Hindsight Is A Wonderful Thing!
And as is always the case in the countdown to my birthday, I’ve started reflecting on the year that was.
It was the big quarter-century, the monumental two-five!
This time last year, I distinctly remember fearing being ‘old’, and having just come out of a long-term relationship, ‘alone’. But man-oh-man was I wrong! And on both accounts!
Whilst it may sound a little OTT, when I look back, I can say, and wholeheartedly so, that I’ve had an unquestionably EXCEPTIONAL year. I’ll be the first to point out that it started off a little rocky, in terms of my overall mental and emotional state, but in absolute defiance of that shaky start, and through the grace of the Good Lord, family and friends, my twenty-fifth year has honestly been one of the L-I-T-E-R-A-L best years of my life.
If not THE best.
As a result of what was going on in my personal life (or lack there of, depending on how you choose to look at it) I took to writing a lot of my thoughts and feelings down, not only in an attempt to relieve myself of the often insufferable weight of it all, but also in a concerted effort to track and keep progress of how I was actually feeling as time progressed. I wanted to be able to think back and comment retrospectively, as I am now, and one thing I can satisfyingly say is this — I can barely identify the Merisa I was then, with the Merisa I am today.
If I’m being completely honest, I’m, (in a good way)slightly taken aback, because as I scroll through the camera roll on my phone, I can quite literally trace and pinpoint the wide and varying emotions I’ve felt throughout the past year. From the initial reams of uplifting and self-worth quotes, to holiday pictures, to me starting to take selfies again, to me actually smiling in those selfies, to nights out and to having banter and waaaay too much food with old and new friends — it’s all pictorially documented!
Now, if I take you back and set the scene for September 2015, I’d recently returned from the East Coast and the Bahamas with my beautiful best friend Tania, I was entering the sixth month of my first time being single for 8/9 years, and I was having a particularly hard day at work when I began searching for flights to (my preferred) West Coast. When I saw American Airlines offering £400 return flights to LAX for two weeks, knowing me, I mouthed something to the effect of, “bitch you don’t gotta ask me twice!” to the monitor and snatched those bad boys right up quick sharp!
I was SUPER excited to go with my little Andy-Belle (my soulmate and younger sister Meranda) and begin what we then decided would be an annual sisters’ trip away.
We started in LA, took a flight to Vegas, a flight back to LA, drove six and a half hours to San Francisco and then back to LA and it was nothing short of AMAZING. Though, as I recall that time, I feel that had I have been in a clearer head space, the trip, on my behalf, may well have been even better, in terms of my willingness to get stuck in with things and to generally be more sociable and less preoccupied with my thoughts.
Having said this, one thing that did establish a new prominence in my mind was an almost irresistible inclination towards natural beauty. Sounds a little strange and borderline corny right? But hear me out.
I can vividly recall the moment, whilst overlooking Santa Monica Pier, when I was taken unawares by (a) the fact I was even there (like wow!) (b) there was a busker playing one of my favourite Celine Dion (👀) songs on a violin, (also one of my favourite instruments) and (c) just how beautiful the hot sun felt on my skin in this beautiful settings by one of my favourite things, the ocean. In that moment, I had the components of everything I love at once and, perhaps to the acute aggravation of Andy, began finding and pointing out beauty in absolutely everything for the remainder of the trip and beyond.
It was as if I had a new pair of eyes. By no means was everything now rose-tinted, but what I can say is that from that point, I just began to detect and truly appreciate the complex beauty in everything.
Having taken in all the literally breathtaking scenic views on our long drive to San Fran, the overwhelming canyon views as we flew over Nevada and quite frankly everything on that West Coast vacation, I recall returning home to London and having a pivotal realisation. I became fully aware of what I was being presented with, I discerned what was going to get me through one of the toughest journeys of my life. I’d finally found my personal pick-me-up! What was more, it was in one of the simplest, free and most beautiful forms — nature.
Stay with me…
In the weeks commencing, I found myself becoming more and more reactive to everyday things that I would normally overlook. Examples? The one million different shades of green on the trees, the colours in the sky at sunrise and sunset, the intricate details of a flower, the up until then unnoticed physical and inner beauty in people I’d known for years — I mean I was noticeably reacting to literally everything and feeling not only grateful but extremely appreciative to be in its presence, regardless of how irrelevant it had previously appeared in recent history.
I’ll admit that I thought I was ever so slightly losing it a little/taking crazy pills (and I’m sure a handful, if not the majority of my Snapchat followers did also!) Nonetheless, I internalised this and took from it what I could. I concluded that: distinctive beauty can be found in the rawest of forms.
Hold on. Did this mean that even in my own raw and detached state, lay unveiled inner beauty? From this place of solitude, could I find what made me authentic? Was I able to uncover what made me one of one? Could I give myself and incite in others the same delight that nature was giving me? If nature could quite literally weather-the-storm, why couldn’t I?
Sounds bizarre I know…but are you still with me?
Come December, I’d concluded that I just wasn’t wired in the sad, depressed and low self-esteemed way I had been feeling. Of course I accepted that feeling good about myself was a process, but there was a definitive point towards the end of the year where I just said: NO! I am not doing this shit anymore. I simply refused.
And so said, so done. I jetted off to Berlin in the January and by April I had been to Monaco, Tokyo, Kyoto, Sydney, Perth and Bali (with more holidays planned!); I attended several concerts upon returning to London; started experimenting with colours and cuts for my natural hair; hanging out with a wider variety of friends; made new friends; went on dates; hung out with my family more; pampered myself more; (despite their questionable reputation) converted to a self-help audio book mega-fan, became more present and open on social media; explored different parks on a weekly basis and very importantly, to me, grew my confidence in my faith, thus developing confidence in myself.
For the period of time in which I did attend Church everyday, I truly felt the homily spoke to ME. Everyday I had an internal struggle, yet everyday I was released from it through the powerful words of the Gospel and through the extremely pertinent interpretation by the Priest (who I must pop in and say hi to at some point). I genuinely felt like God was talking to me, not only through the Gospel, but also through nature, which in turn not only increased my confidence and trust in placing my faith in the transformative power of God, but also the confidence in myself, to trust myself and my ability to get through my journey.
By no means is this intended to indicate that my transformation is now complete — of course not! I still have an unspeakable amount things I’d like to to work on and many goals I’m yet to achieve. However, what I can indefinitely say is that I feel that I’m going into my 26th year as a woman — something that, as funny as it may sound, I never really thought of myself as before. I somehow feel more mature, more educated, more experienced, more aware of who I am as a person, 100x happier than I was this time last year.
I’m actually becoming a little emotional as I write this, because I’m so proud of myself for not losing faith in something I couldn’t verbalise or fully comprehend at the time. All I knew was that it was completely necessary, unavoidable and happening to me for a reason.
The fact is, people draw motivation and strength from all types of strange things and places, and I’ve always been a believer of going with your gut, even when it does feel a little unfamiliar and uncomfortable.
Hindsight can be a wonderful thing and in keeping with this, something my mama always says to me is “Merisa, you need to start as you mean to go on”. And do you know what, for the first time, I’m actually at a point where I can do just that.
(PS I also lost count of how many times I said “literally” 👀😩)