It has been a little over a year since I started this blog and it has been one hell of a ride.  Recently I found myself reflecting back upon one of the first posts I wrote.  I asked myself whether or not I had truly put those lessons into practice in my life.  Which for the most part, I think I have.  I was also inspired to revisit the topic of the most important lessons I’ve learned this year, and again I’m going to share that with you.  This might become an annual tradition.

What people think of you legitimately doesn’t matter

I’ve always been the kind of person who has difficulty establishing connections with other people.  I used to think that what others thought of me was a reflection of what I really was.  I believed it was my perception of myself that was flawed, not theirs.  It is entirely possible  for us to behave in ways that we don’t fully understand the impact of.  Honest and genuine feedback from the people who know us the best should be reflected upon carefully.  But for the majority of people in our lives, their perception of us is going to be tainted by their own biases.  Sometimes people will get a picture of us in their head that isn’t quite accurate and no amount of talking in the world is going to change that.  What I’ve found to be most effective in those situations is to brush it off, do my own thing, and let my actions speak for themselves.

Stick to your values and the right people will find you

The previous lesson leads into this one a little bit.  In my first year of college, I  compromised my values on more than one occasion because I was afraid of making waves.  In second year I promised myself I wouldn’t do that anymore and more actively stood my ground for things I believed in.  That caused a lot of problems for me.  Partly from my flaws, and partly from the flaws of other parties involved.  However, at the end of the year, I discovered that I wasn’t totally alone at school as I had once believed.  That amongst all the difficult things I had endured I had also identified a small group of people who understood not only mental illness but my passion for film and my personal values.  One of the most valuable pieces of advice I was given this year was: “Yeah you’re going to have to tolerate a lot of assholes, but if you stay true to yourself, the good ones will find you.”

People make time for what is important to them

Each human being has a list of ranked priorities, be it conscious or subconscious.  A person will always find time to engage in what is important to them.  No one is always busy.  This realization has helped me in so many ways.  It helps me to deeply consider why it is that I dedicate so much time to certain activities because the reason isn’t always what it would seem at surface levels.  It has also resulted in me putting in a more conscious effort to dedicate time to the things that are important to me, and the red flags of what I might need to deal with health-wise when I stray from that.  This lesson is also one that applies to interpersonal relationships.  It has caused me to look at why I avoid/gravitate to certain people and evaluate the health of those relationships.  Similarly, when a person constantly avoids concrete plans or reschedules frequently it is likely that your efforts will be more appreciated elsewhere.  I will say that adult life does sometimes get busy and things fall through but it is pretty easy to tell the difference between someone who actually cares and someone who’s just blowing you off.

Every single person in your life has something to teach you.

I have met quite a few new people in the past year from all different age groups and walks of life.  I also have distanced myself from a few people that I really enjoyed along the way.  I can truly say that I’ve learned more from these people than I ever will in any classroom.  I learned where my biases stand, what types of people and situations trigger my illness, where I need improvement.   I’ve learned about different cultures, decades and spiritual beliefs, broadened my music tastes, and so many things about the nature of human interaction that I’m having difficulty finding the words for it.  Every person, whether you can get along with them or identify with them has something to teach you about the world.  People watching can be such an insightful thing.  I have begun looking at every interaction under the mantra that “all behaviour is motivated.”  If I can understand why that person is acting the way they are from their perspective I learn more about them as a person and can better comprehend the world outside my personal bubble.

Sometimes the best course of action is to do nothing at all

Patience is a virtue that I struggle with.  When I’m in conflict with someone I want to fix it right away.  The gradual process of getting well used to frustrate me so much and hinder my progress greatly.  I want to fix everything, always.  I thought there always had to be some kind of response or comment or closure to everything.  I’ve realized that isn’t always so.  Sometimes giving someone a reaction is giving them exactly what they’re looking for and ultimately you’re encouraging the behaviour to continue.  Sometimes the person isn’t ready to hear what you have to say or needs time to cool down and decide how they feel about the situation as a whole.  On top of that, there are the times when our initial impressions are incorrect.  If always acted upon, many opportunities would be missed.  There seems to be a pattern of the more I try to force something, the worse things work out for me.  In a lot of cases where I used to push things, I kind of just do my own thing and hope that the situation can be resolved organically when the time is right.

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