2021 was a blur and I moved through it in some form of daze.
I didn’t stop long enough to process what I was experiencing. A lot of my routines fell by the wayside, it felt like news kept dropping every day – both good and bad, and I spread myself too thin.
But the depth of my gratitude knows no bounds. I mean, The Independent crowned my debut novel the best thought-provoking book by a Black author in 2021, it’s an Amazon Editor’s Best Pick, Apple Books’ Pick, and so much more. And that’s just a fraction of what went down in 2021.
I am so grateful to God for His mercies, blessings, protection, and grace. I am grateful to my family and dearest friends who continue to carry and ground me with their love. And to everyone who continues to support me as I live out my purpose, I am truly grateful for you too.
As I wind down for the rest of the year, I took some time to reflect on life lessons I will be taking into the new year.
Here are some of my reflections
1) Moving from a small pond into the deep blue sea was the best move I did for my growth mentally, professionally, and personally. I learned a decade’s worth of knowledge in a single year. It’s messy, extremely hard, you start from zero, and your ego takes a pounding, but everyone should try it once during their careers. Small ponds get dirty and cliquey. Big fish syndrome is the antithesis of lifelong learning. Moving into an ocean shifts your mentality into one of a lifelong learner.
2) There truly is a thin line between freedom and greed as Bono (U2) belts out in “Gone”. I probably crossed that line more times than I want to admit. Sometimes, what might look like freedom can actually push you into a space where compromise isn’t even on the table. The lessons have definitely been learned this year.
3) My focus word for 2021 was RELEASE and I lived every part of that word fully and completely. Now it’s time to reign it in, and bring back discipline and routine into my life.
4) I don’t have to call everyone “friend” and that’s okay. There are acquaintances, colleagues, business partners, social partners, and professional contacts. That word “friend” becomes more revered with each passing year. The difference between a true friend and a frenemy is if they will mention your name in a room full of opportunities. The difference between a true friend and a frenemy is if they will still share what you confided to them in private with others just because the friendship fades away.
5) Identifying a few souls who I could fully share myself with was essential for my sanity in 2021, and I am grateful for that non-judgemental space they continue to hold for me. They know themselves.
6) Saying “No” to requests that pull me off alignment has been a lot more refreshing than I thought it would be. I also don’t answer emails or messages asking me questions that could have easily been googled. I need that time for my offline life.
7) Speaking of offline life, I am so grateful that I keep my closest family, dearest ones, and private life off social media and out of the public eye. I’ll rather leave people assuming. There are so few things we keep sacred in life anymore.
8) Focusing on my weaknesses is an absolute waste of time and resources. I’ll keep focusing on what I am personally good at, and collaborating and forging partnerships with those for whom my weaknesses are their strengths.
9) I never want to build such an aura around me that makes it hard to have fun online. That would feel like a gilded prison. I love memes. I speak in emojis and gifs. I laugh easily. I fully show up as myself and I never want to lose that childlike quality.
10) My greatest strengths may very well be deep intuition and sensitivity to energy. I continue to lean into this daily. I am fully leaning into the fact that I am a textbook ENFP-A Campaigner personality type, who will also continue to surprise you by breaking even that predefined box.
11) Love is a buoy and you feel it when it’s genuine. It guides you, lifts you, and makes you believe anything is possible. I am so grateful for those who have supported me every step of the way. I truly feel your love.
12) Curating the energy around me as well as the spaces I find myself in has been tremendous for my mental and emotional health in 2021.
13) I continue to move with this Yoruba proverb as my mindset – “The sky is big enough for all birds to fly.” As the idealist that I am, I truly wish more people would come to this realization quicker in their lives.
14) Certain people are sent into your life to reawaken parts of it you no longer paid adequate attention to. Embrace that intervention. Enjoy their presence in your life. Embrace them.
15) I will continue to remember this Swedish proverb – “The deepest well can also be drained.” I’m kinda tired of being seen as a “Strong Black Woman”. I’m grateful for those of you who check in on me and ask how I’m doing. I will be taking proper care of myself in every way in 2022.
16) As a true multipotentialite, it’s very hard to explain to people that I can’t just pick one thing. My brain doesn’t work that way. I am not wired that way. My work and creativity radiates out in various directions. The key is building the right teams around each radiating ray.
17) I plan on moving with even more intention and strategy. I let 2021 run away from me. It got wild and crazy in many ways. While I definitely can’t control what life brings at me, I can at least be more intentional in how I process and respond to what comes to me. That is, by taking adequate time to stop and process.
18) My rates are increasing next year. You’ve been notified.
19) I will continue to be kind and tender with myself, to give myself space to make mistakes, learn, grow, and evolve.
20) I’ll continue to do more of what makes my soul spark with joy, laughter, purpose, and love. This also means carving more time for hobbies and to fail terribly at my guitar.
21) I need to trust enough to let go of some things others can support me with. I need to learn to fully trust that there are people out there who will share at least 90% of my passion and vision enough to support me.
22) And the most important lesson for me is that I need to continue to seek God’s face first in all I do. When I didn’t, the repercussions were immediate. When I did, the peace that followed was instant. That’s all the proof I need.
My focus word for 2022 has already come to me. It’s not a sexy one, but it’s a much needed one and I will share it in the new year.
Starting December 20, I will be going off social media and checking email sporadically only for urgent inquiries till January 10. So, I need these next 10 days to wrap up work for the year.
Until then, may 2022 be the year you show up fully in your one beautiful life if you haven’t taken that scary first step yet.
And to everyone who has, keep shining your light brightly even in the darkest of corners.
*I shot all photos above on assignment in Denmark for National Geographic Traveller this September. You can view the full galleries from that assignment here.