We’ve lived abroad for the calendar year of 2019 and have recently returned from our first visit back to Canada. Through the trip back, I found my suspicions were confirmed. I’m the same in some ways, but I’ve really changed in others. This move has given me so many invaluable lessons, and I would easily recommend a year abroad to everyone at some point in their lives. In the spirit of entering 2020, here are 20 lessons I’ve learned this last year, addressed to myself, that I hope not to forget.
1. Remember the value of a dollar. If you work hard, you can be successful, even if you don’t make that much. Every dollar matters, so don’t waste them.
2. The biggest risks can bring the biggest rewards. On the flip side of that, not everything you try works out, but keep trying until you find a way.
3. Include and welcome people. Don’t ever forget how much it’s meant to you to be included and welcomed in so many groups and families this year. Pay it forward for the rest of your life because you never know how much you can impact someone by letting them in.
4. Be who you are no matter what others think. It’s easier said than done, but the relationships that come to you when you’re not afraid to be yourself are the best kinds of friendships.
5. Family is important, and there’s nobody quite like them. You can like them or not, and they can feel the same about you, but they’re your family. When push comes to shove, they matter in a way that can’t be replicated.
6. Take risks. Make mistakes. Learn the hard way if you have to. Experience life and chose the path you want to go down. You can always change direction later. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Lots of times they’re worth it, and for the ones that aren’t, at least you know.
7. Every place has things about it that you’ll like and things that you won’t. Nowhere is perfect, and there are compromises to make in any environment. You just have to choose which ones you’re willing to make.
8. True friendships will stand the test of time. You’ll pick up right where you left off, and it’ll be like not a day’s gone by.
9. Saying goodbye is hard, and you cry, but that’s because you love those people dearly. Having people in your life that love you too, and miss you enough to cry over your departure is something of incredible value.
10. The topic of money is a sensitive one for many people, and everyone has opinions on how you should use it. When it comes to money and relationships, it will sure show you a lot about who people are.
11. People are going to judge you and gossip about you no matter where you live in the world. It says more about who they are as people than who you are.
12. Not everyone you thought was a friend for life is. But that’s okay.
13. The world is really big, but really small at the same time!
14. Anything you thought was pure truth about the world, or people, or life, can be challenged. If you’re willing to be open minded and listen, you’ll learn of other perspectives that can add a lot of value to your life.
15. Choose to be content and happy where you are in the moment. Soak the moments in! They won’t last forever. Celebrate everything good!
16. Appreciate those around you. Show them you appreciate them.
17. Life isn’t guaranteed. Go for your dreams now and don’t let anyone “should” on you, or tell you you’re too old or too anything. You only get one life.
18. Life still has hard parts, even when you’re living a dream being realized. There’s always room to learn and grow, and to make new dreams.
19. Everyone has a story, and everyone has struggles. Nobody’s life is perfect, no matter how it seems.
20. God is taking care of you more than you’ve ever known. Trust. That’s another one that’s easier said than done, but keep trusting in God, and the whole process.
Cheers to 2020, and Happy New Year!