“I wish someone had told me” is a series of posts that feed into our inquisitive nature at CN&CO. Each week we hear from someone in our network about something interesting or surprising that’s recently happened or occurred to them – or lessons they learnt. These blogs are a way to pay it forward and form part of CN&CO’s belief that the world can be a better place – and we all have a responsibility to make it so. This post is by guest author RUTH EVERSON.

Ruth is a poet, writer, keynote speaker and coach who strives to live On Purpose. We got to know her as a teacher at St Stithians, where Carel is chair of the governing council. Ruth taught English for 39 years and continues to follow her passions: poetry, speaking, facilitating and workshopping.

It was an ordinary day on an ordinary afternoon, and I was sitting on an ordinary couch. A late winter sun was lengthening the shadows in the garden. It felt like winter and there were certainly shadows, but it may well have been summer. When you’re at the bottom of the black pit of depression, most days seem wintery.

Oprah was doing one of her usual TV interviews and her voice was a soothing antidote to the loneliness of the day. She was talking to a young woman who had been through years of abuse and fought the dragons of her darkness. I was mostly lost in my own space but there was one sentence spoken by her that pierced my heart: “You should never have to fight to be loved.”

That one sentence was a turning point for me. It was a moment of clarity that allowed me to take a step forward and that is often the most difficult thing – the one step forward – the step that will take us away from a difficult situation or towards something new and hopeful.

rowing boats on Zoo Lake Johannesburg

I was at Zoo Lake recently and stopped to look at the boats. Life is the water that lifts us, but it is our choice: to row towards life; to try frantically to row away from something; to stay moored, too afraid or too tired to move or to fight for our own hope.

I have expended a great deal of energy rowing towards approval and belonging or away from difficult situations. Most of us have been caught in the nets of self-doubt, fighting not just to love others but to love ourselves. Most of us have chipped away at ourselves in order to fit a job that exhausts us or a person who refuses to be pleased. No more.

The words are worth repeating: “You should never have to fight to be loved.” This has become the compass by which I navigate my life.

You know where you are fighting. Stop. Let the currents of your heart take you into the flow of yourself.

I was lucky enough to meet Oprah a few years ago and to tell her how that one sentence had created a major shift in my life. I could have said many things to her in the three minutes that I had, but that was it. I pay it forward as often as I can. If these words have fallen into your ordinary day and have created a ripple or a tidal wave, then share them with at least one other person.

Perhaps it’s time to listen to the whisper of your own longing?

#Iwishsomeonehadtoldme #bebrave #liveonpurpose #whatshesaid

Follow Ruth on Twitter and Blogspot.