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GUEST WRITER: Leah Anne Little - The importance of self-growth and mental health

My name is Leah Anne Little, I am 20 years old, born and raised in South Africa. Things that bring me fulfillment and joy are: Volunteering which always makes me practice gratitude and I am a sucker for camping/road trip adventures or any socially appropriate time to live in a wetsuit/bikini or no shoes. My topic for this Guest writing is the importance of self-growth and mental health.

I moved to the USA for a gap year as an Au pair exchange student. I had an urge for change and was restricted a little more than a multitude of my peers who were content with society's set path. I started in San Francisco and a few months after what I choose to look at as a little bump in the road now, I decided to follow my gut and move to Houston Texas which is where I still am currently almost 2 years later. My awareness for mental health has always been high as of my past dealing with many people who were in crippling mental and physical health. It took a while but these past two years have made me grow so much and have a whole new perspective on life. Mental health varies so much and we all know self-care is important already. I am here to touch on some other helpful things I picked up along my journey that will help you benefit from the uncomfortable changes and stop trying to avoid the process. Let's dive right in!

Understanding yourself is key, it sounds simple but self-growth can be uncomfortable and tough, and it should be an ongoing process. We are taught as kids that for a wound to heal you must stop touching it. It took me forever but I had to stop resenting how much faster I had to grow up compared to most when there are people who wished for my bad days. Always practicing gratitude helped me accept what I could not control anymore and rather take it all as learning opportunities, to gain resilience by learning to ​take accountability for how I perceive and react to it​ instead. Always find the good in every situation and person even if it seems impossible. Come to terms with anything in your past that ​you’re allowing to hold you back​ from becoming the best version of yourself. Know that your past doesn’t define you. “Forgive and forget” was also something a lot of us are told as kids. I never believed in that saying as it allows people to repetitively do wrong and treat forgiveness as a word without the actions of change to follow it up. It took me years to realize resent only makes your soul bitter and forgiveness is for past reconciliation, not future consideration.​Forgiveness is for yourself not others.​ Forgetting, however, I never agreed with as the curve balls life throws at you stick with you, and how you deal with them makes you the person you are today. I learned how to ​forgive, remember, and recover.​ ​In order to recover and be able to help others, you have to put yourself first no matter how guilty you feel. Once you stop standing in your way and aren’t afraid to do things alone, get out of your comfort zone by giving new experiences a chance so you can grasp your high, your peace, or what makes YOU content. ​Become aware of what is really worth your energy. ​Once you find yourself and what you value, self-respect follows which in turn gives off your vibe which attracts your tribe just as much as it is the other way round.

There will always be someone bigger and better than you, if there isn’t you are capable of doing way better. Love yourself enough to push through and focus on the step in front of you, not the whole staircase which will help with setting realistic goals to stop the excuses and make your future self proud. Last but not least I would like to end off with my current favorite quote by a South African Comedian Trevor Noah which goes - “Failure is an answer, rejection is an answer. Regret is an internal question you will never have the answer to.” If you want to know more about or from me you can follow my future journeys on Instagram at @leaherrr where you can also grab my email. I hope you resonated with this and I look forward to hearing your takeaways. All the best luvs, Leah Anne