2015 was a defining year for me. It had a lot of ups and a lot of downs. I was blessed to be part of two beautiful weddings for girls I love so much. I ended a relationship of four years. I landed my dream job. I had a few grandparents end up in the hospital. I turned 25... (Still trying to get used to saying that number.)
The list goes on and on. With all the ups and downs, I learned a lot about myself and about the life I want to live. Since I've been on bed rest for the past few days because I've had some back/hip problems, I've had time to reflect on the top five lessons I learned in 2015.
It's okay to say no.
All of my life, I've struggled with needing to please people. In the past four years, my need to say yes to everyone went to a whole new level. I put others happiness and needs ahead of my own. It became so bad that I started having anxiety attacks because I couldn't figure out how to balance my life while constantly saying yes to others. I even started taking anxiety medication because I felt that I needed it in order to make it through the day.
Everything came to a head in October and I couldn't handle the stress anymore. So in true Suzy fashion, I ran away. I went to Boston and stayed with my best friend and her husband for a month. (Fortunately, my job at the time allowed me to work remotely.) While I was there, my friends helped me realize that I need my anxiety medication. I was so happy without it. Getting away from everything that stressed me out made me realize that I needed to start saying yes to myself more and no to others. When I returned back to Texas, I made a few life changes and am happy to say that I haven't had an anxiety attack since November.
I know. This is such an obvious lesson that everyone should know by now. But really, this goes hand in hand with my need to please people. I also don't like conflict and want others to feel comfortable around me. So I end up over monitoring what I say or do around others. Trust me, that's no way to live.
In November, I began looking for new job opportunities and started to feel my anxiety come back when I thought about interviewing with companies. I was still sorting through my "I need to make people happy and say yes to whatever they want" feelings during this time. My first phone interview surprisingly helped me understand that it's okay to be myself and it's okay to say things others may not like or agree with. I was stressing myself out thinking about the phone call. I studied the company and made a lot of notes and had a ton of questions prepared. Right before the company, I told myself, "Screw it. If they don't like me, then they don't like me." Great attitude, right? But it honestly helped me let go of all my stress and anxiety. It was the best phone interview I've ever had and helped me believe in myself again.
Build others up when they shine.
In the blogging community, you meet a lot of amazing people. There are so many seasoned bloggers out there who are extremely helpful to new bloggers. I mean, sometimes it surprises me. But, there are bloggers out there who probably spend more time tearing others down than actually blogging. I was amazed by the negativity when I started joining different groups here and there to connect with bloggers and learn how to improve my blog. Bloggers would post about how "so and so" stole their idea and got more likes on their post or they have more readers/followers than "so and so" but a company partnered with "so and so" instead of them. I mean, some people even go so far as to comment on blog posts or Instagram accounts to call other bloggers out. Honestly, it started to put a bad taste in my mouth for blogging. What's the point of tearing others down when they're achieving their goals or succeeding in their industry?
Since reading this post on Shine Theory, I can't imagine why we can't just be happy for others who are succeeding. When your friends/colleagues/acquaintances shine, you shine too. If you struggle with comparing yourself to others, I strongly encourage you to read that post. It was eye opening for me. When I start to read those negative posts or begin to compare myself to someone else's journey, I remember the shine theory and focus on being happy for others.
Cut out toxic relationships.
Learning how to say no, be myself, and build others up also taught me that it's okay to burn bridges. Sometimes, relationships go sour and no longer benefit you or the other person. This was a struggle for me. I don't like not being liked. I don't want people about me behind my back. I mean, who does? I want to be everyone's friend. I want everyone to like me. I had a few friendships this year that I felt I was giving so much and receiving so little in return. Why didn't this person treat me like I treated them? I would stress out and cry about it. I let it eat at me until I went to Boston. While there I realized that if those friendships were making me that stressed out, then I probably needed to let them go. Honestly, it's crazy how much happier you become when you don't have to worry about those toxic friendships anymore.
You know, I learned a lot while in Boston. My best friend would probably laugh if I said this to her, but she really taught me a lot about being gracious while staying with her. She is one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I know. She sends out genuine thank you notes, she gives gifts to those who help her like the people at the front desk of her apartment complex or the woman who does her nails, she makes time to call her grandmother every day. Whenever I talk to her, she doesn't make me feel like she has other things to do or doesn't care about what I have to say. She's very attentive to her husband and others. She taught me the difference between pleasing people and serving people. Serving people doesn't mean you do everything others want you to do. It means being kind, listening, and being genuine to those around you.
I just want to say thank you to everyone who has helped me and supported me for the past year. I've learned so much and am so excited to see what 2016 will bring!