Heads-up………this is a long, grab a cuppa, type of post! [6min read]

Everyone who knows me knows that I really like to challenge myself. What they may not know is that it’s not because I like pushing myself to the point of nausea or that I like acting to extreme measures.

I challenge myself because I want to change. There are parts of me that I want to bury and replace with something new.

I challenge myself as I believe it will bring exciting adventures, a happier me, a huge growth spurt and in the past a better me.

So last month I didn’t set myself just the one challenge. Oh no – that would be too easy, too simple. This ‘over estimator’ set 10 challenges! 10!

It didn’t seem crazy at the time and I totally forgot the quote by Bill Gates:

“People overestimate what they can do in one year but underestimate what they can do in ten years”

Well Bill, I overestimated what I could do in a month! And if I’m honest, I overestimate what I can do in a day. I’m a ‘short-term instant gratification optimist’ – and if that’s not currently a thing I’m nabbing it!

So it may not come as much surprise to tell you that I had a mixed outcome with the challenges. Some I barely even attempted!

Ahem – exercising!

To bring about closure to July, celebrate my wins and learn from my failures, here is a brief review of each of the challenges. To remind yourself fully of the challenges, you can read them here.

Staying of Facebook – 10/10
It’s now been two months since I’ve spent countless hours scrolling and immersing myself into other people’s lives. Spending my first birthday in 10 years away from the site made me feel more loved than ever. Birthday messages felt more sincere as people had to actually get in contact with me to wish me ‘happy birthday’. This brought on more texts, phone calls, cards and gifts than I can ever recall receiving before. I was blown away with the kindness and generosity of friends that it actually felt like a big birthday.

I was going to re-join Facebook in August but have made the decision to prolong the ban due to the return of Game of Thrones. And the fact that people love a spoiler! For some reason letting slip that someone has died or what has happened in an episode that has barely had screen-time gives some people power.

So until the season ends I’m staying off! I’ve actually deleted someone for ruining one of the biggest episodes for me – yes, I take Game of Thrones that seriously! And I’m not even embarrassed about it!

Three Nice Things – 8/10
As this was an exercise that I’ve done countless times before it wasn’t hard to make it part of my July.

Do I still judge people? Yes! It’s a part of life but the judging is rarely geared towards the negative. Instead it’s like ‘aww bless, she looks shy’ or ‘he looks like a surfer’. This doesn’t work quite as well when I’m on Tinder – seriously some guys are crying out to be judged! Damn……3 nice things……go!!

Why I rocked today – 10/10
I really enjoyed this exercise and it’s something that I’m going to continue long after my year of vulnerability is a distant memory. It’s really a nice way to end the evening and even if a day hadn’t been the best there was always something good to say about it. A lot of the time we don’t give ourselves enough credit for what we do and this activity put the focus on me. And I bloody rock!

Look at myself in mirrors and see the beauty in me – 5/10
Although I didn’t fall in love with myself every time I looked in the mirror – I don’t think giving myself a pep talk and a wink in my work toilets would have gone down too well. I did make more of an effort to actually appreciate the person looking back and threw in more smiles and pouts than usual. I had a few moments where I danced in front of the mirror (read about it here).

Plus my mirror madness is definitely rubbing off on my housemate. I woke up yesterday morning to a beautiful note:

Spend time in Nature – 7/10
Due to Mother Nature hating on July (to all those non UK folks reading my blog – we have had a LOT of rain the past month – it almost feels like Summer has done a runner) I didn’t spend as much time in nature as I’d hoped.

When the weather was anything but really wet I hugged trees (see my blog post here), walked in the park, read from benches and people watched whilst aimlessly just ‘being’. I also danced in the rain, breaking my phone in the process. Great little birthday present from Mother Nature! Cheers.

Look after my mind & body – 5/10
Exercising. Haha! I had visions of running a couple of times a week and doing exercise routines at home. I can’t blame the weather but I can and will blame myself, as I failed spectacularly on this! Maybe I’m starting to like my rotund belly?! My kettlebells continued to resemble heavy ornaments, gathering dust at the side of my room as my yoga mat got hidden behind laundry.

What brings the score up to 5/10 is the amount of meditation and other mind exercises I have been doing. I have really felt the benefit of working on my mind and as I am a ‘short term instant gratification optimist’ {totally a thing} it is the easier option.

Read work by black authors and watch some documentaries on black history – 6/10
This challenge not only highlighted how deluded I can get with my over-estimations but it also showed how the universe works in magnificent ways. I’d also like to add that this shouldn’t even belong in a challenge list. My race should mean much more to me than I give it a credit for and I’ve been playing it down and turning my back from it for far too long.

I didn’t watch any documentaries so the universe did it’s thing and planted a link to a YouTube video of a woman talking about how she was learning to embrace being black. Later that week I spent some time speaking to a Youth Worker giving me a lesson in what it means to be a black youth in London. I was astounded, upset and disappointed at how so many people have been failed. More on this in a future post.

One thing I’m good at is buying books so after reading up on some ‘must read’ black authors I chose books from ‘Maya Angelou‘ and ‘Toni Morrison‘ to start with. I also bought a book for a monthly book club I go to. Low and behold the universe was doing overtime as the book ‘The Sellout‘ is by a black author ‘Paul Beatty‘ and it couldn’t be more about black lives if it tried. It’s a hard,  humorous and thought-provoking read.

Question ‘what do I want and give myself permission’ – 3/10
I kept forgetting that this was a challenge so it didn’t prominently feature. Looking back over the month there were times that I did ask myself what I really wanted but it wasn’t a constant question that ran through my mind.

Treat myself – 2/10
I was meant to treat myself and had a list of things that were options: Get a manicure/pedicure, have a spa day, get a massage, have my makeup done professionally, have some boudoir photos taken, buy a necklace.

That all went out of the window along with the money I put aside for it. All my adult life, I’ve had money woes. No matter how much I bring in, I seem to spend, lose or owe the same and more back. This month I had accounted for some money that I haven’t yet received and I’m not sure I’m going to receive (this has happened to me on more than one occasions – yet still I haven’t learnt my lesson). So when the money didn’t come and I had to spend money to fix my broken phone (see above) treating myself wasn’t a priority. I’ve marked it 2/10 as I did join a Writers Workshop which although is for career development is a treat to me.

Wear my Sunday Best – 7/10
I did make more of an effort when I left the house and when I went to work, but nothing too extreme. I’m a simple lass so struggle doing my makeup for more than 15mins, so I took more time to do my make up – changing up my style. No ballgowns were worn but I did scrub up better. Looking back now, this challenge was put down to get my list to 10 – to feed my slight OCD tendency.

July was a great month and I’m glad I decided to challenge myself. I felt like I had more of a purpose in life and the challenges have opened many new doors. I think I’ve gone off the word ‘challenge’ so August will be about focus and there won’t be as many! This ‘over-estimator’ is ready to play in the other lane.

Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday

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