What I Learned In 2016

It’s that time of the year when I start writing the number of the new year a lot. So much that I forget which year we’re actually finishing and which number is the one that’s about to start. We’re in 2016, I think. Heading into 2017 in just two weeks.

I had a lot of ideas of what 2016 would hold. Some things that I was prepared for happened: I turned 40. Some things I didn’t think would happen occurred: Donald Trump. You just never know when a year starts, what the world is going to look like in 365 days.

As the year closes out, I love to read everyone’s lists of favorite blog posts and most loved books of the year. In the spirit of year-end and my love of lists, may I present the lessons I learned this year? Yes? Good!

Turning 40 made me feel sort of old and motivated to figure out life.

Up until now, I’ve spent most of my life deferring any big questions to the adult in the room.

What should we do about ________?

What is the answer to ________?

I don’t know. Ask the wise person who knows things.

I’ve been relying on the wise older person to help me. Now, I find myself being the adult in the room more often than not. It’s terrifying. I really thought I would know more than I do. So, I’m working on knowing things and figuring things out that I have questions about just in case a young 20 or 30 something whippersnapper needs me. Also, for my own benefit, it’s good to know a few things.

Social media makes me anxious.

The more voices I hear telling me what I should think, what I should do, what I shouldn’t do, what is going to kill me, etc., the more worried and irritated I become. If I’ve learned anything at all this year, it’s that I need a new plan for how I use the internet. 2017 is going to look very different in regard to how I spend my time online (and I’m going to tell you all about it soon!).

Dealing with hard things can teach you empathy.

For some reason, God saw fit to marry off two anxious people and gift them with three amazing children whose brains also tend toward different anxiety issues. I wouldn’t trade my husband and children for anything. Every family has their challenges. Currently, ours is learning to talk back to our brains when they misfire and yell, “danger” when there is none. We’re learning together.

We’re learning empathy and it’s invaluable. I hate that my kids deal with things that are difficult, but if it teaches them to be kind and understanding and encouraging to others, that’s a win. It’s not just my kids learning empathy- Nathan and I are learning it too. To the mom or dad who is in the trenches of kid stuff, we get you. I know that all you want to do is pretend everything is great and watch Netflix and play solitaire. (I’ve heard some people do that)

Learning how to do relationships well is a life-long process.

It’s taken me a long time to understand that friendships are constantly changing with different life seasons. Leaning in and riding those waves instead of fighting against them has been a game-changer. It’s the only way to hang on to friendships for the long haul. Extend grace. Give the benefit of the doubt. Assume the best. Let go of needing to be right. I’m still a baby at learning these things, but when I do, I don’t regret it.

Those are my top 4. Those are the lessons that are shaping how I approach my goals for next year. I would love to hear your top lessons from 2016.

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