2018 was one of the most *interesting* years I’ve had to date. I had the highest of the highs in 2018 and some of the lowest of my lows. Overall, it wasn’t a “bad year” or a “good year” because for every negative thing I dealt with in 2018 – I also had an extremely positive situation balance it out. And with everything I went through, good, bad or otherwise – I learned extremely valuable lessons (revelations, if you will) which all in all made 2018 much more positive than negative.

Six days into 2018 I turned 30 (which turned out to be a lot less terrifying than I originally anticipated).

I lost my grandfather, one of the greatest men I’ll ever know, in October of 2018.

I landed the biggest contract of my blogging/influencing career in August 2018.

I let Instagram ruin one of my favorite places on the planet in 2018.

After struggling with my weight/physical appearance for 18-ish years, I committed to a gym in June of 2018 and am now the strongest and healthiest I’ve ever been in my life.

I lost about six weeks of my life between July and August in 2018 to a mysterious, painful, uncomfortable stomach (virus? Ulcer?) thing that multiple doctor and hospital visits still failed to diagnose.

I spent three relaxing, recharging, beautiful weeks with my best friend in Melbourne, Australia in March 2018.

I herniated a disc in my back, a pain like nothing I’ve ever experienced – an injury multiple doctors and therapists have said I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life, in April of 2018.

Do you see what I mean about the lowest of the lows being lifted up by the highest of the highs? They (idk who, but “they”) say that life is 1% what happens to you and 99% how you react to it and I’ve been trying my hardest to focus on my reactions as opposed to external happenings I have zero control over. After 2018, I’m a firm believer that whoever “they” are, wherever “they” acquired this knowledge – it’s spot on. I’ve taken an awareness from every situation I encountered in 2018 and turned them into philosophies that I fully intend on carrying with me throughout 2019 and the rest of my life. This year, I’m ditching New Year’s “resolutions” for the following “revelations” I had in 2018.

1. Healthy > Skinny

I’ve gained and lost weight throughout my entire life with my lowest weight being 145 and a size 6 and my heaviest weight being 215 and “too scared to wear anything besides stretchy pants so who knows what size”. I’ve always been an emotional eater and when my scale was tallying up around 215 – it was just after a breakup that left me miserable and I opted to eat my emotions (and every carb on Long Island) instead of dealing with what I was feeling. That was about five years ago right before I moved to Miami. My move to Miami came at the perfect time in my life – I was able to take the time by myself to reflect and focus on things that made me happy and in a matter of months, without even “trying” I found myself close to 50 pounds lighter and in one of the best shapes of my life. I wasn’t working out, but I was enjoying the pool at my apartment complex, so the swimming definitely helped.

Fast forward four-ish years to the beginning of 2018, I had been traveling a lot the last few years and didn’t really ever consider what I was consuming – I just ate what I wanted and when I wanted and before I knew it, I had put back on about 30 of the 50 pounds I lost in Miami. When I saw that I had let myself get back close to 200 pounds, I became miserable. I started resorting to my old habit of eating my emotions and not dealing with what I was feeling and before I knew it – I was 209 pounds, another 10 pounds heavier.

I knew something had to change and I knew a “diet” wasn’t going to get me there. So, on June 1, 2018 (with the encouragement from my friend Sarah) I joined a gym and in the last seven months I’ve lost 20 pounds (which is awesome, in itself) but what’s even better is that with the support from my personal trainer, Katie, I’ve also lost close to 25% of my combined overall body fat. Which, when you do the math – means I’ve technically lost more “weight” than the scale is showing because muscle weighs more than fat.

When I first started going to the gym, I was so out of shape that I could barely walk at a 3.5 pace on the treadmill, let alone with an incline and today I can run at a 6.0 pace with a 5.0 incline. Not for an elapsed period of time, but I can still do it. I went from being able to do 12 squats in one minute to doing over 30 in that same time frame. I wasn’t able to do any push-ups when I started and now, I can do close to 15, in one minute. I am so incredibly proud of the accomplishments I’ve made over the last seven months, while still battling back pain and even with dealing with my stomach issues. My resting heart rate dropped 6 beats per minute over the last few months –

I still have “weight” to lose but the most important part of my 2018 revelation is that I don’t care anymore. I indulge when I want to, I cut processed carbs and dairy when I’m feeling bloated and I just overall enjoy my life knowing that even though I’m still “overweight”, I’m in the best physical shape of my life and even when I was my lowest weight – I wasn’t as healthy as I am now. And I’ve never, ever, been as proud of myself as I am currently making my 2018 revelation that healthy will always trump skinny – one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my life.

2. The Little Things Are the Big Things

I owe this lesson to my grandpa. It would take me a few thousand words to describe the kind of person my grandpa was, and they’re all the good kinds of adjectives. He was kind, understanding, forgiving, fair, funny, and just overall a good man. The kind of “good” that has me dripping in tears just remembering who he was.

He walked around with a handkerchief and enjoyed putting on a suit and, “looking sharp”. He rarely cursed, especially not in front of a woman, and always sought the good in everyone. He embodied what a true gentleman was and I’m so incredibly grateful to not only have known him but to have come from a piece of him and to have been a part of his family. He had a special way of making myself and my 14 cousins all feel like we were his favorite and was so proud to tell everyone he came into contact with about all of us, his family.

2018 was the worst year of my Grandpas life. Not because it being the year, he passed but because the months leading up to October were extremely physically challenging. He started off the year going into kidney failure and being admitted into ICU for nearly two weeks with sepsis. At 85, with gastrointestinal cancer and diabetes, the doctors weren’t sure where he would go from there. But like Ironman (a nickname aptly given to him by my cousin Elizabeth), he bounced back and was sent home in time for his 86th birthday in February.

I could provide a few paragraphs on his health from here because 2018 was an intense roller coaster of illness for him – from an emergency gallbladder removal in June to chemo treatment every three weeks, with dialysis three times a week, the man went through more hospitals and doctors in a few months than most people do in their lives. Amidst all of that, he never lost his spirit.

On one of his worst days, after needing someone to walk him back to his bed from the bathroom where he had just gotten so sick, while shivering from anemia (a chill he couldn’t shake, even over the hot summer months) – he got into bed, so incredibly sick, and through his chattering teeth he muttered, “I’m the luckiest man in the world”. He didn’t see that he was so sick, he didn’t focus on his pain – he saw that he was surrounded by family, and he focused on us.

I’ve, typically, been the type of person that can have an entire day ruined for me if someone looks at me wrong but my grandpas’ words, at a time when he could’ve (justifiably) played the biggest victim – stuck with me. It wasn’t that he had a big house or a nice car in the driveway, it wasn’t because he had a life with no regrets – it was because of his family, a priceless gift that so many take for granted, that he felt he was the luckiest man in the world. And that lesson, that the little things far outweigh the big things, is a revelation, I’m taking with me into 2019.

My Grandpa and me at my aunt’s wedding in 2012 – he looked so great in a tux!

3. Say “Yes” By Saying “No”

“Jackie, What?” I know that this title is a little confusing so let me explain. As humans, at least those of us with a conscious, we’re programmed to be people pleasers. Meaning that often times we do things that we don’t really want to do – just to make others happy.

I feel like I need to state this first, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do things to make other people happy – at all. If you have it in your power to do something that would put a smile on someone’s face, by all means – create that smile! However, if by putting a smile on someone else’s face, you’re making a sacrifice that doesn’t also make you happy – it’s time to reevaluate.

This is one of the tougher lessons I learned this year because it can be met with fallback but sometimes you just need to say, “yes” to yourself by saying, “no” to others. I’ve been met with resistance from friends and family on this one because it can come off as selfish to “only do things you want to do”.

But, if you’re not selfish with your own happiness – how can you lead a happy life? Furthermore, anyone who’s going to call you selfish for prioritizing your own happiness, which supports your overall well-being and mental health, is pointing a “selfish” finger from a glass house. Nobody has time for that in 2019.

I recently asked a friend who was upset that, I “never do things I don’t want to do”, “what is wrong with me putting my happiness first and doing the things that make me happy and not doing the things that don’t make me happy?” and she had no answer for me, because the only thing “wrong” with it is that it wasn’t what she wanted.

2018 was the year of the year I had the awesome revelation that saying yes to my needs (my need for peace, my need for stability, my need for calmness and serenity, my need for happiness) will always be prioritized over the wants and desires of others.

4. Comparisons Suck

I used to think that money was the root of all evil, but now I think that comparisons are the root of all evil. I got myself so incredibly upset and depressed simply by comparing my life to the life of others this year.

The kicker? I was comparing my behind-the-scenes depression to other people’s extremely curated social media highlight reel – which very much focuses on featuring the best of the best moments while ignoring the worst and pretending they don’t exist.

I was in the middle of this comparison state when I returned to Bali for the third time this year and I let it legit ruin Bali for me. A place that was once the inspiration for my journey as a travel blogger, a place that once brought me such peace became a hostile environment where I hated everything about myself and my “inability to take good pictures” and my wardrobe that wasn’t “as instagrammable” as the outfits on the girls I was comparing myself to. I definitely wasn’t as skinny as those chicks, either.

What did all of that get me? Absolutely nothing except, arguably, my herniated disc. It was just after Bali when I felt the “pop” in my back that debilitated me for a few months thereafter.

I’m a firm believer that things have to completely break before they can be put back together (at least, that’s what I keep telling myself every time Donald Trump sends out a tweet). But in all seriousness, if I didn’t physically hurt myself and put myself into one of the most stressful states of mind I’ve ever experienced – I may not have come to the revelation that comparing myself to anyone except an older version of myself will never make me happy.

I’m proud and happy to report that I have a healthy relationship with Instagram again (and will be going into more detail about that in a full-on dedicated post).

A photo I posted from Bali to Instagram.

 The caption under my photo read: “A few months ago I might’ve never posted this photo here, it’s not the “most instagrammable” but moments of bliss, like this in Bali, are why I travel! The fog rolling over the jungle, the thatched palms of our villa roof making a cameo, the beautiful colors in the sky… getting back to my roots – sharing the stuff that inspires me and not just the stuff I hope will gain me a bunch of followers.” .. this photo ended up garnering more engagement (likes + comments) than most of my other photos in all of 2018 and was one of my “top nine” of the year. The. Irony.

5. Instagram is Not Real Life

I had to say it. My “comparisons suck” revelation also led me to the revelation that, “Instagram is not real life”. This was also a revelation that I think a lot of us had this year. “Us”, being professional Instagrammers, influencers, bloggers, etc., those of us who have a part of our life (and income) invested in the platform.

One of the first bloggers I was ever inspired by was Brooke Saward of World of Wanderlust. If you’re not familiar with her, you live under a rock need to start following her immediately because not only does she share really awesome travel content and is a published author, but she’s also dedicated to keeping it real in 2019 after going into detail about what was going on behind the scenes while she was portraying a seemingly perfect life on Instagram. I implore you to check out her YouTube video, “Instagram is Not Real Life because this is definitely the energy we all need to take into 2019.

All in all, I definitely consider 2018 a great year – even after all the lows. And I truly believe that if I look at each year moving forward the way that I looked at 2018 and take the years for their lessons as opposed to anything else, that I may be able to maintain the peace of mind and clarity that 2018 helped me achieve. So, here’s to practice and revelations as opposed to proposals and resolutions in 2019!

Did you learn any lessons or have any revolutions in 2019? Share them below!

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