Birthday musing: 36 events that shaped my life

The last time I wrote a birthday post was 4 years ago. Today, I turn 36 and I challenged myself to think about defining moments that shaped my character and perspective on life. It was surprisingly easy! I also realised that whatever I write about is rooted in one or more of these events. So if you’re ever wondering what’s wrong – or right – with me, here are 36 events that shaped me:

  1. being born first

  2. being born female

  3. being born Black African

  4. being told early that I am smarter than most people

  5. being told later that I am not

  6. being called ‘ugly’ more than once

  7. finding out not everybody likes me

  8. finding out I don’t like everybody

  9. having a really good maths teacher throughout primary school

  10. following simple instructions without questioning

  11. questioning simple instructions

  12. living in the Middle East for most of my teens

  13. marrying in my early 20s

  14. having children

  15. being the only black person in the room

  16. being the only woman in the room

  17. meeting people who believe in me

  18. meeting people I believe in

  19. finding out that people can lie straight to my face

  20. finding out that there is a power greater than anything or anyone

  21. learning to tap into that power

  22. leaving a job where it was not okay to be ambitious

  23. leaving a job where my values and the company’s values did not align

  24. leaving a job to follow my ambition

  25. discovering the past can be left behind

  26. learning that living in the present is more important than worrying about the future

  27. appreciating my sense of humor and that I have it for a reason

  28. writing – even when I don’t feel like it

  29. loving – even when I don’t feel like it

  30. rejecting words that tear me down

  31. accepting words that build me up

  32. getting proof that time heals almost everything

  33. letting friends walk away

  34. walking away from friends

  35. loving myself just as I am

  36. allowing people love me without questioning if I’m deserving of it

I hope to continue dealing with some of these events through my writing here. Fingers crossed, it won’t be too uncomfortable…

Happy birthday to me! 🙂

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Motion

At the last minute, I decided to participate in the photo challenge this week. It’s a great one – motion. Here my entry:

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I love the fire works on the cake presented at a birthday party this weekend. The kids were so excited that we had a couple of goes with the fireworks candles. The little boy turning 6 even got to make a wish.

Other great entries:
Crafty lady in combat boots – Motion

Lucid Gypsy – Motion

I hope everyone had a great weekend too!

The luxury of being average (4 years later)

If you have been visiting this blog for a while, you may remember one of my popular blog posts back in July 2011 titled, ‘The luxury of being average. Here is an excerpt from it:

Now and then, I wrestle with my fear of being average. I worry that I’ll live an average life that won’t be worth remembering and be just as good or worse than the person that came before. I always want to be better.

Before I go on, let me put a definition of ‘average’ out here. Cambridge dictionary defines ‘average’ as

a standard or level considered to be typical or usual.

I re-read the post recently and my feelings have changed slightly but significantly. I still find easygoing folks a little annoying and I still want to be damn good at what I do. But I have found a way to live with the fact I am not good at everything and that I need to find my niche in life. How am I living with this? Here’s how: The crux of my 2011 blog post was that I felt under a lot of pressure. I know now that I was probably striving for the wrong things. It had very little (if anything at all) to do with average-ness, whether I deemed that to be a curse or a blessing. I wanted to be what other people wanted me to be and that was incredibly exhausting.

Angry or confused face?

When I handed in my resignation this past February, I discovered people find change very uncomfortable and some have certain views on what I am supposed to be and the things I am meant to achieve. To announce that I’m probably not going to achieve those things because I don’t want to is a pill some still have under their tongue and haven’t swallowed. I would say to someone, “hey, I quit my job!” and then they would proceed to tell me why they cannot quit their job. All good information but eh, I haven’t asked you to quit your job! It’s pretty funny to watch/listen to. So…do I still fear being ‘average’? No, not really. I think that regardless of whether I keep up with people’s expectations or not, I will never be average simply because I am who I am. Those decisions and the life journeys I choose to go on are unique to me. Whether or not I succeed on the path I’m on doesn’t change that. And…do I think being average is a luxury? If I define ‘average’ as

not having too much or too little and not aspiring far beyond the current reality

then yes, it could provide the luxury of a content, relatively stress-free existence. As I glance back at the definitions of ‘average’, I know it’s a luxury I cannot afford. Guess I’ll never learn.

Images from flickr user: thejuniorpartner – Angry or confused face?

What you think of me

My 5-year old daughter LOVES music. She’s got a great sense of rhythm that even her teachers have picked up on. Each time we are in the car together and I’ve got music playing, she sings along – particularly if it’s a female artist. She also makes special requests like, “Mummy, could you play that song with the girl that wants to wreck a ball??” Then I skip to Miley Cyrus’ ‘Wrecking Ball’. As she listens to the song, she will often ask, “Mummy, is the girl in the song happy or sad?” Most of the time, I say the girl is sad. I see in my mirror that my daughter becomes sad too. Suddenly, a somewhat meaningless song becomes a sadness-inducer. Today – a day after my birthday- I couldn’t help thinking about how I often let other people’s feelings or disposition smear on me.

Self-conscious

I admit that for most of my life, I’ve been virtually obsessed with what people think of me. At first, it was a guide as I picked up social norms in the different cultures I was raised in. People’s reactions to me helped me know if I was doing the right thing. If people seemed anxious, I would become anxious too. If they appeared pleased, then I was pleased. For years, I learned how to behave by observing people’s reactions to me. I suppose it’s a skill that everyone picks up from early years but it often made me miserable. Ultimately, people are inconsistent and unreliable. They approve of you today but they are not sure of you tomorrow.

Self-aware

I recently started reading a book on authentic leadership (True North by Bill George). As I read the first few pages, I realised that I’d carried a bad habit into my adulthood. I thought I was being self aware by considering others’ reactions to me but I was really being self-conscious. Self-awareness is considering my own reactions to situations – identifying my triggers and managing them. I can’t control how people feel or what they think of me but I can control how I react to it. I’ve found this realisation liberating. I can be myself far more freely without the extra pressure of guessing, considering and trying to change what people think.

I’m now really loving my mid 30s as it’s so much better than my mid 20s. I suppose with age, who you really are cannot stay hidden.

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above

My birthday cake on Wednesday, 1 May

My birthday cake on Wednesday, 1 May

 

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Loving the “popping” pink in this selective color mode

Searching for detail from above...

Searching for detail from above…

 

All Photo Credit: Yekemi Otaru

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