2016 may not have been the best for the world, but it was one of the biggest years of change in my life. It marked my graduation of high school and transition into adulthood. Looking back, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and the countless amount of new things I’ve done in just a year. Thoughtfully, I decided to document 16 things I learned in 2016. 

1. Fear is my worst enemy
I’m someone that is scared of change, maybe more than the average person. Fear has crossed my mind graduating high school, moving out to LA, even ending this semester. I know I’m someone that gets comfortable and takes a lot of willpower to understand that it is a normal part of life. Given how much change 2016 has brought, I may not be perfect, but have learned to embrace is just a little bit more.

2. I am capable of a lot more than I think
Through discouragements that came more than often in high school, I saw myself underestimating my capabilities. But college gave me those opportunities to succeed and when I took them and saw results, I realized that all I really needed was a little faith in myself.

3. Be present
I am guilty of always being on my phone and it’s a habit I’ll constantly be trying to improve. This year has brought a little change as I have gotten better at being present when in a conversation or at a meal. It made me realize how much value there is in quality undisturbed talks with friends that a lot of people miss out while on their phone.

4. Higher education is where I belong
High school wasn’t really the best place for me. Often times I felt that my peers’ mindsets were different than mine in a way that I didn’t feel like I was growing. Unfortunately it brought a lot of disdain towards America’s school system, one in which I was taught lifeless skills and not how to expand my horizons. Coming to college just a few weeks in I realized that my mind was aching to learn about broader social issues and ways to make my education benefit a larger population. Although high school gave me tangible skills that I’m grateful for today, I’m so privileged to attend a university where I am encouraged to think out of the box and become a wholesome person. 

5. Print out pictures 
Nowadays, every picture is stored electronically either on your phone or computer, and polaroid cameras that print pictures instantly can be quite expensive. This year I started printing out pictures as memories of fun times or even small gifts for people I love. Recollecting old times through tangible photos creates beauty in this digital world. 

6. Take advantage of General Education classes
This semester I took two classes that fell under my GE requirements; Modern Middle East and Gender, Race, and Sexuality (Women Studies). These two classes were by far my favorite classes I have ever taken, and I learned so much about our world in just 15 weeks. Even though these were just lower division GE courses, it contributed in the knowledge I now have about current political relations as well as social issues America faces. There are always hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered.

7. Adulthood is actually much more difficult than it seems
Since I became an adult this year, I am getting a taste of how life is when I have to do almost everything on my own. It’s definitely something that is glorified because when I’m so exhausted or sick and just want my mom to bring me food, she unfortunately can’t. Responsibilities are greater, and they’ll keep becoming greater, but I know the freedom is definitely a plus point.

8. Meet or call people 
Texting is really easy way to get a hold of someone, but lately I’ve learned that physically seeing or hearing someone’s voice is the best way to maintain relationships. Texting takes out the human aspect of a conversation, so I’ve been doing my best to meet or call my loved ones.

9. Conforming will get me no where
In a world full of rules for ever gender, race or any form of division, this year has taught me to think outside of the box. I don’t have to follow the same cookie cutter model to succeed (and I won’t) because there are so many opportunities out there. 

10. I’m never too old to learn new things
Becoming a freshman again didn’t seem like much of a big deal, but going from knowing everything and being the oldest in high school, it came as sort of a shock to me that I still had so much to learn. I was so used to being the oldest, that I forgot there are always going to be people more knowledgable than me and I am never too old to learn. Once I started getting out of that mindset I was able to fully immerse myself in my education without wondering about learning gaps. 

11. Surround myself with people that are better than me
I consider myself very lucky to be attending a college where the majority of students have goals and aspirations they are constantly striving to achieve. I’ve met some amazing people who have become my mentors and students I look up to. I’ve definitely seen improvement in myself by living and interacting with these groups of people on a daily basis.

12. Strike up a conversation with people that intimidate me
College especially has put me in a position where I have been forced to have a conversation with professors, faculty, employers, upperclassmen, anyone with great amounts of authority. But all that practice this year has really taught me that these people are filled with intelligence just waiting to be passed around. I can’t count how many times I’ve been scared to walk up to someone but have been utterly astonished by the amount of knowledge I’ve gained from the 5 minute discussion. 

13. Take time to listen to my parents’ stories.
My parents are immigrants from India and it’s so unfortunate that I never really asked them about their journey to a new home until recently. Our elders are full of so much knowledge and wisdom, and even though it’s easy to underestimate that, it’s also so wonderful to take time to understand their experiences. 

14. It is okay to let go sometimes and be crazy
2016 has been just this and I’ve loved it. I’ve worked hard for what I’ve wanted to accomplish but also learned to not be afraid of consequences sometimes. Memories are built in the late night trips, laughing till you cry, and running around being wild moments. 

15. Have real life role models
By this I mean have role models that are not celebrities. I’ve really formed deep connections with individuals in my life that I look up to, and through this I know I can ask them for help and advice without them being a distant public figure that can barely help me succeed. 

16. Share my thoughts
One of the most daring things I did this year was share my thoughts through my very own blog! I debated this for a long time, but realized that sharing my love for writing and documenting my college experience is something that I’ll look back for memories years down the road. 

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