Life Lessons I've Learned in 2016

In just a few hours, the end of this year will become the beginning of a new one. Even when New Year's Eve is supposed to be a day of relaxing, eating, and partying, I'm here on my desktop typing away because I wanted to take the time to reflect upon everything that has happened within the last 366 days (leap year). 2016 has been quite an emotional roller coaster. After all, there was just so much I have learned and accomplished, whilst facing many challenges along the way. Before the year comes to a close, I wanted to sum up a few honest thoughts on what I've learned as a 24-year old woman.

 Photography by @2dollartacos.

Photography by @2dollartacos.

Prioritize family time.
Family will not be there forever, no matter how much you expect they will be. Countless times, I have prioritized friend hangouts over family time assuming nothing will ever change. But no, I was wrong to had assumed so.

In the blink of an eye, a person's life can suddenly change at any given moment. In March, an unfortunate circumstance changed my family's state forever due to a member falling victim to a horrible illness. Since then, my family will never be, feel, or act the same as we did before. Every day is a struggle without knowing what will happen in the near future.

If there's one thing I learned about family, it's to not take their time for granted. I used to spend more time texting friends, working on my blog, or go out all day while my family stayed at home because simply put - I didn't prioritize them. Instead, I told myself that I could always listen to their stories and catch up with them later. But no, I was just being a child living in my own little world, telling myself that everything will be okay if I believe it will be. Always, always prioritize family time whenever possible - you don't want to live in regret or realize this when it's too late.

Positive vibes only.
In 2016, I've finally learned to let go of the people who are no longer apart of my current lifestyle. I'm not saying that every friend HAS to help me out in some way. Instead, I'm saying that I've learned to call it quits if a friendship is unhealthy or isn't working out. Regardless of the amount of time the friendship has grown, I cut out anybody who brought me down with negativity, disrespect, or had brought unnecessary drama into my life. Honestly, this felt as though my soul was cleansed. Call me picky, but sometimes you have to be if you want to be happy. Time is valuable and you need to spend your time with those who bring value into your life. In order for you to grow as an individual, you need to surround yourself by positive vibes only. Hanging out with negative people will only discourage you and take you away from reaching your full potential. 

With the gradual growth and development of my blogging career this year, I turned to the friends who have always given me immense support and constructive criticism. To anybody who made fun of my passion or looked down upon what I did, I had to let go of them and never looked back. After distancing myself from certain individuals who I considered toxic to my health, I can honestly admit that I am so much happier knowing that every friend I have supports me and my passion for my career.

Don't force feelings or rush into a relationship.
I used to be the one to rush the guy into the relationship. But recently, it was the other way around where I was rushed into the relationship instead. Rushing anybody, or making hasty decisions doesn't get you anywhere. Instead, it's better to play it smart and let each other's feelings naturally run their course. If it feels uncomfortable for either of you, then maybe the timing just isn't right at the moment or at all. I don't regret the choices I've made, as they have taught me a lot about the importance of decision making. I strongly believe that rushing into a relationship is not a wise or healthy move. However, if you are patient, take your time getting to know that special person. It just makes the dating experience that much more special :)

 Photography by @dchang.photography.

Photography by @dchang.photography.

Be selective with who you trust.
If you asked me whether I have trust issues, I certainly do. In the past, my honesty has led me towards ill experiences where people have taken advantage of my kindness for unethical or selfish reasons. I've trusted people who I shouldn't have. It had made me built a wall between me and others who actually have earned my trust. But throughout all of this chaos, I have emerged as a stronger and wiser individual. 

In 2017, I hope to learn how to rebuild and put my trust in the right people.

Act like a professional and you'll be treated like a professional.
As I was working part-time to full-time hours on my blog this entire year, I've definitely gained insight on how to act and be treated like a professional in the blogging industry.

Here are a few quick pointers that I've learned from personal experience:
1. Don't act entitled. If you act entitled because of your large number of followers or status, companies will look down on you and your self-righteous ego. Be humble, stay true to yourself, and genuinely express your passion. I guarantee that companies will fall in love with you.
2. Courtesy. Always be courteous. Being polite and having manners can take you much further. Brands are more willing to work with an appreciative blogger than a selfish one.
3. Prove that you're worth it. If you ever want to score a gig or participate in a special campaign, prove your worth to the company! Advertise yourself properly and show the brand why they should work with you. Don't just say, "I would love to collaborate with you because I love your designs". This tells the brand nothing about you! Dig deeper. Provide valuable reasons as to why you want to work with the brand, and what can be gained from the collaboration or the work. Also, a well-put media kit will do wonders in sealing the deal ;)
4. Complete your deadlines in a timely manner. If you have a deadline, then stick to that deadline and don't delay your projects any further. Procrastination doesn't make money; punctuality does! If you turn in your work even earlier, then that's brownie points for you! ;)

Only you can define your potential.
If you didn't already know, I've officially decided in 2017 that I want to pursue event planning and food photography alongside my blogging career. I fell completely in love with these two fields and want to pursue these pathways professionally.

Unfortunately, I could have let these aspirations grow sooner if I hadn't let the opinion of others bring me down. My first mistake was allowing others to dictate the value of my work. In the past, I had asked for an honest critique on my food photos to individuals and, bluntly, they had told me: "Your work isn't payable". This blunt remark shot me down like the way you get rejected when asking somebody out on a date. The stinging feelings of pain and hopelessness resonated with me for the next couple of months as I continued to tell myself my work wasn't worth any value.

Even after hearing these harsh critiques, I continued to do what I love by improving my work in food photography and event planning. After successfully organizing over five media events and working with over 50 restaurants, I regained confidence in myself and told myself that maybe, just maybe, my work had value. If business owners loved my events and praised my photos, then my work had to mean something, right?

It wasn't until I went to Seattle that I worked on a project that labelled my work as meaningful.

Ever since Seattle, I came back with the mentality that I am capable of doing whatever I set my mind to and don't need the opinion of others to rate or value my work.

It's just like when I first started my blog. I've had relatives make fun of what I do, saying that what I do is purely a hobby and can never be a career. Additionally, I've had friends who put down my writing or photography style, stating that it wasn't how a "blogger" should write or that my photos sucked. But if I had listened to these negative remarks, I wouldn't have learned how to run my own business, nor would I have known what creative freedom feels like. And I know for a fact, I wouldn't have been as happy as I am today.

If you ever want to pursue something but are still sitting on the fence about your decision, just DO it! If you fail, at least you've tried - and trying is a successful move in my book. Also, remember that failure is only just a few steps away from success! I've failed and made mistakes many times with my blogging career. Did I ever let that stop me from pursuing it full-time? NO! You learn, you move on, and you improve. That's how you succeed. Believing in yourself is the first step towards success, and the rest is determined by your hard work.

With this self-reflection, I'm so happy to have learned so much about myself this year and I hope that I can become a better and wiser person with each passing day. I also hope that by the end of 2017, I will apply these lessons that I've learned in 2016 all the while learning even more things about myself. After all, self-reflection and time alone with my thoughts is sometimes a necessary way to grow and I, for one, never want to stop growing. I never want to stop learning, growing, creating...and that's why I've fallen so in love with blogging. Thank you everybody for supporting Missmisschelle and I hope all of you had a wonderful 2016! So here's a toast - to a brand new year filled with heart, hustle, and determination! :)

Much Love,