16 Things I Learned in 2016

Another year down, more lessons learned. Every time the new year hits, I always feel like I'm going to become a new person. I make this long, elaborate list of resolutions that I say I'm going to achieve by the time the next new year rolls around. Sometimes I'm successful, other times I'm not. So instead of making another long list of cookie-cutter goals, I decided to reflect on what I learned in 2016. I hope that some of the things on this list will resonate with you. Happy 2017, y'all!

1. A college degree is not a one-way ticket to Success Town: It's been a whole year since I graduated. I still cannot wrap my head around that. When I was in school, I was so sure that once I got my degrees, I'd already have some job offers lined up and I would be fabulous and living the dream. Let me tell y'all something...that didn't happen, lol. Yes, the work I did in undergrad is all done, but this post-college journey is really just getting started. Degrees are great and all, but they certainly are not the be-all end-all. There's still so much more work to be done on my end before I get to where I truly want to be professionally.

2. Respect your season: I've lost count on how many times I've heard someone tell me to not compare myself to someone else (and how many times I've said it to someone else), but truth is, sometimes that's really hard to do. When you have amazingly beautiful and talented friends like I do, it's so easy to feel like the Mediocre Mary of the bunch. For a while, I got a little caught up in all that my friends and peers were doing in their professional lives, that I felt like I wasn't doing enough. When I went to the Posh & Popular Fashion and Beauty Summit, Nina Jackson, founder of Proper Girl Magazine, spoke to the attendees about "respecting your season." What's for me will happen when it's supposed to; not any sooner and not any later. I need to give myself props about all of the things I've done and am working toward! 

3. Greatness takes time: It took me about 10 months to find a full-time job after graduation. Like I said earlier, I just knew I was going to find one immediately after graduating, but when you're particular like me, it definitely takes longer — and that's OK! The important thing is not to rush anything when looking for jobs, and to weigh out your options.

4. Parents are not equivalent to an ATM: OK, so I knew this, but I didn't really know this, lol. I've been blessed with wonderful parents who help me out in more ways than one, including financially. After finishing school, Sallie Mae told me I owed her back $12,000 in student loans, and that it was going to take me about 10 years to pay it off. My dad sat me down and told me that he'd help me out with the loan, but I would be responsible for making sure the payment was made on time each month, and that I'd be paying the majority of it. That really didn't sit well with me. I felt bad because my parents had already spent so much money to put me through school in the first place, and to have my dad take more money out of his pocket to help me pay off the debt seemed wrong. My parents have their own bills to pay for, yet they're always there to help me out whenever I'm running low. I've really been trying my best to become more financially independent. It's been a challenge, but I know that I can't keep running to Mom and Daddy for everything. 

5. Hard work isn't always acknowledged: At my previous job, I was busting my butt for a veeeeery small amount of pay. I thought for sure I was going to get a promotion, but I didn't. I won't say I felt entitled, but I thought that for the amount of (good) work I was doing, something better was going to come from that situation. I'll admit, not receiving that acknowledgment rubbed me the wrong way initially, but I had to remind myself that I cannot rely on pats on the back from other people. It's so much more fulfilling to just be proud of yourself.

6. Your journey is *your* journey: Similar to what I talked about in Lesson #2, I realized that my path is going to be much different than that of my peers. We are all taking different walks of life. Something that may happen for someone tomorrow may not happen for me for another 10 years. I can't disrespect where I am at this point; I can only be excited for what's to come.

7. Being consistent is extremely important: Consistency pays off in the long run. I fell off with being consistent with my blogging, as well as working out, but I've made a promise to myself that that's going to change in 2017!

8. It's OK to put the phone down: I never paid attention to how much time I spend on my phone until recently. Luckily for me, I'm not one of those people that's too consumed with social media that they can't hold real-life conversations, but I'm still not pleased with how much I pick my phone up throughout the day. I know there's perspective beyond the iPhone screen!

9. Self-care is fair: I was feeling sick the other day and ended up having to leave work early. I felt so guilty! As I laid in bed, I had to tell myself that everyone deserves a day, or even a couple moments out of each day to take care of themselves. I shouldn't beat myself up about catering to my well-being.

10. Saying "no" does not make you a bad person: This has got to be the thing I struggle with the most. I'm vey in tune to my and other's emotions, and I am constantly wondering about how my actions are going to make someone else feel. I have always admired people that were able to say "no" without hesitation. I aspire to be one of those people. Saying "no" doesn't make you a bad person, just like saying "yes" all of the time doesn't make you a good person. I have the right to decline invitations, unsolicited advice, etc. I'm going to work on saying "no" throughout the new year. Maybe I'll learn to say it in different languages, too. Ha!

11. Organization decreases stress by a million percent: I'm really proud of myself for utilizing my planner throughout the entire year! I normally would only use a planner for a few months before I forgot I even had one, but I actually enjoyed keeping track of birthdays, my work schedule, appointments and blog posts. I found myself to be less stressed about remembering things because I knew that I had written them down and could always go back and look at them. I got two planners for 2017 so that I can keep this up!

12. Going to work every day is so much easier when you like your job: I started my current job in October and I looooove it. I have so much fun with my coworkers when I'm there. The environment is great, we've experienced some really awesome customers, and the company treats its employees well. I actually like working, so I cherish things like company culture and teamwork very much. Everything has been really enjoyable with my job thus far, and I'm so grateful for that.

13. Everything doesn't need to be taken personally: I'm beyond sensitive. Sensitivity is a good trait to some, but it bugs me that I can't express myself without crying and that I let things get under my skin. In 2016, I learned that I don't need to get overly-emotional about everything. I need to just take some things/people at face-value and stop trying to analyze every little thing.

14. Worrying and anxiety never solved anything: My boyfriend preaches this to me on a regular, and I'm sure he thinks I'm not fully absorbing it, but I am! Lol. Letting my mind wander about negative things is not healthy. I can't live my life worrying about the "what ifs." Thinking and speaking positively makes such a difference.

15. Take advantage of your off days: What are you doing when you're not at work? The time you spend when you're not on the clock should be spent doing other productive things. When I'm off, I try to think of topics I want to write about, work on other personal projects, run errands or even get some little things done at home. Lounging around all day in pajamas is great, but so is crossing things off of your "To-Do" list!

16. Time flies: 2016 seems like it flew right by me! I used to think that the years went by so slowly, but as I've gotten older, I realized that that's not the case at all! I cherish all of the memories I've made in 2016, and all of the growth I've experienced. I'm sure 2017 will go by just as quickly, but I plan on making the best of each moment.

What did you learn in 2016? Do any of these points resonate with you? Let's chat!

Outfit Details:

Sweater: Skylar & Jade // Jeans: GAP // Booties: Anne Klein

Headwrap: Gifted (link is to an alternative) // Handbag: Madewell

Glasses: Warby Parker