2018: thank u, next
The BWH Team reflects on lessons learned and the lessons that lie ahead
2018 was a year of constant growing, stretching and rebuilding for me. Work-wise, I challenged myself with a second day job, and welcomed innumerable learning opportunities via Babes Who Hustle, including managing a team that multiplied in the blink of an eye, our inaugural book club, the launch of both our advice column and 2019 merchandise line, our first panel event, our first civic action event, and our second annual holiday party. Personally, I visited four new countries, learning more about myself and the world around me than I would have otherwise had the opportunity to. Most days, though, I could be found sitting at Bold Bean with my head down, plugging away at one too many tasks through trial-and-error, more often than not dehydrated and fumbling. The most important lessons I took away from those moments were found in learning to trust the process.
Here are a few others that come to mind:
It’s okay to adjust our expectations (for friends, family, careers or even ourselves) in order to find necessary peace.
It is impossible to reason with others who are not interested in being reasoned with.
Everyone should invest in a quality denim jacket (if they’re able to).
There is absolutely no shame (and so much reward) in choosing to invest in services—like Shipt, for example—that make life a little more manageable.
Becoming civically involved in local communities is as crucial as it is gratifying.
No matter how well-intended our choices are, they won’t always be enough for everyone—and that’s OK.
It was a big year for me, both personally and professionally. Like most of life’s greatest lessons, none of the changes or challenges that accompanied my 2018 were planned or even anticipated. I left my first big-girl job, started a political gig, began my work-from-home career and launched a personal website. Each accomplishment came packed with new, hard, hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking lessons. Here were a few of my favorites:
Emergen-C tastes great in La Croix.
Emergen-C explodes in La Croix.
Coffee isn’t good for me?
There should be more women working in campaigns.
There should be more women working in every industry.
Writing is two parts perseverance and one part talent.
It’s better to call than text and better to meet than call.
The things and people and situations that teach you important lessons do not come in graceful, eloquent, digestible or comforting packages. They’re still important.
There’s a lot of work to do to make this world a better, more equitable place.
If I see the work that needs to be done, I have to do it.
I am ready to say good riddance to 2018, because any year where you learn a lot is bound to have been supremely painful. (And I learned a lot in the last 12 months.) 2018 wasn’t my best year, but I am leaving it my best me. These are 10 of the nuggets of knowledge that me is taking into the new year:
There is no political substitute for putting your head down and working hard.
Oat milk tastes really, really good.
There are four ways to lead people to action: power, position, authority, or influence. Only the latter must be earned, and only the latter is sustainable.
Creativity needs structure in order to thrive; constraints feel like roadblocks, but they help us do our best work.
Shockingly, people are what matter.
The best motivator is working to be the version of yourself a younger-you would be impressed by.
If champagne gives you a headache, it’s probably because you’re allergic to sulfites found in the red grapes used to produce it. Switch to prosecco (which is made with white grapes) and sip away.
Invest in a gel manicure before a big event or period of travel, because there’s nothing worse than having chipped nail polish and no access to nail polish remover.
No one cares how busy you are.
If you live somewhere not-sunny, plan a late-winter trip somewhere sunny. Dreams of my Mexican vacation in February are getting me through three straight weeks of rain.
This year has been the year of yes: yes to an incredible Babes Who Hustle internship, yes to a board membership, yes to two bridal parties, yes to a events committee, yes to many travels and yes to more responsibilities at work after some unexpected turnover. It’s been a roller coaster of trial and error and a balancing act of slowly but surely figuring out what I can handle, what I can pass on and where I want to take my career. It’s still a work in progress, but one I feel hopeful about. There’s so much I can write here to illustrate what this year has meant for me, but the most important lesson learned is to check my restlessness. I often fill up my time and take on a lot, even when I can easily say no because I know what I need most is some peace and quiet to slow down, relax and reflect. It’s neglecting this fact that has brought me quite a few challenges this year, but it’s acknowledging this fact that’s going to help me tackle 2019 with a clearer, rested state of mind.
I consider 2018 my second year of full-on “adulting” (AKA having a full-time job and not being in school). It’s been a year of adjustments for sure, both personally and professionally.
Looking back at 2017, it was a whirlwind because I dove head-first into public relations (what my degree was for) right after I graduated college. I saw the next few years laid out in front of me, until my company started to face challenges and began scaling back. I called this year the “bare-bones year”—working with the least amount of resources possible. It challenged me to think outside of the box in work, but also rethink my professional goals and aspirations.
I touched on this in a Babes Who Hustle Instagram post but it was terrifying to step back and realize I needed to adjust my vision of my career. I’ve been seeking out opportunities (like this internship!) to dive into some new challenges, learn some new stuff, and figure out what exactly I want for the future. I’m learning to take it day-by-day, and focus on the work giving me the most satisfaction. One day I hope to tie these newfound passions into a hustle. For now, though, I’m just along for the ride.
I feel like this is totally against the rules of running your own company, but I am entirely more reflective than goal-oriented around this time of year, every year. The idea of goal-setting on an annual scale brings a heightened sense of anxiety and pressure for me, and I’ve learned time and time again that nothing ever goes nearly as planned. With that said, a few smaller, more achievable goals I’m keeping tucked in the back of my mind (and in the front of my new journal) moving forward include: drink more water, eat more vegetables, write and read for leisure more, spend more time outdoors, engage in more intentional conversations and quality time with the people I care about, take more advantage of my current proximity to the beach, and be more intentional about the things I choose to take personally.
I’ve been a resolutions person since I can remember. Whether big (reaching out to estranged family) or small (cutting out meat), resolutions have always been hopeful starting points of personal growth. This year, I won’t become vegan, adopt a workout routine, or move out of the country (le sigh). I will however, resolve to thrive at my new work-from-home life and to organize for change.
I’m still in the bar-napkin, Google doc, fresh planner stage of figuring out what those resolutions will look like, logistically. I know they’ll each involve a challenging amount of self-discipline and self-realization. I know they’ll both require me to draw some boundaries and break some others. Most importantly, I know they’ll bring a growing list of unexpected lessons along with them. As I prepare for another year of world turmoil and whirlwind personal growth in 2019, I hope my resolutions will affect my community as much as they affect me.
In 2019 I want to invest more time in doing that things that bring me joy, instead of zoning out. My energy-to-free-time ratio always seems to be skewed one way or the other; it never feels like a perfect balance, and getting lost on the couch in Netflix appears, in the moment, like the perfect workaround. Recharge while doing nothing? What could be better?
But I know from experience that doing nothing can be emotionally draining, too. I feel best when I’m doing something I love that also doesn’t require the pressure to be perfect: taking my dogs for a walk, gardening, reading, taking my canoe out on the lake, taking care of my plants or spending time with a friend. All these things feel good while I’m doing them and after I’m done—I’m rejuvenated and not left with the guilt of six hours having passed, with nothing to show for it but a few extra completed red progress bars.
Looking ahead to 2019, I resolve to slow down, be present, be selective about my pursuits and better take care of myself (e.g. less sporadic schedule, more sleep; less screen time, more nature; less restaurant food, more cooking at home; less coffee and alcohol, more water and tea; less feeling shitty about my physical appearance, more taking action). All of this isn’t new or profound, but it’s so needed in my life. I don’t want to end 2019 with the familiar “Wow, it flew by.” I want to be present in my day-to-day, to enjoy the moments while they’re happening—being utterly present not just in the grand events and fun travels, but in the little, seemingly mundane moments that fill up so much of our lives. I believe this will help me not only live more mindfully, but it will be a constant reminder of all the good around me and the many, many things I have to be grateful for.
Admittedly, I’ve rolled my eyes every time I’ve heard it from someone else—but I really want to focus on some self-care in 2019. I was never one to watch the scale, but after a few doctor appointments this year, I know I need to put health and fitness goals to the front of my mind before it’s too late. If I can’t take care of myself, how am I going to take care of my professional goals?
As someone who has never been “in-shape,” I know it won’t be easy (obviously—that’s why I’ve put it off for so long). I’m sure time management will play into making room in my schedule for fitness and eating right. This will involve things like putting my phone down more and waking up earlier. As far as exercise, I will now be taking any and all advice for beginners (hint, hint). I think I will start with a goal of cardio three times a week. Hopefully this will help to clear my mind and get my heart on the path to healthy.
Thank you, babes!
We wouldn’t be here without your readership, nominations, and support. As we approach our third (!!!) year of doing the damn thing, we want to hear your thoughts, reflections, and constructive criticisms as we grow and evolve.