I believe that every few years (though constantly in practice), we go through an evolution of self. Transforming ourselves, maturing and growing in identity.
In a few months time, I will be turning 30. And I don’t necessarily think that really has anything to do with the fact that of late I have been questioning EVERYTHING. Perhaps it’s a little too early for the end of year posts about the year in reflection, but in a pensive mood, here is mine.
In life we are constantly challenged beyond ourselves. If we aren’t seeking that challenge, it is put in front of us outside of our choice. In the form of the unexpected (good and bad) – bills, illness, job demotion or promotion, additions to the family, loss of a loved one, success… the things that throw a spanner in the works when the mundane gets us too comfortable.
In my life, on pretty much an annual basis there has been some degree of major change – divorce when I was small, moving houses, schools and cities 6 times during my primary school years, the coming and going of step parents, new siblings and step siblings, university, a year overseas, employment, marriage, projects that I’ve set myself, 5 babies born consecutively.
This year, my personal changes I found affirming, perhaps I’m thriving on this whole change thing, perhaps these are the good changes amongst hardships that have been faced amongst it all in our extended family and around us. Perhaps I just more truely learn each year how blessed I am.
This year I got glasses. Something seemingly minor (I’ve had them since I was seven, but worn contact lenses since I was sixteen full time), but major in my own psyche. I had to overcome my own internal battle with my own self image to take that step. An oddly freeing self acceptance and self liking. I’d won something that I didn’t know I needed to.
This year I started taking my own writing seriously. Writing to me is an internal loop of self betterment. The more I write, the more I realise how little I know. This makes me pay attention to life more, from the little things around me in daily life to the big ideas. Writing has moved me since I was able to pick up a pen when I was in early primary school. It was escapism in childhood. It has always been the ‘buzz’ of putting words together well on a page and watching them sink together and mean something. I’ve started writing fiction, journaling, blogging (and sometimes publishing) again.
This year I grew in ideas. Which is what cycles together with writing. I’ve always been hungry for purpose and knowledge and some way of reaching out to others. Over the past years of ‘stay at home motherhood’ this has taken the forms of major projects for me – blogger, social group organiser, columnist, website editor, conference organiser, social media strategist. This year, I became more of an internal project. I listen to dozens of TED talks and pod casts. I read whatever I can get time to, whatever the genre, in order to help me find and adapt my own literary voice. Flash fiction has become an addiction.
I converted to Catholicism at 16 and it became my regulation. It’s routines and simple (though complex) answers to things helped me make sense of things where I found myself lost in belonging. It led me to my husband and many huge events in my life. But this year I started questioning everything. This is still a process, perhaps a deepening, but an exploration of where I stand and where the journey of life is leading me.
Perhaps this is just part of me exploring and finding the best way that I can express myself and where I want my literary voice to come from. I have applied to the Hagley Writers’ Institute for next year, which I hope will help me refine that.
This year I had a fifth child. And she is one of the most delightful and laid back babies I have ever known. She has been a blessing to be able to enjoy again baby snuggles and laughter and babbles (one of the happiest sounds in the world). She has brought joy to her siblings and cemented my confidence in our big family. A family that is busy, and requires a lot of work of me, sometimes overwhelmingly, but is (to be cliche) full of love. It reminds me of the great blessing I have in my husband and the awesome relationship that we have. It takes me back to the happiness of childhood and simple pleasure in witnessing my children’s closeness and their hilarious games just like I did with my brothers back in the day.
And isn’t that the evolution of self? That everything that is worth doing and that leads to true happiness comes from hard work and sacrifice, which leads us to be a better version of who we were? Well, hopefully.