Stay focused - but only on what matters
A couple of years ago I started struggling at life. This was a really odd experience for me being a woman who has always had her 'stuff' together and been full of so much drive and ambition.
But I guess in hindsight you can say this was a really good experience, because if you aren’t going through challenges and trying to push through them, are you even living?!
I got caught up working on my love of working hard
Through education I'd learnt to prolifically read and produce so much information to get myself through any challenge I’d faced. I felt that life allowed me to level up and earn everything I’d set my mind to. I was grateful, and I actually saw it as 'levelling up' as a person too.
Growing up, I fully believed you really had to struggle for something you want before it became yours, and when I say struggle I mean do everything from scratch. Working harder and definitely not smarter. A note from hindsight, there’s something to learn from the slackers, they cut the corners that sometimes need to be cut, but more on this later.
Self-care and love is the greatest gift you can give yourself
To get myself out of my Universally created/self-inflicted rut I read many inspiring articles, listened to podcasts, downloaded apps, bought books, talked to my trusted circle of friends and family. I was prolific! I went to town on my fitness. I worked out 6 days-a-week through mental and physical burn out, when my body allowed me, just to release the pain and stress I was overflowing with.
My Instagram account became a mini photo blog of my fitness life, captioned with real life experiences and advice on how to push through the struggles. Advice to myself.
I eventually made an effort to have self-care evenings with left over dinner I'd made from scratch the night before, some 'ease' to my evenings as an olive branch to myself. But in reality nothing in my life was easy and my mindset really wasn't helping things.
A 'Lush' bath bomb and my journal became my go to thing. The latter helped a little bit but nothing would change the situation I was living through, day in, day out. Mostly nothing would change the way I felt inside. Nothing would light me up. The passion I once had would only occasionally flicker and I couldn’t understand why, for the first time in my life I couldn’t work through something.
I looked so happy and like I had it all together, on the outside..
I had everything I had ever dreamed of in life, a great inner circle of friends and family, a gorgeous apartment I managed to get a mortgage on, a brand new car, great weekends.. I was going for regular walks in the park to embrace nature, luxury holidays... But I didn’t feel like I was living up to my potential and I didn’t feel like I was able to provide any value to myself or where I was in life.
I felt like life had given up on me, put a dead end sign on what used to be my sunny future and a brick wall on the entrance. Limbo is where I was to stay.
Looking back I should have taken a huge step back from everything in life and used it as an excuse to just surrender, to take some time for myself and look at the inside, what I had in my soul, who I was, what I really loved and what wanted from life. But I was overwhelmed, burnt out and stuck in panic mode. Changing the outside wasn’t working. It was as smart as trying to patch up a boat with multiple leaks appearing as fast as I cover them..rather than just throwing my hands up in the air because I could swim anyway.
Like Kintsugi, we can still all look beautiful after we've been broken
This struggle eventually broke me, as I was, who I was. It crushed all of the ideals I had in my head, making me realise who I really wanted to be deep down. From where I’m standing now it’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. Back then, I couldn't tell you why it happened, I just felt like a broken person.
The best lessons in life are the ones that teach you why you need to stay true to yourself, how to trust your gut, and why you shouldn’t compromise what you truly want for anybody. This experience gave me all three.
When you feel stuck, remember exactly who you are
I loved college, it taught me so many ways in which I could use my creativity: photography, lino print, fine point etching, sketching, image making, typography, designing for music, posters, clothing, storytelling, having an eye for inspiration within the world and nature, the list was endless...
So why had a woman with all of this inside her, along with all of her drive and ambition, began to only ‘dream’ of a life where she let it all out. How had she allowed herself to lose her spark?
The journey to ignite my spark taught me the value of having a good support network and allowing people you need into your life at the right time. Nothing is ever by chance. You need real people who can guide you, support you and flip what you think you see on its head. They make you own your choices, give clarity to how you truly want your life to be, how you can start moving towards that. Mostly they should prompt you to question decisions you make regarding your acceptance of things you don’t need nor want in your life.
Moving forward allowed me to take the blockage out of my inspiration and power. All I needed was that flicker of realisation that ‘I still could’ and I was able to light it up myself.