Lessons That I've Learned in 2017

As of the day that I am writing this, we are officially a week into 2018.

I know that I am slightly late in publishing my reflections of 2017. However, I do believe it is important to take the time to consider the decisions, achievements and changes that occurred in the previous year as a key part of your personal growth. Therefore, whether the reflection is catalysed by the new year itself, or some mid-year inspiration, reflection is a vital part of personal growth.

On that note, here are seven lessons that I've learned in 2017:

1. Hard work pays off.

In 2016, during my GCSEs, I had a rather troublesome relationship with education that created a lot of stress and anxiety. Ultimately, this came down to the fact that I was not emotionally prepared for exams, nor did I feel prepared in exam technique or effective revision. I still achieved good grades, but I knew that I had so much more to offer. Therefore, when I started college in September 2016 I made a promise to myself that I was never going to feel like I was 'failing' again. From that moment I have put everything into educational achievement (and perhaps a little too much... I'll get on to this later), and ultimately this has paid off. I am now achieving the grades that I knew I was capable of, but even more than that, I fell back in love with learning. Therefore, to me, this is evidence that if you want something enough, and you put enough work and energy into it, you can achieve whatever you set your mind to. Although I still have the tough part to go (exams) I feel so much more confident in my own abilities than I ever could have done at GCSE, and that truly makes me feel proud of myself. 

2. People aren't always going to like you.

This was quite an important lesson for me. I have always been a complete and utter people pleaser, perhaps even better described as a pushover. I have known that for some years, yet I was so desperate to maintain some friendships, that I somehow justified letting myself be walked all over. 2017 is the year that I can genuinely say that this changed. Although this was stemmed by the losses of quite a few friends (in circumstances that I still don't understand) I can now understand why these events had to take place- from a reflective and fatalistic perspective of course. Ultimately, I have learnt the crucial lesson that people aren't always going to like me, and that's okay. Even more so, that people aren't always going to get me, nor are they going to perceive things in the same way that I am. These things are okay too, the problem occurs when people don't communicate how they are feeling. This was a mistake of both myself and those around me, and yes it did result in unhappiness on all parts. However, I learnt so much about myself and how people function during this experience, and thus forth I really feel like this experience has taught me that it is okay for everyone to not like you, life would be very boring otherwise.

3. Be grateful.

2017 was the year that I really came to appreciate my family. As a teenager, I've always been ridiculously independent and introverted. Therefore, I never really 'let' my parents into my personal life as such. However, this year I've found myself being incredibly grateful for having such a kind and giving family. I think that this has probably stemmed from the fact that I now have the fate of University now just over the horizon, so I know that family life as I know it won't exist for much longer. I know that change is positive and important, but in 2017 I have found that I have really become sentimental over my family and home. Moreover, its okay to feel that way, its okay to want to cling to your childhood for longer, and its okay to feel afraid of 'growing up'. It's how you channel these energies and appreciate those around you that matters the most.

4. You have your whole life ahead of you.

I am obsessed with the future. I am obsessed with planning, researching and organisation. I am so obsessed with this that I sometimes forget that I am living in the present, not the future. In 2017, I really learnt that you have your whole life ahead of you to live. These goals and dreams that you have are amazing, and you will get there, but right now you are in an A-Level English classroom and you should enjoy that adventure instead. Yes, one day you will have your own house with all your own decorations, but for this time just appreciate your mum's uncoordinated ornaments as being homely and eclectic. Live in the present, not the future, because the present will become the past, the future will become the present and you'll find more goals to obsess over. 

5. Educational achievement isn't everything.

Despite the key lesson I learnt in where hard work can take you, I also learnt that educational attainment isn't everything. Some of the most valuable experiences that you have are outside of school and college, and an A* doesn't necessarily make up for the fact that you don't know how to drive a car or pay bills. Although it is amazing to work hard and strive for success, you can't let it consume your whole life. It is also just as important to look after yourself and those around you. Find your balance.

6. The only person you can trust is yourself. 

This is a rather sad one, but in 2017 I have ultimately learnt that the only person that you can truly trust is yourself. Yes, there are some people who are going to have your best interests at heart, and you might have to search for these people. However, the only person who can truly stand for your values, beliefs and happiness is yourself. You are your greatest advocate. 

7. Follow your instincts.

In continuation of the previous lesson, the most important thing that I have learnt this year is to follow your instincts. Your decision may feel unorthodox, or unaccepted, but the only person who truly knows you is you. You know what you want, and you know how to get there, so follow that path! You're the person that you will have to come home to every night, so if you're not happy with where your life is headed then change it. I can't re-iterate this enough, I have found so many people this year who have felt stuck and unfulfilled, yet have refused to change the things that are making them unhappy. Trust your instincts and follow your gut, they know you the best. 

Live your best 2018.

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