Reflections on 2016

It’s so hard to believe this year is already coming to an end, and what a year it’s been. 

So much has gone on both politically/globally and personally, and having spoken to friends and family, it feels like 2016 is going to go down in history as one of the most eventful and revealing years in our lifetime. On a personal level, I feel that this year has been one of immense growth. The character I have now, at the end of 2016, is not the same as the one I had when I entered this year. It’s been shaped, matured and exposed to such an array of situations that have made 2016 one of the most memorable years of my life, and I am so grateful for that. It’s been amazing.

I began the year about to begin my second term of First Year. My first Cambridge exams (all 8 of them – ugh!!) were looming in a few months’ time, and I was making plans for the summer. That term I became a member of a society committee, a role which has been an absolute pleasure, and was selected to take part in a two-month project in Tanzania over the summer, which was such an honour.

Tanzania was incredible… Life-changing, to say the least. I learnt so much about God, myself, my character, teamwork and life in a completely different part of the world. One thing I learnt from the Tanzanians was how to avoid taking life too seriously. Nothing is worth frowning about forever. Things which we in the UK would shrug off as ‘not that funny’ would have the Tanzanians laughing and joking for ages, and the laughter was so contagious! For two months my alarm clock was the hearty, Swahili-laced laughter of women washing clothes just outside my dorm room at the university we were staying at. Their joy was contagious. I actually remember voice-noting it to my Mum via Whatsapp one morning so she could feel it too! Laughter was a priority for the Tanzanians, and that’s something I want to hold onto in my own life going forward!

I grew and matured a lot in Tanzania. As much as there were smiles and laughter, there were, occasionally, tears (on my part as much as on the part of other members of my team) as we went through situations which were completely alien to us. We learnt that growth – real growth – isn’t always easy, but the most challenging periods strengthen your character the most and reveal something of your own strength to you. If you’ve had dark seasons this year, you’ll know what I mean. But listen! It’s okay to have down seasons. What matters is that you made it, and I can guarantee you’ll have come out stronger if not more resilient!

I praise God for His blessings academically and in terms of shaping my career, as well, and am equally grateful to have been able to meet some of my inspirations, including Zadie Smith and Patricia Bright – face-to-face. I started this blog, turned 20, secured two internships and even started a mini-studio and have been teaching myself music production (my dream, as some of you may remember from my first singing video!). Over the 12-week summer I was in the UK for about 3 weeks, so it was super hectic.

So clearly it’s been a jam-packed year! But I guess if there’s one other thing I’ve learnt this year, it’s been the importance of rest. This Christmas season, I’m taking time out to properly focus on, pray about and plan for next year. 2017 is going to be great. I am praying that for you and for myself it’s a year of continued growth and success – and of course, much laughter – Tanzanian-style! 😉

Imani x

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