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  • Writer's pictureAllison Canter

To January Allison, Love December Allison

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

When I look at myself in the first half of the year, I see a completely different person. I’ve always considered myself relatively mature and rational, but 2022 has hardened me in a lot of ways and forced me to become a different version of myself. When I think back to January, I see someone who was really scared but hopeful. I see someone who was acting like the truth wasn’t sitting in front of her face the whole time.

I made this joke, and I was like, “The fear that would wash over January Allison’s eyes if she saw her 2022 Spotify Wrapped.” Which was funny, but also made me feel really bad for her. I don’t even view her as me, I see her as someone completely different. I almost look at that version of myself as a little sibling. If I had to update that version of myself on what her life would be like now, I wouldn’t be able to get halfway through my sentence without having to watch her cover her head with a blanket and have a mental breakdown. But if she’d let me speak, then I think I’d be able to give her the advice that’d at least get her through half of it.

I’m sure in 11 more months, I’ll see myself now as young, naive, and way too emotional, and this advice will make me cringe. But, in the hardest year of my life, here’s what I wish I’d known.

1. Just because you’re on their side doesn’t mean they're on yours

Actions speak louder than words every single time. Saying you love someone is a lot easier than showing it, the same goes for gratitude, being loyal, and just about everything else. It’s important that we realize that not everyone will show up for you in the same way that you show up for them, and in some cases that’s okay. Everyone is their own person, and not everyone will think to show up for you how you do for them because they’re not you. Their love language probably isn’t yours, and even if it is, you’ve most likely defined your own love language a bit differently than they have.

But that’s innocent, and most of the time we can tell the difference between that and the hard truth of someone not caring about us in the way that we care about them. There’s never going to be a time when that’s an easy truth to accept. I know some people get less attached than others, but no matter how self-assured you are, it’s never going to be a good feeling when you dump all of your time and energy into a person, just to realize it was all a waste, and there was never any chance they were going to return the favor.

Backing out of plans, not showing up for things that are important to you, “forgetting” things often, brushing off your feelings, and saying things that hurt you are all really good examples of things that people that care about you won’t make a habit out of. I find a lot of my friends, and myself, making excuses for people each time they hurt us, even if it was the same way they hurt us the time before. But none of us are dumb. We can see what’s happening, even if we don’t want to believe it. How many of those behaviors did you develop on purpose, or maybe on accident, just because you didn’t care? I don’t recommend that you become someone who calls everything a red flag but don’t ignore them when they’re waving in your face either.

2. Let them

Your friends made a group chat without you in it? Let them. They broke up with you without giving you closure? Let them. Someone hates you for no good reason? Let them. You find out they’re talking shit about you? Let them. Let them. Let them. Let them.

I’m still trying to learn this one myself because my biggest fear is looking stupid or naive. However, this year I’ve found out that ignorance is bliss and if you erase it from your world, then it just doesn’t exist. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d rather look stupid than feel stupid. There’s a lot of energy that goes into pleading your own case, especially when you know you’re not going to win. I once heard that you get bad karma for keeping bad people in your life, which sort of makes sense, because why are you catering a good thing (you) to them on a silver platter if they’re a bad person? That’s a choice you make. Fighting for what doesn’t serve you seems to fall right into that category. Is getting them back on your side really worth the bad karma?

Realistically, the way that you feel about how they feel about you is at least 50% them triggering a belief that you already have about yourself. Your friends making a group chat without you in it does suck. I’m not going to say that it doesn’t feel like betrayal. We’ve all been there. We know it hurts. But, I am going to say that if we didn’t have a fear that we were a disposable friend to begin with, it wouldn’t hurt nearly as bad.

Try putting the energy that goes into changing someone’s mind into changing your own. They broke up with you over text and you never hear from them again? Okay. So the worst case scenario is you never hear from them again? Do you even want to hear from someone that breaks up with people over text again? Are you sure that isn’t the best-case scenario? I know that sticking up for yourself seems like the noble thing to do. And it is, to an extent. But you shouldn’t have to campaign to change an outcome. So, let them.

3. It’ll probably always hurt a little more than you thought it would

If you’re like me, then you’ve probably rehearsed everything bad that has happened to you as soon as you could understand the possibility of it happening. So, hopefully, you’re on an SSRI or something. But, anyway, my high highs and low lows have all been accompanied by my brain getting me ready for what I assume the inevitable final destination is. I have to pre-plan how everything will come crashing down. I’m pretty intuitive. I usually know what’s going to happen or how it’ll play out. But, that doesn’t make me less shocked or less hurt when the crash finally comes.

I’ve found out that even when I can see the smoke from the future fire, there’s no amount of preparing yourself for how it’ll actually hurt. Sometimes you’ll shock yourself and realize it wasn’t nearly as bad as you thought it was going to be. However, 9 times out of 10 I’ve found that it usually hurts worse than you thought it would. I think I usually plot out what ripping off the bandaid will feel like pretty accurately. It’s the after and the lingering that I usually can’t plan correctly. But honestly? I don’t think there’s any amount of planning you can do to make it feel less raw. Getting through the day-to-day when your world changes is hard. Being hurt is hard. Feeling empty is hard. Trying to track down your personality is hard.

When I’m really afraid of something, I tend to avoid thinking about it. While I don’t think you can plan to hurt, and I don’t really think you should, I do think you should always be aware of what’s going on in the present moment. As I said, there are those times when you’re not going to hurt as bad as you thought you would. But regardless, when you’re avoiding the thought of the hurt, don’t avoid having a plan for how you’ll get through it. Create good habits beforehand, you don’t show up to the house fire with a garden hose, you know? Showing up to a small bonfire with a garden hose is a lot easier.

So, yes, it will probably hurt worse than you thought it would (maybe it won’t). But, always be ready to get yourself through it.

4. Making it through 23 will feel semi-impossible

This is one of those things I feel to my core but still don’t even know what to say about it. Everyone I know has told me that 23 was the worst year of their lives. And I would like to say, I thought 21 was pretty bad, but holy shit, 23 is leaving me feeling like I need to be in inpatient therapy. It is one of those years where every time you say that it can’t possibly get worse it somehow does. And you want to know what the stupid part is? There’s nothing inherently that wrong in my life. I shouldn’t feel that way.

At 23, the things I enjoyed at 21, or even 22, or even 22.5, are not the things I enjoy at almost 24. I can’t watch the shows I used to watch, my taste is too expensive for my lifestyle, I hate the bar, I can’t take shots, and the thought of flirting with someone in a backward hat makes me want to genuinely take melatonin and go to sleep. “Nothing New” by Taylor Swift should’ve been themed around being 23. Being 22 was the best thing that ever happened to me. And honestly, if this is a blog that’s full of advice I needed this year, here’s some advice for my 22-year-old self: throw your phone in a river and join a nunnery while you’re ahead.

5. Stop being afraid to lose what you already lost

I think this one doesn’t really need a whole lot of elaboration. We’ve all been in the position where we’re holding onto a broken rope just to say it’s there and we can hang onto it. As my medium said, “you’re afraid of losing what you already lost.” I have to be honest though, this is something I’ve noticed happening more frequently in my friends as we’re nearing our mid-twenties. Our tendency to hold onto something that isn’t there anymore just to convince ourselves it was there at one time is getting worse with age. *Queue that TikTok sound that says, “Oh, how I love being a woman!”*

6. They don’t know why they hate you, either.

I wish I could pound this one into my head. I spent a good amount of time begging for second chances that I shouldn’t have even had to ask for because I didn’t do anything to begin with. Did I ever get the second chances I begged for? Absolutely not. Why? Because sometimes that’s just the way it is.

You have to learn to be comfortable with people just not liking you. I don’t like everyone. I’m not over the top and nice to everyone I meet. Sometimes I don’t like people for literally no reason. Do you know how many people I have blocked on TikTok because hate watching is bad for my aura? Maybe blocking an influencer vs. actually making someone feel really badly about themselves is different. But, the logic isn’t.

7. There’s nothing else that you can do

This isn’t The Sims, you’re not in control of everything that’s happening. You can’t change someone’s mind, you can’t heal someone’s trauma, you can’t take back things you said, it’s all already done. And there is simply nothing else that you can do. At some point you have to choose to reserve your energy for yourself, you either make the choice or the universe will end up making the choice for you. Throwing in the towel is really hard to do, especially when you have fears of being abandoned, not being good enough, or not being lovable. Not doing all that you can to disprove those things feels like you’re letting them become truths. But you shouldn’t have to beg someone to love you, or to be nice to you, or to think you’re smart, or to consider you worthy of their time. It’s okay to throw in the towel when you realize you’ve done everything that you can, and there is nothing that you can do.


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