Five things I’ve learnt in 2017

By: Emily Maybanks

It’s reached that time of year when people use the phrase “if I don’t see you before, have a lovely Christmas”, which means that the end of 2017 is looming and the beginning of a new year is almost upon us. 2017 has been a crazy year to say the very least. In an increasingly worrying time of political uncertainty in the UK – with impending Brexit, an unfortunate rise in the number or terrorist incidents and the result of this year’s General Election. We live in a world which is becoming more and more dominated by technology – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however with everything being so ‘in your face’ so to speak almost constantly. With all of this going on outside of our own lives where we’re faced with our own personal problems and worries, it can be difficult to focus on the positive things going on in life. Inspired by the stuff – good and bad – that’s happened in my own life over the past twelve months, I’m going to share five important ‘lessons’ that I’m going to take away from 2017 and focus on going into 2018.

The first thing I’ve not necessarily learnt this year but more had it reiterated is that sometimes you have to ride out the bad times to appreciate the good times. It’s like that quote that says “you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain”. I know I’ve had this consolidated this year particularly but I think it’s true in how I started this year off having a really tough time, however some moments this year have been the best moments of my life.

Secondly, and similar to the first point, I’ve learnt that it’s vital to not give up. Things get tough and it can be really de-motivating and make you feel like you’re not good enough and all you want to do is shut yourself away. However, it’s fine and completely natural to feel upset and frustrated when things go wrong, but it’s important to pick yourself up and carry on. I’m a huge fan of two quotes relating to this, the first being “if you don’t succeed, try again, and again, and again”.  The second quote which I love is “if plan A doesn’t work, don’t worry – there are another 25 letters in the alphabet.” I think that’s a great quote to live by. Just don’t ask me what happens when you reach plan Z… Maybe try clicking ctrl Z?

I’ve also learnt the valuable lesson of making the most of and grabbing opportunities as and when they arise. From my own experiences, I know that being offered a summer job in Italy this summer was an opportunity that I just couldn’t turn down. I believe strongly that taking chances when they arise is a key thing for the future especially in terms of jobs arising following graduating from University in an already challenging job market. Also, “if opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” Sometimes, we can create opportunities for ourselves – again, drawing on my job in Italy this summer, I would never have had that chance if I hadn’t decided to do a TEFL course.

Fourthly, life is all about learning. I don’t think it matters how old you are or how advanced you get at something; there’s always something new to learn. Furthermore, learning new things and gaining new knowledge and skills is what makes life exciting – in my opinion anyway. Yet another quote, this one from author Neil Gaiman states that “I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.” It’s perfectly true and I understand and appreciate this quote simply from all of the new stuff I’ve learnt over the past twelve months from my degree and positions of responsibility and just about me as a person. I believe that life is also about learning who you are and where you fit into this big wide (wild) world – I have to slip a Bastille quote in there.

Finally, and a more personal one for me, this year I have learnt more than ever to be myself. For years, I’ve spent so much time trying to change myself – from my looks to how I act and behave around people – in order to please others. But, over the course of the year, I’ve started to change my perception (thanks to advice and support of a lot of people) and realise that I just have to be myself and really embrace who I am. And I think this combines the previous four points I’ve made in this piece. If there’s one single piece of advice that I would give to everyone, it’s definitely to be yourself. A line from a song by my favourite band sums up the fact that we need to embrace our qualities and our flaws to be ourselves, “all of your flaws and all of my flaws; when they have been exhumed, we’ll see that we need them to be who we are; without them we’d be doomed.”

Going into 2018 and leaving 2017 behind, I think it’s important that we look forward to the opportunities and the moments and the memories waiting to be created.

“Only look back to see how far you’ve come.”

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