Virus-anxiety: How I finally wrote my first ebook

ebook cover

I wrote my first e-book, finally! And it’s on mental health.

This was no easy task! It showed me new levels of frustration, and I acquired a profound respect for cover and book designers. I seriously underestimated the editing and proofreading process. Editors deserve more money than they charge honestly, and I deserve a bottle of wine for my frustration bearing abilities.

PS: In writing this e-book, I’m also smashing a resolution I made at the beginning of the year, promises I made myself.

READ: My 2020 challenge – promises to myself.

What’s the e-book about?

Managing your mental health during a pandemic. When COVID-19 was first reported in Zimbabwe, up until the first fatality, my anxiety started running high. It was all anyone spoke about; at the office, at home, in public transport, on social media. I spent too much time keeping myself updated on every little piece of that was released onto the media. I was going crazy, and I was definitely overdoing it. Of course, when I started imagining everyone I knew who fit within the more ‘vulnerable groups’ inside a coffin, I realized I was taking it too far.

That’s when I decided to make a conscious effort to protect my mental health. Coincidentally a group I’m part of (1k Challenge) put up an e-book writing competition. I didn’t enter the competition, but I did write an e-book, almost three times the length required by the competition. The directive was to write on something you know about, but that’s also useful to others. It occurred to me that perhaps I could document the actions I took to manage my fear about coronavirus. Hopefully, someone else would find it useful.

Harder than it looks, but easier than I thought

I have always toyed with the idea of writing a non-fiction e-book, but all my paltry attempts failed dismally…obviously. I wasn’t putting enough effort. I wasn’t being consistent, neither was showing any discipline. What I did terrifically was to dream about it, which I’ve always been good at. I knew writing a book would be difficult, every writer knows that (but most people don’t realize this). Writing a book is very challenging (I’m talking about 200-400 paged creations here). Writing a novel is an even more challenging endeavour.

But …it’s easier than I imagined. Perhaps I underestimated my own abilities, but I wasn’t sure I could pull it off (despite working jobs that rely heavily on my writing skills). My e-book is only about 21 pages long, but I’m proud of it. It’s a good start and taught me quite a great deal about writing a manuscript. Without further ado, you can read or down it here.

How I pulled it off

  • I wrote down all my major points in the numerical order they would appear in the e-book
  • Then I set a timeline (which I didn’t follow)
  • I collected my research
  • Came up with a distribution plan (which I’m loosely following)
  • Wrote first draft (I wrote about 500 words every day from 6.30-7am)
  • Edited and proofread (a ton of times, back and forth until I was ready to scream with frustration)
  • Designed my cover in Canva (I just edited a template, to be honest)
  • Put everything together in Google Docs and Smallpdf (this is the part that almost made me cry)
  • Published!
  • Then I saw more errors and had to take it down
  • More editing and proofreading and tears of frustration
  • Decided I didn’t want to anymore
  • More formatting and editing…then, published.

Learning points

Discipline is necessary. You have to be patient. It takes more time than you probably imagined. Frustration will have you aching to throw away your whole laptop. Try, try, and try again, until you’ve had it up to your neck.

Did I mention patience? You need buckets of it, because a project like this, small as it is, will stretch your patience to breaking point.

I can’t be more pleased about this, I really can’t explain to you how happy I am about my small victory. Poor Bae had to deal with my frustration also, but the encouragement went a long way to saving the e-book from the digital trashcan.

PS: Share the e-book with anyone you think could really use it, or maybe even those who don’t know they could use it. He’s a link to it, again.

https://bit.ly/how-to-manage-your-mental-health-during-the-COVID-19-pandemic-ebook

Why aren’t we doing more about the COVID-19 threat in Zimbabwe?

Are we waiting for a positive case before we take aggressive action?

I’m scared. As a Zimbabwean citizen living in Zimbabwe, I’m scared. I’m afraid because we’re not taking the threat of coronavirus infections seriously enough. I’m worried because if we wait until we have confirmed cases, it’ll be too late. I listen to people marvel at what’s happening around the world, and in the same breathe dismiss the potential of it happening here. I’m afraid that as a people we’re not doing enough. Both the government and we, the citizens are not doing enough.

Are we waiting for Africans to die before we become convinced that we’re at risk too?

Must we wait to react instead of acting proactively?

I hear people say all sorts of things about the virus, things that have no scientific basis. A lot of it makes sense, it really does. The theory that black people can’t die from COVID-19 seems believable, mostly because none of us have died yet. But think about it, what could possibly make us immune to COVID-19? What part of our DNA protects us from a respiratory disease? Are we willing to risk our lives, the loved ones, and the already battered economy on an untested assumption?

I certainly am not.

As of today, there are reported cases of black people contracting the virus. Remember when we thought cancer was for white people? And yet in 2019, according to the Ministry of Health and Child Care, cancer remains one of the major killers in Zimbabwe, health-wise (parlzim.gov). We said depression was a white man’s illness, and yet we all know someone who is suffering from depression or who did, or maybe we are that person. And now to think that COVID-19 affects all other races except ourselves is to be extremely arrogant and reckless. We have no basis for such an assumption. (Also Idris Elba tested positive, and last I checked, he’s black)

So why haven’t there been any cases in Zimbabwe? And only a few in Africa?

I don’t know, nobody has figured that out yet, but here’s what we know:

  • We’re not as connected to the rest of the world as, for example, Italy is…or China. Case in point, how many planes land at RGM International airport a day? Now consider how many flights land at Leonardo Da Vinci Intercontinental Airport in Rome? There’s no comparison there. (Not to say COVID-19 entered through that particular airport.)
  • Our warm climate means we are safe from COVID-19. Reports on how climate interacts with the virus are inconclusive. For argument’s sake, let’s go with the common belief that our warm climate is protecting us, and the African sun will kill the virus at first exposure…are we not heading for winter? The kind of weather that the virus, according to our premise, will thrive? In less than 3 months we’ll be right in the heart of winter. You can read the transcription of WHO officials discussing the weather question during a press conference.

If you have more possible reasons you know, feel free to research how justifiable those assumptions are, but stance still stands. We need to do more as a nation. Our government could do more yes, but at the community level, there’s so much more we could do. I watch people breeze through doors of major supermarkets ignoring the hand sanitizers and wipes, and yet it these little things that could make a difference. The World Health Organisation has released guidelines that we could all do our best to follow, and you can find those here.

What more could we do?

  • We could take initiative and state practising social distancing.
  • Limit the number of public gatherings we attend, e.g. weddings, funerals, church services, parties, concerts, trade fairs, national celebrations etc. (Social distancing is crucial for slowing the spread of the virus)
  • Stay at home more often.
  • Respect people’s personal space and keep a distance of at least a metre from the next person in public spaces.
  • Wash your hands with clean water and soap often, and when you cannot, use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching rails and surfaces in public spaces.
  • Limit physical contact to your family, and avoid shaking hands with people, (you can wave, nod, bow or just smile from a distance honestly).

Understandably this is really difficult to do in Zimbabwe, for one, most of us have no access to running water, and when it does come, sometimes it comes out filthy. If you have ever travelled on a ZUPCO bus, then you know that keeping a distance from people is impossible. You can still do the most that you can. There is, of course, a part that the government should play, we can’t do this alone.

Our transport industry needs to be addressed, but in the interim, there are other measures we could take, like banning large public gathering, which means suspending activities like the Independence Day celebrations, Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), Harare International Festival of Arts (HIFA), rallies and sports games. As far as I’m concerned, even large church services should be banned, you don’t need 150 other people with you to commune with God.

We don’t need to experience it ourselves to learn from others. I read a letter from a woman in Italy, Bergamo, warning us, describing the situation in Italy and giving us a glimpse of how fast things could change. I’ve put up screenshots of her letter, or you can search Christina Higgins on Facebook, and you’ll see the story shared.

If you won’t believe Christina, then perhaps this thread by @JasonYanowitz will convince you.

I wanted to write more; more of what we could do, but I’ll do the next best thing. Here are several links to useful information about COVID-19. Read them, tell others, follow the guidelines and God willing we will scrape through this pandemic without too much damage; the alternative is unthinkable.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care released a statement on the 16th of March, updating us on the situation. The time to act is NOW.

When friends die young: RIP Gathrie Shava

I remember the day I learnt that Gathrie had suffered a severe stroke. Having been off the grid for a while and almost unavailable, I was surprised when my sister asked me if I had heard the news. I thought, “Okay his career as an athlete is over, but it’s not the end of the world, he’s got a lot going for him. He’ll bounce back.”

We discussed briefly what it would mean for him now after recovery, we talked about the after-effects of a stroke, and my sister, as a health professional, could probably envision better what his body would go through during and after his recovery. What we never considered was that he’d die days later. You never think your age-mate won’t make it beyond your years, and you certainly never expect a young healthy man to suffer a stroke.

I’m not privy to what caused his stroke, my sister and I have our speculations, but that’s just guesswork. What I do know was that he lived his life to the fullest, and followed his dream. To readers who didn’t know him, this fellow was young, he was fit and he was a gentle soul. He worked hard in his pursuit of making it as a professional athlete, Track and Field.

He was always good at it. From the day that we were in high school, his talent in the 400m races was evident, making him a star on the Track. Studying in the States was one of the best things that could have happened for his ambition in Athletics, it would have died here. Zimbabwe is not known for nurturing and growing its athletes their fullest capacities. Maybe he wouldn’t have been the next fastest man alive, but he would have lived his dream.

Our history was a little messy, he was after all my high school sweetheart, and for the longest of time, our relationship was strained in the aftermath of its failure. But we made peace of some kind and I was happy to see him flourish. High school was not the kindest to him and I was glad to see him leave Zimbabwe, to start on a clean slate, make new friends and thrive in a new environment.

My shock still hasn’t worn off entirely. We’re all worried about dying from COVID-19 but we forget that there are so many other things that could cut our lives short. It’s not fair that a young person dies. I’d have never thought in a million years (If I ever were to live that long) that he wouldn’t make it past his 25th birthday. As far as nature goes, we should all live long and die old, but that’s not the reality, that’s not the world we live in.

My heart goes out to his family. His mother and his sister, I can’t begin to imagine the nightmare they’re living in right now, and the immense pain that will forever be part of their lives. I feel for his close friends, and the people who saw him daily and those he lived with it. My deepest condolences go out to them, their lives will never be the same.

READ: Remembering that we’re not immortal and to live thus.

No parent should ever bury their child. I hope his mother receives therapy; it won’t bring him back, neither will it erase the pain, but it will teach her how to live with it and how to cope with his loss.

Gathrie’s death reminds those of us that knew him that you never know how long you have to live; that our mortality is very fragile. We are reminded to live every day in the present and to live life to the fullest. Love with your entire being, forgive others and yourself, make peace with those you wronged, keep in touch with your loved ones and always remember that our days here are numbered. He had so much zest for life, and undoubtedly he’ll always be remembered by those closest to him, and those whose lives he touched.

Rest In Peace Gathrie Shava, aka “Switch”.

Gathrie Shava
Gathrie Gamuchira Shava, lived and loved from Jan 13, 1995 to Feb 29, 2020
Photo cred: Gathrie Shava, Instagram

I applied for the Chevening scholarship and got rejected.

It was August 2019 and applications for the Chevening Award had just opened. This was my year, finally. With 2 years of work experience, a fairly clear career direction and powerful story I felt as if I was as ready as I was going to get. And so I started my application.

(Side note: In case you didn’t follow the link above, Chevening is a full scholarship for international students to study for a master’s in the UK, at almost any university there.)

I still remember the rush of excitement that came with planning. The dreams, the hopes…my imagination went to town, and for the first time since Athletics broke my heart, I let it. I didn’t do these applications alone, actually to be honest, it was Bae’s idea…and I went for it guns blazing.

The sheer panic of possibly not meeting the deadline remains fresh in my mind. After starting my application at the beginning, my nemesis Procrastination paid a visit and I almost missed the deadline. I thanked my ancestors for the deadline extension, the only reason I managed to submit my application.

Note to future applications: As the deadline approaches that portal will become problematic, because every other Yvonne around the world applying, will be attempting to complete her application and submit it on the last days too. Save yourself the trouble.

The relief that came with submitting is hard to describe. I had done by part; it was out of my hands now. Of course, being the optimistic, over-enthusiast that I am, I went ahead and forked out the required $265 for the English proficiency test (which I aced by the way, I’m not ashamed to flaunt it). It was a necessary evil that I wanted to get out of the way as soon as possible.

I didn’t stop there.

I went ahead and secured myself an unconditional offer from City, University of London, which happened to be my first choice. Obviously I was thrilled…I was going to study Creative Writing and Publishing! Yes, sounds fancy I know. I had all my ducks in a row along with the positive attitude.

The Chevening timeline is pretty straightforward. Applications close early November and the shortlist for interviews is ready for applications by early to mid Feb. How do you know you’re on it? You apparently receive an invitation to an interview, and you select your interview date. I say apparently because I didn’t receive it, I received the other one…the regret.

I put the whole thing up there for more impact but obviously what’s between the red lines is the most important bit

Now you can imagine the impatience I felt throughout the earlier days of February. I checked my email obsessively. I needed to know, am I one step closer, or am I moving on with my life. Turns out it’s the latter. I saw the email at work, during work hours. I badly needed 10 minutes in the bathroom to cry it out. There was no time (the life of a Comms Intern in a humanitarian organisation is really, really busy guys). I locked it down and walked around with my little bruised heart, getting work down.

Now before you feel too much pity for me please know that disappointment is really nothing new to me. I’ve learnt to bounce back quickly. I’m constantly surprised when people say,

“You always have stuff going for you!”

Which is partially true, but mostly because I like to keep it moving.

Rejection happens, even when we put our hearts and souls into something. Failure, rejection, disappointment are regular parts of life. Does it hurt? Yeah, it sucks big time but it happens… life happens. Accepting disappointment and finding the best way forward is the best way to protect your sanity and keep going.

So what’s next for me? It back to the drawing board (I’m not applying again, once was enough). Did I have a plan B? Yes, but my Plan Bs usually require as much effort and commitment as Plan A, and second plans are subject to lots of revising. Wrapping your head around such a change in direction, of having a dream dashed takes some time. I refuse to put myself throw another gruelling process (because applying for that scholarship is) without giving myself time to re-coup.

The silver lining

There isn’t one…just kidding. I discovered hidden bits about myself I didn’t know through this application process. Writing 4 essays about your career plans, influence and leadership, your chosen field and your past will teach you a few things about yourself. Almost missing the deadline influenced how I picked my half-resolution for the year 2020, which is comfortably meeting deadlines, something which I historically suck at.

Do I regret applying? Well…I make it a point not to regret decisions that I’ve made in the past. It’s pointless, I can’t change the past. Would I do it differently if I knew the outcome? Probably. I wouldn’t have bothered, but I did bother so that’s that. Obviously I do feel as if I wasted money on getting the IELTS, that’s money I’m never getting back, and a certificate I might never use because it’s only valid for 2 years. Perhaps, that’s the one thing I would change…I wouldn’t have written it before February.

(Of course I could still have waited for an interview invitation, then still not have made it past the interviews themselves. Perhaps the best time, for you future applicant, is after receiving a conditional offer from Chevening. It’s a tight time crunch, but it’ll save you from wasting precious dollars.)

All that being said, I’m bruised and smarting from the rejection, but we keep it moving. I will be okay. Good luck to fellow applicants who made it past this first screening, and best wishes to all future applicants.

PS: I shouldn’t even have to say this, I mean it’s pretty obvious but all the opinions expressed here are my own, as well as experiences. I’m in no way affiliated to the Chevening Award.

My 2020 challenge: promises to myself

New year, new beginnings…or so the saying goes, but the reality is sometimes it’s really just the same old shit, different calendar year. We go into this “goals and resolutions” frenzy, which I totally subscribe to but half of us don’t see them through anyways. I promise myself all sorts of things every year, and for the past two years, it has been promise after promise. This year I wanted to do things differently, I made myself one promise. One. That’s all I have to keep. Well alright, it’s more like one and a half but I still think that’s a manageable number. Who can’t keep one and a half promise? 

Resolutions not goals

Resolutions are funny things, they’re not goals…they’re a little different from that. If they were I wouldn’t be breaking all of mine by the second week of January. I set goals all the time, doesn’t matter what time of the year it is, and I have a 75-100% success rate. Resolutions are a different monster. These little creatures are more about a change in behaviour, ideally a lasting one. Eating healthy is a resolution. It requires sometimes a complete change in our perception of food, and experience of it. It means every little decision we make about food changes…resolution. 

READ: 10 things to ask yourself before setting new goals for the year

Small things…big cost

Anyways I digress, back to promises to myself. This year I decided I wanted to change the one (and a half) thing that has cost me. It’s cost me in tiny, but incremental ways. It’s the one biggest factor I’ve made progress in one area but not the other. Frankly speaking, I think it’s stopping me from growing in leaps and bounds. The saddest thing is it’s such a simple but profound thing. The thing that can make all the difference. It doesn’t matter how many goals I set, or what things I wish to do if this little aspect isn’t on made impressive levels.

Consistency

This is the one thing that will bring your ass down and leave you on the ground if you don’t have it. I’ll admit, I am not the most consistent person I know. I’m not incredibly inconsistent, but I could be better. So much better. I could write two blog posts a week if I really tried…or at the very least, ONE! One single blog post every week. One video post and one photo on Instagram. One workout a day. All these little things add up, all of them. So I realized I was losing out because of my own lack of disciple, and I’m fixing that. That’s my 2020 challenge, that’s my promise to myself.

Oh and the half…

Yeah, I need to meet deadlines. It’s so important to meet deadlines guys! I suck at them, but that’s going to change. Meeting deadlines comfortably is tough, even tougher for a procastinator. It’s a crucial half.

So that’s it. That’s my big promise to myself, and so far I’m doing well(ish). What promises did you make to yourself this year, are you keeping them? 

Progress report

So far so good, in my second week of working out. The longest stretch I’ve done in 2 years!

Doing the Chloe Ting 28 Day challenge. This is the longest time I’ve worked out consistently on consecutive days, I’m proud of keeping this promise to myself so far.

How quarterly reviews can help keep your goals on track

It’s almost the end of August! We’ve gone through a great deal as a country in the past 8 months and as individuals too. I remember as if it were yesterday, setting out my targets for this year. Setting goals and resolutions. Plenty of us did. And then some of us wait until December to review them. 

I for one, like to check in every 3-4 months, to make sure I’m heading in the right direction. It seems so tedious to check your yourself every 3 or 4 months, but a lot can happen in 90-120 days and it’s easy to lose sight of where you’re going when life is happening to you. It’s tempting to think the year is almost over, why should I bother if I’m already lost. But remember what we said earlier, 120 days is a long time. 

So yes, the year isn’t over, but waiting until the year ends to do a necessary review and audit isn’t always the best idea. Sometimes we lose track of what we set out to do, we forget our promises to ourselves and other times, our method just isn’t working. Let’s not forget the good stuff happening that we must celebrate and be grateful for. Triumphs that need to be acknowledged.

Here are some questions I like to ask myself? (The graphic has more comprehensive questions, feel free to download it.)

  1. Have I done what I said I wanted to do so far? Am I still on track?
  2. What’s no longer working? What do I need to change?
  3. What’s the best thing that happened for me so far this year?
  4. What’s the worst thing? What am I going to do about it?
Something to reflect on 🙂

Hindsight is a powerful tool, use it. Look back and review how your year is going so far, the good and the bad. I, for one, haven’t started on my fitness goals, it’s been 8 months since I set that resolution, and I kept failing to launch (no more). But that’s alright, I still have roughly 120 days. 

READ: I’m 24, and I’m still trying to find myself

Whenever I review my quarter, or year, I own up and  take responsibility where I messed up, forgive yourself and move on (but promise myself to do better next time). I decide whether I need to change strategies or change goals entirely, or simply renew your efforts. This little exercise is partly how I managed to fulfill 3 out of 5 of my major goals, and this year I finished off the last two (as part of this year’s goals). With four more months, I still have more mileage to go! 

The first half of my year wasn’t great for me (work-wise) and only starting turning around in June. Of-course I managed to stay on track with maybe one or two things, and I have a ton of things to be grateful for, and things I’m happy about on the personal front. Whilst I did things I’m proud of,  when it comes to some of my other goals (like fitness and blogging), I need to do better, and I am going to do better!

What about you? Are you happy with your year so far? Do you need to change strategies? Or renew your efforts? Are you still on track? If you’re not, what are you doing about it? 

Why you shouldn’t bitch about your boss to anyone

It’s tempting. It really is. When you’re angry, and frustrated and you just want anyone who’ll listen to know what a horrible human being your boss or superior is, it’s tempting to go on a bitch fest. But it’s never a good idea, believe me, and there are multiple reasons you shouldn’t, and we’re going to get into some of them. 

 It looks bad on you

So first things first, when you trash talk your boss to other people, you run the risk of seeming petty and unprofessional, which isn’t something you want. What’s worse is when the people you’re complaining to don’t feel the same. It’s one thing to voice your complaints, or discuss challenges you’re having with your employer or superior, it’s another thing to bash him or her whenever you have the tiniest chance. 

Everyone is entitled to an opinion right? Yes, definitely. You’re entitled to think your boss is some evil bitch from hell or the devil himself, but others are also entitled to see you as a giant asshole for saying it. You can have your unflattering opinions about other people, but you don’t have to air them to whomever will listen. 

And why should you care if it makes you look bad? Because good relations, networking and referrals are vital to your career growth. You may think that your boss’ boss’ opinion is the only one that matters, but that’s not actually true. Peer recommendation matters too. These are the people who put in a good word for you when need arises. 

I remember in one of my previous jobs, a former colleague of mine recommended me to my prospective employer just after my interview. This guy had joined the company earlier. I had no idea he put in a good word for me until my then boss told me that was one of the contributing factors to my becoming the successful candidate. So yes it matters. 

READ: Dear graduates, it’s a bad idea to apply for and accept just any job, here’s why.

Nobody wants to be around a constant complainer

…unless they are constant complainers too. Often we like to indulge ourselves in complaining, over and over to whomever can listen, and it can get pretty addictive. If you meet about with another complainer, then even better! Half the time both of you are just complaining and relishing it…but constantly whining about your boss will eventually start to irritate others. You’re probably not the only one who’s got a problem with your boss, but there are better ways of dealing with it than bitching to anyone who will listen. 

It increases your animosity

Badmouthing your boss behind his or her back means you’re going to constantly focus on the negative side of things, and anything you pay lots of attention to, will naturally become very focal in your life. Eventually you’ll start to see everything your boss/superior/employer does in a bad light, and majority of the time you’ll be misinterpreting the situation. 

This will increase your animosity and resentment even further. Soon enough it’ll become a cycle of dislike. To worsen the situation your employer will most likely pick up on your dislike and may start to return those vibes to you. It’s safe to dislike your boss, but the reverse isn’t always true. You’re in a world of trouble if your employer actively dislikes you.

At the end of the day, if you have issues with your boss, take it up with him/her or keep your mouth shut. Bitching about your boss behind her/his back could really complicate your life in subtle ways and you shan’t notice until it’s too late. Keep in mind that one day you might require a reference from this person you’re bashing all the time to anyone who’ll listen, and then things will really get awkward (someone will probably have snitched on you). 

Remember, almost any dispute can be fully or partially resolved through clear and respectful communication. 

Dear graduates, it’s a bad idea to apply for and accept just any job, here’s why.

Times are tough for a lot of people; everyone can see that. The formal employment sector is in the pits, we all know that, however, dear fellow graduates, getting any kind of job is not necessarily a good thing. Hold on and let me explain, here’s a sample conversation I’ve heard before:

*“Sha I need a job….”

What kind of job do you want?” I ask.

*“Chero! It doesn’t matter, I just need a job. Anything, as long as I’m getting paid.”

I almost always hear that answer, and I’m torn between telling this person what I know or keeping my trap shut. Firstly, you don’t want just any job! Trust me, that is a road to psychological damage…yes, doing that sort of thing takes away from you even as you earn a few pennies. See, every time I tell someone that doing *“chero basa” (any kind of job) will take you down a dark path, I always hear, “It’s because you have a job, you don’t understand.”

It’s called underemployment, and it sucks

But I do understand. I wasn’t necessarily picky once too, and I managed to land a job whilst waiting to decide whether I wanted to go back to school immediately or not. I hated it. It required barely any intellectual effort on my part, neither did I do anything particularly stimulating.

So there I was, with my Honours degree in Psychology, working behind a counter punching in codes all day long. I didn’t hate it because I thought I’m too good for that (although I was overqualified for it), I hated it because I could feel my mind dying a slow, desperate death from lack of use. And that also meant I’d wasted five years in school, A’level plus university. You can’t begin to imagine what this did to me.

Which is precisely what will happen to you, if you’re not more selective about the kind of job you apply for and the working conditions. Now I understand a lot of us are in survival mode, reacting to a turbulent economy, but there are opportunities to generate income, as long as you’re willing to think, work, and make risky choices. Screw looking for conventional employment if it’s proving elusive, seek to generate income instead.

If you prefer the “security” of someone else finding ways to make money, then give you a small cut for your time, then continue the “rese rese” job search. Almost every organisation needs employees (don’t listen to people who bash 9-5 jobs), but pick employment that enriches you. Beware that there is a price taking a job that several pegs below your capacity. It erodes your self-confidence and sometimes your sense of self-worth too. The way you think of yourself will change, and that affects everything you do, especially the small decisions with hidden, larger consequences.

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

Protect your mental well-being

Alternatively, wait patiently until what you want comes along. Something that falls fairly within the parameters of your interests and skill level. Hustle for income in the meantime, but don’t settle for under employment. I remember crying tears of frustration over in an omnibus on my way home several times. It’s a dangerous route to take. Protect your mental well-being fiercely whenever you can.

Consider that maybe you don’t need just any job, you just need any source of income.

The translation

*Sha – short (slang) for shamwari meaning friend

*Chero – any

*chero basa – any kind of job

*rese rese – in this context it means whatever job you can get, any

If you want to be more creative, get bored!

Have you ever been so bored it takes you to the brink of tears? Boredom is a dreaded emotion, and with good reason. It sucks. And it makes you feel like your whole life sucks too. Whilst some people can’t handle being bored, and go on a self-destructive rampage, it can work some pretty impressive magic too.

To be more precise, boredom can lead to some intense creativity, unexpected fun, and funky ideas which you can turn into something more lucrative. Often you might discover things about yourself you may not have been aware of, and that’s always a good thing, because understanding yourself empowers you.

Boredom can be a boon

The majority of us never allow ourselves to be bored, ever. The minute we have any sort of unexpected or unwanted downtime we find ways to kill it, quickly. Standing in a long(ish) queque, sitting in a kombi, walking a small distance…any sort of time we have, we rush to fill, with whatever is at hand. Candy Crush, vines, social media, novels, music, news; anything that grabs attention and holds it. What happens when all your go to distractions are unavailable? It’s panic inducing isn’t it?

This is how my sister and I felt when this one late aftenoon when there was a power cut (this was before the days of massive load shedding). No more internet(before wifi was crazy expensive too) ! The horror! And our last resort for entertainment was eleminated too, television. I had no new interesting novel to read, neither was I very chatty on Whatsapp and she couldn’t access Instagram.

So where did that leave us? Bored as hell.

We only had each other as entertainment, and so we moaned about how boring our lives were in that moment. Which they kind of were, the electricity outage aside, our lives really weren’t at all very interesting at that time. They’re boring, and we know it. We even discussed it in great detail that fateful afternoon.

Getting creative

Anyways to escape this mind numbing boredom, we played a little game. We had dance off. One picked a song, and the other had to dance to that song. Each of us had 45 seconds to dance her butt off whilst the other recorded it on video. We had about six rounds, then called it quits. She lost because she couldn’t stop laughing through an entire video in one of the rounds, but we continued anyways because it wasn’t a real competition.

Afterwards we watched the videos for shits and giggles, and then we went for a walk. Bottom line is we had a great time. The video quality was pretty bad and the lighting even worse, but we it was refreshing and exhilarating. I realised boredom is not such a bad thing.

Two pretty girls
My baby sis and I. She doesn’t like showing her face on social media so I stuck a giant heart to her face 🙂

The good side to boredom

And as a bonus, I learnt I actually have the capacity to choreograph a decent routine if I really worked it. I filed that knowledge away for later. But the biggest plus for me, aside from sisterly love, was the pure shot of energy and zest for life that went into my bloodstream from that little episode (I was doing a lot of self-pitying and self-loathing at the time).

I was still running on that high when I wrote this post that day at 3am. I had numerous little creative experiments I wanted to try after that, and I was crazy excited about them. I had no idea that boredom could be that cool!

If you don’t believe me, or would like more scientific detail you could check out this cool article from The Harvard Business Review and another one from The Atlantic (which I found to be really interesting!) both on the creative benefits of boredom.

Now you try it.

Remove all distractions. Have a time where your mind has nothing to engage it. I mean your gadgets, television, music, books…all of it. Get rid of them. Only remain with objects that hold zero interest for you. Let your mind wander and see what happens. You might not come up with anything initially but eventually it’ll come, just have enough discipline to remain bored.

Share your experiences of a time or times you’ve done amazing things because you were bored.

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.