As the winter chill is setting in and the days dwindle down, I like taking time to reflect on the last year. I definitely think it is important to look back and relive certain moments. Also, this reflection can help us identify successes we forgot about and lessons we may have learned in failure that did not resonate.
I have learned a lot. This was my first full year living on my own. Ok, so not entirely on my own, but as on my own as I have ever been. I still have my family for support and talk to my parents every day. I always have them for advice and guidance. Yet, I am the one making my decisions. I am the one coming to terms with everything in my life. My values, my beliefs, my hobbies, my job, my day-to-day. Ultimately, I am the one who will have to live with every decision I make now. Daunting, right?
Despite that daunting nature of being on my own, I feel comfortable. I have people who love me and a solid foundation. Now it is a matter of hardening that foundation and building the house that will be my life. The people I want to put in that house and all the other considerations to make such as the experiences I want to hang on my wall and what I want to fill the space with. This year has taught me a lot about who I am and what I want, but it definitely taught me one thing above all else.
From looking back through my posts, one might think that it is the importance of family. Pretty close, but not quite. Family is at the heart of who I am, but I have known that for a while. Or maybe it is the do not make plans lesson. I wrote a lot about that and continue to struggle with this idea that my life is not following some perfect path, but then I take a step back and realize I would never have these awesome experiences if my life was following a designated path. No, the one thing I learned and got reemphasized to me over and over again is the importance of showing the people you love how much you love them.
In fact, it is more simpler than that. I learned the most important thing in life is love.
No, not sappy romantic comedy love. Although, that is nice. Real love…the love we should strive for is so much more than just hallmark card lines. It is vastly more complex and infinitely harder to give. I admit I still am not good at it.
The first hint to me about how important this lesson was for me to learn came via the four weddings I attended. I saw four of my favorite people in the world marry the one person they wanted to be with for the rest of their lives. Seeing the people who came out to celebrate with them and say I want them to happy. Nothing is more beautiful then watching someone willing to give their whole self to another. I was so happy and excited to be at all of these celebrations. I am glad I went to each one.
The second has come in the form of my goddaughter. She is at the age where she has started to really recognize me and now whenever we hang out she is so excited to see me. It makes me smile so big and my heart warm up so much. She is so full of life and excited to tackle new things. I love watching her as she continues to grow up and cannot wait to continue being a part of her life on a regular basis. I would not trade her smiles and kisses for anything in the world.
The third is from my friends and family. The new ones and the old ones. These relationships are always evolving. I am learning whom I want to surround myself with forever. I am always watching my relationships change with people. It is cool seeing how things are morphing as I continue to get older. It has also been fun meeting all kinds of new people in DC. I have really enjoyed delving into people’s lives. I definitely do believe that relationships should never remain stagnant…that just means you are dead. The evolution is half the fun at least.
These relationships have tried my patience, but have also truly rewarded me. When you have friends who will go to the moon and back for you, it makes everything a little easier. On top of having a family who may like to tease you a lot, but in the end is not afraid to knock someone out for you, well, you cannot help but feel loved. It is great to return that love too. I love when my friends and family know that I can be counted on to be there for them.
The final place I have found this love and where I think I see the best example of it is in my faith. Being a person of faith at 24 is very weird to some people. How can I have fun and still be a person who believes strongly in a faith? Simple, my faith, in fact all of Christianity, is predicated on love. You must love your neighbor as yourself. Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for a friend. The greatest of these is love. All sounds familiar? Yeah, I thought so.
Love should always be found at the center of your life. If it is not there, go out in search for it. I have really been striving to place love at the center of my life. I do not succeed very often, but when I do have love right in the center, those are the best days. The days where nothing can get me down and I can feel the strength to deal with any challenge. I also have found a contentment unlike any other.
So the most important lesson I have learned in the last year is that no matter what strive to center yourself on love. Will you be hurt and disappointed by those you love, most definitely. Despite that potential for disappointment, love will bring you vastly more joy than sorrow. I am going to continue to try and center my life around love, you are more than welcome to join me.
Until next time, be safe and make good decisions…