It has been a really big year and when I take a second to pause and realise 2016 is nearly over, it doesn’t quite seem real. Didn’t this year just start? Weren’t we just in June? How the heck did we get to the end of the year so quick? I have no clue. At the start of this year, I had a lot of things I wanted to achieve but it turns out the most important things have been the lessons I’ve learned this year. So, at the risk of being a bit soppy, I wanted to share with you the most important things I learned in 2016. If you’ve learned something this year, share it in the comments below or on Facebook, I’d love to read it!

1. I’ve mellowed out a lot

I didn’t quite realise it until my trip to Thailand, Cambodia and Laos in November, but being surrounded by the energy of people in their early 20s, I realised there’s a whole lot more chill in my life than I realised. My best friend Mindy just visited me too and commented to both Matt and I how chill and calm we are and I have to agree with her. I’ve suddenly realised how much stress, worry, fear and doubt I’ve cut from my life. I pause for longer, breathe deeper, think before I speak and know the importance of silence.

2. Kittens are very bitey

I’ve lost a lot of skin and blood, but it has been worth it.

3. I’m not afraid of 30

So next year I’ll be turning 30 and I guess I always thought that would be a scary thing. Now I’m getting close to it, I’m not afraid at all. I’m actually pretty excited about it because I’m far happier with who I am in my life now than I was 9 years ago. What’s to fear?! I know what I want from life, I’m working really hard to get it, have an awesome support network and, as I mentioned above, I’m chillin like a villain. I’ve got a feeling 30 is going to be awesome.

20 Really important things I learned in 2016

4. It’s much easier to get a black eye than you’d think

For real, though. I thought you had to get punched point-blank in the face to get a black eye. Not true! Turns out you can get a black eye by walking your dumb face eye-first into a shower head. I did look pretty bad-ass for a week there, though.

5. I learned how to drink beer

Yep, that’s right, 2016 was the year of the beer. I never really quite got into the taste of it, but a bit of determination and a lot of hot weather changed everything. Now I’m not only drinking it, I’m freaking enjoying it too. 2016… the year of beer.

6. I’m more appreciative of my close friends

There have been a few ups and downs in my personal life this year and at each high and low, I’ve had some very incredible best friends who I’ve been able to share them with. There are some very wonderful people in my life who are very supportive of all the changes I’ve made in my life and this year, more than ever, I’m so grateful for them. It’s a small group, but they know who they are – thank you, I love you!

20 Really important things I learned in 2016

7. An explanation isn’t always necessary

I often find myself needing to explain myself to people or justify certain things, but this year I’ve been working really hard not to feel the need to do those things. I feel like it’s taken all year, but I’m really getting the hang of it. Sometimes you just don’t owe anybody an explanation, you just need to hold the reason in your heart and know that truth for yourself. You’ll never be able to tell everyone everything, so there’s no pressure to try. Save the energy and spend it on yourself instead.

8. Manifesting is real and it works

I’ve written before about it, but I’m a huge believer in the power of manifesting. I really, truly, deeply believe in my heart that we are in control of our existence and have the ability to bring things into our lives through the power of our minds and hearts. This year I’ve worked really hard on letting go of fears and doubts and manifesting more opportunities and income into my existence and I tell ya, it has worked!

9. It’s okay to stand up for yourself

Like any good year, 2016 has thrown up its fair share of challenges and a few of those have caused me to pause and wonder whether or not I should clap back. I’ve learned it’s okay to stand up for yourself, as long as you do it in a polite and respectful way that doesn’t leave you feeling yucky.

20 Really important things I learned in 2016

10. There’s also a lot of power in silence

You know, those moments where you just have to roll your eyes while screaming internally, thinking, ‘you’re a stone-cold idiot.’

11. A good skin care routine really matters

I finally got my life together and started doing a proper skin care routine… like… wash, moisturise, replenish, scrub, the works! And, you know what, it actually freaking works.

12. I need to stop beating myself up about my body

When it comes to body shaming, I’m way too mean to myself. Or, at least I have been. I’ve come to realise toward the end of this year that booty comes in all shapes and sizes and as much as I’d love to have the long legs of Kendall Jenner, it ain’t going to happen. This is my body shape and even if I lost a tonne of weight, I still wouldn’t be her. I’m learning to find comfort in the pocket of my weight, which goes up and down all the time.

20 Really important things I learned in 2016

13. I’m a bit of a hippie…

This realisation came out of nowhere last week when my best friend Mindy pointed out that Matt and I have become hippies. It kind of snuck up on us but when she pointed it out, I realised Mindy was dead right. We recycle, burn incense, put essential oils on the cats to help them stay calm, make the majority of our food from scratch, avoid food out of bags, are vegetarian, shop at thrift stores and meditate together. What the hell. How did this happen to me?! I didn’t see it coming!

14. Love is a constantly evolving thing

One big lesson I learned this year is that love changes and evolves throughout your life. The way I love Matt now is very different to the way I loved him when we first met. It took me a long time to realise different doesn’t mean good or bad, it just… is. Sometimes you have to stop and take a moment to process the love you have for someone and appreciate what it is and what it means.

15. I still hate hiking

I gave it a red-hot go, but I didn’t enjoy it. I’ll try again next year.

20 Really important things I learned in 2016

16. People will always underestimate you, but that can be a good thing

Time and time again people will continue to underestimate you. They will judge you, probably based on what they see rather than what they know, and they will decide you aren’t up to standard. Brilliant. Bring it on! There’s nothing better than the look on someone’s face when you blow their minds because you’re a straight gansta!

17. There’s no need to be embarrassed

I quite often put myself down mentally and don’t think I’m ‘professional’ enough to do something like buy balloons or sparklers for photographs. Welp, that’s just stupid. I got a lot of confidence from my media trip to Indonesia this year, working alongside amazing photographers and Instagrammers and they made me feel like I am good enough to do those things. Now, I do. I pose like I’m a model, I buy props and I feel really comfortable doing it and it means I get great photos! Buh-bye silly mental restrictions… you are no longer needed.

18. I can twerk

Yes, that’s right, with the correct amount and combination of alcohol in me, I can twerk.

20 Really important things I learned in 2016

19. What I do matters and is valid

There have been times when becoming a full-time blogger has received some questions and push-back from people. Their doubts often trickled through into my own mind and heart and, honestly, made me sad. I felt like I had to prove to people the risks I took to get here were valid, that it is a real job and that I matter. The funny thing about it though, while I was busy trying to prove it to other people, I was really just proving it to myself by working my ass off and, you know what, I did. I’m proud of my job and I know how much it means to me.

20. Life is flexible and money comes and goes

This is a big one and something I love that I learned. There’s an analogy or a saying, I can’t remember which, describing how people should aspire to be like bamboo. The quote itself goes something like, ‘the bamboo that bends in the wind is stronger than the oak that resists.’ I feel like that has been a big thing for me this year, learning to lean into the wind and trust I won’t break. To give myself to it wholly and just breathe. We’ve lost money, we’ve gained money, but we’re never so without it that we struggle. Everything in life is flexible and, if you just relax and don’t panic, you’ll see everything works out fine in the end. Be like bamboo, boo!

Bonus lesson: Don’t save things. Stop delaying happiness. If you want something, have it now. If you want to do something or go somewhere, do it now. Don’t wait until ‘one day,’ because it may never come. Use your beautiful jewellery, spend your hard-earned money, spend time with your grandma, tell your sister you love her.

Watch: Our ’12 months in 60 seconds’ video

Little Grey Box Phoebe Lee ProfilePhoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through InstagramFacebook and YouTube.

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