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15 for 2015

Hi all, I hope you have had a very nice time with family and friends (or by yourself, if you like solitude) and that your 2015 is going to end with no danger of incredibly shitty events, or if there are incredibly shitty events, I hope that you have found a way to either move past or live with them.

To be honest, I don’t really even understand what 2015 was, but I thought I’d make a nice list of things I’ve realized in the last 365-ish days. I don’t want to call these “lessons” or whatever, because who knows if I even learned anything this year that’ll stick with me until I’m old and grey. The truth is that I’ve been on a weird kind of mental/emotional/physical state where I’m kind of suspended in something… I don’t know. I can’t really explain it, and I don’t really want to do that right now.

— Yehliu, Taiwan, October.

I let things happen to me, but I haven’t sat down to process things properly in a long while. I think that’s sort of easy to do when the Internet exists. I don’t want to make any resolutions, but I do want to take a step back and kind of just… pay attention when things are happening to me. I have no sense of time when it comes to memory, and it’s honestly a little off-putting if I think about it too much.

Anyway. There are 15 things because 5 and 10 felt too little and 2015 is not happening. So, 15 it is.

1. Sometimes, to help yourself, you need to ask for help.

That I hate asking for help is something that I realized about me. It almost always feels too bothersome or needy or like I don’t have the right to ask for it (which, haha, I know), and as much as possible, asking for help is my last resort. Even if I am quite obviously floundering in the unfortunate mess I made.

Anyway, if you can help it, try to ask for help before you’ve moved past the point of helping. Even though it took me a while to ask, it made those particular parts of 2015 easier to live with.

2. Help doesn’t always come in the ways you’ve come to expect.

I know I keep making jokes about how much I love One Direction, but the truth is that they really made the roughest months of my year better. I used to think that people who say so-and-so saved their lives were exaggerating or being extra, but like, I kind of feel like I have a better grasp of what they mean when they say shit like that.


3. People are going to disappoint you and you have to be okay with that.

I don’t mean that you have to overlook the disappointments; I think I just mean that you have to expect that it’s a possibility. Like, shit happens, and it’s better for your well-being if you don’t hold a grudge (for much longer than you have to). Humans are complicated, and relationships are complicated.

It’s your prerogative if you want to forgive, if you feel like the transgression is even forgivable at all. But all I’m saying is that holding on to negative baggage weighs you down, too.

4. People are also going to surprise you, in the best ways.

I’ve met so many awesome people this year and now it’s just a matter of knowing how to ask them to hang out with me. I’m very personable online, I think. In real life, I’m kind of shit. (But people have been really nice about that, so. Surprise!)

5. “We all deserve our best chance.”

I wrote about this at length, on several different platforms, but sometime in June, Ingrid Nilsen, an incredibly popular YouTube beauty personality came out as gay, after having had several public het relationships. There was something about how she broke the news (that she gay) that really moved me. One of the things that led her to break it off with her then-boyfriend and be true to herself was the realization that “we all deserve our best chance.”

If you missed the video—it’s pretty long, but worth watching, in my opinion—you can watch it here:

6. Know when to bow out.

If it’s not working, it’s not working. It doesn’t mean you quit everything you start, but it pays to learn when you ought to.

7. “People aren’t really looking that closely (at you).”

I don’t remember what it was about, but Petra sent this to me, which was advice she was given, too. It’s helped a lot because I’m a sad schmuck that keeps second-guessing myself based on what people might think of me. But it’s nice to remember that most people probably don’t even give a shit about you.

This realization has also aided in an increased number of selfies this year, so there’s that.


8. You have to tell people what you want.

I’m still working on this, because like I said, I second-guess a lot, and most of that factors in “what people might think.” I don’t like that that’s how I’m wired, but it is what it is.

Anyway, it isn’t always easy to verbalize what you want—never-ending cycles of “AM I BEING TOO SELFISH” and “BUT WHAT ABOUT WHAT THEY WANT” and “I DON’T WANT TO BE TOO MUCH TROUBLE”—but it’s not fair to you to keep it in, and it’s not fair to other people when they don’t know that they’re possibly hurting you.

9. Figure out what you want.

Ah, another thing I am working on. I oscillate between wanting too many things and not wanting shit. So, I have to really sit down and think about it, it seems.

10. Life does not care if you “don’t feel like it.”

This sounds like a bully statement, but I feel like a lot of my issues are really internal. And I need to learn how to deal with them. But it’s also hard to do that and operate normally in the world. It’s very easy to give in to the pressure of “being productive” or “getting ahead” or “being responsible,” and having certain issues may make you feel like it’s impossible to work in a normal, everyday setting. But at the same time, it’s important to remember that life goes on, whether or not you feel like it. Deadlines will exist. Bosses will exist. Things will always need to get done.

John Baldessari - Prima Facie (Second State)- Jolly, 2005
John Baldessari: Prima Facie (Second State): Jolly, 2005

I think this just pushes me to figure out how to manage myself. Whether it be a calming tactic or just letting people know that I struggle with. My job had been a really high-stress environment and it triggered a lot of problems for me, internally. But I let someone in my office know, and sometimes that someone knows and understands your situation is already a helpful thing. Sometimes, it works out, but sometimes it doesn’t.

If it’s really not good for you, I think you should probably remove yourself from the situation, or reassess how much stress you’re able to take.

11. It’s easy to be mean, but you have to try and be kind.

I think this is pretty self-explanatory, but always easily forgotten. Once you’ve been mean to a person, even if it’s in the heat of the moment, it will be hard for them to look at you the same way and forget about the unkind things you’ve said or done to them.

12. Money is tricky; learn how to deal with too much or too little of it.

Man, I don’t even know. Consumerism is tricky and evil, and it catches up on you. I should know, but I cannot wallow; I have to move on and figure out how to make my situation better instead. Not that it’s any of your business, I’m not in debt. I just haven’t been making very many financially sound decisions lately.

13. Take care of your body because you want to.

I had been exercising pretty regularly until I got my job, and then I just kept getting sick and falling into the dangerous pattern of never being in the mood to exercise. I make it a point to walk when I can.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to eat healthier, too, by upping my vegetable intake and cutting down on meat in general. I’ve stopped drinking my coffee with creamer and sugar. I monitor my water intake (in a fucking notebook), but my main enemies have been sugar and sodium in the form of chips and… instant noodles.

14. “Just because you miss something, it doesn’t mean you want it back.”

I read this on Tumblr (mistakenly attributed to Paulo Coelho, haha), and I think it’s important to always remember. Sometimes your brain and feelings team up to make you think that you want the stuff you left behind again, but I think it’s helpful to try and remember your reasons.


15. At the end of the day, you know what’s best for you.

This could probably be misconstrued as a call to do whatever the fuck you want, because it’s your life. But what I mean is that because you’re the only one who goes through everything as yourself, you will ultimately be the only person who will know, for sure, what is best for you. Other people may think they know what’s best for you—and it’s usually because they love you and care about you, so it’s difficult to fault them for that—but you know yourself the best. Even if it sometimes feels like you don’t.

Sophie Calle - Suicide, 2014 + me
Sophie Calle, Suicide (detail), 2014 & me

Sometimes what’s best for you isn’t what’s best for other people, and you may have to reconcile those things. But you know what’s best for you; it just might be a tough thing to swallow sometimes.

And that’s it! I think I learned other things, but this has gone on for too long. Adios, 2015. You’ve been pretty shitty tough, but you are hopefully a character-building stage, and maybe—I really, really hope!—we’re all better people because of you.