I am a big fan of personal development. I read many books on self improvement and I am passionate about building a better life for myself. I like to learn things and the top thing I like to learn is how to be better. This doesn’t mean that I’m particularly unhappy with who I am but there is always room to grow and learn.
This week I went to Cape Town for six days for a course in personal development. It cost more than I would usually spend and I was apprehensive about whether I’ll get my money’s worth. My cousin recommended the course and said he thought it would make a big difference in my life. It was complicated logistically because it’s school time and it’s a little tricky to enlist my husband to do all the homework, lunches and laundry. Of course, I’ve done all of the childcare when he has been away but he’s only a guy, after all.
I worried a lot about whether the family would cope without me and whether my health was strong enough to manage the long days in a room with other participants. When we travel, my husband usually handles the car hire and the accommodation. It was a challenge for me to sort out the logistics and I was very nervous about the whole trip and the course itself.
I figured out how to get around and navigated my way between the hotel and the training venue. I managed to drive a strange little car with manual transmission for a few days. The content of the course was good and I gained a lot but I also gained an insight from the mere trip. I realized that my health is strong enough to do what other people do and I handled the logistics and the long days of the course without issue. I’ve been feeling handicapped, or broken in some way. I spent three years recovering from burnout and I see that I became fearful, holding myself back in case my health deteriorates. That’s getting in the way of doing the things I need to do to move forward in my life and career.
I did a yoga class while in Cape Town and for the first time, I didn’t put any medical issues on the signup form. I actually feel that I can live life like a ‘normal’ person, not that there’s such a thing. I realized that I can accomplish much more than I have been allowing myself to imagine. Feeling as empowered as I do after the course, I created a list of things, all starting with ‘I can’ and I got to twenty one before I ran out of paper.
I spent two days in Cape Town after the training, enjoying the city. I went to the beach and spent time with the sand between my toes. I had fun on my own without the responsibility of getting people to dancing on time, getting homework done and feeding a bunch of other people. I had two days fully to myself which felt like an unbridled indulgence. I bought myself delicious meals like sushi and enjoyed the break from cooking. I slept late, I did whatever I felt like and I felt completely entitled to it. I can’t tell you a time in my life when I’ve felt more free.
I know I have to return to reality but it was such an important experience and I want to hold onto it. In the course, I learnt about reconnecting with relationships that I’ve let become distant and damaged. I realized that I’ve hardened my heart to many people who are close to me because I want to protect myself from hurt. But when we do that, we stop ourselves from letting the love in and I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to risk being hurt because it’s worth it.
On the course, I spent time with people of a variety of cultures, backgrounds and ages. I saw prejudice and grace. I laughed along with my fellow countrymen and women, enjoying the unique aspects of our people. I was touched by the stories people told of their traumas and experiences. I was moved and inspired to make my life better and to stop whining about my problems when I saw such potential in others who live with larger constraints.
I spent many years in recovery from burnout. I became isolated and disconnected from the world and the everyday people of my country. I feel part of humanity now and I have recognized that I need to connect with those I love and care about. Research shows that social relationships are the biggest contributor to our happiness. I need to implement what I’ve learnt and deeply invest in the relationships in my life.
It made me realize that I want to be back in the world again. I don’t want to sit on the outskirts, wondering if I’m well enough to participate in life. I am ready to dive in and be the person I am meant to be. I am ready to bring my gifts into the world and I can’t wait to get started. I am ready to live fully again.
We become absorbed in our lives with all our routines and problems like they are insurmountable. I’ve gained a new perspective. It’s so good for us to get out of our environment and typical company now and then. It’s so valuable to challenge ourselves. We might find out that we can achieve more than we ever realized, or even wanted to achieve. The training material brought me closer to my calling and I’m more inspired than ever to bring my message to the world.