Tomorrow is the last day of 2015 and what a year it has been! When 2015 began, I was very excited about the possibilities and was anxiously awaiting what the year had in store. For the most part, it did not disappoint! 2015 was whirlwind and the lessons that I learned this year were invaluable. So let’s dig in, shall we?
1. Stay free.
This was that year where I wasn’t trying as much to get free as I was to stay free. All the work I had done on myself in 2014 was tested in many ways and I was challenged on a number of fronts. I used to think that people were being extra when they spoke of maintaining your freedom and not opting to return to situations and mindsets that previously bound you. But 2015 taught me that no matter how bad/hurtful/crazy certain situations were, you can be seduced back. The object is to get – and stay – free, however that looks.
2. Don’t be afraid of your own voice.
I spent a lot of 2015 intentionally being more vocal about where I am and how I see things. This was quite different for me and I must admit that it was scary at times. However, it was liberating and therapeutic in many instances as I found out that I was either not by myself or was shedding light on certain things. It took me a long time to get here because I struggled with finding my own voice and being comfortable with it. But I learned that the more you speak (using wisdom, of course), the more you’re able to connect, learn, and teach. But with speaking more, you may encounter some resistance…
3. Don’t let anyone belittle you.
This seems so simple but it can get complicated, especially when the people who are doing the belittling are people who have known you for a long time. Folks are comfortable with you being who you are and saying what you have to say…as long as they go unchallenged. And sometimes even you’re if not personally challenging them, they’ll find a way to become offended and tell you what you “need” to do. Don’t let anyone disrespect you under the cloak of giving wisdom; often times, that “wisdom” is a person’s insecurities left unchecked.
4. Knowledge is a great thing but it does have the power to “puff up”.
I know a lot of very intelligent people. I love that I am surrounded by people who have access to knowledge and have no problem applying the knowledge learned to their lives and desire to share with others. What has taken me aback this year is the number of knowledgeable people that I’ve seen taking delight in using their knowledge to make themselves look more important or using their knowledge as a way to shame people. If you can’t share your knowledge without it dripping in intense sarcasm or condescension, you’re doing a disservice to others and to yourself primarily. Knowledge is meant to be shared and everyone has different levels of attainment; if your purpose is to share/teach, do it humbly. Otherwise, your message gets thrown out with your garbage attitude (as it should).
5. …but also know when a good clapback is necessary.
I think this is self-explanatory. Some people just need to be reminded what’s acceptable and what’s not. There’s a proper and improper way to clapback and it varies from situation to situation but umm…2015 taught me to be not afraid of the clapback. It is life unto their bones. Amen.
6. Don’t let unchecked baggage keep you from greatness.
There is one example in particular that comes to mind for this point. I’ll put it like this – you can have all the knowledge, degrees, professional attainment, etc and still be a train wreck because you refuse to take an honest look at your life and DO THE WORK. All of us have hurts and pains that could keep us from a number of things (and this is in no way to downplay anyone’s hurt or pain) BUT some people have learned to live with the pain and the crutches when they have the option to go to therapy and get healed. What does it profit to gain all these things and still hate yourself at the end of the day? The work itself is painful and frustrating at times but it can produce such good fruit, if you let it. Choose you.
7. Give others the same grace you want extended to you.
This may sound petty but this has probably been the hardest lesson for the end of this year for me. Because I’m petty…lol. But for real. Some people have tried it with me this year, some of them are adults who are way older than me that I’ve known most of my life. It’s really discouraging when you lose respect for people whom you loved for most of your life. But people are people. And people need grace. EYE need grace. So it is with that sobering reminder that I have been trying to push grace as something I freely give because I need to freely receive it. I haven’t gotten this lesson down quite yet but maybe I will for the ’99 and 2016.
8. You don’t have to hold that grudge.
First, I know that all grudges are not created equally. So there’s that. But…as I’ve mentioned before, I’m a bit petty and I can hold grudges, especially when hurt by people close to me. This year I learned that it was OK to let that grudge go. One of my closest relationships was repaired this year because I [slowly] walked toward that door of forgiveness. I thought forgiveness meant that I had to trust that person to the extent before and everything had to go back to how it was. NO. Maya said, “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” Don’t be no fool, honey. Forgiveness looked more like not holding their faults over their heads constantly and being OK with being free from wanting to punch them every time I saw them. Forgiveness looked like not having serious tension when I walked into the same room. Forgiveness looked like despite what was done, honestly wanting the best for them, even without the apology. Whew. It took me two years to get here but I really tried to grow this year, y’all. Keep praying, saints.
9. Just because there are no cheers doesn’t mean that you’re wrong.
This was the year that I had to fight to believe in me more than at any time in my life. I thought about shutting down this blog several times, questioned my directions and redirections, and just generally struggled about what I have to offer the world at large. I have always thrived off of the praise of people as an achievement-based person but I didn’t have much praise to thrive off this year. I had to learn to do what I was doing and give what I was giving because I believed in it. The right road in your life may not always have the cheers you need; find your why and keep pushing!
10. The best things come at the most unexpected times.
I’m a bit more reserved in discussing my relationships after my last one crashed and burned but in January it will be a year since I’ve been dating a wonderful guy. He was a completely unexpected but completely treasured addition to my life this year. We’ve had our ups and our downs but he has provided me with so many things that I never knew my life needed and I’m grateful. Additionally, I have had other unexpected blessings come my way this year that could have only been by the Provident Hand of God. My life hasn’t been perfect this year but it has been one of the best years of my adulthood. And I am grateful that in those dark times where I truly was going to give it all up, I kept going so that I could experience this joy now.
To every one of you who have read and supported this year, I count you among my greatest and unexpected blessings of this year. Thank you for reading my thoughts and for providing feedback and encouragement. I haven’t taken any of it for granted. May 2016 be what you are hoping for it to be!