Happy New Year my dear dear Internet brothers and sisters! I went to the Ellis Park Pool today and saw these girls coming out of a taxi going to the pool. I got in my car and watched the taxi door open to spill out not one, not two, not three, not four but five of these little ladies and I couldn’t resist. I went up to them and asked for a picture and while they were quick to pose, they didn’t seem too phased. Who are they? Such blatant fierceness fills those floral dresses. You can’t see it in the picture, but they all have the Lupita line in their hair and that just makes me smile and reflect on the greatness that was 2014.
2014 was undoubtedly the most significant year of my life so far. It is the year I tried on my adult self and she fit like a glove. I went through a life changing Saturn Return from the middle of 2013 when I was 28 and last year resulted a series of intense changes in how my mind functioned, how I saw myself, how I saw the world and ultimately, it meant a drastic change in how I occupy the space I take up in the world. This year I turn 30 and I can’t wait. I know why the world has taught women to hate or fear getting older, and it’s because you become stronger, you take less shit, you stop trying to convince people to like you, you like you enough, you take things less personally and hopefully you’re choosing better people to surround you. At least that’s what this getting older business feels like to me. Yesterday I read this quote and felt so validated:
If you’re not losing friends, then you’re not growing up.
Hayi kabi. Some friendships die natural deaths, other people disappear for a while and come back when the relationship is better suited to survive, others leave and you realize that they were never meant to stay forever and other people are just pieces of shit that stagnate your growth and so they must be flushed. This of course allows for stronger, better and more fulfilling friendships either with people who have always been there or new forces that are physical representations of your personal improvement project and social sublimation. In the last 12 months, in the simplest terms, I grew up.
Last year I made a list of things that I learned, experienced, loved and hated about 2013 and what I looked forward to in the new year. Here is this year’s list of things that made 2014 an awesome year of growth:
I read and reread the most mind decolonizing books (I Write What I Like is a good start)
I became part of a black feminist reading group
I studied the meaning of love for the self, for others and for another, thanks to bell hooks’ All About Love
I made some beautiful new friends who inspired me to eat better, read more and trust people more
I made some boy friends. Coming from a girls school background and a family with no brothers, I finally learned that one does not always need to equate masculinity with sexuality.
Speaking of sexuality, I got introduced to the idea of the power of female sexuality and how we give so much of it away because we are taught to. However, I am yet to harness the power of my female sexuality.
Somebody told me about The New School and my dream to study haunts me on the daily as a result. I also became acquainted with The New School’s YouTube page and it’s like dipping yourself in intelligence serum.
I made an effort to learn as much as I could about racism and sexism.
I became very angry at whiteness and maleness and their relationship to black womanhood
While I still have ugly days, I genuinely stopped thinking I was ugly. My default view of myself stopped being negative and self flagellating. This is because I became a lot more aware of how much patriarchy and our society’s commitment to misogyny and misogynoir affect how women perceive themselves and behave.
I learned and now regularly use the word misogynoir
I started to bake my own bread and it resulted in less carb intake and improved skill in the kitchen
I started saving money every month for the first time in my life. Consistently. Not a lot but something
I learned the difference between: getting into a relationship because you are in love and getting into a relationship because you want to change your Facebook status
I let go of the fantastical idea of romantic love and realized I don’t want to fall in love, I want to be standing up straight and walking into a situation with my eyes open.
I learned about the power of Skype and the detriment of the ”last seen” functionality on Whatsapp
I became a lot more critical about some things (like Mandela’s legacy) and a lot more relaxed about other things (like when someone doesn’t text or call you back within the window frame of respect, the world does in fact, keep on spinning)
I became black and proud
I am currently studying the various permutations of feminism and am at odds with some aspects of it like the place for black women within traditional feminism but I am committed to not complaining and blaming as much, but manifesting solutions.
I fell in love with my mother when our adult selves spent time together alone
I became an aunt to a beautiful baby boy and realized motherhood is a skill I currently do not possess
I got introduced to the idea of the imagination in writing and how important it is as a tool for freedom
I decided that I would make a documentary and the universe listened
I cried less for self indulgent matters and more for giving a fuck about other people
I took on a racist company and lost but felt good about acting
I learned that the value of discipline at work and in life starts with discipline in the smallest things. An example of this are the acts of a) making my bed every day b) ensuring that there are no dirty dishes in the sink at the end of the day c) washing my face and brushing my teeth diligently twice a day. I used to hate doing all three of these things because they are uncreative and unstimulating chores. But a simple change of attitude when doing all three helped. Being conscious and performing those tasks with presence of mind and the view of them as loving acts to myself and the people I care for made them acts of love. This might sound pretentious and lame if you have a family of 4 but I live alone and if I don’t do these things for myself, they add to an underlying anxiety that comes with our modern world’s pressure to balance our external lives with our internal minds.
Practicing mindfulness in the smallest of ways helped me develop the strength to quit smoking and McDonalds and to stop drinking for 66 days, which was something I thought was impossible. Now alcohol is not a central feature in my social life. Waking up without a hangover is priceless.
I wrote at least one excellent article that I will always be proud of
I started to pray out loud
I didn’t leave my ancestors and they didn’t leave me
I became more vulnerable
I broke some promises 🙁
I stopped (after 18 years) trying to get men to like me. Convincing anyone to like you is stupid
I cheated on This American Life with Radio Lab and I felt terrible about it. Then wrote a note to get over myself
I became less scared when I learned about the power of breathing and focusing on the truth
I learned that time well spent really makes me happy, not money
I learned that my self esteem should not be linked to my productivity or lack there of
I bought an amazing desk
I learned that I will make a dumb decision at least once a week but the rate of dumb decision making has decreased incrementally over the last 12 months
I still need to work on thinking things through before saying them
I made an effort to not squeeze relationships with loved ones into the weekend. I see my friends during the weekday for garden lunches, walks and conversations not because I’m a free lancer, but because that was a choice I made to prioritize the things that make me feel good
I got over someone I was (regrettably) convinced I loved after learning that just because someone treats you well, better than anyone has ever treated you, doesn’t mean that it’s true love. It just means that I have been treated like shit so often before that I gave noddy badge after noddy badge and for things that a partner is MEANT to do anyway. Also, people who withhold their emotions for whatever reason are not stronger than those who are generous with their emotions.
Writing goals down will never get old. Not achieving some is okay
I learned that service to others is worth a lot more than self-service. But self improvement is necessary to be of better service to others.
Most importantly, I learned growth is the one thing we can always rely on. Here’s to a year full of healthy challenges, the pursuit for truth, integrity, love and self-determination and more time spent with people who make you feel alive.
Happy New Year! Please share your lessons and goals in the comments section below.