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11 findings from being 31 + 2019 gratitudes

I started 2019 in a sabbatical month, after a hard and weird period, so it was some quiet time that I desperately needed and was putting off for too long.

Looking back, it feels like I lived 2 or 3 lives in 2019, as the start of the year, its middle and its ending are so different to one another.

And I must admit I’m grateful for all of them.

2019 was a year of transition, of shedding some old me(s) and discovering some new ones, of deep search and better understanding of my self and the people around me.

That’s why my list for being and passing 31 in 2019 sounds like it sounds :))

1. Therapy is awesome.

2019 marked almost one year of therapy and my “graduating” from it: a more complete me. I knew it had its perks, as I love psychology and have been studying it half of my life + there’s always The School of Life to pass you through all sort of moments.

Yet, going through the process and seeing every step (in reverse), I realized we’re all bound to experience it at some point. It’s a very powerful mirror, while being neutral and supportive the whole time.

I still have a lot to work through, but therapy was a major step in becoming better at wearing my own skin, with wrinkles, laughs, shadows and everything in-between.

2. Trust your gut. It is your second brain after all.

Before you start laughing in a smug manner ;), just read this article on the gut and its influence on our well-being. Of course, it’s common knowledge already, yet it still has a shaky reputation.

But it’s not just old wives silly beliefs, it’s a scientific research pointing out that we should at least take notice of what our gut is trying to tell us.

I wrote this here as a reminder, because I did listen more in 2019, but I still ignored it when I shouldn’t have. And it cost me. Quite a lot sometimes.

Just consider the gut a different compass, to be united with your rational arguments and pros/cons lists.

3. Learn to listen. Do it often.

This is a tough one for somebody who started talking at 8 months, and earns a bread from words, stories, talking and writing a lot.

It took me more than half my life to understand the power of quiet and why I should listen more.

I still struggle with this one, but it was my curiosity and my love for doing interviews (and research) that taught me to shut up, make space for silence and just listen to everything being said and not said.

2019 was a good year for this one, as I had a lot of good, challenging research projects to exercise my listening muscle and bite my tongue.

4. Vampires are a quirky bunch.

I know this one comes out of nowhere, but it’s actually something that I’m really grateful for: vampires!

And a chance to do research on said vampires in anime and present the research at a Japanese cinema conference in London, at Brikbeck University.

Apart from the funny stereotype aka the Romania scholar working on Dracula, it was a chance to connect with researchers from around the world (on media and film studies) and a pretext to discover how myths originate and function throughout the decades.

Our fear and fascination with vampires stem from a need to make them the container of all our phobias and crises as a species: sexual, racial, social, national…you name it! There’s a vampire for everything, embodying that which we’re scared of the most.

Here’s something to think about when you read / see / learn about another vampire pop cult entry (I’m looking at you Netflix-BBC Dracula!).

5. Translate your knowledge.

Of vampires or any kind for that matter :))

Joke aside, it’s not enough to gain knowledge. It’s more important to translate it to your own life and share it with the ones that are interested to listen. Don’t forcibly share it, please! But do share it when asked, do create with it, don’t hold it in the proverbial tower, make good use of it: in a meaningful conversation, in a blog, vlog, podcast, newsletter, in a class or i a workshop, in whatever way serves you.

In terms of gratitude and scales to measure, in 2019 I taught 11 classes, did one on one work with a special student, gave feedback and edited lost of texts, and enjoyed every one of them.

5-6 years ago I thought I was an awful teacher and I should just study for myself. With passing time, I realized I love teaching, still don’t know if I’m a good teacher, but I know I’m a decent one as I always struggle to do my best.

6. Question people.

(or, once more, why I love doing interviews)

I talked about knowledge, but I didn’t say how to “get” it. Well, apart from books, you know, from the ones that create it: people. Talking to people with openness and curiosity to discover their life story teaches you a lot about being human.

It also teaches you a lot about yourself.

So question people, about all their quirks and peculiarities, for you never know what you’re about to find out. The more varied the contexts, the better.

7. Question the world.

Ah, my favourite subject 🙂

Never accept something at face value aka question the world. Try to understand the meaning behind “the ways things are done” or “should be done”.

This is something that I’ve always done, in a more or less conscious manner. What I’ve learned throughout the years and tried to practice in 2019 was not to judge, just question and accept the thousand worldviews we, as humans, managed to create.

It’s still a process, but both as another human being, and as a researcher-storyteller, I realized the importance to go beneath the surface and try to really empathize or, at least, understand where something or someone is coming from.

Malcom Gladwell said it better:

“That’s your responsibility as a person, as a human being — to constantly be updating your positions on as many things as possible. And if you don’t contradict yourself on a regular basis, then you’re not thinking.”

Gladwell on Brainpickings

8. Create a cozy space for yourself.

I do enjoy a cozy space and 2019 meant 1 year spent in our small, homey, vintage apartment. Can’t believe it’s already been that much, as it still feels new and welcoming 🙂

For me, moving (which happened at the end of 2018) also implied new habits, new rituals, new reading nooks and office space, and so on. And I had a great space to do them all.

It really is the small things that matter: lit candles, a fluffy sofa, lots of plants, the moon and the panoramic view, essential oils burning and the smell of the oven and food.

Sometimes, I have simple pleasures and it’s awesome to be able to share them in a cozy place of your own making.

9. Read a lot!

This one goes to my Goodreads challenge! :))

But, for real, read a lot! I think it’s pretty self-explanatory. Ah, also, read on paper, at least from time to time. It makes a huge difference for our brain.

10. My people are the outlier bunch.

Yup, I’m surrounded by weirdos and love them for it! I don’t think that “normal” really exists, not if you look close enough, but this one goes with all my gratitude to the people in my life!

They’re awesome, they taught me lots of thing this year, they helped me manage difficult steps, they were good mirrors as well, and can’t wait to cross 2020 together 😉

11. Don’t be afraid to change.

I guess this was my mantra for 2019 and I managed to change quite a few chunks of my life. It’s still a work in progress and I believe it will always be like that, so it’s just a kind reminder to embrace change, although I don’t do it without kicks and punches.

So this is my final gratitude for 2019, as it brought a new job, a new venture and my new book with it, and a whole lotta change for the year to come.

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