What did you learn in 2018? What are you going to do differently in 2019? Familiar questions, right? I thought so. At the beginning of a new year we look back at the previous year and evaluate how we did. What did you learn that truly stood out to you? What major life events happened? How or what are you going to change this year that’s going to make a difference? What are your new goals and how will you accomplish them? We ask ourselves these questions with the intent to make every new year a little better than the one before. As we’re already almost 3 weeks into 2019 (holy cows!), I reflect back on what truly stood out and had a lasting effect on me in 2018. Major changes, insights, and overall awareness that’s made a noticeable impact on me.
Here are the top 5 things that I learned last year:
1. How to go to the gym on my own
Before I met Andrew, the thought of going to the gym was just boring and dreadful — so basically non-existent. But enter this sexy, buff gym-junkie who rarely ever misses a day at the gym. Not to mention, he’s going to school for physical therapy, so he’s also big on the health benefits of exercising on a regular basis. When you date a (super awesome and wonderful) guy like that, the gym is going to be a consistent topic.
I always dreaded going to the gym because I didn’t know what to do and would always get angry when I couldn’t do something. I felt like nothing I could do had any effect or would lead to any benefit. Luckily, Andrew has had ample education and experience with proper form and understanding how different muscles in the body work and was able to help and teach me how to do things.
2 years later, I’ve finally gotten to going to the gym on my own on a weekly basis. And I’ve the recently discovered the lure and thrill of buying cute workout clothes. Who knew how flattering they are and how much confidence they give you?! (Okay, some of you probably knew long ago and are wondering why I’m just now jumping on the bandwagon).
I didn’t typically think of workout clothes as being cute or fashionable. But I’ve come to learn that fashion isn’t always about being perfectly put together and flawless. It’s about being comfortable in something that makes you feel confident. Going to the gym with a confidence boost is one of the best things you can do. If you’re feeling on top of the world you’re bound to work harder and feel more accomplished at the gym. But was was (and is) an even better help is learning how to use certain machines, and how to do specific exercises. Having the know-how to work my way around the gym is what’s gotten me through my solo trips to the gym. If I had no idea what I was doing, I’d have no motivation to go.
Now if you don’t have a gym-buff stud to teach you your way around, don’t let that stop you! Most gyms either have classes you can take with a trainer, or opportunities for 1-on-1 training. And as my man would say… “doing something is better than doing nothing.” And when you’re at the gym… “at least you made it [there]!” The more you go, the more comfortable you’ll get. I’ve gotten to the point that I just tune out my surroundings and don’t pay attention to or care whether anyone is watching me.
In the famous words of Nike… JUST DO IT!
2. How to be (even more) frugal
My whole life I’ve had expensive taste, but been super “cheap”. (Anyone else??) I’ve never really had money growing up, and not much has changed since I’ve been on my own. So I’ve instinctively told myself that I can’t/shouldn’t spend money or treat myself often (because those small things add up… FAST. More on that next). If I think something is too expensive or not worth it’s price, I won’t get it no matter how badly I love it or want it. When I order food I always go for what’s cheapest, even when I’m being treated to lunch or dinner. I have a hard time accepting people spending money on me because I feel like I have to do something to earn it or deserve it. All of these ideas have been ingrained into my mind and resulted in frugality with my money.
I recently had a rude awakening with my money habits when I realized how much I was spending on food each month. Working at Panera I get a 65% discount the days I work which makes a typical $11 pick two right around $4. Sounds like a steal right? Sure it’s a steal deal, but multiply that $4 meal times 4-5 days a week, and then multiply that by the 4 weeks in a month. That’s anywhere between $64-80 a month! ON FOOD! That’s $60 that I could have put towards something that I had a greater desire for.
But what it truly came down to was whether or not I would regret NOT getting it. If I could survive without it, I didn’t need it. Would I be happier spending the money on the food, or saving it to put towards that new desk I want. Or a nice gel manicure. I’ve also applied this concept when shopping. If I won’t be dying without it tomorrow, thinking about it non-stop, then I don’t need it.
The other thing that has helped me a lot is having envelopes dedicated to specific items or events I’m wanting to save up for. Since I receive cash at the end of each work day, I take out my tithe and my gas money, and then divide what’s left between the things I’m saving for. I typically have no more than 3 envelopes at a time so I can save up quicker instead of adding smaller amounts to a higher number of desires.
3. WHITE SPACE! The ultimate must-have
Back in September I took an Instagram specialty course while it was being offered on a free-trial. I stayed up late hours and put other plans on hold to complete the course within my trial deadline. And if there was ONE thing that I truly took away from it was the need for white space. Look for it, love it, create it. It is necessary!
At the time of taking the course, my IG was overcrowded with too much going on, and no room for your eyes to catch a break. Sure it was colorful and looked pretty cool, but it was too much!
There’s too much going on and it feels overwhelming
I thought there had to be something cool or lots of detail in every shot, when I didn’t realize the beauty of simplicity. When there is stuff in every corner of your page, it feels cramped and crowded. White space allows breathing room. It is so important for making your feed look open and inviting, which results in more engagement and more followers.
Purposefully adding and creating white (or light) space has had such a big impact on my aesthetic. My feed looks so much more put together, but not overwhelming. It’s a collection of great photos arranged in an aesthetically-pleasing manner. And so much happiness has come from the freeing feeling of not being drawn in every direction, with no sure idea of where to look or what to focus on. Each photo is it’s own individual masterpiece.
4. To put myself out there and be more social
I’m the kind of person that doesn’t like to go anywhere unless I really want to, or absolutely have to. So it’s easy for me to make up excuses not to go somewhere when I have the opportunity. But there was one defining moment that I am SO thankful I decided to be brave and go. @ootdatlanta was hosting it’s very first Atlanta blogger meet-up and I had been invited to go! I was surprised that I was even considered with under 400 followers! I didn’t know who would be there, what kind of personalities people would have, or how it would go. All I knew is that I wanted to look good to impress everyone.
The night before the meet-up I was questioning if I even wanted to go. As a loving and supportive boyfriend, Andrew encouraged me to go, and I did. I am forever thankful for that event that day. For the first time, I felt like I could be part of a group – a community – of people who had similar interests as me. Then I continued to go to these meet ups and make new connections every time. I’ve met some of my best blogger friends from these meet-ups… simply because I decided to be put myself out there and be more social.
With my girl @candyzkim
Had I decided not to go to any one of these meet-ups, I would not have the community of friends and support that I do now. There are so many amazing ladies — @madidaily, @rachaelatte, @thelilyupdate, my girl @candyzkim, and so many more. Because of my courage to embrace the unknown (and her courage to do the same), I’ve made a friendship with Kim that feels so natural and is so fun. We’ve gone to church together and spent a day in town freezing and laughing our heads off, getting tons of pictures for the ‘gram.
To think that none of this would have happened if I had made one simple decision to stay at home is just crazy. Ever since that day, I have learned to be more outgoing and take the opportunity to socialize when given a chance.
and most importantly…
5. To let God have control
No matter what happens, God ALWAYS has your life under control. He knows what’s going to happen in your life, and he has chosen the best for you in everything. When you go through a difficult time, instead of finding someone or something to blame, turn to God and ask him to help you make it through. I have learned this the easy way and the hard way. I’ve had moments where a realization will hit me like a brick wall how something in the past happened exactly for the reason at that moment. It can be as simple as me leaving a plastic bag on the counter for 3 days, and then it being there when I need it in a hurry. Or this picture here below. I took this back in September, but God knew then that I would write a blog post titled “Bye 2018, I’ll Keep What I Learned” and it would be the perfect feature shot.
If it weren’t for my trust and faith in God, I don’t know how I would’ve made it through the year. I would’ve been hopeless, anxious, and unsure. But the power of prayer and talking to God is so powerful that it overcomes ALL of these things. With God I have hope, I have comfort, and I have assurance that no matter what happens in life, God will take care of me and get me through it.
Put God first and the rest will come.
What’s one major thing you’ve learned lately, or something you’re going to work on this year?
Let me know in the comments below!