This sentence I’m about to say probably comes out of my mouth every single year, but I can’t believe how fast this year has flown by! 2017 marked my first full year of “adulting”, and boy was this the year of personal growth. Whether it be my faith, work ethic, fitness habits, etc, I feel like I fully discovered who I truly am as a person, the root cause of certain bad habits and resentments, and ultimately what my purpose is here on this Earth moving forward.
As I reflect on what went down this year, I feel like I’ve learned some valuable lessons that you too can also benefit from. Some of these things you may already know and others might spark your interest, but my main goal in writing this post is that you would leave feeling encouraged to make the changes that you’ve always wanted to make in your life so that 2018 can be your best year yet! So without further ado…
17 Things I’ve Learned in 2017
1. Comparison is the thief of joy – A cliche phrase that couldn’t be truer! As a content creator, it’s really easy to play the comparison game and become influenced by what everybody else is doing. The next thing you know, you find yourself feeling less than because your photography isn’t as good, you have fewer followers, you don’t post consistently, the list goes on. There will always be someone better than you, but the trick is to focus on yourself only. There is room for everyone in the blogging industry, so keep your head down, work hard, and be yourself!
2. Check the Cartwheel App before every Target run – Ladies, this one is important! If you do not use the Target app while you shop, you’re missing out on a ton of savings! All you have to do is scan the items in your cart and see if they have deals on it. I’ve gotten 50% off Mossimo clothing, 30% off Tillamook Cheese (I could go on about this heavenly cheese, but that’s another story for another day), the list goes on! If you don’t already have the app, you can download it for free here.
3. Give yourself grace – This year I’ve really had to take my own advice and give myself grace. In life, I guarantee you there are gonna be times when you fail at something you’ve been trying to accomplish, give in to a sin struggle, or you just can’t find enough time in the day to somehow workout, go to work, meal prep, read, check in on family, and learn a new language (If you know someone that can lmk). But that’s OK. So long as you pick yourself back up and continue to try your best the next day, that’s all that really matters. There’s no point in beating yourself up over the shoulda, coulda, wouldas. Let’s stop being so hard on ourselves!
4. Any bad day can be cured with Panera’s Mac n Cheese – With 2 baguettes on the side, and a glass of wine. Pure bliss I tell ya!
5. Nothing revitalizes my beauty blender more than Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castille liquid soap – This soap is a game changer Y’all! I initially bought it to use as an all-natural body wash, but one day I randomly used it to clean my beauty blender and I was shook! Not only did it completely clean all the foundation that gets absorbed into the sponge, but it also restored it back to its soft, fluffy state. This is my new holy grail beauty blender/brush cleaner and you don’t have to worry about putting chemicals on your face because it’s vegan, organic, and has no synthetic detergents or preservatives!
6. Always read the label before you buy groceries – I was really into nutrition this year, and in my journey to learn more about the science behind the benefits of healthy eating, I couldn’t believe how much false advertising was out there when it came to “healthy food”. To make sure you don’t fall for the packaging or marketing scams, read the label and look for ingredients you can pronounce because ingredients don’t lie! A resource I’ve loved this year is Registered Dietician Becca Bristow’s “The Skinny Series” on YouTube, where she addresses the truth about controversial foods like diet soda, frozen meals, artificial sweeteners, salad dressing, and more. Knowledge is power people!
7. Respond to every call that excites your spirit – This quote by Rumi has been my mantra all of 2017. Put more simply, find what makes you happy and do more of it!
8. TJ Maxx is life – Now, I’ve always been a Marshalls, Home Goods, and TJ Maxx kinda girl, but I honestly didn’t realize how great TJ Maxx truly was! I had only been popping in to look at the home decor, but I neglected THE CLOTHES, THE SHOES, THE ACCESSORIES! I can’t believe how much good stuff is tucked away in this store. Make sure you go down every clothing aisle, check out the purses, glance at the shoes, and I promise you you’ll strike gold with all your favorite brands!
9. There’s no such thing as “no time”, it just means it’s not a priority – This lesson is seriously so tough to hear, especially when you have big dreams you want to accomplish. But it couldn’t be truer. Tell me how I have “no time” to go to the gym or do my quiet time, but I can somehow manage to watch a 2-hour episode of the Bachelor every week?! Exactly.
10. To each they own…as the bible do say – This one is so funny to me because this phrase has been an inside joke with my group of friends for years now, until one day I was reading Romans, and funny enough it literally WAS in the bible. All of Romans 14 talks about why you shouldn’t condemn others. Why? Becuase Christ died for all! So instead of tearing each other down, let’s focus on pursuing what promotes peace and builds up one another up. As lighthearted as the phrase sounds, it really has made me think twice about being critical of others…to each they own guys.
11. Be generous with what you have – Coming from a background where I’ve never just had a ton of excess money to blow, I’ve always been frugal when it comes to how I spend my coin. However, I wanted to challenge myself to let go of the (fake) security that comes along with having money, and just be more generous with what I’ve been given. For me, this looked like not Venmo-requesting friends who owed me money, supporting Go Fund Me pages to help people in need, buying gifts for friends and family, etc. Generosity doesn’t just have to be monetary though! Whether you’ve got some extra time or have a special talent, do what you can to give back in the areas you have been blessed in!
12. Take fashion risks and experiment with style – This year I truly just went for it when it came to fashion. I wore what I wanted, when I wanted, and didn’t care what other people were doing. Often times I would play it safe because I wanted to avoid the extra attention or more honestly, the whining from friends (cue the “what are you wearing, where are you going, OMG why do you look cute? Now I have to look cute!” dialogue), but there’s no fun or freedom found in holding back! Just live your life and wear what you want in the process!
13. Surround yourself with people that motivate and uplift you – Negativity is contagious, and life is too short to spend time with people that bring you down and make you feel insecure. Fill your circle with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel!
14. Hustle. It’s as simple as that – Closer to the end of 2017 is when I learned the art of hustling. As a self-proclaimed lady of leisure, I don’t really find joy in having a jam-packed schedule all the time. However, this year I decided to challenge myself a little more and I ended up committing to serving at my church, co-leading my community group, working at Free People in addition to my full-time job, and running this blog, amongst other things. That may sound like a normal workload for some of y’all, but that was a lot more obligation than I was used to. However, I’ve truly learned that in order to make things happen for yourself, you just have to get out there and hustle, unless you want to stand idle and watch your dreams pass you by…
15. Podcasts/audiobooks are everything – I commute about 30 – 40 minutes to work every day, which is so much time to just sit and listen to the radio. Unsurprisingly that got old real quick, so insert my love of podcasts and audiobooks! I’ve read so many books I otherwise would’ve never had the time for, and learned sooo many new things about history, science, finances, faith, etc, from all the different podcasts I’ve subscribed to. This year I’ve learned how important it is to fill your mind with things that are positive and enriching, so I’ll do a whole blog post dedicated to my favorite podcasts, stay tuned!
16. Budget and set financial goals– Total transparency here, this is something I learned a few months ago. As I reflected over 2017, I realized how unaware I am of how much I spend on certain things like clothing, food, entertainment, etc. It’s so important to be knowledgeable about your finances so you can identify areas where you’re thriving or where you need to control your spending. More importantly, you should set tangible goals, like to save $5,000 in a year, or pay off half your car payment in a year. My main goal in 2018 is to do just that and to come up with a realistic execution plan. Stay tuned for that too!
17. Christianity is not for the perfect, but the complete opposite! – I saved the longest one till last, but one misconception about Christianity that I hear all the time is that you need to be perfect. Now, it’s not always stated that explicitly, but when you look around and see others with their cute little families, speaking in religious jargon, going on mission trips, and being so kind-spirited towards everyone, sometimes you can’t help but think what the heck?! I also hear so many people say things like, “I can’t believe she’s wearing that, she must clearly not be Christian” or “she goes to church, but I see her out every weekend so I doubt she’s actually religious”, and these comments break my heart. Now, I completely understand where they are coming from and I have definitely thought and said these things myself, but these scenarios make me realize how our perception is all wrong!
3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” – Titus 3:3-6
To have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ simply means accepting that you cannot do life on your own and realizing that you need a savior to help you! It’s believing that Jesus came down to Earth, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross as payment for our sins. Christianity is not an exclusive club where only the nicest, holy, do-gooders of the world can join, but the gift of salvation is for everyone. AND IT’S FREE! Labeling yourself as a Christian doesn’t mean that you won’t struggle with purity, greed, materialism, pride, etc, it just means that you don’t let these things define you because you have been saved by a loving God who thinks of you as righteous!
If you feel like you aren’t worthy of being a Christian because of the things you’ve done in your past, currently do, or even know you will do in the future, do not believe that lie! We’re ALL broken people who have just admitted that life is hard sometimes and we need someone (Jesus) to help transform our hearts!
I know this misconception also comes from a lack of authenticity and being open about our struggles, so another goal of mine is to be more transparent and authentic about my faith on my blog because I know for a fact I’m not alone, and how awesome would it be to have a solid community of people doing life together and sharing what we learn along the way!