Sunday, 13 January 2013

This Girl is on Fire!

It's 2013 people - how is this year going to define you? I have decided to be the 'Girl on Fire' that Alicia Keys refers to in her song. Not because the lyrics are particularly profound but because some of the lines (.... she's got both feet on the ground, and she's burning it down, ..... she got her head in the clouds ...and she's not backing down) embody how I want to approach the coming twelve months. 

During the Christmas holidays I came across an old notebook of was a red A4 notebook with the title 'Systa' and inside it were 70 odd pages of a superbly written story about a young girl who finds herself pregnant at 18 and goes through the emotions of what to do about her predicament. I have to admit that I blew me away. Although unfinished,  I think this book was written either in my late teens or early 20s and it reminded me of the determination I had then, how focused I was and how much I believed that I could achieve whatever I put my mind to. Fast forward twenty or so years and the idea of writing a book is a distant thought lodged behind the banality of every day life. And yes of course I'll admit that at 18 I had little to worry about other than whether 'he' really liked me, or whether I would pass that test I studied so hard for, since then life's responsibilities have taken over. Yet that's no excuse to shuffle my way through life when there is so much potential to do something extraordinary!

I watched a documentary on Al Jazeera the other day called 'Tutu's Children' which essentially is an African-focused experiment involving twenty-five 30something-year olds from all over and women considered leaders in their society but leaders not in the sense of having political power but people who have achieved something and made a difference in their societies...whether in private enterprise, the not-for-profit sector or within their respective governments. I must admit I felt inspired by these young men and women who for the most part didn't see themselves as doing anything extraordinary, they simply refused to give in to apathy. From running a small business that makes African tea, to taking a stand during the Tunisian chapter of what the media refers to as the 'Arab Spring' - these men and women were making waves on their continent.

It goes without saying that our goals will differ quite dramatically depending on the  contexts we live in but I'm convinced we owe it to our younger fiery selves to be more than mums, accountants, executives, lawyers, paper-pushers, we owe it to our 18-year old selves to keep on striving to do more, be more, achieve more and give back more. I was privileged to work with a group of teenagers over the holidays (who I will blog about later) and as they challenged me on almost everything I told them, I found myself smiling as I remembered that feeling of being unstoppable. One of them confidently confirmed that he wanted to become President of his country some day, and although in my mind I considered the fact that he may never achieve this noble aspiration because politics as we adults know is about a great deal more than self-belief and determination, nonetheless the old adage came to mind "Always aim for the moon, if you miss you'll land among the stars". Dreams and aspirations are not meant to be tempered with realism, that's precisely what makes them special.

I don't know about you but I've decided to view 2013 as my blank canvas, on which I intend to paint all my achievements, however small they may be. It's less about new year's resolutions that die as quickly as they're made but about taking a leaf out of the younger me's book in order to do more. At the end of the year I'd love to be able to look back and say that I did more than my job required, I inspired people, I fulfilled a goal that had been pushed to the back-burner; in spite of the adversities I faced, I refused to back down. I'm looking for inspiration from Tutu's children, the founders of WomenChangeAfrica and Visao Foundation and friends who achieve so much everyday. This Girl will be on Fire!!!

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