As the New Year is well and truly underway, I spent the last few days reflecting on the experiences I encountered in 2017. The last twelve months taught me a lot, so here’s a little recap of the life-changing lessons that I have learnt.
1. conversation is crucial to healing.
January taught me that conversations are important – particularly during the healing process. Whether it be through grieving the loss of someone significant, or through accepting some sort of change in your life.
Perhaps it is even forgiving a person who has hurt you in the past and letting go of the grudge you have been holding on to for so long. Acceptance and moving on can be incredibly difficult, but I have learnt that being open and honest with someone allows you to experience vulnerability in a way in which it frees you.
2. your testimony is always worth sharing.
I had the opportunity in February to share my testimony at a youth program, in which I spoke about the impact my sister’s accident had on my life. Life is all about people and we can choose how we interact with those we come in contact with.
It could begin as small talk with a cashier at your go-to coffee shop, or connecting with a lifelong friend on a deeper level. However it may be, if the opportunity presents itself, don’t take it lightly. Your story is so much more powerful than you think and no one can take that away from you.
3. don’t let the white noise distract you from god.
It was at the Hillsong Colour Conference in March that my eyes were drawn to the row reserved for deaf women. I watched the translator sign the lyrics to the ladies – completely engrossed in the moment and in love with their God. I could hear everything, yet they could hear nothing. It made me wonder whether their disability had been a catalyst for such passionate faith.
Often we get distracted by the artificial ‘white noise’ constantly surrounding us that we lose focus of what it means to love God, or worse, we lose focus of God altogether. As I witnessed them in worship, I prayed that my faith would be a reflection of theirs – complete, unhidden and made manifest among others. In a world full of chaos and distraction, ask yourself: what would my faith look like if I stripped away all of this background noise?
4. travel when you can.
I visited Melbourne for the first time in April and explored the Great Ocean Road. I have learnt that when it comes to travel, you need to find a way to make it work. Whether that means booking the tickets when they’re on sale and letting future Jess worry about it (obviously not speaking from experience) or saving some money by making more of an effort to take lunch to work rather than purchasing it.
Travel teaches you perspective. Regardless of where you go, as you experience different places you realise just how small you are and how big the world really is. You not only discover more about other places, people and their culture, but you learn more about yourself, too. It really is a reality check when you appreciate how vastly different each of our journeys are.
5. consider closed doors as an opportunity for new ones to open.
I was let go from my position as an employee at my local supermarket in May. Rewind a month prior and I was having an interview at a digital marketing agency. Little did I know that while the door to my supermarket gig was quickly closing, another was opening.
Fast forward to now and I have been employed as a social media contractor at my old work place, while also working part time at the digital agency. Often some doors close in order for us to grow, learn and as a result, step outside the confines of our comfort zones to try something new. The answer will always be ‘no’ if you don’t give it a shot, so why miss out on the possiblity of a ‘yes’?
6. friends shouldn’t be convenient.
The usual “how are we already half way through the year?” question hit me hard in June. I realised that three years ago I had been studying for my Year 12 trial exams, which reminded me how different things are now, after school.
Friendships suddenly require effort. Life quickly gets busy and you need to intentionally set time aside to catch up. I hate losing friends and I care too much about people, but sometimes you inevitably drift from others. I have learnt this lesson the hard way – a few times now. Friendships require effort from both sides. Be genuine, be authentic and be intentional with your friends. Don’t choose friends just because they are convenient.
7. stop waiting for a better offer.
Our generation is lacking commitment at a rapidly growing rate, as the ability to change our minds at the drop of a hat (and the fact it is deemed acceptable) is easier than ever thanks to social media. I held my 21st party in July and this, along with other events throughout the year, helped amplify my recognition of this behaviour.
We are invited to a party, but wait to find out who will be there before committing to going. Then the morning of the party, a group of your other friends suggest more appealing plans, so you log on to Facebook and quickly change your RSVP – or better yet, you haven’t responded to the event anyway, ‘just in case something comes up’.
I have done it and chances are, you probably have too. Welcome to the era of FOMO. We constantly choose to wait for a better offer and we have a fear of missing out. Perhaps we need to stop tolerating this excuse for commitment (and frankly, just being polite) and stop taking other people for granted.
8. you don’t need to fear the unknown.
From a simple blood test to see if I was iron deficient, to an ultra sound and more – I found myself consistently fearing the unknown in 2017. August in particular was terrifying, with an appointment for both an endoscopy and colonscopy just days after my 21st birthday. Waiting for test results was worrying. The uncertainty was unsettling and I was caught in this never-ending cycle of ‘what if’ – questioning everything and overthinking the smallest things.
We tend to jump to conclusions very quickly; overlooking the finer details. One of the most important things we overlook is the fact that God knows our before, our now and our after. He sees everything. However, I learnt that our own perspective is limited to the before and now, so don’t fail to remember that the unknown is in fact known to Him.
9. do something that scares you.
September was uncomfortable. It was exciting and brought me a lot of great opportunities, but it was scary and it was uncomfortable. I presented three separate pitches in front of real-world clients and I took the plunge and decided to start my own freelancing business.
We can choose to be comfortable and settle for our current position, or we can choose to not be scared of stepping outside the confines of our comfort zone. By choosing to do something that scares us, we give ourselves the opportunity to learn and grow – and nothing bad has ever come from learning and growing. Maybe we need to do a regular self-check and consider whether we are genuinely happy with our current position or just comfortable.
10. uni group assignments will never not be bad.
If you say otherwise, you either never went to university or you are lying. In October, I graduated university. When it comes to working alongside people, there are always times when personalities clash. For the last three years, I had my fair share of group assignments and no, they weren’t fun.
People can be challenging, but remember to be open-minded. Hear each other out, be understanding and empathetic. Other people will have different views, ideas and beliefs to you, but rather than being close-minded, listen and be challenged. Stand your ground on what you belief, but don’t let pride or stubborness impinge on your ability to be accepting.
11. celebrate the little things, often.
Instagram has allowed me to use my blog as a plaftorm to reach hundreds of people through my writing. It has also given me the opportunity to meet so many inspiring people who share my passion. My platform continued to grow in November, however it is easy to become disheartened when you begin comparing your growing to other people’s milestones – particularly when it comes to chasing your dreams.
Having big goals is not a bad thing, but don’t feel disheartened when you see other people achieving bigger dreams quicker. Let that motivate you, rather than discourage you. Choose to celebrate the little things and don’t feel silly for getting excited about it. Acknowledge how far you have come and allow those moments to be a catalyst for further growing.
12. make time for those who matter.
It’s almost as if once December arrives, so too does everything else. And by ‘everything else’, you know exactly what I mean – the busy shops filled with people who suddenly can’t steer shopping trolleys, the crazy family gatherings each weekend, the hectic holiday planning and the Michael Buble and Mariah Carey albums on repeat.
We get caught up with work and other distractions, that we become busy and priortise the wrong things. I learnt in 2017 to make time for those who matter. Family is important and we often don’t take enough time out to be present in the lives of those who mean the most to us. Make sure you remember to put the right things first.
So here’s to another year of learning. All the best for 2018!
Keep smiling. x