GETTING TO NEXT

Gugu / 1 May, 2019

A little over a year ago, we started this blog. Our first piece was published on 25 April 2018. Today, as you read this, it is the 1st of May 2019. I would like to say or claim that much has changed in my life in that time, but I am unsure. But it being the blog’s one year anniversary, I would like to take stock or inventory of exactly what has changed or happened because I believe that such an exercise is always important. Knowing where you’ve been, where you are and what you seek or desire for yourself is prudent for mapping our lives and being strategic about how we exist, move and make our lives. Yes, sometimes, life happens – things that are out of our control, but we are also the stewards and makers of our lives to a large degree.
 
Starting LOGOSOPHICAL was a no-brainer. I think Lulu and I have spoken about this – the fact that writing is something we feel almost compelled to do, specifically introspective, questioning and ‘meaningful’ writing. At some point, I was going to find myself doing this kind of discourse in a manner such as this. So, I can say that in the year that has been, I have finally gotten to doing a thing I have had an innate passion for. I don’t know what the end or culmination point of this pursuit and commitment will be, but I am hopeful that it will lead to more fulfilling and purposeful writing opportunities. Writing for LOGOSOPHICAL has also helped me document my seminal life experiences. A large portion of my writing for the blog has been inspired by my tests and challenges. Through that, I have been able to note my growth and maturing – perfect fodder for introspective and questioning (or rather, challenging) writing, LOL. I believe that the ability to reflect on your journey encourages purposeful living. I have had the privilege of recording my spiritual tests (and part growth); the solidifying of my sense of self-worth; the declaration of some of my ideological convictions and also the baring of my soul – the parts that are (were) fractured and how an ordinary woman such as myself is going about paying attention to herself in order that she may be a better and more effective person. In return, I have been privileged with the opportunity to be the ‘guinea pig’ of sorts. It’s a privilege to me because I know the comfort and reassurance that comes from realising that you are not alone. I know that it is often a joy and a relief to see yourself reflected in the words of another. I didn’t expect this privilege to be part of the package that came with writing for the blog. I didn’t go into it expecting to be as vulnerable and ‘open’ as I have, but I believe in things taking up a life of their own once you begin them. I believe that that unplanned/unforeseen aspect is the divine, and it’s usually how the thing was meant to be. It is a responsibility I am hardly equipped for because I know that my life isn’t a model one and neither am I a paragon of virtue. But this starting where you are and commitment to just doing is tied to what I talk about further down.

We live in a world that over-exposes and over-amplifies so-called ‘excellence’. And it can very easily begin to feel as though you’re not excellent or good enough or hitting the mark. Lulu wore about this very quagmire last week. And since we’re products of our environment, it is very hard to not be influenced by such narratives and to begin to measure ourselves against what we perceive as the norm or as prevalent, which is that “Everyone is ‘goals’/excellent, so what’s holding me back?” But what is excellent? According to whose standards? Remember that piece I wrote? It asked exactly these questions about the times we live in. Does a mother who is a domestic worker not qualify as ‘black excellence’? Because, to be clear, she’s in the job for her children and even perhaps extended family. So, it’s not glamorous, but it’s purposeful. Extremely so. I think that it’s time we disabused ourselves of this notion that we must all be Beyonce or Serena Williams, etc. I read a meme that said “Be the Beyonce of your industry”. All good and well. Be that, but don’t expect the same glory or celebration. In all things, strive to do your best and be the best version of yourself, but the definition of what is good enough and/or excellent MUST come from within. Your “best” will not look like another’s best; your journeys will not be the same. So take the pressure off of yourself and start figuring out an authentic, realistic and individualised plan for your life and how you are going to the the best you. The placement of our identity and validation outside of ourselves (external validation) is breeding thousands of unhappy, dissatisfied and ‘drifting’ adults who don’t know who they are and what defines them because they’re empty inside – they’ve never looked within to build and/or understand the self, so they unthinkingly take on the shapes and identities the world is putting out – not knowing that we are not to be conformed to this world, but are to be the ones to transform it and leave our individual marks on it. And greatness, it starts from within. If like me, you’ve been itching for more or for a change, start by looking at what tickles YOUR fancy, speaks to your talents and skills and is a perfect fit for YOUR soul. That is how you will leave legacy in this world and be great – by knowing and doing you!

So how are these two concepts connected? The concept and principle of commitment, starting where you are, no matter how small or tough and the concept of doing the work to discover and know yourself in order to show up most effectively in the world? They’re related because I believe these to be the keys to living an authentic life and awakening to yourself every day and in each season. Over the past year, I have been on my own journey of looking within to try to understand my present self, and I believe that this is a work that is never done. It’s constant, because the self and the space and time it finds itself in are also ever-evolving. I don’t know whether I am wise in seeking a definitive answer for what I am supposed to transition into for my next, but I know that I am at a critical shift point in my life and something major has to give. I say this because I have had this debate with the self before – that we often don’t get the full blueprint of the meaning of our life, etc. But I still can’t shake the feeling that there is a change needed and that there is a revelation that awaits me on the other side at this time in my life/in this season. There is something to be discovered, shifted or changed and I won’t be at peace until I lay a hold of it. I am 36 years old – if we consider a full life, 3 score and ten (i.e. 70), then you’d say I’m the perfect candidate for a mid-life crisis. LOL! As I reflect, the majority of what l see and can speak to, is the manner in which life has challenged me to grow emotionally, spiritually and mentally. It has been a season of growing. Continuous, long-term growing. I was telling Lulu that I was tired of being buried. It’s literally been 2 years of the feeling of waiting for something and yet feeling stalled or held back. I want to blossom now! I want to become and possess whatever it is God has in store for me moving forward. Being buried and germinating is frustrating and it often hurts. I am curious to know how those that have been at such a place have dealt with this conundrum. Please do share.

In the meantime, I am finding that I have to just do in order to not go mad. Sometimes, waiting, seemingly endlessly, can drive you mad. A good friend of mine suggested that instead of waiting for some seismic lightbulb moment, the best thing to do is to follow my whims, chase after whatever feels good to my soul and trust the process. It’s difficult for someone like me to do that – I always have to have my ducks in a perfect row before launching out on something. However, life isn’t always best done with that approach. Sometimes you must throw caution to the wind and do some things even half-heartedly. In doing them, you may catch the fire and ignite your own soul for that thing. I believe that if you’re meant to be doing something, there is always the divine that meets you somewhere along the way to cause that thing to be greater and more impactful. But you won’t know until you do something. That’s trusting the process. And sometimes we fail or don’t do as well as we would like, but that doing always gives us a sense of whether we need to continue at something or simply applaud ourselves for doing. And if it’s the latter, that’s OK too. At least you did. More than just “try”, you did.

As I write this, I realise that perhaps much of my angst in the past year has been borne out of the fact that I have not been able to fully express as a person. I feel that there is much within myself that is untapped and I hate the thought of letting it all go to waste and never having tried or just done something about it. And with adulting, we are forced to perform certain responsibilities, which often rob us of the opportunity to explore all the possibilities that are there for us. It’s lauded in fact. “Oh, you’re being responsible. Such is life. We can’t run after all of our dreams or fancies.” BS. You literally only live once. Do that thing. And just because I questioned this current popular narrative of excellence, it doesn’t mean that I am saying people must not strive. I simply believe in striving that is authentic and true to self. We are always greatly inspired by others but we should not seek to become them. So, I have decided to create more. I am scared (as always when we do anything that is new, unguaranteed or most true to self), but I would rather have tried than not at all. My head is spinning with ideas that I think I could enjoy executing. But all of them will take hard work and boldness to pursue. I also don’t want to overthink them because I am in the fortunate position of not having to immediately generate an income from these pursuits. I wish I could, so that I could transition full-time into doing those things but God, in all His wisdom knows why things are the way they are and I wouldn’t want to ask for something I may not be able to handle. So as you reflect back, maybe you too feel it’s been a year or season of ‘not much’-ness, uncertainty and just wading without a conviction of purpose or joie de vivre. If so, I encourage you to take stock of your current circumstances, look deep within yourself to find your greatest joys/deepest desires and determine to do at least one thing that speaks to you, makes you scared or looks like it could lead somewhere bigger or more satisfying for you. Never despise the day of small beginnings. Ponder on what it is that you consider your present “essence” and delve into that. I always say life isn’t linear and if you want for all things to make sense before you move, then you may never move. You may not be able to quit your job to do that thing but you can make sacrifices to fit it into your life. So, yes, it will require sacrifice. Anything worth having does. If you are restless, I believe that tapping into this essence may lead you on a journey that is rewarding, fulfilling and peace-giving. It may not make your life perfect, but once you tap into magic, into your essence, that ish has a way of multiplying itself and growing in a way that you couldn’t even have imagined. Just start somewhere, do and show up.
 
As an aside of sorts, I can say that LOGOSOPHICAL has been my way of journaling. A place where I can document important life and learning events. I share this because as part of striving for purposeful living, I would encourage you to begin this practice in some shape or form. It is good to have reference points in your life – to know where you’ve been, what you’ve expressed as desires or dislikes and what your future trajectory could possibly look like. Journaling helps organise our thoughts in a visual way.  It doesn’t have to be daily; even weekly can suffice. I am privileged to be in this position to share with our readers not only our philosophical or spiritual musings, but also real life hacks. I know that if I see or read of someone doing something I’m trying to do, I will emulate bits of their process. And I believe that as women who patronise this blog, many of us are just trying to figure life out. Our late 20s, mid-30s and even older. It is never too late, never, ever too late to start again or change track. It is also never too late to incorporate helpful life habits into your routine, such as journaling or vision-boarding. So I am encouraging you to try writing down the vision – Habakkuk 2:2 says “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” It will make you clearer about the seasons of your life, your weak points or struggles, and your aims, hopes and dreams. And that will make it easier to put together a plan to address each of these.

Presently, there is a word that I hold dear. Well, there are several, but this one is overarching the others. In prayer and meditation, the Lord has made it a reference point for me at times when He is about to bring about a big shift in my life. In July 2018, God led me to it again. It is Isaiah 43:19 and it says “Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” I know many friends and acquaintances that seek a new thing; women striving to be more and to fulfil their life’s purposes. I know many feel stuck and at a loss for options on how to manoeuvre to their next. In addition to the practical advice that I share with you here, I encourage you to seek the One who created you. The answers come in many ways. Sometimes it is through quiet reflection on His word and the desires of your heart; prayer and supplication; obedience; patience, and even while ‘doing’ and putting to practice the foregoing bits of advice I’ve shared. I don’t know the future and sometimes I get extremely frustrated with my now, but I know that nothing stays the same, especially when there are actions being done to bring about change. I am striving to do all these things in terms of waiting on God, and at some point, something will have to give. Perhaps because I believe Him to be my surest hope in life and one that does not disappoint, I await it with child-like hope and expectation. The parable of the talents teaches us that it is better to put to use what little you have than to complain that it is not enough or exactly what you want at any given point. It teaches us that success is a product of our work and that at any given point, God has given us everything we need to do what He has purposed us to do and it teaches us that we are not all created equally. It also teaches us that God rewards the effort and not necessarily that which leads to the greatest output.

So start where you are and with what you have. And even when it seems you have been doing and being faithful for the longest time, don’t lose hope. Being pruned, buried or ‘delayed’ aren’t always disadvantages. There are lessons we learn in such seasons that make us wiser, more discerning, prudent, humbler and stronger. There is ALWAYS that turnaround moment when everything changes, even if you don’t believe in a higher power. Nothing stays the same forever. God honours faith, humility and ‘leading from the back’ or working in the trenches. Also, there is no timetable for when we are supposed to do or achieve certain things so please, please, please desist from or don’t compare your life to anyone else’s. Critically meditating on your restlessness and the desires of your heart can help you sift through what is authentically your soul’s cry and that which is from external ‘pressure’. Also, therein lies the secret to contentment – when you accept that yours is a unique and individual race. For Christians, we have the word that assures us that He knows our names, has never forgotten us, that His mercies are new every morning and that He orders the steps of the righteous. We trust that God has prepared for each of us a journey, which He can lovingly (and with ALL wisdom) uncover step by step and season by season as we remain in Christ and allow Him to remain in us. 

Along with the (hopefully) practical and doable advice on how to shift into your next gear, I will leave you with Psalm 23. May it give you hope and assurance of the hand of the Father over your life. He is an incomparable life Shepherd. Your story is not over, it’s just the beginning of a new season.

You can also find me at twitter.com/honeybmissg.

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