It’s been a while since we spoke, you and I, like this. At most you get a mere outline of me everyday. The haunting thoughts I put to bed before I can sleep each night. They unite to form a tapestry of strife, hope, faithfulness, and exhaustion. It’s one I’m sure we’ve all found ourselves spinning this year. No one has been spared the cruel tests of 2020. But they’re an invitation, to step up and claim what’s yours. All the world is an amusement park to get lost in. Rife with distractions that keep us from accepting hard truths and taking big leaps. That was stripped from us this year, and we’ve all had to make hard choices about who we’d like to meet the new year as.
Allow me to reintroduce myself, I’m Azalea. For real, this time. When we met, that wasn’t my legal name. Now it is. As a new season of my life unfolded this summer, I decided to assume it. To finally become who I had never had the courage to claim. I left a bad relationship in June. I had nowhere to live, I lost a lot of money, and I shed a version of myself I had accepted as my future. I told my best friend that if I ever made it out, I wouldn’t make excuses anymore to not do everything I ever wanted to do. Changing my name was one of those things. So was writing a book, I finished my first by September.
The first time I asked my mom if I could change my name, I was 12. I had known since I was a little girl that that wasn’t who I was. And that should be more accepted. It’s your name, your most unique identifier. In what world should we not be allowed to choose something so personal? But, even now, it feels like a strange and vulnerable thing to do. So in the meantime, the heroine of all of my stories was named Azalea. I am simply becoming the heroine of my own story.
So, hello, I’m Azalea. I’ve also been entrenched in a toxic work environment. My hometown of Austin, Texas is the fastest growing city in the country and an emerging tech hub. The competition here is fierce. It’s taken me a long time to even find an unlocked door. And today I was extended an offer, a way out. I can’t even verbalize the toll that it takes on the human soul to be somewhere where you feel hated, undervalued, talentless. Day in and day out hoping to avoid conflict or snide remarks. It hasn’t been an easy year, hunkering down to shoulder the blasts of merciless, sexist leadership. And today that conflict ends.
And then there’s my writing. My other dream. I am so thankful to you, my community, for taking me in. Your support of my writing has transformed my life. As of today, my first novel, Clipped Wings is at the end of its beta reading rounds. I have received wonderful feedback that will make it stronger and I am looking forward to giving it the life it deserves. I am also about 60% of the way through my first draft of a second novel that I am incredibly proud of. I’m also happy to announce that I am working on self publishing a collection of poetry. So big things are taking shape in the realm of my dreams.
So why am I telling you all of this? Because I have toiled away for months on bulbs that did not bloom. I watched as the days grew darker sooner, I sat in the silence of bureaucracy and missed opportunities. I spent every night telling myself (and every morning telling you) to have faith in what I was planting. Things will grow, it was only winter. Seasons will change and bring in new harvests. I am simply planting seeds in frozen ground. Patience, faith, resilience. I spoke them into the night and I felt the inertia that I was battling. This year has been my ultimate test, and it’s brought me the most ultimate yields.
So keep working today for what will come tomorrow. Everything that we pour from our cups is an investment in the future, it becomes tiring to wait for their returns, but that day will come. I am writing this today because I have not been immune to the world-building trials that 2020 has brought. But in the past seven days alone, my harvest came. And so will yours.