On Self-awareness

On Self-awareness

I behave badly sometimes because I’m human and because Petty is my middle name. I’m also overly sensitive and have a tendency to overreact to perceived slights, imagined or otherwise. Also, I have no filter and say the wrong thing all too often. I know what I am.
 That said, as I get older I find myself more concerned with doing the loving thing and authenticity than I am with being agreeable and liked. I have found, in these the last years of my thirties, that I don’t need to keep in touch with everyone no matter how much I once loved them, because people outgrow me and I outgrow others, and that’s ok. I know where I am.

I have found, in these ‘woke’ years of my life that my path is mine to walk and my spirituality mine to develop, harness, unleash and enjoy. I don’t need any one to cosign my beliefs and while teaching is at the core of who I am, I too am still a student and can’t teach everyone everything. Not all moments are teaching moments and being grown is knowing the difference. I know how I am.

I have found that I am most free when I enjoy each moment for what it is, neither yearning for an imagined future nor  longing for a dimly lit past. I have found the most power in learning myself and loving what I find, completely and without reservation. I know that I am.
I have found, in these the most single years of my life, that I can be happy and fulfilled without a romantic partner, and that living as a sexual being is not just about the sex I’m not having, but about letting my creative self free, and embracing and revelling in my God-given femininity with and without the male gaze. I stare into the deep dark abyss and conquer it every day; I know whose I am.

On Becoming Woman

Every now and then I manage to take a selfie that makes me stop and think damn, girl you’re so pretty! It doesn’t happen nearly often enough partly because I have long since resigned myself to the fact that photogenic I am not. That said, when I look good, I look effin good, even if I do say so myself.

I grew up feeling decidedly unfeminine. In fact, for a period of about two years in my adolescence I got my kicks from hearing people ask – is that a girl or a boy? I have always been ‘that tall girl’, and with short natural hair and no ‘breasteses’ I was able to play a boy with ease. In my late teens I developed hips and could no longer be mistaken for a boy, but I was still flat-chested and self-conscious about it. It was the one thing about my body that I hated, that I blamed for all my troubles, romantic and otherwise.

As a young adult woman I still didn’t feel woman enough, and I didn’t understand the concept of dressing for my body and feeling comfortable with my look until I was a fully grown woman. Other aspects of my personality combined with what I saw as a masculine figure (hips notwithstanding) and what I saw as an angular and therefore masculine face, led to me embracing all things boyish -oversized jeans (this was before skinny jeans and jeggings, before men wore both), oversized shirts, oversized everything.  For all intents and purposes I rejected femininity, prettyness and softness. My style was mostly androgynous, with a few hot numbers thrown in when I wanted to be sexy.

That was me for the longest time: a weird mismatch of hot woman and boyish girl. I was confused about womanhood because I felt I was living it wrong, I felt wrong in myself. Not like I was meant to be a boy, no -except for the general misogynoir (not a typo) and the monthly bleeding, I quite like being a woman- but I felt like I wasn’t doing it right, I never felt quite comfortable or at ease, I felt like I was on show all the time, always acting, never just being. 

It was draining and tiring and I was angry and sad all at once, but no matter how many bwe (black women’s empowerment) blogs I read and regardless of how often I changed my look (I had a flat-cap phase, a skirt&tie phase, a pant suits phase, a beat-face every day phase…) none of it rang true for me. Some looks worked better than others, received more compliments, but none of it felt like the authentic me. 

And then, I found myself.

In 2014 I fell pregnant and in 2015 I had a baby girl. I found out the sex at month 5, and once I did, I resolved to figure myself out once and for all, for no other reason than that I did not want my daughter to inherit my gauche awkwardness, my lack of gracefulness. I imagined her being free to express herself as she wanted, and I wanted to be there, supporting her as she discovered herself. I knew I could not support her growth into womanhood unless I did some growing of my own so I did some hard thinking, some experimenting, a lot of soul searching and introspection and I found myself, but more importantly, I liked what I found. 

When I see selfies like the one above I smile to myself because these days I like what I see in my photos, I like it enough to have selfies online even, on Instagram nogal, something I thought I would never do.

I look at that picture and I see a glimpse -it’s just a photo, it can only say so much- of the woman I’ve become and the woman I’m still growing into. A woman who has found her world and her place in it; found her stride and is walking her path. I see a woman who has embraced her womanhood and is living her life on her terms: unapologetic and unafraid, pretty, secure, resilient, loving, lovable, and loved. 

You may look at this picture, at any picture of anyone and see only image that you may love or hate, but I see the woman I struggled to become, the woman I freed from that self-inflicted shame of ‘doing womanhood wrong’, a woman who understands what she is and who she is, and is taking her place gracefully and with poise, and with good humour.

Every now and then I take a selfie that makes me think, damn, girl, you’re so pretty, and I smile to myself, with myself, because for the longest time I didn’t feel pretty and avoided the camera. For the longest time I didn’t know who I was and saw no beauty in myself, but now I can look at myself and think – mama I made it, I became the woman I was born to be, and I’m still becoming her.

I don’t know if it was pregnancy hormones, or God, or something else altogether that was the catalyst for change, that led to me embarking on that journey of self-discovery. I just know that I am here, mothering, womaning, and effing slaying.  I thank God. 

Thoughts on Freedom

Freedom, much like trust, cannot be picked up off the street.

I don’t know about you, but I’m thirsty for my freedom and hungry for it, knowing as I thirst and hunger that what will sustain me, this thing they call freedom, already lies within me.

Freedom is not external to who you are, it is inherent, intrinsic -congenital, if you will- but not inherited. Real freedom is not inherited. 

What I have to do, and you, is find my freedom and live it. Not a narrow life because freedom is a wide life, not meanness because freedom is generosity; because you cannot be free until you understand that what you seek is already within; that you do not grow by stunting others’ growth; that the universe will not take from someone else to give to you. 

You are not free until you understand that life is a journey to unshackle yourself, not a competition with anyone else.

Freedom doesn’t come, isnt found -whatever the term is for pulling something out of yourself, something bright and wonderful and sacred- 

-Freedom will elude you, and me, until we’ve faced and conquered our pain, our fears, our lies; until we’ve choked on the Truth and on our personal truths. 

You won’t know freedom until you know Truth, because freedom walks hand in hand with Truth.

-Beauty’s Daughter

ThreeFiftyOneAM

I cracked then I broke but I raised myself up, mended and polished the rough edges,

Sanded the corners smooth like the glide of the lipstick I wear daily because everybody needs their armour.

I made myself hard where others are soft, jagged edges, sharp corners –

Fragile and strong because I created myself out of the contrariness of my life, pulling from heat and cold and dark and light,

Moulding myself from the hidden yet freely available grace, filling my spaces with both the stolen and wilingly given words of the world,

Stitching together my heart’s pieces with the divine thread of a natural self-love.

I do not deny that I am afraid, frightened because much has been given and in return much from me is expected; but I am bold because I cannot turn away from that which I know to be my destiny.

“You’re not good enough, simply not enough.” The voices. Mutterings rising from the dust of my past like the unwanted memories of gone lovers, 

Words biting just as they did in that Unforgotten but never to be recalled past.
I swallow the white man’s muti to deafen  the voices, breathe in the new silence as the black woman’s  incense burns forcing demons to flee and giving angels voice.

I cling to truth that brings freedom and peace. “Darling. You’re all you have.”

Art: Black Queen Work by Sarah Golish

​Akeni Liyekele Amadoda Angalifuniyo

One of the things I’m going to get my squad to teach my daughter is never to spend time on a man who has rejected her. The work you do to put yourself back together is painful and time- and energy-consuming -why willingly go through that for a man who doesn’t want you? That will be the gist of the lesson. 

 

What this means is that I need to expose my daughter to women who know that they are goddesses and live like it; women who have learnt the secret of feminine power; women who do not apologise for giving zero fucks as they live their lives, but are graceful and poised (think Adichie in any interview) at all times because they’ve fought the battles and won the wars, because they understand that to be a woman is to not be a man, and know too that different is not the same as less-than. The kind of women who don’t chase after men who don’t want them, because each and every one of them knows that just as everybody is not for her, she is not for everybody. 
It means I need to be that woman. The kind of woman who has all her shit together. 

Basically what I’m saying is: if you’re in my squad I’m going to ask you to help me set a good example for my daughter and yours, for all the daughters. We owe it to younger women in general and to our daughters in particular to do better, to be the examples we say they need, the ones we wish we’d had. 

We owe it to them not just to ‘lean in’ but also to live true and to live loud; to show them what power looks like; what love looks like, both in terms of loving and being loved; we all owe it to our descendants and the descedants of our ‘villages’ to help every other woman live her highest calling. We owe it to them because we owe it to ourselves. We are all learning, us and the daughters, but we have something they don’t have: experience. We have to stop lying about life and start being honest about what the game is and how it’s played; we are the ones to break the news that it’s actually not a game anymore. 

Life is farquing hard work and I’m too busy finding the virtue in honest labour to spend any time or energy on men who don’t want me. Ain’t nobody got time for that, and our daughters can only learn that from us. We have not been able to treat ourselves right but let’s treat our daughters right: we can start by not forcing them to watch us be rejected and humiliated by men who would never have had the opportunity if we hadn’t given it to them. We need to get our shit together. Let’s at least give our daughters that. 

Squad Salute!

Zero Apologies For Authenticity

Zero Apologies For Authenticity
when-you-are-brave-enough-to-be-yourself
You have friends who resent your success but never hesitate to ask for favours or to enjoy the fringe benefits of your hard work. You sleep with men who take advantage of you and your resources (and your A1 sex game), men who give nothing in return except bitterness and heartache, not even an orgasm for you to write bad poetry about. In addition, you’ve committed to being someone you can’t really be proud of because you’ve been hurt so often and so deeply that you’ve decided it’s time you stop being your loving, kind, generous self and become someone different.

You need to understand that your relationships are an accurate reflection of your perception of yourself.

What and whom you allow into your life is based on what you believe you deserve. If people take you for granted it is because you do not value yourself or your contributions. When you understand, internalise, and begin to live the truth of your God-given worth you will be more authentically yourself and your relationships will be transformed. Your fears of rejection and your need for external validation will be washed away in the flood of genuine love you have for yourself and for your truth.

Don’t you know yet that perfect love casts out fear?

In other words, keep it real and just do you.
Also, give zero fucks.
Also, don’t be stupid.
-Unknown Woman

Bulawayo’s Got Talent

Lots of things make me happy of course, seeing as I’m a happy kinda person, when I’m not battling mental health issues but of all the things that have made me happy recently, this is the most brilliant, for a variety of reasons.

  1. it reminds me of home
  2. it reminds me of my two favourite nephews
  3. it proves that singing in Ndebele is possible and it doesn’t have to be Imbube
  4. it acknowledges the dynamism of the language with the use of such phrases as ‘ungangeni nge heart’
  5. Bulawayo and surrounds has talented people and this is proof
  6. the concept is clever – this is what boys say about girls, to each other. Men talking about women is a whole ‘nother ballgame, I hope.
  7. it’s catchy
  8. I THINK IT’S BRILLIANT AND I LOVE IT

Click and ENJOY!