Anyone else ever struggle expressing their excitement through a text message, or in this case, a blog? I am excited to meet you, but I don't think "Hey, Y'all" properly expresses my excitement. This is how we do it here in Nashville, USA.
For the past 8 years, I have been living in Nashville, TN. We are famously known as Music City and we have the best hot chicken. People here eat chicken and waffles – a combination I refuse to accept. This is also where Taylor Swift is from.
In Nashville, we make music and dance to it, and I think New York has nothing on us…but I digress.
I am a Southern girl, and there is something warm about Southern people; they are hospitable. The atmosphere lets you know that you are welcome.
Nope, I am not talking about Tennessee this time; I am talking about my motherland, South Africa. That is where I was born and raised, and where I met the love of my life, whom you know as Eirik, your teacher.
I had just graduated from journalism school and was working as a journalist for a daily newspaper. He was shooting a documentary in South Africa. It was love at first sight…I mean on his side!😊.
Falling in love was not part of the plan. Just like you, we were young and naïve, and we had our whole life ahead of us. A lot of life has happened for us since we met 14 years ago.
I am not sure how far I can go here because I am trying to keep it PG, but here is a secret: if you think this man is gorgeous now, you should have seen him 14 years ago…
I will admit, however, he’s aged like fine wine and has gained more wisdom far beyond what meets the eye. So, there is a lot more to be admired in him. Once again, fate has brought us together, and I am totally here for it.
This is your clue; life happens, whether you plan for it or not…it will keep happening. So as it happens, you hopefully gain some wisdom from those experiences.
I have lived 36 years on Earth, and here are some of the lessons I have learned.
You could be anywhere right now, but you have proactively taken responsibility for your life, and you came to school because you want to invest in your future. Because of this, I can tell you that half the work has already been done. Responsibility over your own life is something you will have to perfect repeatedly. Yes, you will encounter many challenges and with those, there will be an inclination to blame others for your misfortunes and rightfully so, some people can mislead us, however, in your response to life’s challenges always choose proactivity over passivity.
Success much like failure, it is an illusion. Those things are relative; it is your perception that determines failure or success. It is a concept that you must define for yourself because if you let the world define it for you, you will never feel successful as the world's standards are constantly changing.
We have been taught to measure success by the things we possess outwardly. For me, success is being able to conquer yourself. In life, you will have many adversaries, but the one that truly has the power to take you down is the one within yourself.
If you look deep inside, find the goodness that exists within you and embrace it. Also, see all the darkness that exists and realize that both worlds are relentlessly competing for your attention. But daily, you choose to slay the enemy within, that voice that tells you are not good enough and all the other negative things it whispers – conquering that voice is one of the greatest achievement.
Love is an inside job; all other love is a privilege. Before you can "get to know" other people, get to know yourself. You will discover that you are an incredibly beautiful person, but you will also realize that you are not as great and awesome as you might think. No one is. Love yourself with the unconditional love that you want to receive from others. Be patient, gentle, and kind to yourself, and remember that self-improvement is a lifelong journey, there are no shortcuts.
Until you learn to love yourself, you will never be able to truly love someone else, and you will never be able to receive genuine love. Most of the love we give is a projection of what we believe about love.
If we can't love ourselves correctly, we won't be able to love others correctly. How can we genuinely receive love from others if we have spent a lifetime denying ourselves that love and tenderness? We cannot claim to love the scars of others when we can't love our own.
Romantic love is not the only love that exists; this is not the only way you get to experience authentic love. True love comes in many other forms such as friendship, children, family, strangers, and if you believe in God, then God is the ultimate source of true love.
This is an assignment for everyone; no one gets to escape pain and suffering. I am an optimist, so here is my positive twist on this. The amount of pain you feel is usually correlated to the care or investment in that particular subject. If you feel great pain, this is probably the sign that you have a big heart and you care a lot.
Pain is a way that we get to remove the poison that builds up in our lives over time, just like you prune flowers and remove all the thorns from it from time to time, these moments of pain are designed to prune us, to help us look inside and outside of ourselves for something more meaningful and to learn to live for others more than we live for ourselves.
It is through pain that we learn compassion and feel empathy for others. Pain is designed to bind us together, to teach us that we are more alike than different. Pain is where the spirit of humanity lies. It is one thing that we all relate to, rich or poor, young or old - we all know this feeling.
Don’t fear pain and do not run from it but allow it to transform you to the person you were created to be. Channel your pain into something more positive, use it to change the world around you by making others feel seen, loved, and accepted. Remember, it is through adversity and pain that both heroes and villains are born. Choose your path wisely.
There is a Zulu proverb that goes, "Ithemba alibulali," which loosely translates to "hope has no fatalities." Keeping the hope, keeps us alive. It is when our hope dies that we also die. Faith comes from hope, it is what keeps us going, it reminds us that it is not the end; it whispers, this too shall pass. So, by having faith in a bright future in spite of what is happening today, we can wait patiently and stay alive.
In conclusion, find your purpose and live your life with intention. All of the above are things that happen for us, not to us. We get to decide what we do with every stone that is thrown at us. We can either build a grave or we can build a castle. The choice is yours.
I look forward to meeting you.