6 Life Lessons I Learned In 2013

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2013, like every other year, was full of potential. This is an exception for me because I was only made fully aware of the opportunities a year could give when I entered 2013. I never really thought of a new year as a year full of new things/adventures/events. It was just another year.

I was very excited to enter 2013; I was extremely positive. I couldn’t wait to get out of 2012. It was a bad year. I could recall myself saying that. I wanted new adventures and memories that are supposed to make me a happy person.

And I did get all those– new adventures, memories. Though they weren’t travel adventures that I’ve always hoped for, or memories left in places I’ve been, and though they did not, in the strictest sense, made me a happy person, I still feel quite blessed that all these things made me a better person.

1. It is never okay to make someone feel less confident about themselves.

I’m the type of person who dislikes making someone feel uncomfortable especially when we’re in a group. I try my best to make things less awkward– I try my best to stay interested even if I have no idea what that person is talking about. It’s a good opportunity to learn new things anyway, right? But if I find that person extremely arrogant and obnoxious, then I wouldn’t care one bit if he embarrasses himself. Perhaps he needed that to keep his ego balanced?

I went to this café lounge one friday night and one of the bands in the line up for that night was playing. I loved their music, I really did, but the bassist was hilariously annoying for me. Unconsciously, I was looking at him with my annoyed face while thinking of how annoying he is for me, but then I realized, why am I annoyed? He’s in his moment. He was probably very excited for that exact moment– he was finally going to do something he’s always wanted to do: play music he made with his friends. And what was I doing? I was ruining that moment for him. If you’ve never tried performing in front of an audience, then, I tell you, it feels bad, to say the least, to see someone so uninterested with your performance. Even if it’s just one person in a sea of faces, I swear, it’s distracting. And what do you get in return? Nothing, aside from the satisfaction of knowing that you might have ruined someone’s dream. And trust me, that’s never satisfying.

2. Alone time keeps you sane

Ever since graduation, it’s been a struggle for me to live my own life ‘normally’ — having someone around all the time. It was all too easy before. I’d just send my friends text messages and they’re game with whatever it is we could do, or plan a friday night out days after. I’ve always had someone to be with. So after graduation, when everyone had their own paths like further studies, work, and travel, I was left with just me. It gets harder to plan things with friends. Everyone had their own schedules to follow; everyone was either too tired or too busy. It was a difficult time for an extrovert like me.

And then I started meeting new people, and now my weekends are barely empty. But with all these new people around, with all these new stuff that I wasn’t aware of because my friends and I lived in only one world, I realized how tiring it is. It isn’t just physically tiring. It’s mentally exhausting as well– there are too many fascinating things going on around me. I realized that I need a breather. It could go on for maybe half a day to the entire day, but however long it takes, it has to be there. That small space in my life helped me declutter–what are the things that I really find fascinating or is this something I really want to do. I honestly think that I owe this to myself because sometimes I feel like I’ve given too much of myself away. It keeps me balanced, and it also makes me more independent. It helps me identify who I really am. The gift I deem to be the greatest, so far, is the gift of truly knowing yourself.

3. It is acceptable to choose friends

This, I had to learn the hard way. For some, this could be quite controversial. Choose friends? Really? Based on what? What they could do for you? Looks? Money? Choosing friends does not have to be based on that. Generally, I’m a conflict-evading person. If possible, I would like to be friends with everyone– that’s not exactly a bad thing, right? I would say, no, not entirely. The problem is when you do everything to avoid conflict even if it means you sacrifice your principles. I’ve been put in situations with a diverse group of people. There are people who would always say bad things behind someone else’s back. Or people who don’t care about other people’s feelings. There are also people who prioritize their individual interest, despite it being bad for the whole group. More often than not, I still tried to be friends with these people.

And it was terrible. Terrible not only because these people could hurt me but also because I could be like them if I stayed friends with them longer. It took a lot of conscious effort in my part to try to separate myself from them. Being a better person did not only mean you could hurt people who actually care for you. It also shows how much you love yourself. These negative people, they also need friends, they need to be loved. The best way, perhaps, is to keep a safe distance between you and them, and at the same time, show them how it is to truly love yourself.

4. Chill

One word, but it says it all. It’s so easy to be worried all the time. The easiest mistake to make is to think that there are too many things to be worried about. That’s not exactly wrong, I know. But there are more reasons to not worry. Most of the things that we worry about are self-inflicted. Being aware of that and doing something about it already solves half of your problems. But how about for the things that you have no control of?

It gets frustrating when things don’t go your way. It almost always is. Why can’t the universe grant me just this one thing? It’s worse when you already planned your whole life around it. There’s no foolproof as to how to overcome worrying. There are a hundred quotes about not worrying, that’s for sure, but I believe that it has to be an act of willpower. I still worry a lot. I still have this tendency to be neurotic about the smallest things. But when I could afford to stop for a second and think about what worries me– and I really try me best to buy that– I think of all the logical reasons as to why I should not worry or think of things that could solve the problem once shit hits the fan, and it’s already a lot easier for me to breathe. It’s different for everyone because people approach problems differently. But I honestly think that those who panic a lot must have time– even for just a split second– to tell themselves they have to chill.

5. Anger is a sign of helplessness.

I’m short-tempered, easily annoyed by my petpeeves (which used to be A LOT). Patience was never my virtue. I’m very aware of that, and though I’ve tried countless times to be *more* self-aware, improvement on that area have not been so apparent.

I’d like to believe things are different now, though. I’ve read many articles saying that anger is a sign of helplessness (so yeah that’s not an original idea lol), and I realized that, yeah, I guess it is. I see it as a type of projection, an act of voicing out frustrations. It almost always happens that way for me: something bad happens, and it seems as if there’s nothing I could do to fix it. That’s where it starts. Essentially, it’s similar to panicking, and panicking is something I try my best to avoid. Anger is a tricky subject, to be honest. But what I’m saying is, if you can control yourself, if you’re aware enough to think first before you react, before you behave, then anger isn’t at all necessary. When you know there’s something that could be done, why get mad?

Also, anger can consume you, and don’t ever let that happen. It’s robbing yourself of a moment where you can be genuinely happy instead.

I still think anger isn’t always bad, though. But that’s a different story.

6. Stop doing things you don’t like doing

So there are chores and errands, but I’m not talking about that. This year I found myself doing things I don’t like doing, and I just realized it when I had a chat with my best gay friend. He told me, “You’re doing a lot of things you don’t like doing, no?” and BAM. Yes, apparently I am. And I had to have someone tell me that. These things range from things I do (like what I do at work) to people whom I don’t really like but still spend time with. It’s amazing how I managed to do all these things. Amazing how I put up with all that. But then again, I’m back to giving bits and pieces of myself away, to people whom I think deserve it less, to things I don’t really enjoy. And what’s left of me? Bad memories. At this rate, I wouldn’t have enough happy memories to live by in the future. It’s kind of sad that I only learned this very important lesson in the latter part of the year. To be honest, it makes me think I wasted one year doing things I sometimes even dread. But I guess what’s more important is that I’m finally aware of it, and that I’m aware enough not to make the same mistake again.

In the end, the years that have passed will all be about memories, so to make those years count, it would be best to keep the memories as happy as possible.

Cheers to 2014. 🙂

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