing my relationships, or learning new things. Maybe it’s because I am so afraid to get hurt again, or that I want to be accepted by everyone, even those who continue to belittle me? I guess it’s the latter. Looking back, I realized that I need to address my insecurities and grudges by practicing kindness (and forgiveness) to myself (and those who have hurt me in the past). It’s easier said than done, but I’m going to do this anyway.
Another thing that I picked up in 2016 was becoming more vocal about my opinions and beliefs on various social issues. In a way, this has helped me stand up for myself, even in the online space. Will continue to hone my values and beliefs, even beyond the online space.
To be honest, after the shitstorm that was 2016, I feel mildly optimistic about 2017. While missteps and troubles are inevitable, I am still rooting for the year ahead because I feel that things will be a little bit better than before. And in that, I resolve to pick myself up from the pieces of the past and continue to work on myself– be it with writing, a new hobby, or dealing with adversity. Happy New Year!