2018 was a jam-packed year full of a whirlwind of lessons. I loved it, I hated it, I enjoyed myself, I laughed, I cried, I moved on, I read 20 more books than the year before, I fought, and I made up and left one or two in the trash they reside in. 2018 was the year for me to learn more about myself, my boundaries, and my expectations. So, here are the 10 lessons I learned this year:
- Courage is the Best Quality and It’s the Quality I Most Respect and Admire
Unless you are oppressed and to stand up for the right thing would lead to serious oppression, violence, etc, I don’t believe there’s enough of an excuse to not speak up and do the right thing. You see something wrong? Say it. Try to change it. In the long-run, you serve to help others or in the long-run, the absence of your voice, will lead to long-term repercussions. By doing so, you normalise and enable behaviour that will be carried from one generation to the next.
Short story (based on real events, and, nope, I wasn’t involved): A stopped being friends with B due to her lack of courage and frustration with having to stand up for B repeatedly as B could not do it for herself. A few years later B gained her courage and, separately, made a snide remark at A for not sticking around. I, however, disagree with B. The onus is not on A to mother B into developing a spine. A has no obligation to stay friends with a person they cannot respect. You need to respect that person to be able to truly love that person.
Oppression can manifest in various ways, be it through the state and authority, or it can be the oppression we do to another such as abuse. If you stand by and do or say nothing when you see harm being done to another for fear of public opinion, you are a useless goat. It is our basic human duty to ensure that harm does not come to others. Forbidding evil in your heart is the weakest part of faith (Muslim). If you only speak up when everybody else is doing it, that is not courage (to me), you are only courageous when it is convenient. Being courageous to me is the ability to speak up when you are the only one doing it or in the minority. Be a Colin Kaepernick, a Jameela Jamil. Be brave.
And, yes, like me, when I was able to condemn Hermione for her abusive actions in my Hermione Granger – 10 Reasons Why You’re Fave is Problematic post and Hagrid in 10 Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
- If You Can’t Be Brave, Learn to Understand the Difference Between Right and Wrong
I can make some peace with that. I can tolerate that. There are a few things I will not tolerate: rape, pedophilia, narcissistic behaviour (gaslighting, minimising, deflecting, etc) and unjustifiable violence and murder (justifiable when it’s self-defence). And those who support such actions. I will not tolerate such vile actions and certainly not on my own blog which is my corner of the internet. And don’t expect me to mince my words… if you support such actions on my blog, you have forfeited your rights to my respect for you. In other words – bitch, try me.
- The Importance of Setting Boundaries
This is one of the most valuable lessons anyone will ever learn. Know your limits. If you’re emotionally drained, don’t take on more than you can give… say no to the friend/family member. If they care about you, they’ll understand.
What are our limits to extending kindness? I believe this is a question many of us reflect on. How much is too much? How much should the give and take ratio be? Should we be kind for the sake of kindness, for the sake of moral and/or religious duty? Or should we expect something in return? And, no, I don’t mean being kind with the sole intention of getting something in return. I mean the kindness that includes overextending ourselves to the point that we feel used, where we feel like a therapist or a mother instead.
So, the question really is: should we allow others to use us? Continue being kind past the breaking point? Some might say: just be good, reap your rewards and go. But it’s not always this straightforward. Sometimes, doing so will disturb the peace of your heart because sometimes we’ll come across friends and family members in our lives who will want so much more than they actually give. Some friends/family members expect you to work overtime when you’re only being paid minimum wage whilst they only do part-time work and expect to be paid more. The give and take ratio is significantly disproportionate. You feel used. They want you to be their saviour while they cower in the corner when it comes to you.
I learned that if it disturbs the peace of your heart, to the point of over-analysis, extensive frustration and headaches, it’s time to give them as much as they give. That is, also, the only way they will learn. They will learn to take less, to use other people less, and to be less of a shitty person basically. You don’t have to entirely cut them off. You can talk to them about it and if they still don’t understand (they probably won’t if they are only concerned with themselves), then it’s time to limit your contact with them. Your mind will thank you for the reduced stress.
- I Will Never Be Who I Was Before and That’s Okay
To be or not to be who you were before depression, that is the question. I think the answer will vary from person to person. Sometimes we forget that there is another option: to create a new and better version of you. Take the empathy that depression has given you, and bring back the fire that was within you before all of it happened. For some odd reason, I find that I had just as much emotion as I did before it all. And I’m good with that… some days. Life is a rollercoaster, and that’s really just the way it is.
Sophia 2.0: moody, emotional, passionate, dispassionate, floaty, biting, distracted, ideas-driven, sometimes sweet, sometimes a bitch.
- Don’t Forget to Take a Break
I cannot stress how important this is. Your health comes first before everything. If you aren’t well, how can you expect to perform well? Your brain needs a break just like your body needs sleep and rest. Over-working yourself could possibly reduce your productivity and creativity. However, it is always easier said than done. In the grip of a fever a few months earlier, I suddenly decided to write poetry and I can’t express how much passion was put into it. Sadly, I do find that inspiration does often strike. Maybe too often. My brain is an idea-generating machine and it’s difficult to slow it down. So, I will have to turn to you for advice: how do you get your brain to just shut up once in a while?
What are your thoughts on the lessons I learned this year? Is courage important to you? Is the bystander just as bad as the perpetrator? Would you tolerate/entertain an opinion that is the opposite of what you believe in on your blog? What would cause you to set boundaries and draw the limit? And… what lessons did you learn in 2018? Let me know in the comments!
Connect with me:
(Featured Image Credit: Improve Your Accent)