In line with Thrive Global’s Weekly Prompts this week, this will be my personal account of a recent realisation that helped me in slowly making peace with certain events in my life. I will also be touching on how reflection has allowed me to see things in a different light, and its impact on my well-being and mood.
The process of making peace with our truth may not be the most beautiful of processes, but it does lead to one feeling happier, lighter, less stressed, and more fulfilled. But before we can truly make peace, we need to learn how to let go.
There were 3 main areas of my life I had to process and come to terms with:
1. Academic life
I’ve mentioned in previous pieces that I had failed my first attempt at some of the examinations in my course. In my last update, I had just sat for my second attempt at these papers.
Upon release of the results of my resits, I discovered that I was not able to clear all of my papers – I still have to sit for the remaining papers the following year. When I found out I had to sit for these same papers for the third time, I was understandably devastated. “Really? Again? God, how long more do you want to test me because if this is a practical joke… it isn’t funny!” I hated my circumstances. I hated everything. Behind closed doors, my mind went to dark places of self-hatred and blaming God. For a week after the news, I was unable to function. I was close to tears every single day as the music blasting through my earphones tried to console me. I couldn’t understand. Looking back, I had this entitled thought stuck in my mind (which I now rebuke with a passion): “why was this happening to me?.”
Coincidentally during the week of my emotional spiral, I was not needed at work. I returned during the second week since my results. It was during a group hunt for photo-stories that I was struck by a realisation. I met people who shared about how their happy-go-lucky facade hid struggles unimaginable, how their inspiration that still keeps them going is the joy on their family’s faces, and how they were just happy being able to find their purpose despite its simplicity. Someone shared this to me when I had asked them for their insight: “I will never be able to give advice to anyone. Because each and every person has their own purpose and their own journey. As much as we know a person, we will never truly know what God has in store for them until it is revealed to them.“
This was my realisation: I wasn’t ready. If I were to pass this year, I would have immediately been pressured to commit to work early next year. But what this past year has shown me was how unprepared and unequipped I was to start. Even if I were to pass, I wouldn’t have wanted to start so soon. Throughout the past year, I was going on and on about how I needed to take a break after I was done with my course. But would I have had the courage to say I needed that break?
God knew that I wouldn’t have had the courage to say no. I was pressured externally from a particular unrealistic expectation about how I was going to be this amazingly successful person who was going to trump over everything. Did I believe an ounce of what was being harped on? Not at all. In fact, it went against everything I believed in. It was prideful, it was boastful – it was a mere ego boost as those holding these beliefs had no idea about the struggles that were involved.
I needed to fail again because I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to go into that next stage of life yet. Reframing the way I saw my situation helped me to feel more at peace with myself. It will be a process, as this epiphany happened barely a day ago, but I finally felt a sense of calm that I was not able to feel these past few months.
Would I be able to guarantee passing through my last attempt next year? No, I wouldn’t. But what would be your backup plan then? I don’t know. For now, I am content with understanding why this had to happen and focus instead on what I have to do in this moment.
2. People and toxicity
Recently, I wrote a piece on Thought Catalog, entitled, “You Deserve To Detach Yourself From The Toxicity In Your Life“. Toxicity is not necessarily the person as a whole – but rather, the feeling stemmed from something that is said. Truth be told, you don’t hate the person – you hate the sin. With my own existing deprecating views I had of myself, coupled with statements that were being exchanged, every word was filled with anger. And when you are within your own thoughts, it’s easy to digress into the worst possible version of yourself.
I felt so lost, I felt so heavy. I decided to text an old friend of mine, asking if he was free for a call. This friend and I went way back: we’ve had each other’s backs through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. He responded immediately, saying we should talk. His voice softened as he asked, “Is everything alright?.” I ended up choking on my tears at his question as I tried to swallow the harsh sobs trying to escape my chest. I’m not proud, it wasn’t a pretty sight. I kept apologising for calling, saying I hated how he had to see me this way but he was one of the few people who I trusted enough to see me in my vulnerability. He assured me gently, “Just let it out, it’s okay.”
After listening to my problems, this particular advice he gave stuck with me. I hope this brings you comfort just as much as it comforted me:
“Know that you are allowed to feel what you feel. Because when I was going through what I was, everyone was telling me that it was going to be okay and to stay strong. But really, no one truly knows the pain you feel other than you, even if they may be in something similar. We can empathise and be there for one another, but no one is truly able to know what you feel.
Yes, we make mistakes, we lash out. But never apologise for what you feel, okay?“
3. Self-worth and self-doubt
“You’re too much. I couldn’t take it.”
“We need to cover up her failure, we can’t let the world know.”
I felt like a mess. I felt like a burden. Although I did genuinely feel what I expressed, it didn’t stop me from hating what I had become.
Although upon reflection I understood that things said in anger should not be taken seriously, I decided I deserved to give myself the distance between these words and my mind.
What dared me to speak out that I needed the time to reflect was an advice a friend of mine had shared to me:
“Stop making excuses for other people. You tend to put their wellbeing before your own that it would cloud your judgment and bury your own feelings. Remember tragic heroine? You see, it’s not easy to change, but this is just trying to be selfish a little more than you are now. You can’t be happy unless you are a little selfish, remember that?”
To anyone reading this, know that it is okay to not be okay if you are going through something. It’s more than okay to start being kinder to yourself.