Pretty Cheesy Topic but Here are the 10 things I Learned in 2018 Part 1

Rare photo of the 10% of the time I had my life together this past year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hello everyone! I am hyped because the views on my last posts range from 50 to over 100 when I expected about four views, tops. I am looking forward to celebrating this New Years by performing with Recycled Percussion at the Palace Theater (dancing, I have not been hiding a secret drumming talent), and then partying it up with my friends. As someone who is over-reflective and over-nostalgic, though, you already know I’ve been reflecting on 2018 since about October. Just like how everyone still tweets about how summer 2016 seemed perfect, it seems like the general consensus is that 2018 was one 12-month, 365-day Freaky Friday. It was simultaneously, amazing, confusing and concerning. And I guess this can be said about every year when you really think about it, but here are 5 of the 10 lessons and stories that made this true about 2018 for me.

1.) Any traveling is good! This is definitely the year I have travelled most so far. I left the U.S. for the first time last summer to go to India for three weeks, and later got to visit Montreal! These were beautiful experiences, and it is mind-blowing to see how much there is to the world. Honestly one of these days I will have to devote a post entirely to India because I could never fit it all into one bullet point on a 2018 list, but you get my point for now. I also got to see parts of the United States I have never been to before, including Rhode Island, New Jersey and Ohio! Of course, a big part of these trips were the people I was going to see more than the destinations themselves, but I have learned that I really enjoy getting to see different parts of the New England and the U.S. and seeing what different quirks and beauty they have, and this is definitely carrying into 2019!

2.) This probably caused some of my stress, but this year was all about taking risks. Breaking my foot with four shows left of a musical I was dancing in? You already know I was up there in heeled go-go boots giving it my all until the last bow! Traveling through India on said broken foot? Cliff jumping, hiking Himalayan foothills, and limping barefoot through temples it is! Driving over the George Washington bridge in NYC with little out-of-NH driving experience and a reputation as the worst driver known to man? Easy. He will roast me for including him in my blog (I did get permission though!), but dating my best friend of two decades, each spending the couple months we had home traveling separately, trying to do a 24 hour drive long-distance relationship and failing miserably? Our friendship has lived to tell the tale, it was worth the risk, and I learned a lot about myself in the process, especially about my mental health, unhealthy habits, and emotional baggage from things I have experienced and witnessed in the past, and I am very grateful to him for being a good friend throughout it all even when we drove each other crazy! I thought about putting a Thank U, Next reference joke in here but I feel like I put him through enough. This year may not have been easy when it came to these experiences, amongst others, but I do not regret going out of my comfort zone, eliminating “what-ifs,” and collecting some good life stories in the process.

3.) MENTAL HEALTH AND OTHER LIFE CHALLENGES. Idk if it was because every planet was in retrograde, but I noticed many people, myself included, seemed to be really going through it this year. Long-term relationships ending, major life transitions, stress, changes in priorities, inexplicable grief, you could probably sit here right now and come up with one person you know that went through each of these things this year. For many, including myself, it wasn’t necessarily different problems than usual, they were just manifesting in different ways. I have always dealt with OCD, anxiety and intrusive/irrational thoughts, but what really threw me for a loop this year was that it came in the package of paranoia. I was constantly worried I was in danger, assuming the worst, and second guessing the intentions of others, especially my loved ones. It made me hypervigilant, defensive and extremely emotional and confused. Fortunately, I realized that the way I was thinking was irrational, and I was able to get help while still remaining productive as a student and maintaining my relationships with important people in my life, including the ones that were strained from this struggle. Now, it seems so crazy that thoughts such as being worried someone broke into my room if something looked slightly out of place or that someone was tracking my phone if the battery was draining a little quickly consumed me these past few months, and it’s a little scary to even share that I was in such an dark place, but I hope sharing this is a helpful experience for me and encourages others with similar issues to get help. I still am not completely sure what set this off, but I think it was a combination of my health/chemical balances, a lot of traveling and life changes in a short period of time, second-hand stress caused from helping others through my job and personal life, and my lifelong talent of jumping to the worst conclusions, but at any rate, I feel like this negative period is over and now I am just focused on finishing cleaning up the damage from it and moving forward and going back to being my positive self.

4.) Going off of number 3, it’s important to take care of your mind. What helped me clear my head during rough patches honestly was more time-consuming than my homework, and maybe a little obsessive, but still effective. To get myself in a better place took a lot of time, routine and work. I was bullet journaling to keep track of my moods and habits, incorporating meditation into my life, taking time to read, finding a counselor that helped me express and unpack my fears, journaling a list of things I worried about each day and then going back and highlighting the ones that turned out to be nothing to recognize my irrational thought patterns, crying to my mom, addressing my worries with people they involved, reading positive mantras and taking lots of baths. My busy schedule and keeping myself occupied with friends and activities has always helped with my anxiety, but hitting a low point this year showed me that exploring what’s behind my anxiety, learning new ways to address it and incorporating healthy habits is also essential.

5.) I’m going to keep using it because it’s one of my only talents, but Twitter is truly not good for any of us. Twitter is great for memes and bringing relevant issues into the spotlight, but it doesn’t take a lot of reflecting to realize how unhealthy it is. As important as it is to keep up with current events, Twitter not only bombards you with news updates but also everyone’s opinion on them. And as much as we have to keep vocalizing issues such as sexual assault, unhealthy behaviors, mental illness and our country sucking, being exposed to it 24/7 is draining, and using it a lot with no limitations will cause you to lose more peace of mind and happiness than it will help you gain knowledge and activism skills. And for every tweet that is helpful in giving people perspective on how to recognize red flags and personal problems there is another tweet where someone with no medical background over diagnoses someone or everything is labeled TOXIC, manipulation, or bad energy. And when everyone is putting these strong opinions online at once, it can get contradictory and confusing. Example A, you read one tweet that says “you intuition is never wrong. if you think you’re in grave danger you ARE,” and five tweets later you see one that says “don’t let your anxiety get to you sis… you are safe and loved and it’s all in your head <3”. Another example, you see one tweet that says, “if they really cared about you, you wouldn’t wait hours for them to respond and they would be there for you unconditionally, cut that negativity off” while the next one says “Expecting anyone, including your loved ones to be at your every beck and call is TOXIC and selfish. Give people space and realize that you have no right to burden them with your problems.” See what I mean? I’m definitely not saying to get rid of Twitter or that it is all bad, but in 2019 consider limiting your time using it, being mindful of what messages you’re taking in when you are on it and listening to your heart and feelings rather than the viral unsolicited advice of everyone else. Your grades next semester and your mental health will thank you!

Well, if you made it to the bottom of this I am genuinely impressed and I will hopefully be word vomiting my next five lessons I learned from 2k18 tomorrow morning! I hope these resonate with all of you and let me know in the comments or via DM or handwritten sentiment what you think!

Love,

Victoria

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