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Life is not a race

By Ashley Chin Aleong

“Before you move on to the next thing, pause. Sit with it for just a moment. Open your hands and let go of what you’ve been holding on so tightly to. Breathe deep and exhale the heaviness that’s been trapped inside. Before you move on; find yourself in these words: Life is not a race, and you are not behind.”

WHEW! Sis, that was loaded but oh, so true. Let’s dissect.

Before you move on to the next thing, pause, sit with it, just for a moment.

I find myself so caught up with life sometimes that I forget to just pause and look back on where I am, or rather, how far I’ve come.

Whether you’ve just graduated, got hired for a new job, just celebrated one of your children’s’ milestone accomplishments or even simply got to cross off one of the tasks on your to-do list, just pause a moment. I’m a busy body who just keeps pushing forward unless I’m forced to by my body or other life circumstances. Time goes by so quickly…

Have you ever taken a moment to think that maybe some part of the moment that you are currently living in, might just be an answered prayer of yours from a previous season? I know mine are.

In just a short space of time, you could have accomplished so many of your goals. But, if you never pause for a moment to reflect on having achieved them, you may, like me, get caught up in a space of thinking that you’re not doing well enough or not give yourself enough credit for all the work that you’ve put into yourself to achieve that what was once a dream for you.

Let’s go again.

Open your hands and let go of what you’ve been holding on so tightly to. Breathe deep and exhale all the heaviness that’s been trapped within.

I have this bad habit of thinking that if I share what’s been weighing on my heart and mind with the people around me, that I’ll be a nuisance or burden… or even, who really wants to hear about my struggles when other people have it so much worse. I should just suck it up… right?

Well, let me tell you if nobody has told you before: you are wrong. You can’t carry it all by yourself; this coming from one incredibly hyper-independent, millennial woman. There are people around you who love you and are ready to reach out and hold you while you sob uncontrollably, or simply give you the space and support to do whatever you need to, to just let it all go.

When that reality struck me, I had so much more appreciation for the term ‘love and support’ and an even greater appreciation for my circle… and no, that doesn’t necessarily mean family.

God has a way of shifting things in your life to build a family around you, sometimes with people in no way related to you, but filled with exactly what you need, in exactly the right time, when yours happens to fall short. At least that’s my story… and He outdid Himself!

Ever fist your hands so tightly that your fingernails make imprint on your palms, but your mind is too far or too ingrained in thought to even notice that it’s hurting? That’s the image that comes to mind here because I’m so accustomed to doing it, especially when I’m overwhelmed or hurting.

I didn’t realise how much love, care and kindness surrounded me until I had the bravery to say that I wasn’t okay and that no, I couldn’t do this all myself. I’ve built a life for myself that I could look back on and be proud of.

But that’s also only because the people around me like my friends, counsellors and mentors have loved me, encouraged me, and empowered me to become the woman that I am now; the woman capable of confidence and success and one who now finds herself worthy of a good life and good things.

The catch though… it’s a rather emotional and ongoing process. Be kind to yourself along the way!

So, breathe deep and release it. All of it. That breath might be great and strong and that could just be the pause you need… or that breath might be shaky and wobbly, and you might find that tears start free-falling, but that’s okay, too.

Be gentle with it and yourself. You may not know how much you’ve been holding onto until you open those hands and let someone help you carry it, or simply let them treat the wounds that your fingernails have made in your palm from holding so tight.

Lastly: Before you move on; find yourself in these words: Life is not a race, and you are not behind.

As I said before and I’ll say again: your story and your journey are not theirs, and theirs aren’t yours.

I’m especially guilty of thinking I’m not doing enough, not progressing fast enough, always thinking I should be further than I am; mentally physically, emotionally, and career-wise… then coming down on myself when the onslaught of ‘underachiever’ thoughts start bombarding my mind.

Then I start comparing myself or my accomplishments to other women and peers around me whom I perceive to have achieved ‘more’ than I have… then anxiety and insecurity make an appearance like “Hey boo, we’re back, you missed us?”

It ain’t easy, y’all. Here’s the thing though; I constantly must remind myself that my journey is and has been different, and my accomplishments look different because of that.

I have so many adventures, failures, and major accomplishments yet to be experienced. My story has so much more to go… and yours does too.

Life is not a race, and you are not behind, my love.