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Before We Begin a New Year, Think About This.

Lifestyle

Another year has come to a close. And I think I can speak for many when I say that it was a weird year. It was somewhat eventful but not simultaneously. Nonetheless, it was a year with lessons, laughter, growth, and love. And for that, I am grateful. There’s often discussion around whether New Years’ resolutions are necessary—the answer differs from person to person. But one thing that we all need in our lives is reflection and I certainly have some takeaways from last year. Things that I need to try and do better in the next year. Call them resolutions, or whatever you wish but regardless, here are my points of reflection from 2022.

1. Be Thankful for each day

The concept of a new day is perhaps one of the most beautiful. A new dawn. A fresh start. An awakening. Each time we live to see another day is a new opportunity to get stronger, faster, kinder, happier, fairer, truer to ourselves and to each other. With life, there is hope. And each new day brings along hope. It gives us a chance to try again, do better and gain something new. Each day has something unique to offer, whether it be smiles or gratitude. We’re lucky to be here, to have the chance to make a difference in our world. Take it. Treasure it.

2. Smile.

Scientifically, it releases endorphins and cortisol that relieve bodily tension and allow us to feel more relaxed. Interpersonally, it’s a gift. It lets another feel they matter. Smiles are contagious—smiling at a stranger can be the difference between them having a good or bad day. And when I think about it, I have so many reasons to smile. I'm alive. I'm well. I have a loving family. I have access to basic necessities, luxuries and rights. I have many opportunities I can access. Count your blessings—there is much to be grateful for.

3. Keep trying.

It feels easier to call it quits and try something else, but there’s something so enriching about completing a task, no matter what it is. From an academic perspective, it’s easier to procrastinate and do the fun things first, leaving schoolwork and revision until the last minute, but that’s not a sustainable lifestyle. By all means, relax, unwind and have fun but know your priorities. Get the harder, longer things done and then do what you wish to. From a personal perspective, not giving up is harder. It's a mental, physical and emotional struggle you have to overcome. I'm still learning this but once we do, we’ll be unstoppable.

4. Tell people you love them.

Sometimes, it feels like a given but if you don’t tell people you love them, they’re not going to assume it. Sometimes, it feels like a challenge—being open and emotional with the people you care is hard but life is short. The loss of many people this year reinforced that to me. You never know how much time you have left with the people you care for. Let them know they matter to you.

5. Take Pauses.

This was my biggest struggle this year. I'm very bad at stepping away from work—once I start, I find it difficult to stop. I have my A-Levels starting in 5 months time and they determine whether I can go to my preferred universities and I just turned 18. My life’s getting started and sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming. I've had trouble with managing my stress and emotions in the past which had caused burnouts so it’s important to know when you need to take a break. And as much as I might preach that you don’t give up and push through the hard times the reality is that life’s tough and this is just the beginning. Sometimes you might want to give up. And that’s okay—if anything it’s normal. But to let go completely. It’s important to learn how to strike a healthy balance between working hard and taking time for yourself. Academic success isn’t worth it if you lose yourself in the process.

6. Breathe.

In my years I’ve learned that my health and wellbeing, my body, my happiness and my future come before anything else. My biggest hope for the years to come is to be at peace. At peace with the people in my life, at peace with the course that my life is taking. At peace with all that enters my life. And at peace with myself. Peace is indispensable in our lives, and you should do anything to protect your peace because you come first. Taking a breather, taking a step back—they’re so underrated and yet they’re so crucial to our wellbeing. And I've also found that by taking breaks (or learning to) means that I'm a lot more at peace and emit a calmer aura. You can breathe through exercise, meditation or yoga: find your thing.

7. Look after yourself.

You're the priority. And when you prioritise other people’s thoughts and opinions over your own, you lose yourself in the process. I’ve been down that road and I don’t wish it on anyone. Being yourself is the most important thing in life. Because people, experiences, chances—they all come and go. But you’ll always be you. So, treasure yourself. Treasure your strengths, weaknesses, character, mannerisms, personality traits, dress sense. There’s nothing about any of us that’s perfect and that’s beautiful. You’re perfectly imperfect: never forget that.

This year has truly been a rollercoaster. I've cried, I've achieved, and I've laughed. Most importantly, I tried and I grew. I’ve learned and I'm a better me than I was this time last year. Everyone wants the new year to be their year and, whilst it’s great to have big ambitions, I've learned that without holding on to the lessons of the past, I can’t progress in general. So take these lessons. Be kind to yourself and to the people around. Cherish the person that you are. Take time to yourself and look after yourself. In this new year, live, laugh, and love! 

Olaronke Bamiduro
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Olaronke "Ronke" Bamiduro is an 18 year old sixth-form student from London, UK and is in her senior year at sixth form. She is passionate about the power of the voice and the importance of expression. Olaronke enjoys reading, writing, yoga, cooking, netball, discussing new ideas and self-reflection.