What I Learned in 2016

This used to be a linkup with Emily Freeman. I’m not sure if it’s happening this year, but I have learnings to share, so gather round!

[ICYMI: The 2016 Survey // The 2016 Soundtrack]

Run on different sides of the street. Not a metaphor. While training for a 15K at the beginning of the year, I developed some IT band problems. Up to that point, I had always run on the same side of the street. I’d never thought about the fact that I did this OR that it might matter. When I started switching it up, the problems went away and haven’t come back!

Do not automatically accept blame. I cannot count the number of times this year I was accused of not doing something or other. But it almost always turned out I did do the thing – the other person forgot, didn’t check, or wasn’t paying attention. So, over time, I’m conquering my knee-jerk panic and self-abasement, and checking my facts and reality before proceeding. This skill is improving my quality of life and becoming more useful all the time.

St. John’s Wort can work. For those who don’t know, this herb is widely considered to be nature’s antidepressant. I started taking it in the spring, I think, with no real expectation that it would do anything (making me a good test case). I’d been mildly depressed for a long time, but I can now say semi-confidently that I’m in a better place, and I attribute some of that to St. John’s Wort. My emotional baseline is much higher and my lows are less low, which is how many friends have described the effects of “real” antidepressants. So if you’re interested, it’s definitely worth a shot! Just know that it can take several weeks to kick in, and the effect is subtle. I didn’t really stop and take note until recently.

Don’t buy shoes on Poshmark. Unless they’re new in the box and you already own a pair of the same size and brand. Even then, it’s a gamble.

Treating others well is not only right, but also an investment in your future. I’ve seen people’s behavior come back around to them in sometimes-shocking ways this year.

We all need to drive more carefully. Becoming a frequent pedestrian has changed my perspective. I ran hundreds of miles on the streets of Midtown in 2016, and almost got hit by a car many, many times. I’ve never been nervous behind the wheel before, but the defensive anxiety from city running has started to seep over into my driving. I’m still figuring out how to handle this better.

There are many valid ways to pray, and we may need different ways at different times. After years of angst over my prayer life failing to adhere to a prescribed formula, I learned this year that prayer really can be as natural as breathing. Rather than working hard at maintaining a Right Relationship with God (e.g. “If you feel far from God, guess who moved?!?”), prayer can be about opening ourselves up to what God is already doing all around us. It can be more about listening than talking, more about peace than discipline. Processing this concept has been revolutionary and restorative for me.

Pho is life. I could happily eat pho and El Porton’s chicken tortilla soup alternately for most of the year.

The more you challenge yourself and do hard and scary things, the easier it is to do so and the more you can achieve.

I was not made to be single. I’ve always believed this, but my six-month relationship removed any growing inkling of doubt. I know who I am both as an individual and in a relationship, and being in a healthy relationship makes me feel like the fullest expression of myself. I feel more peaceful, grounded, and alive. I didn’t fully appreciate what an energy suck singleness is for me until I didn’t have it for a while. Facing life alone while hustling in an endless beauty pageant will never be a natural fit for me. What I’m good at is being part of a team and loving someone with everything I have. I soaked up every minute, but it still wasn’t enough time. It just wasn’t enough time.

What did you learn this year?

About Brenda W.

Christian. Memphian. Reader. Writer. True blue Tiger fan. Lover of shoes, the ocean, adventure, and McAlister's iced tea. View all posts by Brenda W. →
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4 Responses to What I Learned in 2016

  1. Milissa says:

    Love to read these lists. Thanks for sharing! So glad St.John’s Wort is working for you. The only caution I’d give other folks is that herb interacts with A LOT of medicines. So if someone is taking any prescription meds, it’s worth asking the pharmacist (or their dr….but a pharmacist is a quick reference & no appt required) if they can also safely take that. Wishing you all the best in 2017!

  2. Milissa says:

    I have learned that I’m a lot LESS social than I think I am. I need alone time. And crowds overwhelm me. I’m currently on vacation…it’s the last day :( …and the only time(s) I’ve been anxious or not enjoyed myself quite so much were the 2 times we went to attractions (Naples Zoo & Edison House) with lots of other people. I enjoyed those places tremendously, I especially recommend Edison House, but the moments of standing in a group were really uncomfortable for me.

    I also learned how to embrace failure this year. This was the year that I really understood you have to fail to get better. And my goal has been work until failure. It’s how you build muscle. It’s how you build stamina. It’s how you build skills. It’s pretty much how you build anything. My failure point today is different than what it will be IF I continue to work at it. I used to be afraid of failure. I used to be embarrassed by it. Now, I’m excited if I hit it…because that IS required if I want to be better.

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