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Recently I have been chasing my tail. I’ve woken in the middle of almost every night for the last three and a half months going through tomorrow’s to do list. Even if I did a meditation that night to clear my mind. I have written hour-long work emails at 2am and hidden tears of exhaustion at work more than once. It’s not pretty nor clever, but there is something obsessive about chasing my tail. I’ve carried that invisible weight of work as if it somehow makes me more worthy and the responsibility to the team even more so. I’ve been doing all that has been asked of me, letting it go each night, but brandishing it like a flag of honour each day. I’ve worked long days and worn every hour on my face, heart and spirit. In truth, I have worked longer hours for longer stints than this. But the challenge this time has been very personal.

It’s an old, hard-wired pattern at which I have to keep chipping away. It’s a cycle that, once started, gathers a momentum that takes all mindfulness to stop. I’ve handled it better than I would have done in the past. On some days, the stress hasn’t sunk deeper than skin and it bobbed around me like rippling waves. My core has stayed intact and my ground firm. On other days, the reins have been loosened and I have ebbed and flowed into ridiculous conversations and mismanagement. I’ve felt stripped of everything I want to embody and too bogged down to fight. And therein lies the challenge.

In the past, I have defined myself by the day-to-day. I have been whoever I was that day and whatever that day brought. I have been the mistakes made and the successes achieved, the processes unravelled and the collaborative conclusions gained. I thought more of the bigger picture for my employers than for myself and lived almost entirely reactively. Nowadays, I define my spirit by who I am. What fires me up and where I am headed. I try to take all the good I can from each opportunity and let go of all that will not serve me in the long run.

In the main, I am better at it and I had a different picture to hold myself accountable to this time. My own bigger picture of ambition, goals and priorities. So I’ve dragged myself out of bed to do yoga each morning, more often than not. I’ve tried not to whinge for more than half an hour upon entering back into the house each night.I’ve tried to carve out moments in the day to top myself up with my kind of sanity checks.

And here comes the epiphany. To me, what I have done is special. But there has been no thanks except for two emails. And that’s where the truth lies. To step up and do something beyond the norm can never be for anyone else but you. You can’t do it for the thanks or acknowledgement. You can’t compromise hours of your life to further a cause to curry favour. You can only endure harder times or withstand extra pressures if you are clear on what you are contributing to: either greater causes in which you believe, greater movements with which you identify or core principles around which you choose to revolve.

So for all the topsy-turvy, roller coaster, up-ending and downtrodden moments of the last quarter of a year, this is me growing. This is me grateful that I am now getting better at not being wagged by the tail so much, not chasing an endlessly unattainable something. I’m not perfect and it hasn’t been easy but it’s reminded me of how important it is to set your idea of success around yourself, instead of any external factors. There’s been no glory, no ceremony, no recompense but, for the first time in my life, I don’t need it. For the first time in my life, I am proud regardless. May this mark the tail end of that life phase and the beginning of exciting new horizons.

Do your work

Do your work

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4 thoughts on “the tail end

  1. Safi, your words are so soothing to me even when you talk about turmoil, could it be that you talk to my mind and to my soul, you explain the complexities in a language I immediately absorb… yesterday I walked into the principal’s office and said, ” please help me or I’ll have to give up” I knew she would not let me give up but that is in concrete terms how I have been feeling… I have been “dragging…my students…kicking and screaming into a new awareness…” I have been forcing onto them a lesson they don’t care to learn and now I am tired and empty, feeling like a failure (when I know I am not, because I have tried)… and lost, looking for a teacher. I need to be the student but for that i need to find a teacher… I know I’ll teach myself out of this one as always (teaching writing is not considered a priority in my country’s education system, so learning to teach it is achieved through trial and error and lots of investigation)… It’s such a magical feeling when we realize that we are worth all our efforts, we are inspiration and reason enough to achieve all we do and strong enough to learn from our mistakes… I applaud your epiphany!! big hug, Alexandra

  2. My darling Alexandra, you know I understand that feeling of hitting a wall with teaching sometime, because every teacher must have felt it at some point. I am sorry you are in that place right now. (I believe anyway) the good news is, that the teachers are everywhere: in the students who challenge you to work out why you think what you do is important, in the quiet students who labour away and may some day have their own epiphany and thank you silently in years to come, and in you when your gut tells you that the fight is worth it. The fact that you even indulge in trial and error will make you a better teacher than most!
    Thank you for reading and giving the words life in your own world.
    hugs in solidarity x

  3. Oh Miss Safi, You are such a sweetheart and I am very proud of you. Just catching up on your blogs now. I will keep the rest of my thoughts until I see you but I do hope that in spite of the epiphany you are still taking time to rest and nurture yourself. xxx

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