I think it's pretty safe to say that 2016 tested so many people in many different ways. It was a difficult year for many, to say the least, and some would say that it got worse by the day as it progressed on.
For me, 2016 was not the year I thought it would be, but in no way was it my worst year. It was much more trying than I expected, in so many aspects of my life, but the best part about that is that I feel like I've grown and learned more in the past 12 months than I have in a long time.
This year has taught me more about myself and the way I interact with others than any other year of my life. This is the year I became truly invested in friends in college, formed incredibly close-knit relationships with friends in school, became truly invested in something bigger than myself, and lost some friends along the way.
The biggest lesson I learned this year? How to treat others the way you want them to treat you, and how to treat yourself like you treat others.
I'm known as someone who will happily drop what they're doing to help someone out. I go out of my way to make people comfortable and as happy as possible and I want people to feel completely comfortable around me. I'm known to put off school work to focus on my friends and to put my chapter above about 70% of all of my priorities so that my sisters know how much they mean to me. I've found myself frustrated many times during the year because the people who I devoted time and energy to and often let myself slack on other things for so I could help them, wouldn't do the same for me. It was frustrating to feel like I give and give and give and deplete myself of energy to get nothing in return.
And then I realized. I don't give my time, energy and love, to get anything back. I give it because I want to bring joy to others. I love knowing that any one of my friends can call or text me knowing I'll answer every single time. I love knowing that most of my sisters feel like they can come to me with any issue, big or small. I love knowing that my friends wholeheartedly trust me to be there for them. Knowing that the people around me value me and feel like they can trust me matters more than them doing the same for me. Luckily, I have my close friends who drop everything for me and do take care of me like none other, so I'm not exactly lacking.
Another part of this lesson, is that I realized that in giving and giving and giving to others, I was forgetting to give myself the attention I needed. I would sleep less staying up with friends, slack on school work to focus on others, and wouldn't give myself the care I needed. After a particular trying first week of classes this fall semester, I realized I was quickly hurtling down a rollercoaster to burnout. I had to prioritize what I need and want to do before I continue into a semester of throwing myself into other people and other things without checking in on myself. The one thing I remember my father saying to me over this past summer is that "People often forget to treat themselves as they treat others. The things we say and do to ourselves, we would never ever do to others, but then why do we do it to ourselves?" This comment came up in a conversation about self-affirmation and finding one's worth inside yourself, but it applies here too. If I saw a friend treating themselves the way I was treating myself, I would be breathing down their neck to figure out a way to fix it. I had to take a step back from myself and my priorities to set things straight and remember to treat myself the way I treat others.
Overall, I'm really proud of the relationships I've built this year and the way I've learned to treat others with love and kindness. I'm still working on treating myself with the same kind of unconditional love as I treat others with, but I'm definitely on my way there in the best way possible. I'm looking forward to what will hopefully be a less trying 2017, that's still filled with many valuable lessons!