Ordinarily, this time of year, I’d be focused primarily on evaluating my goals and how I did on them. I’ll still probably do that, but I thought I’d start my end of year thinking with a positive list of a few of the things I felt I have learned this year.
- 50% of what I thought was my “personality” was actually anxiety. Now that I take proper medication for it, I realize that I am not the person I thought I was. I’m still learning how to be without anxiety, but on the whole, it’s a net positive.
- The holidays are far more fun when viewed through the eyes of children. We have a tendency as adults to get wrapped up on all the obligations and stress of the holiday. Watching my five year old navigate the holidays of the year and seeing how much joy they bring him has given me tremendous joy as well.
- I can be handy with tools or crafty, despite my inherent clumsiness. I just need to be patient with myself when I drop the thing for the twentieth time. In 2019, I took up 3D printing and painting game terrain and figures with gusto, and I’ve slowly improved through the year. The trick with it, as it is in so many things, is patience. I don’t think I could have learned more patience if it hadn’t been for item #1 on this list, though.
- I can still be a creative person even if I’m not writing. For years, my creative output has been tied up almost entirely in my writing, and when the writing spigot shut off a few years ago, I was worried about what it meant. I am still not writing but the difference is, I’m not worried about it. I’m making physical objects and running three different Dungeons & Dragons groups. I’m plenty creative. If the urge to write returns, I will write. But I am the same person whether I am writing or not.
- How to be confident in what I know. I’ve been a freelance web designer/developer for over ten years now, and I am finally becoming confident in myself and my skills. Maybe it’s the 10,000 hours thing, maybe it’s just old age. Either way, I trust myself to figure things out given enough time and focus.
- By default, our concepts of beauty are linked with our concepts of youth, and that’s something we learn to change with time. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found myself examining my reactions to so-called beauty and often find myself wondering “is that person beautiful, or are they just young?” Physical beauty is such a fleeting thing, and I’m starting to find my eyes opening to deeper beauties than that.
- People as a whole aren’t terribly bright, or even well-meaning. This is probably the one thing on the list you might take as a negative, but I think I’ve spent a good part of my life being naive about the intelligence of most people. Also, I assumed most people, given the circumstances, would do the right thing. The last three years politically have demonstrated for me that they will not. I feel a little more realistic about how I expect people as a whole to behave. This is not to say that I think I’m especially smart. I think I’ve learned that we’re all prone to a lot more manipulation than we ever thought.
- The new Gutenberg editor in WordPress is pretty great. I resisted the change because of backwards-compatibility issues, but ultimately, I think it’s been a big step forward for the ecosystem, and I’m glad my fears have been proven wrong. I love working with it now.
- I may be technically middle class, but I come from working class culture, and this has broad implications for how I relate to people and my comfort levels around others. But I’m also more educated now, and it sometimes leaves me feeling like I don’t have a cultural comfort zone anymore. Not working class. Not middle class. But thanks to a discussion on Facebook, I’ve learned that I am not alone in this feeling at all.
- What I do for a living is not fundamentally any different from any contractor who works with plumbing or electricity. The specifics of the technology may be different, but the generalities are shared.
- Sometimes it feels better to give things away than it does to keep them. I wasn’t really raised with a spirit of charity – I think it’s a solidly middle class behavior/idea, to donate and volunteer – when you’re poor, you help the other poor folks around you directly as best you can, but the idea of making donations of money isn’t something you really do, at least not to my memory. But in 2019, I spent a lot of time paring down my belongings, often giving away a lot of things to others, and it felt good. When it came time for the holidays and people asked me what I wanted, I told them that I wanted donations made in my name to Heifer International. Instead of me getting some junk I could have bought for myself, a family is getting two new goats. It’s maybe my favorite gift I’ve ever received, to be honest.
How about you? What did you learn in 2019? I focused mostly on personal discovery in this list, mostly because I didn’t have the time today to properly source all the external things I learned. But feel free in the comments to share all sorts of things you learned. Share the learning as we close out the year.