Ode to 2016

“Stop the world I want to get off”

A tag line I have used for myself several times throughout the year.

On the surface, it has been pretty miserable. Due to work responsibilities, I had to leave my home city and move to a tiny town (Where the electricity goes off even in the presence of a strong wind). The work itself was as soul sucking a dementor’s kiss, as I did not have the opportunity to develop myself professionally. I had my heart ripped out and kicked around like hack-sack.

I lost my patience for people.
I lost a bit of optimism for life.
I lost a bit of my identity.

Around the world… countries are falling into chaos.
Elections turning sour. University protests. Bombings all over Europe. The crisis in the Middle East continues among many more travesties.

2016 may have been a nasty one for many of us. But I refuse to let the year escape my grasp without extracting something good from it. Other than the exciting events of the year such as Portugal winning the Euro 2016, the joys of the Rio Olympics, the launch and evaporation of Pokémon Go and the release of some stellar films #CivilWar #TeamIronman.

It was a year of self-discovery for myself and perhaps for you too. Every year it seems I am being thrust into unexplored positions of life. As an emerging adult, navigating the tricky pathways can cause you to stumble at times. New relationships, studying, figuring out your career, learning not to put a hot pan onto a table cloth and attempting to be a stable human being on this planet is far more challenging than I was prepared for.

Every year we grow a little. We find a bit more stable footing on our lives as we delve deeper into the highs and lows of life. This year was not a total write-off as there was wisdom gained from the experiences of it.

Here are some the important things I learnt this year:

1.) Great and terrible people come and go but true friends stick with you:

Putting yourself in a position to meet new people in this day and age is easier than ever. With the perks of technology on our side we can literally swipe people into a pile that we like and a pile that we don’t like. Love can literally be a click away, so can great friendships and tragic heartbreaks.
Time is constantly passing and moving us towards new people and away from old ones in our life. Sometimes the worst of people can come into your life like a hurricane and leave with a trail of destruction in our lives. Other times people can come into your life with a ray of sunshine and gelato ice cream. I appreciate the people I met this year, but may not have the opportunity to spend time with again.
Like The Fault in Our Stars, I am happy to have enjoyed a personal infinity with each of them. Be it wonderful or painful, each one taught me about myself and opened my eyes to different types of people. I’m reminded that people are incredible in good and bad ways. All of them have their own inner workings and perspectives that are fascinating to unravel. They can have profound impacts on our lives and they make life worth living.
MOST importantly, I’ve come to learn who my true friends are. The ones who make time for me, the ones who make an effort to connect with me and the ones who build me up and never fail to put a smile on my face. I am grateful for them in my life.


2.) If we TRULY want something, you must LOVE the PAIN that goes with it.

Thank you Marc Manson for teaching me this lesson.
Our dreams often keep our hearts warm with the possibilities of success and happiness. We imagine being a famous movie star, famous writer or drug dealer’s accountant (or something more realistic).
We believe that the end result is how we achieve happiness. It’s the belief that when we achieve ‘this’ in our life, our life will be complete and we will be HAPPY. But the truth is that achieving something will give happiness for the short term. Until the next problem arises and that needs solving. At no point in your life will things be perfect. There will always be something more that you will need to be happy. Its a constant loop of chasing something for happiness and this chase can make us miserable unless we LOVE the chase.

The real happiness of life lies in the sacrifices and the problems associated with the struggle of achieving whatever it is that you truly you want. And you will ONLY go through the pain of something, if it’s something you truly love and that truly makes you happy.
To be a good writer you must love the process of stringing sentences together, editing them to make them just right and battling through writers block until the next break through.
To have the perfect body you must enjoy the process of going to the gym, lifting weights, putting your body through physical strain, eating healthy and avoiding the processed sugars.
If you want a loving and stable relationship you must be willing to work with your partner to create deep levels of trust and stability. You must be willing to put aside your ego for the sake of the relationship.
If you LOVE the pain of something you will inevitably achieve what it is you truly want. Do not be afraid of the pain you must go through to achieve what you want, because the feeling of achievement you receive once completing the task is more beautiful than any short-term solution to happiness in your life.

3.) Pain & Falling apart leads to the greatest growth

Things happen in life that are unavoidable. We get robbed, we lose people we love, we get rejected, we drop our dinner on the floor forcing us to eat cereal for dinner etc. with the result being a downward spiral into despair. I learnt “the wound is where the light enters”. We should not be afraid to feel sad, to cry or to take the time we need to heal. We should not run away from the pain that life throws at us because it is our greatest learning tool.
This mourning process will eventually turn into new realizations for us. It will shed light on new perspectives, new thoughts, greater awareness of ourselves and of the world around us. By allowing this to happen we contribute to our own soul’s evolution. We allow ourselves to be molded into the person we are meant to be.

4.) Complaining without offering solutions is POINTLESS!!

Complaining about people, your job, your home, and your life is pointless, unless you are offering a solution to it in the same breath. Complaining solves nothing and it forces you to focus on the negative things in your life instead of focusing on the things to be grateful for. Even just thinking about negative things raises your stress levels which increases cortisol in the body which leads to negative effects which increases blood pressure, causes restlessness and can lead to long term effects like heart diseases and even diabetes #physiology. Complaining is bad for your mind and body.
Talk about the good things in your life. Remind yourself of the things you are grateful for constantly. Remind yourself of the things that make life worth living. Focus on the things that make you smile and don’t waste your time complaining unless you’re already working on solving the problem.

5.) Standing up for yourself and saying “NO!” is of paramount importance

The world is full of people who are happy to put you down for a myriad of reasons particularly when it comes to you achieving your goals. Our life is short but incredibly valuable. Your worth is higher than you think it is, do not allow ANYBODY to put you down and deny you the right to dream bigger.
It has never been easy for me to say no to people. The fear of coming off as a jackass or ‘unwilling to co-operate’ always plagued me. Learning to say ‘no to people’ was not easy but necessary. We only have one life after all. What good will it do if we do things we really do not want to. (Unless we HAVE to do it, then just do it.) This world is full of people who are more than willing to take advantage of you any possible way. Do NOT be afraid to say no to people who use you, don’t stick to rules or those who make you feel uncomfortable. Your life is your own and you are a priority.
Do not remain silent in the face of adversity. Use your voice and speak your truths even if your voice shakes. You do not need an explanation for being who you are and sticking to your boundaries.

6.) Some things & people cannot be fixed or changed

There are some things in this world that are simply out of our control. Be it systems, social ideals and most importantly, PEOPLE.
People won’t change for an assortment of reasons but this is none of your concern. Help them if you can, but understand change is ultimately up to them. We are living in our own worlds based on our upbringing, environments and influences. NOBODY will think the same way you do.
Instead, we should focus on the one thing we can control, ourselves. We are responsible for our actions and RE-actions. WE control our thoughts and emotions.
If you cannot change something in your life, be willing to change yourself or at very least, nod, smile and walk away.

7.) Life is short, don’t waste your time with pointless people, thoughts and activities.

Time is our most valuable asset in life since we can never get more of it, to waste it is a travesty.
Choosing what we care about in this world is of utmost significance but choosing what NOT to care about is just as significant. With the precious time, we have, do we really want to waste our thoughts on things that hurt us or do not serve us? Thoughts of jealousy, regret, self-pity, self-defeat, comparisons to others, lamenting the past, worrying over the future etc.
With the notion that everything in this world is temporary, everyone around us, including ourselves are guaranteed to taste death at some point, makes our perspective clearer. In 100 years, will the trivial things of this world matter?
I believe it is best to use our thoughts to steer us towards something we are passionate about. Spend your time improving yourself, helping others and doing things that make you feel alive. Do not be afraid to try new things and take risks. Do not be afraid to walk away from people that only cause you anguish instead of joy.
You only have one life, do not waste it.

8.) Use your time alone to foster love for yourself.

Being by myself for extended periods of time made loneliness my unwanted companion.
Loneliness can lead to thoughts of insecurity and self-pity, yet, these do not define loneliness but are merely ideas surrounding it. Being alone does not have to make you inferior in any way. Do not try to find literally any way to avoid being alone with endless distractions, toxic relationships and turning towards vices.
We should face our notions of being alone head on. We should dive into our minds and learn to understand and accept ourselves for who we are.
Sit in a quiet room (or the beach because the beach is awesome!) and listen to your thoughts without judgement. Become at peace with yourself by letting your thoughts calm down and then direct it towards something you want. We want the world to understand us, yet we are afraid of understanding ourselves.
In a world that is forcing us to connect with everyone, it is a beautiful thing to come back to ourselves and find balance in our mind to be at peace. Let’s begin to treat ourselves as we would somebody that we love and being alone gives us the perfect opportunity to do that. You are stuck with yourself forever, start learning about yourself.

9.) Leaving the past behind and FORGIVENESS, for both YOURSELF AND OTHERS, is necessary for you to move on

I went through a phase where I thought forgiveness was irrelevant in terms of moving on. You simply…do not care and move on. ‘Leave forgiveness for the saints, I am only human’ was what I thought. I thought that was that.
It wasn’t.
When you do not forgive someone, you are still holding onto whatever it was they did to you. You notice it when you think back to the past and feel the acid burning into your heart. You still harbor anger towards whoever it is that hurt you and when similar situations arise, you will make unfair comparisons.
It will take some time, but you need to forgive these people, not for them, but for YOU. You do not even need to say it to that person, you need only say it to yourself. Understanding that people live in their own world, with their own experiences and upbringing, lead them to that point for them to hurt you. They do what they do, and that is on them. Do not carry their burden with you. Understand you need to forgive in order for you to move on and take the next steps of your life without their shadow over you.
The most important person to forgive however, is yourself. We have all made mistakes, and if we have regrets we should attempt to make amends with the people we have hurt. Whether they forgive you or not is on them, but it is important for you to forgive yourself. If you harbor a hatred for yourself, you are doomed on this earth. The mistakes we make only serve to allow us to grow. It is what makes us HUMAN. Forgive yourself and give yourself the right to live fully.
Forgiveness is the only true way we can move forward and leave the past behind.

Our mistakes do not make us who we are. We can learn lessons from them, but who we CHOOSE to be is ultimately our own decision.

No matter what happens in life, be it good or bad, it shall pass.
No matter how long or short the time seems during your current predicament, the earth will keep on spinning and a new day will arrive. Set goals for your life and work towards them so you have a reason to wake up another day. Learnt to focus your thoughts on the important things in your life. Allow your mind only to think about what you permit it to think about.
With this is mind, let’s welcome 2017 with an open mind and a gelato ice cream (God I love gelato ice cream). With so many things I have experienced this year, I realize there is a lot that I still don’t know and even more things in my life that need tuning up (mainly in the form of taking my own advice). I am far from perfect and this year took a LOT of out me.
It was a difficult road but it’s over and I’m certain in the future I will be thankful for everything that has happened to me in 2016.

Despite the stumbles, I will continue moving forward with my head high as I walk through the door into my future.
I hope you can too…the best is yet to come.

Sincerely Atlas


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