What I Learned from 2016

6:00 AM

I have learned so much this year. Far more than I could ever fit in one post. But since my seventeenth birthday was just two weeks ago, and 2016 is coming to a close, I thought it would be fitting to give you all sixteen things I have learned in my sixteenth year of life.

1. You can learn and grow so much from studying the bible for yourself.

Last January was when I finally started to study the bible for myself. It took some time to find a rythym of how studying the bible really worked for me, but every step of the process brought insight, development, and growth. I am not the person who started this year. I am much older, deeper, and I'd like to think wiser. And I definitely know God on a deeper level than ever before.

2. Editing takes time.

I started draft two of The Thief's Conspiracy in February and I still haven't finished it. It's taken me so long to make progress, in part because this is a new step for me in my writing journey. And it's still taking me a lot of time to understand that editing is not a fast process like first drafting. It takes time, and it is agonizing.

3. I enjoy blogging.

I also started a blog last February. And in doing that, I've realized just how much I enjoy it. It's a way for me to sort out my thoughts and share what I have learned with you all. And I am so glad I started it. The whole blogging community is amazing.

4. Growth takes time.

I wanted to grow fast. When I started studying the bible, I wanted all my issues to be solved like *snap* I didn't want to wait. Yet some part of me knew I needed to. Knew how important is was to take my time, to meditate and pray and not rush through it just so I could check it off my list. 

Growing takes a lot of time. A lot of things take a lot of time.

5. Bad situations will always exist in your life. Once you accept this, then you can learn how to handle them. 

Sadly, my first instinct when something bad happens is to go OH NOOOOOOO and kind of shrivel up and wail and flop and groan and just throw a massive pity party.

Which does absolutely nothing.

Bad things will always pop up in life. Something remotely bad is always going to be going on. So the best you can do is just suck it up and deal with it. Learn how to get over it and live with it, or fix the problem if you can. 

6. The world is so much bigger than you.

Which might sound kind of insulting at first, and rather dismal, but is actually a really good thing. Imagine if the world really was all about you? Every little flaw you had would be magnified, every mistake you made like a declaration of war in its importance. You couldn't rest!

Problems that chew you up and spit you out, that grind on your every waking thought, often lose their deathly, crushing hold once you step back and realize that life really isn't all centered around you. Other people exist, too. And a big part of our life here on earth is to help others.

Once you step back and appreciate that the world is bigger, that you are small, the problems that seemed so big before dwindle. Your priorities might become reorganized.

7. Lies that you believe take time to deal with and overcome.

There are a lot of lies that I struggled with this year. Lies I believed about myself, about others, about what others thought of me, etc. And I knew a lot of them were lies. But still, I couldn't overcome them.

It's so much bigger than that though. These aren't things you just "get over". You have to learn why they're there and figure out the truth to them. Realizing a lie is a lie just isn't good enough. Until you've gotten a hold of the firm, solid, undeniable truth, the lies slip and lose their hold.

8. Distance makes things harder, but not impossible. 

My best friend moved 1,652 miles away back in March. Half my closest friends live states away from me. Most of my childhood friends left for college in August. The distance makes things harder, certainly, but not impossible. Relationships may change, but you can still grow through it. Don't give up your long distance friends. They're golden.

9. What you think people think of you is often not what people think at all. 

(good luck making sense of this one)

For some reason, I had it in my little brain that most of my writer friends suddenly didn't like me very much at all, and that I was an annoying nuisance (in essence). I'm really not sure where these thoughts and fears came from, but when my writer friends surprised me with a laptop, I couldn't exactly hold to those beliefs.

Just because you think/feel something doesn't mean it's the truth.

10. You're not as bad as you might think you are. 

Before the workshop in June, I wasn't sure if I really stood a chance at being an author. I wasn't even sure if I was good enough. But the authors there all believed in us. You could see it in every class, every panel, every keynote. They believed in us. They knew we could do it, that we had what it takes.

I learned that I'm not actually bad at writing. I've still got a long way to go, but I've already come really far. Which leads to number ...

11. Writing is a journey.

It takes time. It takes growth. Every single step and stage has something to offer, some lesson to teach you. Stop concentrating on what you don't have and look for what you do, and what you can learn.

12. Things take time. 

This is a theme I've seen in this post so far that's going to get ZERO editing because I'm writing it at 1 A.M. Friday night with burning eyes and sleep calling my name so it must be a good point

This day and age is so rushed. We don't know how much time we have here, after all. How can we stand to wait? But growth takes time. And life is all about growing and changing and learning and discovering. But these things take time. Remember that.

13. Prayer is important.

For a long time I struggled with the question, "Does prayer even make a difference?" I still struggle with it (in one sense). But a good friend told me this, and it has erased many doubts for me. "Prayer may not change your circumstance, but it will change your heart." 

Prayer gives you perspective.

14. Loneliness can be felt when surrounded by people. 

I don't know about you guys, but that's when I feel most alone. Not at home in my room at night. When I'm at Church or a devo, surrounded by my peers with people who are only kind of my friends. It's okay to feel alone when surrounded by people. Just make sure you have real friends out there, even if they're a thousand miles away.

15. Live with intent.

Don't let things just happen by accident. Don't just go about accidentally doing things. Do things. Mean things. Think about stuff. Don't be afraid to explore. Don't hold back. We've only got so much time, after all. And things take time. So be bold and decide what you want to do and who you want to be.

You will become the person you want and strive to be, after all. Make sure that person is the right one.

And the last thing I will share with you today, the last lesson on my list is this.

16. Get your heart right.

Life is all about heart. Where is your heart?

It doesn't matter what you do. It doesn't matter how bad or how good you are. It doesn't matter if you helped the old lady with her groceries or treated your siblings nicely.

What matters is where your heart is.

Because once you get your heart in the right place, then these things will be the obvious course of action. Before getting your heart right, these actions are pointless and empty. When you get your heart in the right place, doing the right thing will become a part of you. And when you mess up, it's okay. Because you still tried to do the right thing.

There's so much more I want to say. But that's what Stan here is for, right? XP I'll be back again next week to blab. But I hope you enjoyed this post!

What did you learn this year? 


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  1. WHOA. Honestly I just love your blog because you're so sincere and honest and inspiring. AND I ACTUALLY LEARNED A LOT OF THESE SAME THINGS? Especially about caring too much what other people think of you, because nope. No joy there. :D I've honestly learned SO MUCH through my current wip though- it's sort of a personal growth milestone for me.

    1. AJDSKFHLKSJDHF thanks dude!! :D And man - writing a book can teach you so stinkin' much about so many things. It's amazing.

  2. I learned/am still learning a lot of these things as well. It's a long road, one that takes lots and lots of time.

    Again, I love you and your blog - and happy birthday! :D

    1. Yes, yes it is. It's kind of funny, how we don't know how much time we have but so many worthwhile things in life require a lot of it. *sigh*

      Thank you! :D

  3. Oh. my. gosh. I learned so many of these things too! I felt so out of balance and sort of distant at times. I definitely wanted an instant fix. But wow. Things DO take time. Thank you for reminding me of this beautiful truth <3

    Happy (late) birthday, and I wish you all the best for 2017 :D

    audrey caylin

  4. This. This. Thiiiiis.
    Hannah, friend, you have such a gift with words. Thank you for these great reminders of truth to start off this new year with! <3

  5. HANNAH.

    This post is filled with so much truth and wisdom. Wow I love you.

  6. WELL HELLO NEW HEADER. It's awesome. :D

    I'm not sure where to even start with this post, Hannah. I've learned many of these same lessons this year -- several you've helped me to learn and I can't be more thankful.

    The loneliness thing is a weird one, isn't it? I have felt that a lot this year (I mean, you know since we've sighed about it. :P) It's hard not having many (close) friends in real life, but that makes me all the more thankful for people like you, where I can talk about most anything.

    Editing. *groan*

    I'm starting to study the bible more myself, and I am so pumped about it and the experience. God is so great. <3

    You have been such a blessing to me this year, and I can't thank you enough. HAPPY NEW YEAR, MY DEAR FREN. <3

    1. Ahhhh sissy <3 Yesss I changed it yesterday but I'M HAVING DOUBTS. O.O I'm pretty sure I'm keeping it though ... I'm kind of messing around with Stan's formatting in general.

      But yes, ugh to loneliness but YES to online friends *ugs* I'm so happy for you that you've started studying the bible more for yourself! That is so exciting, and it brings about SO much growth and change. You will be so, so blessed by it!

  7. I like the new header!

    I learned that... I should really stop procrastinating aaaand now I'm starting to bullet journal (my way) and it's way better and more effective than keeping resolutions (in my opinion).

    1. Ooooh nice! That sounds like a fun idea. I think bullet journaling would be really fun *nods* You'll have to let me know how it goes! :D


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