24 things i learned in 2021

if im being honest, i wasn’t sure if i wanted to write this at all.

this past year was so hard that it just seems like it’d be too hard to write about it at all.

but, this year i proposed something new to myself- to write something every day. and i thought that id easily run out of things to say or write or think but in fact, it feels like i’m writing and thinking about things i’d never exactly written about before.

and well- it is a new time for me. maybe newer and lonelier than ever before.

one of my good friends texted me yesterday and was telling me that one of the things she learned this year was that doing things for your mental health is more important than being liked superficially. and the more i think about that, the more it makes sense for me too. i’ve lived my life trying to please everyone around me, and while i love being there for my friends, my family, and just all the people i love- i have honestly not done very much for myself this past year. home-work-home-see the same 3 friends-watch them move on-home-home-home. and it’s lonely ill admit, i haven’t taken care of myself at all. i lost weight unwillingly, i’m anemic, i don’t have very many friends and i have a hard time answering my phone, hence the lack of presence on social media that i’m sure no one cares about but that’s the only peace of mind i’ve had in the past few months. i still can’t drink coffee and that breaks my heart. i still can’t let anyone in because i’m scared that they’ll have to see the real me, and i honestly still can’t tell you why. i’ve racked my brain for answers that i still don’t have. all i know is that i’m terrified that i’m making the wrong choices. i’m scared that i’m really really hurting people i care about because of my own indecisiveness. but i’m trying to figure it out. aren’t we all? i’m really trying. but i don’t understand myself. i don’t want to be alone but i’m scared that if i’m not alone, ill get used to it, and then everyone will leave again. it’s not an unreasonable thought either for me: people have come and gone as they pleased in my life before i had the decency to set some boundaries for myself. and that’s always hard. on the outside it seems like you changed completely to others but really you’re just at this point where you’re tired of all the disrespect. i don’t want to feel small anymore but i do, it’s the truth. i want to scream and think and feel and know that i deserve better because i know that’s the only way i will actually recognize the things that i ask for, that i pray for. i have to believe that i deserve good things, good people, i have to believe that for once- the things i want will stay, and just because they might not stay as long as i want them to doesn’t mean that i don’t deserve them it just means that we live in an unpredictable world. and were human, and we suck sometimes and we hurt people we care about (myself included). but i guess what i’m trying to say with all of this is that this always gives us the room to grow, it gives us better tools to grow into better people. i want to be able to respect that im okay as i am while also constructively working on myself. why does that have to be so hard? i don’t know. ill tell you when i figure it out myself.

so now onto everything else, i almost wish that the list would get shorter every year- but it seems to always be longer.

anyways, here it is:

  1. the biggest one for me: i deserve reciprocated love. that’s it. no more excuses. no more pretending like the way things have happened for me in the past was okay. no one deserves to be treated like nothing. and so i have started believing it.
  2. along with that one: i have spent a great deal of my teenage/early adulthood being there for everyone in my life to an extent that was honestly bigger than i could handle. i’d answer panic-filled phone calls and stayed on the line until it was all okay- and i honestly thought that id get that back too. because it should be reciprocated. i thought the people id die for, would do the same for me. and i know what you’re thinking: we shouldn’t do things only for what we get in exchange but i’ve been a good friend because i love my people and i think that’s what everyone deserves. the problem is- i think at one point we all expect a certain level of reciprocity. there are very few feelings worse than realizing you didn’t mean as much as you thought to the people you loved, the people you let cross multiple boundaries and still let them in each and every time ( and i’ve still done this recently, which ya know- work in progress). the people you watched replaced you right before your eyes and you just shoved your feelings inside because something was better than nothing because having them was better than not having them in your life. isn’t that what everyone wants? i thought so too. until i realized that it was making me kind of miserable. until i realized that they only came back because they wanted the benefits of having me in their life while still putting in minimum effort, or relying on good memories to save whatever it was. i’ve learned that it just doesn’t work that way. everything, every time, every person is different but one thing remains the same: how much you are willing to tolerate before things just circle back to what they’ve always been. people don’t usually change unless it comes from their own selves.
  3. i realized breakups hurt, all of them. and if we don’t feel them the first time around, they come back until we cry them out of our system. whether it’s friends, family, boyfriends, etc. they all hurt just the same especially when you’re me and you think everyone loves the way you do and thinks they wouldn’t hurt you in ways you’ve already been hurt before. it’s all the same. it all hurts. even when things are finally okay, talking to them, seeing them, watching them live their lives without you. even if and when you’re happy all of these things can still hurt. and the fact that it does should maybe tell you something: that pain runs deeper than we know sometimes. it stays in muscle memory even when you’ve blocked out all the memories long ago. and honestly, i do think it’s normal. im not saying i never get over things but what i am saying and have said before on here is that healing isn’t linear. you can’t put a time frame on that.
  4. you can forgive people and still not like what they did. you can forgive people, forget it, but still avoid the behavior that hurt you. you can forgive people and still be cautious when you start letting them in again. you can also forgive people and set boundaries. and this: you can forgive people and appreciate the memories that you’ve had together, and love and appreciate them for what they did for you and for the time they were with you, and still not want them in your life anymore. that doesn’t mean never speaking to them again and blocking their existence out: it simply means that they no longer will hold a place in your life that they once did. and that’s okay. it’s really okay.
  5. also- you will be okay. sometimes fewer people doesn’t mean less love. it means more quality love. i do believe that as we get older, we learn to be content with simple things.
  6. don’t over-complicate things. when things are simple, it shouldn’t be scary for you, it should be good. i feel like a lot of the time, we convince ourselves that to have good things- things as simple as maybe good friends- it has to be hard, and only then it’ll be worth it. but what i’ve learned not only in the past year but in the past few years is that the things and people that come easy or fit into your life so easily- that’s the way it’s supposed to be. it’s not a trap, it’s not gonna leave as fast as it came if it fits into our lives well. me to me: stop being so scared that you don’t enjoy the time you have now with great people.
  7. and also stop being so scared of literally anyone who shows you that they love and care for you. if you know me well, you know i am forever working on this one. it always feels like a joke if anyone actually likes me sooo i’ve gotta stop that. it’s not fair to me or doing me any favors.
  8. it’s okay to rest. it’s okay to do nothing sometimes. i’ve been working myself to the bone in every single way you can think of since i was like 17, and before that, if we’re counting taking care of children that weren’t mine since i was like 12( but that’s another story for another more complex time). i honestly still feel guilty when i do, but then i remember that aside from everything else, we are literally living in a really crazy time right now.
  9. stop trying to control everything. the moment i stopped setting ridiculously high expectations for myself, my self-confidence improved quite a bit. i think my personality and life have contributed to this quite a bit. i always have felt like at least i should be able to control some things in my life. usually external things, it’s gone from having good grades to being a good daughter to controlling the way i look or what i eat (hence the multiple hair color changes in my younger years). it’s always been something. and lately, i have NOTHING in control. but that’s only taught me to be more trusting and honestly just to have more faith. if i would’ve told my 25-year-old self that i don’t wake up at 5 am every day, that i don’t try to control how i look all the time, and that i literally have close to nothing figured out she’d probably tell you that’s impossible (cue kate hudson on the treadmill in bride wars).no, but really, it all feels safer when i become more accepting of myself when i’m tired, when i’m sleepy, when i eat enough and sleep enough and i never ever wake up at 5 am willingly because i’ve always hated waking up early. i just pretended i didn’t. and i’m tired of pretending.
  10. work through your issues. i’m serious. you have no idea how many things i figured out in the past year that were actually due to other issues that id blocked out. sometimes you think you’ve forgiven yourself for something but inherently you’re letting it sabotage other areas of your life.
  11. this is a bit of a tricky one to talk about but this year i finally let go of any residual resentment i had towards my parents. regardless of how hard things were for me as a kid, i can only blame myself for my own behavior- and like i said before: for the ways i’ve sabotaged my own life. once i realized and accepted that they’d done their best with what they had- i’ve had a much much better relationship with them. i can be honest, without being hurtful. i can accept that yes- while their actions did affect me for a moment in time, i’m now a grown adult who makes her own choices. and only i can do that, and i can do that without the past affecting them. i can break that cycle. i can have good relationships, i can have a peaceful home (and i do). i can choose to speak kindly to others. i can choose to be kind and peaceful. i can respect others’ opinions while disagreeing. i can be a good person and that doesn’t take way from them also being good people. it just means i will choose to live in a different, more peaceful way. i also have learned to just express to them if something has hurt me, even when and if i haven’t said anything previous times. i’ve learnt that its okay to ask for that respect, even from people you know and love so much.
  12. we can’t keep blaming our surroundings for the ways we act. its our own responsibility to become good people.
  13. i am good enough. i am good enough. i am good enough. that’s it.
  14. ive learned that my health really suffers when i don’t take care of myself well. when im an anxious mess of a person, i don’t feel good inside either. it all ties together.
  15. it’s okay if your life feels boring right now. i spent 3 years of my life basically just traveling (aka running away from all my problems) and although i miss that phase of my life sometimes- i do appreciate slow mornings and mid-afternoon coffee shop runs. i appreciate sleeping in sometimes, i appreciate singing in my living room, i appreciate running mundane errands with my friends. i appreciate the normalcy that there is in all of it. i appreciate having a set schedule and i love having off days. point is: ive come to love it. i actually feel things as they happen. and it feels simple, but it feels good.
  16. i’ve been writing every day and i cannot tell you how much it’s helped me sort through my feelings. i knew that writing things down helped me but this goes beyond that. It’s almost like i can make sense of things when i’ve poured them into my journal. it’s really nice to start the day like that.
  17. the world doesn’t stop spinning even when our own world does. everything goes on. everyone goes on. this was a hard one because it makes me feel bad for all the time wasted, but one thing i know is that it wasn’t wasted- it got me to where i am, scars and all. it still served its purpose. i’ve also learned that sometimes it feels easier to be sad and depressed (or even be in a chaotic environment) if thats what youve always known. it takes WAY more work to not feel that way- at least for me. and so i honestly want to put in the work. it can be really scary because sometimes you don’t even know what your real personality is until you start feeling better, but i promise its worth the work.
  18. i used to think the whole “if they wanted to they would” mindset was bulletproof. in fact, that’s what i’ve been thinking for the past few years. but then in the past year, certain things and certain people came into my life and i didn’t take those opportunities because i was scared. terrified, even. and so it made me think that not everything is black and white…we miss opportunities, we miss out on wonderful people because our lives, our upbringing made us behave in certain ways. so sometimes that happens to other people too. i’m in no way saying anyone should accept crappy behavior, all i’m saying is that most times, there’s so much more to take into account than superficial things.
  19. having amazing, beautiful, encouraging, and honest girl-friends is such a huge thing. it makes life a lot more worth it to be honest. i read a quote recently and i can’t stop thinking about it: “i can live without romantic love, but i can’t survive without the women i call friends, they know exactly what i need, before i even know i need it. the way we hold space for each other is just different.” – rupi kaur. i love them all. the ones who have stuck around through it all, are some of the most incredible people that i know.
  20. i know that everyone is tired of hearing this but mental health is so important!!! i can’t tell you how much being at least slightly informed about this would’ve helped me in so many ways when i was younger. our lives are hectic right now and i think its just so important to give yourself the time to breathe.
  21. no one knows what they’re doing. well, maybe some people do but i don’t personally know them. we’re all just trying our best. i hope that makes you feel less lonely when your life feels messy.
  22. there is no time-frame for your life. i spent the past year feeling so behind. confession: one time i got off of a face-time call with some of my friends who had both just started dating and had a full on breakdown afterwards. it was hard. i’ve always prided myself on being a good friend but i didn’t feel like one at that time. i felt so helpless and sad and even a bit angry because i wanted to relate so badly. but i couldn’t and i still can’t. but at least my mindset has changed. do i still have a hard time? yes. do i still feel like i’m running out of time? yes. the difference is now i’ve accepted the time that i’m in. the circumstances that i’m in. and with acceptance comes peace.
  23. it’s not always you. sometimes people just suck and there’s no reason behind it, or there is. some people also lack self-awareness. something i have too much of. so yeah, it really is not always you. and you also don’t have to stick around just because of history. when you’re trying to move on and become a better version of yourself- some people from your past unfortunately only bring out the worst in you. or more so- what you see as your worst because you don’t want to revert to being the person you were with them again. its okay to let go. its hard to complete that puzzle with them because along the way , you’ve lost pieces, thrown them away, forgotten about or just moved onto something else.its okay 🙂 i’ve learned that when people say they don’t deserve you, most times they’re about to prove it to you. they’re about to show you why. pay attention.
  24. the last one this year is simple, but important to me. i learned that it was okay to surrender sometimes, a lot of the times. things don’t really ever go the way i want them to. honestly. i used to feel sad when i’d look around and all my friends had the things they wanted. simple things. like a nice childhood, or a good relationship, or really just anything. i just wanted to feel calm. and i guess i felt a lot like giving up this year- on all those things, as simple as they sound. and i think for a while i did. but then- then it clicked in my head. if i don’t feel like i deserve these things i will probably pass them up or think that they’re too good to be true. if i don’t stop treating my life i’m a background character, these things might not happen for me because i’m so worried about them that i forget sometimes they’re right in front of me. i tell all my friends they deserve the best, and not only that, i believe they will get those things that they really want and deserve. so why can’t i believe it for my own self?? why is that so hard? why am i not looking at myself as someone who is worthy of love, and respect and sunshine? why? because i’m not looking at myself positively. and thats what i really really lack. and i’m taking that into this current year, if i do one thing- its that i need to see myself as good, as kind, as someone worthy of loving. because i’ve had the opportunity of having good things, great things even- but i’m so scared of being hurt in the same way i’ve been broken up with, that i’ve been replaced, that i’ve been disrespected, that i’ve been told i’m not worthy of good things that those words have stayed in my head for so long, i didn’t even realize they were still replaying in the background. but i’m still the same little girl. i’m still the same 19 year old girl who was dumped for no reason, i’m still the same 20 year old girl who put so much effort into friends who just left anyways- and that hurt; of course it hurt. i’m still the same girl in high school who’d get pushed into lockers and would get mean notes delivered during classes. i’m still the same 12 year old girl who won the spelling bee but had no one to tell because nobody cared. i’m still an older version of all those girls. and while i must accept that those things happened and that they hurt- i also now know that all those versions of me were still kind, and beautiful and worthy. even if it didn’t feel that way back then. and the thing is- i have the opposite versions of that now. i have friends who remind me how important i am in their lives. i have a good relationship with my parents. i have people in my life who are proud of me always. even for the smallest wins. even for all of them. and so every single day, i want to remember and know that i am worth it. even when i feel messy. i want to remember that i will still be myself even after i’ve worked through everything. i’ll still be the same girl- just better.

when i was in school i remember reading a short story by sandra cisneros and i didn’t get it at the time, but now it makes so much sense. heres a little part of it.

i don’t know whats going to happen this year for me. all i know is that i was gone for a while and i missed home a lot. i didn’t realize just how much. of course- its freezing and im cold and i think there’s a blizzard this weekend and my car was towed the day i came home and i’m tired and i cried a lot yesterday (new york didn’t welcome me very well) but after all of this: i guess i can say i’m glad i’m here. if i want to do anything this year its going to be to take it slow and not force myself to figure things out way before i’m supposed to. sure, 25 doesn’t look quite the way i want it to but it has people that love me. i don’t (think) i lack self-awareness. i don’t really know what i’m doing but do you remember the little things i talked about before? well i think i have them now. i have a small, unmatched beautiful things i’d never dreamt of having before. i have peace.

and after visiting my hometown again recently i realized that yes, i’m an adult now. i make my choices. i don’t have to let anyone affect me to the point of making me cry- in fact i don’t think that’s happened in years. when my family asks me how life is and if i’m ever coming back i feel like i can be genuinely honest and say no without feeling bad. and if they ask me why i can say, well- because this place brings out the worst in me. because my worst memories are here. because i deserve better. because i no longer have to spend time worrying about if my family actually likes me or not, if my friends are mad at me again for reasons i’ll never know, i don’t have to worry about all the extra noise because now there is no noise and everything is much clearer than before. i’ll admit i used to sometimes ruthlessly call people in my life out but i don’t care about those things anymore. i used to send paragraphs, letters, smoke signals- but i’m glad i don’t anymore. and that’s really peaceful. its good knowing that you can have a hold over your own emotions for once. i guess that comes with being an adult. accepting that no matter what- you have to take accountability for your own reactions, emotions, your choices in who and what you surround yourself with. and as *controversial* as this may sound- i’m glad i’m not stuck in the same town i grew up in, doing the same things, having no emotional or character growth whatsoever. i live a life that isn’t easy. it’d certainly be easier had i just stayed home. but i know my heart wouldn’t have been able to handle that much longer. and the reason i’m saying all of this is because after 2 years i finally kind of feel at home. i realized it when i was helping my sister move to mexico recently and after two weeks i wanted to come home. and its not because i hated it or didnt really (realllly) enjoy the non-freezing weather or just being somewhere else because i did! but i missed my house. this is the first time in a very long time that i’ve actually wanted to stay somewhere. and i can’t explain it very well, but it almost feels like i’m no longer running away from myself. because all the running, all the constant moving around, all the traveling i did in my younger years was just me running and running and running until i was out of breath. and its all catching up to me now. and it feels weird to say that i’m somehow starting over at 25. my personality feels different, my life feels different, there’s new people in my life that i’d never imagined would be my best friends. i’d never imagined some people to turn more into my family than some people who technically are. but i’m actually happy most of the time i think. i no longer see my friends who are in different stages than me as some kind of threat to my own messy life. in fact-i enjoy being part of those new chapters. i enjoy catching up and seeing their kids and seeing how they’re handling this crazy life. and that it is. but i never fail to hear from the people who matter. i never fail to hear the ‘i love you’s’ in between the calls. i never fail to know that i really do have the strongest bit of people, old and new. and i think a lot of the times in the past i have failed to realize all of this because i was too focused on the ones that had left. but now- now im so grateful that they all stuck. because this life is messy, but it feels like sunshine when you don’t have to clean it up all by yourself.

i don’t want to run for once, and hey- its not so bad after all.

-vi:)

2 thoughts on “24 things i learned in 2021”

  1. Wow..Thanks for sharing this with us. My journey in 2021 was tough, and even now life is life-ing! But you’re not alone. Thanks again for sharing with us.

    Liked by 2 people

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