2018 Lessons

Every year brings its own set of challenges, rewards, and memories. But this year brought more lessons than I’ve ever experienced. Today, I’m reflecting on 2018 Lessons and the year that was.

2018 Lessons | AreYouKitchenMe,com

Well friends, we’ve made it to the end of another year. 2018 is winding down and 2019 is peaking up over the horizon. I haven’t been posting many recipes these days with the new job and busy holiday season. But I do want to share some thoughts and lessons I learned this year. 

Boy, was it a year of learning…. I learned to walk away from toxic environments. I learned that I don’t have to do anything that makes me unhappy. I learned I can do or be anything. I learned that all the knowledge and wisdom I need can be found within myself.

2018 Lessons | AreYouKitchenMe,com

But learning is almost always preceded by struggle. And struggle I did. Here’s an example of a lesson I learned through struggle…

For over three years I worked at a nonprofit with a strong mission, a family-like team, and mentors who pushed me to be my best. But most of my time there I was unhappy, unsatisfied. After three internal promotions/ job changes, I thought I’d finally found the perfect fit. Yet I was still miserable.

“Is it me? Am I the common denominator? Am I the reason these jobs make me so unhappy?” I asked friends. I thought surely I was doing something wrong or expecting too much. And then sometime this summer, I dipped into the worst depression of my life. I went weeks without social engagement, cried myself to sleep nearly every night, and didn’t have the energy to do the activities I love.

2018 Lessons | AreYouKitchenMe,com

I certainly didn’t want to feel this way! And I knew a huge part of my depression was job dissatisfaction. After (over)thinking about it for months, I finally decided my only option was to leave. I was beyond terrified. But what I finally realized was I didn’t have to walk into that office if I didn’t want to. So I took a leap.

When people say “it was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders”, we usually assume they’re being hyperbolic. But in all honesty, turning in my letter of resignation released years of tension from my back. I felt a lightness in my body and spirit and a confidence that I have truly NEVER known.

And so I learned that I have the strength to walk away from what doesn’t serve me.

Without a backup plan or safety net or meticulously scheduled next steps, I walked away. It was painful and scary and the hardest thing I’ve ever done but I now have a job that I LOVE and don’t spend nights trembling in bed at the thought of each next day. 

2018 Lessons | AreYouKitchenMe,com

It’s funny how much this decision about my professional life is intertwined with lessons I learned about my personal life. It’s no secret that one of my biggest struggles has been overcoming disordered eating. And this year, I made my biggest strides ever. This year, I let go of everything. I ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it and did my very best to not feel guilty about anything.

And you know what? It was great. I had Christmas cookies outside of December. I ate bread for 75% of my meals. I drizzled olive oil generously over my entire life. I asked my parents to stop taking about weight loss and dieting in front of me. All of these things were also scary at first, but brought me so much joy in the end. I’ll admit that it hasn’t been all positive and that I constantly feel like I’m learning how far I still have to go. But I know I will go and it will be worth it. Yet another lesson in pushing through the hard stuff to get to what really matters. 

2018 Lessons | AreYouKitchenMe,com

I’m grateful for the lessons I learned this year. And what I want you to know from reading this is that lessons are hard. And sometimes you have to trudge through piles of shit to learn them. But just know that if you’re currently knee-deep in the trenches of shit, you are learning. You are growing. And you will make it.

And with that, here’s a quick rapid-fire round up of this year’s highs and lows.

Highs:

  • sitting on a secluded beach with my love in Bermuda
  • realizing how much I can love my natural hair
  • starting a podcast (shameless plug check us out here)
  • getting over my phobia of water to spend a  week swimming and snorkeling in Mexico- potentially my new favorite place in the world- with my parents + John
  • starting a great new job and working from home 
  • relaxed Saturday mornings at the farmers market every summer weekend
  • experiencing Harry Potter world!

Lows

  • losing my grandpa, a true inspiration to our whole family
  • feeling too low to ask for help but too scared to get through it alone
  • talking down to myself when my clothes don’t fit like they used to
  • the paralyzing fear of not succeeding

Again, I’m grateful for both the lows and the highs, for the lessons and joy they brought this year. Wishing you a VERY Happy New Year and sending love and peace for the year to come. 

Natalie

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