Vanity Saved My Life
While many were getting some rest in the early hours of a Monday morning so that they could brave the week ahead, my friends and I on the other hand, were finishing off our Sunday night CLUBBING EXPERIENCE with an AFTERPARTY that ended up my place. I tell you this to be clear, so that as you read me, you can UNDERSTAND PRECISELY WHO I WAS: it wasn’t out of the ordinary for me to be out religiously every night from Wednesday to Sunday.
Naturally, my friends and I considered ourselves to be the life of the party. Our presence alone in any room guaranteed that a good time was to follow. It seemed like a good idea to go out that Sunday evening after I had quickly dismissed the fact that I had a university assignment to complete. And it just so happened that this particular assignment was due on the same Monday that I found myself attending to my regular schedule of being out and having fun with my friends. When everyone eventually stumbled their way out and left my place in the wee hours of the morning, I fell into a deep sense of loneliness. In that moment it dawned on me that everything in my life was falling apart, including me.
With the break of dawn looming, the realization that the party had gone on for longer than it should have and things were out of control. I was out of control. The sadness was a dark and painful place, this feeling looked and felt all too familiar because I had been in its presence before. I know of a person who was clinically diagnosed with depression and I had spent enough time with them to know that I too now shared this sense of not belonging and being out of control that I had come to recognise through them. But in that moment I also knew and believed that I still had a lot of fight in me. I always make a joke about how vanity saved my life because determined to do something, I walked to the bathroom and stared into the mirror. What stared back at me was a reflection of someone who was unknown to me. I couldn’t recognise the woman staring back at me. I barely looked like a shadow of myself, with pale lifeless skin, gaunt and sad eyes. The reflection was true to my state of being and it was unyielding in its need for something to give. A desperate need for change. I was reduced to feeling unhappy, lonely and I thought I had no purpose in this life. I could have named it depression however for me, it was a call to action. I had to make a change in my life. I had to dig deeper than what the body was telling me, but first I thought let me work on something I knew and seemed to have a fair amount of good management: my body.
I went to bed for what seemed like a minute and I was up at 6 am, ready to finish that assignment. You are allowed to laugh, because it was ridiculous that I decided to take on this mission impossible while I think I was still a little bit drunk. But when I looked at myself in the mirror I did more than just look, I made a commitment to myself and I was highly motivated to do the right thing. To finally do right by myself. The truth is, the state of my inner self was glaringly evident on my face and my body, so I decided to do something radically different to what I was doing at the time. I decided to do the unthinkable, I hit the gym.
Hungover, smelling of alcohol from the previous night, I walked in with my head held up high. You have to understand that there is a kind of rockbottom that one reaches, where you have no regard for what others may think as they look on. That’s where I was in my life and there was no better time to take charge of my life than on that specific day. That was the beginning of my “fitness journey” and taking my life in a new direction. By disciplining my body I figured it would be the quickest way to reset and start afresh. Little did I know that exercise was just a small part of the experience. I’ve also had to work on the mind and spirit which has been the ultimate and the most rewarding gift I have given to myself. For me, creating new and positive habits was the catalyst to turning my life around and giving extreme focus to manifesting my dreams. Through fitness and wellness, I’m constantly learning to apply similar principals in other areas of my life, including in my relationships and business.
I share my story with you to bring you into the awareness of recognising that some parts of our lives, no matter how compulsive and out of control they may look, God will use them for good. Things spiraling out of control happens to the best of us. It could happen because you lost a loved one, the end of a romantic relationship, burnout or a million other reasons and before you know it there’s a domino effect that leads to you finding yourself having a toxic relationship to food and you become overweight or underweight. But what you need to realise that this journey is essentially about going back to self and asking the question of how you got here, what can you do to find balance again and ultimately decide to be a better version of yourself. The journey hasn’t been easy but it has been worthwhile and I will share with you the three things that have kept me committed:
It sounds selfish but you can never give what you don’t have. When I decided to prioritize myself, that was a game changer. I came to an understanding that I was the most important person in my life. I had to fill this vessel before attempting to give from an empty place or even that of a sad and painful place. It’s also true that hurt people, hurt other people.
COMMIT TO SELF
Every day I remind myself why I chose this path. It’s also very important to learn from your situations. I have learned to ask and find the lesson. You will keep repeating the same action if you don't learn anything. However, always be kind to yourself and that leads me to my next point.
COMPASSION IS A MUST
Be kind to yourself. Whatever perspective you hold of any situation, remember compassion to yourself is what will allow you to be able to keep showing up. If you fall back into old habits, learn to forgive yourself, recommit and keep it moving sis.
And if you were holding your breath wondering whether I managed to finish and hand in that assignment, I will tell you the truth in all of its glory: I didn’t. But something more important happened on that day, I made the best decision to recommit to myself. This version of Palesa endured to finish her degree and graduated while making sure to have a lifestyle that supports who she is becoming. There are many other layers to the story and I’m hoping in me being vulnerable by showing up as my true self, I will share those learning moments with you and I hope to have a positive influence on whatever you may be experiencing at this moment. Being part of this community of women has had a huge contribution to my journey. Thank you for reading this, and hope you understand how vanity did infact save my life. It may have taken the outer surface for me to look within but I believe this is how God revealed my true self to me. I want you to know that I'm also learning to consciously use my body as a tool in transcending to a higher and better version of myself. It’s more than fitness, it’s about choosing yourself and having the best experiences you can create. It’s an honour to share my fitness and life journey with you and I hope my learning moments will reach you where you are and heal, inspire and keep us committed to living our best lives, together.