I can’t believe how quickly time has flown by these past few weeks. I swear it was just April and I was sweating through exam season and worrying about all the logistics that new grads tend to mull over. 2019 has really been one of a kind, and as usual around this time, I’m prone to being more reflective about the year’s ups and downs and the biggest lessons I learned through them all (which I’m happy to share with you now). Some of these lessons have been hard pills to swallow, but I take them to be growing pains and an important part of life. I’ve written about what I learnt from 2019 and also included a new year resolution with an actionable measure after each piece. I hope you will also share with me your year’s lessons and resolutions.
Open up a little…
I mentioned in my previous blog post that being open about my life in general has never been my forte. I’m such an independent person and asking for help doesn’t come very easily to me. In the same way, it sometimes feels easier to just stay in my head about certain things than it would be to tell someone. But throughout this year I really took the time to observe and admire those around me who were able to speak and live their truths freely. There seems to be a peculiar lightness and liberation about living your life the way you want to and owning it when people ask about it. Better yet, about encouraging raw and honest conversation about any and everything. You’d be surprised what you get to learn about other people and even about yourself by doing this.
I want to make it my goal next year to continue being an open book as well as to open up my social circles to different people. Leaving what you know and are comfortable with isn’t always easy, but if it was easy then everyone would do it! I’ve come to realise that the more I expose myself to, the more I grow. Refusing to bottle up and choosing, instead, to speak my truth is also a big step towards increased mental wellness. More importantly, I want to better facilitate these open conversations by asking more open-ended, deeper than surface-level conversations to allow people around me to open up easily themselves. Perhaps I’ll do a blog post specifically on this topic because of how important it is for everyone to be doing this. I’m highly certain that taking these steps is not only going to improve my relationships with people, but my overall mental health as well.
Stay true to yourself
It’s no secret that I (as many of the people my age are) am still getting to know who I am. I’m still building the foundation of who I want to be in the future, and sometimes the vision of who that is gets so hazy amidst all the distractions and curve balls life throws. I’m coming to terms with the fact that I’m going to make mistakes and my judgement won’t always be perfect, but I need to make sure those mistakes don’t change who I am fundamentally. I need to stay focused and not get lost in trying to fit in with the mould, but instead define what the mould is for myself. At the beginning of this year I found myself dimming my light a lot to accommodate other people. I silenced myself where my voice should have been heard and there’s never going to be a time when that’s okay.
In the coming year, my goal is to aim to be as much of myself as possible. People will judge you for speaking up and they will also judge you for being quiet; there is just no in between. You might as well be yourself and attract genuine people around you with your authentic fiery energy! 2020 Sasha is going to be unfiltered and free-spirited.
This lesson came about just a few weeks ago. I was having a conversation with a friend in which I mentioned how problematic a lot of our thinking as Zimbabweans tends to be, and how I sometimes get frustrated trying to educate people about why certain of their ideologies are harmful and regressive. He asked me a simple question that forced me to reconsider my frustrations. The paraphrased version of what he said is, “You’ve been in Canada for four years now. In that time, your exposure has allowed you to grow and to think differently and more openly – which is a great thing. Other people back home haven’t had that same awakening, so why do you get frustrated with them when you used to think the same way that they do?”
This made me take a step back and appreciate the fact that not everyone is going to share the same views as me, nor will they begin to think as liberally as I have started to think, unless they experience for themselves a similar shift in environment or cultural ethos. In other words, a single conversation with me isn’t going to make them hop on board and it isn’t going to be what defeats the patriarchy. I need to extend to them as much grace as I have extended myself over the last four years. Everyone deserves at least that. So my goal is to be more patient with those around me, especially family members, as we all do our best to adjust to being around each other after such long periods of time spent apart.
To conclude, I just want to thank you for reading up to this point, and if you’ve been following my blog throughout the year – I truly appreciate your support on my journey, and I can’t wait for what the new year has in store for us. Speaking of the new year, I will be doing a Get-to-know-me tag in January (I know, a little late huh?) but if you have any questions or there’s something in particular you’d like to know about me, send me your questions on insta @african_sunflower or leave a comment below! I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season! Happy new year sunflowers 🙂