4 Things I Have Learnt in 2018
It has been a challenging fall, a challenging year. Some ups, some downs and a handful of detours. Nevertheless, 2018 was full of new opportunities and learnings as well, the most important of which I’d like to share with you here:
Apologetic no more. At the beginning of the year, I was very keen on using the words “apologies for”, “sorry” and “I’m afraid that” from work emails to Whatsapp messages to friends. Until my boss sat me down one day and told me that I needed to stop apologising to everyone – from taking longer than an hour to answer to emails to sharing a high cost estimate and to chasing people to do their job. At the end of the day, my performance was always meeting – if not exceeding – expectations and I was making sure that everyone was aligned and stuck to project deadlines, what was I sorry for? So I dropped the sorry act – I wanted my communication to show that I’m confident, strong and in control of things. A trick that I picked up along the way was substituting, for instance, “sorry for the delayed response” with “many thanks for your understanding”. Indeed, thank you very much.
Once you fall in love with running there’s no way back. Thanks to three-ish unexpected months of sunny and warm London weather, this summer I discovered the big, new love of my life: outdoors running. I used to be one of these people who could only run on a treadmill and would make fun of people running outside despite the rain or the cold. If you had told me that I’d be still running mid-December despite the single digit temperatures and the 6 am drizzle rain, I would have laughed in your face. Nowadays, running feels like a drug – both my body and my mind crave it. I can’t go longer than a week without and I try to make sure I always have time for it. Moreover, it makes the type of morning exercise one could commit to without too much effort: unlike going to the gym, where packing a bag with all your daily necessities and making small talk with the receptionist, with running outdoors you only need to lace up your shoes and open the door.
Let go of anything that does not help you grow. 2018 was a year of transitions. I finally summoned the courage to take a leap and pursue a new role within the agency I work for. As a result, I had to leave behind my old team – my little work family – that I still love so dearly. It was a step out of my comfort zone and it took some time to come around but, ultimately, when thinking about growth and progression, it was a very straightforward decision to make: even though I was emotionally attached to the people, I have squeezed my previous position of everything it had to offer me in terms of responsibility and learnings; it felt like coming full circle to where I started 1,5 years earlier and it was thus a clear indication that I needed to go.
Same applies to people. I tend to believe in the best in people and to give second, third, fourth chances. This year, though, I decided to be picky with the people I surround myself and draw some lines. Do they consist an addition to my life? Do they help me grow, be a better person? Do they make me happy? I didn’t want to be the person who constantly complains to one friend about another friend, so whenever it felt necessary, I said goodbye.
Keep creating, even if it sucks keep creating. This is something I’ve been repeating both to myself and friends throughout this year. You see, people come to me to confess about their artistic limitations – actually no, they usually talk about how they’re so scared that what they create is going to be crap, that they never go ahead with creating in the first place. I strongly believe that everyone is a creative spirit – even if their creativity is expressed in different ways or to a different extent. It could range from writing poetry to how we dress in the morning. This is why we all need to pursue our creative inclinations and not let ourselves be constrained by mainstream understandings of creativity.
Back to the part where your art sucks. So what? Practise does not make perfect but it definitely helps improve. As long as the creative process fulfills you, keep creating. And eventually you’ll get better; at least you’ll start liking more what you’re producing as well. Take the time to reflect on your work but do not let your internal editor keep you back. For instance, while working on my novel in November, my internal editor kept screaming “this reads like 50 Shades of Grey, can you stop now?”. Guess what? I didn’t stop. Didn’t give EL James a run for her money either. Also, experience shows that our internal editor is much stricter than most people around us – and I’m not talking your friends or family who are willing to embrace everything that comes out of you. Your creative output might not suck that much after all.