As any school teacher will tell you, the final furlongs of the year are the hardest. When the teenagers have switched off and despite your best intentions, so have you. The end of December has usually brought you keeled onto your knees- dragging your battered immune system to the finish line. Another year wrapped up. A fresh start on the horizon beckons- new opportunities, new goals, new destinations. But first you just need some sleep.
Calm, collected and recalibrated. After this much needed respite is when I usually look ahead at the blank canvas a new year brings. Like many, an ideal opportunity to renew focus and realign vision. This year, however, in all my tiredness I was caught unprepared. As I sat on the precipice of a new decade, I was asked to list my goals. What do I envision for this crisp blank page soon to be unfolded in front of me? Where do I want to go? As I sat there unpacking the different boxes of my life, I couldn’t help but glance back at the twenty-something who had walked into this decade and how the last ten years had led to the woman sitting here pensively on this cold and windy evening.
As important as it is to look ahead to where we are going, it is just as vital to look back with gratitude at where we have come from. To sit with the highs and the lows, letting our fingers run across the grooves of the lessons life has left us and pay homage to the growth. So as I continue walking, here are thirty lessons I will be packing with me:
- Put God first. Everything else will sort itself out eventually.
- The little things are not so little.
- Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.
- Motivation is fleeting. But discipline will never betray you.
- Your growth and progress is not linear- you will get where you need to get to when you are meant to get there.
- There will be those who love the idea of you but lack the maturity to handle the reality of you.
- Alone doesn’t necessarily mean lonely- there is no substitute for being comfortable in your own company.
- Learn to rest. No accomplishment takes priority over your health- mental, physical or emotional.
- Give of your money. But even more importantly, give of your time and skills. Striving for something you believe in cannot be quantified.
- Smile wholeheartedly. Often.
- Choices do not come without their consequences.
- You are capable of more than you give yourself credit for.
- Renew your intentions for long term goals. It is so easy to veer off the track.
- Make friends with those who are unlike you- in age, in experience, in opinion. It will broaden your thinking.
- That thing you think you can’t do. Do it.
- There is no birth control as effective as working with children for a living. There is simultaneously nothing as inspiring.
- Drink some water. Then drink some more.
- Don’t waste your time questioning the intentions and motives of others. Focus on purifying your own. You will sleep better.
- Hold yourself accountable.
- Complete vulnerability is only for God.
- Do not lower your standards to make the wrong people fit. The right ones will meet them.
- You will become what you surround yourself with- choose wisely.
- Do not listen to your heart unreservedly. It is stupid sometimes.
- If God feels distant, check yourself. He has not moved.
- Feeling an emotion does not mean you have to act upon it.
- Your biggest battles will be against your very self.
- Not everything needs your opinion.
- The length of a relationship has no bearing on its depth.
- Trust your struggle.
- You don’t need to be brave all the time. All you need is small flashes of courage- their ripple effects will carry you through.
Sofia is an English teacher and Islamic Studies student based in the Midlands. She writes, primarily, to make sense of the world around her, as she navigates her experiences and observations as a woman of colour. When she’s not writing she likes to spend her time reading, travelling and being sarcastic. She currently writes on https://www.instagram.com/thesilentsoliloquy/