Personal Post: I am the Common Denominator


It seems the world offers me the best it has to offer me at four year intervals. Since 2008 was a brilliant year for me, I am predicting 2012 to hold much joy and happiness. It feels great starting the year with that conviction. A conviction that for this year, will become my mantra. It strikes me as significant that the main people in my life that were prominent in 2008, are also prominent in 2012 (they know who they are) and the people who were out of my life in that year, are also out of my life again this year (again they know who they are). From this I have much to learn. This is a big part of my job as a researcher after all, this finding patterns, isn’t it?!

I started this year with the firm decision not to make any New Year resolutions. I refused to say what I’m going to do for me. Instead, I asked of the world. I asked it to teach me things I need to learn to live these resolutions as a normal way of life and not something I was setting myself up to fail at. I was giving myself a sort of break, really. I was letting the world know that I understood its place in my life, that I respected it’s power and that I was going to learn how to receive.

Of the things I want to learn this year: a) to learn to love those who love me and b) to start only friendships/relationships/projects that have a chance of succeeding and c) to learn to hear my inner voice to understand what I want. Have I surprised you, reader, with the simplicity of those wishes? If I have, then you are one of the lucky few who understand the three secrets of happiness. For the rest of us, please go back and read them. Are they not the most difficult things to attain?

To reach a destination point (I have recently, finally, started to understand how maps function!) you need to actually know where you are first. In matters of the self, the honesty you need is incredible, difficult and often painful. But, I decided to hold my breath and bare that pain, in hope for something at the destination that would cure these ailments of the spirit.

a) To learn to love those that love me. How often have you caught yourself out with the “approval” habit? It eats away at us silently. It is quite an intricate process. You single out the people that do not totally approve of you, or those who are always critical, or those who actually simply don’t give a damn. Then you just try to please, to change, to be good enough, to impress so they approve. The painful thing is that usually, well – for me at least, these are not people who care about me and want me to change for the “better”, they are people who are just so selfish they want to keep me in their lives, but they just don’t care. Why do I do it if it’s glaringly, obviously, wrong? I actually have a reason. The need for pain. This isn’t a sadistic need. It’s something that much research has gone into, actually. Pain as a medium, a bridge, to some place deep in your soul that you need to touch to become creative, to write, to think, to philosophise, to draw. It feels like the mundane, the “every day”, the “normal” don’t get you there. They don’t hold the key the realms of depth and breadth of emotion that pain has the ability to. This aching of the soul touches parts that so far, happiness has not been able to. The tugging at the heart of the word “impossible” knocked on the doors of creativity and of growth.

But despite the explantations, I still don’t understand how love and pain have been so closely linked? I stopped this year and thought, “How dare I?! How dare I fall into the trap that this was the only way I could be what I wanted?!” For in truth, I was the common denominator. The different people came and went and I was left, I was left accountable for the thoughts, the feelings, the actions. I decided to take responsibility and let go of the inappropriate role of “victim”. I was going to take charge and I was going to make the search for happiness, and not the need for pain, the centre of my quest and those that made me happy would be the pivots of my world. Those would be the people I would link to love. I will no longer thank those who have hurt me, claiming that they taught me to be the person that I am. I wont, because I am accepting that I can learn much, too, from those who care and are kind and generous in their love. I am ready, world, to accept that love. I have found the barriers inside me that blocked it out and I am pulling them down. I will learn to love those who love me.

b) to start only friendships/relationships/projects that have a chance of succeeding. I guess where I was going wrong here is my skewed definition of the word “challenge”. In my dictionary, prior to this awakening, a challenge was usually something I knew 100% would not work out. It was a challenge in that I would faithfully bleed, sweat and pray. But that was it; that was the only resemblance to the real life dictionary definition.

I then realised the need to be kind to myself. I needed to accept my limitations to even begin to understand what was too easy, what was a genuine challenge, what was a challenge that wasn’t worth it and finally what was out of reach, not because I was not capable, but because it wasn’t the path I wanted to be on. I decided to learn the skill of letting go and giving in to challenges that did not fair well on the cost/benefit scale of emotion. It turns out to be that this was directly linked to the third point.

c) to learn to hear my inner voice to understand what I want. I was lucky to grow up with the support of my family to try things out. My mum and dad were the sort of parents who went out to buy the full karate outfit when I decided martial arts was my thing. They also bought me a piano when I thought music was my calling. My sister spent all her pocket money one month to go out and buy me a full calligraphy set and stand and paper when I felt that the art of handwriting was why I was born. Dina spent a significant amount of her redundancy money to support my decision of driving lessons. Shariff gave me the space to be every sort of woman i wanted to experiment being in a relationship, the independent feminist when I wanted and the the damsel in distress when he unfailingly set me free from the prison of independence. Ezzidin was there to teach me the joy of writing letters while everyone was on emails. My managers at work signed and approved every business development, project management and leadership workshop that took my fancy. My overdraft was, also, very supportive every time I enrolled on a course, from sign language, to psychoanalysis, to journal writing, to left brain training. Tant Kamilia was there when I wanted to be Christian, Ahmed was there when I wanted to be Muslim, Margaret was there when I wanted to be Brahma Kumarian and Anand was there when I was contemplating becoming Hindu.

You would be mistaken to think, having read the above, that the problem was me not knowing what I want. I just realised that this IS what I wanted. I want to celebrate the diversity and the contradiction and the fact that my fancies are not static. I needed to let go of the guilt of not following through or sticking to one thing. I accept now that I need to learn to shut out the voice of the structures around me. All expectations constructed by my family, schooling, media, gender, ethnicity, peers, class, creed, race, all had to be shut out. I finally discovered the volume button to something that should have been given supreme status. My inner voice. The voice that knew it’s ok to keep trying things out. That I didn’t have to be like the so many who knew exactly what they wanted to be and do as soon as they turned 4. That life was too short to be so sure of everything or anything. My voice, inside my own heart, was telling me it always wanted to be free to say “when I grow up….” But you know what was incredibly ironic? As soon as I let go, as soon as I accepted the not knowing, as soon as I wanted the freedom of keeping my options open; I knew exactly what I wanted. I felt satisfied and celebratory of where my life had taken me. The even better thing was that if this hadn’t happened, it would have still been ok because I would have enjoyed the journey and the search because I had entitled myself to experiment, to doubt, but most importantly, to change.

The most significant outcome of taking the time to reflect, was to understand that I was the common denominator. That nothing was anyone’s fault. That I am not so weak as to give anyone or anything or any circumstance the power over me by playing that person or that things victim. This is why I wrote this post. I wrote it in the hope that maybe one person out there will read it, and as they do, they will feel the absolute power and freedom I feel having written it and that they, too, will let go of the “approval” habit. They too will accept the love they deserve and maybe they, too, will be liberated in their discovery of wanting to try, and not simply wanting to want.