I've started learning what it means to be present; to enjoy the moment and be so wrapped up in it, that you're not aware of what else is happening in the world or what problems you're having or wishing you could be anywhere else. It's about learning to be content with what is right in front of you, instead of wishing you could change everything. I've learned to enjoy the presence of family and friends, without worrying all the time about the things that I can't change, what I'm going to wear tomorrow, if I remembered to turn my curling iron off, or other petty things that used to get in my way of just being able to listen to someone while we're having a conversation. It has enabled me to laugh more, to love more, and to learn to love myself more in those small moments of just cutting loose. I've learned to not be quite as uptight about everything, which has been nice.
I've learned that everyone you come in contact with, no matter how big or insignificant their role may be in your life will change you in some small way, and that's a good thing, if you let it be. I used to get so upset when people would come into my life, only to be ripped away or for us to not even have a chance of getting to know one another. Don't get me wrong, I still get disappointed, especially when I've made up these fabulous daydreams in my mind of how I think things ought to go. Now, when those kinds of things have happened this year, I've tried to start focusing on how I felt when I was around them or the kind of friendship I wanted us to have, and to carry a little of that with me for the future if it didn't go anywhere. God sends people into our lives at the perfect moments, there are no mistakes. Maybe it's just to learn something or maybe it's to prepare us for something better that is coming our way later on. I'm not sure exactly why, I just know there's a reason. So, even if I just get a few jokes from that kid in the library or if they become one of my best friends, they've helped me grow in some way or another.
I've learned who my best friends are. I feel like I've said that over the past few years, but the longer out of high school you go, the more you find that out. Some friendships grow tighter and tighter, while others just fizzle out like dust. There have been some disappointments and some heartaches in that department, when you find out people aren't necessarily what you thought they were or just that you were never honest enough with yourself to admit that they never were like that, you just kept holding out, thinking things would change. I know that there will always be at least one or two really good friends I can always count on, and God is always there. And when it comes down to it, that the most important friendship of all.
This year, I've learned to let my past be exactly that...The past. I haven't beaten myself up as much as I would have when I've made a mistake or when I've said something I shouldn't have, I just learned from it and prayed about it. I've learned to let go, which brings me right to my next point.
Instead of trying to tackle everything on my own, I learned to lift it up to God. There were still plenty of moments when I lost my temper or I worried too much or I let anxiety really stress me out, but nowhere near what I used to let it get to. I prayed more and spent more one on one time with God than I ever have before. I started finding out who God truly is, rather than the idea of Him that I've heard bits and pieces of from others or what I had made up in my head over the years. God is a loving God who is always there for us, no matter what we've done or what we're going to do, and He wants us to grow from our mistakes, not live in regret or let it turn to anger and bitterness.
I've learned what it means to truly be joyful, and not make myself miserable. I struggle with this on a daily basis, and let me tell you, some days are better than others. I have certain times where I just feel really down and I don't know how to get out of the funk, but there are other days when I've just been really happy, no matter what has gone on. It's a work in progress, but I'm getting there. I know that it's a process, and it's not just something that you can work at for awhile and be done with it, it's something I'll have to work at the rest of my life, but it'll get easier as time goes on.
I've been trying to learn to not put people in a bubble. You know how when you see a stranger in a bookstore or coffee shop and you create this character of who you think he/she is? Alright, maybe I'm the only one who does that...But, the bottom line is, I've tried not to keep doing that with people I've already gotten to know, whether it's friends or family. They don't have to be a certain way just because I want them to be this or that, just like I don't want them to do that to me. I'm learning that I don't need to point the flaws to others; it's important to help them out, but CHANGING them is God's job, not mine. Instead of being busy thinking they should be a certain way, I've learned to just enjoy who they are now, and focus more on what I need to change.
I've also learned to be more spontaneous. I've started to see that maybe planning every little moment and detail isn't as fun as I always think it's going to be. In fact, I've learned when you just go with the flow, you're a lot more surprised or you're not as disappointed, because events and conversations rarely go as scripted in your mind, trust me. Plus, I like surprises, when they're the good kind, so it's always nice when a random trip or coffee with a friend comes up when you're sitting at home doing nothing with your life.
All of these things have led me to being more outgoing, I feel like. I've been more honest and upfront about who I am and what I want. Sure, I'm still quiet, but it's because I choose to be that or there are those moments when I feel like I don't have anything to say. It kind of earned me the nickname of "beautifully outspoken" awhile back too. I truly feel like I've spoken up when I should have, I've fought for the things that were important, and when I've felt the Lord calling me to say something. I speak up when I need to, not just when I feel like blurting out nonsense, although, I'm great at that too when comfortable enough. I'm learning to accept who I am, which has allowed all of these things to come together. Insecurity and rejection have always been big flaws/problems of mine, but finding out who I am in Christ has made me stronger than ever and made me more comfortable to speak out and to be who I've always been meant to be, even though I'm still finding her.
I could go on for pages, I'm sure, about how much my life has changed (more personally than the things around me) and all of the incredible things that have I've become aware to this year, but the biggest is this...Let God always be in control of what happens. I promise you, you'll be so much better off for it. For so many years, I tried to do things my way or think I knew everything that was going to happen and I always found myself miserable and angry. The more you release to Him, the more at peace you'll be, even if they turn out differently than expected. Life is good and God is good all the time, no matter how we feel about it. I have a LONG way to go, let me be honest about that. But, I feel like I've made progress because I have actually been trying this year. Could there have been moments when I tried harder? Sure. But, I'm on my way and that's a start.
"Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one."