Change – You live and you learn?

Hello Blog – we meet once again!

Its been sometime since I’ve been here, posted a new entry or even just paid attention to my blog. This happened for multiple reasons which I think I need to take some time to explore. I started this blog out of pain and frustration. I had thoughts and feelings that were overwhelming and I needed to get them out. I was in a dark place, extremely lonely and felt like the world was closing in on me. I felt so extremely alone and felt like I had no one to talk to, so what did I do – I started this blog. I convinced myself that it would be healing to get it all out, to find a place (a secret place mind you) where I could be honest, and vent my frustrations away – yet still I cringe at my first ever post, and am somewhat ashamed of the seemingly bitter, childish and naive notion that a blog would help me change the course of my life.

The same reasons I hoped this blog would change me for the better are the same reasons that stunted its growth. My pain reflected in writing, on the world-wide web, for anyone to access, became a source of stress and embarrassment rather than a source of joy and redemption. It became harder and harder to blog because I had only written out of pain or fear, but with time, I chose to repress those feelings and move past them rather than dwell. I could no longer relate with the reasons why I had started and instead chose to neglect blogging and leave it to the brave and the professionals.

However, in just over a year since my last post, I find myself inspired once more to write, to share, to reflect and hopefully encourage. Why? I feel a wind of change occurring in my life at the moment, and I feel like if I don’t listen, if I don’t pay attention to it, I might just miss my moment!

I was recently selected as one of 100 brightest young minds in Africa for 2015! I cant help but smile at the thought it makes me so happy! There is a post definitely to follow on my experience at the Brightest Young Minds Summit, however, its relevance here is that, this was it – this was the shift I needed, had been longing and waiting for to wake me up, reinvigorate my passion for life and just shake me up a bit! Before BYM, I was in a rut, I was coming off a bad academic year, and my confidence was shot. I was living and moving, but I had no purpose. Post BYM, I am still searching, unsure, seeking that purpose, but the difference being, I once again have hope and know that I will figure it out. I am on a journey of self discovery and I am learning to love myself, flaws and all, and as cheesy as that sounds, too many of us are walking around depressed, coming down too hard on ourselves for our mishaps, drawbacks and bad decisions taken.

I walked away from that summit with a renewed vision on what my role needs to be and I would love for you reading this to join me on my journey to figure that out. I can’t promise it will always be exciting and thrilling, I can’t promise it will always be positive, but it will always be real, and it will always be me.

I also want to say a big thank you to Yanginkosi – who I don’t know, have never met, but she commented on my blog with some amazing and inspiring words:

“Hi 20somethingyearoldgirl,

Thank you so much for sharing your a part of your journey… Your story has been nothing short of an inspiration and great encouragement to me. I admire your positive spirit and your sense of ‘purposefulness’.

I discoved your blog through the link you shared on the Mbewu Foundation page and I appreciate the opportunity to develop great friendships of powerful and like-minded women.

I hope to keep in touch, I trust that we could both can learn from each other and inspire each other, but feel free to ignore it if you prefer.

Take care,
Yanginkosi “

It was less of what Yangi said, but more the timing. I was sitting on the plane before we departed from Cape Town international, heading to Joburg for the BYM Summit, when I got the notification. This message came at a point when I was nervous, feeling unsure of myself, lacking confidence even in my selection as a bright young mind, and it just resonated greatly and said to me, keep at it, do the best you can do for yourself and for others and that will be enough. You are enough! Divine Intervention much? I don’t know, but what I do know is I’m smarter than ignoring the signs, ignoring the push to change, so I’m going to take this whirlwind coming my way and i’m going to run with it.

And for when the days are dark, and the mission feels greater than what I feel I can achieve, I turn to Nayyirah Waheed

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To 23-year-old me,

– it wasn’t easy, you were broken down, you lost in love, you saw failure in your academics, but guess what, you overcame it all and YOU have the power to realise positive growth at 24! It’s still hard to say that 24 but embrace the growth, embrace the time passed, and get up everyday to make you proud, for you are a POWER, a FORCE, and you will become the thing you were meant to be!

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Inspired: Mbewu Movement

Have you ever found yourself trolling the internet, opening the various links shared by friends on Facebook and Twitter, often to find silly predictable quizzes, stories that leave you feeling like you just wasted 5 mins of your life and more importantly that 3mb of data that will eventually add up? Yeah? More often than not that was me. I didn’t mind it, im not always looking for something philosophical or life changing and even I can acknowledge that venturing into the unknown of the internet is such a liberating feeling and a pass time I probably enjoy way too much of as a student.

However, tonight, Tonight was a little different.

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The ladies behind The Mbewu Movement

Tonight, I stumbled across a link to a blog hosting the thoughts of the ladies behind the Mbewu Movement. When entering the site you are greeted by a header of beautiful smiling faces and it almost felt like they were saying to me welcome, you are home. I browsed through the ladies profiles to see who they were and what they were about and ringing in my mind were the words – “that is me, that is us – my friends and I!” I felt like I had hit the lottery. I had yet to find out what this movement was about, but thus far I knew it was a collection of young well-educated women coming together for a purpose and already I felt like I belonged.

“A collective focused on personal and social development.”

The Mbewu movement describes themselves as looking to create a platform for others much like them, were they can foster relationships of mentorship and open discussion amongst the youth and older generations in the hopes of creating a better sense of direction for the youth that are searching for direction and a purpose. I mean is that not what I’m about? The words women empowerment, development, African development, entrepreneurship, gender, questioning gender roles, education were thrown around in the different testimonials and I just felt a rush of emotion come over me because I felt like I was not alone, I was not crazy for dreaming that something like this could come about and be so impactful to others.

“These women were each hungry to share their ideas, eager to take their career ambitions to the next level, and network with and learn from business, political and social pioneers.”

You see my friends and I have recently entered an essay competition which focused on women empowerment and development. When the opportunity arose, it wasn’t difficult to come up with a team. I had studied a Bcom Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) degree at UCT, together with an amazing group of girls that I am lucky to still call my friends today. Though one has left us for the hustle and bustle of Gauteng, the four of us remaining entered the competition and birthed a mini essay-writing movement of our own that we called Nguvu. Nguvu means Power in Swahili and what that meant to us was that we can return power to young women through an entrepreneurship program that would empower them to move out of the struggles and situations handed to them simply because they are female – even if if for now we could only do so on paper. We didn’t have to name our team but then again I don’t believe that things just happen in this world, nor do I for a second doubt that the choice in that name and its meaning holds a lot still to be discovered, there is power in that name Nguvu.  This may have just been an essay, but in the process of putting it together, I realised I had never once thought about what it meant to be a woman, a female, a girl child in Africa. I had been lucky enough to be raised in a society where I was not limited to education and had been successful enough to make it to UCT where I am now studying towards my masters. I was so grateful for that, that I had never once considered the alternative, the what if I hadn’t been so lucky alternative. Writing that essay changed my life. It opened my eyes to what it truly means to be female, and the solidarity we need to form as women in order to advance ourselves in our societies. But we wrote the essay, submitted it, waited for the result, waited, waited, are still waiting…and nothing.

I feel like so much has been awoken to me in the past few months but I also had a strong sense of despair because “…and then what”. The results of the competition have not been released and that could be what is holding me back but I find myself questioning -How do I put this feeling into action? How do I move forward knowing now what I know? How do I as a young woman play an active role to push the women for development agenda forward in Africa even if it is in the smallest way. I don’t know the answers to these questions but I do know that my discovery of the Mbewu Movement showed me that even just thinking about those issues shows I’m in the right direction, that awakened conversations with friends can become something so long as you set your mind to it. So the ladies behind the movement, I say THANK YOU, thank you for being brave enough, thank you for putting yourselves out there to be heard, thank you for inspiring me. Their slogan is “growing together” and who knows I may be crazy enough to take Nguvu along the same path, or maybe even become an addition towards growing the movement! God?

18 Habits To Start In Your 20s (That Will Pay Off For The Rest Of Your Life)

Thumbs up to Thought Catalog here. These type of articles are trending at the moment, and usually the list of 25 things to do before your 25 or top 10’s are lacking in substance but not this one. Really quite relevant but what I have come to learn is that if you are not ready to accept the change it simply won’t happen, so my number 1 would be work on getting to know yourself, what you need and what it takes to get you moving!!

Thought Catalog

1. Start saving money. Put away $20 a week. Pay yourself with every paycheck. Keep a jar of change on your desk. Give yourself a dollar every time you work out. Ask your company about the ins and outs of 401(k)s. Whatever it takes, it’s better to get a handle on your money now rather than sing all summer, grasshopper.

2. Learn how to do your taxes. There is a land in between handing them off to your parents and being able to afford someone to do your taxes for you, and it is called self-sufficiency. Set up camp there. There’s tons of software and services that will help you. But if you can do it on your own, you’ll never find yourself stuck if you can’t get help one year.

3. As much as it’s financially and otherwise possible, invest in the things that matter. Buy a piece of…

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Friendship: No new friends?

The bonds we form with the different people we encounter at random have the ability to make such a great impact in ones life, as do they have the ability to end up meaningless and forgotten. Over the 22 years that I have been lucky to be in existence, I would say I made friends quite easily. I was always popular in school and school was generally the environment under which my friendships thrived. My parents used to tell me I had way too many friends, and why do I value my friendships so much that I sometimes let them come before other important areas of my life, family included…it didn’t resonate with me, they (my parents) simply did not get it. In primary school I would have weekly sleepovers over the weekend, alternating from one friends house to the other, sleepovers were the social event of my primary school years, and everyone wanted to be involved. Silently we were all competing to see who could host the best sleep over, as we pressurised our moms to stock the fridge, dad to be the grill master at the braai, jampacked afternoons of swimming and running around playing in the yard and late night movie outings were some of the activities my weekend sleepovers would consist of, all in the name of building friendships.

Whilst the dynamics have but little changed, I find myself thankful that in my university years, the need to have a large group of friends that you find yourself in constant competition with has dwindled over time. Relationships have evolved from being all about the fun and the now, to being about substance and longevity. I struggled with this change for some time, worrying I was losing my way, worrying I was becoming boring and worrying I would find myself alone without companionship, but instead what i’ve gained, is love, strength in my bonds, growth, purpose, lessons, drive all through the friendships that I have come to cherish. I have learnt that,

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to find true happiness is to surround yourself with those who truly believe in not only the person you are today, but the person you could be in the future”

This post was inspired by a conversation I had the other night with someone I would call a new friend as we shared a dinner together. As we caught up, talked about our current projects, gushed over our shared interests and laughed at the silly-ness of our twenties, I knew this was a friendship that I appreciated but still had to nurture, I mean its only been a few months, don’t want to rush into anything right? But with one line she spoke, she solidified our relationship and what it meant to me right then and there. I had been sharing my story about my recent break up, and the unfortunate thoughts I was having about wanting to get back together with him and forgiving him for his mistakes and this girl I have only know for a few months uttered the words,

“Dont lie to yourself (girlindiscovery), that man does not respect you”. 

Oprah Winfrey, one of my great inspirations (as cliche as it possibly can be) talks about the AHA! moment- that moment of sudden realisation, that moment the light bulb goes off in your mind and you think AHA!. This was one of my AHA! moments. She had just given me the truth I had been searching for, for over three months since my breakup, the truth I had so desperately needed to curb my love cravings for him, to end the senseless desires to return to something I no longer had any business with.

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Often we become defensive to opinions we don’t necessarily want to hear, or opinions of people that know little about you, and easily, my first thoughts could have been “who does she think she is”, “what does she know anyway”, but her words were spoken with such respect for me, such high regard for who she believes I can be, for what she believes I deserve, this friend of a few months.

I had been carrying this feeling for weeks, wanting to hear peoples opinions, yearning to ask my dearest and closest friends if they thought me ending things was the right thing to do, but at the same time feeling that they would be biased in their opinions or simply just tired of hearing about it. And yet here she came, only just hearing about it all to deliver the message that would change my whole outlook and give me an entirely new perspective.

I believe that God puts people in our lives for a reason and so I am sorry Drake, im going to have to disagree with you on that ‘no new friends’ front. To you my new found friend, thank you. Thank you for your kind words have resonated with me. I appreciate you. I value our new found relationship. I love you.

Broken

I’m broken. Feels like life keeps handing me blows. It feels like things will only get worse before they get better. My situation feels desperate for a resolve, without one in sight. I can feel myself spiralling into an uncontrollable depression with nothing to stop me. I’m broken.

Heart Break

So I thought you were the one, so I thought we would be married one day, and so you broke my heart. Then why is it so difficult for me to accept? Why does the love I feel for you want to fight to help us overcome when the mind I trust to instinctively tells me otherwise? It highly annoys me to find myself here again, heart broken in my twenties when I so thought I had figured it all out, I had finally got it together, but thats the thing about certainty, can it ever really be true? At 22, I always imagined I would have this big group of friends, boys and girls alike, figuring this life thing out together, living it like it was a party all year round, my steady boyfriend by my side, I would be doing well at varsity but never taking it too seriously because after all, I am in my twenties, I would be living. Instead here I am, just moved into a bachelor flat in desperate need of fixing, all alone, no friends who truly understand me in near sight, just broken up with a boy (man would be an overstatement) I love, only because its what I felt I ought to do to stay true to myself, awaiting school to being my masters program, angry at the rest of the world for being happy, angry at myself for not doing better, angry at my twenties for not living up to my expectations.

I was inspired to start this blog through my anger, through my sadness, through my self-loathe and as pessimistic as it may start off, I hope to journal my thoughts through to healing, through to change, through to happiness.

To 2014 and 23, may I get up off my ass, stop feeling sorry for myself, and enact that change I so desire.

To my twenties, may I always remember to live, may I always remember to love, may I always remember to let go, may I always remember to let God!

20SomethingYearOldGirl…here’s to discovery.