Around this time last year, I published a blog titled “16 Reasons to Raise a Glass to 2016”, because I didn’t want to get on the “good riddance 2016” band wagon.

I didn’t want to admit that 2016 had, in fact, been a huge disappointment.

At the end of 2016, I had no vision for the future. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing–in my business, in my life, and for my future.  I was lost, but you’d never know it.

I was–and am–a master at hiding my true feelings. Until recently, I thought this was an admirable characteristic: to be inscrutable meant that I could never really be hurt because I could just cover it up so convincingly.

The problem with being so adept at hiding my emotions is that I not only became good at disguising when I felt bad, sad, angry, or afraid; but when I felt good, too. In fact, I forgot how it felt to actually feel good.

Feeling good was a scary place to be because it meant that bad was only jusssttt around the corner. They may not have been pleasant, but at least I knew how to deal with them!

I’m literally crying as I type this because I feel so sad for the Hilary who felt like she wasn’t ALLOWED to feel!

2017 gave me so much to emotionally tussle with that I had no choice BUT to give in and feel some scary, uncomfortable, REAL shit.

And that’s not even one of the 7 hard truths I learned this year (consider that a bonus!), ha!

So without further ado, here’s the list of 7 hard-earned truths I learned in 2017. Even though many of these were already half-formed, 2017 is the year I finally “got it”:

Hard Truth #1: True friendship is letting yourself be seen, warts and all

I know I haven’t always been the greatest friend, and I regret that. I simply didn’t know how. I didn’t know how to open up and be vulnerable.

I didn’t know how to be seen.

I know that I have a lot of work to do to be a better friend. But I also know that over the past year or so, I’ve made some friends who’ve taught me what it means to let someone see you. They’ve not been afraid to talk about the deep, raw, messy, painful stuff that the world (aka other people) would prefer we kept to ourselves.

It’s not that I didn’t want to be truly seen or accepted for who I am deep down; it’s just that up until this year, I didn’t know how to be who I am. It’s not that I didn’t want to talk about more than surface-level shit, I just didn’t dare.

I was afraid. Of judgment, of saying the wrong thing, of saying one thing and then changing my mind and that NOT being OK…of a lot of irrational stuff.

Many of these fears are manufactured, but they felt real to me. Sometimes they still do. But all I can do is keep being–and learning to be–me, and sharing these remarkable discoveries with the people who I know are as delighted by them as I am!

Hard Truth #2: It’s OK to be me (and it’s OK to be you)

I remember sitting at a bar once, talking to a guy who was obviously really into alternative music (aka music I did not know, nor give two shits about). I flat out lied to him about liking a particular artist, simply to see if it would help convince him I was “cool” and therefore worthy of a date.

It worked.

Fast forward several months, and I was enmeshed in one of the most unfulfilling romantic relationships of my life. The icing on the cake? This guy left me waiting on him in a bar for over 3 hours one night (and sadly, that was not the end of the relationship).

My point is that I invited this type of treatment because I was too afraid to be who I am. I was so afraid of rejection that it made more sense to lie and try to fit myself into some mold (“the cool girl” “the artsy girl” “the guy’s girl”) than be authentic. I could then justify being treated poorly in relationships because I’d lied from the start, and I “deserved it”.

This year, I finally ditched the last remnants of giving a fuck. My motto for 2018: IDGAF about being anything but ME!

Hard Truth #3: I can do hard things

Because of my low self-esteem, I spent a lot of time wishing, hoping, and praying that my life would get better. The problem is that I couldn’t identify what was actually wrong with my life (remember that I was really good at shutting my emotions down?!), and therefore take any steps to make it better.

In the absence of a real culprit, I blamed my body. I blamed the fact that I wasn’t skinny enough, defined enough, pretty enough, or anything enough, and my existence centered around working on THAT problem instead of what was truly eating at me.

2017 has taught me that my instincts are rarely, if ever, wrong. It taught me to listen to that inner voice, even when I don’t want to because it’s got important shit to tell me.

2017 magnified my instincts, and I had no choice but to shut up and listen. I was stopped dead in my tracks, and was humbled–time and time again. 2017 was the year I finally realized that I have a choice–I can choose misery or I can choose me.

I chose me in 2017. And I am going to keep choosing me, even though it’s hard. In fact, it’s probably the hardest thing I will ever do, but it’s also the most liberating.

Hard Truth #4: It’s never too late

It’s never too late to make a different choice. You’re never too far gone; too old; too fat; too thin; too poor; too rich; too busy, or too late to the game to change anything you want.

After having the year that I did, I can’t help but wonder how much further I would be in my personal development, my business, and my personal relationships if I’d never got it into my head that I was “too late too the game”.

I spent more time worrying about how far behind everyone else I was in, well, EVERYTHING, when I could have just let it be and put my nose to the grindstone from that point on!

See, we all have these revelations when we’re supposed to have them. I truly believe that my instincts got louder only once my Higher Power was convinced I would actually 1) hear them without losing my shit; and 2) do something about it!

Hard Truth #5: Some risks are worth taking

I’m starting to sense a theme here…LOL.

All jokes aside, I’m kind of risk-averse. I’ve never tried anything stronger than marijuana, and I hated it. I don’t drive fast, I don’t stay up late, I go to my regular doctor checkups, and I floss every damn day.

I also never gamble…at least not in the traditional sense.

However, I learned in 2017 that there are things worth taking a risk on. I also learned that sometimes NOT risking something is the riskier choice!

It’s riskier because it means that the odds will ever be in the house’s favor. When we take a leap of faith, we open ourselves up to a bigger failure, sure, but we also pave the way to win big (like, really big) in this gamble called life.

And that’s a risk I’m willing to take…over and over again.

Hard Truth #6: That past is in the past for a reason

Damn, our mammalian brains are sophisticated when it comes to memory!

I can recall the precise lyrics to songs I haven’t heard since 1997–a very useful adaptation, I might add!–but for the most part, I wish we weren’t as highly evolved as we are.

Why? Because how often does our past come back to bite us? More often than we think if we consider how deeply embedded certain experiences and mindsets are in our unconscious, and how much they have an affect on our present.

The remnants of fear from past experiences are buried so deep in our unconscious mind that we often don’t even realize they could have even the slightest impact on our current circumstances.

But they do.

This year, I learned that fears I didn’t even know I had were keeping me from making really important steps in my personal development.

I still catch myself falling for the traps set by old fears, but the truth is: what happened in the past is in the past. It can’t hurt me anymore, and it doesn’t have to rule my present.

The catch is that old fears WILL continue to trip you up…until you do the work to release yourself from their grasp through therapy, coaching, mindset work, journaling, and other forms of spiritual self-examination.

Hard Truth #7: Sobriety suits me

Yup, this 7th and most important hard truth is the one I’m most grateful for because it’s humbled me the most.

2017 was the year I came to grips with the fact that not only was I affected by someone else drinking in my formative years, but I have a problem with alcohol myself.

As scary as it is to share this with the world, all of the work I’ve done on myself would be in vain if I didn’t, my friends. And truth be told, putting myself out there is the best thing I can do for my sobriety.

In a way, it feels like my world is ending and beginning, all at the same time. What’s life without wine? Without craft beer? Without cocktails?

I don’t really know, but I do know that I don’t trust myself around them. I don’t like who I am when I drink, I don’t like the reasons I drink, and I don’t like how I feel when I drink.

That’s more than enough reasons NOT to do it, and so that’s what I’ve decided to do.

I’ve been sober since November 10th, and I feel grateful beyond measure.

I hope you can take something with you from what I’ve shared, and that these hard truths can help you–even just a little bit–on your own journey!

Happy New Year. May 2018 help you manifest all the deepest desires of your heart. I love you guys!

7 Hard Truths I Learned in 2017

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