100 steps to happiness: The first step

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate… our deepest fear is that we are more powerful beyond measure”

Watching Coach Carter and his Richmond Oilers climb their way to victory is a great lesson to remind me that “playing small” serves nobody. The system is designed for me to fail, the system needs to be beaten. 100 steps of happiness is my daily tribute to finding and achieving happiness every day over the next 3-4 months.

This doesn’t mean I need to be consistently happy and walk around with the Joker’s smile on my face. It means that I should strive to find a bit, a step towards happiness in at least one moment during my day.

I woke up in a terrible state. I had the most amazing, fantastical dream where the man of my dreams demanded me back, apologised for making a mistake and we moved forward together. To wake up alone, and broken hearted after that was humiliating, emotional and confusing.

The day steadily progressed with my journalism project not working out the way I’d hoped. My team wasn’t in sync and I was still in a foul mood from earlier this morning. I couldn’t wait for the day to be over, I hated that this week was flying by which means that the stress of returning to work and all the problems there, were nearing.

But I forced myself to start writing again, committing myself to 100 blog posts over the next few months because logic knows that whatever I internalise must come out in some form- rather let it be a creative output.

My dad was surprised at what his new ringtone was when I played it for him. Rowan Pope is my dad- despite his issues he want’s nothing better than for his daughter to be the greatest. But most importantly, he says this to her when she decides to throw her future away over a boy:

“You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have. For God’s sakes. You know to aim higher…At the very least you could have aimed for chief of staff. Secretary of State. First Lady — do you have to be so mediocre?”

The segment of the episode I’m referring to can be found here.

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An awkward start

This is not going to be easy. I’m one of the most cynical people I know but it starts with the first step. So on this first day I decide to stop being mediocre. My nickname in varsity wasn’t first lady, it was Mrs President. I am going places- what I have control over is how fast I get there and what impact I have on those around me.

A new year, a new story

If my life were a novel, it would be pretty easy to find it at the bookshop. You’d skip past the sci-fi and the vampire obsessed Young Adult section, way past the romance… keep going, snicker at the anxious OCD business woman who’s raking the shelves at self-help and head straight to the Drama section where you’d expect to pull out a glittery purple book with black pages and silver writing. Sounds like a terrible idea right? Thank goddess that’s all changed.

My book definitely didn’t make the Bestsellers in 2012, so in 2013 I decided to spare the trees and go digital. Here I could be a bit esoteric and quirky and my life could change on a whim. Of course it meant that only random people would be interested in it…possibly because it was free to download on Kindle, but it meant that the book of life was really all about me writing it, me living it as opposed to how other people would respond to what I’d lived.

I think I’m happy with the pages I’ve written so far, I may not have written all 50 000 words as I’d wished but I was close and I’m on my way to achieving my goals. You have to understand, this is a huge step for me. Usually when I don’t achieve everything, exactly the way I envisioned it, with everything checked off my list, my mind reacts like a virus-ridden computer and I shut down and go haywire. So for me to be content, satisfied with what I’ve done and recognize the hard work that went into 2013 is a great step to self-improvement.

So in 2014, begins the sequel to my e-book, keeping with that same steady commitment to constantly updating my writing. It’s time to work in more happiness, more goals and perhaps have my heroine who’s saved herself in the previous story now work towards enjoying her happily ever after. That is definitely going to be a hard one to write. No one ever writes about the Happily Ever After, because frankly there’s no climax- it’s boring. I’m going to challenge myself to write happiness into the monotony of life.

Last year, I needed to say “No” a lot, to protect myself, to be selfish and to work on and focus on all aspects of me. This year, it’s going to be nerve wrecking but I’m going to try and say “Yes”- not in terms of being a doormat but rather being positive and confident enough, to take risks and experience happiness as much as I can. Yes to breaking down walls, yes to unsticking myself from emotional messes, to be easy and like in my previous post– to be congenial and tranquil much like the element of Air that I have such an affinity to. I have to trust that the more I say Yes to life, the more life will reply in the same way to me.

Ms Congeniality: NY Resolutions 2014

I’m not one for New Years resolutions, but I do believe in using a key-word to focus my energy and direction instead of making empty promises. The key word for 2014 is congenial, basically I want to smile more and be a happier person, to open up and allow people into my life.

There are four areas I’d like to work on in the upcoming year:

My Physical Health– feel confident with my body and look after it, so that I’ll be comfortable around people more

My Spiritual Well being– find again the goddess out there and within me, not just during troubled times

My Intellectual intake– I want to focus my mind, quiet negative thoughts and bring positivity to my understanding… and (this is for my BF) try not to OVERTHINK things, or at least calm down on that front

Social Investment– I don’t do charity, it’s not something I feel good about but what I can do is give my time and energy to others who are in my life who need it. I can be generous with my time.

Appreciation, not gratitude

I was reading the next chapter in The Goddess Bootcampand I loved the idea about how powerful the idea of appreciation is. Kagiso Msimango describes gratitude as when you “contrast between the positive and the negative to evoke” or force a feeling of gratitude in  the positive. For example, I was always lectured to be grateful for food (positive) because at least I wasn’t a starving child in Ethiopia.

The power of appreciation means that its all about the positive, without it being forced or evoked. The wonderful thing about it is that it all depends on me, and what I choose to appreciate. It may seem selfish, society does kind of push the agenda on what one should be grateful for, but to me I’ve realised that that is fake and doesn’t reflect the true me.

I have a lot to appreciate in my life. Last year was difficult, all my own doing. And 11 months into the year, every step I took to make myself better, to bring my life towards myself and fix things, have been my doing. I need to take the time out to appreciate my hard work.

I was genuinely worried that I wouldn’t survive the end of the year at my workplace. I was unhappy with work, exams have kicked in (I’m procrastinating now and I have an exam tomorrow) which added to the stress and all of this was even affecting my relationship. Last weekend, I felt the darkness creeping back in. That negativity was very apparent. I felt guilty because I felt ungrateful that I had a job, I was studying and had an amazing boyfriend who had to put up with my mood swings and insecurities.

Then my outlook changed. I was filling in for a colleague at work, doing the the traffic bulletins in the afternoon. I started chatting to the Drive time host during the break as we get along pretty well. He was commenting about how well I was doing as a standby and that he could see me on air, moving up the ranks. I thanked him and mentioned that I was actually offered the position of Breakfast producer- an influential and popular show on the line up. Mentioning this made me appreciate all the work finally paying off, my life falling into place. When you are unhappy, time drags. But when things start to happen for you, everything moves so quickly.

I appreciate how far I’ve gotten in such a short amount of time- because I chose to hold it together. I appreciate that once I finally get back to my books, I’m going to ace the rest of my papers graduate and then onto my honours degree. I appreciate that the boyfriend I have is constantly amazing me with his support and resilience and that we just work without all the fuss and fan fare.

In the words of Mae West, “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!”

The world doesn’t have a problem with me; I have a problem with the world

If you’ve been following up on my blog, I’ve been struggling with work issues lately- trying to better myself and becoming continuously frustrated when things don’t work out. After a long discussion with my boyfriend this weekend, he helped me identify that I was grappling with two issues: my work and the environment.

My previous posts have addressed the former, so today the focus is on the latter. It is wrong to say that I hate the environment that I am working in—it really can be narrowed down to a few people who really just grate my nerves.

However, since I am all about positivity and introspection I’ve decided to look at the characteristics that I so despise and which continue to upset me and try and find similar instances where I am actually a reflection of the problem I have with other people.

“He is rude; he talks to me like a dog. All he is missing is a bell”

This is the first thought I had, and I struggle to see myself every talking to someone so disrespectfully. Have a treated someone as inferior to me? I struggle to remember. But I do know that there have been instances where I do have a superiority complex, where I do have so much pride that I am unapologetic about the way I treat people.

“He is so arrogant, he always thinks he knows best and that he is always in the right”

Hmmm, definitely starting to sound more familiar. I know that I have trouble apologising, admitting when I am in the wrong.

“He is so lazy; he doesn’t do any work and expects me to pick up the slack”

I can be very lazy, due to my procrastination.  I think back on all the times where I didn’t show up to class because I was apparently too tired, or didn’t give it my all in group assignments- what about those who I had made pick up my slack.

“He is so dismissive, he completely undermines me”

I have been dismissive of many of my relationships, particularly with the feelings of my parents in the past. I took them, their love and support for granted and I am still suffering the consequences and attempting to repair the damage.

“She is so distant; she removes herself from the situation and really doesn’t know what is going on out here”

I’m definitely staring at my reflection with this one. All too often I choose to remove myself from a complicated situation, choosing instead to live in a fantasy world where I can have a temporary, false happiness. Whether it was relationships or school or family, living in my head seemed a far more wonderful place to live than in reality.

“They talk behind peoples backs, having their own private conversations”

I am definitely guilty of this gossiping trait, and maybe I misconstrued it as loyalty. But really I got involved in conversations that really weren’t my business and ended up putting myself in awkward positions I should never have been in.

“He is insensitive and inconsiderate, he only cares about himself”

Hitting the nail on the head again, my selfishness is reflected. I didn’t care who I hurt or was affected by my actions as long as I was ‘happy’.

Now this doesn’t mean that I deserve to be treated badly- however I am not completely innocent of such behaviour either. If I want to change the way I view the world and have a problem with the world, I need to source the problems within me.

If I am unhappy with the world, I am unhappy with myself.

I start to think about what I want from these people who upset me so much, and it is basically the opposite of what was mentioned above. I think I am mostly upset because I see myself as having changed or in the process of changing- moving away from the behaviour that is now being acted upon me. Karma is a bitch I guess.

But at the same time I realise how difficult it is to truly change oneself- our habits are kind of like an addiction. Once we are fixed, it is so easy to slip and continue.

The world is not asking me to be perfect; therefore I shouldn’t expect it to be.

But the changes I make in myself, I need to take them seriously and not be surprised that if I do slip up, to myself having a problem with the world again.

I don’t like looking at my reflection in the mirror- there are too many things to criticise. Looking out a window is much easier as there is no reflection to point at, but other people who have their own problems with the world.

Choices have to be made, and I choose me

I do not consider myself a selfless person, I am selfish and self-interested. I’ve messed up quite a bit in the past, always putting myself above what is really important. Partying instead of focusing on my studies, choosing friends over my family- I’m not the greatest of decision makers, I almost always make the wrong choice.

Because the honest truth is that when it mattered, I put how people would perceive me as more of a priority than how I would perceive myself. I chose to put others before me and it has never worked out.

I’ve been struggling to have a conversation with someone who I really respect, who gave me a chance and who I’ve grown close to. I want to tell her that I am not happy, that I’m not in a place I want to be and I want to move on to the next best thing. But I struggle to get the words out because I fear that she will be disappointed, and to me that has been worth staying miserable in my situation for so many weeks.

The place I want to be in is where I will feel in control and not constantly undermined and disrespected every day. It is a place where I can be creative and have more of a chance of balancing both work and studies- It’s something that I’ve always been passionate about and always wanted to do.

And I do feel guilty that my current situation is only a stepping stone to somewhere better. But should I feel guilty? If it is something that truly makes me happy, that is all I see myself doing.

I didn’t immediately get what I want because I was in a situation where I didn’t have the luxury of choice, hence I was given a small window of opportunity and I took it. But now I feel almost ashamed- I feel I am abusing this luxury, this chance and opportunity to want more. It sounds silly as I write this, but the fear is definitely there- the fear of wanting more. Only I stand in my own way.

But life is too short, too fleeting to be miserable. I am not an unhappy person by nature, moody yes, but being absolutely depressed does not suit me. I don’t want to be in the position that I complain every day, feeling worthless. Complaining can be so futile and exhausting, especially when the person who most needs to hear about my feelings is completely unaware.

So this week my goal is not only make the right choices for myself, but to also choose me. Because if I am going to be selfish, I may

as well be happy about it.

 “If thou openest not the gate to let me enter/ I will break the door, I will wrench the lock/ I will smash the door-posts, I will force the doors.”– Ishtar, Babylonian goddess of fertility, love , war and sex

Becoming a Goddess: Empowering myself

Those who meet me will always have one main impression of me- that I am opinionated, and give it freely.

When I was 10 years old, I was under the impression that I knew enough to teach the class- that I knew best. When I was 15 I refused to learn a language I deemed as racist and oppressive, and had to use synthetic paintbrushes because I felt squirrels were being mistreated. I was quite a handful- always being able to offer my two cents, even when no one wanted it.

However it is strange because when it really counts, when I have something to say- I shut up. You can’t get a word out of me. It starts with doubt, doubt in myself. Tonight, I wanted something really badly, but I started immediately thinking that there must be something wrong with me for wanting something- that I was being greedy, selfish and insensitive. .

Despite being asked several times what was wrong, I struggle to articulate my own wants, needs and desires- because, and it’s shameful to note, I feel that they are not worthy to be brought forward. Because I feel that in the grand scheme of things, what I want isn’t as important.

But that is not how I want to live my life- consequentially acting passive-aggressive because I am frustrated at the situation or waiting to snap a few days later and it comes out the wrong way. I’d prefer to be upfront and honest, and demand that my feelings and wants and needs have a place and deserve to be acknowledged.

When I continuously feel that what I have to say doesn’t count for much- I am choosing victimhood. Its how I felt coming out of a long-term break up where I knew it wasn’t healthy, when I go through a 12 day work week absolutely miserable and not acknowledging why, when I gave into the dark place…

And to think, what if I acknowledged long before I got too deep into the relationship that I wasn’t emotionally ready nor liked the way I was being treated. What if I had chosen to accept that work cannot always be sunshine and rainbows and I needed to Just Be Strong… what if I had spoken out and said I needed help before things got so bad that it almost tore my own life apart, and my families.

But if I keep depending on what ifs, soon I’ll be looking down from the Summerland and realised that I what if-ed my life away.

And I can’t have that.

I need to be strong, my opinions come from a good place- my instinct are good and if something is wrong I need to speak up immediately. A goddess doesn’t wait for someone to acknowledge her. Besides it’s easier to apologise than ask for permission.