“Thank you 2018 for being the year that all the years of struggle came together to help me be the person I’ve always wanted to be; the year that I realised that all roads lead here, and it’s exactly where I want to be.”
This is what I wrote during Mel Wiggins’ recent Assembly retreat. We spent the day saying goodbye to 2018 and thinking about what we really want from our future. It was absolutely incredible and a real eye opener – I realised things that I didn’t even know I’d missed.
I’ve talked a lot on here, and social media about how amazing 2018 was. And it was absolutely incredible. But what I loved most about the retreat with Mel was the opportunity to reflect on the good and the bad. Without the bad, there wouldn’t be any good and last year, I faced a lot of personal challenges which forced me to overcome and grow more than I thought possible.
So when I thought about the challenges I faced last year, there was one common denominator, other people. I found other people my greatest challenge. Whether it was a boss, a friend, a family member, the general public. People’s opinions and actions have always been a struggle for me to overcome – I think most people are the same. I used to let their views of me, and judgements affect every way of my being. From what I wore to how I acted and what I said. But last year I decided enough is enough.
I’m not sure what or when the turning the point was exactly. I think it was the day I handed in my notice to my job. When I realised that I couldn’t mentally take it any more. I won’t go into the issues in my former workplace, but I really struggled with having other people’s issues projected on to me. And when I realised that was what was happening, I tried to change it, and when I realised I couldn’t change it, I was able to break free from it.
Looking back actually, that was the turning point because I started getting very real with other similar situations right across my life. From family, to friends and those around me. I decided what I was going to accept, what my boundaries were and I stuck to them. Definitively. With everyone.
It’s easy for me to write down and reflect on what I did last year, but going through it was not easy at times. There were particular points where the changes in myself and my mindset were mentally and physically draining. There were days when I needed silence and isolation. There were days when I needed to stay in bed. So I did. I did whatever I needed to do to make those changes. I suppose that was a change in itself.
The hardest part of all though was letting go. Letting go of the old me and those people and things in my life which weren’t adding to the person I want to be. When I became more conscious of my boundaries and how I wanted to feel, I started to become aware of the things in my life that didn’t make me feel like that. That weren’t adding to my life, but instead taking from it.
But letting those things go is not easy, especially when it’s people, behaviours and relationships. In fact it’s one of the hardest things in the world to do. When you’ve spent years being someone else, doing different things, with people who’ve been in your life for years, it’s hard to break; to let go of the comfort blanket of familiarity.
So how? How do you actually go about letting go of these things? Truthfully I’ve no idea because I think it’s different for everyone. For me, the first step though was looking at WHO AM I? Jeepers that was hard to do. Stripping back all those years of pretence – who I SHOULD be, what I SHOULD wear, what type of mother SHOULD I be, what SHOULD I want.
When I stripped it all back, I could define my core values. My reason for being. The person I truly am. Then I could align my actions to those core values, which again, is easier said than done. But at least by figuring out those core values, I had a bit of a guide. A rule of thumb I could live by – I love rules so this made it easier for me to put into practice. The greatest book I ever read in helping me do that though was ‘Start With Why’ by Simon Sinek. It really made me question why I do things. Why was I in my last job? Was it allowing me to stick to my core values? I still have to check myself and everything I’m doing to figure out if it aligns with my core values, but as time has went on, it’s got easier to do.
Find Your Tribe
By being open and honest with myself and those around me about who I truly am, I was able to channel my energy into things I really loved. Obviously that started with photography for me, but it’s lead to so much more. The second I was truly myself, it felt like I was a magnet for others who got me. My life suddenly began to be filled with people that were adding to my life, and I was able to add to theirs. I was having meaningful conversations, growing in confidence and I felt like I belonged for the first time in my life. And that spiralled quicker than I could have imagined.
The effects of all of this has trickled into every aspect of my life. My relationships have strengthened. I am a more confident mother, partner, daughter and friend. I value myself so I value my relationships and that is so powerful.
And Now We’re Here
And now as I sit here looking forward to 2019, I’m excited for what another year of growth will look like. I was worried going into Mel’s retreat about where I go from here. After a year of such huge growth, what’s next? How do I continue to grow? What if I go back or fall into a rut again?
This year I turn 30 and it’s a huge deal for me. My 20s have been tough – actually this 10 year challenge thing all over the internet at the minute, reminded me just how tough it’s been . This time 10 years ago my world was about to fall apart. I’d face addictions, an abusive relationship, my brother getting sick, an unexpected pregnancy, having no money whatsoever, depression, anxiety, becoming a special needs parent and more shit than I even want to type. If you’d asked me back then could I deal with even one of those things, let alone be grateful for them all, I’d have laughed in your face.
But thanks to 2018, and a year of growth and self reflection, I am walking into my 30s so grateful for every challenge that has come my way. Because right now, as I sit and type this with Grey’s Anatomy playing in the background, I could not be happier or more proud of the person I have become. All roads lead here!
So if you’re struggling, or you just don’t feel your life is where you want it to be. You feel like something is missing. Or you don’t know what path you’re on. Stop. Who are you? What do YOU want? Start with YOU! Start with WHY! I can’t even begin to tell you how unbelievably powerful that is – how unbelievably powerful you are.! Lx