26.11.14

The turn of a page.

I am stepping into a significant time in my life and, after a season of madness, I can look back, take a deep breath, launch myself into this new adventure.

For most of this year, I have felt like I am struggling through, thrashing about and keeping on top, but not achieving much else. I have been up and down, elated and frustrated, overjoyed and sorrowful. Looking back, the events of 2014 seem an aeon away, faded with time and exhaustion already.

A lot has happened this year.

I got a new job. My mother was diagnosed with cancer. I ended up in counselling again. I struggled through my final year of university. I lived in community. I moved house twice. I worked 12 hour days. I was home for dinner on a weeknight less than 15 times in the entire year (not recommended). I graduated! I took a leap of faith and applied for my dream job. I got my dream job. I saw my best friend get engaged. I won a scholarship. I made new friends. And now, I am sitting up in bed, weary but grateful.

I am happy.

The above is the bare bones of what I remember of the year. To be honest, it all feels like a bit of a blur. I am a worrier and my worry for 2014 has been that I didn't take in the moments, I didn't stop and breathe, that I may have missed what was important. But when I do just that - stop, breathe, reflect - I see that while 2014 has been such a hectic, emotional year, it has also been a year of resilience. I have faced up to my greatest fears - the possibility of losing those I love, and the fear that I might fail - and I have survived. Dare I say, I have overcome. Surely deep down, those two fears lie within everyone. I certainly have not ceased to fear. But another year has almost come to a close, and I am a little stronger, a little more content, a little closer to knowing who I am.

I am incredibly lucky to have graduated and found myself in a job that aligns perfectly with my passions. Certainly in this economic climate, to graduate and get work that both pays the bills and is fulfilling is rare, and I almost feel as if I don't deserve it. I am working at the Waitangi Tribunal as a research assistant, on a Victoria University of Wellington Summer Research Scholarship. I am assisting with the Porirua ki Manawatū district inquiry. The work is fascinating, the people inspiring, the kaupapa difficult. I will be at the Waitangi Tribunal until February, and then I will be going with Volunteer Services Abroad (VSA) to Buka, Bougainville, for 10 months to work with the Autonomous Bougainville Government in Records Management/Archives Assistance. This is still to be confirmed, but if it all works out then I should be in Buka until November or December 2015. Doing overseas development work with VSA has been a dream of mine for a long time, since I decided to do a Development Studies major in my degree. And now it is happening!

It is all a bit surreal really. Being at university for the past five years provided me with so much safety and routine. I love studying, and I love the space that university provides in which people can grow, develop, explore. Now that that is over and I have been launched into the world of full-time work that actually impacts peoples lives, I feel like I have been thrown in the deep end. Does everyone else feel like they are just making it all up as they go along, hoping for the best?

All of this happens in the sphere that is myself. Outside of this, the world continues and I am made all too aware of my privilege. Especially in the last few days, the news that the killer of Michael Brown in Ferguson will not be brought to justice and the comments by John Key that "New Zealand was settled peacefully" are continued reminders of the racist hegemony that our Western society continues to excuse and perpetuate. White Ribbon week is a reminder of the millions of women who are assaulted and killed as a result of gender-based violence each year. The recent G20 meetings and eir lack of substantial discussion of climate change or inequality confirm that the poor and Mother Earth lack value in the eyes of our global leaders. Where do we fit in amongst all of these issues, and how do they inform how we live our lives?

I turn in circles, trying to figure this out. Reflect, extract, extrapolate, feel helpless. I am strengthened by the words of those who are much wiser than me.
"Be the change you want to see in the world."
"Owe no one anything, except to love each other , for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law."
"Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies."
Call me cliché, but such words give me hope. As I step in to this new journey, the bigness of the world and the smallness of myself both overwhelms and encourages me.

I don't know what will happen next. I think this blog will turn in to a big of a travel/journal/Boungainville-focused blog in a while, for a while. But given my life is changing shape a bit, it's safe to assume my writing may too. I hope it's a change for the better. I've been thinking about what it means to seek more direction, motivation and be more efficient with how I spend my time. So, watch this space.

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