Photos by Mark Wijsman
I know I usually end off my year with a sort of review and new year prospective blog post, but truth be told, I’ve been putting off this post for weeks. 2016 felt like several years in one – but beyond that, it was a year of extremes for me. The highs went to the heavens and in turn, the lows went the depths of the hell. Am I being dramatic? Maybe. But I doubt it.
I look back to 2015 reflection post and it’s weird because I literally did everything I said I was going to do in 2016. My budget/spreadsheet was impressive if I do say so myself, I said no to groove and was very particular about where I did go, I delved more into beauty blogging and writing (I mean hello, I started an – albeit fledgling – Youtube channel!) and I collaborated with as many people as I could – case en point, these amazing images by the incredible photographer Mark Wijsman. Hell, I even went to lectures (except Macro 2, but that’s okay).
But my year was still soul-crushingly difficult. I was battling with both my physical and mental health a lot, I started the year with so many friendships falling apart and I ended it with my relationship dismally falling apart, I had to – once again – fight with my academics and ya girl even listed every single one of her transactions but kept finding herself broke. Like, what do you mean? 2016 was supposed to be my year! I had it all worked out. I planned everything I could’ve so impeccably. I even achieved all of the goals I set out for myself (except my MRP campaign – but I’m coming for ya!) so how did I still manage to look back and say that that year was trash?
I feel like therein lies the biggest lesson I learnt this past year: you can plan as much as you want, but when it all comes crashing down at night, you still have to show up in the morning. No one really cares if you’re struggling, because life goes on with or without you. But the lesson isn’t all doom and gloom, because I also learnt that you are your best investment; take care of yourself first because you are the only one you’ve got. There is no shame in asking for help, but people may not always be there to help you and you need to be okay on your own. You need to back yourself and make sure that you take care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, academically and financially – and first. It’s a heavy burden but in essence, all I’m saying is make yourself your top priority.
There’s nothing wrong with setting goals – I feel like goal setting is so important to give you some direction in your life, but what I didn’t really do was make myself my first priority, and that’s why come mid-September, I was so burnt out. Not to mention the subsequent events of Fees Must Fall, but I still had to get over all my trauma and write my exams because in hindsight, it wouldn’t matter what happened to me, it would only matter that I survived it. Sure, my coping mechanisms weren’t the healthiest (I have the extra kilos to boot) but I coped. And I’m damn proud of myself for doing it. I took care of myself and prioritised my feelings and well being and I regret nothing. Don’t get me wrong – I had the most incredible group of friends as such a strong support system, but things like emotional labour I had to do on my own.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is in 2017, there is no guarantee that things will go your way. You can plan and plan and budget and save and study but then life will give you an uppercut that you cannot believe and you will still have to show up the next day. So my advice to you is to make sure you have a good foundation to work with. Note that being strong doesn’t mean being alone or not dealing with your feelings – no, I mean make sure you take care of yourself spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically and try your best to have a strong support system so that even on your bad days when you can’t out of bed, you have people on your side. And I know that not everyone believes in God but I strongly believe that having some sort of spirituality is so important. Know that when God is for you, it doesn’t matter who is against you. You are blessed, loved and highly favoured.
My task for both myself and my readers is to make gratitude and positivity a way of life. My 2016 was not all bad – I had some amazing moments and opportunities, so I need to remember those blessings too and be thankful for them and the wonderful people who came into my life – some of them in the weirdest ways – I mean I got this photoshoot off of asking on Twitter! And it’s funny because these portraits turned out to be some of my favourite this year yet this post was originally supposed to be about the trends of off shoulder tops. I found the recurring theme of me looking over my shoulder to be too symbolic not to comment on it, because behind me I’m looking at my hurt, my pain and my loss but I’m going to wipe the dust off my shoulder and look forward to better things, more opportunities, more blessings and more life in 2017. Are you with me or nah?
top: vintage | jeans: topshop | boots: h&m | flower crown: MRP