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Womanhood Conversations (Pt3)

Hello from the female adulting side of things. I hope this finds you where you are supposed to be. That is such a vague statement but safe, as should introductions be if you are writing of uncomfortable things.

If this is your first time reading this series, please make time to read the earlier posts and I hope you continue coming back every Friday till this series ends (is that even possible). And to those coming back, much appreciated, keep safe, and I hope to see you next time.

Today I had some difficulty deciding which part of my existence to tackle until I finally settled on one of the very common affirmations “I am a strong, independent woman!” Saying it louder so my sisters at the back can hear me. I believe the best way would be for me to dissect the two separately and then bring them together and sort of see where I am.

I often thought that being strong meant you do not easily become emotional and cry in front of anyone, you keep a brave face through it all. I have had a lot of unlearning to do and one of the first things I then understood was that being emotional also meant that one feels things more deeply than the average Themba (see what I did there, replaced Joe with Themba, taking back the power, one word at a time✊✊✊) and does not necessarily mean they are then displayed for the world to see. I then understood strength as me being aware of what kind of person I am and avoiding going down rabbit holes. It has taken years and I am still learning as I evolve and learn new truths. Being strong for me is also acknowledging what I am feeling, deep as it may be, but not letting it run wild. Strong means not giving up, getting up when I have fallen and apologising when I am wrong. I get rubbed the wrong way when I am raising a concern or something, especially in the workplace and a man thinks saying “No need to get emotional is going to shut me down”, like that as a self-proclaimed strong and independent female I will back down because I am running from such a label. Well, I do not because I am neither screaming, shouting or sobbing so people need to get comfortable with hearing my truth for what it is.

I am starting to get a sense that strong should have been a post on its own, but the common narrative out there is a strong and independent woman. It has me wondering if I cannot be one or the other. Is it possible to be independent and not strong? Can I resign to be strong and dependent? Honestly being independent is expensive for me at times, 😂😂😂.

I think you need the strength to realise that you cannot do something by yourself, and you need just as much to be able to be independent and stay independent because it is not as glamorous as advertised.

Then there is sweet independence which can be defined as not influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc… I am a natural independent thinker and I act on those thoughts and have a natural inclination to not care what people might say. Some would say I do not have etiquette, but I think I am working too hard to have someone frown on my choices and I acknowledge it. It is your right to frown just as it is mine to keep living my life. Basically, free spirited way of life comes easy, so my focus was getting financial freedom. As far off as I can remember I have been obsessed with financial freedom, not to get rich but to have enough to make my own decisions. I understood money as the currency that will buy me a seat at the table at family gatherings, space to be myself. My money, my decisions, right? I have slaved for this vison and am grateful that it became a reality and I want it to be so for so many out there.

With that in mind, I begin to understand that my understanding of financial freedom came from being raised in a society that will not respect you or your opinions unless you have money to back them up. It is sad but true, but independence is more than finances, and it is a continuous process acquiring it. So, does it mean to be less privileged is to lose your voice in this world?

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After having dealt with these two concepts separately, how do I understand being a strong independent woman? I know that it is recognising that I control my destiny and happiness, regardless of institutional bias towards women. It is having goals and dreams and working towards them and changing them as I evolve. It is being kind and loving as well having a say in decisions that affect you. Being strong and independent is taking care of myself first so I can take care of the next person, it is to know my limits and set boundaries. It is to live my own truth.

This series is a journey to help myself mostly, understand what is to be a woman. I feel you become a female adult by virtue of age and laws in your country, but you choose which kind of woman you want to be. I am strong, independent and so much more.

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Womanhood Conversations (PT1)

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I was not aware until recently that I needed a Womanhood Conversation, more with myself than with anyone else. But I have gone on quite a few journeys with my blog as a witness, so why not post it right. I did mention in my last blog post that I would be writing on this as a series, and it will be covering a few major topics that are paramount to this journey.
That being written, I must go back to my childhood to review my understanding of becoming a woman. There is a lot I need to unlearn but I must know what it is first.

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A few months ago, a person used the word woman to describe me and I was taken aback. I was not offended it just caught me by surprise because I could not remember at that time anyone calling me a woman. A quick self-check later I realized I too do not call myself a woman.

It’s not that I am not a woman its just I have never felt the need to include the word ‘woman’ as part of my daily affirmation. I am for a lot of Women focused movements and would wrestle anyone who would allow me to ensure we get equal footing. You see I personalize the struggle but not as part of my identity. That is the wrinkle I am trying to sort out, if need be, with this series.
I understand it is not a sexuality crisis, no, but it got me wondering what being a woman is then. I understand my immediate circle’s lack of use of the word. It consists mostly of my siblings and there is a significant age gap that will always have them looking at me as the baby, regardless of my being quite an adult if I do say so myself. In 1949, the French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir stated that “one is not born, but rather becomes a woman” and this resonates with my trying to explain to someone why I was sort of surprised by the term. Have I fully become a woman? Have I arrived, and was it ever a destination, to begin with? These are the questions I hope to answer through this series.
When I started this post, I did say I would go back to my childhood. My mother became a widow early on in my life and I was surrounded by single mothers too. Two parents’ household was of another dimension I will never comprehend. Life was difficult of course but for the child me it was so not because my mother’s efforts were inadequate, but that home was an unforgiving country, punishing those grieving their lost significant others. I understood my struggles from a classist point of view rather than gender. We had not because some few rich people made it difficult for us to have.

When my mother insisted I learn how to cook before I could see the stovetop properly, it was not so I can become a good wife, she said I was getting older and it was important to do these things because she would not be there forever. Self-sufficiency is what I remember from my early instructions. Only later did I hear narratives of being groomed for marriage and of course I rebelled because I had been taught something else. I had been taught for my existence, that there was me before a husband, if ever there was one to happen. I needed to cook for and take care of myself. It was not that as a woman I should do this and that, it was as an adult, void of gender, I should get an education, work hard, be kind, pray, love and play. It is by these instructions that I live by now and maybe that is where the disjoint comes first to play if this is even a wrinkle, to begin with. I am a female adult…

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International Women’s Day 2021

Intentional greetings to all those who find themselves here. I hope 2021 has been intentionally carving you out to be a better version of yourself. I hope it is full of experiences that prepare you for the future and to fulfil your purpose. Each person has their journey, and I wish all things are working for your good.

Today is International Women’s Day, and the call to activism is for all of us to challenge any gender bias to create a more gender-equal world. One of the many ways I will contribute will be a series entitled “Womanhood Conversations” to give insight as to my understanding and challenges brought on by womanhood so far. I hope by the end of it all, those without conviction will find their niche to challenge. If you had not started already, then I hope the series will inspire you. It is never too late to start.

Much appreciated. Keep safe. Choose to Challenge.

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Sunday reflections series

There are about 8 Sundays left in 2020,if you choose to look at the rest of the year in that way. I came into 2020 without many expectations if I am to be honest. The year started off on an exhausted note really. I had just completed my Honors degree [ insert endless gratitude] and I was exhausted. Between my last year of high school and 2019, I had two gap years and I worked like a dog, even working two jobs at some point, all in the name of obtaining my degree. I studied full time and worked most nights and afternoons literally for my survival.

This summary barely scratches the surface of my post high school experiences, but I just want to give you a bit of a background of the exhaustion behind my starting 2020. I left my alma matter a few days after handing in my final research submission and vowed not to go back, not even for my graduation (thank you Covid-19 for my not having to explain why I was not interested in a graduation party). I spent my first month after school working part time and living with my brother’s family.

I was exhausted all the time and had lost so much weight that he kept checking in to make sure I ate all three meals a day. He was concerned, we all were, especially me because I am yet to see a post of a depressed graduate who is not job hunting because they have an exhaustion they cannot explain. I will not use a synonym for my exhaustion, I was TIRED, too tired to understand why I was tired, but a year later, I somehow understand and I am grateful I did not rush into anything, I rested. I started the year 2020 in hot and humid Durban, with every other day at the beach in cool waters (if you have been in the water at any beach in Cape Town you would appreciate my excitement at being able to stay in the ocean for more than 5 minutes). So that set the pace of the year, everything else rolled off in God’s time and I peacefully watched Him do His thing.

Serene. That has been 2020 for me, so the fact that I have 8 weeks or so left of it does not alarm me. Sometimes I try to look for checks to make sure I am not ‘settling’ because of the war I fought and won. Then I remember, I do have goals and I am slowly working towards something, not entirely sure what it is yet, but I am making progress.

In my last post (please go and read it, scroll down, there should be a way for you to find your way there, if there isn’t, forgive me, I am one of those push and pull a door kind of people) I mentioned I will be bringing something sorta new, in addition to the poetry…drum roll…. My Sunday Reflection Series! I will be sharing whatever I belch up after I have chewed the cud of my existence, I hope you enjoy, but above it all, I hope it inspires you.

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Hello Summer!…I think

Is it November already? Is it summer, is it ever full blown summer in Cape Town? For some reason I cannot remember what summer in Cape Town is like. For the last two years I have spent summer in Durban, and the rest of the year in Windhoek, spending a few days in Cape Town to say hi to a few old friends. So basically this is my first summer back in Cape Town. As I am typing it is cloudy outside with a chance of rainfall in the next few days. Winter is normally the rainy season, with a few rainy days in summer but what is normal in a global warming world. [insert calls for everyone to do their part in reducing toxic waste]

Hello summer!….I think. Whatever we are in, we are still cutting down trees, new laws are being passed in Zimbabwe to basically incriminate freedom of expression and a prominent journalist was arrested, fishy elections are taking place and democracy is a farce in 2020….What to focus on for the rest of the year…Hmmm. Bear with me, you are reading through my thought process, first row seat if you may, something is coming and I hope you enjoy it. Thanks again for coming through and reading, I really appreciate your support. Keep safe, see you soon. Much appreciated. 

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Locked down and apart

I left home before the recommended time, recommended by the imaginary therapist I converse with on one too many occasions. She has unrealistic standards and lives in some imaginary Utopia and I am quite sure she has a therapist of her own( don’t we all). Life got complicated long before I left and distance does not make it easier. I try, some of them on the other side of my trying try. On the top of my list of putting effort are my little sisters and they might never actually know it, primarily because I write poetry better than I actually communicate and there is so much to say and not enough means, and mostly I feel we are not simultaneously ready to deal and heal. Today’s piece is a one string played on a harp of infinite strings to process and let be. Keep safe, see you soon. Much appreciated. ❤️❤️❤️

Shadow of a sister

Dear Little Sister

I write from where it is I was supposed to come back from

At least that was the original idea, that is

Climb up and help you up to the view

Though my view is not the best yet, I still feel the need to share the little I have

I somehow feel it is brighter than where I left you

Not that I am all you have, but it is my duty to hold your hand

Just as others before me have

It has been long since we have talked

I have picked up the phone a couple of times

Believing I had the courage to bear your voice

And the emptiness of our conversations

Because all I want to do is breakdown and cry

And ask for your forgiveness

Because I do not know where to begin

How is life, do you daydream about anyone?

What is it that you really want to do with your life

Not what circumstances have dictated to you

My mind often wonders down such pathways

Because I am and will forever be your sister

I keep a picture of the three of us on my study desk

Remember the one of Si, you and I

It solemnly keeps the guilt away

The guilt of depriving you the love of an older sister

And then I get on this notion that I am undermining your agility

Never mind about it all

I will not ask for your conduct details or anything

For me to speak of my adventures hiking

Is to accredit memories of us running around the yard

For I am not whole without you

My efforts are better spent working towards

Finding my way back home.

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Of pills not all of us have to swallow

Accountability, that jagged pill some die without getting a prescription of. Such is life: thoroughly unfair I suppose. Today’s piece…..allow me a few breaths to appreciate my consistency with blogging and a little ‘prologue’ for each peace, explanations might come later, hit me up in the comments or contact me and we might just talk a bit more of this body of works that is my blog….Today’s piece is a monologue of one at a gravesite of dreams of what could have been. Keep safe. See you soon ❤️❤️❤️Much appreciated!

bang bang
Black and white, woman pointing a old gun to front with one Hand on dark background

Bang Bang!

The light always flickers before it finally burns out, it always rings loudest before the deafening silence

and I always cry before the saddest part of my life comes.

That is so I can have a brave face through it all knowing that I cried my tears out before the inevitable comes,

bang bang.

You know how you feel invisible but you have someone smiling right at you,

feel lonely but there is someone lying next to you night after night,

that’s the worst kind of feeling,

it means you have what you want but not what you need.

To have what you need means to sacrifice what you want,

bang bang.

I do not deal well with anything but just by being honest I have a social life but I need a friend,

bang bang

I have loved ones but I need to be understood,

what’s with this burning desire to want to fit into the wrong cocoon butterfly.

A feeling of belonging is overrated my love, so fly beautiful as you are,

you have tried your best to belong but you have come too far to evolve,

bang bang.

They say its never too late to change, its also never too late to embrace who you are and make the most of it,

here little butterfly with one overgrown wing,

I will nurse you to full confidence.

Maybe I did leave home too early, maybe amai could still have nursed me closer to normality,

because how can following your heart bring such a devastating reality into existence. To appreciate what is ,to hopefully forget what was and could have been,

bang bang.

I tried running but God knows I found out too late that I have been running away from my own shadow, my own storm.

Bang Bang

I need to run away again because my cover story might be blown to bits,

 I feel it  itching to come out, the girl who slit her wrists, the coward who wants to end it all without fighting.

That’s when I know its time to sleep and dream of a better tomorrow.

Tomorrow is here sweety,

bang bang.

As I hold back the tears I sob a little prayer through it all,” God has to have a plan, right?”.

Don’t WhatsApp me your condolences in your offending short hand and delayed responses,

bang bang

what could be more important than helping your friend bury the one identity she had.

Don’t message me your grievances about how the ceremonial transition occurred,

if you cannot face the monster you have made then please find another way to deal with your guilt.

I fight to be what God can proudly call on,

but we all know that’s a working progress,

bang bang.

Let me rest my weary head on the bunny my father bought me ten years ago,

when I was perfectly a child.

I know I should dream of a better future but my mind glitches sometimes,

stuck in that time when no one judged me and they all thought so much more of me.

I now know I should have taken a selfie with my dad at that exact time of perfection,

bang bang.      

Winterabc 2021 Day 15

Greetings from a determined blogger hoping to complete this writing challenge. This week’s theme is Culture and Fashion. I start off with my poem entitled Patchwork Culture.

Cultural Exploration
I remember when I took the alternative path
Stayed with grandmother a bit longer
Started taking notes, paying attention
I remember asking questions about who this culture serves
Sitting down and trying to understand the entitlement
These labels given without respect earned
And when I am violated, why it won’t cloak me
Am I miseducated, without understanding
But you walked out the moment I started this cultural inquiry

Colourful Culture
I remember here and there and I have learned
I have seen so much and it is all beautiful and we belong
I see the clothes, the music, the norms I could go on learning the norms and history
Never fully immersed, concerned by cultural appropriation

Patchwork Culture
I have been unable to import my culture in full
The further the distance, the more pieces I have lost
WhatsApp call the mum, surviving custodian to give some clarity
It gets dark sometimes, blind in forgetting
I should never be too far away to fail to remember
But I do, I fade
I take what works and incorporate it with that of the locals
Bits and pieces weaving them together, answering myself with a just culture
I do what I have to, I do not want to forget the little I remember.

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