At the end of every year, I like to take the opportunity to reflect. As I reflect on 2018 in particular, I am overcome with happiness and pride. My goal this year was to really take advantage of opportunities and pursue my passions. In doing that, I think I grew more this year than any other year prior. I grew so much as a person because of the experiences and lessons I learned throughout the year. I can’t wait to share with you the lessons learned that have shaped me into who I am today and that have encouraged me to keep moving forward.
I Learned the Meaning Of ‘Hard Work Pays Off’
“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.”
If you would have told me 12 months ago that in 2018 I would join a new team at work and work on a product I had no experience in and later be told by my boss that I up-skilled faster than anyone he’d seen, I would have said, “Seriously? No way.” If you would have told me 12 months ago that in 2018 I would start my own blog and write 60+ posts, host my first event with 50 guests, meet a new group of inspiring friends, be featured in a Chicago publication, and land two paid brand partnerships through my blog by the end of the year, I would have said, “I don’t believe you.”
But yet, here we are. While I am beyond proud of myself for what I’ve been able to accomplish this year, I would not be here if I hadn’t pushed myself and put in the time and work.
Even though I applied for an internal role at my company earlier this year, I still had to go through the entire interview process just like any external candidate. Because I had no experience in the product I wanted to work on, I spent over 20 hours outside of work researching, learning and putting together my PowerPoint presentation for my final interview. Once I was hired, I then had the uphill battle of learning the product more in depth to be able to effectively consult my clients. There were days that went by that I felt like a failure and didn’t know anything but I trudged forward. I worked overtime and made it a point to keep educating myself and do everything in my power to ensure my clients were happy. The outcome was worth it as I got praise both from leadership and my clients this year, which solidified that my hard work had paid off.
Similarly with Lipstick & Ink, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. When I decided I was going to buy the domain thelipstickandink.com and create my own website, I quickly realized how much work it was going to be. All through January and February this year, I was crazy Googling and watching videos on how to code and design my site. After launching, I got really excited and caught up in all of the possibilities of where my blog could take me. That excitement led me to working many, many late nights throughout the year because there was just not enough time in the day between working full-time and doing everything I wanted to accomplish with Lipstick & Ink. All of that hard work was worth it to me though as I was able to achieve everything I wanted to and more this year with my blog.
2018 taught me that I have the power do anything I set my mind to. With hard work, I can truly meet and exceed my goals and surprise myself in how far I go.
I Learned to Push Myself Out of My Comfort Zone
“Life always begins with one step outside of your comfort zone.” ― Shannon L. Alder
I’ve talked about the comfort zone a lot, both on the blog and on social media, and I’ve said how important it is to get uncomfortable. I’ve tried to make it my goal each and every year to push myself through my fears, but I think I lived it the most in 2018.
With starting the blog, I pushed myself through the fear of criticism and judgment. I knew if I was going to make any kind of traction in the blogging world, I was going to have to put myself out there and write about the things I cared about and not hold myself back. I was happy I did too, because I had countless people reach out to me this year thanking me for my honesty and vulnerability.
When planning the Lipstick & Ink event, I pushed myself through fear of the unknown. It was terrifying not knowing how many people would buy tickets and who would actually show up for the event. On top of that, I had to push myself through the awkwardness of self-promotion. I had to promote the event any way I could to make sure people knew about it. It was extremely difficult for me to do that but it paid off because I was able to fill the room with like minded women looking for inspiration in their careers.
At the event, I pushed myself through my fear of speaking in front of an audience. Last year I discovered I have social anxiety, especially when it comes to public speaking, so I’ve been working on it ever since and the event was the perfect opportunity to push myself out of my comfort zone. I got up in front of the 50 guests and successfully introduced myself and the Lipstick & Ink brand and also served as the moderator for the panel.
In going to influencer and networking events this year, I pushed myself to go alone and meet new people. There was one event in particular that I went to where I not only didn’t know anyone but I also ended up being the only white woman in the room. I can’t tell you how uncomfortable I felt at first. But you know what? I put myself out there and introduced myself to the women there and even contributed to a roundtable discussion. It was in that moment I realized just how much I could grow through experiences like that and getting out of my comfort zone.
I Learned the Importance of Quality Friendships
Choose to focus your time, energy and conversation around people who inspire you, support you and help you to grow you into your happiest, strongest, wisest self.― Karen Salmansohn
Growing up, being friends with everyone was important to me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that quality friendships mean more to me than having a large quantity of friends. I evaluated my friendships more than ever in 2018 and removed myself from those that weren’t serving me. I was then able to dedicate more time to those friendships that meant more and that genuinely made me into a better person. They are the people who day in and day out push me, support me, and love me for who I am.
Some of these people have been those I met only this year. As I joined the blogger community on Instagram, I made a lot of virtual connections. The best part was that those connections manifested into real friendships as I got to meet many of these women in person. I have found so much camaraderie in the Chicago influencer community – we are able to relate to each other on an entirely other level and support each other through our struggles and better yet, our achievements. Meeting and becoming friends with these women (you know who you are!) has been invaluable to me.
I Learned to Accept The Things I Cannot Change
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
2018 taught me to accept the things I cannot change. This lesson seems so cliché, but let me tell you, it was my hardest lesson learned this year.
Earlier this year, I went through a really rough break-up with a friend. I didn’t understand why it was happening, especially when we had been friends for so many years. There were some hateful things said to me and I learned that I couldn’t change her opinion of me. I had to let go and let us move on separately from each other. I also went through a hard time with my family this year. I felt like I wasn’t heard and my feelings didn’t matter. I was left feeling distraught, disrespected and disappointed. After weeks of feeling this way, I accepted that I can’t change anyone but myself.
Through both of these experiences, I learned that I can’t change others if they don’t want to change. I can’t change their opinions if they refuse to see my side. And I can’t force them to apologize if they don’t feel they did anything wrong. These were tough acceptances to swallow and it took a lot of time to work through it but oddly, I am thankful for these experiences so I could learn to keep moving forward and focus on myself instead.
I Learned to Slow Down
Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.― Eddie Cantor
I am always on the go. I’m always doing something and looking to check off the next thing on my to-do list. I usually see it as a good thing because I don’t think I’d achieve nearly as much as I set out to do if I wasn’t this way. But the problem with moving so fast all of the time is that you don’t really appreciate or enjoy things as they are happening. You may also forget to celebrate the accomplishments along the way and you may even lose focus of your purpose.
There was a point later this year that I realized I had to slow down. I was moving too fast for my own good that I wasn’t appreciating my successes as they were happening and I also wasn’t delivering my best work. I felt like I had lost both my focus and my purpose. I decided to take a step back, reflect on what I had accomplished, and reassess what my goals were for the rest of the year and into 2019. I took time away from the blog and social media in October to really figure out where I was both professionally and personally. In a way it felt like I was taking a step back, but I was really preparing myself to get ahead.
I learned in 2018 that slowing yourself down is not a bad thing. Life happens fast and it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day and not really even realize why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s important to not only take the time to reflect and refocus but also enjoy life as it’s happening.
I Learned to Be Unapologetically Me
“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.” ― Steve Maraboli
I’ve read that as you age, you ultimately become more comfortable in your own skin. It was this year that I finally understood the meaning of that. 2018 taught me that I am me for a reason and I should never feel the need to apologize or change that.
I learned that I can’t be everything to everyone. I have opinions and thoughts and flaws, just like everyone else. But it’s those things that make me unique – it’s what makes me, me. I can’t – and won’t – change who I am. I am proud of the person I’m becoming and the path I’m forging for myself. I am comfortable in my own skin and let me tell you, it feels pretty damn good.
Kelly Nash is a Chicago-based writer, career coach, speaker and founder of Lipstick & Ink®. She also works full-time in technology as a Role Strategy and Employee Engagement Manager at Salesforce and has over 12 years of digital marketing experience. Kelly has been featured in Thrive Global, Chicago Tribune, International Association of Women, General Assembly, Salesforce, and SheFactor. She’s fueled by black coffee, sunshine, a good ink pen, and a bold lip.