To effect change, be the change!

December has come around quite quick and I am not sure where the year 2022 went. Someone once told me that as you get older, you start to feel there are not enough hours in the day and time passes us by so quickly. That if we are not careful, we miss the moments that matter as we pursue more time, but time once gone is gone forever. It’s been a while since I posted on here – I was taking time for myself, I must practice what I preach. Many of you had reached out and I am truly grateful for that – thank you. As I looked back on the year, I started to feel like I had wasted time by putting my pen down to take time for my self. However, I am not the woman I was before I started this blog – I did not let that thought take root and I was proud of myself for showing me compassion and allowing myself to do what I needed. As I took time for myself, I noticed that my life was cluttered again – during the various lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, I was focused on growth and I worked hard to become the woman I needed to be. But what no one tells you about growth is that it is a continuous, painful and lonely journey. A journey that forces you to question everything and everyone you know – the result of questioning everything leads to losing versions of yourself you never thought needed growth. As you focus on an area, you lose focus on another and things pile up – eventually, it all becomes too much  and this was my case. I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago about growth and change and we both agreed that it was hard – because you must look at the parts of your life you no longer like in order to change. No matter who you are, looking at certain parts of yourself you have built over the years only to realise it no longer serves any purpose in your life is hard. It is scary to try to tear it all down and rebuild – we both agreed that it was quite overwhelming. But with anything worth doing, you have got to persevere and know when to take a break when required.

One of the main reasons for starting this blog was to have a platform to discuss issues that affected people, mostly women from the society I grew up in. As I started reaching more people, I realised that the issues were not unique to my part of the world and that I needed to change how I was viewing some of these issues. This was not easy – because I am quite stubborn! But I started noticing something about myself – I was questioning my Ideals in many areas of my life. The theme of this blog is change through shared experiences – my biggest surprise was that the change must start with those who seek it. The change I have gone through on this journey is phenomenal – I fought it at first because I felt I had these grand ideas to change how other people viewed the issues I wanted to address. Eventually, I started embracing that change must start with me and it started showing in my own life and how I relate to people. The change I sought was and is happening with me and I started to take notice. If I felt better within myself, it extended to how I treated others around me – I was focused on being a better version of myself as much as I could. When days did not go as planned and I let myself down, I was being kinder to myself and encouraging myself to look at what I did that did not yield good results with the aim of making changes where required. My focus had changed from wanting the change to being the change.

I recently watched a TedTalk from April Mason on changing your life by making an identity switch – she spoke about how she had been molested as a child and how she had built a whole brand on what had happened to her. I could relate – this blog was born out of the trauma of some of the issues I had had to deal with and the culture of silence in the society I grew up in. I wanted to create a space to speak on these things but just like April highlighted in her talk, what had happened to her, had become her identity . I understood her perfectly. But we are not what happened to us – we are more than that. Part of my growth in keeping this blog going is to talk openly about what happened to us but to start breaking the chain of what happened to us by responding differently. What do I mean – I wrote about events in a social setting that had traumatised me greatly. This was not a one time event – there had been events where I was grossly disrespected and abused in these settings but I always went back because there was this general acceptance that people that are older or in certainleadership positions were always right. In most instances, I had apologised for things I was not sorry for so some leader can have their ego appeased. So when it happened again and I finally acted out my displeasure  – I was met with the same response and this time around my feelings were openly invalidated. On the occasion I disrespected my growth plan and went back to these places, there were attempts to guilt trip me. Being the woman I am now, I chose a different response – I removed myself from the situation and people. This meant saying no to certain invitations where I could be triggered and ending relationships where the situation was thrown in my face to force me to accept other people to my detriment. In the past, I would have been too afraid to choose this path – but I was tired and needed new chapters so I needed to close the old ones.

I underdstand that most of the issues the plaque women in the part of the world I come from is because we cannot talk openly about them without being judged. The culture of silence is what keeps the trauma going and in the end, the abused start abusing others. It is this same culture that see’s a mother encourage her daughter to stay in an abusive relationship because she also went through it. The same culture keeps quiet while young women are sexually exploited for employment and some female managers look away because they are too ashamed to speak on how they had to perform sexual favours too. I could cite many examples and we could speak on them non-stop but how do we effect change after we have spoken about it? The more I thought on this, the more intimidated I felt and that was part of the reasons why I put my pen down. I have always been seen as the black sheep in many instances and a few years ago, I wanted to change that image so I started working on doing just that. But what that brought me was blatant disrespect and people trying to manipulate me. If I want to be the change, I must embrace being the black sheep – but I was not going to lash out to be heard, I was going to chose a differnt way of responding and reacting to these issues. I was going to close chapters and start writing new ones, even in my immediate circles. I was noticing things more because I was living consciously – carefully placed comments and questions that people in certain circles used to undermine and manipulate were now obvious. I was not afraid to challenge these and close chapters if they no longer served a purpose on careful consideration. And most importantly, I was holding myself accountable – I needed to choose healthy responses, to admit when I was wrong and to know when to use my silence. Personaly intergrity is very much at the centre of my new growth journey.

We talk about wanting change but I find that most times we don’t want the change to start with us because we are scared of the unknown. As 2022 draws to a close look back over the year and examine how you responded to situations that made you feel bad, the situations you replay over and over wishing you had responded differently but are too afraid to act out how you wished because you do not want to upset anyone. Ask yourself how that had helped you in your growth. We get one life and we must make it count. I am still very much up for sharing our experiences but I am even more up for using new responses to effect the change we need.

Thank you for taking time to read and get in touch – let’s effect the change we need by sharing our experiences and being the change.

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