I turned thirty-two in September and I’ve been meaning to write this since then, but to be honest, life, procrastination and the need to step back a little means I’m writing it now, in bed, fresh off a much-needed girls’ trip to Zanzibar that filled my heart with gratitude and gave me clarity on some things.
Anyway, soon after my birthday I asked guys on Instagram to let me know whether they’d be more interested in learning the lessons picked up over my three decades in this joint, or facts about me so you can get to know me better – or at least know as much as I’m willing to let you know. The responses were mixed, so since I aim to please, here’s a mix of 32 facts and lessons. Number 13 will shock you. OK it won’t, but I really wanted to say that.
- Fact: I’m thirty-two, a virgo and recovering ageist. I used to fear getting older so I wouldn’t speak about my age. Then I began embracing it once I learned that ageing came with some pretty cool things, such as learning to not care too much about what people think, and killing the filter that kept your conversations vanilla. Also, I have no regard for star signs and what they mean or how they define your personality. I just thought it would be cooler to say virgo than “my birthday is in September”.
- Lesson: Spend more time doing what you want and saying what you want to say, and less time caring what people will think or say. Since you’ll never please everyone, you might as well focus on pleasing yourself. Yes, you may interpret that however you wish.
- Fact: I’ve been told I suffer from Resting Bitch Face. It might be true. I do not smile politely at everything and everyone I see, and I don’t know how to look interested when I’m not. So when my face rests, it rests. Let it be.
- Lesson: Take as many pictures as you can, whether pictures of people, places or inanimate objects you like. They might not adequately capture the moment, or the experience, but one day you’ll look back and be glad you took them.
- Fact: I’m painfully camera-shy. I worked as a TV reporter some years back and each time I had to get in front of the camera was a pain. I think I got better at faking it with time, but to date, I struggle to pose for pictures that show my face. I usually offer to take the pictures. But I’m learning to get in front of the camera again, because I want to have more pictures of myself with my family, friends and in nice places because…social media content creator life. I kid.
- Lesson: Love the body you’re in. You don’t have to like it all the time, but you’ve got to learn to appreciate all you’re able to do because of that body. We’re surrounded by so much shaming and unrealistic depictions of what the “perfect” body should look like, so be kind to yourself. I struggled with my body image after the baby and I beat myself up about it for quite some time. Then I decided to love it, while at the same time doing something (more than prayer) to lose the baby weight. It’s still a process, and I’ll get there. But in the meantime, say hi to my FUPA when you see it. Embrace this mom-bod. It’s not always hidden under body shapers.
- Fact: I’m not completely opposed to some cosmetic surgery. It’s got nothing to do with hating my body – because I don’t – and everything to do with vanity and a very strong, persistent desire to go back to walking around braless. What would I do? A boob job to give these milk sacks some body and not have to wear a heavy-duty bra all the damn time. That said, I’m now following some confident fat chicks on Instagram. They’re a great reminder that you can look and feel great whatever your size or shape. And no, “fat” is not an insult.
- Lesson: Be confidently you. Make no apologies for who you are, just be you. People are always trying to mould us into who or what they think we should be, and it’s easy to get lost while trying to listen to all these voices. So be you: imperfections and all.
- Fact: I once dated a guy who was a borderline control freak, and he was vain as hell. We broke up when he casually told me that he’d be picking out my outfits so that I could look exactly like he wanted me to. On that day, I realised that I did not want any man telling me what I should or should not look like, and I allowed my stubbornness to run free. The men in my life suffer today because of this one idiot. But it’s a sweet, sweet pain.
- Lesson: Live a life full of lessons, not regrets. Looking back now, I appreciate that I had to make the mistakes I made in order to become the woman I am today. I wouldn’t be me if it weren’t for these mistakes, including tumbling out of Brew Bistro on more than one occasion. I bumped into a guy who turned out to be a former bouncer from there. He laughed and said he remembered me. I laughed and told him he must’ve been mistaken, as I had never been to Brew. Did I lie? Yes. Do I feel bad about it? Not in the least. Have I learned anything since then? Yes. If you must get drunk, do it in your house, or out of town where nobody knows you. You may or may not get pregnant thanks to Bombay Sapphire. Hi Gong!
- Fact: I’m scared of hangovers. I used to drink quite a bit (socially) and was not averse to shots and bottles. Now I’ve gotten older and the body doesn’t process alcohol like it used to, and I’ve accepted it. So to avoid the three-day hangovers I often decline offers of shots and more drinks. And if you insist, I will tell the waiter/bartender to replace the Jaeger or tequila with a shot of coke or still water – and charge you for the shot since you so badly want to spend your money.
- Lesson: Spend money on things and experiences that matter, and be smart about your money. Many of us are an emergency away from poverty, and a lot of that has to do with how we spend our money. So no, I am no longer interested in spending money on alcohol, but I’m down to buy a few pretty things for the house and travel more.
- Fact: I’m trying to embrace minimalism-lite. I don’t think I can live off 13 things in my closet and enjoy a sparsely decorated house, but I can commit to buying fewer, higher quality pieces. This is a nice compromise, yes?
- Lesson: Learn to be more content with less. We’ve been conditioned to believe that the more we buy the happier we’ll be, and issa lie. So before you buy something, ask yourself why you’re doing it. Don’t buy stuff just because you (think you) can afford it. Buy stuff because you need it, and because of how it’ll make you feel beyond the two-minute rush of making the purchase. Buyer’s remorse sucks. And that’s something I’m going into 2019 with.
- Fact: I have two or three hairs on my chin, which I tweeze religiously. I will not grow a beard, not for No Shave November or anything else.
- Lesson: Learn to be selfish with your time. You can always make money back, but you cannot recover lost time. So spend your time doing the things you love, with people you care about. We waste way too much time doing things we don’t enjoy and hanging out with people we can barely stand.
- Fact: I’m the type of person that will say no to a plan because I have other plans. Many times, those “other plans” involve me waiting for everyone to go to bed so that I can spend some quiet time by myself, doing what I want, and thinking only about myself and my needs at that moment.
- Lesson: Learn to enjoy your own company. I truly believe that a person who cannot stand his/her own company is running away from something. So spend some time with yourself; think, reminisce, deal with whatever needs to be dealt with, and be the kind of person who is not scared by the thought of spending an hour/after/day/week by him/herself.
- Fact: I can be a bit of a loner these days. Growing up, I was always surrounded by people. I was never the life of the party (I still am not), but I was surrounded by the lives of parties, and I kind of drew energy from that. But now, lots of noise and activity drains me, and I recharge by spending time alone. I like to take long showers complete with face masks body scrub, or take myself for solo lunch/coffee/movie/spa dates just so I can spend time with me, my thoughts and a good book. And it’s really annoying when somebody tries to talk to me when I’m trying to be alone.
- Lesson: Learn to say no. Learn to say it in many languages, ways, with facial expressions. Just learn to say no. Saying yes all the time is draining, it makes people feel entitled to your time, energy and other resources, and leaves you without anything for yourself. So learn to say no, and to be OK with being unavailable for other people, within reason of course.
- Fact: I wanted to be a hairdresser when I was little, around 11 or 12 years old. I had these Barbie dolls whose hair I would wash with the kind of love and devotion that earns you holidays abroad, and I wanted badly to be able to do the same to human beings. The dream was short-lived, and we thank God for that because I have a feeling I would’ve been a terrible hairdresser, since I don’t particularly enjoy touching people’s heads.
- Lesson: Say yes to things that scare you. You’ll never know just how much you can do if you stay zero-grazing in that comfort zone. So put yourself out there, take on a little more work, learn a new skill or language, travel to some place whose language you can’t understand or speak, bungee jump. Just do something to conquer that fear, or you’ll a life wondering “what if”.
- Fact: I’m a rolling stone when it comes to employment. In the past, I haven’t worked anywhere longer than three years, but I seem to have found something that’s keeping me put where I am right now. Considering I once worked somewhere for four weeks including induction and notice, I’ve really improved.
- Lesson: Trust your gut, it will never mislead you. Ever had the niggling feeling in the pit of your stomach that won’t leave you no matter what you do? That’s your gut speaking. Listen to it. Even if it’s only telling you to pee before you get in the car or into a meeting, just listen. Or else you’ll end up peeing on yourself because you cannot control your damn bladder (if you know anyone who can heal my urge incontinence please holla!).
- Fact: I’m balding. I suffer from alopecia arreata, which will occasionally flare up and leave me with shiny, smooth bald spots on my head. Fortunately, my locs cover up the spots and allow me to medicate and grow fresh hair in peace. Unfortunately, the alopecia refuses to attack my pits, legs and other regions often subjected to waxing.
- Lesson: Believe in you. Don’t look for approval from others, because a good number of them will either bring you down, discourage you or make you second-guess yourself. So believe in you, and what you’re capable of doing. Ask for advice, seek guidance, but believe in you.
- Fact: While we’re still on waxing, I once went for a session at a certain establishment in Riverside, and was very nearly scalped – and not on my head. I cannot for the life of me explain what possessed me to think it would be a good idea to let some random babe wax me, but I kept giving myself this pep talk to get me in the door and onto that table. I should’ve listened to my gut, but I didn’t. I proceeded to endure torture that did not end with the act of waxing: I could barely walk straight, that quack had pretty much peeled my skin off with hot wax while delivering a sub-par wax job, and I had to shower with lukewarm water for a few days to avoid scalding my sensitive parts.
- Lesson: Live a life of purpose. Life is so much more than how much we earn, where we go, what we eat, and finding your purpose early in life is such a gift because you don’t have to stagger through life wondering why you’re here. Ask yourself: what am I here for? Then do the stuff that gives you an answer to that question.
- Fact: I have a fear of flying insects, especially grasshoppers and locusts. It doesn’t matter how harmless you tell me they are: the only flying things I like are planes. Big ones.
- Lesson: Read and listen to uplifting things. Humans are getting smarter, but we’re also getting really, really dumb, going by the things people spew on social media. So make time to read, learn something through a book and not a meme and listen to audio books and podcast that teach, challenge and uplift you. It’s great for grammar, as an escape and for impressing people when it’s time to have conversations on a wide range of topics.
- Fact: My guilty pleasure is midnight snacking. I don’t do it very often because I’m trying to get back to my pre-baby weight, but give me that ice cream, biscuits covered in chocolate, and cake, in bed, alone with a book or my laptop, and I’m practically in heaven. I say practically because my little wings usually give up on hauling my fat ass to heaven, and I crash back to earth and right onto the weighing scale, which is not afraid to remind me that I should be focusing on smashing body goals. Not junk food packets.
- Two lessons and a fact: Let love find you, and speak your mind. We waste so much time looking for “the one”, but I feel like love finds you when you’re ready. So don’t rush it, just live your life and be receptive to this love when it finds you. Then when it does, don’t be so afraid to lose it that you forget to speak your mind while sharing your heart. Don’t hold onto things that could be resolved by speaking, and speaking in love and truth is best done between friends, so build that friendship first.
Fact: Life is better with a close circle of girlfriends who you can talk trash with, eat, drink, laugh and be stupid with. Build that circle, nurture it, cherish it, and lean on it when you need to.
I hope you’ve learned something interesting…tell me something about yourself?