Self realization

Who are you living for?

I’m yet to meet a person who announces to the world that they’re going to change their life and actually does.  From drug addicts to layabouts, people pleasers to assholes, they all at some point proclaim “I’m done. From now on, there’s a new me” and I don’t know whether this New version of them malfunctions or it’s simply never created, but I’ve never encountered it.

Why people feel the need to proclaim their personal, internal changes to the world is beyond me. I guess in a society where we feel the need to share pictures of our food, the fact that we’re going to urinate and even that one is considering shaving, it was bound to come.

If eye rolling were an exercise, I’d have the fittest eyes around.  I probably do it too often  as I read these proclamations and promises to Future Selves, passive aggressive words heavy with urgency and defeat.

“From now on I no longer care what anyone else has to say. It’s about me now. I want to better myself and change into the person I’m meant to be.”

And that’s all good and well. Lovely.

But why tell the world what you won’t tell yourself?

I find more often than not, such people want affirmation and acknowledgement from others. Sometimes, simply, attention.

The “I quit drinking” every Sunday morning people.

The “I no longer want to have meaningless sex” and yet still having one night stands on the sly people.

The “From now on I’m gonna be confident” but I’m only saying that so you people acknowledge I said it people.

“You don’t get cookies for doing what you’re supposed to do.”

I don’t think people understand this.

You aren’t entitled to a standing ovation for bettering yourself as a person. Not for doing what’s best for yourself, no, you don’t.

I understand that for most people, they want some sort of reward for going through distress but honestly, even when it comes to doing something for yourself that you feel you’ll benefit from?

Why should your relationship with your Self include other people? See, this is where people get it wrong. We’re so busy being out of ourselves and in the world, whether on the internet or otherwise, that we forget that We are all we have.

That’s why we have people who can’t make a decision without someone else’s input, even if it’s a stranger.

That’s why we have those “Wanna dye my hair. Red or purple?” people.

Those “I want to sleep but I’m hungry. What do you think I should do guys?” people.

I feel these kinds of people are exactly like those who want to tell the world about their decision to do something that affects no one but themselves.

People who constantly ask for advice irk me. I feel like they make you responsible for their life and that, in my eyes, is not only disrespectful, it’s a lot of pressure that the next person doesn’t need. No one needs to be living someone else’s life on their behalf.

If you are one of these people I ask you, why?

How difficult is it to ask yourself about things that are only your business and see how you feel about it?

How difficult is it to be responsible to and for yourself?

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You, Yourself and You

“Life’s all about progression and transformation” I said as I passed the beer bottle over to a friend, wondering whether in this very moment, I was progressing.   Which led me to wonder if one has to be progressing all the time, and if you weren’t, were you falling back?

 

If Life’s taught me anything, it’s that it goes hand in hand with Loss.  Sometimes you push things out of your Life, and other times, they just go.  Friends come and go, dreams come and go, thoughts come and go.  I always marvel at how, despite the fact that we know change is the only constant in Life, we can’t seem to embrace it and go with it.  We’re always looking for some sort of stability.  We keep clothes that will never fit us, buy brands we’re used to, regardless of whether or not they do what they’re supposed to, and keep relationships that no longer do anything for us.

 

Eliminate things that no longer evolve you. — Erykah badu

 

I’ve been observing my relationships with people in my Life and wondering whether I truly need them there, trying to figure out if I need what they bring to the table. Birds of a feather flock together and as I observe some of them I realize, they simply don’t know how to Live, how to take responsibility for their lives, how to stand alone. How to exist as a lone being, and for me, that’s a necessity.

I believe in the importance of individuality, independence. You need to know how to be alone, how to think for yourself, how to grow on your own, what to take in and put out to keep growing.  Stagnancy is a trap, it’s a cage you don’t even know you’re in sometimes.  I know.

I’ve spent close to a year, maybe slightly more, at home, terrified of growing up. Of making any decisions, of living, because I was afraid I’d mess up.  As each day passed, I seemed to find more and more reasons as to why I should simply wait to die.  The possible shame of making a “wrong” life decision [which in this case, was about my academic life] weighed on me before I even bothered to CONSIDER what I’d do.

To many, that was a year wasted. I could’ve done so much in that time, right?

Gotten an online diploma maybe.  Found a job. Hell, gotten married.

But no, none of that.

I cried, I read, I thought, and I repeated all of this. And to quote Anais Nin “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

I got sick of seeing my face in the morning with the same uncertain look. I spent hours upon hours arguing with myself about what We want to do, who we want to be, and eventually, I put myself together.  Now, I appreciate all the uncertainty, all the time I felt I was wasting. I grew.

 

For many of us, it takes a lot before we can let go.  We don’t know when to, nor how to. We don’t know when a situation has run it’s course and even when it begins to hurt, we tell ourselves it’s a test to see whether we’re truly committed. Sometimes, that’s simply Life showing you that it’s done now. Some things, I dare say, most things, aren’t worth fighting for, especially if you aren’t even sure you want them.

In Setswana, there’s a saying that goes “Se nkganang se nthola morwalo”, which basically means, whatever repels me only relieves me of a burden.  Words to live by, don’t you think?

 

Most people will never be too ashamed to pass their burdens on to you.  Nor to bring, or keep, you down. A lot of people wouldn’t care if your mental maturity never goes past this point.  But you know, that’s them. It’s up to you to see to it that you become More.  And that will be your responsibility to yourself for as long as you’re here.

 

Who are you? What do you want? Do the people in your Life want the same for you? Will they help you become who you want to be? Are they people you’d like to be like?

You need to ask yourself.

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Mama said

  1. Never show a man you love him too much. They will see this and take advantage of it knowing you won’t leave.
  2. Never love a man too much i.e more than yourself. He can never give you more than you can give yourself for as long as you can.
  3. When you cook maize meal, add a bit of salt and oil.
  4. Your marriage won’t be worth much if your partner isn’t worth much. If you insist on settling down, let your partner build you.
  5. Take care of your body. Especially your figure and your skin. Your whole appearance as a Woman shows how you feel about yourself and has the power to give you the confidence you need.
  6. Buy attractive lingerie for yourself, not to show it off to someone else.
  7. Family is everything. Friends come and go but if you find those worth keeping, do so. 
  8. Never let another person steal your joy. 
  9. Buy pretty bedding.
  10. Sometimes you need to pray. [Or as I call it, Talk to the Air.]

 

Sound advice, she’s tried.

 

But as I found myself thinking about my future children, especially my daughters, I grew distressed trying to figure out what to teach them and how.

See, I believe my mother didn’t teach me what I feel my daughter should know. And I understand why. For her, some of the greatest lessons have come about through trial and error and being reactive to certain situations which, probably could have been avoided had one of us been proactive, but I understand because she isn’t as vocal as I am and hope to be by the time I have kids. 

She didn’t tell me that boys would lie until I’d already been lied to and led down undesirable paths in the name of Love.

She didn’t prepare me for the emotional Beast I’d become once a month when my hormones kick in.  The Education system failed me here too. Y’all just made it seem like a bit of bleeding, not cramps that feel like a kick to the vagina resulting in what looks like a Spartan battlefield on a good/bad day. The anger, emotional texts to Ex’s [although that could just be me] none of that.

She didn’t tell me that as a female, you’re a walking target. I guess I understand why. My mother doesn’t really see things the way that I do. She still victim blames, I admit, but a lot of her generation does. Also, I doubt she would have wanted me to grow up looking over my shoulder expecting to have something happen but, I feel it’s something every girl should know. Rather rob them of their childhood with honesty than have them end up in a situation far worse because they were naive.

Pregnancy scares. We don’t discuss those obviously. I doubt we ever will, but I want to with my daughter. I guess we’ll squeeze it into the Sex Talk.  One of the few times we discussed pregnancy I brought up abortion and my mother was mortified. “We don’t kill what God creates” she said. I laughed and said those are her views and we’d need to be logical and consider whether bringing a child into the world would be the best thing. She said I was speaking like the Devil, which amused me. I know though that I don’t want my daughter feeling obligated to keep a child because of emotional blackmail. I want her, should she find herself in that position, to make an informed decision.

She never told me to know when to leave a man, I found that out the hard way.  

I learned that one should avoid patriarchal men like the plague out in the world too. My daughter will know the same. Although I guess the “Have a partner who builds you” part covered that.

Cook because you want to, not because you have to, for someone else. I hate that. Having to interrupt your time of doing Peaceful Nothing to fix a meal for someone who’ll probably decide it’s not worth it and sleep by the time you’re done. 

I believe Sundays are peaceful. For solitude and everything else you want. Sundays are Selfish days, to be worshiped. I’ll tell my daughter. 

Mama always wanted a happy family that bonds over dinner and cooks together and laughs all the time and such. We are the exact opposite. She knows her children love her but I always tell her, personally, I don’t feel the need to always be in my family’s presence. I spend a fair amount of time alone and there isn’t anything wrong. She says it’ll lead to me being in an unhappy household, I tell her I don’t want to raise kids  who are dependent on another person for comfort, it’s simply how I am. 

I drink quite a bit. I drink when I’m sad, when I’m happy and when I’m excited. No, it isn’t as often as you may think, but beer, wine, straights, they all get a pass with me. And no I don’t get sloppy drunk unless I’m home and with close friends, and even then, I never want to because I always want to know everyone is alright. My mother drinks a few glasses of wine every two months and thinks I’m an alcoholic. Dear Future Daughter, drink if you want to, just don’t be a fuck up.

Religion. If you haven’t figured it out by now, she’s religious. Christian. I was once, and then I read too many books and thought too much to continue believing in a White man in the Sky and virgins giving birth to Saviors. I hope my daughter isn’t religious, I won’t lie. Spiritual, yes please. But that’s her choice to make. 

Sexuality. I’m guessing you can figure out mother’s views on that. Marriage, monogamy, kids, the basics. I still have to explain to her how gay people have sex sometimes when she’s drunk and curious but thank god she’s not a homophobe. I want my daughter to do with her body as she pleases, to own herself.

I will stress the importance of an education. Not just degrees, they’re nice, but to be smart and know the world, understand people, understand yourself. Nothing’s more depressing than a person with a degree and an empty head, there’re too many running around.

I want her to know she’s always stronger than she knows and sometimes, than she wants to be, and her mother was too. 

I want her to know that Love is everything. And true Love, for anything or anyone, should never leave you feeling Less Than in anyway. 

And that mistakes happen and there is no shame in Living. 

I hope I raise a little Warrior. A beauty. An Amazonian Princess honestly. A woman who could have held her own had she been born in Sparta. Someone like Cleopatra. One who walks with pride and is firm in her knowledge of Self and depends on no none, needs no one, who isn’t worth it. I hope I raise a Queen who unfortunately, will know loneliness because those of her kind will be rare in society, but I know she will seek out and find comfort in like minded people.

I know a fair amount of the lessons will come about as me being reactive too. I realize that with parenting. I appreciate what my mother has taught me and what she kept from me, she was doing the best she could and I will do the same. Maybe one day my daughter too will point out what I could’ve taught her but didn’t. And that’s alright.

The whole point of relationships is to learn. My mother has taught me and I have taught her. Lessons I hope we both spread out into the world. 

Lessons of Love. 

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All Falls Down

The first decision I ever made as an adult was to drop out of school.

As my mother stared at me in disbelief, tears in her eyes, she asked me why and I said “I want to be happy. I’m not happy.” and started crying. She looked at me like I’d gone mad as my father rolled his eyes.

Ware [You say] happy? Get your degree and that will make you happy.”

I didn’t budge and neither did they.

My aunts came wondering what had gone wrong. My father stopped speaking to me and my mother seemed to wither away.

One of my aunts asked me why I wouldn’t go back and when I told her it’s because I didn’t want to, she said “Life is not about what you want” to which I responded “Then what is the point in living?” She didn’t have an answer for me.

I stayed home for close to a year. Wallowing mostly. In self pity, shame.

Was I wrong? Why couldn’t I be miserable and yet focused like the other kids? Had I shamed my family because I didn’t want to be one of those people who wake up at 36 and think “Fuck. I wasted it all.”

The worst part was, I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do. I had simply jumped off a cliff with no parachute and I felt silly.

My father would lie to people as I stood next to him and tell them I was still a Business student. My mother would look away, smile her sad smile and sigh. Me? I became annoyed with society. It was then that I realized just how expectations can steal your joy if you let them.

I wasn’t doing what I was expected to do and so I was considered a failure.

I had to choose between going back and soldiering on, hating every moment, and getting through where I was now.

I couldn’t go back.

Things had already gotten bad, how much worse could it get?

A few months later I applied and got accepted to a school in SA. Everything looked good, My mother was happy for me and we were excited. Until my father, being the one with the finances needed to pay for my fees said “I’m not paying for her to do anything that doesn’t make sense” and walked away.

10 days before I was set to leave.

Again, I wondered if I’d made the right decision.

After a few more months of self loathing and doubt I was finally accepted to study Journalism here.

I can’t say I was happy, I try to avoid that, but I can tell you it felt right.

Were my parents pleased now?

No, not really.

Because Journalism wasn’t a “real course” and they wanted me to go back and try Business again.

What I learned from that is as  much as parents claim to have good intentions, a lot of them need to tell us outright “I will only be happy with your Life if it goes how I want it to.”

Now, when people ask me what I do with my Life I have a very proud “Nothing” ready. For the next month or so. Then I explain why and I get the “You’ll be starting first year again?” question like that’s the worse thing to ever happen to someone.

And I proudly say “Yes, doing a course I love.”

The sooner you decide what you need to do, the better.

A lot of people don’t even realize that in a few years, they’ll be miserable. They think they’re in a bad space now, but when you look back and see all the time you wasted and none of it was because you wanted to do it, you didn’t enjoy any of it, there’s a certain kind of sadness and shame that creeps in.

Realizing you had all that time and all you did was give it to someone else to live for and through you.

We tend to look at people who think about their lives before deciding to live as idiots. As if they’re wasting their time and they’re weak but what’s so strong about following a routine everyone else has?

Some people are content doing what they’re supposed to.

Others only know how to live how they want to.

But I get it though.

“The concept of school seemed so secure.” – Kanye West

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“I can’t take back the words I never said.”

Let’s discuss the importance of words shall we?

The effects they have on people, emotions, situations.

Poetry. 

I cried last night trying to explain to a friend how hard it is to pour your truth out trying to explain, reach out somehow, for some kind of comfort, and getting nothing but “That’s beautiful”s in return. 

I read Warsan Shire’s poetry, see Alysia Harris cry constantly on stage and know they must feel the loneliness I feel sometimes. Because it honestly isn’t about teaching all the time. Sometimes you want to know that someone shares the same kind of passion, pain or indifference that you do. And I guess maybe they can but they can’t express it how you do.

 

Let’s think about how sometimes, words are useless.  You can talk yourself blue, use every language you know and still not get someone to understand you. Not be able to make the Love stay and not be able to show someone what you want them to see. 

My ex taught me that. It was a hard lesson to learn.

It made me wonder what the point was, if you can communicate and not be felt. I didn’t write for a while. I didn’t even speak anything that made sense for a while. He asked me why all I did was quote rap lyrics lately when he knew I had more to me than that and I was unable to  tell him that I was afraid that what I said wouldn’t matter.

 

“Speak your mind, even if your voice  shakes.” – Maggie Kuhn

I read that a year or more ago and my first thought was. “I can’t tell my father how I really feel though..I can’t tell my mother what I want to do. I simply can’t.” And I remembered, they’re just words.

I have since then. 

And being vocal will mean losing many people, I’ll tell you now.

Men get scared when you constantly tell them your truth and cry when you want to.

Friends don’t always want honesty.

Parents may think you’re crazy.

If you think being a writer is lonely, being honest is even worse. 

And I can’t decide yet whether it’s worth it but I can tell you my heart feels the strain of words that fall on deaf ears as much as it felt the weight of unsaid words and I don’t know what’s better/worse but I DO know I can’t go back to being silent. 

The same way you can’t unfeel heartbreak, you can’t unthink a thought, you simply can’t go back to being mute when you find that you have a voice.

I love the word “No” and I use it often. Some days it’s said lower than I’d like because I say it with fear in my heart, but I say it nonetheless and try to make the look in my eye mean it.

Every time I say it I know I should be ready to defend it/myself. Either verbally or if need arises, physically. And it’s new. Because at first, as a woman, a daughter, a girlfriend, a sister, a friend, I didn’t know I could, I didn’t know I had the right to, Women are taught to be selfless, but now as all of these things, I realize I am all I have and not everyone,  in fact, very few people, actually care about what becomes of Me, it’s about what they can get. This too has been a hard lesson to learn and I’m still going through the Test phase. I may be failing a little.

“Your silence will not protect you.” -Audre Lorde

Deception.  I am naive when it comes to those I love.  I don’t believe that they lie to me and when I care, rose coloured glasses are a part of my everyday attire. So I probably walk right into situations because I am not always on guard and I believe I don’t have to live that way. I don’t want to. I think I may have to grow up and be a cynic but I still want the beauty and honesty. 

I am becoming one of those people who speak without the help of liquor. It scares people when they are sober. Weirdly enough, I express myself, but never bond. People know the stories but not what the protagonist feels and has felt.  

I listen to Etta James, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke and think “If I said things so plainly right now, he’d run” and wish I could have lived then. Back when we could frankly speak about our devotion, our adoration for another being, our pain, without needing to make it look pretty. I wish we could still be blunt and it wouldn’t be too crude for people to handle. 

I was listening to the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill last night and as Ex Factor, When it hurts so Bad and I used to love him drifted out through the speakers I thought “This is all that needed to be said and it was. We loved it because it was simple and honest, pure, and yet we can never simply say that’s what it was.”.

 

I’m nostalgic for a time where honesty in Love, in Life, was the norm. And I’ve never even known such a time. 

Now is the time when you’re a part of the minority if you don’t keep people at arm’s length. A time when you’re odd if you feel, and think.

A time when you’re the odd one out if you still cry and show that you’re alive. 

And I’m not dealing well with that. 

“This is crazy.” – Lauryn Hill

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