Anyway, I've complied a list (because I love lists!) of things I've taught myself, been taught by other people, things I've noticed, etc. I've also inserted some unrelated pictures to take breaks from the insanely wordy post. But go on, read on..
(All photos are linked to their sources)
1. It's okay to like whatever you like.
This was a big realization for me because I was never fully truthful to myself. I never allowed myself to like the things I wanted to like to keep other people from judging me and I tried to keep up with a reputation that isn't a 100% me, that is to say I never expose all sides of me to people I know; only ones that I trust -- which aren't a lot.
This realization opened me up to many opportunities to keeping myself happy and raising my spirits. For example, a year ago I would scoff at the name of Justin Bieber but now I listen to him on a regular basis. I've also accepted T Swift into my life, and basically other pop artists. But never country.. Not in the near future anyway. Glitter and tacky stickers are also some examples.
2. It's okay to be overenthusiastic sometimes.
This is sorta related to the point above. I always wanted to be the 'cool' girl, the one who's so chill all the time, the one who isn't like most girls (which I've now been informed that the idea of that is completely stupid and perpetuates girl hate) who are always loud and overly cheerful and friendly to the point of being fake, even though they aren't; they're just naturally like that. I wanted to be like Daria and Jane; not Quinn. I aspired to be like Lydia Deetz from Beetlejuice, like Allison Reynolds from the Breakfast Club, Veronica Sawyer from Heathers, Sylvie Cooper from Poison Ivy.
But I'm human and I get feelings and emotion sometimes. And some of those emotions include excitement and just overall happiness and joy. I didn't want to feel miserable all the time, and feeling positive is great, so why should I stop myself?
3. Kitchen jokes are not okay.
Surprise, surprise. I became a feminist this year and I support women's rights completely. Yes, I was one of those who laughed when guys told me to get back to the kitchen. Yes, I was one of those who thought women who are promiscuous were inferior and less than a human being. Yes, I was one of those who thought being raped had something to do with one's attire. But I've learned so much and I'm past that and I definitely do not agree with those statements at all.
4. Everybody has a right.
Of course I knew everyone had a right, but I didn't understand it. In addition to the point above, I've also informed myself about cultural appropriation, white supremacy (and obviously why it's bad), misogyny (and internalized misogyny aka girl hate -- who knew such a thing existed!), misandry and how it is irrelevant, racism (and reverse racism which apparently does not exist), feminism in the hip hop culture, rape culture, slut shaming, transgenders, homophobia, feminism in Islam, afropunk and etc. All of these things have flipped my views 180 and taught me about all the injustices in the world and that we should all embrace our differences rather than try to hide them; and with that, everyone has a right to be safe, to have an opinion, to have the freedom to do what they want, to be respected, to be treated equally.
I'm so grateful to be able to have come across these things and to be able to educate myself on these things. Though I wouldn't say I'm an expert on said topics, I'm just saying that I'm aware that they are happening and I wouldn't have known at all a year ago.
5. Sixth form is probably the hardest thing I've ever gone through.
You do not know how happy I was and lucky I am to be able to enter sixth form. Surely, we were warned by our seniors that it would be a tough ride, and again warned by the school during orientation week that everything would be rushed and intense and just crazy. But we didn't care. As long as we were able to fulfill our parents' dreams, to get a certification and to fit into society's standard, it was all fine.. Until we actually got to work..
Let me tell you, I hate sixth form so much, because of (some) of the people there, because of how much energy it takes, because of how hard it is to concentrate and to absorb new information and learn new words and to try to understand new concepts especially at a fast rate on a more advanced level every single day and being constantly reminded how much I suck at managing my time. I've never been so drained from school and I've never struggled so hard and still kept on drowning in the pool of information and exams and competition -- there are a lot of smart people in my school. I've struggled and I'm struggling and I keep on failing and failing no matter what amount of effort and energy I put in. It's so hard to keep up with my grades and to answer questions with set answers. They tell you, you need to think outside of the box, you need to generate your own ideas and apply the concepts that you've learned, to think critically (CONSTANTLY) and logically yet there's always a check list that you have to include in said answers. It's like they trick you into believing that there is actually a freedom in answering these questions but there's not really, because they're all the same. You just need tweak the answers a bit to fit into what they want to see. Sometimes I don't even think I can make it through college...
6. Determination can help you reach goals you never thought you'd achieve.
I proved this to myself when I received my O level results. And I've proved this to myself by completing 10km runs (I couldn't even run 5km without feeling like dying during the earlier part of the year). And in muay thai trainings, where we would constantly be pushed to our absolute limits. And being able to almost do the splits. They might not sound like much but they mean a lot to me. I never thought I'd be able to actually do these things; I always saw them as dreams, as goals that 'I will one day achieve' or 'things that would be nice if I succeeded in, even though I'm fine with something less of it'. And look where I've come! There's a certain kind of pain that you feel when you almost reach your goal. Like, a pleasant kind of feeling. You might hate yourself at first and curse at how much your life sucks at that very moment but when you're so near you're glad you went through it, and when you're actually done, you're proud of yourself. You'll be in a state of awe and just be all, "I can't believe I ever doubted myself, I did that!" and that helped instill confidence in myself over the months.
Overall, 2012 wasn't my favourite year but it's the year that's made me question my identity, the universe and everyone around me the most. I've gained a lot and I know myself better now. I don't think it was my best spiritual wise, and I'd like that to change that.