It’s nearing that time of year when it is customary to look back and reflect on the experiences we have had, both good and bad. I’m not superstitious and had no advance trepidation when it came to 2013, but I have to say I can’t think of many people I know who will be sad to say goodbye to it. If every day’s a school day 2013 certainly has been exceptionally academic!
My personal academic year hit exam time over the past month when a painful personal experience followed by the death of Nelson Mandela catapulted me into the school-room. Here – between the ache of betrayal and the reflection on the life of an icon – I was compelled to consider not what I want to be when I grow up, but who. What values I want to stand for, what kind of friend I want to be to others, and how I want to be remembered. And yes, this is entirely relevant to a dating blog because who we are defines who we love and, perhaps more importantly, who loves us.
The answer to this question is simple: who I want to be is someone who makes other people feel better for knowing me.
I may not be able to solve world hunger, but I can absolutely strive to be a caring and trusted friend. Saving the rainforest might also be a little out of my reach, but committing to always acting with integrity is not. Making time for the people who make time for me, being true to myself and respectful of others and their hearts – these are all things that I can do. They’re not new lessons, not at all, but I’ve never felt them as keenly as I have these past weeks.
Lucky for me, I am blessed to be surrounded by truly incredible teachers – not least my family and, of course, people like Madiba. But here’s where I try and bring things tenuously back to dating because looking back on this year, my absolute best dates have not been with men at all, they’ve been with women.
That’s right XX GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS XX. Where X = true love and GIRLS = your greatest gift.
My mother has always told me to look after my girlfriends. Men will come and go, she says, but true girlfriends will be there for you throughout all of life’s inevitable ups and downs. How right she is.
These girls, these few good women, have celebrated with me when things are good but, most valuably, have been willing to drop everything to wipe my tears when life has seen fit to hand out lemons. It’s true they don’t always tell me what I want to hear, but it’s always what I need to hear. They’re courageous, generous, witty and wise – not to mention staggeringly attractive and exceptionally patient – and they teach me every day about the art of true love.
Yes, I am bruised, sure there will be more hurdles, but because of these incredible women* who inspire me with their goodness and integrity, I will transition into 2014 not only stronger, but more determined than ever to be a better me.
Thank you to my teachers; this imperfect student is so blessed to have you.
* I do feel compelled to acknowledge that in amongst these astounding women are a few good men as well. To the boys who’ve stood by me, advised me and inspired me this year, thank you. You do your gender proud!