Finding Growth within the Obstacles
“Up the hill backwards, it’ll be alright.” David Bowie
2016 started this extremely transformative period in my life. I went through a painful breakup at the start, left a city that I had grown very attached to (London), to trek across the world to Sydney, Australia. I just started my first “big girl” job. I went there not knowing anyone or anything really about Australia, except seeing a few Chris Lilly comedies on HBO. (He is a famous Australian comedian, well known for making mock reality TV programs.) I assumed everything. I assumed the culture was going to be similar to England. It slightly was, but really an odd mix of American and UK. I assumed that Australia was super accessible to Asia. I was going to have a blast travelling there. (Every country in south east Asia is at least 7–8 hours flight away.) I assumed they had air conditioning for when it reached over 100 degrees in the summer time. (Most apartments do not!) Needless to say, those assumptions along with some others were proven dead wrong. It turned out to be one of the worse years of my life. (Or so I thought at the time.) Though, looking back on it, it probably was one of the most life changing. And, that year kicked off a lengthy, but timely, spiritual awakening, which lead me to being the person I am now.
When I first moved there, I moved in with a man who was 10 years older than I. That living situation turned very odd, very quickly! He took on the unassigned role of being an overbearing older brother figure, who was a little too involved in my life. He found himself giving me “advice”, that tended to err on the side of misogyny. It ended up being an extremely toxic and manipulative situation; one that took me 6 months to realise that I was in. After deep introspection and talking it out with friends, I realised what I had gotten myself into. I eventually found a new living space with two new, seemingly cool, flatmates. Within another 4–5 months, both those flatmates had life changing events and left Sydney, leaving me and another sublet to look for a replacement to the third room. Unfortunately, by doing so, we found out that the original renters did not read the lease agreement properly, and were in rent arrears. We were to be evicted within the month by the real estate agency. These two incidences happened all whilst I was trying to excel at my very new job.
Oddly enough, my job was a safe space for me. I had very good bosses, who really protected and guided me, and genuinely wanted me to excel. I also put a lot of my focus into work, in order to maintain a sense of sanity, consistency, and balance that my personal life just didn’t have. Outside of that, I was working on my spirituality, trying to “find myself” as a newly single individual in Sydney. I dated often, but the whole dating process was rough and traumatic. Dating is already hard in the 21st century. It often feels like a game, measured by endless swiping, sometimes ghosting, and people just waiting around, not really knowing what they want in life. But it was particularly difficult as a black woman in Australia. My worth as a potential love interest felt more aligned to my sexuality rather than my humanity. I dealt with the oddest and most inappropriate dating experiences. Desperately navigating that space, I also was emotionally caring and still in love with my ex back in London, who was going through a deep and dark depression, with suicidal tendencies.
Needless to say, that year and 3 months I spent in Sydney was… a lot. What I have found as I went through these really hard times was my ability to pull from sources that I never thought I had. I never would have thought of myself as resilient. But, that was exactly what helped me get through that very rough time in my life. I am also someone who strives to do the best I can with the circumstances I’m dealt with. I am a problem solver by nature. All these personal problems I had, I just felt I needed to find solutions to them. Sometimes that meant I had to leave people behind, pivot my focus, or even look within, to see how I was attracting the drama that occurred in my life. I did a lot of soul searching that year. It took me on a very dark and painful road of constantly going within, confronting my demons, figuratively, and developing more self awareness. There were numerous of times where I took a personal audit of who I was, what was my life purpose, and who were these people I called friends and loved ones.
“You live for the fight, when it’s all that you got.” Bon Jovi
That year really made a lot of things click for me. The most important lesson I learned is that no one else can make you happy but you, and it is no one’s responsibility to. I learned to always have a plan B. I also learned that my worth, understanding of myself and my needs didn’t come from outside sources. That was the hardest lesson because I was so used to understanding myself through other people’s outlooks. That year lead me to exploring who I was more robustly, than ever before. It also would eventually lead me to having a better understanding of my personal values. I learned how to have a deeper appreciation for my own independence, tenacity, and willpower. Most importantly, I developed a deeper connection to my spiritual self and spirituality as whole, and the role it plays in my life purpose. If I hadn’t gone through those obstacles, I would have never known how to rely solely on myself, and invest so heavily in my personal wellness. If I had not experienced all that, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. So, obstacles are good; depending on how one responds, learns, builds and grows from them.