Courage – the ability to do something that frightens one; bravery.
When i was 6 years old my father decided to take my sister and I to a multi-racial school. On my first day at school I peed in my pants. I was the only black girl in my class and the only English words I knew were Hello, Goodnight and Goodbye. I wanted to go to the bathroom but I didn’t know how to ask, so instead of fumbling my way through and risking the other kids laughing at me, I chose to hold it in until I couldn’t anymore.
Thats how I’ve always been. I’ve always held things in because I’ve always been afraid of what other people would think.
So today I’ll tell you a story, at the risk of you judging me. I’ve been so afraid to share this story because it’s been so personal and emotional for me. Even writing it brings tears to my eyes, but, here goes.
It’s funny how life can change in the blink of an eye. 2018 was such an iconic year for me, for so many reasons. I experienced all four seasons of the year in 3 months, both literally and metaphorically. Five months down the road, I’ve finally found the courage to share my journey:
- January : I decided to accept UCT’s offer to do my Honours in Marketing.
- February : I made the decision to study full time as opposed to part time.
- March : I considered working part-time and studying full time.
- April : I resigned from my full – time, very comfortable, well paying job.
- May : I gave all my energy to my studies and JAGWAT.
- June : GIRLS TRIP!!
- July : We had out first Empowered Women Competition. JAGWAT grew from 1000 followers to 7000.
- August : I decided to host our first Empowered Women Networking Session
- September : I hosted a successful event and JAGWAT grew to more than 8000 followers.
- September : I had my first radio interview and proposals for two sponsors. I sponsored two matric ball dresses.
- October : I had another interview and was planning a co-branded event with our sister organisation – “I am – You Are”
- October : I was invited to be a guest speaker at my previous High School.
- October : Gave a motivational talk to a Christian school in Kraaifontein
- October : I got sick and discovered I was pregnant.
- November : I had a miscarriage.
- November : I couldn’t write my very last exam because I was hospitalised.
- November : I broke up with my boyfriend and decided to pack my bags and run away from Cape Town straight to the arms of my Mother.
- November : I cut out communication from someone who had been lingering in my life for almost two years.
- December : I crashed HARD. I was mostly sick. I was in recovery mode.
- December : I decided to face my problems head on. I packed my bags and came back to Cape Town – homeless.
Now when I say I decided to face my problems head on, people think its heroic, it wasn’t. Physically I was strong but emotionally I was still fucked up. When I left my job in April 2018 I had more than enough savings which helped me pay for my University fees as well as maintain myself throughout the year. I blew them up before the year ended because I love a comfortable life. When I returned to Cape Town at the end of December I had two job offers and two job interviews. In my bank I only had approximately R1000 to last me until my very first pay-check at the end of February. When the new year kicked in I was sleeping in a bathroom. I slept at 10:00pm the previous night and woke up at 02:00am, I didn’t even hear the celebrations. So I kicked in 2019 – homeless, broke, semi-single and unemployed.
When everything was happening, my sister said “Why would God allow all these bad things to happen to you?” My answer was “When all the great things were happening in my life I never asked why God was blessing me so abundantly. I certainly won’t start questioning Him now that things aren’t going my way“.
Today, between my job and my side projects I more than double my salary from my previous job. I am in a very happy, healthy relationship. I am mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally balanced. I sometimes still wonder about the child I lost and that’s the thing I’ve come to learn about grief. It doesn’t warn you when it’s coming, it just rocks up and shakes your entire existence. I’ve grieved for so many things in so many ways – lost friendships, relationships, really expensive materialistic things etc. I have never felt grief so intense. It still suffocates me.
2018 by far took one of the biggest parts of me and it also taught me the biggest lesson of my life – We are all broken in different ways. We are all fighting demons, they just have different faces and they have different names. Waking up everyday is a blessing. Showing up everyday is strength. Speaking up even when your voice is shaking is courageous. In order for heroes to be considered heroic they’ve had to fight and defeat others in battle. Courage ceases to exist if there is no fear to be overcome. Embrace your fear and then overcome it.
I am still afraid of so many things – flying and snakes being in the top 5. Since I was young I have ALWAYS been afraid of what other people might say. Growing up I was never considered good enough, pretty enough or popular enough. I always wanted to be enough, but I never ever got the approval that I was. It always resulted in me either faking being perfect or holding back who I really am because I feared being rejected. I never want to be considered perfect nor do I ever want to feel socially accepted if I’m not living a genuine, happy life.
So there it is, “What would I do if I were not afraid?” I would tell my story. One day when I’m feeling courageous again, I might write a part two, or I’ll just make you all wait for my book 🙂 !
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela.