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    Here’s to 22: 21 things I learned “last” year

    1. Home is not a place, it’s a mindset. 
    I firmly believe that one can be at home anywhere. To me, it’s less about the place and more about my frame of mind no matter where I am. Do I feel safe, loved, supported, and free? Then I’d probably consider that place to be one of my many “homes.” 

    2. Friends can truly be family. 
    Maybe this is because I’m an only child or because I’ve really been through some stuff at Cornell, but my “college friends” are more than just my friends. They truly are my family and at this point, I can’t imagine my life without them. 

    3. Love is always possible again. Always. 
    I spent a lot of year 20 and early year 21 trying to get over a situation + learning how to cope with that loss and I had come to the conclusion that love just wasn’t a thing I was interested in anymore. Until of course, it was a thing that just popped up in my life proving that love is always possible again. It is always possible again. 

    4. Confidence is key, but humility is better. 
    I’m still learning this one because I’ve only recently begun to truly own and feel confident. So, right now I think I’m screaming at the top of my lungs because it feel so good to finally feel so okay with myself and confident in my abilities. But, quiet confidence is truly key. Letting people brag on you is truly key. In the coming year, I hope to embody this and come to believe in myself so much that I don’t have to yell because I’m internally good, so it doesn’t matter if you know my credentials or not. 

    5. Only buy statement pieces. ie: in everything, if you don’t love it, leave it TF alone. 
    In clothes, love, friendships, jobs, if you don’t love it, leave it alone. I want to only purchase and wear items of clothing that I saw and knew I had to have. I want to be thrilled about my career decisions and in love with my relationships. If I’m not, then I probably don’t need to have it in my life. Year 21 has taught me this. 

    6. “Enjoy the shit out it.” (Life that is).
    I’ve recently been blessed to be in rooms or conversation with some of my “idols” and it was really kind of freaking me out. It’s still hard for me to wrap my head around my life – the things I’ve done and the opportunities that are only now becoming available to me because I truly have dreamt about these things my entire life. I was discussing this with a mentor and she simply told me to enjoy and get used to it. Sound advice, I think. 

    7. Working SMART and hard always pays off. 
    This has been the key to my success at Cornell. I can’t and don’t want to do everything so figuring out my priorities and then working SMART has been crucial. Hard work is great. Working smart is a major key. 

    8. Jesus works everything out. Always. All ways. 
    ‘Nuff said. 

    9. People don’t have to get it as long as they respect it. 
    People are not always going to understand my dreams, the things I choose to pursue and the path I take to get there. I’ve come to realize that they don’t have to. Because one, I don’t really owe anyone an explanation and two, I’m not going to let them stop me from the pursuit of the things I want for myself. People don’t have to get it, but they will respect it. Always be in a position where people will respect it. 

    10. Having the courage to not settle will ensure your dreams come true. 
    I was having a talk with my dad a while ago and he was asking me about my post-grad plans, I remember saying to him that I would rather move home and take a year to re-group than start a job or graduate program that didn’t make my soul soar. Thankfully, it didn’t come to that but, I was and remain determined not to settle. I believe it’s this determination that has created exactly the post-grad plans that I always dreamed of. 

    11. Money matters. No matter the amount, it’s important to use it wisely. 
    In the words of Cardi B., “Learn how to budget heaux.” 

    12. Service is the only thing that heals. 
    Participating in service-learning programs at Cornell has truly changed my academic trajectory and my life. It gave me an updated value system that I strive to use not only in my work, but in my life. In addition, engaging with communities through service and the pursuit of a mutual goal has healed me. It’s helped me better understand my goals and passions, as well as, given me the confidence necessary to occupy all of the spaces I’m apart of in a full manner. 

    13. It is always my job to behave in manners consistent with my character and the person I want and believe myself to be. 
    People won’t always move how I want them too. I should still move how I’ve decided I will. (Still working on this one though). 

    14. Being open and vulnerable is the only way I can do life. 
    I have tried to make myself hard and allowed myself to shut down, it didn’t work for me. As stressful or painful as being so open to life and love in all forms can be at times, it’s the only way of doing life that works for me. Anything else feels unnatural and robs me of something I’ve come to believe makes me special. It is always good to be so open, even when it isn’t. 

    15. “We’re never ready when we think we are. We’re always ready when we forget to be.” 
    You Will: The Second Time Around

    16. Success means nothing if you have no one to share it with. Don’t abandon those that helped you get there. 
    ‘Nuff said. 

    17. No is a full sentence. 
    I’m still working on this. 

    18. Everyone is a brand and people are always watching. Behave accordingly. 
    I unintentionally changed how I interact on social media this year because I realized that everyone is a brand. What do you want yours to be? 

    19. Flying keeps me grounded and writing keeps me sane. 
    Literally, I have to fly every few months and really should write everyday. It’s crucial to maintaining my sanity and I like having that. 

    20. Nothing good ever came from comfort zones. Risks, calculated ones, make life fun. 
    This was especially true for me as I thought about what I wanted to do after graduation. I’m moving to DC for the summer and then to Philly for the fall where I have some people but will effectively be starting over. And you know what, I’m so excited about it. These things are absolutely outside of my comfort zone but will wholeheartedly be worth it. Sometimes, “safety” is bullshit. 

    21. And most of all, I have learned how to love myself. I’m so happy with where I’m at and excited about where I’m going. 

    Gabrielle Hickmon
    Gabrielle Hickmon

    Find me on: Web | Twitter


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