Take These With You

I’m sure I sound like a broken record, but I really am still in awe that it’s 2017.

One thing that happens for all of us this time of year is we get to reflect everything that happened in the last 12 months. & we truly get to put our lives in perspective.

I don’t know about you, but 2016 was the worst and best year of my life. The worst things had happened to me, but they ended up being the best things for me. I wouldn’t change a single thing.

It’s been a HUGE year for me in everything.. Relationships, friendships, jobs, school, family, finances, spiritual, personal, emotional, mental… Each aspect of my life had its spotlight – good and bad.

& I’ve truly learned something from each of these. Instead of this being a tell-for-all, I just want to share my lessons I’ve learned.. & I suggest you bring these with you into the new year, and into your life for good.

Fill your own voids

I truly believe the best versions of ourselves come from within. This past year, I was guilty of making the same mistake I’ve made in previous years – filling voids with what (or who) I thought was going to make me feel complete. I was so wrong for this. I found people while searching for myself. I settled. Settled for temporary satisfaction. Settled for toxic love. Settled for constant disappointment. Settled for disrespect. All because I didn’t take time to keep it real with myself and realize I have voids I was searching to fill. Once I stopped searching for other people to be place-holders, I was able to make room for myself. I was able to make room for self love. I was able to make room for acceptance. I was able to make room to fill my own voids. Honestly, I’ve been the happiest I’ve ever been by making that one change. Take time to mold the beautiful being God created you to be, instead of letting other people be the sources of support. Watch your happiness spread to every aspect of your life effortlessly. It’s so worth it, and it’s even more exciting to see. Trust me.

When you elevate to new levels of your life, you can’t take everyone with you

This was a lesson I had the hardest time learning and accepting. This lesson was so beneficial, though. Any time you reach one of your goals, or any time God levels you up, that new elevation demands a new you. This new path you’re taking only has so many seats. It’s crucial to be selective here. But know that it’s far from easy. Eliminating people who are constants in your current life force you to test your inner strength. You’ll cry. You’ll hurt. You’ll even do a little back & forth wondering if you truly should let this person or that person go. But I promise you, do not fight who God is taking out of your life. Your goals are simply too big to have people who are not beneficial to your life weighing you down. Let the dead weight go, no matter how hard it is, when you know it is best for your growth. You owe yourself – and your future – that much.

Value intangible things

Take time to audit your idols. It’s easy to get caught up in possessions, wealth, and popularity. Hell, I’m guilty of this too. Constantly wanting the latest this or that leads us to think that we’ll gain satisfaction once we get it. Then when we get it, we’re looking for something even better, even more expensive, even more noticeable. It’s a cycle. Break it. Treat yourself when it’s necessary, but place your satisfaction in places where they won’t easily be taken away or broken. Place them in love, passion, ambition, moments, conversations. One day, when we speak to our grandkids, we shouldn’t be telling them “The best year of my life was when these new shoes came out and I was the first to get them.” or… “I had — followers and — following me when I was your age.” We should be telling them, “The best year of my life was when I found out exactly who I am and where I wanted to be. & I went for it.” If you aren’t happy with what you see, change your vision. Change your values.

Accept yourself

Right where you are, exactly how you are, however you look… Accept it. Know that you’re not everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s okay. Know that you were not created to be anyone else but YOU. Eliminate the noise around you that makes you look in the mirror differently at yourself. Understand that your path is unique to you, and was not meant to imitate anyone else’s. I always hear people say “oh, I can’t wait until I’m successful,” and it makes me think.. What makes you think you’re not successful right now? Celebrate yourself. You’ve made it to this point in your life in one piece. & each day you wake up is a gift from God alone. This should always be enough. You will always be enough.

Do everything in passion and faith

This last lesson was probably the most personal one for me this past year. I truly found myself more than I ever even knew I could this past year, and I was finally able to put my passions into reality all by the grace of God. No, it didn’t take millions of dollars or thousands of people telling me my work was good. It took genuine passion for what I do/love, and trusting God’s time to get me where I am today. I’m not exactly where I want to be just yet, but I’m blessed. I’m blessed because God has been and still is passenger seat on my life journey reminding me that my passions truly drive my purpose. What else is more satisfying than that?

I encourage you to take these with you not only for the new year, but for the long run. Leave heartbreak, unkept promises, disloyalty, disappointment, failure, negativity, toxicity, and stagnant moves behind. Let 2017 be the year of execution and achievements. Get to work.

“Let the world feel what’s special about you. Stop asking for permission to do it.” -Rob Hill Sr.

Photography: Dennis @ddesigns_ (Chicago)

-Keilani Afalava

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