You know how you can have a long ‘to do’ list and instead of working on all the deadlines, you tick off everything else but the pending items? That is what I am doing right now (and perhaps you are too, dear reader?)
I was recently thinking about the past two years and how the work of 4040 has been greatly affected. I was in my feels because in a few months, it will be a decade since our story began. Distress filled my heart – thinking of all the things I hoped we would have figured out by now; small and grand alike; how much more I wished could have been done for those we support and my team too.
I told a friend about these mental battles, the immense gratitude surrounding my soul alongside deep-seated inadequacy.
He sent me a message that I am sharing in its original state. I would have preferred to keep it personal and I went back and forth on the idea of writing this- countless times.
However, I have the annoying habit of extracting lessons from moments. If it touched me so, perhaps it could speak to someone else? This is the part of me that won, so here goes.
10 years for 4040! I think the same thing that dims that accomplishment in any way for you, that yearning to have been able to do more, is why you had to be the one to start and keep that beacon of hope going this long. We look at the attack this week and evils and failures all around by those meant to look out for us, and then you see 4040, and it’s the complete antithesis of those things for us. It’s everything we’re told the world isn’t anymore. Caring. Inspiring. Effective. Genuine. Communal. And that’s hard to always see from the inside cos you’re looking at the hypothetical potential of this endeavour, numbers and milestones… but from the outside all we see is a reason to try and do better, to try and make the world a little better in whatever way we can. Because you’re doing, have BEEN doing it for 10 years, have sprouted branches that are further doing it in so many different ways, have spawned copycats to try and do similar good, have challenged others to step it up… from the outside all we see is some form of relief from this world that everyday is tearing itself apart. We see an aspirational version of how things could be if we let ourselves dream and be corny and warm and fuzzy and purposeful, except it’s not a dream. It’s right there, tangible and instantly meaningful with goodness that reaches a generation into the future. Always with ripples, which from the inside you know are actually storm after storm… but wow! What a voyage.
And in the heart of that kavuyo, on top of the further demands of being a good friend and good daughter and inspiring leader, you’re meant to also figure out how to be a sustainable version of yourself. Perhaps even a sometimes happy one. And all we can give is literally all we can give.
I read the message over and over again in the moment, and then a little more after. It not only lifted my mood, it gave me the reassurance I needed at a time when things were blurry, to say the least.
This thoughtful message was a wonderful reminder that we can all do better to see/listen to our people’s darkest parts, their fears and sorrows- to affirm them and remind them that we are by their side. It is easier to quickly say/type “It will be well.” Or “You always figure things out.” And other similar phrases but an intentional, considerate response could do wonders. The power of words and presence cannot be understated.
Needless to say, there will be many lonely days when you are building something, anything really. These will be worsened by disappointment, betrayal, limited resources, fatigue, pressure, mental struggles and so much more.
Do not be afraid to admit when things are not working out, first to yourself and then to others. Don’t hide your anxiety, uncertainty and overwhelm so well that people actually believe that you have it under control and leave you alone (only for you to wonder why no one is coming to your rescue) Suffering does not benefit us, so whenever we can avoid it, we definitely should.
Allow (your) people to know your needs and support you, to hold your hand and love you through the trenches. These acts could save you. God knows they have saved me countless times.
Someone sees you. I hope they tell you, often, but if they don’t – I am here to remind you. The present you learnt from the past you and is preparing the future version with all your combined wisdom. We should be content in ourselves, yes, but it sure feels good to be uplifted, especially by the people who matter to us.
I implore you to pat yourself on the back for how far you have come- every chance you get. I encourage you to let people know when they are doing a good job, when they are trying, when they are surviving amidst hardships (Cc the pandemic and its relatives)
This can ‘simply’ be; a message to a service provider who delivered on time and/or went the extra mile, a bonus for the nanny/security guard/tutor/assistant, a review on a piece of work/product, shout outs on social media to a brand that came through for you, a gift on a business anniversary. The list is really endless.
One easy yet effective prompt is the good old “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
I hope that we can be more intentional about seeing our value and that of others – while letting them/ourselves know- especially when it’s most needed.
Now, please go back to what you were supposed to be doing, okay? I am too. *Runs*