Have you ever found yourself in a career you are not suited for which lacked excitement and joy? You felt like a mismatch?
Perhaps, like me, you took a wrong turn at some stage of your life? Sometimes people stray off their desired paths. Life takes over and before you know it, you’re in a place you never wanted to be or thought you would never be.
For me, this derailment was becoming a lawyer. Although I had been writing creatively since I was a kid, it was my parents’ plan (i.e., dream) for me to go into the legal profession, and to become a fourth-generation attorney in my family. You know where this is headed.
And so, after obtaining my BA degree in English and Political Studies, as well as my postgraduate LLB law degree, both from the University of Cape Town, I then worked in a law firm for two years, wrote my attorney admission exams and qualified as an attorney.
But being a lawyer was not all it cracked up to be. In fact, during one of my first visits to court, we were walking along the corridor and bumped into a judge who my father knew. My father introduced me to the judge and said that I was joining the legal profession. I remember the judge nodded gravely, looked at me as he shook my hand and said “my condolences”! And I guess that summed it up.
As a lawyer I felt disconnected from what lit me up and my truth. This hollow feeling in me grew daily. It did not make me happy. I felt like I was constantly facing a large powerful wave that was determined to engulf me. A claustrophobic feeling that you get when huddled in a tiny elevator with other people. No room to move. No room to breathe.
I knew that I needed creativity to feed my soul, not the rigid, regimented, dull and stressful feelings that the legal profession had brought for me. It was time to follow my own dream – not someone else’s.
And it was then that I decided to instead follow my passion of writing and editing, and delved into the world of journalism!
Working with words has always been my thing. They make me feel creative, alive and vibrant. In fact, I’ve been writing and editing since as far back as I can remember. As a kid I wrote some stories which were published in my school library, in high school I founded and edited the school newspaper and magazine and at university I was a newspaper editor too. These experiences were natural for me and I found them to be exhilarating and satisfying. Like that feeling of delight and satisfaction I get these days after sipping some fine bourbon or whiskey, or that sweet feeling when I’ve devoured large amounts of delicious ice cream! (I admit I’m never able to say no to ice cream – particularly mint choc chip flavour!)
Bottom line, success leaves clues.
I was thrilled when I became a journalist in the professional world. Today, with more than 20 years of journalism and communications experience and writing awards under my belt, including five years as editor of a prestigious national business magazine, I have a sense of fulfilment and validation knowing that I have been on the right road to following my dreams.
And speaking of dreams, it was always a childhood dream of mine to write a thriller novel, and a few years ago I achieved this. My debut thriller, The Mind of God, won the Indie Reader Discovery Award for Popular Fiction as well as the Judges Choice Award at the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards.
It was such an incredible moment for me when my book became a #1 Amazon bestseller! For a brief moment in time, my book was ahead of novels by other inspirational thriller authors who I have always looked up to, including Dan Brown, Frederick Forsyth and James Patterson. I was over the moon, beyond excited (if there is such a place!) and determined to continue with the next book!
But, just when we think that we are on course with our goals and dreams, we are sharply reminded that sometimes life can bring us its own various twists and turns that push us to that challenging realm of the unexpected.
And so, one morning, at the young age of 44, I woke up to discover I had suffered a stroke during my sleep! I had no risk factors – I was relatively fit, did not smoke, was not overweight and had no high cholesterol or blood pressure problems. But a stroke struck me anyway and with one ruthless blow my life changed.
Every day still comes with its own challenges, and some days are worse than others. And after my stroke, one of the hardest things for me to do was write again. Go figure!
But, as the doctors and OT’s constantly told me, do one word, and then the next day, another word, and after a week or two I had constructed my first sentence. And that’s how I built it up again. One word on top of the next. One sentence on top of the next. And so on. I never knew how grateful I would be to just write a paragraph, something I had always taken for granted. All I knew was that my written words were coming back! And that I felt hopeful and inspired.
I still have daily limitations as to what I can do and can’t do, including limited screen time. I won’t bore you with all the details suffice to say that things. move. slowly. in. stroke. recovery. world.
But, as I continue to wade through the lingering haze of my own recovery struggle, I plan to continue to write and to embrace my creativity and follow my dreams because that’s what keeps me going. That’s what fuels my flame. That’s who I am. There are more books in me yet! More stories to be revealed. More people to entertain and inspire with my words.
So, if I’ve still got your attention, thanks for reading this far! And please take a moment to reflect and appreciate all that is good in your life.
Whatever is going on, you are alive and still able to experience being on this amazing planet. Embrace this simple fact. No matter your circumstances. No matter your past. If there’s anything I’ve learnt since my life was viciously turned upside down, it’s that we need to appreciate our todays – every single minute. And, always find the gift in the challenge.
The gift I found was learning the art of patience (I’m still learning it!) and that in life you have to be passionate about what you do. You have to keep at it! And you have to live literally one day at a time, because the success of our todays determines the outcomes of our tomorrows.
And learning to be grateful, even when negative circumstances surround you and you think there’s no way out, is what can help to keep you afloat. So, find something to be grateful for in this moment. I’m sure you can find at least one thing if not more! I call it ‘Abundatude’. It’s a word I made up that is a mixture of an attitude of gratitude, positivity and abundance.
And with Abundatude, always remind yourself that things are never as bad as they might seem (even if they seem really bad!) and that after the storm there’s always the good weather to look forward to. Clouds move away eventually!
Here’s to clear skies! And to the endless possibilities that they bring!
Come visit me on my Instagram page and let’s connect! @bevanfrankofficial