There is one thing I learned in 2019: Life does not necessarily change with a new year. But it is a time that we stop and reflect on the year we have just had. We label it. It was either a good year or a bad year.
I’m going back to 2019 because for me, that was that year that was fit for a label – a particularly bad year after a series of bad years! And it never stopped. It kept on going on into the New Year, into 2020 and gaining momentum. I remember thinking, ‘Is this it?’ Is this what my life is? The feeling of being on a hamster wheel, going nowhere frantically and not knowing how to get off it. Life had lost its depth and the way I was living it, did not feel meaningful or fulfilling. I was committed to so many things, leaving no time for what really mattered to me or what I really wanted to do with my life and my time. I put what I felt people expected of me above this and I lost myself in a series of years. A series of years that never got better and that felt consistently ‘off-track.’
Then COVID-19 happened and life as we knew it stopped. We all stopped. Initially we focused on how to sanitise best, we followed the COVID-19 rules, wore masks and kept our distance. We isolated from the life we knew and we were given ‘time.’ For some, this isolation was traumatic and lonely. For me, it was the first time since I had moved back to South Africa that I felt there was time to think, time to reflect and time to sit quietly with myself. For me, it felt like a blessing.
2020 was the year that completely smashed the hamster wheel. It was also the year I decided that I did not want to get back on that hamster wheel. I wanted to walk around in my own shoes and feel at ‘home.’ For me, 2020 was that year that I found the courage to change and to choose a different life, one with depth and though scary at times, feels meaningful and with a purpose that is aligned with who I am and what is important to me. It was the year that I stepped out of the box I had created and into the big wide world!
It was a difficult year, because before I could think of the change I want, I first had to surrender to where I was at. I had to face everything I had become and take responsibility for myself. I had to stop blaming others for my unhappiness and accept that I was not going to change anyone and that the only change that could happen, was within myself. I had to revisit my past and the narrative I created because of it, one that has influenced so much of my life, my relationships and the decisions I have made. I had to identify what is true and what is not and sift through my limiting beliefs. I had to let go of wanting to control in order to achieve a certain outcome. I had to identify when my decisions and priorities were ground in ‘fear and ego,’ opposed to what comes from a place of love and truth. I had to stop fighting and instead ‘surrender’ to what is and what was. I had to accept where I am and take responsibility. Only then could I ask myself, ‘what do I want?’ And I did. 2020 was the year I surrendered and also the year I asked myself those questions and made the decision to change my life. In doing so, I would also change the life of those closest to me, especially for my family.
2021 came with the shocking and most unexpected news that my husband and I would be getting divorced. It was shocking, because I am divorcing a good man and because no-one really knew of my personal journey. I had eluded everyone. I smiled when I was not feeling it. I put my armour on, and presented myself as strong when I was not feeling strong.
2021 was the year of implementing change. It was always going to be a difficult year but I am hesitant to kick it in the butt and say ‘good riddance.’ 2021 and the change I implemented came with many BIG life lessons. It required courage, it required being okay with being judged and not allowing the fear of not being accepted to influence my decisions, it required me walking my own path with my head up. It required me not to conform and to believe in myself and my vision.
2021 was certainly not easy and I know that the months to come will continue to be challenging for me and my family because of my decision. I know that the life I am choosing is not a conventional one and more often than not, it is a life that people would not choose for themselves.
Though 2021 has been difficult, it is the year that I have felt ‘peace’ for the first time since I can remember. It is also the first time in my life that I have truly felt gratitude. Because of my decision which has come with much ‘debate’ by others of what is wrong and what is right, I did not expect you to ‘stay,’ but you did. 2021 is when I received the unexpected unconditional love and support from a handful of extraordinary friends and my family too. I have learned that ‘support,’ does not necessarily mean ‘agreeing with,’ but rather the willingness to try and understand, the decision to be open to understanding and less about what you would do or would not do. Wanting to ‘understand’ does not just happen – it is most often a conscious decision. THAT is my BIGGEST lesson and my biggest reason for feeling gratitude. Gratitude for the people who have wanted to understand and who have supported and loved me unconditionally. Gratitude for this lesson too and how I am going to work very hard to do what these people in my life have taught me; Seek to understand.
2021 was the year that I found myself walking down a district road to my parents, 43 years old and with a plastic Shoprite packet full of laundry… with nothing. On that day, I faced my decisions. That day, I had no-one to blame, no-one to point fingers at because this is my decision. That day, I walked down the road I had chosen and I felt happy.