To say that the new year rushed in is an understatement. I woke up one morning on Dec. 18 and the next thing I knew, it was 2011. Sure, being engrossed in the Young Women’s Knowledge and Leadership Institute (YOWLI) probably had something to do with my lack of awareness of time and space, but I gotta say, we went through 2010 really fast! Anyways, ni ti yum pali, bonne annee, dewenati, afehyia pa, HAPPY NEW YEAR! We’re in another decade!
We’re three days in – almost 4 (11:50pm) – and I already feel extremely optimistic about 2011 :) For one thing, I’ve declared this year my year of positivity. For another thing, I can’t explain it, but I just feel that this year is gonna be a good…no, great…one! And yes, I realize that putting this on the record means I can’t come back later and complain when things are…ahem… a little off, but this is what I truly believe and feel from the core of my being.
Alors, a quick recap on 2010. Remember when I said that 2009 topped it in my book for unpredictability? Well, I hadn’t met 2010 yet. I started 2010 by doing the big chop and going natural, and after that change (and growth) decided it liked me and stuck around for the rest of the year. From being snowed in with the snowpocalypse and the US government being “closed”, to staying up covering news reports on the disastrous Haiti earthquake, covering the 53rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women in NY, and interviewing amazing people like Arnold Ekpe of Ecobank, Ines Alberdi of UNIFEM and Norwegian Minister for Women and Equality Audun Lysbakken, and so on, I had numerous opportunities for growth and learning. Then came my decision to return to West Africa after almost five years away! It was great to reconnect with my family and friends, albeit for two weeks, and then I came over to Dakar, Senegal to lead a small NGO and plan an amazing youth institute (which ended two days ago – separate post on that). On a personal level, last year (weird lol) was a series of changes one after the other and sometimes I felt I couldn’t keep up. In the moment, they seemed undesirable, but in hindsight, they were SO needed and I’m a much better individual after all the cleaning out, repositioning, and rebirth. The two big lessons of the year were “speak your truth” and “be careful what you wish for…cos you’re gonna get exactly that.”
I’m happy to report that for the most part – I’d say 85-90% – I fulfilled all my 2010 resolutions :D
Listen and Learn: In my position as a supervisor, listening was a key factor. To be able to not only delegate duties, but also to allow my teammates to express their thoughts and opinions on issues and so on. Living in a “new” culture also meant keeping an open ear and learning about all the novelties. Most importantly, I learned to listen to myself – to that quiet voice within that we sometimes tend to ignore – because I sometimes had to take some hard decisions w/ regards to my interaction with others, with work, and so on. Definitely gonna continue nurturing this particular 2010 resolution :)
Let My Hair Down: I am happy to report that I made an absolute fool of myself in 2010! I’ve always been referred to as “too serious”, but for the first time in a loooong time, I’d have friends introduce me and be like “she’s crazy”. I know it probably doesn’t make sense why someone would want to be referred to as folle or crazy, but for me, I really needed to take that chill pill. Honestly speaking, I think I overdozed a tad bit, but I’m still happy I just took life a lil’ less serious and had tons of fun! Pat on the back! P.S. Don’t be asking me for any video footage lol
Talk to Random People: I should give myself an A++++ on this one. Maaan, the number of random deep convos I’ve had in Senegal alone should cover the entire year!! From talking about Islam, polygamy, politics, Ghana, soccer, education and so on with everyone – from the taxi drivers, to people I’m having lunch with, to the security guard at the UN office while awaiting my appointment- I def covered a lot of ground. And that’s not even counting my tweeps lol.
Make A Decision to Start Something…And Get Right To It: So this one started off a bit shaky – no surprise there: in true procrastination fashion – but towards the end of the year, I had it! To Do lists are my best friends :) Def need to continue this in 2011.
Explore Islam More: The beautiful thing about Islam is that there’s a full month on the calendar for spiritual exploration, so you can never actually say “I didn’t get a chance”. Living in an Islamic country also opened me up to new insights. I’m looking fwd to more of this, inshAllah!
Experiment: The kinds of food I’ve been eating alone covers that lol. Add my roomie who’s soooo different from me, and you’ll know I’ve embraced many novelties.
Read: Although I was pretty busy last year, I did get to read a couple of really great books including Mountain Beyond Mountains. Plan to do much much more reading in 2011, ISA!
Continue This Love Thing: 2010 forced me to ask some tough questions of myself, like, how can you claim to love yourself if you allow certain individuals to treat you less than you deserve or are worth? We always seem to expect others to do the “right” loving for us and fail to do that right loving ourselves. Definitely had to take some tough decisions in that arena, but now, we’re smooth sailing and thanking God for being there each step of the way. 2011’s already started off great in this department too!!
Learn to Say No: I think I did a pretty good job on this one. Once I had specific objectives in mind, I was able to kindly turn down any offers that didn’t fit into the plan and all in all, it’s worked out fine. Sure, my responses might have upset a couple of peeps, but for what it’s worth, I’m still getting along great w/ all the important peeps in my life. A hard resolution, but we pulled through. Way to go!
Come Up With A Five-Year Plan: I am soooooo excited to share Year one of my Five-year plan w/ you guys. Can’t give out too much info, but for now, let’s just say I took my GREs, got the scores, should be finalizing grad school applications this month, and inshAllah, should be venturing in some “new” waters soon!
Use the Phone More Often: Well…I probably could have done better on this one – does using the phone for work count? – but I think I made some progress? Do skype convos count?
Make the Circumspect Experience Better: I’ll let you guys be the judge of this one, but 2011 is gonna be even MOREEEE :)
Express My Appreciation More: Defo defo defo :) Thanks!! << See!
2011 “Resolutions”: Positivity, Patience, Family & Friends
Seeing just how on point my answered prayers or nonchalant requests turned out in 2010, I’ve decided to be more careful in asking for things from the Big Guy Upstairs, LOL. So for 2011, I’m gonna go with the no-resolution stance. Instead of a full list, I have three key areas I’d like to dedicate my time and energy in 2011. I’ll add (or subtract) things as the year goes on, but these three will be the cornerstones of 2011.
Positivity – In 2010 there were some really low points, but even through those times, I was able to find laughter, joy and peace. It all boiled down to my frame of mind and what I was focusing my time and energy on. This year, I hope to be more positive, to give the benefit of the doubt, to see the glass half full and not half empty. I’m done w/ the negativity. Life is too short. Naturally, it will go hand in hand with trusting God, but I feel like positivity will be the hallmark :)
Patience – Considering the direction my “five-year plan” will be taking, I have a feeling I’m gonna need a lot of patience for what I’m hoping to embark on. Also, this is one skill I’m always learning and unlearning and I’d like to make sure I still have it on hand.
Family & Friends – 2010 taught me a lot about family and friends. Or more specifically, about the fact that you can go wherever, be whoever, do whatever, but the only peeps who will ever truly have your back and your interests at heart are your family and those few friends who qualify as family. I hope to dedicate more of my time and energy to those family and friends in 2011. To the ones who never miss a heartbeat when I need them, who don’t berate me for not calling back or keeping in touch as I should, who I honestly believe would never wish the worst on me or choose to put me in harm’s way in order to achieve their own ‘self-ish’ interests. You know yourselves – my 2011 is yours :)
Okay, it’s late over here and I need to get started on all these stuff!! What are your resolutions? Did you keep those from 2010? Are you going the no resolutions route? Fill me in! Oh, and I didn’t get a chance to send out a note on New Year’s since I was ill in bed for most of the night, but thank you. To each of you who support me and Circumspect, who share your thoughts or just pass through, who have helped make this experience more than I ever imagined! I wish each of you a 2011 filled with success, opportunities, love, joy and blessings! Stay positive :)
Photo Source: http://www.webcooltips.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/happy-new-year-2011-wallpaper-set-15.jpg
Jemila Abdulai is the creative director, editor and founder of the award-winning website Circumspecte.com. A media and international development professional and economist by training, she combines her business, communications and project management expertise with her strong passion for Africa. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys travel, global cuisine, movies, and good design.