For my Work in Progress Wednesday goal this month, I wanted to use December as an opportunity for reflection. I’ll be honest and say that most of my reflecting happened in the past week and a half or so because this Christmas was just so busy. So while this wasn’t something I necessarily had on my mind all month, I do believe that thinking back has made an impact on my mindset in the last 10 days.
For me, one of my favorite things to do—or something I’m rather naturally inclined to do—is to reflect on the past in order to decide my path for the future. As I got thinking, I decided to share what my most important lessons were month by month. Here’s a look back on my 2018 and all the lessons I learned.
January: Be Present and Be Intentional
January was the hardest month of the year for me. I was having a lot of insecurities related to both professional and personal matters, and I really just became a lump who was surviving without really living. I barely practiced my hobbies, and I just wasn’t present. I was waiting and waiting for things to pass and hoping that time would correct the things I was struggling with instead of confronting them. Eventually, it did, but my month would’ve been a lot less of a struggle if I hadn’t hidden in a pile of blankets every time I thought of my problems.
February: Being a Woman is Effing Awesome
I turned 25 in February. We spent the weekend of my birthday in Philadelphia with a friend, and it was one of my favorite memories from the year. The day before my birthday, we saw the indie folk sister duo First Aid Kit at Union Transfer. That concert blew my mind and made me so proud to be a young woman. I’ve been to plenty of concerts, but it occurred to me that I don’t think I’ve ever seen a female artist perform, let alone a pair of young women. They performed with such skill and passion, and I left on the eve of turning 25 feeling the most badass I’ve ever felt. I’m so glad that happened, because that pride helped set the tone for some other decisions I made this year. Plus, I want to make that badassery a theme of 2019.
March: Not Everyone Will Like What You Do, and That’s Ok
I know this lesson seems pretty basic, but let me tell you, I’ve spent about two decades trying to be the golden child, teacher’s pet, ideal employee, and all-around perfect person. I walk on eggshells with my “true” self because my penchant for unique self-expression would alienate too many people and maybe even cause them to judge me. In March, I made the first step towards leaving behind that unhealthy mentality by doing something I’ve wanted for about 8 years: I got my nose pierced. No more Miss Vanilla Perfectpants, People-Pleasing Expert, one step closer to looking and feeling like Christine.
April: You Deserve More Than You Think You Do
Jake and I went on our honeymoon in April. We got married in April of the previous year, but we decided to delay our honeymoon a year. Why? Because we knew that if we rushed, we wouldn’t have the trip we dreamed of. For many months, we tried to find somewhere in the US that we wanted to go just so we could get away and finally have our honeymoon. But no plans we ever made felt right. Eventually, we decided to wait until our first anniversary and do what we really wanted: to go to Scotland and Ireland. I can’t tell you how special that trip was and how grateful I was for our decision to delay and treat ourselves to what we really wanted instead of settling.
May: Routine is Beautiful
May marked my first anniversary at my job, and it was generally a month of just enjoying normal life. It was an important month for me because those of you who know me know that my first two years out of college were a major struggle, and then, even everyday life was a challenge. It’s normal months like May that make me realize how blessed I am to have a lovely husband, home, job, and life.
June: Never Underestimate the Power of Generosity
As I was looking through my social media to remind myself of what we did in June, I came across a post from one of our close friends who is colorblind. His birthday is in June, and Jake and I had pitched in with our friend’s girlfriend to buy glasses that help him to see colors like others do. We weren’t able to be there when they were given to him, but his brother took a video so that we could see his reaction. We care about him so much, and to have contributed to something that made him so happy was a great feeling. We all know that giving feels good, but every once in a while, a truly fantastic gift can help you remember why generosity is so important.
July: Respect Your Limits
By the middle of the summer, we were having family over to visit constantly. If I remember correctly, we had family or friends staying with us every weekend in July. Jake and I have a habit of this—it happened again for a straight month from August to September. We have trouble saying no to seeing our loved ones since we live far away, but then our house becomes the B&B&B: bed and breakfast and Benedicts. While I didn’t learn my lesson and we did it again later in the year, this past July is a prime example of why Jake and I are going to try to do less in 2019.
August: New Isn’t Always Better
My family goes to the shore every summer. For the past 10 years or so, we’ve always stayed in the same house. We decided to try a new shore house this year because as we’ve gotten older, the accommodations just didn’t suit our family anymore (picture me, Jake, my brother, and my sister-in-law in a 100 sq. foot room sleeping in two sets of bunk beds. No thanks). Instead, we stayed in an apartment in the “hoity toity” neighborhood and let me tell you, this place was kind of a dump. The apartment didn’t match the pictures or the feel of the high-rent neighborhood. What I think we can take away from the experience is that we were excited to be trying something new and may have jumped the gun when booking—needless to say, we found alternative accommodations for 2019.
September: The Most Important Thing You Can Invest in is Yourself
If you’ve been following my blogging journey, you already know what happened in September! I went to a conference for work and learned the lesson above. It was what helped me decide to start this blog. You can read more about that here.
October: Work Isn’t Hard if You Love It
The longer I worked on the blog, the more I saw how much I enjoyed putting the extra time and brain power into something I’m passionate about. A busy life sometimes made getting posts written and photos taken challenging, but producing content I cared about was such a great motivator. I don’t want to forget how exciting it felt when I first started.
November: Every Day Should Include Gratitude
I learned this lesson as a result of my Work in Progress Wednesday for the month of November. All month, I chose to make gratitude a priority in my mindset, and did more for my mental health than I imagined it would. So much so, in fact, that I tried to keep that new habit going for December. You can read more of my thoughts from that month here.
December: Don’t Give All of Yourself Away
Our final month’s lesson is one that I think has ties to things I learned all year. Especially during the holidays, it’s hard to not overextend ourselves because we feel inspired with generosity. I feel that I often struggle with giving too much of myself to others or to standards that I’ve arbitrarily set for myself. I have parameters set for nearly everything in my life—and for what? How much of me is left once I pass through that sieve? In the next few weeks, you’ll read more about how I’d like to change this for 2019.
I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season. My December, while chock full and a bit stressful at some points, was a great one. Thank you to everyone who has been reading since I started at the beginning of October. I’m so proud of where the blog has gone in this short time and I can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store for Being Mrs. Benedict.