In last week's blog post I shared my proudest moments of 2017. There were a lot of positive and noteworthy events the past year, but there were also tough times. In many ways, the struggles and difficulties we faced in 2017 will set the tone for the decisions and resolutions we will now make in 2018. So, for this blog post, I wanted to share some of the things I struggled with, what I learned from them and what I will be doing differently this year.
Set realistic goals
Last year was going to be my year! When the clock struck twelve, I was excited and enthusiastic about the year before me. I had sat down a few weeks before and wrote down all the things I was going to achieve and pursue. I was adamant that 2017 would be the year that I would plan a wedding, get married, finish my internship, graduate, work hard, move into a new apartment, and so on. The list seemed long, but I was positive that I would be able to do it all. It wasn’t long before I started realizing that I had bit off more than I could chew. Keeping up with all of these goals was becoming stressful, frustrating and tiring. I underestimated the amount of time and energy each of these tasks would demand of me. This year I decided I would set realistic goals. I really want to graduate this year, so this whole year I’m going to focus on that. It is not the only thing I will be working on this year, but it is definitely the most important thing I will be pursuing.
Listen to your body
One of the goals I set for 2017 was that I wanted to successfully wrap up my internship, as this was a crucial part of graduating. I also wanted to work enough to save money for our wedding. The long and early commutes to my internship were very exhausting and after a few months, the exhaustion started taking its toll on my body. I was getting migraines for longer periods of time and more frequently than usual. The stress of planning a wedding, my internship and working started to add up and instead of taking a break and relaxing, which my body needed, I simply swallowed some meds and went back to work. I learned that you can’t achieve much if your in a health is deteriorating, so relax and take some time off. This year, I will be more mindful of my well-being. Taking some time off and saying no from time to time.
Stressing out fixes nothing
I could definitely say that I spent half of 2017 stressed out. First, I was worrying about graduating and then I was worrying about my health issues. Not to mention that I was also concerned about the wedding preparations and us moving into a new house. And, let me just say that the added stress did not help me do a better job at work or at my internship, neither did it improve my health. Overthinking and overanalyzing just made me an unhappy person and the stress of it all just made everything else worse. Going forward, I’ll try not to feed my worries and concerns to the point that I become too stressed. Christians love to say: “Too blessed to be stressed”. So, whenever things get a bit too overwhelming, it’s best to ‘count your blessings’. Look at the wonderful things in life and take a chill pill, ‘cause stressing out has never fixed anything.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
Five months into 2017 I started realizing that I would probably not be graduating. I lost a big chunk of my thesis and failed an important exam. That hit me hard. I became really frustrated with myself and quite disappointed in myself. It felt as though I had let myself and my parents down. Insecurity started creeping in and I started feeling less like myself. After a couple of months back home during the summer, I finally started feeling more like myself again. I had to be reminded by friends and family that failure is a part of success and that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. I am the kind of person that doesn’t always open up about my hardships, but I advise you to talk to those who care about you (don’t wait till it’s too late, like I did). More often than not, they will choose to support you and help you get on your feet rather than point out your short-comings. It's also important to remind yourself that these goals and dreams do not define you. When you fail at something it doesn’t mean that you are a failure, it just means that things didn't work out, you are still a wonderfully talented person despite of it.
There is always something you can do
After Sharif and I came back from our honeymoon and settled in, I went back to my work routine. As the months passed by, It started to feel like I was stuck creatively. In the time since I got back, I wasn’t writing any new songs, I wasn't performing as much as I would have liked and it really seemed like I wasn’t going anywhere. I felt as though I was stuck on a deserted island. Then one day I was watching a sermon by Sarah Jakes Roberts, and she said something that really stuck with me. She said: “What can you do on this island?”. Waw! All this time I had been obsessing over the fact that I was stuck on this “island” I didn’t want to be on, but I wasn’t looking around to see what I could do. On your road to your destiny, purpose, dreams, whatever it is you want to call it, there will be roadblocks and shipwrecks. What you do in that situation is up to you. I stopped wallowing in my sorrows and started to enjoy life, that is also the moment I decided I wanted to start blogging again (read about that here). As cheesy as this may sound, I believe that there is a purpose for everything. Who knows, being stuck might have taught me a lesson or two that will be helpful to me this year.
What I am committing to this year
I am committing myself to graduating, up until now I have been putting it off because of my fear of failing. Luckily, Sharif and my parents keep pushing me and reminding me that this is important and that I can do this. There is also a part of me that would love to use my experiences to mentor and guide other youth, hopefully there will be some space for that this year. I would also love to see where blogging takes me. But besides that I just want to work towards a happier, healthier and more fulfilled life. So I am committing myself to taking better care of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually, and to keeping a healthy and happy marriage.
There is so much I learned this past year. I learned to celebrate every small victory and I learned to keep my goals realistic. I learned to take more time for myself, my family and friends. And although it has been a tough year it brought many beautiful moments. I got married to the love of my life, explored new places and made new connections. Halfway through 2017 I decided to start taking back the parts of me that I felt I had lost. And now that I am a wiser and stronger individual, I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for me. Hopefully, I will be graduating this year (no pressure). I'm entering 2018 with an open mind, not putting too much on my plate, working hard while still celebrating life. Bring it on!
Editor: Joshua Sakoetoe Photography: Samuel Constancia