2018: Thank You, Next
It has been a while since I last posted here. I created this space to be open and share my stories – but sometimes that is not an easy thing to do. So, thank you to the people who read when I do post and those who hold me accountable when I don’t. It is easy to share the great things that happen, and I don’t think it would be fair to write this post without first saying that this year has afforded me a lot of moments that I will never forget, I was able to knock out a few of my top goals and I am grateful for so much. However, walking in my truth also includes sharing some of the not so great moments.
“Even when it’s not pretty or perfect. Even when it’s more real than you want it to be. Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.” - Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama said it best, “So many of us go through life with our stories hidden, feeling ashamed or afraid when our whole truth doesn’t live up to some established ideal…That is, until someone dares to start telling that story differently.” I’m writing this because I have had too many conversations with people throughout the year who have mentioned that they feel ashamed of different situations they have encountered. I always hold on to the idea that someone needs to hear the parts of my story that I’m ashamed of telling because you never know how it may impact them, so here we go.
At the end of every year, I come here to talk about how I’m looking forward to the new year, while highlighting my top lessons learned. If you came here looking for those yearly key takeaways, spoiler alert, there are none (well, maybe one). And that’s not to say that I didn’t learn any lessons this year, because I have learned a lot. However, a lot of what I’ve encountered I’m still processing and still working through. I could have waited months from now to share clear, formulated lessons; however, I felt compelled to write now as I’m dealing with it because while previous years have ended full-circle with clarity, this year isn’t and I’m okay with that.
I was ready for 2018 in a much different way than it was ready for me. I ended 2017 feeling like I was on top of the world and as I write this post, I can honestly say that during the second half of 2018, a lot of days have felt like the world is on top of me. I started the year off strong, but then quickly ran out of fuel. It was like I hit a brick wall and the impact I felt after was strong. But, life always has a strange way of telling you when you need to slow down, take a step back and realign your focus. Message received.
GROWTH IS UNCOMFORTABLE
When I hit this wall, the person staring at me in the mirror started looking less familiar. Where did she go? Will she ever come back? I needed to find her. I don’t feel like myself. This was difficult to process. Did I get so wrapped up in everything and everyone that I forgot to make sure I was supporting myself? Absolutely. This was a turning point. If I was no good to myself, how could be good to anyone else? I couldn’t. I was overwhelmed, exhausted and my intuition was way off – a clear indicator that I wasn’t spending enough time with myself. Huge mistake, but lesson learned.
“Don’t negate the season you’re in because things seem painful.” – Pastor Michael Todd
Looking back on this year, I realize that I never lost myself, rather I was transitioning into someone new. I needed to embrace this and grant myself the space to do so. You can’t get the new and hold onto the old. You must unlearn things, let go of pieces of yourself that no longer serve you (people included) and embrace the uncomfortable, painful feeling of growth. The new life we may want for ourselves, that next chapter that we are looking to enter may require a much different person. It’s up to us to recognize this, embrace it and ride the roller coaster no matter how bumpy.
FAILURE AND REJECTION = BLESSING
Someone close to me gave me a card this year that thanked me for being a mentor, big sister figure and inspiration. As I stood there reading it, I never felt more like a failure. I had such a difficult time receiving that message because at the same time, everything that I’ve worked so hard to accomplish felt like it was on the verge of falling apart.
“Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result. It’s vulnerability that breeds with self-doubt and then is escalated, often deliberately, by fear.” - Michelle Obama
They say there’s nothing like the hit you don’t see coming. That one situation that comes out of thin air and throws you for a loop. I was messing up on a lot, getting rejected from multiple opportunities and was told I wasn’t good enough. As a result, my confidence took a major hit, I started second guessing everything and I wanted to quit. I retreated. I became complacent. And let me be the one to tell you that isn’t a great feeling. It took some time and helpful conversations to climb out of this. While “failure” may have never been the actual result, it didn’t make the feeling of it seem any less real. And while I may have been rejected from a lot, I know it’s only because what’s for me is already mine and in due time, what that is will make itself known.
GOD’S PLAN VERSUS MY PLAN
I’ve come back to the phrase “trust the process” multiple times throughout this year. It was a mantra for me as I tried to incorporate patience into more areas of my life. Trust the process. Trust the process. Trust the process. What the hell does that even mean? I want what I want, I want it now and I don’t understand why everything is happening for everyone but me.
Halfway through the year, I set a lofty goal for myself – I was going to move to Washington, D.C., within the next three months. Challenge accepted. I had my apartment picked out, I had a clear vision of how I wanted my life to be, but then was in for a rude awakening when I was rejected from every position I interviewed for. Tough luck.
“God’s Plan.” - Drake
Don’t force it. Whatever it is that you want, don’t force it. Your journey is your own journey. Your journey won’t look like the people you follow on social media, it won’t look like your friend’s. It will only be true to you. What is for you will not pass you. I now find peace in knowing that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be; however, five months ago I honestly couldn’t say the same thing. If I had to choose between God’s timing and my own, I’m always going to choose His.
RELATIONSHIPS ARE COMPLEX
Relationships are complex – and I’m not just talking about romantic relationships. Friendships can be hard, especially when you add pride and genuinely hurt feelings into the equation. I thought I lost a close friend this year and it kept me up at night for five months straight. I prayed about it, thought about it and nothing about the situation sat right with me because I knew deep down that things weren’t supposed to be the way they were. What the universe was attempting to do, I’m not sure. But, we made amends, and everything is back to normal. Sometimes when it comes to reconciliation, you have to meet the other person halfway. If you’re reading this, thank you for meeting me halfway and always being patient with me.
A few general points about relationships that I have I observed overall include:
Don’t bite off more than you can chew;
If you feel like you’re asking for too much, nine times out of ten you’re asking the wrong person;
Stop accepting the love you think you deserve;
Control what you can, let go of the rest;
Hire some help… (if you know you, you know).
THANK YOU, NEXT
I spent a lot of time this year asking myself tough questions and searching for answers. I quickly realized that those answers would never come if I a) wasn’t asking myself the right questions to being with; b) placing a timeline on when I expected the answers to magically appear; and c) not making time for myself. Today, I still have many questions that need answers and I'm accepting that it's going to take some more time, introspection and trust in the process before I get them.
“I am learning every day to allow the space between where I am and where I want to be to inspire me and not terrify me.” - Trace Ellis Ross
I will leave you with this one takeaway as we head into 2019: your struggle is not your identity and don’t feel ashamed for dealing with tough times. Your struggle is just another part of your journey toward becoming the person you’re meant to become. I’m not sure who needs to hear this message, but if you’re reading this and it’s you – please know that we are all a work in progress, we are all trying to figure “it” out. Michelle Obama summed it up best when she said that “becoming” is not a destination, rather it is a continual process of growing and evolving.
I have to give a special shout out to my support system who always acknowledge the light within me, even when things sometimes seem too dark for me to see it myself. Also, thank you, reader, for taking the time to read this post. Moreover, thank you, next to this year. 2017 taught me pain, 2018 taught me patience and 2019 is going to be so fucking amazing.