On my wedding day, an uncle of mine made a speech. He spoke about how at times, I could be so impulsive and unpredictable, that my actions would take people by surprise. I remember sitting there with a fixed smile painted on my face, but internally I was raising my eyebrows thinking, ‘Really? That doesn’t sound like me!’
But the older I’m getting, I’m realising that he was correct. That is how I am.
Faith. Instinct. Courage. Confidence. Self respect.
These are the 5 pillars that I live by. Self-respect was a gift given to me by my mum. Knowing my own self-worth. Popularity was never an attribute that I thought was important or sought after. There is no point in having many, many people in your life if knowing them still makes you feel lonely. Better to be alone, than lonely in a crowd. So, that’s how I am. If people are not respectful, or, just not my ‘type’, or being around them makes me feel uneasy, I don’t want to know them. I’m not interested in keeping toxic beings around me.
Courage. Life gave me that gift. There have been plenty of times in my life, when I’ve been scared, worried, unsure. But you carry on, and see things through, regardless. When I made the decision to move to London, it was one of the most frightening things that I had ever done. At first, London was the most horrendous place, filled with people full of their own self-importance – no time for new people who didn’t appear to belong. So many times, I wanted to turn my tail and run back home to be in the shelter of my family, safe and secure. I didn’t though. Thank God, I didn’t. Because the challenge of being in that huge city, and making a mark of my own, new friends, new experiences – that growth – I wouldn’t have had, living safe and sound at home.
Confidence. I suppose that this is linked to self-belief. Throughout life, I’ve met many human dementors. JK Rowling wrote about dementors in the Harry Potter series. These beings, suck the happiness, joy, the very soul out of people – leaving them as shells of who they once were. I’ve met these people – and emerged victorious. No, I haven’t ever been able to do anything heroic and defeat them somehow. But the very fact that they tried to do to me, what they had done to others – and failed…I feel quite victorious, and this gives me the confidence to know that I will always be ok.
Instinct. What hasn’t been written about instincts? I haven’t ever read or heard anything in my life, where somebody followed their instincts and failed terribly or a disaster of some sort struck. Interestingly, a few months ago, I was teaching a group of children about how to stay safe online. A part of the lesson involved showing them a really brilliant animation about how people you might talk to online, might not be who they say they are. It was a video warning children about online predators, without scaring them half to death. What really impressed me about this video, was that it told the children to rely on their instincts – even though it didn’t use those words. The characters on the video explained, that if you felt that you were getting butterflies in your tummy, and you felt that something was wrong – listen to that feeling! Tell a grown up that you trust, what you’re worried about. Gut instinct. Never wrong.
Faith. My faith in God is what has helped during the most bleakest sections of my life. When we had nothing else, we had faith in God. Believing in something that you cannot see and cannot prove their existence does not sit well with some – and I respect that. Live a good life, treat people with kindness and respect – you don’t have to believe in God to do those things. But faith is what helped – and continues to help me and give me strength when I need it the most. Going through the extremely tough parts of life, made me appreciate all the incredible blessings that I have – and the understanding that life isn’t linear. There might be ups and there might be downs – faith in God just makes the ‘downs’ a tiny bit easier to bear.
So based on those 5 pillars, I made some life choices recently. If you do what you have always done, you will always yield the same results – so then when you want a change, you have to be brave and do things that are different. Change is scary and can be quite frightening – but if you don’t change – things will never have the opportunity to get better. And every time I make a change that orthodox people might view as risky – I think about my Uncle and think – ‘you were right.’ What were the changes that I made? Quite frankly, who cares? But the point is, I was brave enough, had faith enough and felt that those changes were the right things to do. And that’s what matters.
My mum always told us when we were little, study. Make you sure you study and become educated. People with money can be robbed – a thief in the night can come and take all your wealth away – but knowledge – that can never be stolen.
I want to add too my mother’s wise words – develop these things too: faith; instinct; courage; confidence and self respect. Trust me – no one will ever be able to steal those from you either.
They may try. But they won’t be able to.