With exactly two weeks left of 2019 and the end of a decade I am doing my yearly audit to see how far I have progressed in all areas of my life. This is an excellent exercise for anyone who suffers from anxiety and depression, their sexuality,sexual identity, their gender identity,someone who has gone through some traumatic experience, lives an expat life, feels alienated or different from their culture, race, age group, gender role and societal role.
Or simply put, if you are starting to realize that you are diamond in the ruff and a limited edition. If you start feeling this way as well or if you are being treated this way as well, let me assure you that absolutely NOTHING is wrong with you.
You are perfect. You are complete. You are whole. You have a purpose and you matter most. You are NOT special. Yes, you are NOT special. You are exceptional. An irrevocable miracle and a blessing to this world. You are NOT too soft. You are NOT too sensitive.
You are NOT a weirdo. Normalcy and box fitting does NOT serve you and if you learn to get to know yourself you will discover why. I am on that journey right now. And I hope these introspective crumbs of mine can give you some perspective.
The caption says not every place you fit in is where you belong. Another thing that we must realize is that fitting in and belonging are not the same concept. We often confuse these two. In fact that are total opposites.
If you feel as out of place as I do or if you feel that you do not fit in but know to your core that you belong somewhere. This post might be for you. Maybe you no longer fit into your circle of childhood friends. Maybe you do not gel or click with your immediate family members. Maybe you no longer connect with your age group or peers or maybe you do not identify with your own culture. Maybe your career path is not what you thought it would be and you wish to change direction. That’s because you are not meant to fit in or stay in one place for the rest of your life. Make like a tree and grow. Be the light and glow. You are meant to just be you. And who ever you are in this moment is exactly what you need to be and focus on right now.
You have plenty to lose and even more to gain. Lose the emotional baggage, lose the self -loathing, lose the need to please others while displeasing yourself. Lose the victim mentality and start gaining perspective on your life, goals and dreams and start gaining appreciation for how far you have come this year. If you’re still breathing you’re winning. You won when you got up today. You won when you took a shower today. You won when you didn’t wake up crying. You won the moment you opened your eyes this morning. You are a winner. Affirm it. Learn it.Understand it. Live it. Put it in motion.
This is where social constructs come in that teach us how to compartmentalize people as if they were products. The truth is: There is no box nor mold. We have free will. Lose the social constructs. We MUST unlearn this by ourselves. How? By finding out who we are not, we discover who we really are.
I learnt this after seeking council from a Reiki healer last year. I was having a very difficult time at my place of work. She told me something that I already knew but I didn’t actually understand how to actively and properly practice it and incorporate it into my daily life. All human beings have rights and all of us also have free will. In a nutshell, that means we have freedom of choice and that depending on our choices the outcomes will be favourable or unfavourable.
I was being sexually harassed by an older male colleague. It happened over a period of about a year give or take. In the beginning, he seemed harmless. All my male co – workers were very forthcoming, friendly,charming and real gentlemen. All of them were well mannered, supportive and team players within their professional capacity. We worked well together being a mixed group of females and males and I enjoyed being in a new space doing what I loved. Educating new and hungry minds.
Being in Latin America for the first time, I had no prior experience of corporate culture according to Colombian society, so I was learning and adjusting to it all as I started my first job there. Coming from Saudi where I worked with females only, then China where people were conservative, highly professional and never went father than a handshake with me. I was now surrounded by an affectionate culture where hugs ( friendly embraces, not lingering intimate ones) and pecks on the cheek was the norm.
I saw absolutely nothing wrong with this and I adapted to it by slowly opening myself up to this warm and friendly cultural practice where a greeting includes physical closeness. I liked being hugged in the mornings and I also appreciated it when it came from everyone around me. So I didn’t have any reason to be on the lookout for men to come onto me and into my personal space or be bothersome while I was at work.
This male colleague however was just a rotten apple and I started noticing it after a few months of him wanting to constantly hug me, whenever it was break time, and that he would be more and more flirtatious and not so friendly anymore. After about 6 months of working with him, I had a stern talk with him, telling him that I am from a different culture,that he should respect my personal space and that he must stop talking to me and hugging me because he is a married man. And that I am in fact not into men nor do I feel comfortable with any man touching me. I then also decided to stop greeting all of my male co – workers with hugs and pecks and switched it to a fist bumps and a high fives. None of them complained, bothered me, hassled me or made it their duty to make me feel uncomfy in any way, so I was grateful for that. It was a place of work after all. Not a social setting where it was an environment for hanging out as if it were a bar or night club setting.
I thought that I had gotten through to him, because he actually came to me and apologized for his inappropriateness at our end of year party. He said that he would keep his distance and that he did not realize that when you are from a different place that there are some things that might not work for others. We shook hands and said that we would WORK well together and be civil and professional.
He however took this as another opportunity to try and conquer me. He saw it as me playing hard to get and in me agreeing to work well together, he had the permission to increase his disgusting behaviour. And this where I had to talk to my bosses because I started having panic attacks at work whenever I saw him or he would be in close proximity to me. Some female co- workers knew. And they told me to come to them immediately the moment I felt uneasy. That I should rather not make a scene but find calm with them and it helped me to cope but did not resolve the issue at hand.
I had followed protocol by letting my bosses and HR and know that this man was acting extremely inappropriate and was making me feel uncomfortable on a daily basis. I told them that it had been coming on for a period of time and that I did not want to feel that I had to act a certain way to keep my job, as it made feel uncomfortable,uneasy and now anxious. I should not feel uncomfortable in my professional capacity. I was there to work. Not be flirted with. He was also starting to involve other members of the company by professing his love for me during lunch times and break times while others were present.
I was told to ignore him and take it as a joke. I was also told to be a team player and just avoid interacting with him and at the same time victim blamed and shamed for bringing problems to HR and my boss. I was asked why I did not resolve this by myself. I told them that I did. They suggested that I move to another branch which meant that I would have to commute ( on my account ) even though I was a star employee and he merely had a few classes a week.
What I neglected to do was go straight to one of the investors and owners of this company. She would have solved this matter and accommodated me in a way that would allow me to continue working there and feel safe. Unfortunately my boss, who promised to carry this over to her, never did and I decided to practice my free will by resigning with immediate effect. I thought I lost out on this opportunity,but again. I won. I won by taking my power back and respectfully resigning before my contract was supposed to be renewed.
I use this example for a very specific purpose. It won’t matter if we are good or bad natured people. It won’t matter if we had our hearts in the right place. It will also not matter if we thought we knew something and then it turns out that we in fact knew nothing certain people or certain situations. If we make the right choices. We can enjoy favourable results. And if we make poor choices we must accept it, take full accountability and responsibility for our choices.
Had I not made the best choice for me a year ago, on November 14th 2018, to be exact, I would still be working under the notion of I am a female and should submit to misogyny and knowing my place. That it happens to all of us. That we must just deal with it. I would still feel powerless. I would still be boxed in. I would still be modelling to other females like me that we should tolerate inappropriate, unsolicited and uncalled for bullshit from disrespectful and distasteful characters. I would still be under the false belief that I should shut up and be grateful for even having a job and that boys will be boys or in my view men will be pigs.
I had to address this issue that came from childhood socialization and trauma within my own culture where boys were unknowingly raised to get touchy- feely with girls and girls where unknowingly taught to keep quiet and not taught about good touch bad touch and change the narrative from victim to victor.
And this life lesson came to me in the form of harassment. I cut the cord and that allowed me to move forward. I used my No. I used my No by saying Yes to myself. And No to others. Specifically men’s need to act inappropriate because they misguidedly believe that it’s OK when they know full well that it is not.
To the good men, this has nothing to do with you. You keep being good. You keep being considerate and protective and appropriate and appreciative of the females in your lives. They deserve your good. We all deserve your good. We deserve each others good.
We are free-flowing, fluid and placid beings. We should live in a sphere of constant growth. Not attempt to force fit ourselves into preset molds so that we can be the model daughter. The model son. The exemplary husband or wife. Or the sibling of the year.
It causes so much frustration and resentment when we self – sacrifice our nature to nurture others needs. It can breed toxic and damaging situations for us and we are not strong enough and aware to confront what is bothering us. And this is a sobering observation when you can honesty look at yourself in the mirror and frankly talk to yourself and ask is this me? Or is this a version of me that I was forced into in order to feel like I belong.
What do you need for this exercise? Yourself, an accountability buddy or close friend who knows you through and through. I would not advise asking your romantic partner because feelings are involved and feelings are not always factual.
If you do however have a balanced, transparent and honest relationship with the your romantic partner where you are able to talk openly to them, then you can ask them to be your accountability partner.
I asked one of my close friends in Colombia to help me navigate this when I did this in June of this year. I wrote down specific goals for myself within 6 areas of my life and I ticked off what I did do and put a dash on what still needs to be achieved. Progress is progress. And progress gives you power. Look for the win. Even if the win was you giving up complaining or being emotionally dependent on your friends when you become stressed out. Just know that if you can now manage to work through it on your own. You won. I walked a way from a toxic environment. So I won. All your wins add up to a huge win. I learnt this from Lisa Nichols’s approach. She calls it micro winning. If you take all the so called small wins you end up with a massive win at the end of the day. Or in this case at the end of your 2019.
So I take her approach by looking for evidence every day, of how I am winning right now. How this glow up is coming towards the biggest win of my lifetime and it’s going to be bliss personified. Trust me, I am not here to play, or dabble, I am here to win. Winners win!
If you have your accountability partner and your goals ready then you can ask them to give you feedback. Take it in a positive light and become the student, not the teacher or the master and mindfully listen to what is being said or conveyed to you because it is to help you grow and glow and stagnate and feel stuck. Then take what is said and simply improve upon what still lacks and tick off what you succeeded doing.
- Kind reminder, if you have gone through something similar whether you are male or female. It was not your fault. You did nothing wrong. You find your way back to yourself and heal. You don’t owe anyone an explanation or even full disclosure of how it happened. You don’t need to reveal it to anyone if you don’t feel comfortable with it. You can find professional help with therapy or counseling or any other form of treatment that you feel safe with.
- Just know that you are not a victim of circumstance. You are victor of resilience and strength. You overcame it. If you family victim blamed you. Let it be. If people told you that you asked for it. Let it be. If your nearest and dearest did not pay attention to you when you were crying for help. Let it be. Their lack of understanding does not dismiss you.
- Again; You did nothing wrong. Take your power back within yourself by saying Yes to yourself now. Yes to healing, Yes to understanding, Yes to boundaries. Yes to growth and Yes to self- loving the heaven in you.
With love and light
Keep glowing up.