What I Learned From 2019, A Year On

Ooh, friends, 2019 was a hot minute ago. It was also, if memory serves, a bit of a relationship rollercoaster. But I've had some thoughts about what we do and do not let stress us out.

But first, a serious address.

You might want to sit down for a hot chocolate and Gilmore Girls sesh for this article, guys.

Just a heads up

It was bound to happen sometime. You remind yourself. She was old, objectively. Most people would be mighty impressed if they made it to 92 years old. There were no two ways about it. Your grandma had a great life. It's not often that a person can say they've lived through a World War and the closest the world has come since to nuclear catastrophe. She has seen the rise and fall and rise again of the Soviet Union. The most I can say is that I've seen the rise, fall, and triumphant return of flared jeans and Taylor Swift. One of those is more culturally significant than the other; I'll let you work out which.

But the unfortunate next port of call I have to acknowledge is the use of past tense in that sentence. My grandma passed away last year, and it was a time of bewildering emotions and thinking that I was fine. Why is it that we always think we're the exception to Feeling Things and emotional reactions?

We're not, we're all human, and we all grieve in different ways

My father said that he had heard enough when all the official-looking people came by to explain what happened to us. I understood what he meant, but I wonder that he didn't partially say that as a way of avoiding the emotional catharsis that he knew would come at some point. It's valid to not subject yourself to the immediate life-reckoning recognition of how your mother died. Maybe it would have been masochistic to seek it out, but that said, I still personally needed a little more information. The only problem here was that I wanted to respect his wishes, but I was also up at university while all my relatives gathered together the weekend it happened.

Yes, that was … a weekend

I gave myself permission to just sit on the floor in my dressing gown and cry in my room. I cried directionlessly and without really wrapping my brain around the fact that a death had occurred. It was really that I felt something shift in my gut. Or maybe I thought I should have felt that but didn't really know what I was feeling. I recognized that I needed to talk to someone in the back of my head, so I texted my friend from secondary school, sat in bed, and cried a little more.

I'm not going to linger on this load, but you get the picture. It happened. We're working with the feelings. My grandma is part of the reason I'm the way I am now, and she will continue to shape me in the future. Period.

Okay, I'm going to level with you here, guys

Relationships are hard. Love is hard. And therefore, it stands to reason. Breakups are hard. Arguably, they're harder. Because you acclimatize to all that your partner offered you and the more you realize what you are missing, the more you will miss it. However, things aren't all doom and gloom forever – as always – there are lessons to be learned. I don't mean this in the dramatic sense that all suffering is still worthwhile because we can learn from it. It is too intense and insists upon us having to break down to know what we're made of. I think there are plenty of realizations we can – indeed, have to – come to alone. This comes from time spent in our own company and figuring out who we are and what defines us.

Again, without giving the wrong people too much airtime, here's a quick intro of what I learned and what we can all stand to learn from relationships that reach their expiry date.

We learn…

  1. What our standards are. This is maybe a self-explanatory section, but it needs to be discussed nonetheless. Sometimes we need to be shown what we don't want or what we no longer are attracted by in order to realize what it is that we do want. It can take a whole relationship of excusing behavior or slowly falling out of love to realize that what you wanted at the start of the relationship might not be what you want now. Indeed, both of you are likely to have changed over time. That's perfectly natural, but you have to be open-minded to the reality that the people you are now aren't necessarily as compatible anymore. This also causes you to look around yourself and realize how much self-worth you have. If one guy or girl do you dirty, then you have to recognize that you deserve better. Everyone is valid and worth loving – don't feel the need to settle just because you're afraid that this person showing interest might not come around again. Don't look for the one out of fear that they might be the only one.
  2. What we want out of a relationship – Again, you are likely different people now, halfway out of a relationship, then you were a year ago. 5 months ago or even last week. Therefore, after a relationship ends, reflect on how it might be for the best. If he wasn't prioritizing you or willing to commit, then where could the relationship have even gone on from? It's best to feel rubbish now, early on, and know, than to waste more of each other's times in the long run. Indeed, if left to fester, the wrong relationship can turn very toxic very fast if neither person wants to be there. Therefore, you learn the importance of….
  3. How to communicate effectively. Seriously, it solves a multitude of problems. The simple reality is that all relationship advice boils down to either 'communicate more, or break up.' Because that's all, there is to it. Again, making a few mistakes in a relationship is fine once you extract yourself from it. Discover things that you now realize you want in a relationship that you didn't or did get before. Recognize where you maybe didn't communicate your needs or say what you meant. Even if it leads to breaking up or awkward conversations, communication can clear the air and make sure everyone is on the same page. Relationships are a two-way street and you have to ensure that all parties are heard.

Now, as we look to 2020 on the back of this...

What is the lesson I have learned most of all?

I know that it's what's written on all the guidance counselor's inspirational posters in your high school. I do know this. However, I have nonetheless elected to title my article today on that very statement. Do what scares you. Why you ask? Because we still haven't done it yet, for the most part.