31 December, 2016
2016 has been one of the most transformative years of my life. When I look back on myself a year ago, I can’t believe how much has changed; not just the life I’m living, but the person that I’ve become.
A year ago, I was consistently depressed, anxious, full of bitterness and resentment, with low self-worth, and confident that this would probably continue for the rest of my life.
Today, after a year of challenges, triumphs, and personal changes, I am overall pretty happy, content, usually calm, and have a much healthier self-worth (most of the time).
After five years of this same merry-go-round of depression and anxiety, low self-worth, guilt, shame, and resentment, I’ve finally turned a new page. I genuinely didn’t have much hope that things would ever change, but throughout the year my negative assumptions were shattered, and a lot of the brokenness in my life was restored.
How did this happen? I’ll put it all in points to make it clear, and give you some food for thought:
1. I faced a huge amount of setback. This setback forced me to change the life I was living.
- Beginning the year, I was working almost full-time as an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher at a language school, while dealing with Chronic Fatigue, and going through a difficult breakup.
- I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).
- By the end of my contract in March, I was struggling to stand up in class without feeling dizzy.
- I ended a serious relationship – this was a crushing experience, but one that needed to happen.
- I spent three months unemployed on Centrelink benefits. It was mostly a time of grief and loneliness, but it led to the events that happened next.
2. I started to read and journal about self-worth, and how low self-worth had affected so much of my decision making throughout my life.
- I began to reverse this damage through counselling, accountability with friends, and learning how to correct my negative thinking patterns.
- I forgave (and continued to forgive) people who I was bitter and resentful towards.
- I started a treatment program for CFS, which was extremely helpful in learning to manage my symptoms.
- I reexamined my faith, and developed a better understanding of what it meant to be loved, forgiven and accepted as God’s child.
- I started learning how to challenge fear, and guilt, and shame, and instead make decisions out of love and joy.
3. I began to actively make decisions to reinforce my self-worth
- With the free time and limited energy that I had, I began to do things that I wanted to do, simply because I wanted to.
- I began intentional self-care – exercising, eating well, sleeping well, and doing things that I enjoyed.
- I began to pursue my own hobbies, which I never used to allow myself time for. I began composing music, continued to write poetry, read, play video games, etc.
- I spent money on myself in order to push past the guilt of self-care, and improve my health and happiness.
- I made new friends, and spent more time with people who built me up rather than tore me down.
4. I learned how to pay attention to my own emotions
- After a few months of this, in the middle of the year I began a new part-time job in an office in the city. This took some navigating, but I was able to make it work for me.
- I learned to accept when I felt tired, exhausted, or fatigued, and allowed myself to listen to these feelings and respond as needed.
- When I was sick, I called in sick to work. When I was tired while at a social event, I left.
- When I was frustrated or angry, I began to express it in calm and healthy ways, and didn’t sacrifice my emotional health out of a sense of “duty” to someone else.
- I refused to tolerate disrespect or abuse. If someone insulted me, or someone I cared about, or offended me, I did my best to voice my thoughts.
- I began to assert my own needs, when the default was usually to ignore them and focus on the needs of others instead.
5. I thought about the person I wanted to be, and began to work towards that
- For the first 6-8 months of the year, life was one day at a time, one foot before the other. Later, however, I began to get in a good rhythm, and for the first time in a very long time, I felt consistently positive and happy for more than a few hours at a time.
- I began to think about where I was going, and started to set goals for myself, which made me excited and hopeful towards the future.
- I started this blog.
- I began releasing my own music.
- I enrolled in a university course for next year, knowing full well the risks and challenges involved.
There were many more setbacks, stumbles and disappointments throughout this process. There was a lot of family drama, so much so that I moved in with some friends for over a month. I didn’t manage to meet most of my health goals and grew pretty disappointed in myself for a fair while. I had a virus for about a month, which pushed me back in just about every area of life.
While there were a lot of hard times, though, the person that I am now was able to handle it. Me a year ago would stay depressed, but me now is learning how to deal with these setbacks. There are plenty of really bad days, but I’m confident that whatever happens next year, I will be able to handle it.
I know now, more than ever, that change is possible, and there is hope for anyone. No matter how dark the world is, there is hope in Jesus, and he is doing great things that we never expect.
Earlier this year, hip hop artist Sho Baraka released an album, in which he shared a line that has helped me in this process: “I know there’s grace for me even when I’m wrong.”
At times, I’m terrified of making decisions and I am afraid of failure. Posting statuses, writing blogs, releasing music, planning for the future, I’m scared of the repercussions if I fail, or do something wrong. But this quote summarises why I made this blog, “I know there’s grace for me even when I’m wrong” – when I say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, fail, or make mistakes, God still accepts me because of what Jesus has done for me, and everything will be OK.
I am more confident than ever, yet, most importantly, I know there’s grace for me even when I’m wrong.
Happy New Year,
Photo – This is one of my favourite places in the world, and is about 20 minutes from my place. Over the past year it has been a place to think, pray, and relax. Now it symbolises just how far I’ve come over the past year. 🙂
Grace for Failures is my blog to encourage and inspire people who have gotten life wrong for a long time, and want to try and do things a little differently. Click here for more info, and here for more posts.