The end of the year is getting closer and closer, which always puts me into reflection mode. If you know me, you’ll probably know that I never reflect more than when my birthday and the end of the year come around – for some reason, they always feel like new chapters.
If I was gonna give a title to 2018, I’d call it ‘The Year of Shaniqua’. As much as I prefer to put others first, this year was about me and putting myself first, particularly through the second half, which I haven’t been doing a whole lot of in recent years.
A few months into this year, I came to the realisation that I had been seriously struggling mentally and emotionally for a long time, but had rarely given my mind and heart time to catch up. Looking back, I can now see how broken I was, meaning that I was not giving the best of myself to others. If I wanted to truly make a difference in the world and find my love for Young People Insight again, I needed to take time out and give myself the opportunity to heal.
I took a two month [semi] break this year, which was exactly what I needed. I was able to enjoy time just being ‘Shaniqua’, rather than being ‘Shaniqua the Activist’ or ‘Shaniqua the Facilitator’ or ‘Shaniqua the Youth Advocate’. I was also able to spend some more time developing as ‘Shaniqua the Poet’, which was amazing, as well as having more time to be ‘Shaniqua the Friend’. It was great, although I would have loved a little more alone time, but you can’t always get everything you want.
Having time out made me realise that I need to take moments away from all I’m doing when necessary, which may mean cancelling a meeting when I’m feeling mentally unwell or putting aside work for an afternoon when I’m feeling emotionally drained. I am just important as the people I want to reach. I also decided to remove my Yahoo Mail app on my phone for good, as I did not want to be consistently checking it anymore.
I also wanted this to be the year of the ‘Single Shaniqua’, after coming out of a toxic relationship at the end of last year. He came at one of the worst years of my life, when I was unknowingly incredibly broken, and still not over Charming, who I had really fallen for and had broken my heart. It was like he was preyed on my brokenness, which enabled him to exploit my vulnerabilities and weaknesses, causing me to behave like someone I’m not – I never want to be that person again.
It was a horribly negative experience, which put me off relationships, but it was also a learning experience. I learned how much I do enjoy being single and that a full-blown relationship really wasn’t for me at this time of my life. I have so much going on that I want to apply my heart, mind and time to, without the addition of having to give so much intentional consideration and love to a boyfriend. I also knew that I had a whole lot of work to do on myself – and also get over Charming – before I could even consider getting into a relationship again. Although I have had some involvement with guys, I can happily say that I am still ‘Single Shaniqua’.
More than anything though, I’ve grown a lot this year and been able to move forward in a lot of ways, which was necessary after an awful 2017 and very trying 2016. I’ve learnt a whole lot about myself, mainly through looking over my prayer journal and speaking to my amazing God, which has enforced how resilient I am and reminded me of how much I’ve achieved. I’ve come to see that I need to be a lot less hard on myself, which I’m still finding difficult, but am working through.
I’m also continuing to ask God to help me work on my other negatives. I’m trying to eliminate my frustrating inner narcissist. I’m still fighting against comparing myself to others. I’m continuing to work on being more patient, managing my time better, and most of all of, being more temperate and consistent with eating healthily, exercising and going to bed early. Consistency is seriously one of my biggest vices.
This year may not have started off 100%, but it’s been a good one as a whole. I’ve enjoyed 2018 and I’m looking forward to seeing what 2019 brings, which I am already coining as ‘The Year of Young People Insight’ – I am definitely taking my baby to the next level in the new year.
However, despite it being ‘The Year of Shaniqua’, there have been amazing people that have contributed to my year and it would not have been the same without them. Of course, there are always too many to mention in one post, which is why I plan to do something I haven’t done in a while and write a series of posts about some of the beautiful people who have played a special part in my 2018. Keep any eye out for them – you never know, I could be writing about you.