18 Lessons I Learned in 2018
Last January 1st, I wrote myself a letter. It was part pep talk, part guidelines for 2018. I kept it in the back of my phone case, and in true Amy fashion didn’t look at it once all year. Looking at it now, I can’t say it all changed/came to fruition/magically appeared in a puff of smoke, but I will say there was progress on whatever this journey is. 2018 was a lot. It filled and drained my cup more times than I can count. But I think all in all, 2018 and I were good for each other.
2018 opened me up to analyzing communication, and how our experiences influence our perception.
Here’s what I learned. Don’t expect it to blow your mind, just maybe open your heart to another perspective.
Other’s perceptions are a projection of their own experience. This year, some false
accusations were made about my character. I was shocked, appalled, and felt like I’d been stabbed with half a dozen rusty knives by an ex lover. I replayed these moments in my head, over and over, until I realized, the opinions that led to false beliefs about who I am, were projections of someone else’s fears based on their experiences. A series of questions and confrontations broke me. But my change in perspective rebuilt me as someone who knows other people’s opinions of me say more about them.
Doctors aren’t always right. This lesson has hit me over the head more times than I can count, but this year, came to the forefront. Doctors will make very-very-well-educated guesses but are not living in our bodies. They do not fully understand the human experience from our perspective. They have their own opinions, influences, and projections that lead to prescriptions, diets, cleanses, and routines that are meant to build us up, but if they’re not right, they begin to tear us down. This year I broke up with being torn down by medicine.
Being alone does not equate to loneliness. My awakening began with food poisoning. In a moment of delirium, when I would normally wish for my mommy, or at least someone to bring me a cup of bone broth, I was struck with the realness that being alone is virtually impossible, because in a sense we’re alone together and we’re all one at the same time. On a realistic level, I’m not alone, I’m just stuck dealing with whatever microbe has induced this hellish full body purge. On a scientific level, if we’re all energy we’re all one, we’re all connected all the time. Call it a fever for divine intervention, but that was the moment I realized loneliness was not a part of my life. This was the moment I felt really really awesome about being alone while puking and otherwise.
We aren’t always mean’t to be the change we wish to instigate. For many years, I’ve pushed to create change in my work. Push boundaries. Develop better systems. Work towards efficiency, and better communication. These efforts exhaust me. Frustrate me. And make me feel so utterly invisible, that I want to crawl into a hole with my heated throw blanket and never emerge. Now, I realize, the change hasn’t happened because it’s not my change to instigate. Someone else can and will create the change I pushed for, and this allows me the freedom to find the change meant just for me. It’s not giving up, it’s giving in to opportunity for myself and someone else.
The group is not more important than yourself. As a person who constantly sacrifices my own needs for the sake of the group—work, friends, family, this year I learned that if I sacrifice my needs for theirs, I’m showing up as less than myself, which none of us deserve, or particularly enjoy. Specifically me.
There’s nothing more important than sticking up for yourself. This is my biggest lesson of the year. It’s appeared over and over, with doctors, at work, with friends and family, and the number of times I’ve stuck up for myself this year is so incredibly small, it is not wonder the world often makes me feel tinier than Thumbelina. So I say “sayonara” to those Amy crushing situations.
We cannot predict other’s triggers. The trigger warning trend isn’t helpful when we can’t predict someone else’s triggers. So it’s important to remember that our actions we perceive in one way can trigger unexpected reactions in someone else. We are built from a million little experiences lived, dreamed, and inherited that inform our reactions. None of us will react to your invite, neglect, comment, or question in the same way. Huzzah for the individuality I like to call “communication roulette.” There’s no such thing as a safe bet.
We do not all have the same perspective. I was told, this year, “it is okay for you to want a simple life.” I heard “simple” as derogatory in this conversation. But the funny thing was, I saw it as the opposite. The life this person was living looked very simple from my perspective. Cut and dry. Scheduled. Small. Granted, full and meaningful to them, but spiritually, on a global scale, to me, it looked small. I feel the same way about much of the life I live now, which is why I’m obsessed with developing my life into something I perceive as more than this.
It may sound like we are speaking the same language, but we’re not on the same page. This happens to me all the time. Pretty much every day. To the extent that I feel like I am speaking a different language. This year I learned that because of our perspectives and perception, it sounds like we’re both speaking English, but we’re not saying the same thing. This is helping me let go of so much angst over not feeling heard. Translation: we’re not on the same page, but we’re reading the same book. I’m not sure if I like it yet. You?
Our bodies do not like that which is not good for us. I’m not just talking about fried foods, alcohol, or cigarettes. This year I really began to see the effect that experiences that don’t align with my real self affect my body. And the answers to remedy the discomfort is not found through medicine, it’s found through listening to the body’s needs, and correcting course. Still working on this one. It feels like paddling up stream a bit, but I’m a pretty great swimmer.
The body wants to move how the body wants to move. A long time pilates goer, this year pilates and I fell out of love. We still meet up occasionally, but I’m going steady with barre now, and I couldn’t be happier. For a long time my doctor (who I broke up with because of # 2 #6 #10) was pushing me to exercise, but I didn’t feel I was recovered enough to do it. It didn’t excite me. I wasn’t inspired to get back on my bike, or walk, or run, or join a gym. And I wasn’t really inspired to go to pilates anymore either. And then barre fell into my lap, and left me with that crazy want and need to exercise nearly every day, not just for my body, but for my mind. That is movement alignment. And these are my favorite barre videos.
The more real you are, the more real the people around you will be. As I find myself growing, more honest, more authentic, and more vocal about the struggles of being human, those around me are shifting too. If they're not shifting, they’re retracting, reacting, and falling out of my sphere. Bye!
We deserve to leave situations that prevent us from being the worst version of ourselves. This year, I left a job that I enjoyed and made a visible, creative impact doing, but made me into an uber-bitch I didn’t deserve to be that person, and those around me really didn’t deserve it. Moving on, always leads to moving up.
Eat what your body wants, not what someone else tells you. Eating is the most overwhelming part of my life. And I know I’m not alone. This year, I grew exhausted from other people telling me how to eat. Eventually I threw in the towel and started going with my gut on what my gut wanted. We’re still working through it, but progress is progress.
Your family is your greatest set of teachers. There were a lot of struggles within my tiny family this year, and a lot of pressure on my shoulders. It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with family as more than genetics and ancestry. Our families are the people we’re supposed to interact with on this journey. We’re here to teach each other. Even in that interaction means no interaction. Even when it feels like they’re not helping us, they’re really really helping us.
Loving your body is really really hard, but not impossible. It’s been a few years since the briefly blissful moment in time in which I loved my body. That time also involved high doses of IV antibiotics and scotch, so it’s hard to know what was the drug colored glasses and what was real. I’ve spent a large portion of this year discouraged by lack of control over my body. But have spent one evening blissfully happing with my body, and like the scotch, that high counteracts all the bad shit.
Perspective is the cheese to compassions macaroni. Yesterday, I walked through the lobby at work, and saw boxes of snacks that we enjoy during heinously long rehearsal periods. When we’re all too delirious or bored to stand another few hours of rehearsal, we mindlessly eat, or complain the snacks we want have been eaten by someone else. Outside the lobby, I turned the corner to find an obese woman in a wheelchair asking if I could buy her food. I crossed the street and saw three men. One sleeping with no shoes. Two counting stacks of dimes. It’s amazing how little a snack matters when people a thousand feet away don’t have any food at all. I didn’t have cash, but I did talk to the wheelchair woman, who someone did buy breakfast for. And we wished each other a happy new year. Because sometimes, compassion, connection, and a little eye contact is almost as nourishing as a breakfast sandwich.
Being human is scary, but being yourself is exciting. I struggle a lot with growth and development and sharing who I am with the world. I’m less concerned with how people will react and more concerned with presenting myself differently on different days. But growing up and being human is a messy fucking process, and it always will be. Just now we have the opportunity (and pressure) to watch it unfold on the internet. Being 30 isn’t easier or harder than it was 30 years again, the struggle is just more transparent.
I look to 2019 to instill these lessons with more confidence, and grace. Cheers to a whole year of of being human.
What did you learn in 2018? Did any of these lessons really resonate with you? Tell me about it in the comments!