Updated: Jan 6
I wanted to start 2022 with a bang.
A fresh start and a change of scenery. I got both of those things, but in a completely different way to I had planned.
My case was packed, and I was ready to head to the airport on Christmas day. My flight was booked to Jakarta where I was going to spend 10 days quarantining before making my way to Bali.
This trip I believed would be the beginning of the next chapter, the official end of a year that was my hardest yet. The year that tested me in more ways than I could have imagined.
The year I think I’ll always remember as my greatest lesson.
I read that its not the good times where we learn who we are, but its in the struggles that we grow and really discover what we are capable of.
I couldn’t agree with that more.
Although 2021 was the year my nightmares came true, because of it a new door was opened to me. The opportunity to escape those that hurt me, to have an awakening and in a way really start living.
Which is why, although some people find it hard to believe, I really do say thank you every morning to those people and situations that caused me so much pain because without it, I wouldn’t be here.
Life is funny like that.
Laughter – that was my first lesson of isolation. How powerful it is and how humour can get you through.
Before leaving for the airport on the 25th of December, I tested positive for covid.
Technically homeless in Dubai there was no where for me to go except to an isolation facility where I shared a room with others, all testing positive but with no symptoms and no where else to go.
I was scared.
I’ve got used to feeling alone and understand fully that ultimately no one is going to save me in any situation except for myself. But the fear was there and as I got into the car and was driven off, I really did think I wouldn’t be able to do this.
However, something 2021 taught me was that whatever you think you can’t live through, you can.
I took photos of everything and sent them to friends, friends who nicknamed the facility ‘covid prison’ and referred to my room mates as cell mates.
My prison blanket was especially amusing to them.
It’s these friends I love the most. The ones that know me well enough to take the piss even at the darkest times.
I laughed until I cried, and it was this attitude and these people that made it possible.
My second lesson, my relationships are the most important thing to me.
We all have different values and I thought I had a clear idea of what mine were. But this experience has cemented them more firmly than ever.
Although I am on a journey by myself, I never feel lonely. Even when I am thousands of miles away from the people I love the most.
I was overwhelmed with the love I was shown, and the belief others had in me and my ability to reframe and get through whatever challenges came my way.
That was my third lesson, that we are so much stronger and resilient than we give ourselves credit for.
You never know how you will react in a situation and before you’ve found yourself in it, it’s is easy to think ‘I could never do that’, but you can.
You really can.
That doesn’t mean it will be easy, my experiences over the last 12 months have been anything but easy. But I am standing, and even more than that I think I am becoming a better person because of them.
A beautiful friend said to me she believed the only way I could get through all the things that are coming my way is to ask myself ‘what can I learn from this?’
When life gets hard, which sometimes it can be a lot of the time, thinking positively isn’t possible. Horrible things happen everyday and to good people. We all know someone who deserves the world but goes through something awful that they never deserved.
Instead of looking for a silver lining, look for lessons you can learn from it, lessons from the situation, lessons from the people that hurt you, that’s how you get through it.
Then with this knowledge you can channel it into becoming more understanding of what others are going through, to become more compassionate, open minded and ultimately a stronger person because of it.
It’s not necessarily better. There are qualities I had that I often grieve because I struggle to find them in myself now after 2021. However, you can become a different version of yourself, and that version can be powerful.
I’ve spent a lot of years trying to change things about myself. I’ve always been told I lived in a dream world, I wasn’t realistic enough or needed in a way to come back down to earth.
But isolation showed me that those qualities I have are actually my saving grace.
The ability to believe in something bigger than myself, to have hope and to choose to believe that everyone is doing their best.
Their best might cause you pain, it may even be cruel, but believing we are all doing the best we can, with the tools that we have and the experiences that have shaped us has allowed me to continue showing up with an open heart and a willingness to keep going.
Creativity and imagination are a gift.
Without them I wouldn’t be here.
I spent my twenties wishing I was something different to what I am, but for the first time I am realising that what I am is exactly how I should be and is enough.
I am not where I wanted to be in 2022, not physically, mentally, or emotionally.
There are lots of things I was hoping would be left in 2021 but I am understanding that healing and growing doesn’t have a specific timeline and fighting where you are instead of accepting it only delays the process even further.
If you have things you wanted to escape as we start a new year, but they still linger, you are not a failure.
You are where you need to be.
And if where you are isn’t easy, comfortable, or happy ask yourself ‘what can I learn from this?’.
Setbacks are inevitable. Have a plan but don’t be to tied to it.
The destination isn’t where you will find your peace or where things will fall into place. Where you find those things is in the process.
I used to believe those people with faith didn’t really understand how hard life can be.
Now I believe those with the most faith, with the most love to give and optimism are, in my experience, those who have experienced some of the most devastating circumstances. But from those circumstances a choice was made.
A choice to show up regardless and an understanding that accepting what is and choosing to love and show kindness regardless always means you are winning.
I’m not where I wanted to be, but I believe I am where I need to be, and I hope you can find that same acceptance as we begin 2022 – and of course I hope you found it not having to be locked up for 10 days.
Whatever your personal 'covid prison' experience is, I want you to know you can get through it.
You are strong, capable, and powerful.
Use your imagination and keep going.