I do not know about everybody else, but 2018 was a challenging year for me. Especially the first half of the year. I found it difficult to find a healthy work life balance which consequently led me to neglect my physical and mental wellbeing. I started to struggle with anxiety and I found myself in a very murky space. Even though it was tough for me, it was a year that needed to happen in order for me to be in a better place right now. I was forced to make decisions that changed my life and redirected my energy towards other things that would heal me from the pain I was feeling. Maybe this will subsequently make me resilient to other obstacles that may come my way?
Despite all of that, I have so much to be grateful for. I believe that by practicing gratitude and reflecting on the great things, as well as everything that went wrong, I will be able to reconcile my past and start 2019 with positive vibes. I hope by reading this, you too will also try and find light even in the darkest time of your life.
My Gratitude List
- Danced my heart out
One of the things I love about Kenya is the clubbing scene. Usually, but not always, the clubs are vibrant with good music and people, who just want to have fun. I was particularly lucky because I surrounded myself with people who were all about the good vibes. I hated clubbing in university and I realised it was because I was hanging out with the wrong people and going to the wrong places. I am all about the dancing and just having a good time. 2018 was that year for me- channeling my alter ego and dancing like no one is watching!
- Celebrated my 25th Birthday
I do not usually celebrate my birthday but I was turning 25, so I had to make it a little bit more special. I got treated to a full body massage, had dinner with friends and danced until the early hours of the morning. I could not have asked for more.
- Figured out what I did not want
I made the conscious decision to quit my job and pursue something that I am really passionate about. Looking back now, this was one of the best decisions I made in 2018. I also realised the kind of people I wanted in my life, the kind of energy I wanted around me. I accepted that some friendships were not permanent so I let them go and I stopped following social media accounts that evoke gossip and negativity. By clearing that space in my life, I only made room for other good things.
- Spent less time on social media
I have been on social media since the mid 2000s when Piczo became a “thing”, then Myspace, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat soon followed suit. I love social media and I understand the benefits of it; catching up with my long distance friends and family, as well as finding out what is going on in every corner of this world. Social media unites and empowers but unfortunately, it has the power to divide and destroy. I found myself caring a lot about what I saw on a screen, whether it was a fear of missing out or even envying people who seem like they’ve got their life together. So to deal with this, I decided to limit my time on social media and spend more time in the present which has worked wonders on my wellbeing. I have cut the amount of time I spend on my phone per day by half and I am not keen on knowing what other people are doing – I am just focusing on me and what makes me happy.
- Moved back to the UK
Living and working in Kenya had been my dream for as long as I can remember. The thought of going back home and being close to family and friends was something I prayed for everyday. That day came, but it was a lot more difficult than I expected. I romanticized how my experience would be in my head and in turn that dream slowly crushed as soon as I got settled. A year and a half later I craved for something else and moving to the UK was a change that helped me get back on my feet, to readdress the way I want my life to go.
- Got back to reading
I love reading but it was a difficult habit to form, especially when I was working like crazy. After I left Kenya, I stayed out of work for a while and knew that it would be a great time to get into the habit. I read 13 books in 6 months and created a habit that I am trying to carry on with now that I am in full time employment.
- Discovered the power of podcasts
I have friends who always listened to podcasts but I did not think it would have been something for me until I discovered the podcast app on my phone and explored the different content that was out there – that changed the game for me. From programmes that explore the Kenyan story like The Otherwise Podcast, to really cool science and technology stories such as Radiolab to news and current affairs like The Economist and even women-ran shows like Jesus and Jellof, I now cannot imagine my life without them.
- Started taking writing more seriously
I have always loved writing but was too lazy to do something about it. I became a contributor on Elite Daily but for a year though I did not get the motivation to write what I wanted. 2018 and Melanated Thoughts changed that. When my friend Jamila asked me to start writing for the blog, I knew it was an opportunity to take my love for writing a bit more seriously. My first piece I am my hair got posted nearly a year ago and I have gotten into the habit of making more time to share personal content that resonates with other people.
- Got into meditation
As I previously mentioned, I started struggling with my mental health in the first half of 2018. My anxiety levels increased and I was almost crying every day, even my parents noticed that I was not the same person anymore. After I left my previous role, I found a place where people practiced meditation and this helped my healing process. I am still trying to make it more consistent with my lifestyle but I am now able to manage my stress and know when to take time out if something conflicts with my health.
- Got through 2018 alive
Being able to see another year is a blessing because I know a lot of people were not able to see 2019. Despite the hardships that life throws at us, being on earth with loved ones is the most important thing. And for that, I am truly grateful.
Happy 2019! May it bring you Peace, Joy and Strength