27 December 2017

The Lessons That 2017 Has Taught Me


Typically, I'm a fan of these self-reflective posts that emerge in full force at the end of the year, fervently nodding my head and mentally saluting to the wise words of my fellow online sista.



In the same way that the past year has messed with the status quo, I decided to stop reading the life lessons of others, shake up the system and put my own pen to paper with the things I've learnt this year.



2017 kicked my ass -both good and bad. The road of 2016 was one I thought I was to continue walking but it suddenly took a very abrupt sharp turn and I found myself at a set of crossroads. The reason? I fell in love.



It hit me when I least expected it to which was both euphoric and downright terrifying but it was real. I no longer wanted to stay amongst my comforts, from the cushty walls of my family home, handy freelance work to a mum who was my best friend and loyal wing woman and I took a radical leap of crazy faith.



I moved to the city of grand wonder and opportunity, to be with the man who foolishly stole my heart and to finally try my hand at being an adult. Which is why 2017 became the year my foundations changed - quite literally to an overpriced flat in London.



From trying to sell my soul in the hunt for full-time work, unwelcome health freaks in the family to stepping into a bikini for the first time in 6 years, 2017 has certainly been one to remember. Not to mention having to go cold turkey on a rather inconvenient penchant for shopping - London life offers a lot but 'treating yo self' is not one of them sadly; something I learnt rather abruptly.




Twelve months and numerous pep talks, reality-checks and self-help books later, I am still alive and kickin' so here are my nuggets of wisdom that I've picked up along the way...


#1. Quick & easy builds a rocky foundation
Chasing pleasure can be fabulous in the moment, just think back to that online retail therapy session on Topshop, that bowl of chunky monkey you devoured as well as that animalistic rendezvous with Mr. Big arms last night. Short term pleasure is entirely different to searching for happiness. Pleasure is momentary: there one minute and gone the next (deja vu ladies?!) Happiness, however, has the potential to drive youth the place and people you strive to go. Why don't more people plump for the big 'H' then? Happiness is gradual; a result of rising to the grind and walking the treadmill. Pleasure is who you spend your Friday night with, whereas happiness is who you choose to spend all of Saturday with. The difference is chasing and wasting time compared to investing it.




#2. Upgrade your belief to match your vision
When life is well and truly shitting on you, it is all too easy to get on your back and roll around helplessly. Choose to get up and shift your perception of the world. First and foremost, you've got to take off those shit-tinted glasses that you've been wearing as they aren't making things any clearer, dah'lin. Every day, take time to press re-set on the reality button and recognise whether it's as bad as it seems or if that rampant head monkey is raging in his cages again. Perception isn't definitive so thank the universe for three things that have made you smile that day. Those reality-tinted glasses sure do look more fun right now, eh?

#3. It's clich├ęd but life really is too short
Having experienced more than a handful of unwelcome fireballs this past year, it has shaken up my view of life and its finality. Taking a long hard look at myself, I waste the one life I have been given by channelling all my energies into self-centred crap. If I'm consumed with worrying about whether those stone-coloured jeans make my thighs look chunky, vodka or gin in my drink, black boots or tan or the number of calories in a hairdo sour cherry, then I'm wasting time. All that damn time, energy and concern I feed into concerns of vanity and material possessions could be spend investing in a positive future of memories and valuable relationships. 




#4. Your imperfections are perfect
Chasing perfection is a happiness pitfall we can all fall into at some point but what is beautiful and admirable is embracing the faults and kinks you were born with. These under-eye bags you have, those stretch marks you despise and those laughter lines you try to hide? Love them as they're nothing but yours to embrace. The ones who aren't ashamed of their quirks are the ones worth noticing and listening to; they are the ones with stories you want to listen to.


#5. Live authentically
At the end of it all, we only get given one life - one choice - to make a go of living a life you'll be proud of. When life comes crashing down, remember that a house can be built from nothing but rubble and still become a showstopper. Setbacks can only push you into new dimensions so change your view of where they can take you. No one cares how you spent last Friday night, whether you have a Tiffany diamond ring or even what brand of shoes you're currently wearing. Cutting it short, channel your energies into a life of 'we' rather than a life of 'me'. The things people will notice will be that time you were the ear to their troubles, sent that thank you card after Christmas and when you brought them grapes at the hospital. Your presence is the present in their life; show up.



#6. Don't get lost & lose yourself
You will never find the answers at the bottom of a bottle, in the number on the scales or your Instagram feed. Stop judging your worth on one-dimensional crap and stop seeking an identity in short-term pleasure thrillers. They'll end up drowning you even more. 

#7. Doing outweighs dreaming
Visualising your future is a great way to figure out what life you want to build for yourself but don't let it end just there. One of the hardest lessons I still battle with is dreaming and then following them through. Pinpointing where you want to be and what you want to do can nudge you in the right direction but it won't and can't do the work for you. Invest less time in dreaming and wishing for a different life and more time in doing something to get there. Talking the talk is great but walking the walk takes you places.





#8. Get back on that bicycle
If you don't know what to do next, don't lie down and do nothing. Find a source of inspiration to inspire you to get back up again - be it your mum, a movie idol, your dad's navy medal or even a fairy-tale quote. Nothing is quite as bad as it feels in the moment but if you refuse to do anything to change your circumstances then how do you expect to grow and move onto something better?


#9. Find time for you
Sometimes all that's really needed is a hug and a night in with a boxset. Downtime is an underrated self-healer that costs absolutely nothing.  




#10. In any situation simplify, not multiply
Problems, issues and shit sticks can look and feel a lot worse when we focus entirely upon them and magnify the hell out of them. Stop the worry bells in your head from making things seem 100% worse and strip back the evidence. Don't waste energy on embellishing reality and trying to predict what can or will happen. Take a breath, be in the moment and break it down to the things you can control. Simplify to harmonise. 


Love, Sarah

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