5 things I have learnt in 2017

With 2017 quickly coming to an end, I wanted to share 5 life lessons I learnt in 2017. Seem familiar? I wrote a post just like this last year. This is going to start becoming an annual thing 🤔 I find it awesome to see how my mindset has changed over time!

5 things I learnt in 2017. Photo taken in Brooklyn, NY.
Brooklyn, NY (June, ’17)

1. Travelling isn’t *that* scary

I still remember when I first got onto the plane to Lisbon in March. It was the first time I was travelling without my family by my side comforting me and my irrational fear of travelling. Minutes into the flight, I found myself staring outside – instead of avoiding – the tiny plane window in awe.

Our world is so beautiful.

Over my travels this year, I learnt a hell lot of lessons. It wasn’t all glam and incredible shots that you see on Instagram, it was full of challenges, like trying to navigate countries I didn’t know the native language of, having creeps following us around and asking me to marry them because “love at first sight” apparently exists, trying to understand how the transport system works without breaking down for fear of missing a flight and you know, actually missing a flight.

On the flip side of the challenges we all face eventually on the road, there are a lot of positives that outweigh them. My experience of …

  • 🇫🇷 Running into the freezing cold Medeterrian Sea, thinking that it’s warm.
  • 🇵🇹 Taking a train away from the main tourist city to a quieter calm town and seaside (I used to be afraid of taking trains in the UK, so this was such an achievement)
  • 🇳🇱 Going to an incredible museum of Science and Technology covered in daffodils
  • 🇪🇸 Laughing at my first sunburn
  • 🇲🇨 Feeling super underdressed and the odd one out in a sea of rich, fancy-owning car owners
  • 🇮🇹 The cold breeze in Lake Como
  • 🇺🇸 Realising what love is, how exciting life is, how New York City is pretty dang real.
  • 🌎 The exciting life beyond everything I had known.

I thought my life in Sheffield was everything life had to offer, but I was proven wrong with each adventure and now I’m hungry for more!

2. Generalising sucks

It’s embarrassing for me to admit but there was some sad emotion that empowered me whenever I said the words: MEN ARE TRASH.

It might’ve been because of the failed, hurtful relationships from the past and the numerous guys who have said degrading things over time. I think it’s common for us to go on an anti-men rant and start generalising every guy on the planet and beyond after a break-up.

I admit I did it too. For a long time.

I was so convinced that every guy on this planet has the same thoughts, the same intentions of doing nothing but to degrade, put down and make us feel like shit. While this is true with some guys (actively avoid them, please ladies), not all of them are. When I realised this, I stopped saying it because I disliked how it made me feel about myself. I didn’t like people generalising me because of my gender and/or race, so why I should generalise other people?

It wasn’t until I became willing to meet new people that I realised that not every guy is trying to stop me in my tracks. It surprised me that some even are lifting me up as high as possible to help – something not even some fellow sisters would do. Or when I started dating again, not every guy I started seeing wanted me for just one thing (apart from that one guy I punched in the face, but that’s another story) in fact some actually cared about me as a fellow human being.

I learnt how to stop generalising and tried to interact with people without already having an opinion about them based on my experience with guys in the past. I believe that I’ve formed better relationships because of this.

**Men who are trash are those that are oppressive, sexist, disgusting, vile with the things they say and action against humans and look like a bag of Wotsits.**

3. Not everyone is going to like you

And that’s okay.

This year, I put myself out of my comfort zone countless times. I was eager to see how far I could go by pushing myself and where my potential lay. So I spent a lot of time documenting, reflecting, writing and sharing my discoveries through my blog and social media.

Putting the work in my online presence this year resulted in positive growth online and that was fantastic for me. Afterall, I wanted my work to be seen by as many people as possible. What lifted this positive growth even higher is the incredible support group I have that continue to share my excitement. But I learnt that it is inevitable that not every single person in the world is necessarily going to like my work… or me.

Unsurprisingly, almost hand in hand with all the love I’ve received, I’ve had a lot of criticism (which is fine!) but more so, unnecessary hate. I received comments from, “there’s something wrong with you for sharing your progress” to “nobody is jealous of you. There’s nothing to be jealous about.” I’ve also been blocked by “friends” and actively excluded from events more times than I can count this year.

When this first started happening, my anxiety took over me. I wanted to quit everything I loved doing and just disappear. After reminder after reminder, a hell lot of meditation and my incredible supportive circle, I snapped out of it.

My reaction is no longer to be upset or feel bitter about it. Instead, I’ve focused on fully understanding that other people’s hate and jealousy have nothing to do with me instead it is a reflection of them. Their negative feelings suck, but it sucks having them too! So now whenever I can, I treat these people with compassion and love or choose to ignore and distance myself because life is too short to consume myself in other people’s personal problems (like their relationship with themselves.)

This thread on Twitter summarised this lesson for me SO WELL.

4. I am my most important project

I learnt that everything starts with myself and that I am my highest priority at all times.

How do I feel about myself? How do I see myself? Where do I want to be? Am I where I want to be right now? Am I happy with how I look at myself? If not, how can I improve?

In previous years, I started to dislike everything I saw in the mirror – my mind was “too weak”, my body was “too fat”, I wasn’t smart enough, I was never good enough – I insulted myself daily until those insults became something I lived and breathed.

It wasn’t until I sat down and started practising meditation and mindfulness that I realised that it was a huge issue. Eventually, I became my biggest bully, my biggest hater. I grew tired of it and promised myself to change.

I actively committed to this project: Project Me (ASF)

I stopped:

  • saying anything bad about myself from the way I look to my abilities. I shifted my mind to praises, and yes, that means talking to my reflection and screaming “Wow, Pauline. You are looking mighty fine and that brain is a cherry on top, amirite?” I am kinder to myself.
  • blaming myself for things that went wrong that were totally out of my control.
  • comparing myself to others. I am me; I am not her or him or them. They have completely different stories and situations.
  • trying to get everyone to like me. Because some people are just going to hate for no reason, that’s their problem. NOT MINE.
  • saying that I am fat. I have fat, yes. Just like everyone else. And they’re amazing because they protect my organs. Fuck yeah.

I committed:

  • to maximising my physical health. I started working out, 5-6 days a week for a whole year. I am now the most body-positive I have ever been.
  • to self-care. Whenever I’m stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, I take a minute to focus on things that help me calm down. I established a coping routine full of loving-kindness towards myself when I’m about to launch into a panic.
  • to mindfulness with everything from building better relationships to the food I put in my body.
  • in letting go of things that weren’t bringing anything positive to my life.
  • to believing in myself.

And you know what? I deserve it, and you do too.

5. The impact of saying I can x100

I will chant it in my head every day as challenges slap me in the face. This year I witnessed the power of believing in yourself…

…All because I said I can!

And if I couldn’t do anything at the time, I religiously told myself that “If I can’t do something now, I will learn until I can.”

Rewiring my mind to think more positively about myself, others and life have been life-changing, I saw the results all unfold in front of me this year… It’s powerful.

What are the 5 things you’ve learnt this year? Comment below or link me to your blog posts!

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas!

11 responses to “5 things I have learnt in 2017”

  1. I’m so inspired with this. The half of 2017 has been really tough on me… there were a lot of times I wanted to give up. But then I also discovered yoga and meditation and that just changed my perspective + helped with my anxiety. I have severe social anxiety and sometimes, going out alone in public (e.g going into the mall, train stations) would put me in a really panic and nervous mode. Somehow, I’m learning to get over my feelings of fear. I’m still taking it slow… but I know someday I’ll get where I am supposed to be.

    I also have this habit of generalising me, hmmmm that thought of yours somehow change what I think (BUT It is still so hard to trust men you know…)

    For now, I think the most important thing is to put ourselves first and be positive…. I believe in the saying that we attract who we are.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Pauline!
    Your honest thoughts is putting a lot of sense into me, just wanted to let you know! 🙂

  2. 2017 has definitely been a year of many things for you, and it shows through your blogs and other social media platforms.

    Good on you for all the travelling. Our world is definitely beautiful, and life is too short for us to not see what we can. I know some of your travels was a bit of a miss, but it’s clear that a lot of it were hits, and they are the ones you will always remember.

    Kudos to everything you have done this year. I hope 2018 will be another fantastic year for you.

  3. As always you’re an inspiration! I shall try harder this year! =3

  4. Wow, I can’t believe it was only this year that you discovered the awesomeness of travelling and the confidence to do it alone. It seems like it has been years! 😀 I am glad that it has been so rewarding. 🙂

    It’s fantastic that you have been able to meet someone that has been able to change your perspective on men. 🙂

    Wow, I can’t believe that other people would be so negative about everything that you have accomplished so far. I am glad that you have taken this as a motivator and not given in to the ickyness.

    Cheers to a great year and wishing you all the best in 2018! 😀

  5. You’ve accomplished so much! Yeah, there is a lot that I too, learnt along the way with my life during 2017. Luckily, I learnt them in time.

  6. Oh Pauline, this post is so inspiring! Such truths! I completely agree with these life lessons.

    I can also see the same thoughtfulness that you’ve applied to your life in your blog post. Putting your life out there takes a lot of courage, but courage begets courage. You are such a capable young woman, and the future is all yours. I admire your positive energy and bravery. You’ve done so much this year. It’s incredible. It has also been a pleasure following your journey on Instagram and the blog. And you’ve grown so much stronger in every single way – emotional, physically, mentally. You’re radiating strength! (I love your daily instagram stories. I know I can count on your dose of energy each morning.)

    The biggest lesson I’ve learned this year is the realization that I need to “put my oxygen mask on first before helping others”. I hear it every time I fly, but this message finally hit home this year when I found myself miserable and destroyed as I try to take care of everyone else. I ran out of energy, patience, and sympathy. I was depleted. Now I’m back to working on my own Project Me.

    Happy holidays and have a wonderful new year!

  7. YOU? Scared of taking trips? WHATTTTTT!!! You were EVERYWHERE this year! I would’ve never thought! I have soooo much traveling anxiety I generally need other people to help me orchestrate it. I get so anxious.

    I’m trying to do the whole work on me in 2018 for next year. I need to feel better, and be better. Working on yourself is the best investment you could ever make, because you’re the only one stuck with yourself for the rest of your life! Haha. Definitely gonna poke around and get inspiration from your 2017.

    Keep at it keep chugging!!!!

  8. Pauline I LOVE THIS! All of your lessons learned made me feel amped up and powerful and ready to take on the new year. And they weren’t even my experiences! But I do feel connected to so many of them, which is what makes it so freaking awesome. As women, we have so many similar experiences and it’s so refreshing to read about someone’s thoughts that make me go “ME TOO!”.
    Even though I love the sh*t out of all of these, #4 is my favorite. Self care is NOT selfish. Focusing on growing yourself is the best thing we can do for us AND the people around us.
    So glad I’ve stumbled upon your little badass corner of the internet girl. Can’t wait to see what 2018 brings!

    Susie | http://milehighdreamers.com

  9. This is really inspiring, Pauline! I think these are great lessons that you learned. I’m especially glad that you’ve come to love travel. It definitely isn’t glamorous all the time (a lot of time it’s a big hassle), but it’s nice to see the world and broaden your views.

    I agree that generalizing sucks, and it’s one of my pet peeves when I see people trying to make a generalization across a huge group of people. I think it’s ok to talk about overarching problems though, like there are still overall problems with patriarchy, but talking about that doesn’t have to assume that all men fall under it.

    I think #3 is really mature! It’s hard to get over someone not liking you, and even if it’s someone I don’t like, I still wonder what I did to make them dislike me. Like you said though, it’s ok, and it’s probably better to not have those people in your life.

    I like how positive #4 and #5 are. That’s great that you’re really focusing on yourself and encouraging yourself. It’s a good message to remember that we need to support ourselves. I hope you had a great holiday season!

  10. I’m so happy for you dear! I definitely resonate with you on all of these items.

    I hardly ever traveled before 2017 – having lived in NYC for 11 years I also thought it had everything to offer. When I arrived in Singapore just about a year ago, I saw that the world had a lot more. I always had the mindset “why would I leave the greatest city?” but that just shows even living in NYC doesn’t make a person immune to the bubble life! Throughout my adventures in California and travels, I definitely vouch that vacation is nothing like Instagram. I mean, my photos are posted at night when I’m debriefing my day. But through each adventure, both my eyes and heart grew. <3 I hope you get to travel more this year, and come back to NYC someday – like when I'm around. 😉

    I'm so glad you got to meet new people and guys who want you to be the best person you can be. I think the mentality of toxicity only leads to destruction. I remember when I generalized that every guy was bad, and yet was STILL expected to be with someone that I tried to physically harm myself. I also don't think it helps when girls bash "bad" guys and worship "good" ones. People can fail, many will. The best way I dealt with it was going forward knowing what I expected from men and putting my foot down if something wasn't okay. I've met a lot of guys who exceeded my expectations. And if a guy broke these rules? Then we probably aren't friends.

    Lastly, I'm so proud of you for channeling positivity to your lifestyle and deflecting the negative! There's always gonna be people who have nothing nice to say – some who even think they are dominant and helpful. But whatever they say, it's not a reflection of your ability if you are willing move forward with your unique gifts and talents. <3

    Cheers to 2018 and happy new year Paw!

  11. Reading this blog post is almost making me cry. That was beautiful and truly inspirational. It was real and raw to the best extent possible. I recently found you because of your fitness journey on Twitter, and watched your YouTube video. I had no idea that your blog would mean so much to me, until after reading this. Everything you mentioned and explained here is every single thing I wanted to work on, or improve on. 2017 was a lot of self doubt for me. I doubted everything–from my hair color to my brain. I blamed, blamed, and blamed. But just reading this has truly inspired me to be better. It was like a ‘push’ that ‘hey, you can do it. If I can do it. You can too.’ And I can never thank you enough for being so brave on sharing your journey with all of us. You are helping so many people and I hope, by the end of 2018, I can message you again on Twitter and say, “Hey, Pauline. I did it.” I can, I can, I can. I will, I will, I will.

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