As 2014 is coming to a close, I wanted to reflect on things I have learned this year. There is a lot more than listed but I figured I’d list the top five and expand on them further. This year has probably been the most difficult, yet most enlightening year I have lived thus far and I’m thankful for every moment.
1. What we value in life defines our lives.
If we value material things, fame and money, that is all our lives will amount to.. the things we have and how we compare to others. This year, I realized that my values were dialed from a perspective of insecurity and inferiority. I learned to shift my values to things like being open to others, valuing the work of others, appreciating what close friends, family and strangers do for me all while not expecting or depending on others.
2. Limits can only be set by my own willfulness to push past them, not by circumstance or my character.
This is a more recent lesson but all the more relevant. I make a lot of excuses, I bargain with myself and I can see areas of life that have been stunted because I have refused to push myself out of my comfort zone. This year I worked to continue to remind myself that staying in a comfort zone leads to complacency. If I want to be great, mediocracy is not an option.
3. People have their own lives, so value their time and show them appreciation.
I am fortunate to have so many people that are supportive of me and of my dream… I cannot express enough how thankful I am that these people see something in me that I sometimes forget to see in myself. I often witness fellow artists take advantage and short-change them out of what they deserve. I remind myself constantly that the people helping me out or giving me the “homie hookup” could just as easily refuse to work with me and to always appreciate and respect their time and effort. I want people to value me as an artist and value the work I put into what I create, so I should reciprocate by valuing their work.
4. My work should speak for itself.
Being an independent artist, there is a weird pressure to constantly put out content, even if the only content you have is to update people, fans and friends on what you’re currently working on. I stopped worrying about that over the summer. I felt like I constantly was telling people I was working on something even though I didn’t have any further plans about what I was working on. I just felt the need to tell people that “HEY! I’m doing stuff and working hard.” And the funny part is I felt like I was bragging and not coming up with anything I was actually proud of. I committed to working in silence, and letting the quality of my work make the noise.
5. Compassion should be practiced every day.
I might be generalizing by saying this but I feel everyone has, is or will struggle in their life. I remind myself of this “fact” every time I interact with someone new and especially with people I hold dear to my heart. We all experience life differently and it sometimes saddens me to see discord between groups of people who have been leading different lives. I work to not compare my struggles to the struggles of people with whom I only know a little about. Because “hard” is relative to the person going through a difficulty and there is no “harder” or “hardest.” I am learning to not fear what I don’t understand. I realize that I may be ignorant to the way some people have lived, but I do not feel guilty because the only life I’ve known is my own. I want to learn and understand the lives people have lived, without judgement and to give love, acceptance and compassion despite our different paths.