While 2017 is well and truly upon us, I thought it would be good to do a quick recap of 2016 and reflect on some of the things that I am thankful to have encountered and experienced this year. Reflection, afterall, is a very valuable thing - particularly around this time of year when the atmosphere is buzzing with talk of new years resolutions and renewed hopes and apirations for the coming year.
Because no single year is ever without its own challenges and uphill battles, it is even more important to reflect on the moments of happiness and success that happened to us during the year (and all the other things that DID work out in our favour) - no matter how big or small they were!
Personally, 2016 has been a year full of self-discovery, new experiences and learning to tip-toe outside of my comfort zone. Whether it was adapting to life in a new country, trying to find my own rhythm, exploring new cultures and travel destinations or finding my feet as a new blogger - 2016 was definitely not short of life lessons!
On that note, here are a few of my personal highlights for 2016, and as I said, some of the "highs" actually turned out to be the tiniest or seemingly insignificant of things, but they still matter because in the end they contributed to the happy moments of this year!
1. Beyonce Formation Tour
I told you that anything goes, big or small! And while I give you permission to laugh at me for this one, seeing one of my childhood music icons perform live in concert was one of the biggest highlights of my year! Up until April (when the Formation Tour came to Tampa) I had been feeling slightly disheartened and a little underwhelmed with our move to this new city as there seemed to be very little that I could identify with. However, after seeing " Bey " perform live in concert right here in Tampa my morale was boosted in an unexpected way - instead of waiting for the city to reveal itself to me, I was inspired to take steps to make the good and exciting experiences happen for myself! So far I have explored and found some great places (and people!) in the city that make me feel right at home!
2. Facing my fear of failure
While I officially began my blog sometime in November 2015, I did not officially publish my first post until february of this year! The main reason for the delay was that I had become so focused on attaining perfection for my blog that I eventually became paralysed with a fear of failure! If it wasn't for my dear husband who saw me painstakingly change my blog design a dozen times and then eventually took my hand and literally made me click the "publish" button - I doubt that my first post would have ever seen the light of day! If I had let that fear of failure continue to paralyse me, I would not have experienced some uplifting blogging moments this year, such as having fellow blogger C'est Angelique nominate my blog for the Liebster Award - a giant pat on the back (and confidence booster) for upcoming bloggers!
An important lesson learned on the fear of failure: No matter how shabby you think your work is, just take that first step! With time, if you are committed to your journey, you will eventually pick up the skills and tools necessary to improve yourself. Growth is truly a neverending journey of discovery and learning, so if you keep putting things off because you are afraid to fail - regret is sure to follow!
3. Reconnecting with my heritage
Of all the positive things that I experienced this year, the most personally uplifting has been witnessing the growth and influence of young African writers, artists and creatives on the global stage. As a young African woman it has always bothered me that, for the longest time, most of the stories and imagery about the African continent (and African people) have been told from a single and narrow perspective (poverty, suffering, corruption) and has very rarerly shown the abundantly rich cultures, talents and aspects of life that also exist. As the prolific Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie puts it in her TED Talk " The Danger of a Single Story ", the African narrative has long been stifled by these narrow depictions.
Given the many young African brands, creatives, bloggers and even social media influencers that are on the rise on the global platform, it has been positive to see a new African narrative slowly take shape. Not only has this encouraged me to take pride in my identity, but it has also helped me to reconnect with the beautiful and unique aspects of my African heritage - whether it is drawing style inspiration by donning my favourite headwrap or spending hours soaking up literary gems such as ' Americanah '.
4. Falling for Lisbon
If Portugal were a person I am guilty of having utterly misunderstood and misjudged her way before meeting her! However, in September this year my assumptions and generalisations about the Portuguese ( based on a few unfriendly encounters with some Portuguese people in the past) were completely dissolved when we visited the country's capital, Lisbon . Besides encountering plenty of friendly locals, I quickly became bestotted with the Portuguese culture, from the pretty azulejo's that don the colourful city streets, to the impressive maritime history , the amazing food and the charming villages and palaces - this trip was definitely an eye-opener for me and one of my travel highlights this year!
5. Being open to Serendipity
Serendipity is defined as "the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way" - or simply put, it is finding something good without looking for it! While there have been a few good moments this year, I usually encountered serendipity when I least expected it! These little moments of pure good chance have taught me to keep a positive mindset about life even when things aren't necessarily going my way. Sometimes learning to let go (and letting life take the lead) often leads to much better and happier places that we would've expected! In the coming year I hope to continue to learn and grow (without being stifled by the fear of failure) and also to seize the little moments of serendipity that come my way! xx
What were some of your personal highlights and victories (big or small!) in 2016??