This year has been a weird one, a real weird one. I came into it with uncertainty, but optimism, ready to embrace the new paths in my life and actually make 2016 my year. However, life is never what you expect and this year didn’t turn out to be my year.
What started out so positively, with a good turnout at my first youth forum and a new job that fitted my situation perfectly, soon turned into negative heartbreak. Losing my grandad back in March hurt more than I could have ever imagined, then suddenly losing my aunty in June was another major blow to my heart. The death of someone you love is never something you want to have on the agenda and I’m still struggling to come to terms with the fact that they’re gone – I don’t know when it will properly sink in.
The deaths of my grandad and aunty sent the first half of this year on a downward spiral, which wasn’t helped by the dwindling numbers at my youth forum or having to stop counselling when I needed my counsellor most. Uncertainty, doubt and self-hate kicked in, with my self-worth at a major low and I didn’t know how to raise it up again. My relationship with writing broke down with my broken heart, and I felt that I couldn’t turn to anyone. I’m just glad that God was always there in my darkness, never leaving me or letting me down.
Nevertheless, weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Taking part in The Complete Freedom of Truth (TCFT) in August was a huge saving grace for me, providing me with the time I needed to mourn and helping to mend my relationship with writing in the process. Despite feeling lost, out-of-place and lonely during the beginning of the process, I found my way and felt a lot better by the end. I loved having the opportunity to perform poetry again and organising the poetry night finally gave me the confidence to put on my own poetry nights in Croydon for my youth platform, Young People Insight.
Being around the individuals from TCFT was also a great help. My darling Rory was my superhero during those two weeks and I felt blessed to spend so much time with him. The beautiful Tina, who has become my biggest champion, has given me so much confidence and support, which I am incredibly grateful for. It was a pleasure to get to know Sandra better and develop a stronger relationship with her, as she gave me advice and support in some of my down times. I just adore my partner in crime Ellie, I don’t know where I would have been without her. And there are so many more names, which I don’t even want to mention in case I forget and offend someone. The love I have for my TCFT family cannot even be expressed with words.
Volunteering at the soup kitchen at the church I attend has also been a major high for me this year, as I got to know some truly lovely people and develop new, meaningful relationships, which I treasure. Getting to know a group of individuals from Poland has given me greater understanding of Polish people and I have gained a new respect for them, as well as a deep love for Eastern Europeans. It also gave me a renewed vigour to make a difference in this world, fight injustice and change it for the better. God has given me a calling and although it’s tough to embrace at times, I do want to answer the call.
There have been a number of other highlights, including my holiday to Bosnia, having the opportunity to work with so many beautiful children and making new friends. My youth forum has continued to grow and develop, with much more happening next year. I just want to take this time to give a special mention to the young people who have come out and supported Young People Insight on a regular – Andrae, Alana, Randy, Jason, Kyle, Hakeem, Darnell and Rhi; I love you guys.
Although 2016 hasn’t been what I wanted it to be or thought it would be, it has been special in a lot of ways, full of fun, love and laughter. It may not seem like it a lot of the time, but I have achieved a lot and grown a lot. I still have a long way to go in 2017, but I know that God will get me there and continue to bless me, because He is my rock and my constant. I know He’ll never let me down. I just hope that I continue to grow into the person He wants me to be and follow the path He’s set me on. And besides, one more year means one step closer to seeing my grandad and aunty again.