The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Chenice Clarke Headshot

Thirteen Things I've Learned

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

As 2013 is ending, I've taken the time to reflect on the last 12 months. I think reflection is an important part of growth, and I look forward to hearing what you've learned in 2013 and what you hope to achieve in 2014.

1. You cannot change people

I think this is one of the hardest lessons we can learn, but one of the most important ones. When I think about how hard it is to change myself, to change my views and my beliefs, I realise it's almost impossible to change anyone else. I've learnt that actually I don't need to change anyone, I need to start accepting people as they are and respecting their decisions.

2. Never stop learning

I'm a big fan of self-help books, and when I mention this to other people, they look at me in horror. I've read about five self-help books this year, with my favourite being 'The Defining Decade: Why your twenties matter and how to make the most of them now.' It's important to keep up to date with world news, local news, and more importantly it's important to expand our own mind and ideas. You don't want to be the only one at a party talking about something that happened three years ago, because you haven't moved forward in your own life.

3. A kiss isn't a contract

One year and six guys later, I've learnt that kisses aren't contracts, and what's more, they don't have to be. Women are conditioned into thinking that only men can have fun, explore and enjoy their single status. Newsflash, women can too! I'm not saying sleep around, not at all. I'm saying have fun and enjoy your life. Sometimes you need to stop believing in love for a little while to realise how important it is, and what an important gift it will be when you experience it in its entirety.

4. Some friendships are seasonal

I've found that as the year's progress, the harder it is to remain friends with someone. Priorities change, we grow and sometimes that means outgrowing our friends. Whether it's a two month friendship that didn't progress or a three year friendship that ended out of the blue; remember friends come and go, they always have and always will, but your true friends will be there for you always.

5. It's okay to walk away

Are you unhappy in a restaurant with a limited menu? Leave. Are you unhappy in a relationship that's not progressing? End it. Are you unfulfilled in a job you thought you'd have forever? Quit. It really is as simple as that. Life is far too short to remain in one place, unhappy and unfulfilled. Do what's best for you.

6. Be emotionally available

My favourite blog post of this year is entitled 'On Being Emotionally Available' and I urge you all to read it. I realised that after my first failed encounter with love, I had closed myself off to the idea of love and dating. It's vital to stay emotionally available and I hope you take some solace and realise that we all feel like this sometimes. While we think we're protecting ourselves, we need to realise we're actually limiting ourselves by putting our walls up for too long.

7. Don't make excuses

If you don't want to go on a date with the guy who has been texting you for a week - don't. If you're not feeling like attending a friend's party because you feel low - tell her. Lies and excuses will always find their way back to you. Be as honest as possible.

8. Sometimes plans don't work out

It could be the failed party plan or the study day plan; it doesn't matter. Sometimes things don't go to plan and that's okay. If you're really lucky something better happens and as always, everything happens for a reason.

9. Women can and will make a difference

After reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, the feminist fire inside me burned like never before. I joined both the feminist society and women's campaign at my university, and I've decided that promoting gender-equality is something I want to pursue as a future career.

10. Sometimes you have to be your own cheerleader

There are days when we all feel down, we just want to cry and shut the world out, and that's okay. Just remember that no friend, or guy, or glass of wine is going to be there to support you constantly. Support yourself, appreciate yourself, and most importantly validate yourself.

11. Get comfortable with the idea of being alone

I love going to the cinema alone and when I tell other people this, they look at me like I'm crazy. Maybe I am, but if so, I'm a content crazy person. I mean, if you're not happy alone, how are you going to be happy with someone else?

12. Give more than is expected of you

Volunteer longer than agreed, work overtime if your employer is short-staffed; surprise your friend who is going through a break-up with a heap of chocolate. Be selfless in helping other people, and you will feel better in return.

13. Never settle

If your relationship was meant to be, it would have been. If your friendship was lifelong, you would still be in it. Remember, settling is detrimental to your happiness, your growth and your success. NEVER, ever, settle.

Around the Web

Year in Review: 2013's Most Significant News Events - WSJ.com

2013 Year in Review -- Yahoo News

2013 in Review | New York Post

Dave Barry's Review of 2013, the Year of the Zombies - The ...

2013: A Year in Review | The White House

Korea 2013 in Review: Psy, Dennis Rodman and Box Office Records

Russia 2013 in Review: Anti-Gay Laws, Pussy Riot, Kremlin Extends Control

2013 Year in Review: Tragedy, Transition, Triumph

2013 in review: Fires, floods top stories in the Colorado Springs area

2013 IN REVIEW: Marriage Equality Gains Strength