I am an introvert. No, that does not mean that I am a very shy person nor do I have any issue with socializing. However, over the years, I’ve come to absolutely enjoy my solitude (over everything and everyone else). Many a times I’ve heard, “you can’t stay locked up in your room all the time Kay” or “Where have you been hiding?” Truth is, I think low key does me well. But, this ‘behavior’ of mine does not stem from having a low self-esteem, being boring, bored or anti-social. In fact, call me a walking paradox, but once I’m allowed to strive in my seclusion, I become better equipped at being a social butterfly. It is during my alone time, that I’ve come to learn a lot of lessons, most importantly; I’ve come to learn who I am.
Knowing who I am is to-date my greatest accomplishment. Judge if you will, but no academic accolade, relationship, or experience means anything if you do not know who you are. I am witty, sarcastic and ambitious af. My mother knows I’m opinionated. My friends know that I am private and my future husband will know that I am as crazy as I am caring.
I am 5ft 5inches. I do not like popcorn. I avoid touching public door handles or using the evil purple emoji (it just freaks me out. It is a turn off if you send it to me and I’ve never gotten myself to send one in a convo… EVER.) I spent many years body-shaming myself, suffering from unrequited love, and trying to figure out my purpose in life. To the natural eye, there may not be much that would make me any different or special over the next girl. There must be other girls with coloured-hair, under 5ft 6inches with brown eyes walking around somewhere. But, no one else will speak with this sound, in no other voice, or will tell my story while coloring between the lines you read with a smile.
I also know exactly how I got here. For where I am presently is exactly (not where I deserve or even imagined) but where I’ve worked – and not worked enough – resulting me to be here. My playlist of life is eclectic. It can go from Frank Sinatra to Buju in seconds. I make lists for everything. I am selective. I set boundaries and I do not slip out of my skin for anyone (anymore).
So often we find ourselves lost, and this is due to the fact that we slip out of our skin at the sake of someone else (their opinions of us, what we think they think of us, or what we think that they think we think of ourselves). Trust me I’ve been there. Sadly, many of us do not have the support system, true friends or self-strength to not allow this to happen. Slipping out of our true skin is like telling a lie. One ‘tiny’ white lie leads to another and then another and before we know it, we’ve fallen so deep into it; we lose our way, our voice and eventually ourselves.
I am aware of all of my flaws. I make no excuse for what I know I deserve. And I keep my humor in my front pocket, at the ready – along with my loud laugh – to get me through the tough times. And the tough times always come. Most interestingly, I’ve learnt all of these things about myself in my solitude.
In my little bubble (as so often people have told me I’m in) I made myself unavailable. I made myself unavailable because over the years (especially over the last two years you haven’t heard from me), I needed to reconnect and learn to be gentle with myself, parts of myself that I was at war with each day. In doing so, I became unavailable to the things that previously drained my soul. In solitude, I was no longer available to the people who find comfort in struggle. No longer available for fake friends. No longer available for f*ck-boys. No longer available for things that disturb my peace. When I put myself over socializing, social media, and what so ever was deemed the latest fad, I was able to detoxify, recover, heal, find closure, protect my space (a space I‘ve worked hard to fill with self love, awareness, bravery & resilience), experience intimacy with God, purge and replenish my energy. Being an introvert aka an indoor person, has prepared me to walk outside and enter all the new doors God has in store for my present and beyond.
However, learning who I am was not an easy feat. In fact, it is a journey that I continue to travel, as each new day, there is something new to discover. But, from what I’ve gained thus far – which has been sufficient to re-create a stable foundation for my life – the lessons were painful. For example, no one warns you about the amount of mourning there is in growth or that your greatest gift will be found in your deepest pain. But, these are the things I am grateful to have learnt this early in life.
Now, this may not seem like a lot of accomplishments – maybe you now feel misled by the title – I’m yet to be married, gain my PhD, become a mother, or purchase my red jaguar with cash. However, these are the things that have taken me one step closer to becoming the best version of myself. And learning who you truly are will have the same effect on you.
Like a wild flower, I’ve spent my days allowing myself to grow at my own speed. And, there is a peculiar sense of pride that comes with being uncharted. Like you, I’ve crossed many stages in cap and gown yet never felt accomplished enough. That, however, was until I took the time (and since I’m extra, I took a year long sabbatical) to discover who God created me to be. And now I can actually say, I am proud of whom I am becoming.
You see I’ve re-created who I am and where I’m heading. I’ve done this with prayer, worship, daily affirmations, vision boards, self pep talks, wiping my own tears, picking up the pieces of my own heart and placing it in God’s hand, an expensive self-care routine, and writing. Through my solitude, I took a good look at my life, and discovered that from the day I was born to now, there were six things that changed me forever and those were love, loss, books, travel, rejection and God’s word. For you, it may be different. But my point is, it can be achieved.
I know how easy it is to say yes to what we don’t want because I spent so many years doing it. When I look back at my younger self, I realize that I spent years saying yes to things I didn’t really want just to avoid disappointing others. I have said yes to inauthenticity – performing a more “normal” or “acceptable” version of myself – because I wanted to be respected and to feel desired. I have said yes to going places for the sake of friendship. I have said yes to being drained by people who leaned too heavily on me for their own healing, because I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life. I have said yes to opening up to those who only want to steal your light not share in it. But more importantly than these, I finally learnt to say yes to standing alone.
I’ve learnt to stand alone in the choices I make; in the things I do, in people I choose to love and those I choose to leave. And I’ve learnt that it’s ok to do so. I am my own revolution within the revolution. And there’s enough room for everyone to have a place to stand – even if at first it is alone.
Now let’s say you heed this advice and begin to transition into the real you, please know that there will always be someone (often times those closest to you) who will be against this change (as change looks like a threat to many people). Then, there will also be others who simply won’t support what you’re doing. But, I’ve come to the realization that once that person isn’t you then you’re good to go. Keep at it.
This post isn’t about financial accomplishments, academic accomplishments or even personal tangible ones. More important than these, this post is for anyone who has ever felt lost, unaccomplished, or if you’re yet to find your light, your real circle, or your voice. I wrote all of this to simply emphasize that your greatest accomplishment will be found within.
You might be surprised but there are many people no different than us, who have spent the last 30 years or so of their lives thinking they were meant to be a certain type of person. Maybe this is due to way we were raised, the lifelong friends that we would have put our heads on a block for, or the limited opportunities that surround us. Whatever the reason, the reality is, there are so many people walking around appearing to be one person though it doesn’t match the life they’re really assigned. The truth is, you will never be able to truly reach your highest potential if you remain associated with people whose seasons have long expired. It is only until you allow yourself to let them go, would you see that you were meant for so much more.
Or, maybe you’re tormenting yourself over a potential that you haven’t reached because you’re judging yourself against a purpose that isn’t yours. Take the time to learn whom you are and you will discover your true purpose and see all the differences in your life take root.
I’m reaching out even further to those whom the storms of life may have shattered into a million pieces, after failing to keep up with the jones, live on the edge or go with the flow. You know, the common roads we all take. Now the thought of being whole again seem impossible. I can only speak from my experiences, but what I’ve learnt is that time does not heal me but it does help. And, it’s amazing when the impact of time finally starts to show.
After the storm is the perfect opportunity to take the necessary time for yourself (even if that means making yourself unavailable to others). Day after day, you will discover new things – some might even scare you silly – but they will all result in you getting stronger.
On the other hand, there are some of you who, according to societal standards, are pretty accomplished for your age, sex, or skin colour. Yet, deep inside, you know there’s a void, despite all that you have. Well, the beauty of spiritual solitude and discovering who you are is that eventually those voids you once had will begin to fill again, leading to the birth of a new you. What you were will always be a part of you but when you discover your true self, you will become whole again because the new pieces will fit in its perfect place like the puzzle that is your soul.
Like everyone else at the start of a New Year, I set out to accomplish many, many things. However, the last couple of years did not prove to be years of many manifestations. Instead, they were my years of sowing and processing. The last couple of years proved to be a period to step aside (never back) to re-evaluate what and who truly mattered; To accept that people change including yourself, that it’s ok to outgrow people and places and that friends can break your heart too; To find closure in the apologies I never got. To muster the courage to interact with people again (as people totally destroyed my notion and trust in humanity); To be quiet in order to hear from God and to reassure myself that despite what everyone else may say, think or advise, I know that my purpose still involves writing.
The last two years felt long yet rushed on by, all at the same time. However, I now know they were absolutely necessary, because with time, I was able to gain my greatest accomplishment to date. And now, as we’re already in the second month of another year, I think it’s the perfect time to pass over the baton for you to do the same.
My wish for your 2018 and beyond is for you to begin to truly, honestly, take the time to figure out who you are. It is such an underrated question when one asks, “Who are you?” Yet, so often incorrectly answered, because truth is, we don’t quite know. So, how about we start today.
You’ve probably heard the saying “you are the average of the five friends you keep.” Or, “you are the books your read, the films you watch, the music you listen to, the people you meet, the dreams you have, the conversations you engage in.” Well, I found this to be a bit misleading. You see, one day I looked around and realized that I really wasn’t the same as my best friend at all. In fact, people may look at your friends and think y’all are all the same. (Birds of a feather flock together, right?) The truth is, a lot of us pick the wrong friends. Ask a girl her type, then look at her track record, and she probably hasn’t even begun to date her “type”. Or sometimes, we just reach a point in our lives where we no longer like to listen to the same music or have the urge to party in the same places. My point is, none of these things are permanent and a lot are expendable. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Because these things do not have to define us if we don’t allow it.
Instead, take a step away from all the noise and distractions and figure out what and who suits you best. And more than just that, do not apologize for your change.
Paulo Coelho said, “The act of discovering who we are will force us to accept that we can go further than we think.” I’ll add to that and say, before you move forward, you’re going to have to first be ok with losing what you’re accustomed to – including people – in order to make the space to discover that new you.
You see, so often we try this “New Year, New Me” while remaining in the same old circle, and expect it to work. Reality check: that’s just not the way it’s going to happen. Because the people in your circle are going to remain the same and if they are not willing to work on themselves, chances are, they most likely will not be receptive to when you begin to change. (P.S. Check your circle boo!)
Moreover, it’s going to be painful. It’s going to take some time. It’s going to cost you some of the people whom are in most of your memories and experiences thus far. It is going to cost a lot of what you’ve been conditioned to believe. It is even going to cost you your pride. Ouch. But baby if I lost you, but found me then I really didn’t lose at all. The truth is, the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Sometimes it’s about un-becoming everything that really isn’t you in order to become who you were meant to be in the first place.
There’s nothing that scares me more than staying the same. What about you? To start on this journey today, how about we test try a basic exercise. Simply close your eyes and picture your happy place (a place where you’re no longer affected by current people in your life nor do the things that are holding you back have power here). Now, open your eyes, write down what that looks like, and then begin to make a conscious effort at working toward reaching there. But, don’t look too far or wide, because remember, achieving your greatest accomplishment is as simple as looking within.