Somehow it is almost December, and the last month of 2017. I feel like I’ve learnt a lot about myself this year. I don’t quite know how to explain what i’ve learnt, but I just feel like I’ve finally grasped the concept of giving yourself more power in your own life. You have the power to do what you really want to. You have the power to make the effort or not make the effort. You have the power to decide how you let your morning affect the rest of your day. You have the power to control what you do with your life or what you don’t do with your life, and it doesn’t need to revolve around other people unless you want it to. You do not need to prove anything to anyone, you are enough.
Everyone is on their own unique journey and working it out for themselves as they go. You can’t compare your chapter 50 with someone else’s chapter 129. Recently I’ve given a lot of thought into what do I really want to do with my life and where will I end up living. I spend too much of my life worrying. Worrying about when I’ll be living in the same city as my family again. Worrying about missing my little siblings grow up and not being there for them. Worrying when i’ll be able to catch up with my best friends in South Africa for longer than a day or two. Worrying about wasting time where I could be elsewhere.
I know I will always have some ‘worry’ in me, but I feel like i’ve some how breathed in new “embrace the uncertainty” air. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title until much later on. All the experiences, mistakes, lessons and laughs are all parts of chapters in your life. Some bad, some good, but all a lesson. I look back on so many memories and remember some times where it felt like it was the end of the world, but life just goes on. I also look back on absolutely incredible memories where only later on do you realize their significance and value.
I wish I could hold onto some memories and just never let go. That’s why I’m learning to live in the moment and appreciate what you have now, because I know I’ll look back and wish I made the most of it. There is no point of dwelling/ living in the past just as much as there is no point stressing about what hasn’t even happened yet. “Trust the wait. Embrace the uncertainty. Enjoy the beauty of becoming. When nothing is certain, anything becomes possible.”
One of the only things constant in life is change. I don’t want to look back in a few years when I reach 30 and think about how I spent my 20s worrying about my future. I want to use my 20s to find myself, to learn how to truly live in the moment, go on adventures and travel, to work hard and save up, to be productive and achieve my goals, to challenge myself and accomplish things I didn’t think I could. I want to try my hardest to set myself up for my best life possible, but also let myself be human and live a little. Not every day can be perfect, but make the most of your life and your circumstances. Have faith that it will all work out.
Who knows if I’ll ever know why I won a greencard in the D.V lottery. Who knows what my life would have looked life if I didn’t and I was still in South Africa. Who knows what made me think I had had the courage to move across the world and leave my family and best friends. Who knows if I’d be the same person I am today if I didn’t have to go through those life changing experiences. But I believe there always has to be a reason even if I don’t know it yet.
Besides the fact that we woke up today, we’re breathing and we’re alive – I found myself thinking about so many reasons to be happy this morning. For the first time in a long time, I feel settled. I’ve slowly managed to accomplish a lot for myself here in Atlanta, and having my mom visit has been the icing/cherry/giant brownie on the cake. Sometimes when you’re trying to live by taking each day at a time, after a while you lose sight of how far you’ve come or how great your life actually is when you just live in the moment.
Having my family here with me in the States would make life a bizzilion times better/ easier but that doesn’t change the fact that I do have a pretty awesome life here now. Yes, the number one thing I wish for is being able to see my family and friends but you’ve got to just appreciate what’s possible and enjoy every second I do get with them when I get the chance. It’s been incredible being able to show my mom around Atlanta; where I stay and where I work, the beautiful nature, the city, the people in my life here. It’s an awesome feeling knowing she is more connected to my life here now that she has seen it with her own eyes, as opposed to the countless Facetime sessions.
I’m Twenty Four years old in 9 days. Super exciting yet nerve-racking, as everyone older than me keeps telling me that every year of your life will keep going by faster and faster as you get older. Nevertheless I look forward to what my future brings. I’m proud and blessed to have had my experiences and memories from my past, and I’m excited for my 24th year on Earth. I feel like I’m at an awesome age – I have a great job where I feel significant and valued, I’m independent, I’ve traveled the world and still have so much to see, and I don’t have any serious life-long responsibilities at this stage of my life. I’ve got my degree and I’m going to start applying for my post-graduate studies to see what my options are here for Psychology. I finally have a car here which is monumentally life changing and really made me feel more stable and secure.
My family (Mom, Abba & Rachel) have the opportunity to move to Manchester, England at the end of the year – which is going to be such an incredible adventure for them. I so look forward to having them a little closer to America! I’m excited for them and I know as challenging as it can be moving to a new country, if I can do it then they definitely can. It’s sad to think about selling our home, but ‘home’ for me over these last few years has had to be in the hearts of those whom I love. My family and friends are my home. They are what hold me together when I feel unraveled. Even though I wouldn’t change this experience of my journey to independence, self-realization and self-love – it makes a massive difference having the support system I have around the world. I’m so lucky to live in a day and age where most of my closest friends and family live around the world and I can still be in contact with them daily through the internet.
Next weekend I’m flying to Canada to spend the weekend with my family and finally to meet my gorgeous baby cousin Kailash. Being able to spend my birthday with my mom and my awesome Canada family is going to be bloody incredible. Plus, Ottawa is magnificent! I cannot wait. Also, one of my Atlanta besties Claire and I almost share a birthday, so we’re having a little fiesta together next week to celebrate before I’m away for the weekend. It’s nothing major, but just being able to have a get-together with the cool people part of my life here is massive to me. The last few birthdays since I left SA have been pretty awful/ average to say the least, so I am really looking forward to having a fantastic birthday with no expectations – just awesome people.
Overall today I feel grateful, happy and hopeful. Hopeful that life will work out the way it is meant to; for me, my family and everyone I love. There is always something to be grateful for.
“Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is meant to look like, and celebrating it for everything that it is.”
I feel like 2016 was a pretty shitty year for the world in general. But to be honest when I look back at 2016 – it was actually an amazing year for me. Yes there were struggles, but overall I really did have an awesome year. Sometimes when you think life is really hard, you need some perspective (getting to go home and visit) to make you appreciate life the way it should be appreciated.
Was it an easy year? Definitely not. But when I look back the nights I slept on mattresses on the floor/ a couch, I appreciate the hell out of my bedroom. When I look back at the hours stuck at work on the weekends, I remember how worth it it all was when I got to travel across Europe with my bestie and meet my family in Amsterdam. When I think about the nights I cried myself to sleep, I think about how far I have come and how much I have to be proud of. When I think about how I came back to Atlanta after my Eurotrip not really having a clue where I was going to be living or what I’d be doing for work, I smile and think about my awesome job and apartment I have now.
Even though I only had two weeks to spend with my family and friends back home in South Africa, I’m grateful I atleast had the opportunity to be with them. Even though the visit was short it was better than still being stuck and not having much to come back to. Also, I’m grateful I atleast have an incredible family across the world that I love unconditionally. So even if I feel alone, I’m never completely on my own.
I’m so beyond grateful that 2016 allowed me to travel the world, spend time with my amazing family, see how grown up my siblings are, learn how to be more independant, work my ass off, achieve my goals, make new friends, appreciate true friendships, learn from my mistakes, focus on my own happiness, be kind and understand that karma is real, and appreciate the little things in life.
Trust that everything happens for a reason. Even the hardest times end up being a lesson at some point and help us be more humble, grateful human beings.
Bring on the 2017 adventures ❤
I originally wrote this post 22 days ago but ended up deleting it and keeping it as a draft. I figured it was something I could read without having my vulnerable words open to everyone on the internet. I hadn’t looked at it since, until this morning. I felt like I wanted to write but I didn’t have the words to express how I felt. Then I saw “Dear Future Lee”.
I wanted to write this for myself, and for anyone having a rough day who just needed some reassurance and positivity. No room for judgements here – if no one reads this but me from time to time then this served it’s purpose.
What you are feeling is temporary. Right now, something is bothering you and that’s okay. What isn’t okay is letting it impact your entire day, not realizing and being aware of what is bothering you, or expecting things to change that are ultimately not going to.
Take a deep breath. No don’t just read this, actually breathe… Stretch. Drink some coffee. If you didn’t have time to do your yoga this morning make sure you do it tonight. Listen to some Bob Marley or Kendrick Lamar depending on what mood you’re in.
It is normal to not constantly be happy, you are allowed to feel down at times. What is important is being able to reflect on it and be aware that just because something is bothering you in this moment it doesn’t mean everything else in your life sucks.
Look at what you have accomplished this year. You moved to Georgia knowing a single person that isn’t even in your life anymore and barely was to begin with. You managed to make your trip to Europe with your best friend a reality. You worked hard and it paid off; you have an amazing job. You’re moving into your apartment this weekend.
Yes, you get so lonely. Yes, it’s confusing and really shitty at times. But ask yourself if you actually believe that anyone would find this easy? You’ve got to take a step back and give yourself more credit. You need to be surrounding yourself with positive vibes and people who genuinely care. Step out of your comfort zone. You always used to.
There will come a time in your life where you realize that it really was all part of the journey. All the hardships will make you more grateful. It won’t just be something you have to keep telling yourself but it will be your reality.
The things that upset you now will be insignificant. There is no point in wasting time thinking about what could be. Who knows where you’ll end up in the world. You do what makes YOU happy. If you aren’t significant in someone’s eyes then they aren’t worth your tears. Don’t force anything.
Understand that your mind has a way of leading you to believe that your insecurities and fears have power over you. I promise you, give it a couple hours and trust me it will be okay. No I don’t mean wait and your problems will go away, but it will allow your emotions to calm down and your thoughts to become more rational.
You don’t need to ignore your feelings or try push away the pain. Understand that it is temporary. Life will work out the way it is meant to. It is what it is and everything happens for a reason even if you don’t know what the reason is yet. Listen to your heart but don’t let it take complete control of your emotions.
You are only twenty-three. Yes, you’re not an eighteen year old anymore but that doesn’t mean you have to have your life together now. Most adults still don’t know what they’re doing. So stop being so hard on yourself and forgetting about all the good in your life as soon as things seem shit. You are better than that and you know it.
Breathe. You are worthy. You deserve happiness and love. You deserve to put yourself first. So next time you’re feeling down, confused, frustrated or just having a shitty day – just remember you are a bad ass, you’re doing a good job, whatever you’re feeling is temporary and if it isn’t then you need to make a change.
I’m posting this because if I feel like being able to read this really impacted how I felt today, then maybe it could help someone else needing it. I took the time a few weeks ago to write down words that reassured me and that I knew I could read when I needed to and feel more calm and secure. A lot of it is very personal to me but it goes to show that having positive affirmations can help put things into perspective when you need it. It’s important to understand that you control your own happiness.
I don’t even know where to start and of course when I finally put pen to paper my pen doesn’t work properly. (Not taking it as a sign, gets new pen)
Last year I got into the habit of writing regularly and I didn’t delay capturing my thoughts for very long. I really loved it. It was a way I could look back and see what was on my mind at that time. I wish I had forced myself to set aside time to sit, gather my thoughts and just write more often this year.
Before my Eurotrip I had planned on making an amazing GoPro video as well as writing a post for each country we went to. We ended up being so busy that when we weren’t busy – we were sleeping. It was the most incredible three weeks, but the late nights led to nocturnal sleeping habits as we pretty much just slept on the bus while we travelled to the next place in the day (No regrets). I definitely wish I wrote more throughout the trip but I did take tons of photos and will always have the memories. Eventually I will finish the video and post about my European adventure but for now I’m just glad I’m actually writing so I’m just going to keep going.
The trip flew by and I headed back to NYC to visit family and friends in NJ before getting back to reality with my life in Georgia. I started putting the videos together and sorting out my photos but it honestly made me miss my best friend and my family so much that it led to a lot of procrastination.
The weeks after getting back went so quickly and July had become August, August became September, September became October, and all of a sudden it is the bloody 20th of October. It is kind of scary when you think about how quickly the months go by without even realizing it. I mean come on, by the end of December I would have lived in America for TWO YEARS. *Mind blown*
For the first time in my life I have an amazing, stable and intriguing job. I am so grateful for it everyday even though it’s just a job. It makes me feel productive and significant, and it has given me the opportunity to really settle into real life in Atlanta. Before my trip I was comfortable not doing anything serious for work and just wanted to save up and be able to travel. Then afterwards I went through a strange place trying to understand what I want, how I’m going to get it, and what need to be my priorities. So having a steady salary paid 9-5 job might not seem ideal to many 23 year olds but it is exactly what I needed.
Other than that it hasn’t been an easy four months. I moved in with a friend of a friend who opened up her home to me when I basically had nowhere to live. I am so grateful for her kindness. After a few weeks I moved in with some awesome friends who let me crash in their spare room. They are such genuine and kind people, and they helped me to get my head in the right space just by giving me a room to call my own. I never realized how much I had taken things like a bed for granted my whole life. This year has been a hell of a ride for my messed up back living life as a nomad couch surfing.
When I moved to Brookhaven I had no real job (just waitressing) and had no idea what I was going to do. I spent weeks looking for jobs online and after spending a day handing out my resumes to wherever I possibly could, I got a call from my family friend that night. He explained his friend is an Attorney and their firm was looking for a new Administrative Assistant/ Receptionist. I emailed him my resume immediately, went for an interview the next day, and had an offer emailed to me later that night 🙂
However when it comes to taking care of myself and staying productive personally, it has been a struggle and I’ve definitely lacked ‘me-time’. All the moving back and fourth (I am now back in Sandy Springs, long irrelevant story) really impacted my mental state and motivation towards fitness; which prior to my trip was a huge part of my mental and physical wellbeing.
After a much needed candle-lit bubble bath, I’ve realized that I really need to start taking my own advice and also work on not feeling guilty putting my myself and my happiness first. It hit me that yes I can keep procrastinating but it is literally only detrimental to my life if I don’t start making an effort to work on my own happiness. When I am happy, I am excited to get shit done and cross things off my list, but I tend to stay busy and distracted to avoid thinking about everything that stresses me out and it is a problem I am aware of.
I know I should feel proud of my accomplishments but it is hard to see the bigger picture when there is still so much to be done. Primarily being a car, apartment and my post-graduate studies; which are all way easier said than done when you are pretty much doing it alone.
Looking forward to camping tomorrow night. There is just something about being in nature that makes me happy and free from the stresses of life. Rant over – I don’t even know where I am getting at anymore but I’m glad I picked up my Van Gogh notebook and just started writing tonight. I clearly needed it.
Just over two weeks ago I made my way to JFK for my flight back to SA. 15 hours, 3 movies, some series, a couple chapters of Tina Fey’s “Bossy Pants” and a glass of wine later, I landed in Johannesburg. As I got off the plane I couldn’t help but smile when I thought about how I’d get to see my little siblings soon after around 9 months of being in the states. Seeing them again was unbelievable and even though I’d seen photos of them throughout the year, I couldn’t believe how big they had gotten.
The next day I had my flight home to Durban as I would be back in JHB the following week for my gran’s wedding. I had planned to surprise my sister Rachel for her 18th birthday and her Matric Dance, so I had to be very careful to not mess up the surprise by talking to her when I should have been sleeping (America is 6 hours behind), or snapchat my little siblings by mistake and ruin months of keeping the secret. My mom fetched me from the airport and it was so good being back in Durbs again.
I was back in the land of robots, Rands, left side passenger seats and beggars on the side of the road, which took some getting used to I won’t lie. Looking outside the window on the drive home from the airport made me happy knowing I was home. I appreciated the sugar-cane fields and the beautiful sea views more than I ever have. Driving through Umhlanga, La Lucia and Durban North made me think how crazy it is that you can spend so much time in places and then be away for almost a year, go back and feel like you never left.
I arrived home freaking out I was so excited to surprise my sister. She knew I’d be coming home soon for the wedding, but I told her I wouldn’t be able to come back before her birthday. The surprise was great, she cried so of course I cried too. Being home again was amazing. Seeing my family, my soul-dog and just being able to chill out at home again was just perfect.
In America I was the one with the accent, ‘cool’ nonetheless, but I couldn’t get a sentence out without getting asked where I was from. Now since I’ve been back in SA, every now and then when I talk people say “OMG you sound so American!” I can never win. Dealt with constantly being asked if I was Australian or British, to say things, speak Zulu, the list goes on, and now when I’m back home I apparently sound American. What can you do.
What has taken some getting used to is how I am back to rands and not dollars. Getting an iced coffee for R32 seemed like a lot of money to me until I realized that was around $2. We went to spar and got some groceries and I realized as I got to the till that I couldn’t for the life of me remember my pin for my card here, so I used my Chase card from the states. The groceries came to around R60 and it took something like $3.50 off my card which is bloody crazy. That’s like a grande coffee at Starbucks. That exchange rate though.
Rachel looked so beautiful at her dance and I’m so glad I got to be there for it, as well as her birthday. She grew up too fast, it makes me feel extremely old knowing she is 18 already. But it is very awesome and exciting.
What took getting used to was how we drive on the left side of the road with the driver on the right of the car, the walls around houses and electric fences, the humidity, and the fact that I could chill out and do whatever I wanted to and not have to be at work for 11 hours a day. What did I miss the most? My family of course, then the South African accents, then the Indian food and samp and beans. I miss my friends like crazy but luckily I’ll see them next week when I visit Rhodes again!
Last Thursday we drove up to JHB. We had my gran’s wedding on Sunday which was absolutely beautiful and so so special. All the grand-kids were bridesmaids, flower girls/ boys; so we all got to be a part of the wedding which was amazing. Not many grandchildren get to be at their granny’s wedding, never mind all twelve of us! It was a beautiful wedding, and I’m so happy for my gorgeous gran and Ron.
I’ve been in JHB for a week now and will be here till I leave for Grahamstown which is next Friday. I’ve loved getting to spend time with my Joburg family whom I adore. It’s kinda scary but very exciting to think about being back in good old Gtizzle with everyone again. I’m so happy to get to be with the kids again, and happy I’ll get to see my friends soon too. Speaking of friends, I didn’t realize how I’d come back from the states having really great friends that I miss already. So even though I do miss them and it sucks, I’m glad I have people to miss back in NJ.
Well that was quite a long blog post but I’ve needed to sit down and actually type this out for awhile now, so here it is! I’ll post one with some photos since I’ve been back soon.