This year, I made some personal sacrifices. I went to brunch less. I went out less. I saw my friends less. I dated less. But I saw more art. I made more art. I wrote more. I met new people. I was busier than I've ever been, but I was busy doing things that make me happy, things that make me feel good, things that enrich every fiber of my being.
A year and four months ago, I set out to create a space where I don't have to compromise any of my diverse interests. I needed a place where I could write about my inspirations, collect learnings and grow ideas. I also wanted to meet like-minded creative people. So I started a passion project, cultureisland. Now, 16 months later, I've interviewed 28 individuals from all over the world and orchestrated 11 collaborative events around New York City. Through engaging with unique people and situations, I've finally found my own voice. Along the way, I've collected many learnings and "words to live by" I wanted to share:
1. A little bit of thoughtfulness goes a long way.
2. Being kind is cool.
3. Support comes in many forms.
4. Never stop learning: Find the light, positivity and knowledge in every conversation, situation and relationship.
5. Be confident in what you know and what you don't know.
6. Free yourself from expectations, of yourself and of others.
7. See the good in everyone.
8. Don't let others' personal journeys bring you down.
9. Relationships ebb and flow.
10. The best remedy is being honest and true to yourself and to others.
11. Everyone is a potential collaborative partner down the road (this even includes ex-boyfriends).
12. Harsh criticism can be more valuable than praise.
13. Challenges push us to be better versions of ourselves; they are opportunities, blessings and lessons in disguise.
14. Sometimes the most valuable lessons come from making big mistakes.
15. Use your lows to create your highs.
16. Be ballsy. Don't be afraid to reach out to people you don't know.
17. The more you put out there, the more you get in return. Just keep pushing.
18. Hearing "no" is a good thing.
19. If it doesn't open, it's not your door.
20. Don't put your name on anything that doesn't feel like you.
21. See your own value and know your own worth; if you don't, no one else will.
22. You have nothing to lose by asking, and if you don't ask, you'll never receive.
23. Be confident in who you are today to build who you will become tomorrow.
24. Stay humble, hungry and curious about the world around you.
25. Success lies in how well you roll with the punches.
26. It all comes down to magic and logic.
27. Celebrate small victories.
28. Don't put pressure on yourself to have all the answers right now. We spend more time in the process, so why not enjoy it?
29. Always share your own learnings.
Through building my own thing, I learned what it means to be fulfilled and happy. I learned how to find meaning in the meaningless. I learned how to start deep dialogues with the world around me. In turn, I learned how to be more positive and mindful. But I pushed through many lows to get here. At first, I let little things get to me. I cared a lot about what other people thought of me. I took things very personally. I was impatient and put a lot of unhealthy pressure on myself.
A year and four months later, I'm embracing the highs and lows. I'm finding the good in the bad. Now, I'm enjoying figuring things out as I go. I'm being up-front about what I know and what I don't know. I may not have all the answers, but I'm completely at ease with where I am in life. Along the way, I am figuring out what I stand for and who I am. Finally, I'm forging my own future and building a life I've always wanted. I am proud of my feats, but I love being a work-in-progress and enjoy that I'm just getting started. Now, I ask myself every day: How can I be a better me?
Next year, I hope you too can find ways to be a better you. I hope you find the courage to start somewhere. Because if you don't find your voice and use it, how will the world know you exist?