What I Learned in 2015



Last December, Emily Freeman hosted a What I Learned linkup. I’m not sure if she’s doing it again this year, but it helped me to reflect on the lessons of my year, so here’s my 2015 edition.


I am not an entrepreneur. This is not a cool thing to admit in 2015, when building and hustling for your brand is, like, the only way to be a creative person (or even a person). For a long time, I assumed that my goal should be to reach a point where I could make a living independently, whether by writing or something else. I compared myself to people doing this successfully and always came up short – because it’s a true apples-and-oranges situation. It was freeing to realize I’m just not made to build and hustle. It wouldn’t make me happy. In the song of life, I am the harmony. I am the glue. I’m meant to find something I genuinely believe in and use my gifts and energy to help make it happen in partnership with others. That’s not sexy, but the world needs it, and me.

I’m a hipster. Fine, I give up. I live in Midtown, eat and drink local, wear hipster glasses, listen to hipster music, and attend a hipster church with hipster coffee… and I love it. As long as I don’t pick up the worst hipster trait of believing my preferences make me better than everyone else, I guess I can live with it!

Waterproof mascara > regular mascara. Thanks to the sleep mask I have to wear, my eyelashes have become very straight, i.e. I’ve lost the only curls I had that were culturally desirable. So I’ve been on a Holy Grail eyelash curler/mascara quest. I’ve never liked waterproof mascara because it’s hard to remove, but for whatever reason, it holds a curl noticeably better than the regular kind. My current pick is Maybelline The Falsies.

Basalt pillars, in Iceland or elsewhere, do not taste like salt.

If you live in a multi-story home, you need two of everything you use frequently. I have upstairs and downstairs scissors, candle lighters, Clorox wipes, etc. Also: you can never have too many phone charging cords.

♥ “Sometimes love does not look like what you had in mind.” – Anne Lamott

It’s okay to change. I’ve changed so much in the last couple of years that sometimes I hardly recognize myself, and sometimes that terrifies me, especially in a spiritual sense. Aren’t Christians supposed to be steadfast, unchanged by experiences or the world, always relating to and understanding God in the same prescribed way from cradle to grave? I’ve been living with an undercurrent of fear, angst, and the sense that even though my core love for Jesus has not changed, I must be going off the rails.

About a month ago I attended a talk about faith and creativity, in which my pastor mentioned several famous bands who experienced a major transformation at the height of their careers. They created albums that everyone loved, then went through a difficult time that resulted in a rebirth and completely different sound. The new sound was just as brilliant and valuable as the old… and they had to tear down and then rebuild in order to find it. The transformation wasn’t wrong or a mistake, even though some people didn’t like it. It was the plan. This example helped me more than anything else I’ve heard this year. It was icing on the cake that one of the bands/albums he referenced was U2’s Achtung Baby, one of my all-time faves. Also, achtung means attention, or caution, like something is dangerous. I’m ready to be a little bit dangerous. ;)

It can take a long time for all the pieces of the story to come together. Both in writing and in life. And that’s not my fault or failure either, even though it often feels like one.

It’s okay to walk away. I said something similar last year, and it’s an ongoing lesson. Due to both nature and nurture, I tend to hold onto things and force myself into molds long past the expiration date, in the name of stability, responsibility, and sunk cost. I continue to get better at recognizing, accepting, and moving forward when something isn’t working anymore (or just needs tweaking). Sometimes Being Content! and Making Fetch Happen! is really beating a dead horse. You can stop trying. You can say enough. You don’t need a defensible list of reasons why.


What have you learned this year?

About Brenda W.

Christian. Memphian. Reader. Writer. True blue Tiger fan. Lover of shoes, the ocean, adventure, and McAlister’s iced tea.

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3 Responses to What I Learned in 2015

  1. Bethany says:

    I loved this! You are awesome. And I love the description of you as the harmony and the glue. SO ACCURATE. And so NECESSARY.

    And this made me LOL: “Basalt pillars, in Iceland or elsewhere, do not taste like salt.” We also learned that someone actually made a penis museum.

  2. Love this! I agree with almost all of it- especially the never having too many phone cords. I have one in the bedroom, one in the den,and 2 in the car, plus an extra in my purse and I also am constantly charging my portable chargers for class. I agree with you also about not being an entrepreneur- I think you are either born with that selling personality or you aren’t and most of us aren’t. And it’s perfectly fine.

  3. Liz W. says:

    “You don’t need a defensible list of reasons why.” So true! It’s such a problem for me. For some reason, I feel the need to explain in elaborate detail all the reasons why I can’t / shouldn’t / won’t do something. It’s exhausting. T

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