2017 Recap: Lessons Learned/Killa’s Top Eight
We made it, y’all. YOU MADE IT. It’s officially January 2018. So many things have gone according to plan and terribly wrong in 2017, and I’m grateful to be here. Here’s my Top 8 of 2017.
1. Trust that what belongs to you will never fall into the hands of someone else. I was in the middle of preparing to move and looking for research positions in D.C. before the opportunity came to go back to grad school. It was unexpected and unconventional, but it was mine. I have been humming Dr. Harris for years, but to grasp it is…unbelievable. I’m a few years away from that accomplishment, FYI, but this is the journey. THIS IS IT. I could turn this into a tangent about the difficulties of securing admission into doctoral level psychology programs, but I won’t. I will say, it’s recommended that applicants submit 10 or more applications. I submitted 6, well aware of my (slim) chances and likelihood of being granted admission/offered an opportunity to interview. Doctoral level psychology programs have structured application processes, so after early March if you haven’t heard anything, it’s likely issa no. Anyway, my time is right now. That prefix is less than arm’s length away from me. It’s MINE. What belongs to you will always be yours. Always.
2. Always choose you [click here]. I chose to keep that piece exclusively on RXY. Thanks, Gab.
3. Understand that being receptive to love is just as important as being willing to supply it. So often we yearn for love and a partner who will listen, invest, and understand. We pray the man we have been “talking to” will grow up. We ask our friends, “what am I doing wrong?” We date several people at once, hoping ONE of them won’t be a complete waste of time. We laugh at jokes that aren’t funny. We give him another chance. We give him a chance after that, too. We are afraid to start over because “it’s been so long.” I try to be respectful when I hear that, but honestly, after terminating a situationship I’d been in from 2012-2015, I’m really not tryna hear that sis. Although it wasn’t a lesson I learned in 2017, self-love must come first. Who are you? What are your needs? Are you ready for love? Not just giving, because that’s what you’re used to, but receiving. Do you know joy? I learned I needed to be more receptive at the tail of the year, when I met her. I’m uncomfortable with people doing things for me and asking for things. I shared that with her. During a conversation she asked, “you don’t deserve that?” I realized that in order for us to work I had to become familiar with cooperation. I had to be willing to receive the affection I’ve spent my entire life giving. Are you prepared to receive what you have been asking for? Can you allow someone to love you out loud?
4. Develop absolute no’s. I could write about this separately as its own post. Inspired of course by #loveandshit, this is applicable to all facets of life. Where do you draw the line? That’s what an absolute no is – when you say “it’s a no for me.” For example, when dating, an absolute no for me is disrespect. I won’t tolerate it at all. There is no coming back from that. If you’re willing to disrespect me, you’re a liability and there’s nothing you will not do. I deserve better and am way too valuable for that bulls&!t. Issa no for me. Eating McDonald’s? An absolute no. However, the hot chocolate is fuegoooooo. Nevertheless, set boundaries. Without them there’s no protocol for how to handle nonsense.
5. Be mindful that everyone has a story. I started seeing clients professionally in 2016. My career may be the reason people come to me to have intimate, personal conversations. People trust me and I appreciate that. Being exposed to this level of vulnerability is what I enjoy. I’ve always been aware that we all have life sh#t happening. 2017 taught me that everyone has a story to tell, if you ask. Everyone has things to talk about. Most people process childhood trauma alone as an adult. Be mindful of that. We all have layers. Choosing not to reveal those layers to me doesn’t mean those layers are nonexistent.
6. Appreciate your friends. Love them, check on them, be kind to them, tell them you are appreciative of their friendship. Don’t wait until their birthdays to do so. I have a client in undergrad right now whose primary concern is anxiety. After a few conversations, it became clear her issue was simple: she was homesick and didn’t have a solid circle of friends in the area. I was super transparent with her about being unable to relate to her experience due to the role of social media during my freshman year in 2010-2011. Then I wondered, how would I have managed being 7.5 hours away from home with no car or money for flights without my friends? How would I have met friends if it weren’t for the c/o 2014 Facebook groups? Appreciate your friends. I have a client in her 50’s in a similar situation. She was diagnosed with a degenerative nerve disease last year and in the midst of adjusting, she lost contact with her close friends. She shared that shortly after her diagnosis she was unable to work, and often didn’t have the finances to participate in outings, so eventually she was no longer invited. With tears in her eyes she shared she missed them, but felt that if they were really her friends they would not have abandoned her after receiving such life altering news. Friends are hard to come by. Love yours.
7. You can’t do everything, but you must hold yourself accountable. I know I could do more in a day, but academic demands at this level are insane. My advisor said, “aim for 33%,” and that’s exactly how I’ve been living. I can’t do everything, but I can hold myself accountable for slacking. What’s important is figuring out why items 7-12 weren’t completed from my to-do list. Did I give myself enough time to complete things? Did I factor in the exhaustion I feel daily? Or the 20 minutes I need to LOL on social media? Phone calls with my G-ma? So, I learned, that I need to be reasonable. I can shoot for the stars while generating my daily to-do lists, but I shouldn’t feel guilty when it’s bedtime and four things are incomplete. I should be committed to figuring out how I can make the most of my time while being realistic. I have the same 24 hours as Beyoncé and Oprah, sure, but they have jets and billions of dollars. I barely have $500, which means I can’t pay a chef to make dinner while I prep for class or sessions with clients. I have to raise the bar on what’s acceptable for me. I’m doing what I can, but it’s time to push. It’s time to be better. It’s super uncomfortable, being a better version of myself, but who I am and who I want to be depend on my growth. I guess I also learned that when it’s time to boss up, you have to move differently. If you want more, you have to do more. Insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and anticipating different results. No, you can’t do it all by yourself, but you can hold yourself accountable for being mediocre. You’re better than that. Show us. Show up.
8. Practice gratitude. I stumbled across a 4-year-old video of Brene Brown, PhD discussing joy while watching another video about her take on empathy. Dr. Brown’s conversation with Oprah (inserted below) forced me to realize that I don’t practice gratitude. Sure, I try to pray every night and thank God when life is going well or I’m in a funk, but I need to be more intentional. I drove a 2015 car off the lot in 2016 after not putting down $1 and with monthly payments less than $250. During my first clinical internship (working with adolescents), parents called my supervisor to report how fond they were of me and how supportive they were regarding my work with their children. I wasn’t called home to attend a funeral in 2017. My rent was always paid on time. I didn’t have health insurance in 2017 (I owe the IRS $700 for that…LOL [not funny]), but I am grateful that I was not involved in any accidents nor did I contract any major illnesses. At the end of my first semester as a doctoral student, I tearfully spoke to God about what (S)he’s done for me and how I planned to improve our relationship in 2018. PRACTICE GRATITUDE. Life feels unreal when things are “too good,” but I deserve to smile. Don’t you? Last year taught me that every day there are ways to practice gratitude and things to be grateful for. To identify these things, start small: ask yourself 1) what made me smile today? 2) did I do something kind for another person today? 3) what made today a good day? 4) who/what made me laugh today? 5) did I learn something new today? 6) what/who am I grateful for? Write these things down. Keep a gratitude journal. Research also suggests that practicing gratitude is linked to higher levels of overall happiness. Last year taught me that life is too unpredictable to let people/things I’m grateful for pass me by without acknowledging them. We deserve to bask in happiness. Being a millennial blows for the most part, so I decided to extract the good from every day.
Comment below what you’ve learned in 2017! What are you carrying into 2018?
I hope what I’ve shared has been helpful, and I’m looking forward to what 2018 has in store for me. Another year to celebrate life and learn from my mistakes (and the mistakes of those around me).
Peace, Love and Lil Wayne