Looking Back: Summer 2015

Photo via Favim

Summer 2015 is nearly at an end, which has left me reflecting on it. This summer ran the emotional gamut for me; there were days when life was amazing, but there were also days where I wouldn't have gotten out of bed if Tadd hadn't made me do so. There were lessons to be learned at each end of the emotional spectrum, though, as well as the points in between. I learned three major things in Summer 2015 and will take those lessons into Fall 2015 and future seasons.

It's ok to focus on yourself.
A large portion of my struggles this summer was due to my relationships with others. I put too much focus on what others thought, felt, and/or didn't think or feel about me. Situations changed in a number of my relationships over the summer, and I wasn't sure how to handle all of that change - of if the relationship was even capable of continuing through such changes. If I wasn't involved in friends' plans, I assumed they were upset with me and I wasn't as important to them anymore. If a friend didn't respond to a message I sent them, I figured our friendship was on the rocks. I was an insane person, honestly, and in hindsight I am ashamed that I (over)reacted that way. It was me, and only me, that let others get in the way of my happiness.

My sadness all boiled down to me not being ok with being alone. I had a need for others' approval before I could approve of myself, which was unhealthy. After speaking to a friend about these issues, they suggested that I take a step back and learn to be ok on my own. So, I ended up taking a retreat of sorts; I turned off my phone for a few days and just spent time by myself, doing things that I wanted to do, and not thinking about anyone else and what they'd think about any of it. It did wonders! I realized that being alone was ok sometimes, and that need to constantly be in contact with people faded away. At the end of Summer 2015, I am at peace with myself and am ok with spending time alone instead of worrying about everyone liking me and constantly paying attention to me.

Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.
Stepping out of my comfort zone lead to some of my greatest adventures this summer, and I'm so glad for it. Usually, so I've found through observing others, the older one gets, the more risk-averse they become. They take fewer trips out on a limb, probably because they spent a lot of time in the past hanging out on that limb. Not me. I've spent most of my life avoiding risk. Practicing caution has been the name of the game for me. To be frank, that's caused me to miss out on a lot of things in life, and this summer has been a practice in stepping out of my comfort zone.

I did a lot of things this summer that past-Niki would not be able to even process, let alone actually do. Although my fear of the water is still a serious thing, I bought a kayak (along with a life jacket, duh) and I take it out as often as I can; I love it. In order to get to Baltimore for the Mumford and Sons concert, I drove all by myself - the farthest I've ever driven by my lonesome; with great jams and road snacks, it turned out to be a peaceful, thoughtful drive. When Tadd and I went to Hilton Head for vacation this summer, I sampled tons of food that I never would have fathomed tasting before, and they were absolutely delicious. All of my life I've thought about the bad things that could happen if I stepped outside of my comfort zone, but I'm now approaching new things with the viewpoint that something amazing could result from them (and so far, amazing things have happened).

Being outside makes everything better.
This summer, when I was fretting over a relationship, I could find solace in the outdoors. When I was stepping out of my comfort zone and doing something completely new, I was usually doing so outside. It's a wonderful thing to be able to unplug from the hectic world at times and just soak in all that nature has to offer. Doing that puts things into perspective and has a way of reminding you that everything is going to be alright.

Until Tadd and I bought our house last year, I was not an outdoorsy person. Having to mow grass and the desiring curb appeal draws you outside, though, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to do yard work all summer. Growing and caring for flowers was a special joy for me, and time on my riding lawn mower was used to both maintain my yard and think about all sorts of life things. Win-win. Also, through my many trips this summer, I was able to get outside, participate in a number of exciting outdoor activities (kayaking, swimming, hiking, etc., etc.), and see so many beautiful sights. The first eighteen years of my life was spent in the country, and I took for granted that my backyard had so much to offer. Fortunately, especially after this summer, I have realized just how vital being outside is for my happiness, and I will never again take the outdoors for granted.

Summer 2015 was definitely an unforgettable season that taught me so much about growing up, being my own person, and living life instead of fearing it. As Charles Dickens once wrote, "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times," but I'm thankful for everything I got out of Summer 2015.

What's your biggest take-away from Summer 2015, Hipsters? Comment below!

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