Your salary feels like it’s never enough

Keeping track of money movement is difficult, especially if you’ve never applied yourself to tracking your spending. It’s not a skill that you suddenly develop, or wake up with and it’s definitely not inborn. It’s really easy to spend, especially when the money is expressly yours. This is why it can be hard to keep track your spending…which eventually leads you to start feeling as if your salary or income is not enough!

Your salary almost always feels as if it’s not adequate no matter how much you’re earning, unless maybe you’re in the multimillionaire stratosphere and above (I don’t know, I’ll tell you when I get there). The problem, however, is that your wishlist expands in accordance to the income you have. The more your earn, the more needs you suddenly develop; and the more things you acquire, the more expenses you have.

It’s tempting to think that if you could just get a better paying job, or a raise, you’ll afford your life, but unless you can manage your “needs list” first, you won’t be able to manage your spending, it’ll just skid out of control. It should be noted though that this applies only on the condition that you earn enough to live comfortably above the poverty datum line. Whilst earning more money will make a significant difference to someone poor, it won’t make the same kind of difference to someone leading a comfortable lifestyle. The difference wouldn’t be comparable. That being said, I realized first hand that earning more money won’t necessarily mean being more satisfied.

See, at first I thought if I got a raise, if my boss could just pay me a little more, I’d be able to get whatever I needed. The problem though was, whenever I imagined what I’d do with the added income, my wishlist would double. Even without the prospect of added income, I reconstructed my budget every 2 minutes. I added new things, scrapped off others, postponed a few things to the future, re-arranged my priority list…all sorts of endless adjustments to make it all fit. I then realized that living beneath your means is not as easy as it sounds!

How to make it feel adequate

Well for starters, you could increase the number of income streams you have. Earn more money, simple. The danger with this being your only solution, is that you run the risk of falling into a vicious cycle. You could earn more, then spend more, want more, then try to earn even more. You could spend years, or perhaps your whole life chasing more money.

Alternatively you could learn to manage your “needs list.” The first step would be to distinguish between actual needs, and wants. Needs are want you must have for a healthy, safe and functional life. Wants are things you desire even though you don’t really need them, especially not on a basic level. Wants are not bad, (not at all!) but they definitely should be managed otherwise they’ll drive you crazy.

When you separate the two successfully and then focus on what you need, and what you need above all else, that monster inside you that always wants more can be leashed and tamed. Learning to be grateful for what you have will also help in managing that want list.

At the end of the day, your income may never really feel sufficient at certain times, but becoming more self aware and developing better money habits will take you a long way towards achieving a healthier relationship with your money, but most importantly good mental well-being.

How to build your self-confidence 101

I’ve heard people say they want to be more confident, show more boldness…that they wish they had enough self-confidence to give a speech. And when I’m having these conversations, it almost always implied that self-confidence is inborn. Yet, it’s not. It’s a real skill that needs to be built. It’s similar to a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets…but how do you use self-confidence?

Here’s the funny thing, to gain confidence for doing anything, you actually need to do the thing first. Take for example, giving a speech. You give the speech first, then you gain the confidence to give more speeches. And more and more, until eventually you become this guru that everyone thinks is super confident, infallible and can speak in front of thousands of people at the drop of a hat. So the first step isn’t really confidence, it’s bravery, bravery to face your fears. Let me tell you a little story…

Brimming with confidence

It was the year 2013, I was the new girl in school having joined in the winter term at a mission all girls boarding school. I seemed posh, maybe a little snobbish, coming from a private school and full of sass that got me into trouble at my former school. There was an annual concert to be held the following term, but of course preparations for it started during 2nd term. The club responsible took their duties very seriously, after all, this concert was a pretty big deal even for us. We got to invite plenty of other schools, and of course, the boys’ schools too. Anyways, suffice to say, it was a pretty big deal. They wanted all sorts of talent for the concert…the seniors clamoured for these slots.

So there I was, the new girl…and I wanted in. Did I mention that I was in Form 1? Oh yeah, I was at the bottom of the rung, but at that time it never really occurred to me that I was younger, therefore should be timider. They had a call for auditions and brave little me responded. I wanted to model, I was determined to walk down that runway, (although I wasn’t concerned about winning the title.) And I did, I made it through the auditions. I don’t know why, but I did. I didn’t win the title of-course, but I surprised people. They couldn’t figure out where I got the audacity from. Fast forward to form 2, and I did it again (though I still didn’t win).

Brave little me at 14 standing on the ramp with the other models (participants)

I vividly remember a particular conversation with a schoolmate, about confidence. She asked me how I did it, and I said you just have to be brave enough to try first, then the confidence will come each time you do the thing. She didn’t believe me, instead she said I was just naturally self-confident. She was wrong…self-confidence is a skill you build by doing the thing, processing feedback, then doing it again. That’s how you become confident in your own abilities; you know you’ve done it before, or that you have the capability to do it even for the first time; because you’ve done some amazing shit in the past.

So…

How to build your confidence?

What’s the secret? Here’s the truth, there’s no real secret to building self-confidence. It’s a simple process really….at least the simplified version of it is.

Step 1: Be brave and face your fears

Step 2: Do the thing

Step 3: Evaluate, process feedback, improve

Result? CONFIDENCE! 

I was the co-host for Miss University of Zimbabwe 2015 at 20 years. I wasn’t born confident, I worked for it

Step 4: Repeat

Now go forth and build that confidence! We always continously need to keep building and fortifying our self-confidence especially when we constantly venture into foreign waters.

I’m 24 and I’m still trying to find myself

campus

Have you ever lost yourself? Is it possible to lose yourself? I always find it a little strange when people talk about “finding yourself”, it’s a bit of an odd statement, but I’m finally willing to admit that I lost the plot a while ago. I honestly have no idea what I’m doing, and where I’m going, all I know is I have to keep moving, and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. I can’t afford to stop, not now when I have tasted a bit of financial freedom. I also can’t afford to stop because there’s a danger in stopping, you might not be able to start moving again. Once you stop, you lose momentum, it’s hard to get it back. And yet I know I need to recalibrate.

It was so much easier to dream and to work towards something when that’s all you had to think about…when earning a living wasn’t something you have to think about. In growing up, I got lost…my dreams scattered to the wind. It’s easy to say to someone, “How can you not know what you want?” but that shit happens. Sometimes you get so lost in your choices, in taking the options that you see available to you, you lose sight of what the heart wants. I am one of those people, I lost sight, and now I have no idea what I’m doing or where I’m going. Hopefully, I will, and maybe I can re-ignite the fire that once drove me.

Choosing to be fiercely honest

I suspect it takes patience with yourself and being willing to forgive your own confusion if confusion is a crime. This is the shortest blog post I have ever written and surely goes against best practices for blogging, but I’m tired of trying to do things perfectly. I’m tired of not embracing publicly acknowledged experimentation. Yes, I’ll declare that I’m experimenting, and I don’t care who sees the failed experiments anymore. I’ve been running my life like a series of experiments since I graduated, I might as well finally admit it. I’m not trying to pretend like I know everything anymore, or that I have it together, I don’t owe anyone that illusion. And if you’re in the same boat as I am, neither do you.

Part of finding yourself involves being your own best friend, here’s why it matters: Learning to be best friends with yourself and why it matters.

I’m Yvonne, I’m 24 and I’m still trying to figure things out, still finding myself. I refuse to be embarrassed about it, I refuse to pretend otherwise…the important thing for me is that I keep moving.

If you loved the Game of Thrones books you should read The Wheel of Time series

Robert Jordan's books

If you enjoyed reading A Song of Fire and Ice (adapted into Game of Thrones), you should definitely try the Wheel of Time series. It’s a fascinating series (but kind of old), and perfect for fantasy book lovers. I first read them when I was 12 (yes I was way ahead of my age by then) and I was absolutely hooked. The series is long enough to keep you occupied for ages, (which is perfect if you ask me) and goes all the way to book 15. Yes, it sounds like a lot, but so far it’s been worth it.

 When I first read the books I only went up to book six because the school library didn’t have the last books in the series, the librarian probably didn’t know how long it was. The story is set in a completely fictional world, but Jordan (the writer) does an incredible job of describing this world in various ways that make it easy to understand it. It’s a sprawling story with a number of key characters and lots of minor ones too. It’s really easy to follow because Jordan writes it as kind of a funnel, where the first books focus on one or two characters then expands as the plot thickens.

What’s it about (no spoilers)?

I don’t want to put in any major spoilers (maybe a few teasers) so I’ll try not to go into too much detail about what happens in the first four books, (there’s a prequel on Moraine which is actually book 12 but I read it first this time around.) And who’s Moraine? A woman, known as Aes Sedai, who can practise a form of magic (called channelling), who goes in search of a boy prophesied to be the Dragon Reborn. Basically, the Dragon Reborn is a boy/man meant to face The Dark One (or Shai’tan) in The Last Battle to save the world (whilst kind of breaking it at the same time). Obviously, this means the Dragon Reborn can also channel (you can’t fight the Lord of the Dark without magic duh).

Here’s the catch… (tiny spoiler) …

Men are forbidden from channelling otherwise they go cuckoo, in other words, they go crazy. Channelling for men, is tainted, and when they do, they eventually lose their minds and bad things start to happen. Who wants magic in the hands of a crazy person? Anyways I’m sure you can already start to see the problem here. How’s he supposed to be saving any world when:

  1. He shouldn’t be channelling
  2. He could lose his marbles before this final battle even happens?

Oh, and did I mention that this Dragon Reborn is kind of like a reincarnation of the Dragon (duh) who did save the world (and broke it) thousands of years ago? He’s kind of like, but not quite. It’s difficult to describe without giving key details away, so you’ll have to read it again.

How many characters are in it?

Lots! There are a whole lot of characters and Jordan keeps adding more as the story develops, however, you’ll experience this story mostly through the eyes of about six or seven characters. You’ll still get to view things through the eyes of many other characters, but those seven feature the most in the first four books (I’m not including the prequel here). So does it get confusing? Not really. Not too much. Okay, I’ll admit, there are characters whose parts I barely remember (the really minor seeming ones but I suspect crucial in the near future), but generally, you can keep up with the main plot.

Is there a Daenerys, Jon Snow or Tyrion? Not to me. It’s hard to have a clear favourite because some of the characters are incredibly complex, and sometimes they have conflicting interests. Bottom line, it’s hard to pick sides. All you know is that you don’t want Shai’tan to win. On that note, whilst we encounter The Dark One directly in the book, we never meet the Creator. At all. At least not in the first few books. The Creator is referenced, but we never have any direct or indirect encounters, so there’s no need to worry too much about prejudice.

Is there gratuitous language or explicit sexual content?

Sorry…no. That’s a Game of Thrones TV adaptation thing, so no, there is none of that. They do swear, but not in the same way we do. Their swearing is very contextual to their world so it’s not offensive. And yes, the characters do engage in intimate and sexual activity, but Jordan doesn’t go into explicit descriptions, he just lets you fill it in with your imagination. If it was a TV series, there would be lots of nudity though. In fact, they’d be so many scenes with nudity you wouldn’t watch it with your parents. But nudity is not really explicit unless you’re actually seeing it right?

Is there romance?

Yes! What series (that’s 15 books long) could survive without a bit of romance? There’s enough romance to satisfy without being enough to dominate the saga. Whilst love and romantic interaction is a fairly strong theme, it’s not central to the story, neither is it overwhelming. It’s just the right amount. And there is a fair bit of death and violence to off-set the good stuff.

Final Verdict

It’s definitely a series worth picking up and committing to (although sometimes you need a break, you can read non-fiction in-between) and I can’t wait to get to see how the story goes (I’m on book 5 now). There’s are obviously stuff that I wasn’t too crazy about in the books, but the good stuff outweighs the not so great parts. Here’s a list of the names of the books upto book 4, hopefully, you’ll enjoy it as much I’m doing. 

PS: Robert Jordan died before he finished the entire series, but he had written enough notes, and taken the story far enough that another writer could have finished the books for him. Which is exactly what happened. They found another writer with a similar style who could carry the story to the end in the last books. I’m not sure if a reader can tell the difference because I haven’t gotten to the books where Brandon takes over yet. I’ll pass the verdict once I do.

The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan (Book 1-4)

  • Book 1: The Eye of the World
  • Book 2: The Great Hunt
  • Book 3: The Dragon Reborn
  • Book 4: Shadow Rising

Why do birthdays in our 20s make us panic?

Brown cake with candle

I’m 24 today (April 12th) and frankly, I wasn’t looking forward to my birthday at all. The spectre of reaching my mid-20s was hanging over my head, and I wasn’t anticipating making it official. Gone are the days when I could happily, and arrogantly say 22…because to me that’s the sweet spot. You’re so young you have all the time in the world to chase your dreams, at least that’s what I thought.

So why does our age make us panic?

Our expectations are too f*cking high

So here’s the thing, there are so many reasons why some of us panic every time we realize we’re getting older, but I think our own expectations are the enemy. We tell ourselves that by a certain age we should have bought this, have that, and this long list of achievements.

I remember in the year that I graduated setting deadlines for myself; buying myself a car and moving out into an entire apartment by the time I turn 23. When I realized I can’t do both simultaneously, I picked buying a car. Nevertheless, I was convinced that by 24 I’ll be killing it, living on my own, travelling everywhere, and basically just winning at life. I wanted to pursue a Masters a little after living a little! Now I’m 24, no car, no apartment, no masters. So when I realized my birthday was coming, I cried.

I didn’t understand, at 22, why my older friends weren’t crazy about talking about their ages, but now I do. The much older adults don’t even really have the same expectations of us that we have of ourselves, mostly because they know how tough the survival game is here in Zimbabwe. It’s bound to take a little or a lot longer to reach certain milestones simply because conditions are extremely unfavourable.

So what now? I don’t know, but I do know that I’m learning to cut myself a little slack and focus on things directly within my reach. I’m learning to give myself credit for the things that I’ve done, and that I’m doing right now. That mindset keeps me aware of where I’m still to go, but always happy with myself.

READ: Why I quit my job, and why you shouldn’t.

We compare ourselves to our parents

I saw a thread on Twitter about this, and I hear it a lot from the older generation. They talk about Zimbabwe’s glory days and lament how different things are now compared to then. My mum graduated at 22, worked as a temporary teacher until she got a job at a bank at 23; got promoted to manager at 24 (youngest manager in the company); and bought her first house (with my dad) at 25. And they each had a car by then.

I’m not a fan of blaming the economy for all my woes, but I will admit that the job market was a lot better then. Over the past years, hundreds of companies in Zimbabwe closed down. Registered, viable businesses. The companies that survived downsized and cut wages. The health sector all but collapsed. Positive thinking BS aside, this makes for a nightmarish environment. It shrinks the consumer market for business owners and destroys the job market for prospective employees. Everybody loses.

Fast forward to 2019 and Zim is not much better. We can’t compare ourselves to our parents, we’re not living in the same economy that they did. It’s not to discount their handwork or diligence, it’s to highlight how incomparable the situations are. We are not our parents’ generation, and lamenting about it won’t do us any favours. Figuring out a way forward is the only thing that makes sense.

We compare ourselves to the rich kids

I have friends (to use the word loosely) who seem like they’re living the life. I say seem like because sometimes social media creates a false narrative that just stresses the rest of us out. Anyways, we’re peers, but our lifestyles are incredibly different. When you take a look at their backgrounds or who they’re dating you realize why. Background matters a lot more than people want to admit.

When we can acknowledge the privileges that we have or lack of, it makes it easier to view your progress objectively. Some people have parents who can afford to give them a lump sum as starting capital; others will land higher paying jobs with the help of their parents’ connections; others stand to inherit considerable assets, and some are simply given assets as gifts. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s a privilege to be appreciated, but also taken note of.

I have my own set of privileges that I enjoy, and I’m forever grateful to my mother for them, and by default, to all my grandparents for educating my parents. I am privileged, but I’m certainly not a rich kid and that’s okay. We forget that these inequalities exist when we’re piling pressure on ourselves. How can you not panic when you see pictures of your peer vacationing in Italy when you yourself have never been on a plane? It’s okay to have your own timeline of events, and I’m reminding myself of this often.

We watch too many Americans films

I think perhaps my expectations were also impacted by the literature I read and the films I watch. How can I not expect to make fast progress when I’m reading books about young people moving out of their parents’ houses straight out of high school? Why would I not have the same expectations of myself if all you needed to live comfortably was a steady job?

Please note that my narratives mostly involve people who intend to join the workforce and not entrepreneurs or business owners because the majority of individuals seem to prefer employment versus other alternatives. I’m currently exploring other alternatives or unconventional employment, but that’s a story for another day.

I love American movies and series as much as the next person, but I’m always cognizant of the differences in context. Whilst I really don’t believe in the American dream, I do think there’s a significant difference when it comes to opportunities and access to resources. It’s also why you really can’t compare yourself to peers living in the diaspora.

Happily, 24

Surprisingly, despite dreading the day another calendar year is added to my age, I woke up really happy on the day. Of course, I don’t doubt Bae’s contribution to all those joyous emotions, but the dread was gone. The pain of my failures, real or imagined, decided to let me have my day. Instead of feeling panicky, I found myself with renewed energy and determination to keep moving forward with my life, to keep fighting.

READ: What’s really holding you back, honestly?

Life doesn’t end at 30, we hear this said so often, and on a personal level, I’m conscious effort to remember that. Life ends when you die, and until then I’ll keep striving, fighting, being grateful and living in the moment. Getting older is not a testament of your failures, but rather of possibilities still to come.

When reading a book changes your life

pile of books, with a dim lamp on the side

I read Half of a Yellow Sun, and Americanah, and I feel as if the ground has shifted beneath my feet. It’s not as if I have discovered Adiche for the first time, no, I read Purple Hibiscus years ago when I was still in high school. But back then I went through books like a juggernaut. I was relentless in my pursuit of deliciously carved out stories, and exquisite worlds built and manipulated for our pleasure.

I wasn’t very discerning in my complete immersion in the words created by authors, I wanted to read, and I did. I’ve read so many books in my short lifetime a lot of them are a forgotten blur I’m unlikely ever to remember. When exactly my obsession with reading began, I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps it was when I was 8 years old, and loved to borrow books from the library. I particularly remember, when we lived in Bindura as a child, borrowing a particular book with lots of coloured pictures and big print. I loved that book…Beauty and the Beast.

I also remember rushing to my bedroom after school intent on retrieving that book from my wardrobe, wanting to pack it into my school satchel so I wouldn’t forget it again. I walked in on my uncle having sex…in my room, on my bed. Perhaps that’s why I still remember the cover of that book. I’m not sure if I told my mother, he was a distant young uncle, but one I liked nevertheless. I’m also puzzled how I knew, at the age of 7 or 8, that it was sex that they were having. Do 8 year olds normally recognise that act for what it is?

Maybe that obsession crystallized when I was 10. I recall stealing my mother’s Mills and Boon novels from her bookshelf and locking my bedroom door to read them in secret. I closed my bedroom curtains to ensure nobody would peak, and know, as if I knew I shouldn’t have been reading them at 10. These Millies weren’t the new glossy type; these fluffy romances with stiflingly predictable storylines and characters. These new kind with a lazy kind of writing that I find difficult to swallow, and haven’t been able to for years now.

Maybe I don’t want light reads anymore, maybe I don’t have enough stress to desire the cottony, easy escape they provide. I don’t know, all I know is the old ones were better. They were beautifully written, more layered, and the storylines, even though similar, were more nuanced. From all my Millie reading, the old ones are the ones I remember best. Maybe one day I’ll start collecting them, see if I can read them again.

But those were not the only books I was reading. I indulged myself in the Sydney Sheldon titles my mother owned, I read the Pelican Brief (John Grisham), and whatever else I could find on her bookshelf. I am forever grateful Eaglesvale Primary had a well-endowed library because it wasn’t long before I moved from my mother’s bookshelf, to the hundreds of books lining the shelves of the school library. By this time my anti-social habit had swallowed me. I blazed through as many books as I could, the library was my new paradise.

Writing about it now I’m filled with a strange nostalgia, wishing I could go back to that time when my world revolved around the library, sports ground, and whoever I had a blistering crush on at the time. I recall reading this particular series from that library, The Wheel of Time. The smallest book must have had about 600 pages. I barely ate, or slept, completely consumed by the series. That’s how I read novels, with a single minded intensity. I read whilst eating, walking, during conversation, by candlelight and sometimes even by moonlight. Reading novels and books was my addiction, an addiction I wore proudly and without shame.

However, I’m not sure any of them fundamentally changed me, at least not a single one in its individual capacity. I feel altered. I cannot describe this feeling, it’s too puzzling, too monumental, but I know that I’m different. There’s an itchy excitedness under my skin and I don’t know what it means. Are books supposed to alter you like this? Novels mind you, not non-fiction or self-help book, novels. Her writing, and storytelling is so beautiful it leaves me breathless. If I had any doubts about writing fiction I’m fairly certain they have been swept away.

READ: What’s really holding you back, honestly?

I want to scream at the top of my lungs, I want to dance and sing, and talk about this freaking novel. At this point, that’s all I want to do honestly, but I can only do so with those who’ve read it, all of it, otherwise I’ll start to bore people with zero interest in it. As a writer, I’m inspired, awed. As a young woman I feel liberated. It’s as if Adichie’s writing and her characters have liberated me, they have given me permission to just be exactly as I want to be, even though I didn’t think I needed any permission.

I want to write like Adichie, to construct context as if I’m world building (sci-fi writers often construct entirely new worlds) and when it’s done right, it’s magnificent. She has given me permission to write what I want to, however I want to, without the doubts and fears about audience and genres and prizes and maybe bestseller lists too. Her characters allowed me to be easy on myself, now I know it’s okay that I’m not thinking about marriage, or worrying about it. At almost 24 I started to wonder if I something was wrong with me for not being worried or too concerned about marriage. If my lack of urgency or fear was natural. Now I don’t care, I’m designing my life, and I’ll design it how I want it.

I have so much to say, but it’s all jumbled and messy and maybe irrelevant as well, so I’ll leave it here. My hands are shaking from emotion that I don’t know what to do with. A book, a film, an encounter, maybe even a song can change your whole being, sometimes in a moment, sometimes over time when you least expect it.

Comments? Tell me about a book, a film or encounter that altered your world.

The problems with being young and broke

Crying African girl, young and broke

Being young feels awesome (or at least it’s supposed to feel like it). It’s amazing but it sucks at the same it. Chances are, you’re probably broke too. Yes, regular young people like you and I who are trying to make a living in a hostile economy, won’t really enjoy that all that youth because we’re perpetually broke. The problems with being both young and broke are endless! Well at least for me they are, but the worst ones have to be these 5:

You want things

You’re broke, like me, but you want things. You want so many things…almost none of which you can afford. It’s not that you don’t have the money, it’s just that you have to weigh your options, constantly. Small things against bigger picture things. Of course stuff like saving transport (or fuel) money and using it for exactly that; buying basic toiletries and ignoring the fancy looking shower gel; only eating at home until you forget the smell of pizza made over a charcoal oven.

It’s the small things that get to you. But I can’t not mention the bigger things, achievable things I want…like vacationing in Thailand, yet I can’t afford a little trip to Chinhoyi caves if I wanted one. Things like fervently wishing I could own my means of transport, (yes I want the option to park it at home when I can’t afford fuel too). I’m not sure what’s worse, not having money at all, or having a tiny bit of money, and a long list of things to use it on.

You’re an adult, but you’re a child

Remember that awkward time when you were 19-21 years old? When you’re sometimes expected to act like an adult, but also treated like a child? Well, as long as you’re broke, that phase never ends. You’re a full grown adult, but you’re a child. You’re a child because you a dependant. You can’t find that job, or get your hustle running…so you’re a child.

It’s so freaking awkward…mostly because no one has to tell you your place, you know it. And if you’re the eldest, too bad, now you and your younger siblings are on equal standing. Actually no, they’re students, so they’re allowed. They can even offer you money (your parents or guardians that is) but it’s just so fucking awkward…especially when they’re not rich.

The pitying head shakes

Those infernal pitying head shakes! That horrendous question you have no answer to, “So what are you doing?” “Where are you working?” “Who are you working for?” “Is that what you studied?” Then that pitying look. It makes your blood boil! Now you want to avoid all your relatives. They’re well-meaning, but you just don’t want to talk about it. You think about it every day already, now you have to talk about it too?

And if you have a business, or are trying (unsuccessfully) to start or run one, it’s worse. First you explain that no, you’re not looking for a job, you don’t work for anyone, you work for yourself. If your business model is simple, or more traditional, you’re in luck, “Oh, I sell shoes, or wigs, or chickens…” Simple model, simple explanation. If you’re selling digital solutions, or you’re an influencer or run an online business …good luck breaking that down!

Dreaded birthdays

The thought of turning another calendar year is terrifying. You’re not in your early 20s anymore. You’re in your mid-20s, late 20s, almost 30! And you’re still young, broke, and sometimes really confused. My friend used to panic every time we talked about her birthday, she was turning 25 in a couple of months at the time. I didn’t get it…at all. I was 22, going on 23. The beautiful, youthful age of 22! Now I get it.

Whenever I remember that my 20-something birthday is galloping towards me, I go to bed. I go to my bedroom, lie on the bed, and cover myself with a blanket (also, I work from home, so I can totally do that). The panic cannot enter my cosy little cocoon. But I can’t hide forever, that birthday is still coming! Why is time moving when your own life isn’t moving? That really sucks.

Everybody’s getting married!

Okay, this is a wild card…but everybody is getting married! Where are they getting the money for that? Lobola isn’t cheap and weddings are expensive. Which means they’re not broke. And they know what they’re doing in life…whilst some of us don’t. And yeah, if you’re getting married, you’re totally not broke (kindly take yourself out this category of broke people). That stuff isn’t for the weak at pocket.

Chin up though…

Being young and broke totally sucks. Actually, I don’t know if we’re broke or poor…because your parents’/guardians’ socio-economic status isn’t yours, you just enjoy it as a dependant. I won’t say I’m young and poor, because that’s disrespectful to the less fortunate members of our communities, but I really don’t have much to my name.

Chin up though, it gets better! (PS, I’m compelled to end on a positive note, with a nice punchy call to action, otherwise what’s the point of this blog post?) You and I might be broke money wise, but not talent wise. Not potential wise. Things will start looking up, things will change, they’ll get better…you need to believe. Of course, you have to be doing something about it yourself, you have to make it happen. Long story short, do everything you can, hang in there and be patient.

READ: Achieving your goals by understanding the power of time

Almost everyone (who didn’t have rich parents) was young and broke once. Yes, I know the Zim economy is shitty, but our duty is to find ways to do better and make it better (or leave if you want to). I prefer to stay hopeful, but I understand the move towards migration. To keep myself from despairing, I remind myself that being broke is temporary (or a state of the mind, although I’m unsure about this). Remember everything has a time and season, and yours shall come.

So chin up, and cheers to being young and broke.

What’s really holding you back, honestly?

woman breaking free of chains holding her back

What’s really holding you back? Okay, this is a loaded a question, but a question I had to ask myself. Maybe my story will resonate with you, maybe it won’t…but here goes.

Growing up I wanted to be many things…I’ve wanted to do many things career-wise. I remember dreaming of walking down a runway, decked in exquisite gowns, blinding the audience with my pearly whites, and clinching that crown. Perhaps my mother still recalls the days I declared boldly that one day I would be the reigning Miss World. I outgrew that dream mentally (physically I stopped growing taller too early so that wasn’t going to work out anyway). Doctor, flight attendant, President (of the country), pro-athlete, film producer/director, lawyer (this wasn’t an original ambition) all make the list, and as I said, it’s a long list.

Dreams of writing

The most prominent and recurring profession that I ached for, was writing. At risk of sounding like a complete cliché, I felt from the depths of my soul that writing was my destiny. Okay, that’s a little dramatic, but you get my drift. I won’t get into details of what I wrote, how much wrote and when…the important part is I wanted to write professionally. Fast forward a couple of years, I studied Psychology, pursued college Athletics with reckless abandon, and manoeuvred my way into Advertising after graduation.

I re-discovered my love for writing somewhere between finishing college and exploring my options. I also fantasized about having my voice coasting the airwaves, flowing into people’s ears – to be on the radio. To make all this happen, I knew exactly what I needed to do and have first.

The little list

Long story short, I decided that for me to pursue my writing dreams, whilst working for myself, this is what I needed:

  1. A laptop
  2. To not worry about basic needs
  3. Internet (for self-publishing)
  4. A flexible timetable
  5. To earn just enough so I don’t have to ask my mum for money

I bought myself a laptop; my mother said I can live under her roof as long as I need/want to; I have constant internet access; currently I earn enough to cover my toiletries, my hair, and pay for any movements; and three jobs later, I have a flexible timetable because I work for me now.

So the big question is, how many books have I written?

None. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

Yup, all that hyping, prepping, dreaming, and still…nothing.

I created all the conditions I needed, but it didn’t make a difference, I was/am still not doing what I know I should. Sometimes I think I need inspiration, a change of environment…and the mountains of Mutare sound like a fantastic place to start. But here’s the thing…I’ll find a new excuse. I’ll find something else missing, some other condition that needs to be met. The problem isn’t what I have, or don’t have, or access to resources…the problem is me.

I’m now the thing that’s holding myself back. I’ve always been what was holding me back.

It was a bitter pill to swallow, knowing that I’ve been putting off my dreams for one reason or the other. Before laptops, before these convenient gadgets, writers used typewriters, and before that, paper and pen. There’s lots of paper at home. And a pen is less than a dollar.

I was waiting for the perfect time, but the perfect time doesn’t exist.

My own worst enemy

It will never come. They’ll always be a new reason, an urgent condition that needs to be met. Maybe it was just inertia, but that throws a wrench through the whole thing…because now I have a new demon to fight. Looking back, I realize now that I’ve been making excuses, and whilst one or two of my conditions were valid, the rest were just bullshit. Maybe I don’t want it badly enough, or I’m not committing when I should. Whatever the reason, I don’t want to be that person anymore. I’ve always been a go-getter, but now I need to step it up a notch.

Right after graduation, I thought it would be cool to bag a job as a blogger, funny story, I did. After quitting that job, I was convinced my dream job (not for life) was working as a Copywriter at an advertising agency, 3 months later, I was. That didn’t work out the way I thought it would, but the point is, I’ve made things happen for myself before, why not now. I don’t want to stand in my own way.

READ: Why I quit my job, and why you shouldn’t.

Now over to you. I now know what’s holding me back, what’s been holding me back all this time (myself), but what about you? If you’re not currently stirring your life in the direction that you want, what’s holding you back? There are some pretty valid reasons for putting your dreams on hold, just be certain yours are. I fooled myself for over a year, and it’s only now that I’ve become fully aware of my inertia.

So…what’s really holding you back?

Learning to be best friends with yourself and why it matters

being best friends, happy teddies sit together

I never fully understood the importance of being best friends with yourself until I had a meltdown in the middle of the night. I said a lot of unkind things to myself, a lot of thoughts that honestly shouldn’t see the light of day. The next day I woke up to the realization that I had changed. That I was no longer the self-assured woman who knew where she was going, how she was getting there, and why she was going there. The unwavering certainty of pursuing a goal eluded me, and so my sense of self-efficacy was taking near fatal blows.

[Self-efficacy is an individual’s belief in their innate abilities to succeed in specific situations, achieve goals, or accomplish tasks. You can read a little more on self-efficacy to better understand it here.]

The thing with self-efficacy is, it affects both your confidence and self-esteem. It’s tricky little situation. Anyways, upon this realization that I had changed, it also occurred to me that I never used to talk to myself quite this badly before. I was a believer, but even that was starting to elude me. I decided that morning that I needed to re-learn being best friends with myself.

Here’s why being best friends with yourself rocks

I don’t know about you, but my best friends and I generally don’t bash each other, at all. He can bash himself sometimes, but it’s my job to remind him what an awesome person he is. (For the sake of easy writing I’m going to refer to the said best friend as a guy, but you’re free to insert a different gender.) When he’s sad, I listen; when he needs to vent, I listen; when he’s happy, I listen; when he’s victorious, we celebrate.

Point is, best friends support each other and always have each other’s backs. I’d never tell him he’s a loser, I wouldn’t even think it, so in the same vein I shouldn’t be telling it to myself. Do you ever tell your best friend, when he’s feeling like a failure, that he might as well not bother trying because there’s really no point at all? Do you tell him that he’ll always be in the same position no matter how hard he tries, because success just isn’t his thing? I don’t! I’m not a shitty friend, and if your friends say that to you, find new ones.

When you are best friends with yourself, you can acknowledge your shortfalls without bashing yourself. You’ll cheer yourself on, because you believe in yourself, just like you believe in your best friend. You don’t believe the negative things he says about himself, so why do you believe it about yourself? In the cases where those things are true, then you help him become a better person.

Most importantly best friends are kind to each other. They’re compassionate and forgiving. The best of friends are nice to one another, and treat each other with respect. And so that’s what I’ll do with myself, and maybe you should too.

Why it matters

Why does your best friend matter? When shit hits the ceiling, you could lose your sanity. Imagine you’re unemployed, or your small business isn’t turning a good profit, or you’re falling to secure clients; then hearing a consistent whisper in your head telling you how much you suck? Or how bad everything is and that it’s only going to get worse?

There’s a mental load to constantly battling panic, fear, hopelessness and anxiety. It’s tiring, and leaves you emotionally drained. If things aren’t going very well for you, then the last thing you need is constant negativity in your head. You’re going to need all the love and support you need, so why not start it from within?

So many things are beating at my mind I can’t afford to add to my own misery with self-bashing and a crippling permission. I’d rather put that energy towards being kinder to myself. That’s why it matters. That’s why it’s important to be treat yourself like your best friend.

What being best friends with yourself means

It means you’re more patient with yourself, with the pace of the progress you’re making. Being your own best friend entails practising tolerance with yourself and your flaws; it means forgiving yourself more for your fuck-ups. I learnt long ago to be as objective as possible about my skills and abilities, and I’m grateful that aspect hasn’t changed. Honesty is an essential part of a healthy relationship, and all of us should maintain that within ourselves.

Moreover, for me, being best friends with myself means working towards my goals, but not putting too much pressure on myself. It means sparing myself the torture of comparison and yet using it to propel me forward. Most importantly it means loving myself more, and showing myself more kindness and tolerance.

Now you try it. Befriend yourself, be kinder to yourself and see what happens. Share it with your friends so they can do it too.

Remembering that we are not immortal and to live thus.

sunrise over graveyard, reminding us to live

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose

Steve Jobs

I often forget this. It’s easy to forget that we are not immortal; that I am going to die, and so are you, and everyone you know. It’s a painful reminder that smacks you in the face whenever Death catches up with someone you know. It’s a mortal blow when it’s closer to home, when it’s family. But I don’t want to make this a painful read for you, or a struggle to write for me, rather I want to share to my thoughts with you.

Even legends die, but legacies live on

Sometimes I ask myself what my legacy will be? Whether I will be remembered and in whose memory I will live on. Some people change the face of history, art, music, business…the face of the world. But that’s not everyone’s fate, it couldn’t be. Legends make big ripples, and the rest of us, smaller ones, but all ripples matter. To love and to be loved is a legacy. To show unlimited kindness and generosity…to touch people’s lives no matter how few, is a worthwhile legacy.

What will my legacy be?

I love literature, film, art; and to leave the world with my writing, the fruits of my imagination is a dream. A dream I promise myself in my sane moments, to pursue relentlessly without pause, without fear. But that’s not the dream. I read in a book (The Shack) once, based on a true story, that our purpose for existence is to love and be loved. This guy claims he had an encounter with God, and that’s basically what he learnt. Whether the encounter was real or not is beside the point. I’ll take that purpose any day.

The dream, if I do nothing else with my existence, is to love without remorse, without regret, without restraint. It’s easy to forget this aspiration. To lose sight of it in the murky waters of day to day living; in the petty grudges, and justified anger we hold on to, too often; and in the bone deep fear, bitterness and pain we nurture close to our skin like a warm blanket on a winter night. It’s easy to forget the cooling balm forgiveness brings. The peace and quiet that comes with just minding our own goddamn business.

But I want that to be my legacy, that I loved, and I was loved.

Living before it’s too late

I can’t count the number of things I have put off for another time. The things I promise myself I’m going to do; things I actually really want to do. Small things, mind you, nothing too grand or too expensive. Small things like attending a Tuku show; like calling my sister; like visiting my father…except they’re not so small. Life isn’t going to wait for me to start living it. Whether I choose to live fully or not, the earth continues to orbit around the sun, and the world goes on.

I have clothes in my closet I always considered too special to wear on a regular basis. Gorgeous dresses saved for special occasions…except over the past two years I’ve steadily gained 10kgs and almost none of those beautiful clothes fit anymore. I guess the joke is on me. And I barely wore them! Why I just didn’t attend more occasions that called for dressing up like that, I have no idea. The worst part is I’m doing it again, I suppose teaching an old dog new tricks is pretty difficult huh?

Nowadays I try to catch before denying myself simple pleasurable or joyful experiences. Eating brings me joy. Eating chocolate anything (except chocolate yogurt, that stuff makes no sense to me), delicious food, and sweet wine brings me joy. So yes, I’m going to indulge myself once in a while, or as many times as is still healthy. Many things bring me joy, I can’t and won’t name them all, but I’ll certainly try to do them (within reason) …because I want to live whilst I’m still alive.

Too young to die

Here’s the thing, everyone expects old people to die, that’s the natural order of life. Nobody will say it, but well…we’re all thinking it. When you’re in your 80 and 90s, we kind of expect that eventually that you’re going to die, soon. It’s not an abstract time anymore, because you’ve lived a long life. It’s still sad when the elderly pass, but not unexpected. Even if they push to a 100 years, you all know it’s coming, and depending on how they’re faring, it’s almost anticipated.

But no one expects young people to die. Nobody ever anticipates the sudden death someone young. Even when s/he has been ill for the longest of time, it’s unbearably sad for onlookers, and a living nightmare for the family. When young people die, it leaves you questioning the very purpose of their existence. And this happens every day. Somewhere a family is burying someone whose life had only just begun. The 26 year old journalist who was shot by soldiers; the 22 year old boy playing football who suffered the same fate; the young women, robbed and murdered by alleged taxi drivers…the list could go on.

At 23, three of my peers whom I knew personally didn’t live beyond 22; a family member, beyond 14. I sometimes wonder if Lisa’s mother will ever learn to cope with the gaping wound her daughter left at just 22. I wonder if the family will ever function again. I wonder what the purpose of her living was, if only to have her snatched away so soon. Perhaps, it was to love and to be loved, I don’t know…the pain and grief is a heavy price to pay.

Choices we make

I look at this as a reminder; a reminder that I am not immortal. A reminder that I only have this one life, that I’m the one who gets to live it and that I don’t know how long I have. My choices and actions will be mine to live with, therefore whichever steps I take, I’m always cognisant of this. I will pursue only the career that I want; live how I want to; and marry only marry if I want to, when I want to, whom I want. I choose to live with hope, no matter how hopeless a situation seems.

Let it be said at the very end:

I was here, I lived, I loved. I’ve done everything that I wanted and it was more than I thought it would be.

When I leave this world, I’ll leave no regrets, instead, I’ll leave something to remember.

Beyoncé – I was here