This is my last post for 2014 and I’m not usually a fan of the whole “New Year, New Me” rigmarole unless there’s a degree of seriousness attached to it. What I do take seriously are the gifts of hindsight, expressing gratitude and methods that individuals (and groups) have taken steps to try and better themselves and their communities.

This year was particularly trying; I started 2014 in not a great way and for the first half of the year it felt like being in between a rock and a hard place. I was very on edge almost all of the time, burnt out, uninspired and fed up of life when I’ve not even started living! It wasn’t until I went out to East Africa for three weeks and left my phone, laptop, social media etc in London.  I remember the night before I left, feeling like a complete failure because I wasn’t on a high salary, wearing designer clobber, out travelling the world or living in a Chelsea flat and “living it up” like many people I knew. I remember my dad telling me not to worry, but how could I not worry? Life is so fast and I felt like I wasn’t in control of it in comparison to my fellow peers.

Those three weeks were the best of my life so far; it was a much needed break and out there I saw a different way of life and members of my family who gave me some great life advice. I met people who were successful in their own right simply by being persistent, working hard and staying focused. I also severely embarrassed myself on several occasions – which I won’t reveal here but on Twitter (@c_syal). I came back to London feeling rested, energised, full of ideas and fabulous.

I still felt like rubbish but started to see things in a very different light. I stopped following what others did and feeling inadequate which is hard because we’re bombarded by it 24/7.  I stopped blaming myself for not being rich or owning a flat in Zone 2; we’re all at different paces in life and should be focusing on the next step instead of the next 200 steps. Since then, I’ve been a lot more relaxed and at peace with myself which has made a big difference with regards to my general outlook. There’s nothing wrong with any of us or our lives.

There have been many highlights, experiences and opportunities that overshadowed negative experiences and I honestly wouldn’t have been able to appreciate the good unless I’d experienced the bad stuff. Even with unscrupulous individuals – we all learn something from each other and it is so important to not take things personally nor depend on anyone too much. I’ve been very blessed to have collaborated with and work with some incredible people who have each taught me something new about myself, themselves, the world and the work we are involved in. And I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for supporting Avid Scribbler and what it stands for.

I am also truly touched and so thankful for everyone’s support; especially after last week’s post which you can read here.




Achilles’ Heel


It’s not every day that we admit to or decide to face what we fear the most. I’ve often wondered why that is. Is it out of pride? Reluctance? Anxiety? Fear of the aftermath having faced the fear? It’s a complex business which is daunting but important to do. Writing this post put me in two minds: firstly I’m about bare all with whoever is reading this post. Secondly, it’s the first time that I’m going to put what is in my head and heart into words. In addition, I’m aware that some individuals may choose to use this against me; oh well.

The story of Achilles and his downfall gave rise to the popular saying: “Achilles’ heel.” It’s a phrase that I’ve always loved thinking about because I love the story behind it. Whilst an Achilles’ heel is mainly referred to our feet, it’s a concept which can be applied to the way we view ourselves. I don’t have a six-pack or ripped abs. I’m not model thin with striking features and a neverending sum of money in the bank. I’m an ordinary every day person who, like many others, is on their journey through life. Sometimes it’s full of sunflowers and happiness. Other times it’s dark and full of thorns.

I firmly believe that struggle and having to get back up after a setback, makes us into the person we are supposed to be. If that makes sense. Everyone has their own version of an “Achilles’ heel” and it can be almost anything. For me, it’s these poisonous six words: “You are exactly like your mother.” Even seeing that written down makes me feel deeply unsettled. When it’s said to me, it’s even worse. It’s like someone peeling off a scab and poking at it for fun. After all this time, it still touches a nerve.

I have my reasons as to why those six words manage to shake my core and unsettle me – if I’m strong enough, I’ll write that chapter of my life in a future blog post. When I was younger, I’d do anything to not look, act like or sound like my mum. My younger mind’s reasoning was: “Of course, this sounds stupid and futile – I have 50% of my mother’s genes in my DNA, so on a genetic level I can’t ever fully rid myself of her. But if I can do absolutely anything to not behave like her, I’ll do it.”

That way of thinking ruled me for a very long time and it wasn’t until someone very close to me uttered those six poisonous words at the weekend. It upset me and I cried myself to sleep because I couldn’t handle being compared to the person whom I had tried so hard to not be like. It felt like I had somehow failed myself. That I had let myself down and become the very thing I never want to be. I guess that’s why I called it my Achilles’ heel. But then I started thinking about how I needed to change this way of thinking so that it wouldn’t fully derail me in the future.

Whether I like it or not, there will always be an existing element of my mother in me. It’s something that, with time, I will learn to accept and channel in a different way that’s not so toxic to my well being. I might always be referred to as my mother’s daughter. There may be certain attributes of mine, which may cause others to make a link between us. I can’t ever fully escape her. But instead of letting it dictate my emotions and rule my mind, I can begin to look at it from a different angle. One which benefits me.