In the past year, I have loved, hurt, loved again, experienced loss, smiled, cried and laughed. I changed careers, moved towns, travelled, and challenged myself. I studied again, followed my dreams, and continue to work towards my goals.
Looking back on it written down like this, it is easy to see the many places where I could have fallen down and chosen not to stand back up, to allow life to get the better of me, but I didn't. And looking back now, I can see that it is solely due to the people I have chosen to fill my life with.
Everyone close to me knows that I don't have many friends. I have loads of acquaintances, 'fair weather friends' as my mom calls them. Those who are always there when things are going well, but who have no idea who the real Elmarie is. But the lucky ones, the ones I have learnt to let in, they are the friends who I will lay my life down for, and who I hope will do the same for me.
My friends, my tribe, are from all works of life, all cultures, all histories, each with their own dreams, their own goals, their own ideas, their own fears, but who understand me in a way that I did not know was possible. They are the individuals who push me, support me, encourage me, call me out, put me in my place. They have seen me cry, heard me laugh, listened to my dreams, helped me conquer my fears, pushed me towards my goals. They are the people who have seen my true self, who have accepted me for my excited squealing, my awkward dance moves, my insecurities, my pain. The people who have seen my true heart and not run screaming. The people who know what a handful I can be and who still choose to put up with me. And the people without whom I most definitely would not be the person I am today.
So, I urge you, go out there and find your tribe. Seek the people whose souls connect with yours, and cherish those friendships. Find the people who accept you for you, and hang on to them dearly, for it is your tribe who will help you get to the top of your mountain.
And to my tribe, to the people who know who they are, words can not explain how grateful I am to each and every one of you. You are the reason I am still standing.
And remember, happiness is a choice!