2019 by far has been one of the most eventful, successful, and happiest years of my life. It went by so quickly, but at the same time it felt like a lifetime as many moments were savored. As 2019 comes to a closing not only will we be entering a new year, but an entirely new decade! Now I bet you're expecting me to do an entire recap of what these past 10 years have been like for me right? Well you are absolutely wrong. While the past does matter, in another sense, it also does not matter. I want this article to focus on the present day and our long term and/or short term goals as we get ready to kick off a new decade. Now I have a lot that I want to cover in this article and before I go any further, I want to take a moment to say a personal prayer for all those who lost someone special to them this decade. Billions of lives were lost and there are still people all over the world who are grieving heavily so let's send them love and pay our respects.
When people see those numbers they may think of words or phrases like "awful", "a learning experience", "could have been better", or whatever the case may be for them. As for myself, the word I would use to describe my 2019 would be "sprout". Not the kind of word you were expecting right? Allow me to evaluate. I did a lot of mentally and spiritually growing up this year as I got a real taste of adult hood (not to mention that I will be 20 in 6 months). Even though I matured in some aspects of my life, I feel I am just getting started. For those of you who are not aware, I am the sole proprietor of a small, local art business call "Kreative Kiwi Co." and also a part-time worker at Goodwill. I just wanna make it known that at some point I will release a separate article on how to properly maintain personal and professional boundaries in the workplace, but for now let's get into my experience in managing my own business while dealing with the complications of a minimum wage job that is Goodwill.
This year I had absolutely no idea what to expect out of my business. I just knew I wanted to be successful, so of course I had to create some sort of plan. In the beginning, just like any other sprouting journey, it was very stressful and frustrating. There were times when I wanted to step away and completely disregard all my responsibilities towards my business. Today, I can say that I am beyond happy I didn't give up so easily and I kept moving forward. As time progressed, so did my business as I became more knowledgeable in the business world and invested much more of my time into my works. Each day I became much more emotionally and mentally attached to my business causing my passion and motivation to work harder to increase; it felt amazing. Despite how well my business was coming about, it wasn't bringing in enough money for me to actually support myself. I did not feel discouraged about this at all though because I was aware of the fact that my business was still small. So I took it upon myself to find a part-time job that would help keep me afloat while I work on my businesses sales. Goodwill was never my first option in fact. I applied at several other places before then such as an animal clinic, retirement facility, housecleaning at hotels. I even considered working at a fast food restaurant, and if you know me, YOU KNOW that working in the fast food business does not serve me at all! After having no luck finding a place to work, I decided to take a different approach and try somewhere out of my neighborhood. One night I got online and checked out Indeed.com to see what was around and who was hiring. It was at that moment I came across Chili's and Goodwill, both located right next door to each other in Indiana. I instantly applied to both places, then decided to wait a week and see which one would get back to me first. After a week of no calls yet, I decided it would be best to visit both places so they'll have an idea of who I am and that I sent them an application. First, I checked in to Chili's and long story short, they told me the only way they would hire me is if I agreed to work weekends. This was an issue to me because I have to keep my weekends open in order to manage my own business and attend events. I knew I had to make a choice, reconsider working a weekend job or denying them. I'm not sure what it was, but something in my gut feeling told me to hold off on Chili's. After visiting Chili's, we drove over to Goodwill and I was in complete awe. Mind you, this had been my first time stepping into any Goodwill so I thought it was a complete sanctuary, but little did I know. I spoke to the managers, they immediately arranged for me to come back the following Monday and have an interview, and I was honestly excited. After having the interview, they hired me on the spot. My first few weeks working there I will admit were exceptional; my coworkers were really sweet, the customers were not so aggressive, and the amount of work I had to do was simple. People were amazed at how easily I was able to adjust and I have my high level of tolerance to thank for that. But a job can be just like a book; you see the front cover and can't help but to feel intrigued, but as soon as you read that first page and progress even deeper into the book, that's when the real drama unfolds and the truth reveals itself. I was nearly 2 months in working at Goodwill and I had already encountered my first dispute with a coworker, a "love" dispute as I should call it. Before I go any further, I want to clarify that all names will be kept anonymous for the sake of privacy. To summarize what happened, I had a coworker whom I also considered to be my best friend and it turned out that he had a crush on me. Then he later on found out that I did not feel the same way about him; I was more interested in his friend who was also a coworker of ours. You can imagine how messy this situation was. I will not go into much detail of everything that happened in between as I already discussed a great amount of it in my previous article, "Forgiveness Does Not Equal Instant Relief", if you wish to go read more about it there. And I simply just don't want to tamper with that situation anymore. What's done is done and despite how messy that period in my life was, it was honestly one of the biggest lessons I learned this year and I'm glad it happened. After that incident, everyone was beginning to grow at peace with one another again which was great, but I still had one great issue to deal with. Everyday we all encounter at least one complicated person or set of people, but this co-worker I had in particular was just the absolute worst. She was literally the most stubborn, rude, and selfish person I have ever met. She was not a team player at all and it's like she found joy in making everyone else's job harder. In the beginning, things were different as I enjoyed conversing and working alongside her. But the more comfortable she became with me, the more uncomfortable I became towards her. In other words, she was presenting a side of her that was completely unacceptable. For weeks, myself along with my other coworkers had to deal with her childish behavior, pettiness, and a lot of the things she said about us was just completely out of line and disrespectful. We all knew for a fact that people and ourselves had been sending in complaints about her to corporate, but we just could not figure out why they continued to let her work there. Then one faithful day they finally let her go which marked the end of any further disputes regarding my coworkers. Of course, with every sunshiny day comes a rainstorm following right after it. Working at Goodwill begin to turn very left for me and it is still like that to this day. We became very shorthanded in all departments and with management and corporate not being as understanding or hands on as they should have been it only made things worse. Goodwill is the first job I have ever had where I actually took a few days off or left early because I simply did not want to deal with their unreasonable managing "ways". I started growing depressed as the days went on, experiencing two anxiety attacks while on the clock, it was heavily affecting the way I interacted with everyone, and draining me so much that I didn't even want to invest any time to my business. I knew at that moment that it was time for me to quit this job and move on to something better. Now you're most likely thinking, "ShaQira, you are still working there aren't you? Why haven't you quit yet?" Two words. Timing and planning. As I talked about earlier on, I only got this job to help support me financially while I worked on getting my business off the ground. So before I even decide upon quitting, I want to make sure I have another job I can fall back on so I don't end up in a financial crisis. Besides, i know for a fact that this current obstacle in my life is only temporary, just another stepping stone to something greater. As excited as I am to be leaving Goodwill, the only thing I will really miss about it is my co-workers. If you are working somewhere all of your co-workers treat each other like one big family, please cherish that. Not a lot of jobs or businesses have that kind of bond in the workplace. The people I have worked alongside with have played a huge role in my life and my growth this year. When I first began working at Goodwill, they welcomed me with open arms instead of being standoffish, helped me get a great understanding of how things are run, and as the months we by, my associations with these people grew stronger. In fact, a handful of them now I actually talk to on a day to day basis and consider them to be long term friends. I cannot emphasize enough how grateful I am for all the advice they have given me (I am the youngest out of them all), all the support they have shown towards my business once they find out about it, and just treating me as an equal with respect. Goodwill was a hellful time, but was definitely one of my greatest learning experiences along with giving me the opportunity to connect with so many incredible people.
Majority of my 2019 also heavily revolved around the kind of connections and intentions I wanted with the people in my life. One thing I can say, the way I choose to react and approach anyone I encounter has changed so much since the start of the year. For instance, the people who no longer served a purpose in my life I felt no guilt in letting them go. I did, however, lose someone who I thought would remain in my life always, and that was my ex-bestfriend. I know that as we go through life there are many people we meet and have absolute connections with, but it does not guarantee that they are meant to stay. With her, it was was so different; she was the first friend I ever had when I moved to this town in 2012 and since then we were almost inseparable. We had a number of ups and downs, but always swore to be there for each other and not let anything get in between us. I guess this year that kind of mindset changed for her. You see, before our last year of high school she moved away making communication between us slightly more difficult. We still talked on the phone and hung whenever we could get the opportunity. But I could feel us drifting apart and I'd be lying if I said it didn't hurt. What hurt me the most was I actually tried my best to mend what was broken between us; to her, it just wasn't enough. Someone else had come into the picture and that's when things really begin to shift. This someone was actually a friend to the both of us, well at least that's what I thought. To make a very long and depressing story short, I was ditched. Plain and simple. She stopped checking in, we hung out less, and it's almost like she did not care at all. As hurt as I was, I realized that maybe this was for the better, maybe it's time for us to move forward and go separate way. Everything happens for a reason right? And listen, never force a friendship, relationship, or anything in life. If it's not meant to be anymore, it's not worth stressing over. In fact, 6 months exactly after this predicament occurred, I felt fine without her. One thing I discovered is that I was so attached to her, that it refused to open up to anybody else as at the time I truly believed she was the only friend I needed in my life; I shut a lot of people out for her but that has completely changed now. I just wanna emphasize that it does not matter how many friends you have or people you decide to acquaint yourself with. Whether it be 7 friends, 19 friends, or just simply 1 it does not matter. As long as you have people around you who genuinely support you, feed to your happiness, and love you unconditionally. We tend to get so caught up in how to label the people we surround ourselves with when it's actually not even that important. As long as you are aware of the kind of vibe an individual gives off and know how to set the appropriate boundaries between you and one another based on how deeply connected you two are, that's all that matters. People come and go so there's no use in trying to understand where to put them in your life. And if you are someone who chooses to be alone, that is perfectly fine as well. At the end of the day, however you choose to move throughout world with those around you, just make sure you always have your own back.
Now in this segment of the article I speak directly to you, the reader, and I want to ask, what will you do differently in 2020 to ensure a happier, healthier, and much more beneficial life for yourself? Before you proceed forward, really take a minute or two to actually think about it. — You probably thought or said things like, "I'll eat healthier" or "I'll get a new car", something along those lines right? Well I challenge you to go deeper than that. Make 2020 about YOU. Do some soul searching; a lot of people are still afraid to find who they are really inside because they know it will cause them to reveal an ugly truth about themselves that they don't want to confront. One thing I notice with the people in today's society is we heavily use materialism and this concept of "have more, be more" to feel complete. We get so distracted and jaded by our outer responsibilities and conflicts that we forget to practice our inner self care. We talk about wanting to be better or do better for ourselves and instead of taking the time to dig deep and figure out what fulfills us the most, we go out and buy a house, a new car, designer clothes, anything that is materialistic or close to it, to make us feel like we are making an "upgrade" when we actually are not; it is only temporary. Because guess what, at some point you'll get tired of that house or that car or those shoes and will want to replace it with something bigger and better. Not only would this hurt you financially, but you'll also find yourself in this constant cycle of spending and spending because you are so desperate to feel that level of internal happiness which you are never going to reach through acts of impulsive spending and materialism. I definitely learned this the hard way. So I have a box in my closet that contains every receipt I collected this year (whenever I shop I keep all my receipts, you should really try it as it helps in numerous ways). I was curious to see how much I actually spent this year, so just last week I took time out to gather up all my receipts from the year 2019 only, divided them up into several separate piles based on the store I got them from, and first added up how much I spent on each store alone. Then I took each total from each store, added those together, and as soon as I saw the total amount I spent altogether this year my mouth literally fell to the ground; I spent nearly $4,500 this year. Now for someone who may make $20,000 or more per year, this wouldn't be that big of a deal. But I work a part-time $8.25 an hour job! This is a huge problem for me. What upsets me the most is I am aware of the type of things I spend my money on and majority of it was materialistic things I bought that provided a temporary feeling of happiness at the time that I bought them. Not to mention, that some of the items I purchased later on just ended up being put up for sale on my shop. So I wasn't even intending on keeping them! Despite how disappointed I was and still am in myself, I am really happy that I exposed myself to this ugly truth and recognize I have a toxic spending habit that needs to come to an end. It also allowed me to see for myself that no matter how little I spend (because I do shop cheap, thrift store only here!) it all adds up. This is why it's so important to be wise about what you choose to spend your money on and try to avoid spending on impulse. Don't get me wrong, if you are that person who chooses to spend $80 on a t-shirt instead of going to a Walmart or thrift shop and getting a better bargain because you simply have the financial capability to do so, that is perfectly fine. Some people have this privilege, but what I'm mainly trying to emphasize is always be mindful of the fact that money can go as quickly as it comes. Now let's get back into the concept of soul searching.
Aside from using money and materialistic things to provide a temporary feeling of fulfillment, try seeking out a hobby, profession, or spiritual practice that you can stay committed to and fall back on whenever you need a sense of security and hope. I personally can say I am one of the many people who has it good on both ends; while art is my hobby and plays as my spiritual healer, it is also my chosen career path. Many are so quick to say they don't know what brings them passion or they are not good at anything. Everyone has a skill in something. From having the mental capability of running a country to simply bringing out the best in every person they meet; there is a skill in everything! You just have to allow yourself to break out of your comfort zone, be open to meeting new people, new concepts, and new places. Before I worked at Goodwill I had no idea how to operate a cash register because I have only done stock work, and I believed stock work was the only thing I was good at. 8 months later, I am one of the best cashiers at Goodwill and I know I am because I've actually had a number of customers come in and tell me themselves! The more you allow yourself to open up, the more you will learn about yourself deep within.
The last thing I challenge you to do in 2020 is live by this phrase: "Talk less. Do more." It is such a simple phrase, but has such a powerful purpose behind it. Get more serious about your time and your goals. If you're in college eager to graduate, take up an extra class to speed up the process of earning your degree (if you have the finances of course!). Aiming to get your license? Get out there and practice as much as you are required to, or maybe even an hour more. If you are trying to get a better job, create an accurate and up to date resume, upload it to Indeed.com, then go out and explore what is available to you. Whatever goals or plans you have for yourself, it's one thing to talk about them, but actually speak them into existence! To all those who do not know what they want to be or which direction to take do not worry or pity yourself. It is not the end of the world, in fact, look at this as a fresh start; a clean slate. In this day and age you have so many options to choose from, so much as at your fingertips, you don't have to have a set plan for yourself just yet. Besides, as humans we are constantly evolving everyday so it's actually best that you don't pit yourself into one thing so quickly because tomorrow or next week you might want something different. It wasn't until the end of 2017 when I figured out what it was exactly what I wanted to pursue, and even though I chose art, I am still aware of all my other skills and talents that I can put forth if I really decide upon it. When making these decisions in your life, my best advice to you is do not worry what your friends or family think. It's always okay to ask for help or opinions, but at the end of the day if it feels right to you, go for it! Definitely be more in tune with your emotional and spiritual health; create and practice regimes to help keep you grounded and at peace with yourself. If any hardships come your way, they won't shift your focus or disturb your health. And become more accepting to failure. There will be so many moments in your life where you will make a mistake or something doesn't go according to the plan and I cannot stress how normal this is. It's okay to get frustrated, upset, or completely belligerent, but you have to be strong enough to get back up and try again instead of letting it tear you down. Nothing in this life is perfect so it'll never be about what went wrong, it's about what you did to turn a wrong into a right, making the most out of it, and what you learned in the process of doing so.
2020 is going to be an amazing year and the start of a life changing decade. Thank you so much for reading my final article of 2019!! I hope this gave you guys some hope of a great new year or even helped aid in what you can do to improve your way of living. This year, expect many more articles and exciting news from Kreative Kiwi Co. regarding my business and personal life journey. I wish a Happy New Year to all of you!! Be safe, live healthy. Here's to a new chapter.
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