12 Lessons From 2023

 2023 is a year I’ll think about for the rest of my life. 

If I had to sum up my major lesson from last year, it would be;

‘Let Go.’

Let go of people (the good, the bad, the ugly, the sxy, the excellent)

Let go of places (the ones you desperately wanted to belong to, the ones that made you feel big + safe + small)

Let go of shame (the s*xual, substational, superficial + surface level)

Let go of the past (the big, the flashy, the expensive)

Let go of old habits (the self-flagellation, the perfectionism, the fear-filled, the painful)

Let go of trying to keep up with every other motherf*cker out there + what they think and just DO.

Just BE.

A lot of walls came crashing down (whether I wanted them to or not).

I broke myself, then attempted to put myself back together at pace, with people watching along the way.

Which lead to me sharing some of the realest stories + rawest parts of myself online, offline + on the stage.

This was the year I finally realised words were enough.

I nicknamed the process of putting it all out there in real time, ‘radical vulnerability.’ 

I felt bare and frightened for most of the year taking these huge risks - insane rolls of the dice that demanded my entire life be put up as collateral - but I also felt incredibly alive.

Since the show, I’ve taken a short pause to reset. I’ve found myself in a twilight state. I keep flicking through journal entries of my lowest moments from last year- blue and black breaking points + tear stained pages about wanting to burn my play and disappear- and then back to pictures of me standing up on stage and baring my soul all over again.

It’s surreal.

It’s hard to look at psychologist reports and emergency contact numbers from a deep state of depression, to-do lists with small tasks like ‘walk, shower, eat’ and then swipe over to me standing on a red carpet.

It’s lead to some of the most profound and life changing moments of my entire existence. 

I wanted to share some with you. 

Here are 12 lessons that I learned while doing this crazy thing.

I have so many more from this entire experience, but in the interest of keeping it light + scrollable while you nurture a holiday hangover, here are the ones that hit the hardest for me this year.

I hope they encourage you to keep going, or (at the very least) give you some comfort or a laugh.

Here’s to telling people how you feel in 2024.

Happy New Year x

[ To make sense of it all, I've written out the lessons like letters to my past self. I wish I could mail them back in time to prevent the heartache, but some lessons are best learned in post (badda bing) ]



Choose People Who Choose You 

After cocking up, my messages with some of my family and friends become a series of

‘Let’s catch up?’

Left on read. 

Grief came in waves. At times, it felt like I spent an entire year crying. 

Each attempt at repair, and subsequent rejection, hurt.  

After a while, I realised it was more painful to keep reaching out than to let it rest, 

so I started letting go instead. 

Making a choice to stop seeking closure from people gave me a chance to try and find it from within.  

I learned that you can let people go without letting your self-worth go with them. 

When I started putting time into myself, and the people who saw me for what I was trying to do and be, I started feeling better.

Choose people who choose you.

Sometimes people can help you become who you're meant to be, and you can be grateful to them, but they're not meant to be a part of your journey forever.


Your only way out of a mess is through it

This was such a colossal clusterfuck of a mess to fix, I had no idea where to start.

It felt like trying to climb a tall wall running either direction for eternity.  

In the end, I took it apart, brick by brick. 

When you're stuck, don't try to tackle everything at once. Take small steps forward that build momentum. 

All your sadness, rage + pain can be channelled into something beautiful and healing, if you let it. I chose to pour mine into art.

I learned this while creating my 'Something Real' series last year. Figuring out how to tell each part of the story helped me take those first few steps forward. 

Sharing the story in pieces helped me to confront it. 

The way out was through.


People forgive you as much as they've forgiven themselves 

If you're going through something big and messy, surround yourself with open-minded people who recognise your potential for growth, and encourage it.  

This year, I looked to my risk-taking, ball-busting friends (a lot of them older) for stories of survival. They (very kindly) shared their set-backs, which made me feel better about my own.

People who’ve failed tend to go easier on people who have also stumbled. They see it as part of the process.

Your own capacity for forgiveness expands every time someone else forgives you.


You aren't your failures, you're what you learn from them

Accountability is sexy. Self-reflection is hot. Receiving feedback without fighting it is hard, but horny.

I had some absolutely incredible friends provide some beautiful advice this year that was hard to hear sometimes (even when they delivered it as gently as they could) but helpful.

Understanding that you're still loveable when you're less than perfect, allows you to receive lessons that help you grow.

The pursuit of perfection is a bust.

Growth looks the most beautiful on you.


Respond, don't react

That dude who pushes your buttons behind closed doors, but holds their tongue in public will make a fool of you if you can't control your reactions.

If you learn to control your emotions, you’ll control everything else in your life.

Putting a pause between leaning into an instinctive reaction

(eg. defending yourself, saying something hurtful back, crying, cursing, et al) 

to a triggering situation will save you some serious heartache later.


 Putting yourself in someone else's shoes is the fastest way to forgive them

Last year I let people down, and people I loved let me down.

It is really hard to see things from someone else's perspective when they have hurt you. Putting your own pain aside to pull theirs into focus requires absolute empathy. 

Time helps.

When I got to a place where I was able to forgive myself, I sat with other people's experiences. I tried to understand how they might be feeling.

My mantra became, this was such a wildly ambitious, deeply naive project. Everyone was in over their heads. Everyone made mistakes. But they also did the best they could with the tools they had at the time. 

Put yourself in other people's shoes. Forgive them. It'll free you.


You Doing the Thing Is The Most Powerful Thing

Actions over intentions.

A good idea isn't the thing. Talking about the thing isn't the thing. People's opinions about the thing isn't the thing. You wanting the thing isn't the thing. Your intention to do the thing isn't the thing. 

You doing the thing, is the thing.

So do it.


 Your growth isn’t linear

There’s a line between healthy processing and un-healthy rumination. 

A line between needing help and standing on your own two feet.

A line between crucial feedback and critical self-flagellation.  

It’s a messy back and forth. 

Forgive yourself if you ever take one step forward and two steps back. 

Learning the lessons is one thing. Applying them is another. It takes some practice.


If someone gives you a foot in the door, kick it the fuck open

This is a big one. If you ever get an opportunity to move your life forward, take it.

People don't often ask twice. That window of opportunity closes. Say yes. 

You'll know the moment I mean when yours comes to you.

Take it.

Then go at it as hard as you can.


 Your story ends when you decide it does. 

Keep Going.

If you quit, you quit. The chapter closes on whatever part you walked out on and however you left it.

If you keep going, the story continues.

Don’t let a bad chapter be the end of the whole book.


It's Not The Critic Who Counts, But The Man In The Arena 

Getting His Ass Kicked

So get your ass kicked.

Have you got a dream?

It's terrifying to try, but who gives a shit. Roll the fucking dice. Get the fuck out there.

Life is short. 

If you don’t face your fears, you’ll never know what you’re capable of.

You also won’t grow or get better.

Be uncomfortable. Fall Short. Fuck Up. Fail. Swing and Miss. 

There's going to be stumbles and stings, people who point and laugh from the sidelines and whisper sweet and sour nothings about your attempts at a bigger life.

Fuck 'em. 

It’s not the critic who counts, but the man in the arena, getting his ass kicked. And it's always better to be inside the arena, having a go, than outside of it, having a sad laugh at someone else.


Tell People How You Feel

Vulnerability is hot girl shit.  

‘Is it better to speak or to die?’ 

It’s better to speak. 

With feelings first, ego last. 

When we shine a light on ourselves, it allows others to feel seen.

Lead with vulnerability in every situation and you will come out on top every time. 

We’ll all be dead soon. Will you regret NOT sharing yourself/your ideas/your feelings/your heart/your story?

Yes. 10000% you will. 

Cuz the chance of the outcome being mindblowingly good outweighs

the bad every time.

1 comment

This is an incredible post and read!!

Pacharo Mzembe February 21, 2024

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