The Victim Idea in her head

Girl can not live on idea alone.

A couple of months ago, I was sitting with my girls and we were having one of those talks. Obviously about boys and how weird they are. 2 hours later, after much deliberation, we all came to an astounding conclusion. A WOMAN CAN HAVE A RELATIONSHIP IN HER HEAD ALL BY HERSELF! Yeah, that’s right. ALONE. It’s crazy right? Let me tell you a little story, a sad one if I may add.

I have this friend, and I love her to bits, but looking back now, I think that she is a little crazy, silently and calmly. She started working at a new place some years ago, and being the beautiful girl that she is, she was bound to attract a male specie or two, and she did. She met a guy- he was tall and not so handsome but he had dimples and an infectious smile, so I guess he was cute. I think he liked her, but in a strange way, (in the way that guy likes girl when guy’s girlfriend works in the same building).

So anyway, my friend and this not-so-handsome-dimpled guy had a bit of chemistry (or not). He would smile at her, and talk to her briefly, call her once a month, and sometimes he would even visit her… pass by really, it wasn’t really a visit now that I think about it. She was in love with this bloke, well according to her, they were in love with each other. They were two tortured souls yearning to be in the warm embrace of one another. Apparently. It was painful, we would stay up until the wee hours of the morning and she would tell me how in love they are and how agonizing it is that they couldn’t be together.

This went on for a year. Until one day, (I’d had enough complaining) we were walking down the street to my flat, talking about him (as usual) and I asked her “what value is this guy adding to your life again? When last did you guys go out for coffee, or a picnic or a movie or spend a boring Saturday together catching up on reruns of Will and Grace? And it hit us! She had created the whole thing in her head. They had never gone out for coffee, or breakfast, or a picnic; he had never declared his undying love for her, he had only ever kissed her once or twice that year, he only called her once a month. So how in the world did she deduce that they were deeply in love and the only reason that they couldn’t be together was because he was such a decent guy, he had to stay with his girlfriend out of loyalty?

Shocked Mama Idea in Her Head

For one full year, the whole thing was in her head. The only thing the guy had to do was… be alive to feature in her movie. To be honest, he had never done anything to make her believe that they were in a relationship, or that a relationship was in the cards for them in the near future. The guy just liked her, and she took the fantasy relationship to mars and back, all in her head, alone.

Hers is not an uncommon story among girls, so don’t you sit there and judge her. Sometimes a girl really likes a guy and she has the whole relationship drawn up in her head long before it even starts, and all he has to do is incept one idea that it is possible, and she will take that idea and run with it. But on the flip side of things, guys do add marinade to the braai. When guy and girl are dating, he will say little leading things like “I want our daughter to have your eyes” or “I will buy you that Mini Cooper for your wedding gift” or “When we are married, you can have your own walk in closet”.

Not a cute idea in her head

This is dangerous talk, guy! DANGEROUS! He says all these things in jest, but in HER heads, he is saying “I want to spend the rest of my life with you, I can’t wait to marry you”. So it is not entirely our fault you know. It’s the guy, feeding the monster that is THE IDEA.

Then one day, you break up with this man that you sincerely thought you were going to marry and the bricks that hold your head together fall apart.

It is not the relationship that is hard to let go of, it is letting go of the idea that you have invested so much time and thought building that is tricky to let go of. And when you go back and do an unemotional audit of your failed relationship, you realise that where it fell short, is where there were high and unrealistic expectations that you created, that were not met. Personally I blame all my ideas, fantasies and unrealistic expectations on Daniel Steel and Nicholas Sparks. But that is a topic for another day.

So in a nutshell what am I saying? Thou shall not fall victim to THE IDEA. Thou shall run as fast as possible when expectation knocks and thou shall not get ahead of oneself. Do not trust the castles you build in your head, they are very misleading. And on the flip side, guys, please stop feeding our monsters. Please.Just. Stop.

These are conversations I have with myself, I am just sharing them with you.

By Nontu

Identity Who Are You Really

“Who are you?”

Very few questions boggle my mind quite like this one. Who am I? How do I even begin to put my entire being into 5 smooth sentences that make sense? I struggle with this question because the truth is, I actually don’t know. Plain and simple. I know what I do, what I like, who I love and what I think- for now- but as life has taught me, these are not only outward-based but also changeable. Careful for my answer to not be met with a “Oh- I-guess- you- don’t- know- yourself” (which society has made synonymous with, “you actually don’t have it all together, hunny”), I have always unconsciously used a demographic profile, job title and what they suggest about who I am as a means to define myself.

These are the very things that have dictated how I behave, how I think and what I have centred my life on after all, so surely this is who I am? I wonder if that is a reflection of my true self. The self that I have created or am supposed to find? Is who I am based on what external factors i.e. society has told me that I am or should be?
On a quest to delve deeper into the topic of self-identification for other people, I asked the women around me the same question. “Who are you?” Judging from the reactions, this was clearly a baffling question to ask. “Who am I? Uhm, what do you mean?”, they replied. “Uhm, it depends on the context”.

Context, according to the Macmillan dictionary, suggests that the answer is conditional. But does that really matter? Is there no all-encompassing answer regardless of who is asking the question, why and where they are asking it? Is there no unified or consistent self that could be made reference to? When probed even further: mom, daughter, friend, black, wife, strategist, South African were some of the answers I heard.

Most answers noticeably related to the multiple titles, groups or environments that had been pre-determined or adopted throughout their lives- all of which carry assumed roles. Roles are the behaviour and qualities that are expected of us on the basis of our titles which subsequently inform or feed into who we are. For instance, because I am a woman, I am expected to act in certain ways that are considered acceptable or appropriate to society and therefore have learned to use that as a means to define myself.

In the same breath my race, my job title as well as all the social groups I belong to – along with all their unwritten rules of behaviour and qualities – have heavily influenced the way in which I act, think and relate to society and myself. Could it be that we take on the cues to be who we are from different surroundings? Does each environment call for us to be a different self? Does this mean that who we are is a mere product of external societal norms? Is who we are something that has been dictated to us?
A trip I took to Bali revealed that perhaps I have always used my titles and conditioning as the basis of my self-identity. All of the things that I had always used to define myself had zero context and fell away once I was 14h 50 minutes away from home. It didn’t matter what my job title was or who I knew or who knew me. It didn’t matter who my friends were or what ‘social group’ I belonged to. It didn’t matter that I was black or that I grew up in Soweto – and what connotations that had.

If anything, the connotations of being a black woman and how I identified with myself as a result were completely different in Bali. In Bali, being a black woman meant that I was perceived as this exotic person of interest; locals were captivated by my braids and my skin colour – things that I had been programmed to perceive as ‘normal’ .

Essentially, being black and what that meant to me completely shifted because I was in a different environment. All in all the boxes I had been so programmed to fit myself into and use as the basis of my identity dissolved. I then wondered, if who I am is based on my titles, my activities, my environment and all their connotations then who am I when they change, lose context or fall away? Do you know who you are outside what your titles, geography suggest you should be?

Outside whom you are trying to impress or make proud of you? Can you honestly say that it is an independent decision? Or is it a result of conditioning? Are you inadvertently perpetuating a cycle? Is who you are true and natural or acquired and adapted?

Maybe our ‘true selves” are who we are when we are born and perhaps in the early stages of our childhood. ‘The true self’ could be what is left when we are stripped of the conditioning, titles and expectations that we have been taught to subscribe to. If so, I imagine the true self that we are born as to be goo-like: fluid, not bound by rules or expectations and independent of external forces. It seems as we grow up, society begins to define us by dictating to us who to be, what we are allowed to do, and how to act which we begin to adopt as our own identity and behaviour. This is the process of shaping, boxing and moulding the ‘true self’.

Our mothers teach us to behave a certain way, work demands that we be another way, relationships expect certain things from us, and our children need us to be another way. Because there was no father figure around, we act a certain way. Friends and social groups expect us to comply with certain standards. Social status and even reputation call us to act another way. We are so many things to so many people in so many different environments, with every element calling for us to be a different self. Books play a huge part too, particularly the multiple best-selling books that tell us who to be and how to act in order to get this life thing right. “Think Like a Man, Act like a Lady”, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and not forgetting “Why Men Love Bitches”. Such societal standards are constantly pulling at, pinching, compressing and diluting what may be the ‘true self’.

Maybe who we are is a reaction to other people’s perceptions and is not something that we actually create? Perhaps it is something that is a total external process and not something that we actually independently decide upon internally? Perhaps it is a myriad of the titles handed over to us by society?

I don’t know. I am still figuring it out myself. With all the numerous societal elements at play in our self-identification, is it not ironic that the very same society that moulds us into an acquired self has the audacity to tell us ‘be yourself’?

By @LeratoTsotetsii

breaking the bank for love

I think at some point in all our lives, we have all experienced that pure, innocent love; whose survival relied purely on spending time with each other, sitting in the park, drinking juice or walking back home from school together having fat chats about who copied who’s homework. It’s at that point where love was what we saw in movies.

I won’t lie. It was the greatest times for love. Very few expectations but fulfilling at the same time. The “I am content with a Mc Donalds burger” kind of love. But let’s be honest, the older we get, the more tainted this idea of relationships becomes.

Do these adjusted ideas of love and relationships include the role that money plays in the upkeep of a fun and enjoyable relationship? Are you finding yourself under pressure financially while trying to please your better half?

Society and gender roles

I am pretty sure most of us have had this conversation while sitting at a braai or chillas with our mates. It’s one of those topics that are fast heading to the top of the “Topics to avoid at a dinner table” list, along with religion and politics. Boundless states that Gender roles are based on norms, or standards, created by society. In most cases masculine roles are usually associated with strength, aggression, and dominance, while feminine roles are associated with passivity, nurturing, and subordination.

Which brings me to the issue of the hunter gatherer and the nurturer. We have been socialised to believe that men are providers and women are the caregivers, right? Is there anything wrong with wanting a man to provide for you, as a women?

Money talks, shellington walks

I had a conversation with an interesting guy once on why he said he had a dry spell with relationships for a while. His reason for this was that he was having financial issues and therefore could not afford taking anyone out on dates in hopes of a relationship. I found this very sad to say the least.

All the LOL’s. Are words and non-monetary valued gestures no longer enough?

I don’t know. This is all a bit confusing. Purely because all the finer and fun things in life require money, right? I went on and asked my Twitter followers what they thought were awesome relationships that didn’t necessarily break the bank and this is what they said:

@The_Mphiga: “You date someone who doesn’t expect every penny to come out of your pocket”

@Sanele_Mtshali: “I always think going out is a waste of money”

@Mfundo_Ncedo: “Going on picnics, staying in and cooking for your partner as well”

The money talk with your “bae”

This chat has never gone down well with any of my partners and maybe my approach has been wrong all along. In any relationship, matters of the wallet can be just as important as matters of the heart. At the end of the day, money decisions impact a couple at every stage – from the newlywed days of getting a joint bank account and shared home to the retirement phase of planning new adventures and discovering hobbies to fill your days.

Don't break the bank for love

I would like to advise the following, to make sure we don’t break the bank for the sake of love (which may very well be temporary)

  1. Get and stay on the same page

Whether you’re just starting out as a couple, newly married or have been married for many years, communication about money can be a real sticking point in relationships. To help remove any tension that may come with these chats, try to make the conversation less about flowcharts and spreadsheets, and more about goals and values. Make sure these somewhat align.

  1. Ladies, it’s okay to take it, every now and then

I do think it’s a sweet gesture to take the bill every now and then. Or spoil him on a night out to the club or an afternoon at the Farmers Market and if he likes smelling good, his favourite perfume. It won’t hurt and it sure as hell would make him feel a lot special.

  1. Find cheaper and more affordable things to do together

You don’t always have to spend much to have an amazing time together as a couple. The odd picnic and Netflix/series and chill would do the most to keep the home fires burning too. In these tough economic times, more couples should be doing the most, with less. Save up for a weekend away or a cooking class. Should be fun

In reality there are couples that don’t even need to worry about finances, but for those who do, I suggest taking things a little more seriously. Ideally, receiving love should not be reliant on what material things we have but hey… it is what it is, right?

What cool things do you and your bae do that cost next to nothing? Let’s share and allow everyone to flourish in this love thing, money or very little money…

@Keagi_M

Broken Mom Daddy Issues

Daddy Issues

Growing up, I thought the world of my grandfather, uTat’omkhulu, and I still do. He died when I was only seven but he still remains the strongest and most aspirational male figure in my life. And nothing can touch the image I have of him in my head.

Daddy Majestic
pinterest.com

When I was a child, I’d imagine my grandfather walking in a desert and coming across a lion. At the sight of my grandfather, the lion would cower, turn the opposite direction and run. Because what lion would’nt be naïve enough to take on my grandfather, right? This image was further nurtured by a story my mother used to tell me. The story goes: one day my sister was playing by the tool shed and almost sat on top of a snake. My grandfather, with his superhero eyes and speed, saw this and appeared just in time to grab the snake from under my sister and hurled it in the air. What?!

When he passed away, I imagined he was in heaven, co-directing this life thing with God. Like it was God—> Tat’omkhulu—> Jesus. This was the structure of rulers in my head. And anytime I did something wrong, the thought of my Tat’omkhulu watching me made me think twice. At the ripe age of 26, I still hold my grandfather with childlike reverence in my heart and in my spirit!

Imagine how different the world be if every girl had that majestic image of their fathers. (For now I talk about girls because the boy/father dynamic is a whole other mine field, which I will unpack in later pieces). I have encountered too many hearts that hold damaging feelings about their fathers. Feelings of mistrust, insecurity, disappointment, resentment, lack, brokenness and abandonment. We all know the story. What touches me even more, is the way these damaging feelings translate in a woman’s adult life and how she interacts with males as a result. There are many contributors to “ daddy issues” but today I want to look at one: Looking at your father through your broken mother’s eyes.

When you are a child, it’s difficult to separate yourself from your mother. What happens to her, happens to you. I see it in my son, when someone upsets me, he will physically charge at the person and body slam them, or wrap his arms around my legs to “protect” me. Bless him shem. That oneness with your mother never leaves you. Now when you watch your mother being cheated on by your father, being hurt or taken advantage of, as kids we learn to own those things as if they are happening to us personally. What makes it even worse is when you become your mother’s therapist and she offloads all her marital burdens on you. “Your father did this and your father did that, his girlfriend came to my work place, he didn’t buy food this month, he’s useless, blah blah blah”. You own all of that and you start looking at your father through the eyes of his wife. And that is the most unfair thing a mother can do to a child.

A child doesn’t have the emotional maturity to separate father from husband. A bad, unfaithful, disloyal husband could be the most loving and nurturing father. It is a mother’s responsibility to protect the image a child has of their father to the best of their ability. You may not have control of what the said father does, but you do have control of how you add fuel to the fire. Putting huge emotional burdens on your child’s little shoulders is irresponsible. It’s like putting a veil over their eyes which they will look through for the rest of their life.

Your marital burdens are YOURS. YOUR marriage, YOUR husband, YOUR choice! By burdening your child with your private affair, you taint the way that child will see and experience men in their adulthood. You can’t shield your child from what they can see with their own eyes, but you can support them and give them a higher perceptive. Teach your child to accept things even when they do not understand them, to see the good in their fathers even if they are not perfect, to forgive, to love past imperfection, to soften their hearts and to separate father from husband. The same way a little girl will always be little to daddy’s eyes, daddy should always remain daddy to baby girl’s eyes, at no point should he ever be seen as husband.

Your mother is a grown-ass woman, it’s not your place to own her choices! It’s not your place to own your father’s choice. The day I learnt to separate my own father from husband, is the day I realised that I have the best DAD a person could ask for. If I was in any kind of trouble, arrested for drunk driving or a stolen vehicle, my dad is the only person I would call. And what he is as a husband, is none of my business. Damnit I have my own situationships to worry about!

Love

A daughter that stays in her lane. Finally.

@Ntuthu_M