Lessons of 2016

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2016 was a good and bad year. It was good professionally – I secured my first full-time job working on a magazine, but not so fantastic on a personal level. This year has actually taught me more about myself and made me more resilient. So I thought I would share with you the lessons I’ve learnt from 2016 (it may even help you!)

NEVER PUT UP WITH B***SHIT

I had this friend who I had what I can only describe as a love/hate relationship with; sometimes I really loved her and other times I really didn’t like her. She would call me names, bombard me with phone calls and get jealous if I got a new boyfriend. I put up with her behaviour for years, because despite all the emotional abuse she was sometimes really nice to me and couldn’t do more for me. Earlier this year I made the mistake of moving in with her, even though deep down I knew she was a bad friend. She picked on me and accused me of things that she herself was guilty of. So I decided that enough was enough. I moved out of the flat and texted her that our friendship was over. She was like an abusive boyfriend, shouting at me one day, then showering me in cuddles the next. I couldn’t live like that; she made me anxious. No one should put up with this. Not ever. It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been friends; you don’t owe anyone anything. Never keep someone in your life if they make you unhappy.

PAY ATTENTION TO RELATIONSHIP RED FLAGS

2016 is officially the year of bad relationships for me. Earlier this year my ex boyfriend dumped me. In hindsight I should never have got together with him. At first he was lovely, but as the months wore on the mask slipped and his controlling behaviour was unveiled. Towards the end of the relationship, he ridiculed me and insulted me so much that I couldn’t believe I had been with someone so inherently nasty. How had I not noticed any signs? Then someone said to me: “If you think back to the beginning there must have been red flags, but you probably ignored them.” And she was right; even if I couldn’t see his controlling behaviour at the beginning, he used to talk about his ex girlfriend so much, to the extent that it was obvious he still loved her. MASSIVE RED FLAG. I deserved better. And yet I was probably so desperate for a relationship and to be loved that I ignored the warning signs. Never again will I ignore the red flags.

DON’T DO THINGS YOU DON’T WANNA DO

Have you ever gone to a party you didn’t want to go? Just cause well, you felt like you needed to show your face. In future, don’t bother. I read this book over the summer called The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving A F**k by Sarah Knight – everyone was reading it, so I thought – what is this all about? That book definitely opened up a new window in my brain. Sarah essentially says that you should do exactly what you want to do, and never feel the need to put in an appearance at something. For example your friends keep inviting you to quizzes but you hate quizzes, and you don’t want to seem rude by turning down the invite. Guess what? You don’t have to go, just explain that you hate quizzes. I’m such a people pleaser, so it was great to think that there’s a way of putting a stop to this and putting myself first. The friend I mentioned earlier, who I used to live with would pressure me into watching TV with her when I came back from work, but I really didn’t want to – I was tired and needed some alone time. Yet I would always agree to sit with her for a bit because she guilt-tripped me. Never do this; do what you want to do and if people don’t like it – well that’s their problem.

TURN DISAPPOINTMENT INTO OPPORTUNITY

Over the summer I desperately wanted to take a holiday, but I had no one to go with. It seemed that most of my friends had already booked stuff up. I was gutted and had no idea what to do. I certainly didn’t feel confident enough to holiday on my own. But then I just thought – come on, you’ve got to do this. You’ve got to get more independent and this is the perfect opportunity. So I started researching organised group holidays – and ended up travelling around Croatia with a bunch of people I’d only just met. I even got a holiday romance out of it. So it pays to be a bit more fearless.

*****

These are my three big lessons of 2016. I’m sure there’s smaller lessons I can think of, but they seem insignificant compared to the one’s I’ve mentioned. So with that, I hope that I form better relationships and stand up for myself more in 2017.

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