Reflections Versus Resolutions: 13 Life Lessons To Carry Through 2013

New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and the corresponding month of January are a close second to Christmas in regards to may favorite time of year. Don’t get me wrong – there are times as we prepare to exit one year and enter another that I can feel the anxiety building up inside me; I begin to wonder, “What did I accomplish this year?” and “Was it enough?” We naturally compare our year and accomplishments with those of others, silly as it may be. However, a greater part of me conquers the slight end-of-year jitters and embraces the fact that I am about to begin again. The first day of January represents a brand new year, 365 days in which I have the opportunity to do more things right than wrong; cultivate more success and try to screw it up a little less.

The Goo Goo Dolls once sang “Tonight’s the night the world begins again” and I like to believe that to be true. In the same breath, this year I decided not to make any resolutions as they seem to only fuel the anxiety that so many of us feel with the closing of December. Rather, I will look back on 2012 and realize everything the last 365 days have taught me, figure out all the wisdom I picked up along the way (there was bound to be some.) So, while I may still make totally plausible resolutions like going on a date with Dez Duron, I am mainly welcoming 2013 with a serious amount of knowledge. Whether heartfelt and philosophical or plucked from pop culture, a lesson shared is a lesson learned so let’s do this; 13 lessons to carry us through 2013!

1. We have very little power over the actions of others but it is no matter; our disappointment in others rarely lasts as long as disappointment in ourselves, so it is best to ensure that whatever happens, we uphold the people we know ourselves to be. Plain and simple, 2012 taught me that people will disappoint you but, that doesn’t mean you have to disappoint yourself.

2. I have a no love, all hate relationship with change. However, I have finally begun to understand that my distaste for life’s tendency to be ever-evolving does not keep things the same. What I now know to be true, is that the biggest thing that happens in our twenties is change. Jobs change; whole careers change. Cities change and friendships change. Your idea of success changes and your outlook on love changes. Your friends transition into parenthood and your parents transition into true friends. The concept of what independence is changes. There is infinite conversation and rationalization that could go along with each of these things, a deeper meaning found in what changes, but through it all, change itself turns out to be the most epic and influential event of the decade. I learned that just because I don’t get on the train doesn’t mean it isn’t leaving the station, so I better buy a ticket.

3. Twenty-somethings will do well to have a good imagination. In times of transition and in order to keep our sanity, we must often remember what life was like during “the good old days,” mentally place ourselves in a time of carefree happiness while proactively imagining ourselves living out our dreams. I have learned that we need to be the best we can be in the present, take advantage of the moment and have an active imagination that takes care of the rest; we must imagine ourselves in possession of what we had to leave behind to get us through the heavier days and dream of that which we have yet to attain to encourage our pursuit.

4. Friends often come from the most unexpected places. There is no deeper meaning here, you just never know when and where you will find a kindred spirit. This year, HelloGiggles gave me the most wonderful gift when the ladies allowed me share my writing, my random thoughts, with all of you. I thought the opportunity to share my words with people was the gift, but I quickly realized the real gift was each of you. I have made friends who support and encourage my writing, share experiences with me and teach me Everything I Need To Know. I learned to be loved and let love in for, when you do, you will often be graced with good fortune and good friends.

5. Home is where you go to remember who you are, and it is good to remember. Often times it hurts that you can’t go back; sometimes we long for a simpler time, a time where home was stable and friends were present for the day-to-day. However, it is good to step back and remember how things were even if the action brings pangs of longing. A peek into the past can be a reminder of what true happiness looks like or how far you have come; it can be a reminder of who you are, because I have realized it is easier to lose oneself that I thought. This year has taught me that everyone has a place they can go, physical or emotional, to remember. I learned that everyone gets a little lost but we are always able find ourselves if we can just find “home.”

6. I learn a great deal of things from watching Glee (which probably says a lot about me); it is likely I could have written about the 13 life lessons Glee granted me this year, but I decided to keep it to a minimum. 2012 was a big year for Rachel Berry, just as it was for me, but she had her ups (Hello, Brody) and downs (the end of Finchel and the evil Cassandra July). In one of my favorite episodes of the season, “Swan Song“, Ms. July is harping on how sub-par Rachel is and how she will never amount to anything in the real world of Broadway, which she does in like, every episode. This time, though, Ms. July, who is obviously a symbol for everyone’s self-doubt and the people in our lives who mock our dreams, is put in her place when Rachel proclaims that she doesn’t need Ms. July or anyone else is the room to believe that she is the best.

“No one else has to believe it. No one but me.”

I am way more likely to be compared to Rachel Berry than Cassandra July so it is only appropriate that I related to this moment of realization, bravery and slight rebellion through shaky, unsure proclamation. There is a real lesson here, though, that I will be carrying with me for a while; Nobody else has to believe in me besides me. I learned that the very minute I stopped worrying about what other people thought about my dreams, stopped seeking the approval of those that didn’t much matter in the end anyway, was the minute I truly started down the path to making them come true. I learned that I believe in me and that’s enough.

7. The premiere of The New Normal and the latest season of Glee have proved that Ryan Murphy is like a peeping Tom into my soul. In fact, my only 2013 resolution is to get Mr. Murphy on board for directing and producing a television series about being a 20-something in middle America. I learned that at the end of the day, we all just want to feel like we aren’t alone, like we relate to someone else somewhere; anyone, anywhere, really. Ryan Murphy has an uncanny ability to make millions laugh until they cry or feel like their heart is literally breaking along with the characters on screen. It may seem silly, but whether through song and dance or witty, inappropriate one-liners, Ryan Murphy has thrown us all a little love this year, giving us someone and something to relate to each week.

8. If it weren’t for Glee and a good old fashioned lyric, I am not sure I would have learned much about life or my twenties thus far. Despite my love of the small screen, I brought home some of the biggest lessons from the box office this year. Sometimes, you learn a lot about life from unexpected places and in 2012 the big screen granted us The Perks of Being A Wallflower, Silver Linings Playbook and People Like Us, each of which doled out a little wisdom that taught me about how life should be in the coming year…

“We accept the love we think we deserve.” –The Perks of Being A Wallflower

“This is what I believe to be true: you have to do everything you can. And if you stay positive, you have a shot at a silver lining.” –Silver Linings Playbook

Last but not least, the six rules of life as presented in People Like Us. In theory, I could have left everything else off the list and just started the new year with these wisdoms (and if Chris Pine was personally giving this advice to me, I might have….)

  1. If you like something because you think other people are going to like it, it’s a sure bet that no one will. (The modern, more eloquent “just be yourself.”)
  2. Most doors in the world are closed so if you find one that you want to get into, you damn well better have an interesting knock. (If it is really what you love, it is worth a second knock, a third knock, a better, more creative knock. Eventually you will find a way to open it. Keep knocking.)
  3. Everything that you think is important isn’t. Everything that you think is unimportant is. (Let’s prioritize what’s important in life in the coming year.)
  4. Don’t s**t where you eat. Metaphorically speaking, of course. (I never quite understood or cared for this expression, but it is one of the six and I believe in staying true to advice in a grouping.)
  5. Lean into it. The outcome doesn’t matter. What matters is that you were there for it. Whatever it is; good or bad. (My personal favorite and mantra for 2013.)
  6. Never sleep with someone who has more problems than you. (This just seems like a good rule to live by that someone should have told us all a long time ago. Pass it on.)

This year, I learned that, for better or for worse, my favorite most profound life lessons came from Hollywood, proving you can always find a diamond in the gossip.

9. No one said it would be easy – yeah, we got that part. It’s just that no one said it would be this hard. Am I right? We knew life wasn’t going to be without challenge and most of us were okay with that, it’s just that sometimes the hard is so much harder than we ever thought it would be. Wasn’t it Coldplay that said “take me back to the start”? Well, this year I learned that no matter how hard it is, we can’t go back – to the start or anywhere else we have already been. No matter how much we wish do so. Each of us has to keep moving forward from the very point at which we stand. We’re all scared and if anyone tells you they aren’t, they’re lying. Regardless, forward is the only reasonable and attainable direction in which we have the ability to march. I learned I need to keep going, even if it is just one step at a time.

10. Find faith in something, anything, because you come to find there are times when your faith is all you have. This is not a conversation about religion. Faith can come from a variety of sources; a psychic, God, your family, HelloGiggles. I now know my faith lies within my friends; my friends are my religion and when they were all I had, I found it was more than enough to get me through. 2012 taught me to find faith in something and that was an invaluable lesson.

11. GIRLS. All hail Miss Lena Dunham for finally starting to talk about what life for 20-somethings – most specifically, 20-somethings in the city – is actually like. We all spent a great deal of time debating whether we were a Carrie or a Charlotte, but I don’t know any twenty-something’s who had a bad day and ended it with a $17 martini. 2012 saw the extreme and well-deserved rise of Girls and I think I speak for millions of women when I say we learned that we aren’t alone because we don’t have it all together. I learned that I am not the only one who is a little bit of a mess sometimes, privately and publicly; I am not the only one scared that I don’t know exactly what I am doing with my life and that just because you graduate and college kicks you out into the real world, doesn’t mean you will automatically feel like you belong there. Miss Lena Dunham taught me that 2013 will be a continuation of 2012 during which we are all allowed to figure out how to be functioning adults one mistake at a time.

12. It’s seriously okay to never grow up. This year brought us the epic on rush of One Direction, a continuation of Bieber Fever, and pop culture phenomenons like Magic Mike and The Hunger Games. I am proud to say I experienced all of these things. I learned that I am truly a teeny-bopper at heart and I will never let anyone tell me I am “too old” to have fun. Outward maturity is increasingly required with each passing year, but inward immaturity can live forever.

13. The ultimate goal is to make more right decisions than wrong in the end. For now, it is best to simply continue learning how to do it right. The hope is that it continues to get better, we continue to get better, without keeping score at every step along the way. Doing it wrong the first few times around can be a great deal of fun if you aren’t so worried about waiting for the perfection to throw the party. The past 365 days taught me that this, right here right now, is the time of our lives so we better live it well. I believe that if we do what we can with what we have and make a few good bets along the way, we will each come our victorious in the end.

You never know what the year ahead will bring. A lovely lady, a mentor of sorts, e-mailed me the other day and signed it “Stay flexible.” So, as we begin a new year, I pass that advice along to all of you. Stay flexible; make resolutions or don’t but be open to letting them go if they don’t fit and most importantly, be open to adjusting them if opportunities you hadn’t planned for are placed in your path. Take some time to realize what you learned in the last year. We never really know where we are going if we don’t take the time to understand where we have been. We are all wise beyond initial comprehension and a little education just might affect all that resolution making we are so busy doing.

So, as we prepare to start a new I am “resolution-less” but confident because 2012 has made me wise beyond my years (or at least wise enough to keep up with the tour!) I can’t wait to see what lessons lucky ’13 will bring.

Happy, Happy New Year to each of you! May 2013 be your year to sparkle!