2014… as the cliche goes, was quite the roller coaster; a year full of ups and downs, twists and turns. I may have been the walking definition of a mess for the past couple of years after an incredibly thoughtless decision turned my life upside down. It’s been a long journey getting to the place I am today but I’ve never learned so much about myself or life in general as I did this past year. I’ve finally decided to share some of my personal life with the world, not because I’m looking for sympathy or attention, but because there’s comfort in knowing that you’re not the only one struggling through this crazy life and that in the end, while they may not turn out the way you were hoping, things really will be okay.
1) Drinking excessively…. just stop.
One of the most important things that came to light for me this year was that my partying had gotten a little (okay a lot) out of hand. I started drinking late in the game compared to all of my friends and I stupidly tried to keep up with everyone else, at parties and in bars, refusing to face the fact that my tolerance is never high and there is no rhyme or reason as to why some drunk nights were the best and others my life truly hit rock bottom. For the longest time I just left it up to fate and whatever happened happened and the next morning I blamed it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol. I lost a lot of respect for myself and lost a lot of respect from others who didn’t know me well enough to find another redeeming quality to keep me in their lives. Seriously, sometimes drunk Danielle is the absolute worst. While I strive to live a life of no regrets because I firmly believe everything happens for a reason, I hate that “that drunk girl” is how I will be remembered by a lot of people in college. It’s not really about me caring about what others think of me but the bigger picture of what kind of memory I want to leave with the people I meet in this world, which is a happy and kind girl, not one who gets too drunk and is prone to crying. I was lucky enough to be involved with a guy for a little while at the beginning of the year who let me in on a little secret that I was better than my drunken behavior and that I needed to cut it out pronto. So I did. I’m certainly not perfect but my drinking responsibility has improved so much, as it should be at age 23. I am beyond grateful for the friends and family who encouraged me to chill out with the drinking but still loved me, supported me and always lifted me up when I slipped (and fell, sometimes in thorn bushes.)
2) A mirror is kind of magical because it reflects what you want it to.
Deep, I know, but just go with it for a sec. Alcohol easily segues into another reflection on 2014 because I gained about 40 pounds since I started drinking. This year I put my foot, and sometimes my glass down, and literally worked my butt off to change my habits and to remember how important exercise and nutrition are to me. I lost 20 pounds this year which I’m super excited about, but the other thing that happened concerning my appearance was the day I stopped using the mirror as a self-loathing device and the sincere life-improvement that followed. The weight loss has definitely helped boost my self-confidence, but I also made an active decision to stop letting my reflection make me feel inferior. Of course there is nothing wrong with acknowledging flaws and working towards a better, healthier body (that is a huge part of my career choice), wearing makeup to cover up imperfections and doing your hair so it best flatters your features, but it truly goes deeper than surface beauty. You have to look past the imperfections in that reflection and find something deep inside of you that you are proud of and love about you, because until you see your inner beauty and let it shine outwards, you won’t be happy or feel pretty and that is a terrible way to live. I am so glad to leave that behind and I wish that for every other girl and woman out there who struggle with feeling beautiful.
3) I need to take the time to quiet my mind.
Anyone who knows me well can tell you I can talk endlessly about the same thing. For hours. This is a good quality in the form of being passionate for things I love doing and for positive things that make me happy, but when it comes to hashing out scenarios like why a boy made me think he genuinely cared and was still able to drop me like a hot potato, the second another girl came along, is the biggest waste of my energy. I get so hung up on things like this. A huge part of my unhappiness has stemmed from me having these ideas about how things should be with relationships between everyone I know, my friends, family and guys in particular. When things don’t go as I hoped or think they should, I can’t get a handle on it because I’m so hung up on the “principle of the matter” and then I read into situations and blame myself for everything. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone thinks and feels about things a different way and that should just be left at that. Of course I’m going to have heartache when people come in and out of my life but if I stopped being the outgoing, fun-loving girl I am for fear of losing the people I let into my life, I would lose out on so many amazing opportunities to make friends and have fun. That being said, I need to learn where to draw the line of letting people walk all over me and to start standing up for what I want and deserve even if I’m scared of causing strain on my relationship with that person. That is something I’m still working on but having that knowledge is big. A Pinterest quote once told me that it takes the same amount of energy to build yourself up as it does to tear yourself down, so why should I ever waste it on the negative? I started meditating this year in search of some inner peace and happiness. It works very well during the calm parts of life but when things get hard and stressful, I struggle with sitting still and quieting my mind, which is when I need it most. Life is not always going to go the way I plan and people will come and go. The second I was able to accept that simple truth, a weight lifted off my chest and I felt instantly happier.
4) I want to be romanced.
I have been more or less single since my jr. year of college. After a heart-wrenching breakup, I didn’t think I wanted to ever deal with boys or relationships again because I couldn’t possibly bear losing someone else, yet I continually had a guy in my life. Deep down (and this was completely unbeknownst to me) I had the need to be wanted, so I found it where I could. And let me tell you, casual sex is only fun for so long, a.k.a once, kind of. I actually hurt myself way worse than if I had just been real with myself, mended my broken heart and waited for the right guy to come along again. Trying not to be in a relationship with someone who it seems you are, but you aren’t, and you are both just using each other to fill some kind of void in your life, is the most mentally exhausting thing I’ve ever experienced. It made me crazy and brought out the worst in me every time. And while I did seem to have a good time, for the most part I was never able to be genuinely happy because of that constant feeling in my gut that there was something wrong with the way I was going about my life. So from here on out, I’m closing my legs until I get the door opened for me. Just a joke, mom, don’t worry, I’m waiting for the romance I finally know I deserve.
5) I say sorry entirely way too much.
This one is short and sweet and to the point. I’m not sure if a single day has gone by in the past several years of my life that I didn’t say sorry. And it’s obnoxious and I can’t keep doing it. Of course there are things that happen that deserve an apology but about 70% of the times I use sorry are unnecessary, just me worrying that everything is my fault. So in 2015 I’m going to stop being so sorry for everything. In the words of my favorite artist, the haters gonna hate baby, I’m just gonna shake it off, shake it off.
I guess you can say that these lessons I’ve learned capture all of my New Year’s resolutions that I haven’t bothered to list one by one. I’m taking these things I’ve figured out about myself and life and I’m running with it. 2015 is going to be my best year yet. And I wish the same to all of you!