2016 Taught Me

2016 taught me more lessons than I could have ever anticipated. In the span of three hundred and sixty five days, I learned how to be human: I lost count of the amount of times I switched my undergraduate major in a what was once a blind attempt to find myself. I lost friends due to detachment, while also losing friends due to the unbearable urges of suicide. I received my first 4.0 GPA at the expense of my (WebMD diagnosed) insomnia, due to countless sleepless nights in my apartment. And while these are only the tiny details of what was the most memorable year of my life, one could easily assume that the cons quite heavily outweigh the pros.

But did they really? After making a handful of alterations to my major, I ultimately settled on psychology with a double minor in digital science and marketing (still subject to change). Why? Because of the fact that my desire to help make other people’s lives easier is one of the main motivators in my own life. The tragic part about that statement, though, is that it took me at least one appointment in every undergraduate building on campus, a minimum of thirty six compiled hours of individual online career-related research, and some deep, ground breaking self-reflection.

I felt emotions I never knew I was capable of last year: true struggle, true regret, true reestablishment, true determination and drive, but most importantly true happiness and love. Without experiencing raw notions of sorrow and grief, I think it’d be near impossible to fully embrace the feelings of exuberance and joy. Ironically enough, I feel a decade older now than I did at this point last year, and maybe it’s for the better.

I just thank my genetically wired Persian, bull-like mentality that continuously reinforced the ancient (and cliché) saying of “everything happens for a reason”. When my year began spiraling downwards last summer, I incessantly cursed that phrase while searching for answers wondering if I could have done more whether it came from the tiny regret of not studying harder for a biology final, or the major regret of finding out one of my closest friends took his own life by overdosing on pills; but after five long months of remorse and uncertainty, I learned how to forgive myself which was undoubtedly the most important lesson last year taught me. However, since it’s a new year, it’d only be right to declare resolutions that will hopefully be carried out for more than a typical week, and that will hopefully inspire your own. I’ve never been a believer in the deep rooted ideology of “new year, new me”, but 2016 exposed me to lessons that I would feel guilty not telling you, so here’s my Gandhi-esque list of to-do’s for 2017:

1) Learn to confront what you’re going through: it is okay to be obnoxiously happy about something huge like getting an A in that chemistry course just as much as it is to be intolerably sad about something small like watching the end of Seven Pounds. You don’t have to pretend that everything is perfectly fine all the time in aspiration of sparing the people around you the duty of consoling you. Let yourself feel whatever you’re feeling, and let time take its course; it’s okay to not be okay.

2) Learn to forgive yourself: Once again, my most important lesson of the year, while simultaneously being the hardest pill to swallow. I’ve never been the most emotional person, but regret will and always will be the heaviest weight I had to lift off of my shoulders, especially when it came from the death of a friend. Just know feeling bad for yourself means a molecule compared to what it would mean to take action and better yourself or the situation you’re in. Also acknowledge that “growth only comes with uncertainty”; that was a quote off of the Forbes website, so it has to be somewhat true (great read).

3) Learn to embrace the smaller moments before they’re gone: Next time you’re with your family at home, tell them you love them. Next time you’re with your inner circle of friends (or #squad), let them know how much you appreciate them being there for you. Next time you’re out with your significant other, let them know just how much they mean to you in that precise moment (or if you’re single, let your pet know how much it means to you when he keeps you company while you binge watch Stranger Things). Just save yourself the regret of not being able to before you lose that option.

I truly feel that those three lessons are the keys to experiencing real happiness, or at least they were for me. Anyone can be a cynic, dare to be an optimist; better yourself this year, and make it kickass. 2016 taught me how to be resilient, how to be myself, but most importantly, how to be human; and I can only hope 2017 does the same for you. Take what you will from this amateur article, and embark on these 365 days the way that you want. Because it just so happens that the only thing standing in your way is yourself. But then again, what do I know?

-Sean Sabihi

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