Saturday, 12 November 2016

Social Media And Me: Branding And More....

Social media is excellent for business. And for burgeoning authors too. I remember a time when I swore I would rather chew my leg than be seen on Facebook and Twitter. Today, here I am blogging, tweeting and Facebooking my heart out. It is because I have realised that the world has changed, and it will continue to do so. Technology is here to stay, and the sooner I embrace it, the better for my writing career.

Not every writer is into tweeting and Facebooking. However, one cannot ignore the fact that social media now plays a significant role in the world of writing. For some writers, it means the difference between failing and succeeding. Most reading materials are now readily accessible online. It is easy for one to reach many readers in an instant and all it takes is just a click of the button. To turn a blind eye to this truth is utter naivety. And, it is for these reasons that I reckon it does not hurt to be flexible in our approach.

Social media has its downfall. We are a gregarious society and with that comes the desire to be loved. To be embraced and accepted by our audience. There are those who will profess not care in the slightest. I am sorry, but one must be made of stone not to give a damn. The truth of the matter is, everybody cares how others perceive us. It’s human nature. We are bound to feel a sting in the chest if someone or a group of people whose opinion matter to us do not acknowledge our existence. A family member, a friend, a church member, a colleague, a customer or indeed fans. We care.

Also in the world of social media, it is not enough to just toss your product into the world and hope people buy it. You cannot just run a business campaign and think that is enough. One must go a step further to succeed. Everyone is talking about brands nowadays. The brand equals who you are and what you represent. The world wants to know that. Build a reputation, cultivate trust and form relationships with potential customers. Customers will need to decide if your brand is something they wish to align themselves with. Once they know and decide, results start to show.

If you’re an author, this means having to show what you write about. Demonstrating what readers can expect when they buy your books. Can a writer not explore various forms of writing? Experiment? Can’t they just go where inspiration takes them? Why the need to brand? Align oneself with a concept?

Whether we are aware of it or not, we are always branding ourselves anyway. Every individual is inclined to certain things. Subscribes to a specific school of thought. Believes in different things from the next person. Prefers to post certain things on social media and not others. Choice of words, inclinations towards certain genres, our passion. If that’s not branding, I don’t know what is.

 As a writer, I hone my craft daily. I continue to explore and grow in different ways. I am still digging deep and discovering who I am as an individual. I am also considering how I want the world to perceive me as a writer. What I represent. What I am about as an author.

I know the kind of message I want to send out into the world. I want to spread love and light being part of it. But, this process is not without some disastrous consequences. I have noticed that there is a real danger to lose ourselves in the process as we often get caught up in the idea of selling and end up selling our souls to the Devil. We gloss ourselves up as we pander to the society’s expectations. We throw away our values, compromise specific standards and sacrifice our dignity to please the customer. Nothing at all wrong with wanting to satisfy that all-important customer. After all, that is why we do what we do, right? But at what cost?

Social media, as I have discovered, can be the making of us, but it can also destroy us and change us in so many ways. When we sell a product or indeed a piece of writing, it is not at all uncommon to give into the temptation of wanting to hide our true feelings and values. We may even change our words and rein in on our imagination and creativity for fear of being judged and rejected. When this happens, we present a fake persona, a packaged image which we feel will appeal to our potential customers and those watching.

I recently joined Instagram where every photograph is the picture of perfection. Facebook and Twitter too. We often select the best image of ourselves and indeed enhance it, with the help of apps, to present the best possible image to the world. Our lives, as far as social media is concerned, are always perfect. We are forever smiling, checking into fabulous places, jetting around the world and everything is splendid. Very few will dare reveal the not so appealing part of their lives, and I can appreciate why. Studies have demonstrated how social media has and is playing a role in mental health problems such as depression, stress and anxiety. People are made to feel inadequate by comparing their lives to the illusions that they see on social media, and I think this is tragic.

Back to authoring, I am reminded of a time when a friend suggested that I was better off using a different name to sell more books. A name which was more comfortable to pronounce, perhaps which appealed to a kind of reader. Well, excuse me! I like my name just the way it is, thanks. If a reader chooses not to pick my book because of the name on the cover, then it is their loss. I genuinely believe that if it is my destiny to succeed as a writer, then I will realise my goals despite what my name looks or sounds like period. Changing my name or persona to pander to a specific group of people is not going to make me a better writer by any means. It is only going to suffocate me and thwart my real potential as a writer, for no one looks like me, writes like me, thinks like me and is me. I am my own person, and the world will just have to deal with that!

There are those who will tell you not to show the world what you believe. Your faith, spirituality, because not everybody goes to church or believes in what you believe. They will advise you always to be ‘politically correct’ as not all your customers or readers will believe in what you believe. But, isn’t that defeating the whole purpose of branding? Can we ever appeal to everyone? I think not.
I understand it is just business. I get it. Image and likeability are everything, but wouldn’t you rather be liked for being your true self, and acquire genuine followers than disappoint them when the real you surface? Isn’t it better and more satisfying to be admired for who you really are than spend a lifetime pretending to be something you are not? Because you cannot keep the charade forever and forever is too long a time to be suffocated.

How many people have been disappointed after meeting their crush for the first time and discovering that they look different from how they appeared on social media? How many fans have had their hearts broken when they found that their icon was leading a double life? How many celebrities that we loved and admired have committed suicide because they were tired of pretending to the world that they had everything under control? Their bodies got tired of eating relying on drugs just to please you the customer. They got tired of binge eating and then sticking their fingers down their throats to maintain a certain figure to please you, the customer. They got tired of bleaching their skin to appeal to your ideal. They got tired of spending money they did not have. They just got tired.

The society forgets that those who serve them are human beings too. They want to mould these people into something they are not. I am not naive so as not to understand that when you put yourself out there, you subject yourself to all kinds of scrutiny. That is OK. But no one is perfect in this world. And when I say be your real self, I am not at all suggesting that you should air your dirty laundry in public. My message is, be who you are, sell what you need to sell, build your brand without fear of being rejected. The people who matter will appreciate what you are offering regardless of your weight, the colour of your skin or how weird your name sounds.

The consequences of allowing ourselves to be driven by insignificant things are not worth the sacrifice in our lives. Our human dignity. Our peace and happiness. When our bodies and souls finally give up on us, the people we aim to please may mourn us for a while. But, soon, someone else will come along and steal their hearts, and you will quickly be forgotten. Therefore, my message is simple. Stop pretending and just be. There are people out there who will appreciate what you are offering anyway and decide to join you in your walk. When it is all said and done, wouldn’t it be a comforting thought to know that the legacy you leave behind is something borne of your genuine self? That which is purely you. UNIQUE!

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Finding My Own Voice

There are authors whose writings have informed my understanding and appreciation of writing as an art over the years. Bruce Courtenay, Maya Angelou, Tess Gerritsen, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Thomas Hardy, Chinua Achebe, Alice Walker, to name but a few. Though I quote them in my writings and cite their examples, I find it more satisfying and pleasurable when I produce original content of my own. A quote, a poem, an article or indeed a novel. After all, genuine authorship entails being able to create own content.

Writers will do well to read others and explore all kinds of genres. But in the end, they should be able to find their voice. So, what does finding one’s voice mean? How does one even begin to find their voice? Is it in the way a writer chooses their words, expressions, or is it in the way the reader responds to those words? 

Finding my voice is and has been a process. A process those in the know will tell you spans for years. It has been and still is a process of finding, establishing my character as a writer. Depicting my real authentic self in the way in which I present myself to the world through writing. It does not matter which words or phrases I use, instead, it is in the way in which my words and phrases give character to my writing.

The exact nature of my writing should provoke, in my reader, specific thoughts, and feelings. This way the reader gets to experience where the writer’s heart and soul lie, and what it is that drives them as a person.
I also believe that most, if not all writers, are products of their experiences. In my view, experiences are a writer’s most significant resource from which to draw knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Ultimately, it is how we embrace and interpret those experiences which determine the end-product. Our message to the world. Our writings. That end-product is what becomes palpable and tangible when a writer presents themselves to the world regardless of which writing path they choose to take.

My voice is my tone, the vibe, and the understanding readers get when they read me. It is that which people can quickly identify, that unique quality which separates you from other writers. When, in an instant, a reader recognises whose words they are reading the moment they pick up a book, a poem or indeed an article. It is only when this kind of familiarity begins to happen, that one can claim to have found their own writing voice.

Developing and establishing your own voice as a writer, I reckon, will give the reader the choice to choose you. Because, by the time they pick up your book, they would have already made up their mind about your kind of writing. They would've decided your writing appeals, inspires or speaks to their soul. I also think that the only reason a reader will keep coming back to a particular writer is that they are getting something that you as a writer alone can offer. That chemistry. That unique quality. Your voice.

Finding one’s voice is writing in a way that does not seek to deceive or betray what you represent as a person. As writers, we are encouraged to delve into uncharted territories and not to remain stuck in the comfort zone. We are invited to let ourselves go and to soar into the strange realms of imagination and create works of art. We are writers after all. One may wonder, though, if this process of creating, imagining and seeing yourself through strange eye lenses will betray your real character. I say it does not!

I believe that letting your imagination soar affords you the opportunity to develop specific facets of your character that you never knew existed. You cannot betray who you are by allowing your creativity take you to greater heights. If anything, the writer grows and develops as a human being. They extend an appreciation of the unfamiliar and discover a new potential within themselves. This process could be the unveiling of their ‘new self’. The newness that the world has been waiting for. That person, the kind of writer, you were meant to become all along!

Thursday, 13 October 2016

My Phenomenal African Woman Nomination (PAWAfrica)

PAW stands for the Phenomenal African Woman. It is an international Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)for the African Woman across all spheres and strata i.e. business, academia, government and other sectors] intended to ensure she takes her pride of place in nation building, enterprise and the furtherance of peace in the Continent.
To read my feature interview, click on here .

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

How To Fight For Love

How to Fight for Love

I haven’t written about love for a while, so I have decided to throw in a little blog for you today. My daughter calls these love blogs 'fluffy'. Well, who cares? Love makes the world go round, right? 

Why won’t he/she hear me? Why is she/he shutting me out? What is happening to us? If you have ever found yourself on the brink of losing the love of your life, then you will know where I am going with this. You know you love him/her and yet for whatever reason, you cannot seem to agree on anything. It appears as if some a vicious worm has penetrated your once solid relationship and all you have left are holes. Holes you cannot seem to fill no matter what you do or say. Have they fallen out of love? You wonder. So, what do you do when that happens? Do you just throw in the towel and hope that one day you will once again stumble upon another amazing love? Or do you stay and fight?

Someone once said, ‘There is value in the valley.’ I am inclined to agree. The reason is that when we find ourselves between a hard place and a rock, true value comes from the ability to sit back and reflect. Truly reflect. No sugar-coating anything. Just being real with yourself as you try to understand and figure out where you went wrong. Once you’ve reflected, it is time to decide what you want. Do you want to fight or are you done? Most importantly, can you live with the result, good or bad? The strength, energy, and skills you will need for this will make you a better person in the end.

This woman I know never knew what fighting for love meant until she met the love of her life. Here she was, nearly losing the man who had opened her eyes and her heart, her best friend. When she came to this place, she began to reflect on the good times. How it had all started.
She had loved him from the moment she laid my eyes on him. When he took her hand and twirled her on the dance floor in a club one night, and for the first time, her heart pounded, and her spirit soared as it had never done before. As he had whispered in her ear, his voice serenading her, her heart had bubbled with joy. Her friends who had watched them from a distance had later told her what they had seen. ‘You are so good together. You look so happy.’ They hadn’t told her what the woman’s gut didn’t already know. She’d had already had an epiphany that she had met the one. If there’s such a thing.

Days, weeks and months followed, and they soon arrived in ‘blissland’. Then life happened. The inevitable, that phase that every relationship goes through came.  Her partner became distant and emotionally shut down. The more she chased, the faster he ran. And, the harder she knocked, the tighter the hinge on his door became. They swiftly drifted apart, and there was nothing she could do about it. Or was there?

Then, after she had spent many sleepless nights, she decided enough was enough. She was not going just to roll over and let her love die. So, she fought for her love.

If you’re going to fight, then fight for love. Another cliché I know. But, isn’t it true, though. If you cannot fight to preserve love, what else do you want to fight for? This love, I must emphasise, does not have to be the romantic kind. It can be a friendship. The love between siblings or child and parent. Sometimes these relationships drift apart, and people are left wondering, bewildered and confused. At times, because of pride or miscommunication, the love simply dies down, and people spend the rest of their lives with scars. Scars they cannot get past.

So, how do you fight for love? Well, I reckon, in this kind of war, two crucial ingredients need to be present.
1)       Both parties must recognise what they have and what they have to lose.
2)       Both parties must be willing to get in the ring because it's a futile attempt to fight for someone who doesn't want you in the first place.

So, I am just going to expand on these two crucial points and break them down the best way I know how.

Common Cause
In the battle of love, you cannot win, unless both of you are on the same team and fighting for the same result. Broach the subject with patience, love, and understanding. If you are going to communicate, then be honest and don’t hold back. Holding back means you are willing your partner to fail. Because, how are they going to know how to proceed if you are not real with them. Let them know where the holes in your relationship are and then give them the chance to fill them up. Be honest about your feelings and thoughts. That way, you are guiding and showing your partner how to love you. They will never know unless you’re honest with them. The truth will hurt but, if you are on the same team, it is easy to ride the tide.

Compassion suggests that you can place yourself in the other’s shoes. Getting to a place of understanding the other person and how your words and actions impact on their ability to love and understand you. When both of you are fighting for the same resolution, you find it to stop each other when you know a line is about to be crossed. You don’t stop them by pointing a finger, but by saying something which shows you’re operating from a place of compassion and understanding.

Trust/Respect/Honest Communication
Trust is earned and built through honest communication. Respect also comes in. So, resist the urge to entertain that negative voice which tells you not to believe anything they say. If you are ever in any doubt, now is the time to ask all the relevant questions. Even if you don’t like what you hear, be willing to tackle it with an open mind. Even if you don’t agree with what they are saying, let them know, but respect their opinion at the same time. After all, we are all individual beings entitled to our opinions according to how we view the world.

It is crucial that you reassure your partner of your devotion, commitment and love. Because you have found yourself in this painful, and uncertain place, the tendency is to entertain doubts. Do they love me at all? You may wonder from time to time. Know and realise that your partner needs to hear those words of reassurance, whatever they are. If it means reminding them why you love them in the first place, then remind them. They need to hear that. It is hard right now, but if they know you love and appreciate them and have no intention of bolting on them, then you will be fine.

Change. Make amends. Do whatever you need to do to improve your relationship/friendship. As you work through your problems, lay your cards on the table. Specify what bothers you. If you both want to see an improvement, then the change should not be too difficult. This change will not happen overnight, so, exercise patience. Give the other person space and time to process everything. Reward positive change but not in a condescending and patronising manner. Show gratitude and be genuine in your thank yous. And when you change, be consistent. You will find that when you do this, nothing will seem like a chore because what you will get in return, will be ten times fold. 

You will lose the fight if you don't learn to forgive. Forgive with all your heart and do not keep dragging up the past each time you disagree because you cannot avoid conflict. It's part of life. What matters is how you fight. As you forgive, receive forgiveness, you are developing as a person. You learn to be humble, to love others unconditionally and to be accommodating. Overall, you develop resilience because as you tackle the challenge that comes with dealing with another human being, you discover your strength and other qualities you never knew you had.

And, now, for that all-important ingredient – love. I believe where there is love, real, genuine love, nothing is impossible to tackle. You are not afraid to lay bare your soul and to be vulnerable. It may take a little while, and the process may be emotionally taxing for both of you, but with the love that binds you, you will yield the results that you both want in the end. Talk, yell, cry, throw tantrums, break a cup or two even. If you do it for the right reasons, it will be alright. What you will end up with is a true acceptance of the other person - unconditional love.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Forgive And Set Yourself Free

"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you." Great quote and I couldn't have said it better myself.

Have you ever felt so angry, hurt and disappointed that you lie awake at night, tossing and turning? Your heart races, your blood becomes hot as it rushes through your veins the moment you hear their name or see them. You crease your forehead, make a loud contemptuous snort or look away. And, when they are finally out of sight, you exhale and think to yourself - that showed them. You are pleased that now they know how much you despise them. How displeased and hurt you are by them. 

But lo and behold, the feeling does not last. It never does. Before long the anger comes rushing back. Your body goes into a frenzy as it slips back into another whirlwind of emotion. Their actions torment you. Their words keep ringing incessantly inside your head, gnawing away at your soul. Your body has become paralysed, robbing your brain of creativity because your sole focus is now the object of your torment.

You are angry, and you are hurting, it is understandable. But, I have news for you. More often than not, the person you are losing sleep over. The one who has dumped rubbish inside your heart and soul forgets all about you the moment they turn their back on you. They go on to lead their lives and on their terms while you are left there, broken and paralysed. 

Anger can be a necessary emotion at times. It alerts us to what we do not like forces us to reflect and, in some instances, motivates us to make some changes for improvement. But anger, if not well managed, is one of those emotions whose consequences are genuinely destructive. Anger leads to bitterness and holding on to grudges which are even stronger emotions.

When you are angry and bitter, you develop reckless tendencies. You spew words without thinking and/or make rash decisions. Often times the words uttered in anger are words best kept to oneself. And, we all know that once they are out there, words cannot be retrieved. Decisions propelled by rage can be destructive and have far-reaching consequences. They leave a lasting dent. A dent that can be impossible to repair.

Forgiving someone who has wronged you can be the most trying thing one can ever do. More so if the person who has hurt you is unrelenting. They won’t acknowledge your pain and/or show the slightest bit of remorse. But holding on to anger or a grudge will not help you either. What you are doing is putting your body under a great deal of strain moving from one emotion to the other. Your body has to try and keep up with all the havoc going on inside of you. But the truth of the matter is it cannot. Sooner or later something will have to give. And, in this case, it is your own health. When you hold on to anger and/or a grudge, you do not hurt the other person. You destroy YOU!  

Science informs us that anger as an intense emotion triggers that fight and flight response. The body recognises that something isn't right and it releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol to help it along. The gut is compromised as the brain shunts blood away from it and towards the muscles as it positions itself for a physical attack. Your blood pressure rises, your heart rate soars, sweat oozes out of you and your temperature rises. And if this happens long enough your body gives way. Disease creeps in. Headaches, digestion problems, stress which leads to depression, heart attack, stroke; I could go on and on.  

So how do you liberate yourself? How do you combat this soul-destroying mission?

The short answer is you forgive. Yes, forgive them wholeheartedly. Exhale and let it all go. You don’t have to shake their hand or give them a friendly peck on the cheek. You don’t even have to tell them you have made the conscious decision to forgive them. Forgiveness is about YOU, not them.

But, there are more steps you can take too, which are:

1)   Recognise and realise that you cannot control someone’s actions, thoughts and behaviour. But, you can control yours.

2)   Embrace your feelings and thoughts. Allow yourself to feel what you feel because you are only human and there is nothing wrong with that.

3)   Think positive thoughts about yourself. This boosts your confidence and self-esteem. You will need this to tackle the next stage which is the hardest.

4)   Do not give value to hurtful words and actions. If a person knows that you go on a rampage every time they push your button, there may decide to amuse themselves by playing with your emotions. Why not if you have made it easy for them by becoming too predictable? You have probably become a source of amusement. Once you realise that, you must withdraw the power they now have over you. Do this by not engaging in their trivial pursuits. Which brings me to my next point;

5)   Modify how you react to things. Turn it around. Kill them with kindness as the saying goes. No mean feat, but it is doable. Your reaction will catch them off-guard and perhaps make put a halt to their conniving ways. 

6)   Maybe now is the time to work on your negotiating skills. Talk things through and find common ground if it is something you can agree on.

7)   You have a right to say NO to things which leave you feeling resentful. Say what you think and feel, firmly, calmly and clearly. Stand your ground without being aggressive and realise that in life you cannot always avoid conflict. You just got to develop the skills to approach a difficult situation until you come up with a resolution that leaves everyone satisfied.

8)   Last, but not the least, consider the possibility that you could be wrong about them and their intentions. There are times when people hurt us unintentionally, and it is only by approaching them and talking things through rationally that you realise they never meant to hurt us. No one is perfect, after all. 
As hard as it is, you can do it. It will be hard but recognise that the only person you have any power over is yourself. When you let go of anger and that grudge, you are taking back the reins of your life. They can no longer hurt you because their actions no longer affect you. Do not forget that no one is perfect and people will disappoint you. The most important thing to remember is that you hold the key!

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Which One Is The Salad Fork?

I for one believe that if you’re going to commit a faux pas, then do it with flair!

Have you ever been in an environment where you felt you were way out of your depth? When everything coming out of your mouth did not seem to resonate with those around you? When they appear savvier and more sophisticated than you are? If like me, you have, then you will know that it can be the most uncomfortable place to be.

Before I get to my point, let me give you a little scenario. You are invited to a part. For argument’s sake, let’s say by your rather ‘posh’ boyfriend or indeed friend. Then you start to socialise. You are introduced to the cream of the society. You discover that everyone around you seem to be well-travelled, well off, and well-educated. You are all speaking English, French, Shona, Ndebele (etc.) but your language is different, if you catch my drift. They are talking about stocks, their latest adventure in the Alps or Mt Everest, what they thought about Toni Morrison’s latest book, their corporate job, their favourite designer. I am sure you can think of many more examples. Then someone asks you a question – ‘What do you do?’ When is your next adventure? Or which countries have your travelled? What/who are you wearing?
So, how do you grace your way through the interaction? How do you remain classy and charming when you know you seem to be way out of your depth? When everyone around you seem to have it going on? Well, here are my suggestions:

1.    Always wear a cheerful, welcoming face. Make people want to come over and talk to you.

2.    Those oops moments? Laugh them off. Do not take things personally.

3.    Being social is about making others feel comfortable around you. People shouldn’t have to tip-toe around you just because you don’t feel confident about yourself. Remain charming and gracious. Embrace other people just as they are. Just be cool.

4.    It’s trite but I will say it anyway. Be yourself. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. If you don’t know something, then you don’t know. No one is going to shoot you for it. Pretending to know while making a fool of yourself will make you look like a complete moron. Which brings me to my next point-

5.    Ask questions to show your interest. You will be surprised what you will come out knowing. If people see how genuine you are, they will respect you for it.

6.    Given the chance, show/tell them what you know. You may just be surprised by the reaction you get. You may even make new friends. You may not be well-read, not have travelled as much, but there are certain areas of life that you excel in. Highlight those, but not in an imposing manner.

7.    Compliment other people. Beware of that green-eyed monster. Enough said!

So there, you have it. If you ever find yourself in a tight spot, know that you have it within you to be classy, graceful, charming and beautiful. Both inside and out. You can still wow them, with the little that you think you know. You just have to know how to work it!

Saturday, 6 February 2016

To Err Is Human....

"Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or to lose." L.B Johnson.

What is done is done. No one is perfect. We all have flaws. Some more than others. We flounder. We fall. But it is in the way in which we rise that we are truly defined. As trite as that sounds, it is also very true. If you are like me then you've probably made a mistake or two in your life. You've hurt someone, erred in judgement, allowed a situation to drag on unnecessarily, perhaps taken a wrong turn in your journey. Whatever. Then one day it hits you. You realise what you've done. Perhaps, someone alerts you, gives you a little nudge or a kick in the you know what, to make you realise. To open your eyes. You finally come to your senses and realise the extent of your blunders.You messed up! Maybe by this time you've lost friends, family and all that you care about. Then panic, embarrassment, fear and contrition follow. You beat yourself up for it. It is only natural. No one is immune. And then there are those who won't let you forget it. They play on your weakened emotions, reminding you what a complete fool you've been. How wrong you've been. They thrive on your vulnerability and bring you further and further down into the doldrums. But I am here to tell you that it does not have to be like that. 

Take a step back. Take time for silence and reflection. Acknowledge that a mistake(s) was made. Embrace the ugliness of the situation if it is that ugly. It is the season you are in. You may even have to bear the consequences. That's okay. With every action comes consequences. Ride the tide with courage and dignity. 

We, as humans are not infallible. We are weak and can easily be influenced. We are prone to be led astray by our thoughts, our feelings or indeed by other forces beyond our comprehension. The consequences we have to bear are what grows us. Contribute to our understanding of self, others and the world around us. This way we become better, stronger and wiser beings. But only if we are willing to learn from our mistakes. To bounce back from this setback. Because that is all it is. A setback, though caused by you. Life doesn't have to end because you're having a bad day, a bad week or month.

So if you've ever made a mistake in your life, done something you shouldn't, said something or made a wrong turn, know that it is okay. What is done is done. You cannot undo your wrongs but you can work/improve to put things right. And if it’s too late to put things right, then deal with the consequences with grace and dignity. But most importantly, realise that you too, just like everyone else, deserve a second chance. To wipe the slate clean. Do not allow anyone or your past wrongs to hold you hostage. 

Forgive yourself and move on.