The end of the year has always been a time of reflection for me. I always love the fresh start of the new year with new possibilities, new goals and the promise of a new self. Writing a reflection post is something I do every year and looking back on my posts from previous years (here, here and here) brings me to tears in the best possible way. They’ve become more meaningful over time with more substance and this year I want to share all the raw, real details with you all as I’m reflecting on 2018: what went well, what needs to be worked on and what I’ve learned this past year.
This year has been especially hard for me personally. All the trauma I’ve gone through in my life built up and exposed itself ugly self this year… all at once. I was an overwhelmed emotional mess and burnt out from taking on too much. My blog is and always has been a place of encouragement, happiness and joy so sharing the not-so-great details of “real life” has always been a bit of a challenge for me as I tend to keep these details of my life more private. But now, I’m ready to let go of the past and I’m so lucky to have such a supportive and encouraging community…not only that encourages me, but that encourages one another.
A few weeks ago, I went on a trip with an amazing group of bloggers. We all initially connected through our shared love of blogging and later on, unexpectedly through our journeys to create our blogs, our triumphs and our hardships. We felt less connected on a superficial level and more connected through our real and raw life experiences. Instead of feeling exposed and embarrassed, we were all met with love, support and encouragement. I realized that each and every one of us has a story and behind every seemingly “perfect” blogger is an incredible tale of perseverance, resilience and passion and that no matter what one person goes through, there is always someone else that understands completely. The hardships we endure open the biggest doors and I do truly believe that everything we go through carves the path that we are meant to be on.
What Went Well This Year
At the beginning of each year, I set a list of goals for myself and by mid year, I hit what I thought would be impossible. I feel like I challenged myself this year more than any other and although I say this every year, this really is the best year I’ve ever had professionally. Things that I once believed to only exist in dreams became a reality for myself this year and I realized my true potential in an industry that I fought hard to break into – an industry that I never gave up on even when I was met with years of tears, heartbreak and what seemed like an endless amount of obstacles.
This was there year that I finally gave up the stability of my “real world” substitute teaching job and my previously undecided future as a teacher was finally clear as day. It was scary to leave a semi-stable job to become a full-fledged entrepreneur but it was something I knew needed to be done as every single career choice I’ve consciously made in my life was for my lifelong dream of working in the fashion industry.
I’ve been working toward this since I was five and even with all the obstacles I’ve overcome to get here, this was the first year where I truly felt that the dream I’ve been pursuing for so long was finally within reach. It was a terrifying and exciting realization and if I’ve learned anything from the past, it’s that things don’t always work out the way you expect them to…but rather, work out in the way they are supposed to and in their own timing. I don’t know how 2018 can be topped but if the patterns of years past continue, then 2019 will be a crazy, amazing and exciting journey ahead.
What Needs to Be Worked On
You know, it’s ironic that people view me as a “real life Disney princess” because my life story is not that far off from Cinderella’s.
This year was eye-opening and challenging and it took a toll on me in every way imaginable. What you didn’t see behind the scenes was a tired, burnt out individual that didn’t feel like she measured up… a person that felt so emotionally damaged from other people, that she didn’t see her true worth…a person that didn’t recognize herself and desperately wanted to feel normal again.
To make a long story short, this was the year that I made the hardest decision of my life – to cut off my entire family. After years of emotional and mental abuse, I knew I had to do this for myself. What I didn’t know was how hard the process would be. I have never suffered the kind of emotional distress that I suffered this year. I went through a grieving period where I felt like an emotional wreck and couldn’t quite understand what was happening. I started having trouble sleeping and developed health issues. I started to lose motivation and excitement for the things I loved and worked so hard for. I couldn’t understand it and that was probably the most frustrating thing because I just wanted to feel like myself again.
In the past, I was made to feel so small and like nothing I ever did was good enough. I was made to feel like I wasn’t pretty enough, smart enough, skinny enough… that my dreams were far fetched and unattainable because I wasn’t good enough to get there….and for the longest time, I believed it. These beliefs spilled over into my professional life. I started comparing myself to others and feeling bad when things didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to. I started caring way too much about what others thought of me and about what everyone else was doing instead of staying in my own lane. I am the type of person that soaks up other’s emotions so when that negativity started affecting every part of my life, I knew it was time to let go.
Realizing the truth about how your family treats you is heartbreaking enough but completely cutting everyone out of your life purposely is a very, very difficult and lonely process. Even after, I still felt controlled by their words and actions and I had no idea that the decision to take back my life would result in me losing more than just my family. But you know, I don’t regret this and only wish I would have made this decision sooner.
What I’ll be continuing to work on in the new year is letting go of the past and creating a new future for myself: a future filled with hope, happiness and big dreams surrounded by people that support and love me. I’ll be working on my self-esteem, my health and making an effort to put myself first. I have come a long way this last year and I finally feel like I’m on the incline and getting closer and closer to becoming the person I once was and the person I want to be <3
What Did This Year Teach Me
This is probably my favorite part of reflecting on the past year because each year, I find myself learning a new and valuable life lesson. This year, I learned, what I feel, is the biggest lesson of all – that only you are in charge of your own happiness. Do NOT depend on other people to make you happy or to fill that void that is missing in your life. Ultimately, we are in charge of our own destinies and no matter what anyone else thinks, as long as our decisions make us happy, then that’s all that matters. I’ve learned that everyone always has an opinion and they may not be supportive of your endeavors, but at the end of the day, they are not the one that has to live with it. They don’t know the deepest passions of your heart and sometimes risks are involved to get to where you want to be. Most importantly, if they ever make you feel less than or that you are not good enough in any way, then they don’t deserve a place in your life. Period.
I’ve realized that family doesn’t always mean blood and I’m finding it more important than ever to surround yourself with positive, uplifting people that actually believe in you and support you in everything you do and those that actually like you for you and not for what information or connection you can give them. I realized that I am not a victim of life’s situations and instead throwing myself a pity party, it’s more productive to find the silver lining in it all and see what positive lesson is to be learned.
I realized that people can only make me feel inferior if I give them permission to and that there is no rule that says certain people have to stay in your life and take advantage of you. I realized that I’m a lot stronger than I think and that each lesson learned paves the way for something good to happen in the future. I’ve realized that it’s okay to let go of things or people that are no longer serving a purpose and that there is absolutely no reason to feel bad about wanting to create a better life for yourself and for those that you choose to surround yourself with. And I’ve realized that having a good attitude and outlook on everything is the key to being happy – there is always some good that comes out of every situation and sometimes “bad” things happen so that incredible doors can be opened for us.
Overall, I’m beyond grateful for everything that happened this year – both good and bad – and I am so excited to see what 2019 brings!
Next week, I’ll be sharing my annual goals with you all along with ways that you can stay organized! Until then, have a happy new year!! <3
What is the biggest lesson you learned in 2018?
Last week’s most clicked look was….
I love this cozy and cute sweater! So perfect for the holidays!