16 Things I Learned in 2016

16 Things I Learned in 2016

I’m having a hard time grasping the reality that 2017 is staring straight at me right now. But whether I want to accept it or not, the new year rolls around in just a few short days. It seems like everyone and their mothers have been publically damning 2016 because it was “terrible” and “the roughest year ever” and they’re “sooooooooo over it.”

*insert dramatic hair toss*

It’s safe to say that while every year brings hardships, 2016 brought hardships on a whole other level. Personally, this past year has been the biggest for me in terms of personal growth. While it wasn’t an easy year, it was easily my favorite. I learned the art of letting things go. I spent a summer interning in the city and expanding my network. I came back to college refreshed with a whole new outlook on life and a whole new crowd. The best part is I learned valuable lessons along the way of establishing unforgettable memories.

These are sixteen of the most impacting lessons I learned in 2016:

  1. Give a f*ck. IMG_8319.jpgNow pardon my French, mes chéries, but I felt too strongly about this lesson to not start off on a big note. I’m not saying you need to be a world peace activist or start a company, but find something you love and do something with it. Life is better with a purpose you create for yourself.
  2. Don’t give a f*ck. 13631624_10154436352112147_6326931461391986089_n.jpgI would say pardon my French again, but je m’en fous. While there are many things to care about, there are many things that are not worth your time. For example, I wall-twerked in public for a photo, posted it, and won 3-day passes to Panorama Music Festival. Had I cared what people were thinking, would I have won? One way to pinpoint what to let go is prioritizing the things you need to give attention to. You’ll find that only the top few really matter in the grand scheme of things and naturally focus less on the bottom half of that list.
  3. The world will always rotate in the direction it is supposed to. Make all the schedules, plans, systems, and charts you want. No matter how much you strategize, things that are meant to happen will happen and things that aren’t will not. If there is something that is in your control, feel free to control it. If there is something that is not, let it go and go with the flow. Life is supposed to be an adventure, so why not allow it to surprise you and keep you on your toes? After all, no matter what happens it will always be okay.
  4. “Pity Party” is a song by Melanie Martinez, not something you throw yourself every week. IMG_8221.jpgI have a love-hate relationship with the phrase “good vibes only” because many people often use it to ignore the negative aspects of their lives instead of working through them. However, that is essentially this lesson. Cut the negativity. Don’t sit on your derrière and feel sorry for yourself. If you don’t like something, change it. It’s harder said than done, but if you train your mind to find at least one positive aspect for every negatively perceived situation, you’ll find those good vibes along with a lot of inspiration to make some lemonade out of lemons.
  5. The only thing that matters about you is not on your resumé. We live in a world where we obsess with brand names: a prestigious neighborhood you were raised in, a foreign car brand, your alma mater, the company you are employed at, your family surname. Guess what. It’s all just a name. Being an Ivy League graduate does not make you better than someone who went to a state university if both of you possess the same skill sets and knowledge for the job. Being from a stable family does not mean you can handle relationship problems better than a significant other who grew up with divorced parents. What deciphers whether or not you are qualified for a job or compatible with a person is not the brand names that you think are hashtagged in your bio but rather your character, your values, and your experiences. Don’t focus on a piece of paper. Instead, take the time to tend to your garden of thoughts.
  6. There is a difference between excuses and reasons. Excuses are what you give when you do not accomplish something you needed to or wanted to do. Reasons are logical and legitimate explanations as to why something did or did not occur. Everything comes with a reason. Nothing should come with an excuse.
  7. Everybody is equal, but nobody is the same. Yes, everyone should be treated fairly. We are all equal because we are all human beings. We are all equal because we are all unique. But that does not mean we are the same. My chapter one is not anywhere remotely close to the next person’s chapter one. My chapter thirty might look like your chapter fourteen. Her chapter ten might look like my chapter three. Everybody is equal. Nobody is the same. You are you, and I am me. Treat everyone equally, but compare yourself to no one but your past self.
  8. You will never know what is inside someone else’s head. Don’t overanalyze. Don’t try to rationalize someone’s behavior. Don’t obsess over their actions or inactions. If they want to share their thought processes with you, they will. If they don’t, chances are it’ll translate through their actions and you’ll see it soon anyways.
  9. Listen. It makes you a better follower, and the greatest leaders are the best followers. img_7255You won’t have a friend until you learn to be a friend. You won’t be a mentor until you learn how to be a mentee. You won’t be president until you learn to be a dedicated cabinet member. You won’t lead until you know how to follow. The next time you’re in the lecturing mood, just ferme ta bouche and listen. You will earn respect, support, and learn so much.
  10. Too much of a good thing is NOT a good thing. I own nearly sixty pairs of shoes of which most are high heels that I do not wear often. I also own about twenty dresses that I’ve probably only worn at most twice each. I wear about five of the fifteen pairs of pants I have and use three out of the fourteen perfumes on my countertop. I honestly only keep up with less than fifteen friends in my 1000+ on Facebook and gained a whopping twelve pounds from taking way too many tequila shots this semester. I tried to implement too many styles into my dorm room each year and ended up needing to redo all my decor this fall so it was livable. Get the picture? Don’t indulge in the lush life. You’ll find yourself cluttered in excess and a little insane.
  11. We all need a digital detox.digdetox.pngSocial media has made every person pettier than Joe Biden after the election results. Stop tracking who unfollowed you. Don’t delete posts just because they didn’t get enough likes. Don’t answer every text and email immediately. One day, if Facebook is feeling cruel and releases all the information about your interactions on social media, your crush’s ex will see that you’ve stalked her page about 20 times the past two weeks. Have fun with that social grave… So quit your petty clicking habits and save yourself from death with a digital detox. Sunlight is better than blue light anyways. Don’t believe me? Watch Black Mirror, Season 3, Episode 1. You’ll fear your phone.
  12. Change is always constant. You are allowed to change. Relationships are allowed to change.

    Ever feel guilty because it seems like you disappointed someone because your behavior or perspectives changed over time? This applies for friendships and relationships with both significant others and family members. Sometimes we need to go through phases to grow and mature. Unfortunately, that means that you will have new friendships and old ones will grow stagnant or distant. All of that is natural and normal. So if a friend you haven’t seen in a while picks a fight with you because you’ve “changed” in a way that isn’t as compatible with their current paths OR you’re not happy that your friend seems to be hanging out with new friends lately, just remember that it’s all cycle. Sometimes, space is good and change is good. Who knows, one day she may pick up the phone to give you a call and you’ll chat like the time apart never existed! Let it happen organically. If you’re truly great friends, you’ll find each other again and a new friendship that is suitable for both of you and your changes.

  13. Exude the energy you want to attract. screen-shot-2016-12-27-at-6-26-36-pm2016 seemed to be the year where almost everyone I know is newly single or trying to change something about their lives. I’ll tell you what I tell them when I find them moping, wishing there was a way to meet new people or come across new opportunities: Genuinely focus on enjoying yourself, the company you surround yourself with, and the atmosphere. This applies to nights out or even on a daily basis. When you are happy, the aura you exude is going to be captivating and contagious. You’ll find someone or something that is attracted to it approaching you very soon.
  14. Success is not measurable. _DSC0044-33.jpgMy university is driven by data, formulas, and structured chaos. Everything is quantifiable. Everything has an algorithm. We also have a habit of pushing our boundaries way too far to become “successful,” causing many of us to be self-destructive in ways we don’t realize. Four years into it, I finally realized that there is no algorithm for success. It’s not measured in digits of your salary, companies you intern at, or how many connections you have on your social media. It’s measured in what you’ve experienced, how much you’ve grown over time, and how happy you are with yourself. You are not successful until you aren’t afraid of anything because you’re confident you can tackle it… because honestly you can.
  15. Patience. Everything takes time. I have zero patience for anything. I like instant text responses, instant noodles, instant results. However, good things come to those who wait because good things take time. What’s the rush? Life isn’t a race. Everything will happen when it’s supposed to. Rome was not built in a day and neither is your future.
  16. Everything is temporary. img_4842Everything comes and goes like a wave. If you don’t know what the downs are like, how do you know what the highs feel like? Pain is temporary. Happiness is fleeting. Allow yourself to soak in all of it no matter how miserable it can be. Then, let everything go and start fresh. After all, life will grow from ashes with a little help of the sun that always comes out tomorrow.

In 2017, I will be graduating college, moving out on my own, and starting work. I will no longer have the safe bubble of college or the comfort of my parents’ bank account. But after all I’ve learned in 2016, I’m excited to implement these new things I learned about myself and life itself into 2017. Thank you all for inspiring me and enjoying 2016 with me. I hope you join me through my last college semester and first (half) year as a “real person” in 2017 as well.

The ball is dropping soon, so grab your boos (or booze) and celebrate, mes chéries! We made it. Happy, happy new year.



Erica Huang
Erica Huang

Based in New York City, Erica Huang is the creator and voice behind Bouge & Rouge. This blog is a playground of her thoughts where she invites you to join her on her journey through her 20s. Erica shares her lifestyle, fashion and beauty tips, adventures, and personal thoughts with the goal of inspiring others to always persevere and be unapologetically yourself.

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