Sunday, May 15, 2016

My Commitments - or - Good Things Are Happening

the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.
o   a pledge or undertaking.
an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action

I am committed to completing my master’s degree in public health, in which I have specialised in social and behaviour change communication. I put it on my to-do list sixteen years ago and I am not prepared to deny an inspired sixteen-year-old girl with a head full of stars her dream of having the knowledge and skills to tackle the vast array of challenges that are the field of human health and disease. My journey to this master’s has been one filled with many false starts and near hits. There was a time when I thought it would never happen because of the circumstances in which I found myself. Then once my financial and temporal resources aligned with my geographical constraints I finally got going on a kick-ass programme at a decent institution. Unfortunately a new battle began that required perseverance and self-discipline, two character traits in which I suffer more than occasional weakness. It’s been tough! I’ve had to make sacrifices to key elements of my lifestyle just to get through my coursework. Reading for pleasure for instance. Many a time I would walk past my favorite book store and gaze longingly at the books. Oh, those books, so many books calling my name seductively! Then as I would turn my eyes to an article about risk factors for pre-eclampsia or the challenges of diagnosing paediatric malaria in Tanzania a solitary tear would make its way down my cheek… sigh. Travel. That was another one to go out the window for two years of my life. I’ve had no time and no money to carry my head somewhere new and interesting, unless discovering a new place to study on campus counts, though I feel like it doesn’t. Travel is like an intravenous drip of life into my bloodstream and I had none of it for two years. Social engagements. I even pre-programmed a response into my phone to save myself the time and effort of blowing off invitations to cool things I would ordinarily have enjoyed attending or doing. “Ah maaaaan! No can do’s ville. Busy with school :-( To which one friend responded, "how utterly and completely selfish of you to pursue higher education! Now who am I going to play with? Nah girl, do better." It's funny because she has a master's in law, is an advocate and her name literally means 'study diligently'. So now with the coursework done and dusted, as I write up my thesis and the finish line is in sight I should be full of hope and energy, right? Wrong! If you have thick hair and you’ve ever braided your hair then you’ll know what I’m going through. It’s like that last little patch of hair at the top of your head that covers an eighth of the surface area of your head so you think you’ll be done in a few minutes but an hour later your hairstylist is still adding braids and you basically want to cry. You're a grown ass woman and you just want to throw your toys and cry. There’s just so much packed into this one endeavor that I am both afraid of it and angry at it. I’m so over it! But I am also romancing it. Coaxing it. Drawing it out of me the way you call an timid animal out of a cave, with a trail of berries and a gentle voice: “Here boy! Come on! Come to Sandi!” I’m not giving up on this bad boy no matter what.

I am committed to finishing the most epic writing project of my life. Writing project? How vague. It’s a book. I’m writing a book. And it’s a damn good one too- a tour de force. At this point I would like to congratulate myself on my powers of self-motivation. Because what’s worse than the thesis? The book. The book is harder. By far. The book is a cruel mistress and lover because creativity and ideas don’t play around. They are needy little spirits that require constant attention and maintenance or they will leave you! It’s happened to me several times on this journey. I’ve dropped the ball, lost focus and often times just been too lazy to write; and I have been gravely punished for it. Amazing ideas won’t sit around waiting for you to bring them to life forever. They will readily leave you and go to someone more committed, more energetic and more diligent than you are. A good idea will basically go to whoever is hungriest to bring it to life. While it would be easy and certainly not completely inaccurate to say I haven’t been hungry enough to commit wholly to my book, the big truth is that I have also suffered from a debilitating fear of failure. But fear is not my jam anymore and I am committed to go balls to the wall with my passion project because anything else feels like failure already since it is a complete deviation from my dream.

I am committed to Roxy, a blonde bombshell of a model who can dead lift a hundred and forty-five kilos and barely break a sweat. She is sexy and curvy and hella strong. Roxy is my trainer. Thanks to her weird things are happening to my body. I’m getting bigger – gasp! And heavier – oh no! And stronger – whaaaat? I am doing things like lifting weights I never thought I would and it’s totally not a thing. It’s fine. There’s muscle definition peeping through the flubber. Energy levels are increasing. My body is exhibiting preferences for certain types of fuel and certain types of motion I wouldn't pegged it for - hmmm. My naturally very dry and flaky skin is supple and dewy – huh? This is new territory for me and I am committed to giving Roxy the space she needs to coach my body into a fit vessel for my offspring and a suitable host for my soul to express itself with no inhibitions. I am committed to submitting to this fascinating process and just watching things evolve in and around me, from how I feel to how people look at me, as they also perceive these subtle changes. I had big expectations when I hired her. Now I realize that they were misplaced. It’s all on me, actually, but it’s fine because I’ve totally got this. All you need to do is show up. And say yes to everything. Five more bench presses when my muscles are en fuego? Sure! Ninety more seconds of planking as I stare at the growing pool of sweat on the mat because my damn head is sweating? Why not?! Increase the incline and the speed on the treadmill even though one of the first things I told you was that running is my nemesis? Love it! Tell you what else I love, though: walking past a mirror and thinking, “Ooooh yeeeeahhh. I do not dislike what I see!”

Three commitments, all of which involve not a small amount of blood, sweat and tears. This means at any given moment in time I am bloody, sweaty and/or teary. It looks messy from the outside looking in, I’m sure. It looks like not much is happening, probably. It looks boring and unenviable, maybe. But don’t worry about it because I assure you that good tings a gwan:-)