Reality Check

Embrace your growth.

I usually post my childhood pictures on social media and I find joy in doing it. I love seeing how far I have come,(not the glow up because I am sure I look pretty much the same). A couple of days ago, I posted this picture on social media and a comment was passed that I should keep them in the gallery and not post them. Funny thing, I was not offended but it actually got me thinking-why should I be embarrassed by this little girl who made some of the decisions which built me to be the woman I am today? Why should I start pushing her to the sidelines after what she had endured and gone through for me to have thick skin? Why would I hurt her again by not thinking she was not good enough to be celebrated? I began to think of my childhood and what that girl went through.

Growing up, I was always being compared to my sister (even now most people do and will). My sister and I are completely different (same mother and father) she is very light and I am very dark. People always marvelled when they saw my sister and what would hurt me the most were the follow up questions-Your sister is prettier and lighter, what happened to you? Is she your cousin? You are pretty but she is prettier?

As a young girl/woman it bruised me, it made me feel ugly and it was engraved in my mind at a very young age that lighter skin is more acceptable and celebrated than darker skin. I did not hate my sister or did I ever think she was much better than me-she was/is light and was/am dark, that was it. That little girl on that picture was also met with those questions and comments, from young children and older people. As I grew up I would rarely talk about my sister, even to my friends, because of fear of those questions which I never had the answer to.

In my self-love journey (en route), I had to come head to head with this issue/insecurity. I had to learn to love my dark skin and know that I am beautiful in it because God saw it right for me to be in it. I had to accept myself for who God says I am rather than what people say-which is not always easy but not believing God when He says I am beautiful and wonderful in His eyes is the same as me calling Him a liar.

My teenage years did not make it any better because I grew up in the “yellow bone” era. I am not sure if it is still a thing back in Zimbabwe but the yellow bone era was when light skinned girls were preferred to dark skinned girls. The first thing a guy would mention when describing their girlfriend was the colour of their skin. I am sure most of them were not aware of it but some were-I dated a guy who told me I was pretty but not light skinned. In a way, he was trying to say he settled.

This led to most dark skinned girls bleaching their skin. Most girls changed to be accepted, it was not only physical but psychological-most girls began to hate who God created them to be into what they thought they were supposed to be. I believe it is because not most girls are taught to love themselves from a young age. Most have mistaken being beautiful with being given attention by guys or girls wanting to be them. Beauty has been reduced to Snapchat filters, butt injections and Brazilian weaves.

What of the girl who can not afford an expensive weave or is not curvy-does that mean she is not beautiful? Beauty has been redefined so many-if you try and keep up, you will definitely lose your mind. Be comfortable in your own skin because you are your own beautiful. I had to come to terms with the fact that not everyone is going to see your beauty just like how you do not always see other people’s beauty. However, as a Christian, we are urged to love others as we love ourselves. That little girl there did not know how to love herself or that she was beautiful. As she grew up she began to shy away from the camera because in her mind she was not beautiful enough. It stuck with her and she still has moments when she does not see it but she feels it.

If you have a daughter, niece,neighbour-boy or girl, please plant good seed in them. Tell them they are beautiful/handsome because that will build them up. I have a 12-year-old cousin when I tell her she is beautiful-it takes her time to accept it but I will make it my life’s duty to tell her she is beautiful because she is and she needs to know and believe it.

I did not write this for people to feel sorry for me or tell me I am beautiful, no this is not a pity party. I wrote this post for the girls/women who have gone through this or are going through it. Do not go with society-either you are dark skinned or light skinned, you are beautiful and you are more than your skin or your hair-you my friend are beautifully and wonderfully made from the inside out. Love yourself from the inside out and know who God says you are. It will not magically happen but make it a habit to tell yourself each day, whether you see it or not-YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL TO GOD.

So I will post a few verses on what the Bible says about beauty. Some are for us not to solely rely on our outward appearance but from the inside and some to encourage us to love who and what we are in Christ:

Ephesians 2 v 10: For we are God’s handiwork, created in Jesus Christ to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Psalms 139 v 14: I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that fully well.

Songs of Solomon 4 v 7: You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.

1 Peter 3 v 3-4: Your beauty should not come from outward adornments, such as elaborate hairstyles and wearing gold jewellery or fine clothes. Rather it should be that in your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

Basic reading

Last week I bought a bookshelf off Amazon and assembled it with my mom. I did not realise I had so many books and I am still yet to get more. I have always liked reading, one could say it was because I studied Literature in High School. However, I have come to realise I am quite an obsessive reader. I am not always good at maintaining the tempo at which I start with (sometimes I just do not feel like reading and it can go for months) but sometimes I get to a point where my brain yells, YOU NEED TO READ!

I have come to try and read a bit of everything-fiction, biographies, poetry, motivational etc. I have also come to read a book with topics I do not agree on to challenge my brain and the way I see things. I make sure I am guarded in what I stand for and believe in though. It is very easy to fall for anything these days, people are coming up with different ideas and theories that you get to a point where you can not distinguish between the truth or a “theory”.

A few people are fond of reading in this technological era where social media has taken most of our life. Yes, technology has enhanced and improved daily life but I think it has made us so dependent our IQ’s are slowly lowering without even realising it. I see it with myself at times, I will be on my phone for hours scrolling through social media until I can feel that my brain is tired. Most of the time I will not even be doing anything meaningful- 90% I will be switching from Facebook to Instagram to Twitter then back to Facebook. It can go on for hours and seriously, I could use that time to do something better with life. I could be using that time to read the Bible, working out or improving myself in another way.

I am not saying being on social media it is wrong, no it is great actually. People make business on social media, people connect in different ways and others get inspired. However, when you just sit there staring on your screen and not doing anything productive, it becomes a problem. Try and challenge your mind and read a book, it does not have to be a big book. You can start light, with a magazine or a newspaper and go on from there. Yep, it sounds geeky but trusts me some of the greatest leaders, innovators and public figures are great readers.

I will list down a couple of reasons why reading is good for you:

1. Mental Stimulation- keeping your brain active prevents it from losing power. It also slows the progress of Alzheimer’s and dementia. The brain is a muscle with needs exercise.

2. Stress reduction- No matter how much stress you have at work, personal relationship or any other issues in life, you can escape by losing yourself in a great story (highly recommend Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie). Reading will distract you and keeps you in the present moment allowing you to relax.

3.Knowledge- Everything you read fills your head with new information.The more knowledge you have, the better equipped you are to tackle any challenge you face. Knowledge is something no one can ever take away from you.

4. Vocabulary Expansion- This is also tied to knowledge- the more you read, the more words you get exposed to. It can even aid your day to day life, at work, school etc.

5.Memory Improvement- When you read a book, you remember the character, environment, history etc. Brains are amazing things, every memory forges a brain pathway so when you see something relating or similar to something you read-the brain quickly reminds you.

6.Improved Focus and Concentration-In a single 5- minute span, the average person will divide their time between checking email, chatting with a couple of people (via Instagram, Skype, etc.), keeping an eye on Twitter, monitoring their smartphone, and interacting with co-workers. When you are reading, you focus on one thing and the rest of the world becomes silent.

7.Better Writing- Reading gives you more ideas and improves creativity. It goes hand in hand with the expansion of vocabulary and knowledge.

8. Free Entertainment- Reading is fun,keeps you occupied and captures your imagination and curiosity. If you can not afford to constantly buy books (I prefer hard copies),you can visit your local library or install PDF on your devices, you can also get free books – download e free books. SO GO HUNT FOR SOMETHING TO READ AND EXERCISE THAT BRAIN!

Quarter Life Crisis.

I love binge watching Ted Talks and inspirational videos on YouTube.One day I came across a very interesting topic about quarter-life crisis. I was not really sure what it was about but after watching it, I realised it is something I go through almost every day. As a millennial (a person reaching young adulthood in the 21st century), but there is a lot of pressure on us. There is this belief that we have to accomplish certain things at a certain time. We have to have a degree at 21, car at 23, the house at 25, married at 27 and kids at a certain age. Society expects us to be somewhere or have something at a certain age, but it is not as realistic as it is presented to us. There is a lot of pressure on us to catch up to the status quo. This results in most of us being stressed and depressed (some without knowing it or realising it). Majority of people understand depression as being paranoid, withdrawn (mood swings) or suicidal (which has claimed so many lives) but it has some of the most unexpected symptoms or signs. For example, sleeping too much or too little, eating too much or too little, not caring about your appearance, not interested in anything, trouble concentrating or being forgetful, fear of failing without trying, losing confidence, feeling numb and a whole lot more. And these are not even the clinical symptoms!

This is something the majority of millennials go through without realising it, including myself. At this age, we are torn between what we want to do or what we were told to do. We are at crossroads on whether to pursue what we are passionate about or what makes us richer and “stable”. We are allowed to dream all of our lives but as soon as we reach around eighteen, we are told to choose more “realistic” career paths. And we are expected to have it all figured out when we are just getting to know and understand ourselves.

Where I come from (Zimbabwe), there is no such thing as depression. Its either you have a bad attitude or you are just a lazy, ungrateful and disrespectful person. When we trying to speak our mind or voice our opinions its classed as being ill-mannered or disobedient. When we feel withdrawn, aloof or numb, it is classed as idle or dull and it actually becomes your label. Most of us can not talk about it because we are accused of pretending, being weak or told to suck it up as an adult. Even when we tell our brothers and sisters in Christ, its deemed as lack of faith or you are not praying enough. I truly believe the quarter-life the crisis is something crucial that we have never really thought about.It needs as much attention as midlife crisis or any other crisis because so many lives are being lost, dreams and passions are fizzled out because what we hope for never really happens the way we expect. The older generation think of it as the rebellious period, at times yes because we are now exposed to the things we have been looking forward to but at times it is a cry for help.

We internalise the stress and we end up bitter, lashing out and paranoid. And we convince ourselves we are not good at anything, for example, most of my life I have always thought I am not talented or gifted in any way. This has pressured me to try and do something that I do not like only because I want to prove to everyone and myself that I might be good at something. Comparison kicks in and there are millennials who have set the bar pretty high and the bar is very hard to reach eg Mark Zuckerberg, Malala Yousafzai and many others. Unemployment rates are high amongst millennials, not because we are lazy but we are expected to have thirty years experience by our twenty-first birthday. Others are even fired for being too young and told to learn to bounce back regardless. There are even those who have ticked all the boxes of society’s status quo, successful, independent, car, private jet-you name it but they still go through the quarter-life crisis. We are not a lazy generation as I heard someone say.”The generation of young people who throw tantrums when they are not given what they want”.We are just misunderstood and it would make a huge difference if the older generations could hear us out and realise we are more than what meets the eye.

So many of us have times when we get stressed and depressed or you know someone who is going through it. Please know you are not the only one but their millions if not billions of us out there. Make sure you have someone to talk to and let us believe and pray that God helps us through it too(as much as we might be told we have little faith or are not praying enough-He is always there regardless and He will never leave you). I will post the links of some Ted Talks videos which have opened my mind to this and I hope it helps you too. Knowing how not a lot of people like reading, I opted for videos on this topic.

Proverbs 3 v 6: in all your ways submit to him, and He will make your path straight.

Getting to know me

I took this picture on the very first time I decided to take myself out. I went to a movie and walked around Oxford City. To be honest I did not really enjoy the “date” because I kept thinking about how people were looking at me walking alone and how I probably looked lonely. To be very honest, it was all in my head. People were busy minding their own business and busy with their own lives. I was alone, yes, but I was not lonely.

I decided to try again, “take myself out”.I did not go with the mentality of worrying about people around me or what people would say if I told them I have “day dates” with myself. I took/take myself out because I realised I deserve it, I deserve the nice things in life and if I can afford it, WHY NOT? I began to feel more comfortable with it and it helped me to get to know myself. I began to discover things about myself I never dreamt of or even thought of. Yes, I know some people pity me and think its a cry for help. TRUST ME, it is not. I enjoy day dates, I make sure I go out once a month where its just me and Jesus. LOL writing it down and saying it to people freaks them out more but it helped me get comfortable with myself.

I enjoy getting to know me and I have realised, i am actually a fun person with very expensive taste. I would recommend it for anyone who is trying to know themselves. I realised that if I learn to love myself unconditionally, I will be able to love others likewise as well.

So here is to more day dates and loving people unconditionally…