By Ryne Hambright

1. You hold the power to decide who gets to question you.

This is first on the list for a reason. If there was one idea or concept crippling me before this year, that still tries its hardest to cripple me now, this is it. I think all of the power we don’t know we posses, we give away. Maybe it’s just the obsessed-with-Young-Adult-novels-where-the-hero/heroine-discovers-they-have-the-power-to-save-everyone-complex I’ve developed since elementary school, but I truly believe we are more than we know. And that the greatest power we have is the power to choose. You decide who holds clout over your life. Is it your parents, your friends, your morals, a higher power? Or is just yourself? Find out the answer to that question as soon as possible. Everyone will want to speak into your life but not everyone should have a voice.

2. Stay in your lane… until there’s traffic.

Another harsh but true reality I’ve come to accept this year is how much of a control freak I am. I think I always knew but it was the thing we didn’t talk about. Living in a life where we don’t get a say on most of the things that happen, I think there’s something to be said for those of us who try to step up and mitigate the damages of what we can control. It’s admirable, even. But when you try to extend that sense of control to the others around you that’s where the problems arise. So as all the great philosophers say, ‘you do you’. Stay in your lane until there’s traffic and then learn how to navigate it. If life really is a highway remember that you only get to drive one of the cars.

3. Sometimes qutting IS the answer.

I think the thought that plagues the Millenial generation more than any other is the belief that at all times we must persevere. Even the very definition of the word, ‘to continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success’ sounds so heroic. But hear me out. What do you do when you’re on a life course that you absolutely despise? Or when you hate the person you’re slowly but defintely becoming? Do we persevere then simply for the sake of perserverance? Sometimes quitting is not only the best option, but our saving grace. We can stop the train from heading for the end of the tracks. Again, even if it costs us everything, we have the CHOICE to do something. And sometimes the right choice is to quit.

4. Know how to hold two things: your liquor and your tongue.

Considering a wild night for me typically involves mixing two types of ice cream and trying to binge an entire season of a show on Netflix, the first is not a problem I really struggle with, per se. Unfortunately, I tend to be more insane sober than drunk and sometimes I really do speak up when I need to shut up. I think it goes back to being a control freak and feeling that not all of the time, but most of the time, I am right and should speak what I think is truth into other people’s lives. But the truth is a lot of the times being right isn’t what matters most. Exercising grace, making others hate themselves a little less, and listening to their stories are far greater gifts to give someone.

5. Social media deserves a WARNING label.

DISCLAIMER: I am a child of social media. It is my mother and my father and I love it very, very much. I love to write and get my inspiration from some of my favorite writers via Twitter, Tumblr, etc. I know and understand the value of telecommunications and the spatial barriers it has blown through. But I think right at the heart of all of the benefits of social media is the ugly evil of comparison. I’m starting to think that Facebook makes people get married and pregnant. That it’s just a sympton of having an account. And Twitter makes me sometimes belive that having a voice is just about having the loudest. Instagram is usually a perfect flip book of beautiful lives where heartbreak doesn’t exist and people ride off into their no filtered sunsets. I believe none of it. The power of comparison wants to make our stories the same and we have to fight against the tide. It really is okay that you’re not married, not working your dream job and are doing your best breast stroke in a sea of debt. WARNING: social media will never tell you that.

6. Hurting yourself is hurting others.

‘You can live your life however you want as long as it doesn’t affect other people’. That’s a nice sentiment, but I think there’s 0.00% truth in it. When we isolate oursevles, that DOES affect other people. We may be making oursevles unavailable when needed most. I think the realization of this can be overwhelming and bring to mind a ‘with great power, comes great responsibility’ speech but I also think it’s the reality of being human. The reality that we need each other. When we crucify ourselves for being lesser, or for our mistakes or whatever it is that makes us fall short, we can back ourselves into a corner that goes on and on forever. If you really are your own worst enemy, just remember to keep your enemeies closer. I think one day you can learn to love one another.

7. Become friends with failure.

Before this year I single-handedly feared failure more than anything else in life. Yes, more than relationships, or bankruptcy, even Guy Fieri. It’s not that I hadn’t failed in life before but I hadn’t failed at things that really mattered to me. But this year I took chances, lived on shaky ground and scrapped my knees almost all of the time from the fall. And here’s what I know now: failure is a great friend to have. The more comofortable you get with failure the more prepared you are for success. Success isn’t a fluke. It’s attained by people who weren’t afraid to fail and have failed so many times before. I don’t know if it’s the dyslexia in me or what but since I was young I’ve had a weird habit of trying to rescramble the letters in words to form other words. Like when Tom Riddle reveals he’s actually Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I think the medical term for this is ‘weirdo’, but I will have to get my editor to fact check. I remember earlier this summer, sitting alone being overwhelmed with the idea that I had tried two big things back to back and failed. It seeped into every facet of my life, most noticeably my power to write. I just couldn’t get any motivation because I couldn’t see how the voice from the bottom of the barrel could carry out. And even if it did who would want to hear? I had a notebook in my hand and could’t write a single word so I just kept writing ‘FAILURE’ over and over again. Each time it stung a bit more but there was something oddly relieving about the pain. And then I did it. I saw the words in the word. That thing I’ve done since I was little. I unscrammbled it: ‘U R A LIFE’. That’s my motto from this year and that will be my motto from now on. I am a life. And failure is part of my lifestyle.

I’ve never felt so light.

Image: Alex Wong

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