So we have been reading Ozoz’s letters to herself over the past month. First we traveled back in time to her Twenties. Then we went with her through the clouds of tomorrow to her Forties. Today we will have her current, most urgent message to her today.
Isn’t it the present that belongs to us? We do not even have the past and we are not guaranteed the future. So here’s Ozoz concluding the series by seizing the present by the horns. Enjoy.
I know you are well. I’m living you, aren’t I?
I wanted to let you know a few things… like how good you’ve been to me and how much I’ve learnt on your watch. Funny enough, I loved being twenty but I adore these thirties. It is in you that I’ve gone from child to self-aware adult, and this is not to be trifled with.
While I’m not yet as courageous as I want, I’m not as afraid of life as I thought I would be. Not as grown-up either but … does that matter much? I’m kind of happy, in a roundabout way. Content with who I am becoming. But I wasn’t always this happy.
There have been tough lessons, about weight love and loss and about money. You taught me that if I wasn’t happy fat, I would not be happy slim. That if I understood why I ate the way I did, food would no longer crack a whip – pretty important stuff. Thank you.
You know I have my head in the clouds some days and that I believe in happily-ever- afters, don’t you? And I won’t change my mind, so don’t even try to convince me. So, what if it’s hard sometimes? I’ve learnt that difficult doesn’t have to mean bad or that better won’t come. And about the money part, Thank God for O and D, who taught me about saving and the power of compound interest because left to me, I would not have done a single thing. Who would have thought that putting away ‘small money’ consistently would result in good-sized nest eggs? And yes, I say ‘I should have started earlier’, as early as my first paycheck but I shrug my shoulders and retort ‘ I’ve started now’ , so there! Forgiven.
By far the most important lesson of this decade has been to define success for myself, in honesty, with truth. Define success for you, and no one else. Because I’ve learnt, dear Thirties, that what success is to me will mean absolutely nothing to the next man and the beauty is, it doesn’t have to. It doesn’t have to be valid according to the gospel of X, or accepted. Even if it isn’t respected, I won’t change a thing because everyone’s version of success is universal… to them. We all want different things. Boy, I know what I’d have if it came on a platter. Sigh. But you know that too, don’t you? Anyhow, my version of success is mine and I own it.
Well-meaning adults have shared their thoughts with me, opinions too, and I’ve done well to listen because sometimes the ‘voice of reason’ is true. And after listening, I’ve gone ahead to do right by me. Sometimes, I’ve taken the intersection – of me and the words of wisdom, and gone full blast. Many times, I’ve veered off-centre, afraid. But I believe that I’ve taken it all with the intent to make the best of who I am and what I love. For at the end of the day, I’m the one who has to make it work, the one who knows who she is and what she wants.
I remember the 2010 Women In Networking (WIN) conference in Paris – it changed my life and taught me many things: not to accept the unacceptable for I’d only reinforce it; that I could dare to make a difference in the lives of others – how we all have a responsibility for the next generation. It was then I made a commitment to coach and mentor men & women, however I could. And the one lesson which transformed my thinking – to understand the risks I’ve taken which have failed and assess the positive outcomes from them.
So yes, Thirties, now I actively review my mistakes/failures, try to understand them, celebrate the learning and formulate plans for action. I left WIN with a fundamental understanding of what was and is important to me and what I want to define me. Not the ‘me’ at work, or the one home but me across board.
Once you know what you’re about and want to do with your life, it becomes easy to pick and choose, to let things go that harm you, to focus on the ones that have meaning.I want to teach. To write, about food, love, life and beauty. I want to craft. And do. This is what’s important to me and I won’t let anyone tell me different.
I feel sad that I’ll never meet Steve Jobs, not only because I’m an Apple fan but because of how inspiring he was. I still hear him urge me on to ‘Find what you love and do it’ – words from his 2005 Standford Commencement speech. Easy to say now but at first I didn’t know what those things were: the things I loved. And so I started with those things I hated and crossed them off the list till slowly the ones I had heart for, emerged.
I’ve learnt too that just because it doesn’t exist doesn’t mean it shouldn’t or that you can’t create it. I learnt to be afraid and still ask; that there was and is NOTHING to lose by asking. The amount of things I’ve learnt and received by a simple ask are amazing – attendance at said WIN conference, meetings with food and literary heroes, and other stuff.
The thing is people who have things to give are often touched by being asked so don’t let fear and embarrassment get the better of you. Some will say no, but that’s fine. Many will surprise you, so change the odds from 100% no before you ask to a 50% yes. So go on, ask for help, I tell myself, #doitscared. Yep. You know why? I’m not alone, neither are you? There’s someone not even so far of, someone in your 6 degrees who has been there. Let that bring you comfort, babe – you are soooooo not alone.
While you’re at it ‘Stand for something’, not necessarily by power or might. Stand for it in the quiet of it all and you would do just fine. Stand for what’s right, not just who. And yes, people will confuse your demonstrating clarity with ‘fighting’. Don’t let that bother you one bit. Intentions will sometimes be misread and very little you do or say will change opinions formed.
Know when to stop trying, when not to cast pearls before swine, how to recognize the signs of those battles where ‘points are made’ just for points’ sake without real focus on change. Sod it.
Dear Thirties, I’ve learnt all this and more. That Feedback is a gift, sometimes painful but an excellent way to grow, to do and be better. And you know what, it is totally within my control – how I take it and use it. Truth too is it isn’t always easy for the giver to ‘give’. In the end, there are no authorities on you – you are your most knowledgeable companion.
So that’s what I take away, babe, into the Forties when ‘Life apparently begins’. Of course, that’s not right away, I still have a few to go but… Thank you for teaching me to define success for me and most of all, to love myself.
Peace and love.
Thank you Ozoz. Thank you. We will read these letters back to you when you need them.
What do you think? Is life on track? Where do you have to shake yourself by the shoulders and pull yourself up by the bootstraps? Let us enjoy your comments below please.
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