What If

Ugly, crucible, struggles, trauma= Strength, resilience, values.

Illness, self-doubt, rough childhood= Wisdom, good judgement, compassion.

I sometimes reflect on my rough childhood and appreciate it a lot. The only pickle is when I want to share my story without coming across as hurting. Our stories build us. I am grateful for mine.

Just to let you know that I don’t harbour any hate, resentment, or grudge whatsoever. I also forgive and have forgiven myself, I forgive everything and everyone for my childhood. I chose not to ever jump in the blaming people and things pool. I couldn’t be happier.

Time past and time future.

What might have been and what has been.

Point to one end, which is always present.

T.S Eliot

Contrary to some beliefs, where I come from going to boarding school does not always necessarily mean prestige, mine was for survival purposes. It sort of worked out that way. I went to boarding school when I was about 11-12years old thereabouts. I did enjoy it and finished my primary years there.

Good ol’ days!

I performed well but incidentally, there was no money for my transitioning to high school. There was no fees and hence circumstances forced me to repeat the same class acting upon my uncles suggestion. 

Good ol’ days!

He organised a day school for me to attend. 

It was the unmade bed of schools.

There I was, in a class full of pupils much younger than me, better than the odds of being at home, right? I lived with the fore-mentioned uncle, who wasn’t that badly off, with his family at the time, it was a few miles from the school which required daily commute to and fro. Quite a walk in a generally wet climate.

Good ol’ days!

Time went by, made some friends… But as “times were hard,” I couldn’t afford a lot of things especially a pair of new shoes. 

I wore the same canvas shoes for such a long time my feet were literally on the ground. They were pale and completely torn. Then, came this fine day, the sun was out, some of the girls decided to sit outside on the grass in front of our classroom as the boys cleaned it, it was their turn. 

One of the cheeky boys, Kevin, can never forget his name, pulled out a shoe that had been stuck in the mud for the longest, waved it in the air jumping “I found Nicolle’s shoe” He had not seen me with the group of girls, he looked to my side, our eyes locked, he threw the shoe away and ran to the back of the building laughing like crazy as everyone joined him in the laughter. The commotion drew a crowd.

It felt so bad. We still had to go back in the classroom for the rest of the day, some still giggling.

Time went by like it never happened. One day my mum came to visit me over at my uncles and the tears in her eyes spoke enough. She had come from a 7 hour journey just to see me not knowing what was going on. With her little money she went and bought me some new pair of canvas. Seeing your mum cry like that isn’t easy for any child to witness. To me she was a hardworking strong lady, she remains that to me, though I have to admit that image never left me. She wondered why no-one had told her anything. I knew why. I was never allowed to.

Anyway, looking back now I see how values get developed. They stem from somewhere though they do change from time to time. One of my core values is compassion. I hate seeing children lack and suffer, it tears me down. So if I can empower just one adult to make the most of their lives so that their kids have a better life, that is good enough for me to live by.

I would like to encourage you today to know your whys and to discover your values. They are like your North Star guiding you and reminding you of what all this is all about.

Otherwise allow me to leave you with my favourite lines from the character Anne Montgomery in What If series ( I can understand if you find it a little controversial in some ways) 

Everything happens for a reason. 

Think about that for a moment.

All your efforts, personal, professional, canal…

Utter and absolute slaves…

to some cosmically predetermine set of outcomes.

As if we have no say in, let alone culpability for, the defining moment in our lives.

If you want a life of purpose…

by inverting the notion that everything happens for a reason.

Redefine it.

Not as some future explanation for terrible tragedy or glorious achievement but as a validation…

Of the deliberate choices that lead us to these critical junctures in the first place.

Assert authority over chance, fate, and destiny, because everything does happen for a reason. 

And that reason is you.

To attain elite success, you must be willing to make hard choices,

Do the unpleasant things, risk your most valuable assets and do away with the shackles designed by society to limit us: love, marriage, children.

And above all, the uninvited imposition of lesser people’s moral agendas.

Because nothing worthwhile is ever achieved without sacrifice.

And true greatness…only comes to those…willing to pursue it…at any cost.

-Anne Montgomery from what if.

©nicollehanselmann 2020


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