When you’re lying awake at night, and the sound of silence fills your room, what do you think about? Do you wish you could be thinner? Do you imagine yourself richer, happier, more successful? We all have those moments. Weakness, when we allow ourselves, just for a second, to let our guard down. To accept that somewhere beneath the facade is a dream. A longing. A desire. [Read more…] about It’s never too late
In this previous post I wrote about my decision to not study law immediately after school but the story goes on. During my battle to get into law school I found myself studying Social Anthropology, Politics, and Diversity Studies. I only studied Diversity if I’m honest because my father bribed me with an all expenses paid gap year of travelling if I completed at least one Post-grad degree. And let’s be honest here, who in their right mind would pass up that offer? Sadly, my father died unexpectedly during that year but that’s not what this story is about.
This story is about how I finally got into law school. And HATED it. I don’t mean I didn’t like it, or found the workload too intense, no I mean absolutely hated it from the bottom of my soul. I knew in the first three months that I was not cut out to be a lawyer. To be a lawyer you’ve got to be a certain kind of person and you’ve got to enjoy certain kinds of things. I was not that person! You have to be able to remember the tiniest details and pull them out a hat when they matter. FACTS are key in law. Yeah, my brain was not made for the meticulous way a lawyer has to live their life. I desperately wanted to get out. Sadly, in my family, you don’t quit. I was told that this was my dream and dreams don’t just change. Besides, it would be good for the family to have a lawyer around. So I pushed on.
For the next year, I spent my days in class, my evenings in the library and my nights reading and writing papers. And I hated it. During that year, I learnt the meaning of depression. I became so miserably depressed that all I could think of doing was eating. I ate so much that I gained 20kgs and at the end of the year when I failed ALL my subjects but one, I fell into the darkest hole possible.
That was the first time I had ever failed anything. I mean, I was raised believing that failure wasn’t even an option. Come home with an A on your report and you’re asked why didn’t you get an A+ so I was an absolute wreck. For the first time I understood why people considered suicide. I was lost. I was confused, and even though I knew I hated the degree, I didn’t know how that had happened to me.
I was completely burnt out and the only thing I could think of was redeeming myself, picking myself off the ground and getting back into the saddle. So I sent off my application for a Master’s Degree in Development Studies. In some twist of fate, my application was sent off to the Social Development Department. I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when I was accepted into a degree that I hadn’t applied for but it didn’t matter. It wasn’t about what I was going to study. I just needed to prove myself.
I was told I had to take the honours programme first, I didn’t put up much fuss and the year went by quickly. The material, I soon discovered was interesting and I did well without too much effort. At the end of the year, naturally I progressed into the Masters programme. I loved Social Development. It was everything I had always longed for and I thrived in the programme. More than happy to forego nights out with friends for long hours sitting at my dining room table drafting papers and policies. I quickly took my place, for the first time in my life, at the top of the programme. I’ve never been more proud of myself. Ironic as it was that it took failing one degree to lead me to this moment.
A degree I had not even applied for was suddenly everything to me. How lucky that life doesn’t always give us what we want but instead exactly what we need. The trick is to accept that life doesn’t always go according to plan and sometimes we have to throw caution to the wind and take a leap of faith into the abyss.
As the end of the first month of a new year arrives and the second month begins, I thought it fitting to look back at last year, a time all but forgotten and we swiftly move ahead into 2015. Over the course of last year, which began as a terrible year for me and ended with me beginning the journey of self discovery and self-love and wonder, what have I really learnt from 2014 that I can carry with me during 2015 and help me to live my life more fully.
Lessons from 2014
Never take loved ones for granted. We never know how much longer they will be with us. My gran died last year, she had been suffering with emphysema for a long time and her quality of life was seriously low. It was a blessing to think that her suffering would be over but it still hit us hard and my mother was obviously broken-hearted. It made me think of all the stories she will never be able to share with me. All the recipes that died with her and the laughter at listening to her retell the adventures of her youth. It’s always hard to lose the people you love, even if you know it’s for the best.
Do something you really love, not just something that pays a cheque. I thought building my CV was all that mattered in helping my career but soon enough, I discovered that doing a job every day just so that one day you can be happy isn’t always enough. You need to learn to live for the now. Live fully for today. Not in preparation for one day.
Don’t let others define you. When I stood up against injustices and was called a trouble maker along with other insulting titles by a Business Manager who felt threatened after not doing her job, I realised it wasn’t me, it was definitely them and that it was time for me to move along. I know myself and I know my personality and I’m not prepared to have other people assign labels to me that I don’t agree with. After taking one week to think about it I decided that I don’t love the job enough to stick around and work with people who are just looking for the next person to blame. People who manage with a whip and blame everyone else when things don’t go the way they are supposed to.
Follow your heart. After leaving my job, I came up with a plan to truly follow my heart. Turns out when you’re really passionate about something and you feel very strongly towards the outcome of that thing, work doesn’t seem like a burden.
Feel the fear and do it anyway. I am working towards getting my business off the ground. It is terrifying and I am constantly living in fear that I don’t have what it takes but I feel at peace when I get into bed at the end of the day knowing that I am doing this for me and it’s something that I love.
Compromise. Be considerate of those around you. Sometimes you have to give a little to get a little.
Get someone reliable to look after your pets while you’re away. I can’t emphasise this more. My pets are my children and being away for two weeks was hell. It really gives you peace of mind to know that your fur babies are at home with someone who loves them.
You can always find something good out of every awful situation. Just keep looking till you find that positive angle.
Don’t waste time on people who take you for granted. The world is full of people that we connect with in numerous ways. Any of those people can bring something to your life. Some of them bring positive things and some negative. learn to tell the difference between the two and let go of those who don’t contribute positively into your universe.
Be more accepting of yourself and patient with others. Everyone is just trying to get by. Some are better at it than others but the journey is complicated for all of us. Accept that people do things in different ways and they react differently to situations. There is more dignity is behaving graciously than causing a scene. Accept that their way works for them but if it doesn’t work for you, then choose to not have them in your universe.
These aren’t meant to direct the way you live your life, they are points of guidance for a happy life. This is just what I have learnt in my own life over the course of the last year. 2014 was difficult and ended with our car being stolen right outside our house while we were home. Turns out the good thing is all they took was the car, it could have been much worse. My life is on the right track and I’m finally sleeping through the night. My back has stopped knotting up and I know that I’m heading in the right direction with my career. As hard as this past year has been, 2015 is going to be filled with positivity and greatness. I just know it.
I have always loved writing.
When I was a teenager the act of writing gave me solace from the angst that was my world. Late at night when everyone was asleep, I would open up one of my notebooks and pour my heart out. If I had nothing to write about I would listen to the radio and find my inspiration in the songs that came on. A word, a verse, an idea, all led to sentences streaming across the page.
I would stay awake till long after 3am, surrounded by silence and darkness.
I never thought about the implications of this. I never thought that a love of writing could be anything more than a passing of time spent alone. Somehow, as I got older, I got a little more distracted. I spent all my time watching TV, another show, another drama absorbing me in. My love of writing forgotten in an old journal under the bed. Years went by, occasionally something would remind me to scribble my thoughts on to paper but never in a consistent manner.
Then death happened.
People cope with death in various ways. I coped with a love of whiskey and a notebook filled with poems written to a father who could never read them. I poured my heart out, in anger, with regrets, with words of love that would never be shared. I learnt again to love writing, not because I enjoyed it but because I needed it. Few understood me the way my pen did, few knew what I was going through like those words did. I wrote long into the hours. Alone in my bedroom. On the floor. I was broken but in that pain I found myself. My therapist, perhaps concerned about the content of my writing asked to read some of it. Instead of finding signs of desperation, she asked me, surprisingly, is writing not perhaps something I could pursue professionally. I thought she was just being kind. After all, what kind of career could I have writing.
Ten years of University and I perfected the art of the argument. I wrote from both sides of the burning bridge. I wrote for, I wrote against. I loved the way there was no bias, just facts being stated as they appeared. An argument so perfectly constructed that there could be no right and wrong. I loved the structure that it brought to my words. I loved the research that went into each paper. Lovingly read about and thought about before the process begins. Each paper submitted, written from my soul. It didn’t matter what the material was, I was always determined to put my thoughts down in the most meticulous manner.
What if I’m not good enough?
Writers often struggle with the criticism of their work. Artists hide paintings away for years out of a misguided belief that the work isn’t good enough. That’s how it has always been for me. My words never good enough to show to others, not even when the few who had been privy to the chaos had encouraged me. Always chalked up to a mothers love, a friends kindness, my words were never good enough for the public eye.
Starting a blog
I have wanted for the longest time to start a blog. I have started and deleted, I have written and hidden so many attempts. Never thinking there was any point. Until now. On a whim one day, I decided. If I don’t do this, then I may look back with regret. If no one reads my writing, that’s okay. If some read it and hate it, that’s okay too. I am not going to live my life with fears and regrets and wonder what if. So this is my confession. These are my words. I will write them.
The readers may come and they may not. Either way, it is time to finally accept, I have always been a writer. Whether you read my words or not.
I am always fascinated by personality test results. usually the results are amusing. I took a test today however, after stumbling across the link in an article I was reading and I was quite impressed with the accuracy of the results. I’m quite introverted generally and I always erroneously thought that introverted and shy were one and the same thing so for the longest time I described myself as shy. I am far from shy but I am definitely an introvert and need time alone to recover from social situations. Anyway, take the test and see if you think it accurately reflects your personality. Let me know your thoughts.
This is a story about the time my life was flipped completely upside down by a movie but starting at the end seems silly, so let me start where good writers start, at the beginning.
When I was an undergrad student, I was 19 and alone in a new country for the first time. I had an awesome life. I stayed out late partying, had tonnes of friends, put in the bare minimum for my education and passed all my classes anyway. I loved my life. My favourite club was a place called Chilli and Lime. I was even offered a job as a bartender there because the club owner thought I had the right “spirit” I’m not sure looking back what that means but I guess it was a compliment. One night while out I met the guy I would spend the next year and a half of my life with. For the sake of this story I will call him Mark.
Mark was incredible. He was smart, and funny and the nicest possible person. He wasn’t the kind of guy I normally would have dated but I’m open to new experiences and besides, the previous one’s hadn’t worked out anyway. Well we dated for a year before his true side started coming out. He became jealous and possessive. As I’m not usually the kind of person who can be controlled, it became a constant battle and in the end I gave up. I gave up my friendships, with other men and women. If the men were hitting on me, the women were influencing me. There was no winning those arguments so I didn’t try. I was too in love to see what was happening. This went on for a while, getting worse and worse. I learnt that nothing I did was right, I was always wrong. It became easier to just apologise whether I thought I was wrong or not. I was kept away nights while Mark cried. He cried because I didn’t love him enough, I did. He cried because I cheated, I never did. He cried because I wasn’t this perfect person. I sure tried to be everything he needed. I lost myself in order to make him feel better about his world. I gave up everything that made me happy.
I didn’t realise then the kind of emotional abuse I was going through. I remember at Christmas time, we bought airline tickets to go visit his family, the day before he told me he doesn’t want me to come and I was left behind. Wondering what I had done. We always patched things up, what ever I had done, I was sorry. Everything was fine.
One day he surprised me, with tickets to go see a movie he thought I would like. That was the problem, he would do these nice things and I would forget that he was awful. Off we went to see The Notebook. I hadn’t even heard of this movie. At the time, Ryan Gosling wasn’t even on anyone’s radar. I sat there, nonchalantly, watching this movie. Not realising that my life was about to change.
As the film went on, I remember feeling this change wash over me. I remember thinking, is that what love should feel like? Is that what other people experience? I watched the movie. I cried, like everyone else did. Except I was crying for me. For the life I was missing out on. I was crying for the love that I wanted so desperately for myself. The love that deep down inside, I knew I deserved.
When the movie ended, we got in the car, he asked me how I liked the movie. I remember staring out the window but certain to reply before he got upset. The slightest thing could set him off. The tiniest mistake could last for days. I didn’t want to take the chance. I told him the movie was lovely. I’d had a lovely evening. After all, it was true. We drove home making general small talk the rest of the way.
When we got back to my place, as he parked the car, I remember thinking. This is it. This is my moment, it’s now or never. I opened the door but I stayed in my seat. I turned to face him, with my hand still holding open the door and I said “I think it’s best you don’t come in, in fact, I think it’s best we end this, what I saw tonight, that’s love, not this mess of ours.” I got out the car, closed the door and walked away, of course he rushed after me but I went through my gate and pulled it shut behind me. I cried as I walked away. Tears of sadness, of loss, of joy and for finally following my heart.
He thought I was the devil. He told anyone who would listen but I had never felt so empowered in my life. I was finally free. It took a while to gain back my confidence but in that moment, I decided that never again will I let someone else dictate my happiness. The Notebook changed my life. Every time I lose sight of who I am and what I deserve, I remember this story.
“You can’t live your life for other people. You’ve got to do what’s right for you, even if it hurts some people you love.”
Let me know if a movie has ever changed your life, I would love to hear your story.