10 big + little things that 2016 has taught me

2016 hasn’t been all smooth sailing, full of spontaneous adventures, miraculous epiphanies or soul strengthening experiences – but, for the larger part, it has been pretty bloody good.

This year, a lot has changed for me. I have become more confident in who I am, more certain about what I want and don’t want from life, and finally became brave enough to distance myself from the toxic people and things that once made me fall into a very dark head space. 

The colours of life have intensified, I smile more and I know exactly who the people who I am going to love and remain close with forever are. I guess, in some ways, after 17 years on the beautiful planet earth, I have finally found peace within myself. It all sounds terribly cheesy but being able to love and value yourself and the important things in life after years of focusing on superficial aspects – like how you look or climbing the ridiculous ladder to “popularity” – it’s actually the nicest, most pleasing feeling. 

I have learned a lot, listened a lot, and through writing, taught people a lot too – because at the end of the day we all want to cross to the other side and be able to at last see and appreciate life for what it actually is – f*cking fantastic.  

I wanted to summarise both the insignificant and the minute realisations that dawned on me this year. I hope you consider them too.

1. A pretty face doesn’t mean a pretty heart – those with a heart of gold are always the most beautiful.

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If you asked me how I felt about myself at the beginning of the year I would’ve instantly made a long list of all my “flaws” for you. I was a self-conscious, struggling teenager who thought “beautiful” was only a title fit for girls with silky hair, over sized lips, green eyes and skinny legs. However, as the year progressed, I became more intrigued by authentic and honest people, both people who lived nearby or public figures such as Emma Mercury and Chloë Sevigny. None of these people fitted society’s rigid model of “beauty”. Instead, they all seek a higher purpose – to inspire, to entertain, to empower, to love – and I soon realised that it is those things which make someone beautiful. You look past their superficial exteriors which perhaps may be dotted with freckles, stretch marks or crooked smiles, and instead see a beautiful and radiant soul – a kind of beauty that shines far brighter than any other.

2. Eating consciously is far easier and more rewarding than you think.

This year I adopted a pescetarian diet and now my next challenge is cutting down on dairy to gradually move towards a plant-based diet. It was all spurred from my wish to not be considered a hypocrite – as I am strongly anti the dairy industry due to it’ unethical practises. Becoming a more conscious consumer has been surprisingly rewarding and I have found a new love and consideration for how and what we eat.

3. Popularity is overrated.

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I have finally broken free from a delusional school where “success” was measured in party invitations, consuming alcohol and Facebook likes. This all (worryingly) appealed to me in 2015, but this year I have realised that climbing the social ladder is by no means an uplifting pursuit. I have been far happier now that I have taken a step back, found my people & my purpose.

4. Cereal is seriously underrated.

5. Putting yourself out there is both the most scary and rewarding thing you can do.

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6. Private Instagram accounts are stupid.

Up until six months ago I used my second account to post photos of my actual life – a life that I did not value or consider as aesthetically pleasing as my posed photos or flat lay arrangements. Private Instagram accounts have become outlets for posting things we are too scared to share with the world, revealing photos of our bodies or harsh comments about people, which really just show how disgustingly two-faced our generation has become. I decided that by having one I wasn’t being honest or authentic, and that if I am comfortable with sharing my true self, I should be brave enough to share it with the world – because, after all, authenticity is the key to happiness.

7. Loving people is the best and most important thing you can do.

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8. This year a lot of bad things happened in the world, we lost a lot of good people, but it is our generation that holds the power to change things – and that gives me a lot of hope. 

David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince and Leonard Cohen were all huge losses to the creative and performing scene of the world, we lost Obama to Trump, thousands to poverty, disease and conflict, Dylan Rieder, Muhammad Ali and many more beautiful, talented people were lost this year. However, despite the grim picture some people have painted in their heads, 2016 still should give you hope. California is now powering 6 million homes with solar-power, Tiger numbers are increasing, as are Pandas, New Chemotherapy breakthroughs have increased the 5-year survival rate from 16% to 27% for pancreatic cancer and with research this should keep improving and Michael Jordan donated 2 million dollars towards forging connections between communities and police in the US. So you see, good things are still happening. Our generation is starting to stand up for climate change, refugees and inequality and make change. We are the generation of innovative, progressive, fair and global mindsets, which when used together, gives me so much hope for our world.

9. Change is good for you.

10. Life is what you make of it.

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The world moves on, with or without you. All my life I have been surrounded by people who wake up each day and wish they were somewhere else, that they were 18 already or had more money, a better car, a better life. This year I have learnt how important it is to count your blessings – for often we are so lucky who we are born to and where we live that it seems so unfair to complain about our superficial discomforts. I am grateful that I can see the ocean from my bedroom window, that I have the right to vote, express myself freely and live in a society that men and women are (almost) completely equal. We are given this one crazy, weird life that holds the unexpected. And we could wish our days away, wanting to be someone else, or we could make it our own. Live widely, authentically and radiate love to everyone around you.

 

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