A Year That Was

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I wrapped up my 2018 on an emotional note. I am struggling with the resurfacing of suppressed emotions. I’m grieving a loss eight months after it happened. Or maybe, it’s just the feeling of such an overwhelming year coming to an end. But I’ve been emotional and always two minutes from tears.

This year has been all over the place. When I thought it couldn’t get worse, it did. When I thought it couldn’t get better, it did. Sometimes, I can’t believe it all happened in 365 days. But it was filled with lessons for a lifetime.

I started my year with a job offer. The people around me looked excited, but I knew it wasn’t the right one. I knew there was something better waiting for me. I still took it. I traveled 3000 miles for it. I sat in a hotel room with my mother who was there to help me settle in and I knew in my gut I wasn’t supposed to be there. I cried, sobbed and came back home like a kid on the first day of kindergarten. With that, I learnt to trust my instincts and tune out other voices because I was right.

But making that choice meant living off of my father’s money again. I know a lot of people who don’t mind this part. But I do. I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY do. My need to live on my money is high. And so I sank. Deeper and deeper into depression. The kind I haven’t known before. The kind where I volunteered to get help against the wishes of the ones near and dear to me. I was prescribed medication. Yet, on a dull afternoon, I picked up a pencil and started to draw anything that made sense. When I finally put the pencil down, a weight had lifted off of me. I was free. I can’t express why. I can’t tell you how. But it was like my emotions had poured itself out and a light had found me. With that, I learnt the importance of art for my mental wellbeing.

And I thought to myself, Well, the worst is behind me. Life sat in a corner and laughed knowingly.

For the first time in my life, I learnt loss. I learnt how to know and love someone and have them be taken away. I learnt pain like nobody can ever teach you. I watched as the light went out from my fur baby’s eyes. The young one. The sweet one. The one I didn’t fear losing because I had another four years older. And I never understood how to process that pain. I never truly felt that loss wash over me. I find myself unable to say her name without breaking inside today. The therapist tells me it’s because I didn’t grieve. But I don’t know how to. I’m so used to not letting myself feel this pain, I don’t know how to just let it take over. This year, I learnt to love and lose, never to see again. I learnt the importance of grieving as I continue to struggle today.

They said she took the evil away. That worse things needed to happen but she took it so we could have it better. I don’t find myself enjoying the better when someone adds that spin to it. Because if I had to be at home depressed out of my mind to still have her with me, I’d do it in a heartbeat. And that is how I learnt that I’m not going to be the hard-ass, heartless and cold entrepreneur that I hoped to be. Because I can’t walk over people I love to get what I want. I need the ones I love around me, always.

A few weeks after my fur baby passed away, I landed the job I knew I would get. The one that feels like a dream.

And so began the better part of the year. We adopted a stray dog. I identified my real friends. I announced my second book. I wrote the first draft of the second book. I ticked off two new countries on my list. I met global leaders, I shook hands with people I hope to one day be and most importantly, I found myself surrounded by women doing all the things the world I came from told me was absolutely impossible. I found myself inspired everyday and after endless months of not knowing why I’m here, I found my reason again. I found the need to move forward. And for the first time in a long time, I found hope.

My job makes me travel. And in October, I went to Paris. I saw the Eiffel Tower in shivering cold! It was magical. I remember standing there with four women who were way high up on the food chain at work laughing with me and teasing me. It was… perfect. Life laughed again. I spent two weeks in France unable to really experience my surrounding, faking laughter and fighting tears. Wanting to leave, knowing I should stay. I can’t ever explain what happened. But those two weeks taught me – I’m stronger than I think I am.

Because now I know. I know how tangible happiness is. How fleeting perfection is. And no, I won’t hide. I won’t be afraid to take bold and bright steps forward. But I’m going to be prepared. I have the ability to say, “I’ll make my plans, you do your worst. I’ll find my way again. I promise.” That was the biggest lesson 2018 taught me.

We all slip and fall. A number change in the date doesn’t change that. Sometimes, we fall harder than ever before. It doesn’t matter as long as you find the courage to rise again.

In 2018, I learnt the meaning of the words, “This too shall pass.” Because the good and the bad, they pass. And every morning is a fresh start. Every minute is a new one. Ride the waves as they come but be prepared to fall off the board. You’re the only one who can get back on it again.

I spent my last week of 2018 in Dubai. With people I love, doing things I enjoy. I created, I worked, I toured and of course, I fell more in love with life again.

2019 will change many things for me. Personally and professionally. For better or for worse. I’m going to tell myself what I hope you’ll tell yourself, too, when life gets the better of you – Keep moving. Life doesn’t stagnate, you shouldn’t either.

Have a fantastic 2019! Happy New Year from me and mine to you and yours!!

With lots of love, bright smiles and bear hugs,

Me

In memory of Mika (2016 – 2018)
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When I Gave Up.. It Rained Glitter!

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Can you believe I have six versions of this blog post? Because there are just no words to describe my 2016 to you. It’s been a year of throwing my hands in the air with both frustration and excitement.

I started this year with something that was emotionally important to me.

I began focusing more on what I was doing. This life that had been forced upon me didn’t seem so bad anymore. I made friends I cared about. I met people who seemed out of my world. I identified ways that would make me better at work. I still wished I could have had the life I’d wanted. But I no longer felt like a failure.  So I gave up hope.

My new work and my plan B didn’t give me enough mental energy to blog though. My writing style began to change. I neither had the time nor the ability to write. I considered pulling down my blog. I thought it’s time to give up writing.

The idea only grew stronger with every draft I couldn’t finish, with every thought I couldn’t put into words. I remember that night. I was sitting by the window, staring at my computer. I didn’t want to hit Publish. The article was so cheesy, so romantic and so girly. It seemed like the worst thing I had ever written. Maybe I need to edit it a little, I thought to myself. Maybe I should just delete this article and this blog and admit I can no longer write! After an hour of arguing with myself, I finally published “To The Girl In Her Mid-20’s.”

You know what they say about taking chances? Letting that article stay was the best chance I ever took because “It went viral” is an understatement of what happened to me that week. It wasn’t the platforms that shared it, it wasn’t the BuzzFeed feature. It was that email. The one that gave me goosebumps because I had done this to someone’s life. This…

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That blog wasn’t representative of what I normally write. But it reminded me why I do. The emails, messages, comments and love that poured in were each a reminder of why I started this blog. And I know for a fact that I’ll never forget again.

It was almost the happiest week of my life. Almost.

I was at work, just another day of life, when my phone rang. I knew what was coming. But sometimes, it’s better to not let your heart believe until it happens. And so the moment it came, I broke. With joy I’d never known before. One that made me run to the closest room and sob like a child. Because, so many people in this world continue to live life without one shot at chasing their dreams and I’d just gotten my second.

The moment my dad said, “It’s done. You’re going back.”

I could live to be 100 and never forget how grateful I’d felt in that moment. Grateful for the opportunity. Grateful for another chance. Grateful for a father that never gave up. Because I did. And if he had too, I wouldn’t have the ability to now tell you – After having to quit university half way, struggling through depression, battling suicidal thoughts, watching everyone I’d grown up with graduate, trying to be okay when my sister got closer to her degree – I AM BACK AT UNIVERSITY, FINISHING WHAT I BEGAN.

I am crying when I write this because nothing I ever say will do justice to the feeling that rises within me when I think about it. And I’ll say it a thousand times over – It wouldn’t have been possible without my father. And if we didn’t live in a very dysfunctional family, I’d probably hug him ‘thank you’ everyday of my life.

My classmates, unlike my last ones during degree year, are not rude. They are very nice people. We have fun. We all like cute cat pictures. And besides when criticising my apparently unreadable handwriting (jokes), there is never a dull moment.  But going back and absorbing so much information after a long break is quite difficult. I’m no longer a straight A student. But that’s okay. I know I’ll get there.

And to think, I’d given up on everything that had come back to me, better and happier.

I’ve gotten to know who I am this past year. I’ve had the ability to choose and I’ve made choices that were both logical and also, at times, emotional. Some of the choices were right and some weren’t quite. And I know the consequences of it all will come back to me next year. When every choice I make will define everything my future will be. Work, location, love. But I feel good about it. Because I’m waking up on the 1st day of 2017, exactly as who I am. No hiding, no pretending. Just me. With a smile on my face.

And I’m hoping it’s on yours too…

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