For me, 2016 has been a year of momentous change.
It got off to the worst of starts, my entire world flipped on its head.
I had returned from living and working in the UK with a broken heart, an empty bank account and a very foggy plan for the future.
This was actually the first time I’d fallen into a hole and I wasn’t sure how to climb out. I’d begun to question absolutely everything: myself, my interests, my career path. My worth.
Self-reflection was far from out of character. An admitted over-thinker, I’d done plenty of soul-searching before. But more often than not, I’d been able to direct my mind to the positives ahead in order to move forward.
This time, I was stuck.
What was I doing? Where was I going? Why hadn’t things worked out as planned? How could I possibly rebuild my life?
My confidence had taken a blow. Almost without realising, I’d slipped into a cycle of negative thoughts and self-doubt.
I am not naive. I understand (and comprehended at the time) that most 20-somethings are bound to hit a rough patch. However, having others remind me of this, over and over again, didn’t ease the pain. Nobody could say the right thing.
For the first time, my parents’ love and empathy couldn’t make it all better. Nor could the comfort offered by my dearest friends. Those closest to me could not fix me, or protect me, or soften the harsh edges of my life as it now appeared to me.
Then it happened.
After two months’ warring with my mind, I was at the beach (a place that has always calmed me) with a book I’d bought about two years earlier. The Truth About Everything by Brianna Wiest fell open on a random page and I read a passage with new and almost booming clarity:
Pain is part of the process. It’s part of the miraculousness. You see it when light shines through storm clouds, in the refracting lights of supernovas, in the fact that you must be in a physical state to comprehend the physical things around you – sight, sound, material. But it is also those senses that facilitate your pain. All of these things are rooted in suffering, and yet they all yield the miraculous. So be here. Be part of what you’re sewn into. Bloom where you’re planted. Be aware of the greatness that you are and realise that without you, the seaming of this mysteriously interconnected world would cease to exist as it is. Hope is never gone, it’s just ignored.
Now, I can’t explain why these words seemed to light me up when similar wisdom from my own family had failed to connect. But an energy shifted, and I thought to myself, “Stuff it, I am not going to feel like this anymore”. I decided, then and there, to cultivate my own happiness. After all, who else was going to? While I have not entirely abandoned fate as a finely-woven, preordained plan, I now believe that through the sum of our efforts we can choose how we experience it.
That energy shift, now a few months ago, has led me to grow and flourish like I never imagined. There was (and is) something thrilling about being the creator and driver of my existence. The very uncertainty I endured has brought me fresh air and clean vision. I deliberately spent time getting to know me. What truly makes me happy? I asked myself, “What do I, irrespective of the influence of others, truly love?”
Here’s what I discovered …
I love music; the kind that stirs something in me, that makes me feel something (and having said that, they don’t always have to be good feelings). I love the ocean; by myself, with those I love, it doesn’t matter. I love being near it and in it and I don’t want to be away from it – ever again. I love my mind; the intricacies of it and its fears, its altruism, its curiosity, its ability to absorb new knowledge.
Most of all, I love people; their stories, their passions, their differences, their insecurities, their minds. It’s ironic that this thirst to reach out stemmed from quite the opposite – closedness and pessimism – but there you have it. I am so grateful for what I have discovered.
My journey has reignited the passion for what I do – HR. What an opportunity to create positive change in workplaces and for people.
I truly believe that my new purposefulness opened the door to wattsnext. Sure, I had built up my knowledge and skill-set quite apart from rebuilding my life, but I don’t think those capabilities alone are what got me here. I’m deeply aware of the fact that I now spend the majority of my waking hours among people who foster the same innate values. The same love for people. The same twinkle in their eye when a client talks about where their business started, how they want to shape and grow it and how they’d like our help to get them there. I’ve joined a workplace not only thankful for my contributions, but one that’s hungry for more. I get to build something positive. I get to contribute to someone’s dream.
So, I guess the point of all of this is ….
If you’re ever feeling like you’ve been kicked and can’t get up, you can. That’s not to discredit anyone’s feelings, or how real and painful life experiences can be. Our pain is valid, but remember that life is never defining. It’s temporary, always moving, and ultimately it’s up to you – and nobody else – to seek and find the beauty. To regain control of your masterpiece.