It is that time of year when we take stock of our lives through a reflection of the things that occurred during the previous twelve months. If, like me, you're taking inventory of those goals you set when the year began. How many did you accomplish? Which ones presented you with a challenge and why? You are probably scrutinising what went wrong in the things that did not go quite according to plan - from your lifestyle change aspirations to your biggest dreams. Perhaps like me, you had hoped to have published that novel you spent days and nights working on, only to realise that life happens.
Because let's face it, life has become rather unpredictable, at times depressing, these days.
Last year, I reflected on how I dealt with the pandemic being a nurse and all. However, this year, I will spare us the depression. Rather, I will give you the three things I learnt in 2021.
1. Live in the moment
Being present is often one of those things we find challenging to do. Being humans, especially in the current climate, we have found ourselves living on the edge. Our future has become unpredictable, so we worry about our tomorrow. Will we ever get to travel freely? Visit our loved ones without putting them at risk? Will life be what we deem 'normal' again? Yet, as precarious as life has become, I have also come to appreciate the joyous moments that life affords me. Moments that give life meaning. But I can only notice these moments, I have learnt, when I live in the moment. When I am truly present, I avoid missing out on what's right in front of me. When I'm able to fully absorb my surroundings, immersing myself in all my blessings, however small, I can practice attitude. Walking in gratitude, I've realised, opens me to a world of abundance. How can you appreciate what you hope to see, achieve and possess when you cannot embrace what you already have?
2. Brutal Honesty
The term brutal honesty often implies some degree of harshness, perhaps something unpleasant. In this instance, it means tough love. This year I learnt to give myself and those I love the gift of tough love. The kind of tough love or brutal honesty I'm referring to is when I can sit myself down and take a closer look at what's happening within and around me. I get to zoom in on all aspects of my life, asking those tough questions. The kind of questions that forces me to face reality. Because unless we are truly honest with ourselves, we will drag situations out, and it is often due to fear of the implications of that honesty.
Because being honest beams light on our shortcomings, what's working and what's not working. It compels us to face reality and grow, often through change. Sometimes change means dismantling our current reality, which comes with its own set of challenges. Change, as we know, requires courage, patience and resilience. It also requires us to become resourceful and engulfs us with fear and pain. However, I've learnt that sometimes this fiery furnace of change is what we need to catapult us towards growth and success. Most importantly, I have learnt that while I'm being brutally honest, it is important for me to extend grace to myself and forgive myself for the mistakes that I make and not be too hard on myself. And if I fail to complete a task or two, that's OK. There's always next time.
3. Sometimes, we are our own worst enemy
This year has also taught me that is there is no shame in asking for help and taking advice. I recognise that asking for help somewhat puts us in a vulnerable position. But the irony of it, I've learnt, is that is courageous that can truly hold their hands up and admit when they are defeated. It is only the wise who can identify their shortcomings and seek correction. Those with a sense of clear direction often can approach those in a position to help and advise. And yes, pride has its place, but when it is misplaced, it causes unnecessary suffering. Through pride, we become barriers to our own success and happiness, for we suffer in silence instead of asking for what we want when we want. For the believers, even the Bible implores us to 'ask and you shall be given, 'seek, and you shall find', 'knock, and the door shall be opened for you? So, if you know you need the help, what's stopping you from asking?
Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is risky. But what's the worst that could happen? A 'no' is not going to kill you. Life is about taking risks. You do not have to sit on the sidelines, watching, wishing and wanting something so badly and not bothering to do anything about it. People are not mind-readers, so, unless you ask, they won't know your need.
So, as you ponder about the months that have gone past and plan for the New Year, think about the lessons life has taught you and carry them with you. Life does not come in segments. It is a culmination of our experiences - an intricate, purposely designed tapestry.