Welcome Wallflowers! 2020 was a year filled with more ups and downs than I can count, and as this new year begins, I wanted to share some of the things that 2020 taught me. This was a year of growth for so many of us, and for a teenager who is trying to figure herself out, this past year has given me a lot of time for reflection, and these are the lessons that have stuck out:

#1 Finding something to be excited about every day makes a big difference.

It is so easy to let yourself get swept up in routine and begin to drift aimlessly, thinking only of what you have to do to make it to the next day. I’ve found that setting aside time each day for something that makes you happy separates one day from the next and makes life more enjoyable. Whether it be planning on putting together an exciting breakfast, making time to talk with a friend, frolicking in nature, or something different entirely making sure you are looking after all aspects of your well-being and getting yourself excited about life is never something to ignore.

#2 It isn’t selfish to take breaks.

In today’s busy and production-oriented world, it can be hard to do things that are seemingly “unproductive”. It can be hard to relax when your mind keeps telling you that there are better things for you to be doing than taking a walk or binging your favorite TV show. Despite what society may tell us, taking breaks isn’t selfish. Logging off of social media, or taking a mental health day isn’t selfish. Spending time to focus on yourself isn’t selfish. Everything that you do to take care of yourself helps you to be the best person you can be and that is an amazing thing for yourself, the world, and those around you. 

#3 Movement can set you free.

I have always thought that I hated exercise, but being stuck at home this year has shown me that that isn’t true. I just hadn’t found a form of exercise that made me feel good. I hadn’t found a way to feel free. Movement is meant to make you feel energized and alive, it’s not supposed to be a punishment or a chore. Taking a run, doing yoga, completing an exercise video, and dancing alone in your room are all valid ways to feel your best and to take care of your body and mind. Now that I have discovered how to make my body feel good through movement, exercising is something that I look forward to every day. For me, that could mean doing an online Barre3 class or workout video. It could mean taking time to do yoga, stretch, and ground my body and mind. It could mean taking five minutes to dance along to my favorite song and sing at the top of my lungs. What makes my body feel good changes from day to day, and that is okay. Your body is your body and every body is different. What might work for one person might not work for you, but keep exploring and don’t give up. Your freest self is waiting for you, you just have to find them.

#4 Don’t be afraid to change.

Taking time to find yourself is like magic. For years I thought I knew who I was, and at the time I think I did, but around when I started high school, my idea of myself changed and I didn’t feel like me anymore. It took quarantine for me to find myself again, and the person I am now is so much different than who I was before high school. She is stronger, kinder, and wiser than she before. She holds compassion for all of her past selves and their many flaws and imperfections. She dreams of the future with hope and wonder, and she is determined to do what she can to make the world better for everyone. Figuring out who you are is hard, and actually being that person even more so. Knowing who you are is a gift. It’s okay if it takes you time to figure out. I, myself, am ever changing. Evolving from one day to the next. Don’t let yourself become trapped by who you once were. Never forget: you live for yourself, not for others. You are your own person and you are beautiful inside and out. We are all different, we are all evolving, and full of endless possibilities.

#5 Make efforts to show the people close to you that you love them.

This past year, so many of us have felt disconnected from the outside world, and out of touch with our loved ones. In these isolating times, it is more important than ever to show up for the people that we care about and to remind them how amazing they are and how much we love them. For me, that could be sending a quick email or a cute gif. It could be scheduling a video chat or a socially distanced meet up. My favorite way that I have found to connect with the people I love has been through the mail. Yes, beautiful old snail mail. I have explored the art of letter writing and envelope decoration, and I have worked for hours, sometimes even days, to personalize envelopes with messages and little goodies for the people in my life. It has been a way for me to stay creative, and do something to make myself and others happy at the same time, and I love everything that I send out into the world.

#6 It is okay not to be okay.

There have been times this year where I haven’t been okay. I am in a place now where I can recognize that and reflect on it, but in the moment it was awful. Not being okay feels awful. It is hard, and it really hurts sometimes, but you can’t beat yourself up for not being okay. It is okay to not be okay. Remember to breathe and take things one step at a time. You might not feel okay right now, but you will. Don’t lose hold of hope.

#7 You are never alone.

With so many living creatures on this planet, it is crazy how easy it is to feel alone. It is crazy how easy it is to feel lonely. But if this year has taught me anything, it has taught me that you are never alone. No, we are not all in the same boat, but we are all in the same sea. Some of us are coasting along while others are struggling to stay afloat, but no matter how alone you feel there are others paddling and sailing along beside you. Shore is in sight, and we’ll all be together soon.

What did 2020 teach you? How have you changed in the past year? What are you taking with you into the new year and what are you leaving behind? Tell me in the comments!

Peace and love,

The Woodland Wallflower

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