THINGS I LEARNED IN 2020
This was the year of hurting so bad, but living so good. I share 10 of the most important lessons I learned, and the stories that changed me. But in true Sofie style, I took 3 lessons and turned it into a short novel, so with your best interest at heart, I’ll save some for another post.
1. INVEST IN PEOPLE WHO INVEST IN YOU
This year, I learned so much about friendships. Here’s what I discovered:
-It’s okay to grow apart!
I wish I had realized this years ago. I had spent two full years, desperately trying to stay close to my high school friends. The problem was, they all had new ones. They were all moving on, and meeting new people, and we were naturally, drifting apart. I, of course, saw this as the end of the world, and felt personally victimised when they didn’t put in as much effort as I was putting in. We had all changed, which was a totally normal thing to have happen, I just took it personally, when I shouldn’t have. I was simply putting in the time and energy to these friendships, because of the history we had. And that just wasn’t helping anyone. So I stopped. I stopped reaching out, and once I stopped trying, communication stopped all together. And it’s. okay. I still care about these people to death, and our history is still SO IMPORTANT TO ME! But my happiness doesn’t rely on that anymore, that’s all. Once I accepted that growing apart is just a part of life, I was so relieved. My feelings of jealousy turned into genuinely being happy for these friends. And once I did that, it was so much easier to focus on my friends who were present and investing in me.
-Keep your circle small.
Growing up, I think that’s all I ever wanted-I wanted friends in every clique, in every grade, in every club. Now, I’m 20 years old and I count my good friends on one hand. And I’m happy! My circle is small. My heart is full. —And so is my bank account (having a lot of friends is expensive, especially during the Christmas holiday.)
-AGE IS JUST A NUMBER!
okayy lesson from 2019 and before you roll your eyes, hear me out.. I think it’s something most of us will experience at least once during life. And for my 18 year old self it needed to make it on the list.
I remember being in Bali (everything happens in Bali) and hanging with a group of girls and boys a couple years older than me at a party. We were dancing, singing, drinking- having a good time. As we were walking into the ladies toilet to take a small break, the question came up «how old are you guys?» I let the others go first saying they were all somewhere between 21-24. With a little hesitation I answered that I had recently turned 18. «Whaaaat??», «but you look so much older!» & «what about school, aren’t you supposed to be in school?» was some of their response. I was good with their questions and pure curiosity but it was when one of them saying to me when we were on our way headed back to the club that «if anyone asks, tell them you’re 21» I was confused. «Why?» I asked. She told me, «Well, what if you were my age. Would you want anyone knowing you hung out with an 18 year old?» In my head I was thinking, «uuum, yeah?” But instead I just rolled my eyes and went with it.
I always remembered that though. Because, to me, we’re just people. And we´re all just big kids, really. It didn’t occur to me that I couldn’t be friends with someone because of my age.
Then a week later (Alexia, hi baby!!) me and Alexia´s paths crossed. She was going to teach young adolts from I think 18-21 years old?? about health, nutrition & fitness. All by herself, admirable. While I teached basic English to kids in the kindergarten with Eva, another young volunteer. (I was so lucky to have you, Eva.) So anyway, Alexia and I met through this volunteer organisation called ‘Green Lion Bali.’ We ended up sharing the same room and bathroom with two other beautiful girls (Anna & Anna the irony in this-shoutout to my girls!!)
I remember (since I had already stayed for a couple of weeks before she arrived) that when they put up her name tag on the bed, I thought to myself «Alexia, that’s such a pretty name! I’m gonna add it to my baby name list.» Anyway, It felt like a «normal» day and by normal I mean waking up in Bali with other volunteers from all over the world, eating a 5 hotel breakfast (Green Lion Bali staff was THE BEST) and going to the kindergarten to play with cute kids and teach them a little bit English. Turns out that the new volunteers had arrived while I had been in the kindergarten, with Alexia being one of them.
While I observed her and the other volunteers from a distance I couldn’t help that the thought came into my head «if she asks, tell her you’re 21.» HA! I had been so insecure, ever since that night, that I couldn’t be friends with anyone who wasn’t my age. Long story short, we sat at the balcony outside our room and talked for hours. I told her I was 18, and she didn’t even bat an eye.
That was 2 years ago.
She is 7 years old older than me, but still one of my closest, and dearest friend.
So if anyone asks how old you are, tell them AGE IS JUST A NUMBER! And the name Alexia on my baby name list is STILL GOING STRONG! Alexia Mugaas.. ahh could work.
2. BEAUTIFUL THINGS DON´T ASK FOR ATTENTION
I have a lot of days where I later look back and think «this was the best day of my life.» But few, where I think so, while I’m actually living it. But on this day, in Africa, I knew. Oh boyyyyyy, I knew.
It was towards the end of our one month trip, and we were all pretty exhausted. After being away for a good amount of time and with having people around you from the minute you wake up til the very last breath you take before entering your sweet dreams AND on top of that dealing with all the new impressions that comes with traveling. (I learned something new every day for that month but yeah that’s for another post.) In looking forward to this trip, Tanzania was at the very top of my list.
The cool thing about Tanzania is it’s Tanzania. It’s the place you hear about in stories and movies. Covered in jungle, with the bluest water you’ve ever seen and miles and miles of beaches for as long as the eye can see. The only downside—The wifi.
NOW BEFORE YOU BRAND ME A CLASSIC MILLENIAL WITH NO SENSE OF ADVENTURE, the wifi wasn’t for me to post a fire selfie. It was so I could keep up the contact with my at that time boyfriend, friends and family back home. (But like, I was also depriving my followers of a good selfie.)
On our first whole day, I woke up with the most intense headache. I took some Xanax thinking that’ll do, it will go away during the first couple of hours if I just take it chill and stay in the shadow and drink lots of water. Hours go by and before you know it’s lunch time. The hours didn’t go fast for me tho, since my headache had just gotten so much worse. I was struggling to keep it all together at that point. I barely made it through lunch so I decided it was time to go do the one thing I least wanted to do. That is go to my room, my bed specifically.
My head were bruised from all the headache stabbing, there were no wifi, my friends were out in the sun having the time of their lifes, I was hungry, the sun was about to set, I hadn’t done anything, and I was pissed.
Sitting there in my bed, feeling sorry for myself. I was so annoyed at myself for feeling this way and with how the day had gone. I was sad and uncomfortable. I was making myself miserable.
Almost as soon as tears started rolling down my chin all I heard was “bitch…no….” I would only regret sitting in the room crying and feeling sorry for myself, so I grabbed some more Xanax and got out to find Johanne down at the beach. Afterall, mama ain’t raised a quitter.
I found Johanne and just that in itself was the cure. Despite my bad mood, she was so fun to be around, and she always know how to make me smile.
She opened her mouth and hilarious things were said I eventually started laughing so hard that I joined in. The sun was peeking through the palm trees, and it hit me all at once, how BEAUTIFUL everything was. Everything! And I was touched by the feeling, and I was smiling, and laughing and I remember thinking “I’ve never been happier in my entire life.” when minutes earlier, I was feeling the complete opposite.
All it took was talking to Johanne and seeing the ocean, or noticing the locals and tourists around me, or just looking behind me and seeing my friends playing volleyball IN TANZANIA. WE WERE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD IN AFRICA THAT PEOPLE DAYDREAM ABOUT. THAT IS BEAUTIFUL!
And I realized that it had been beautiful the whole time. Literally, nothing had changed in the last hour, except my perspective. My surroundings didn’t just magically become beautiful and exciting. It was there the whole time. I had just been so caught up in a negative emotion, that I had been blind to it all. But that’s the thing about beautiful places. And beautiful people. And beautiful things. They don’t ask for attention.
We have to be ready to see them. Whether it’s at a beach in Tanzania, visiting a friend in her new apartment, driving around in the hometown with your mom or enjoying your own company with a good book. Life. Is. Always. Beautiful.
We just need to open up our eyes.
3. THERE ARE SYMPHONIES THAT ARE SCREAMING IT IS GOING TO GET BETTER. LISTEN TO THE MUSIC.
2020 broke my heart. And if you’ve had your heart broken, you knoooooow it hurts like hell. When your heart breaks, your heart really breaks, man. And it’s hard to ask for help when you need it. It’s even harder to accept it when it’s offered. Hearing “its going to be okay” after your 19 year old little heart got crushed JUST KIND OF REALLY SUCKS OKAY MOM???
But moms are always right.
It is all going to be okay. And yes as YOUR mom, I’m required to tell you this as well.
So we’re on the same page - when I say “season of life” I’m referring to a specific time in my past and who I was at that time.
You don’t realize it while you’re in it, but we’re always in a “season” of some sort. And the sad, beautiful, fearfully inducing reality is that we never get to relive these “seasons.”
They’re so incredibly specific to who you’re around, what state of mind you’re in, and everything you’re experiencing.
Unlike spring, summer, fall and winter, we only get these “seasons” once in a lifetime.
You get what I’m saying?
There was this boy I fell in love with when I was 15. There really is something so fun about being 15 and being madly in love. We had lived through countless seasons together. He’s been a starring role in more ‘seasons’ than anyone else in my life. Like a tv show run. You can’t give up on what you thought was love at 15, right?
I had spent the last five years loving him, and hating him. Things weren’t good and they hadn’t been good for a long time, but I held on. Over the years, we had changed so much. We had a soft spot for each other, but that was about the only thing we had in common. And I believed with all my heart that ‘love’ was enough. It didn’t matter how many times we fought, or how many times he made me cry or making me feel like I bend my heart so much it couldn’t hold it’s shape anymore. We were a sucker for each other, and for that reason alone, I still. held. on.
I remember reading the quote «teach your heart to accept what cannot be changed.»
And it hit me all at once. I had spent so much time wishing things were the way they were when we were 15 and stupid in love. I wanted him to fight for me. I wanted him to love me. I wanted him to change.
And once I realized that I could not change him, I could not make him fight for me, I could not make him love me…
I let go.
Then there’s the boy who was the season of life that took me for a RIDE. I remember sitting on his coach, and him teaching me how to eat sushi properly, and looking at him thinking “oh, this is how people fall in love on The Bachelor.” And I silently apologised to all of the whiny girls that I had judged before. I was smitten. I came home the next day, dropped what I had in my hands and said “Mom, I’m gonna marry this boy.” We’d stay up every night. We wouldn’t sleep because we simply couldn’t keep our hands off each other. We weren’t hardly even on our phones, because we didn’t need to be. Reality, at that point in time, was so much better than anything virtual.
When they’re good - they’re perfect. But when they’re bad… they are unimaginable.
One thing let to another that let to another, before we knew it were so damaged. So sad. How did this happen? I sat there holding him, loving him so much even though he would hurt me, and he would hurt me even though he didn’t mean it. We would try and fix each other. Try and fix us. We’d sit there breaking each other’s hearts. In every season.
I didn’t know if I was brave enough to face this season of life come to an end. But the boy I loved was breaking my heart over and over again, so my younger self, my older self and deep deep deep down, my current self… were begging me to.
I got to his apartment and I remember him coming out to get me as usual, but this time it was different. This time I looked like I had Kim Kardashian ugly cried. This time I was a little quieter. This time the look on his face gave it all away.
I think for the first time in my life, I realized in the moment that I actually was facing a season of life come to an end. I got a lump in my throat as I stood there in his apartment, quietly taking it all in because deep down, I think I knew it would be the last time. And it was.
It was time to leave.
And then finally there was this boy...I’ve never fallen so hard, so fast for someone. He was my first real crush, my first date, my first boyfriend, my first love. We were crazy about each other. I loved our life together. I loved his mom and dad. We would go out and do stuff, we were always up for new things. And I was always showing him new things, new restaurants, new things do and places for him to cross off his bucket list. Everything was new and everything was exciting. He came to visit me in Trondheim. We went to Spain together. It was a whirlwind of a relationship and such a beautiful stage of life. Up late at night talking about our dreams. Where we wanted to go. What we wanted to name our kids. It felt like the universe was just begging us to be together.
When I think about that season of life that we were together, I think about breakfast. It was just our thing. He always took breakfast to the next level, and he loved it, and he was such a good cook. Life was waking up to the smell of eggs, hash browns, bacon, smoothies - you name it. Every single morning. And every time, he’d turn on some music, and we would slow dance around the kitchen as we waited for our eggs to cook. For real, for real. It was so cute it could make a thug weep. Spain and New Years Eve, that’s what I think about when I think of ‘us.”
When that season of life ended, it was hard. There’s a misconception going around that if one person decides to call it quits the other person is the one left hurting. That is not true. Just because he was hurting, that doesn’t mean I was not.
I was grieving over the part of me that knew I would love him forever, or for how he moved on so quick but mostly for that I turned down to a life I’ve always wanted.
But to be honest.. I can still remember ‘ain’t gonna leave’ by ARIZONA word for word, I can still remember the taste of his new fresh pressed orange juice, I can still remember his laugh when he would spin me around, and I can still remember the way the kitchen smelled every morning in that little spain apartment.
I had never been a morning person, but with him... I was.
When a break up ends/ it’s usually harder than any other season of life that ends. I think it’s one of the hardest lessons you will learn. Because those are the ones you really don’t get back. It’s different than graduating from high school, or not living with your roommate anymore. You don’t get to revisit your old relationships like you can at a football game, or a 10 year old reunion. You don’t get to stay best friends with your exes like you can with an old roommate. You say goodbye to your routine, your favourite places, all the songs that remind you of them. You say goodbye to their family, the inside jokes, their living rooms. You say goodbye to who you where as a person when you were together - because you’ll never be the same version of yourself again. There’s a lot of goodbyes including obviously, the person you loved. And boy, is it painful. Because when it’s over - it’s really over.
This is the year I finally let go of my first love. This is the year I teached my heart to accept what cannot be changed. This is the year I prioritized myself first.
I’m forever thankful I got cracked the fuck open and learned that heartbreak is a massive gift that shows us our capacity to love. I find that the beautiful thing about heartbreak is you always find your way back to a full heart because the experience was always meant for you to help you grow. Because for the first time in my life I was in a committed relationship with myself.
So here we are now.
I’ve been by myself for nearly 1 month and it’s been wonderful. I’m trying to be aware of this season while I’m in it - I don’t want to take my own company for granted. I never want this to end, but I find comfort knowing that once it does there will be something just as good waiting around the corner.
And that, really, everything will be okay.