Ten Years.

Pic by: Tsoku Maela

You spent ages 21-31 trying. Trying so hard to be something. Someone. Ten years to finally let go of the anger you felt, overcompensating for the imperfections of a sibling. Ten years of flip flopping. Of here and there. Of crying. Of the blood, sweat and years. Of changing your mind. Of breaking down walls.

Trying so hard to make something of yourself. To make something stick. And everytime you think you’ve finally got it right, returning back to square one.

Ten years to realise that time is in fact cyclic and not linear.

Ten years of please love me, Why don’t you love me? Why am I not enough? Twenty years to realise that all that time you spent alone was training for the kind of life you would have to live.

Ten years of sunshine and rain. And storms and sunshine as rain. And storms and sunshine and sunshine. And storms and sunshine.

Ten years of watching people being applauded for breathing. While you move mountains in silence. So their journey can be easier.

Ten years of being everything to everybody and too tired to be your own best friend.

Ten years of trying to forgive yourself for not being a carbon copy of your parents. Of no longer apologising for who you are. Of rising above the “black sheep” label.

Ten years and counting of working on your spirituality. So that this shit won’t matter anymore. So that the urge to slit your wrists may finally go away.

Only to be diagnosed with anxiety and depression.


Magic Hour

When I’m half awake and turn to lie on my other side. And your arm grabs the darkness, looking for mine. And drapes it around your waist like a belt. So I can hold you and bury my face in your back. And know. And remember. That you are here with me. And I with you.

Youth Day Part 2

Today is Youth Day in South Africa.  A public holiday. You can read about it here.

On this day in 2009, I had moved back to Port Elizabeth from East London after my work contract had ended. I was interning and had the false belief that I was going to be hired full time. But that didn’t happen so I moved back home. I was sitting on the floor reading the local newspaper when I came across an article that made me extremely upset. I grabbed a pen and paper and immediately started writing. I have cut out some of the parts because the response is very long. Here’s what I wrote:

Dear Editor,

I would like to respond to the “Yoof” article published on Youth Day (June 16). I need to say something about it. I cannot speak for the many youths of South Africa, but I can speak for me and this is what I have to say:

Frankly, I am sick and tired of being compared to the youth of 1976. Please do not get me wrong here. I am not undermining the event in any way. I know all about 1976 and the intensity of the situation and the sacrifice made so that we can live a much much better life. I will always be eternally grateful for that. However, when you compare us to the youth of 1976, you are implying that we are not good enough. And that is not fair. We will never measure up to them. And what were the white youth of 1976 doing when all this was happening?

I generally don’t feel understood and appreciated by those older than me. You moan about how lost and superficial we are, but don’t you feel that parents have played a role in the way that you perceive us? I don’t know what the previous generations want from us because they only open their mouths to point out our faults and remind us of how we’re losing the plot, along with our roots. This kind of talk also extends to the workplace.

Let me tell you a bit about the youth of today: Some of us don’t like to think for ourselves, or prefer not to think for ourselves because we always have to do what we’re told. We take in whatever is fed to us because we will more than likely be dismissed for sharing our opinions. Yes, some of us do act grown up, but our minds aren’t. We don’t know what to do with the raging hormones and whatnot but if parents aren’t exactly going to advise us, then we will copy what we see on TV and do as our friends do. If you talk to us on our frequency and try to shift your mindset a bit, you will find that we’re not as stupid, ignorant or ungrateful as you think we are.

The majority of us are forced to study “proper” degrees so we can get “proper” jobs. By that I mean the B.Scs, the BComs and the likes. After that, we must make lots of money to help out our parents and family and flaunt our wealth so that people can talk about how well we’re doing and in turn make our parents feel proud of us. So excuse us for being obsessed with labels and nice cars and dreams of owning that mansion. God help you, if you choose to study languages or Art. Even if your parents seem ok with this, you’re bound to meet someone who thinks that people who study the Arts are wasting time.

We then go on to work for people who expect us to sit in an office from 9-5 everyday even when there is no work to be done. Nothing ticks me off more than wasting time at work because I’d rather be wasting time at home. If I’m at work, I should be there to work and if I’ve done everything before “home time”, I should be allowed to leave for the day. We have to deal with bitter colleagues who just don’t understand that we have a different way of doing things. Colleagues who are threatened by us for no apparent reason.

Anyway, the point is, it takes more than conversations with your son and some websites to find out what the youth is really thinking. It is not fair to look at the young politicians of South Africa and then conclude that we are all stupid and should not be taken seriously. I mean, if I was living in 1976, I would also lay down my life for my freedom. No doubt about that. But it’s 2009 and if I want to lie under my duvet all day for youth day because I feel burnt out or I need a break or whatever, I think I’m entitled to do so.

For the record though, I did not lie under my duvet all day. I did not go boozing or partying or anything like that. I wrote this letter and am working on 2 articles (one about youth day) to post on the website that I write for. You say: “Our youth stirred themselves to get to the polls, but they were probably motivated by the desire to get someone else to sort out their problems.” Yes, that statement will definitely get me off my arse and “take to the streets” for the sake of my education. Come on now!

I’ll admit, there are many things I do not understand about the youth myself, but I do have dreams and they aren’t superficial in the least bit. We are not all airheads. I am part of a team whose vision is to get the youth talking and thinking about our country and our continent. I am one of the estimated 2,6 million 15-24 year old unemployed youths. I am turning 25 on Women’s day. I am selfish because my focus is on getting myself on my own two feet before I can do for others. I don’t feel bad about that at all. Less finger-pointing at our flaws, I think.

Yours sincerely,

Unathi Nopece, Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth

For Today…

Today I get to be Writer. I get to wear my bright red harem pants, my boyfriend’s grey t-shirt with a faded picture of Bruce Lee, (which I’ve unexpectantly become attached to, which means I’ll probably never return it) and my colourfully striped socks. These are my favourite socks and will probably wear out soon because I wear them like slippers. I hate wearing shoes indoors. I digress.

I get to be Writer. With no guarantees of writing. With no pressure to write. No expectations. I’ll walk up and down this house in silence. I’ll eat. Refill my coffee. My mind will come down from its high and remind me of my life. But until then I get to just be Writer. I get to feel inner peace. I swirl ideas in my mind and look forward to the results.

I get to breathe. Really breathe. I’ve missed this so much. I don’t know when I’ll feel like this again. This must be the calm before the storm. But until then, I am allowing myself to exhale.

Just for today.