Jan 4, 2015

Beautiful Lessons I Learned in (Occasionally) Ugly Ways (Reflecting on 2014)

While I don't usually go all out on the New Years celebrations, I have always been particularly fond of this time of year. It's the perfect time of year to reflect on the past while looking forward to the future simultaneously. It's the season for asking yourself "what did I learn?", "how far have I come?", "where do I want to be this time next year-- or this time 5 years from now?" To be honest, I feel like this might be the first year where I sat down and asked myself those questions and didn't worry about answering in a way I felt like I was supposed to- instead just worrying simply about me, what I really want, and who I really want to grow to be.

I think it's safe to say that 2014 started as a bit of a shit storm (pardon my French). In fact, if I had to give it a theme song, I'd pick Wrecking Ball because, you know, it "came in like a wrecking balllll..." (ps, if you didn't sing that in your mind then we probably shouldn't be friends)

This time last year, I had given my notice to leave my entry level job that I loved to take on the wonderful world of Property Management. To be honest, I fully expected it to be easy. I'd been working around leasing for years. I'd stepped up to take on extra responsibilities, I really thought I'd transition so smoothly I'd hardly notice the charge (but I'd definitely notice the extra cash in my pocket!). 

Funny how life never just goes the way you expect, right? I ended up going from a well established company to a starter company boasting knowledge and experience that it simply didn't have. I went from a community of amazing residents, a certain clientele level that allowed me to be polite and comfortable to a community that had not been managed, and a completely different clientele. I've been reading Yes, Please by Amy Poehler and she says great people do things before they are ready- and looking back I can clearly see, I wasn't ready. I don't like to use circumstances as an excuse but I clearly didn't have the skill set for that particular community straight out the gate professionally. I'm not a quitter though, I stuck it out for most of the year (side note: one thing 2014 taught me- you don't have to hold on to situations or circumstances that just aren't working for you. There is no shame in saying you don't want to be a part of something if it doesn't make you happy). 

I learned a lot through my experience professionally this year and it forced me out of my comfort zone in so many ways. I realized the importance of working for a company who sees you as a person vs a company that sees you as a number, just a cog in the machine. I learned that I'm much tougher and more resilient than I had ever given myself credit for. I came to terms with the the fact that all the money in the world can't make me happy if I don't like myself or the decisions I have to enforce professionally. I certainly spent a great deal of the year feeling like I had sold my soul to the devil. There's a professional stereotype of property managers and landlords- cranky, bitter, dishonest- and I found that the rules I had to enforce, the constant need to be play "bad cop"- it started to cost me a lot of who I was, even outside of work. I was reminded of what I've known but had lost sight of- you catch more flies with honey. 

During this time, I also went through the situation I last blogged about (you can read that here.) and while I hate to admit it, that was a test for me as well. I'm not a trusting person. I don't open up to people easily. It's easy to play blame games and tell yourself you deserve better but I don't think you grow from that. Sometimes I think you need clear, unfiltered, occasionally painful honesty when you look at a situation and so I think it's important to admit that while our relationship was great 95% of the time, there was that 5% of the time where it just wasn't. I am not a fan of confrontation. When pushed to the brim, I tend to explode like a bomb because not only am I frustrated with the situation but I get frustrated with the fact that I am getting frustrated, embarrassed by my own emotions. I know, how crazy is that? Plus, it's a strange thing to love someone, it makes you weirdly vulnerable and exposed. There's something about being in a relationship that shines a light on all your flaws, both in your eyes and in theirs. It's a very uncomfortable thing to let someone see your flaws and I've never been great at accepting that. I can remember a night where he came home and I had packed my bags, swearing I couldn't handle it anymore and was moving home. I didn't move obviously, but looking back- I can realize that even though I had fully envisioned a life with this person, as much as I wanted that, I wasn't ready and he had no reason to commit to someone who couldn't commit to sticking it out through the bad times. 

From there, both personally and professionally, 2014 became a year of learning, realizing, doubting, surprises, and growing. It was nothing but a whirlwind, in the greatest way possible. 

It was a year of making new friends and rekindling old friendships. 

It was also a year where I learned to be unapologetic about a lot of things- don't get me wrong, there are a lot of things that you should apologize for. For instance- bumping into someone in Walmart, spilling milk, hurting someones feelings when they did nothing to deserve it- that sort of thing. But 2014 taught me that there are just as many (if not more) things you should NOT be apologetic for. For instance, you should not apologize for:
1. Cutting people out of your life who bring nothing positive to the table. It sounds terrible, I know. But if you have to doubt whether you can trust close friends, then you probably can't. If you are being told over and over and over again that someone is doing something bad, that they are not who they pretend to be- there is unfortunately a good chance they aren't. I don't mean for you to listen to rumors, but I do mean listen to your gut. Sometimes you have to evaluate your friendships and take a deep look. Ask yourself if the relationship brings you more joy or pain. If the answer isn't joy, you don't need it. Don't make a big, hateful scene about it- but it is perfectly okay to cut ties and move on. Surround yourself with beautiful things, beautiful people, beautiful friendships. The world is what you make it, it's the perspective, the company, the life that you choose. What was that saying? Show me your friends and I'll show you your future? 
2. Being a REAL person with REAL interest and REAL feelings. This is going to sound cocky and I fully apologize in advance for that- but I think sometimes people meet me and they see a cute face and they see that I put forth the effort to be kind and they think that's all I am. A smiling, adorable trophy to wear on their arm. And then they slowly start to see things about me, quirks, interests- the things that I love about myself, the things that I think give me depth- and they are almost disappointed. They start to realize weird things like the fact that I talk for my dog (sometimes with a French accent, he's a very sophisticated pooch) or that I love rock music and seedy pubs, that I would rather watch a scary movie than a chick flick almost any day of the year, that I sing CONSTANTLY- and it's like something about that turns them off. And that's completely normal. I will be the first person to tell you, I'm not everyones cup of tea. But up until recently, I've always felt like I needed to apologize for that. I don't. It's perfectly okay to not be what someone is looking for, it's completely brilliant in fact. I am who I am, and everyone else should be exactly who they are. We should relish the differences, embrace the quirkiness, and if someone's quirks aren't we are looking for (or if our quirks aren't what they are looking for)- that's perfectly fine. We can accept that and walk our own separate ways. There are no right and wrongs on these things. No need to apologize. Being a different type of person than what someone is looking for is perfectly okay because not everyone is looking for the same things. 
3. Not Being Perfect or Trying Something And Not Succeeding. I feel like I say this in every blog post I write so why should this one be any different- I AM NOT PERFECT! But boy oh boy, do I wish I was some days! If you only knew how many times I felt like I needed to apologize for taking on tasks that I wasn't ready for, or for giving something all my effort and not succeeding (or deciding to walk away) or for not living up to someone else's standards- you'd be shocked. Heck! I'm shocked! But there is nothing shameful in failure. In fact, the moments in life where I really just fell flat on my face (metaphorically and literally) are the moments where I've learned the most. We all fail. We all do! When we try to pretend that we are perfect people who are perfectly successful and live perfect lives we do everyone around us a huge disservice. Don't be that person who sets a standard that can't be obtained. Be real, be honest. LIFE IS MESSY. Sometimes you go after guys who have no interest in you, sometimes you hold on to the past too long, sometimes you take on a job that you aren't equipped to handle, sometimes you trust the wrong people, sometimes you embarrass yourself (for me it's daily- the struggle is real!). That is what makes life so amazing! That's where the adventure lies, you guys- the weird twists in the road! I've never hit a moment where I thought I'd hit rock bottom that wasn't shortly followed by a moment of pure brilliance where I realized how much better life was after going through whatever it was I went through. Make up your mind to see your failures that way but never apologize for them. Gorgeous things can come from ugly circumstances. 

2014 was a great year, it evolved into so many different adventures and it reminded me that I am resilient, that I'm tough, that life (more than anything is) is insanely beautiful. Great things come from weird circumstances, you figure out what you want by crossing the things you don't want off your list and sometimes that comes by experiences. It reinforced my faith, it reminded me that I am capable of leaping blindly off the edge and landing on my feet. 

I ended 2014 in an amazing place, with a job I love, having evolved professionally into someone I can finally be proud of. Personally, I realized that I hold myself to the standards of others and I've been working to figure out the things I want for me, outside of what I feel like I'm supposed to have. I'm 25 years old- this is the year I told myself I'd have my life together- I imagined I'd be married by now, I'd be considering kids...  And here I am, writing this with a sweet puppy curled up next to me- the closest thing to a kid I've got. No ring on my finger, nothing of the sort in the foreseeable future- and it's the most beautiful feeling in the world, sitting here just looking ahead and thinking of all the things 2015 could hold, all the adventures I still want to have, all the personal growth I still hope to experience, all the opportunities I have to write a future that's entirely my own design, and realizing that I'm perfectly happy where I am in this moment. I'm trusting that regardless what happens in 2015, regardless of the potholes or the hills I hit along the way, 2015 will be a beautiful year full of beautiful stories that I already know I'll be dying to share with you all. The possibilities are truly limitless. 

It's an entirely new year, full of new adventures and new opportunities. 
And this year, I make my own rules. 

A great almost-end to 2014, yet another themed Christmas with the fam-bam. 

1 comment:

Kimra Kippes said...

Love it! Love you! And love knowing our 2015 is gonna be awesome together!!!!!! #boos4life