Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Not waiting for the world to change- I am changing me!

They say from a distance a world is one giant ball floating in the air. Somehow no matter how much this big circle rotates it has never displaced or mixed its  contents thanks to this phenomena called gravity.
I have forever harboured chameleon like tendencies, always looking for situations to blend it. I find myself thrown into such situations based on circumstances I cannot control. It looks like a perfect fit until reality sets in. I am an individual and maybe I am supposed to stick out. Even where I'm trying to be part of the collective, th me part is always hard to keep to myself for too long. My realities pull me out and single me out of the rest. My colour too rich, my length too tall to keep hidden, my eyes too bright and my smile too real not to tell I'm not part of here.

I remember when I started creche. I was a lone girl travelling with five boys. My cousin Tumedi tried to make me fit in with the boys. He made sure to look out for me because we were connected by blood. One day a boy too clever for his age, alerted the rest to my biological error and the immorality of allowing girls mix so comfortably in a male domain. It was decided that in the mornings, I would stand alone while we waited for school transportation and if I was lucky I would get an invitation to join the male club until then, I couldn't just stand in a boys group. Blood is thicker than water. My cousin decided that family was much more important than allegiance to any club based solely of gender. He rejected this discrimination and prejudice by deciding to sit with me rather than stick with me instead. In my childhood was a precursor of future realities and the disadvantages of my gender. It was four in five boys displaying early symptoms of being intolerant to gender equality. Lesson to me, I was a girl therefore different.

Then there was primary, I was a skinny girl with a funny name. Always the subject of one comical crack or another. I was an easy target because I stood out not by my own design. I have already dealt with the subject of my name.  In primary school I quickly developed firmer bones to stand my ground and defend myself against any bullying with a sharp tongue. While this mostly just landed me in trouble, it reduced the period I spent in tears to a very insignificant  percentage and added to my happiest moments. Even with a thickened skin, some random jabs about being skinny and strange name still penetrate through, making the whole primary school experiences unforgettable. In my pre-teens, that's how I learned I was not what is exactly considered normal. Why else would my presence alone create so much tension and bring out monsters in my playmates.

Then there was high school. The things that most teenagers considered fun failed to evoke any emotions in me. When a handsome boy greeted me, I will greet back indifferent to his perceived charms. I made friends easily, I allowed a few closer to me and others I held distant. I wasn't a loner but I cherished moments of solitary much more than I valued time spent in noisy groups. Always the thinker, I was forever in a scribbling mode or reading something. I didn't hate boys but I was never too fond of them either. Didn't particularly even try to understand them. Towards my late high schooling, I didn't have many girlfriends  because they we all pre-occupied with their boyfriends. I would hear rumours about me that didn't bother me at all. Twice I was attacked by two boys on separate occasions because they accused me of playing hard to get. I never could understand why anyone would think they know me better than I know myself. I acted with resistance to anyone forcing their way into my life. I wanted to choose who I let in. Then the last quarter of my high school, I found that choice in a very unlikely boy. He got wind of the fact of my affections and tried to capitalise on them. Like him as I did, I never gave in. Call it a lesson on my woman's worth, I couldn't let it be  only on a man's terms. I came loaded with my own wishes and fantasies. I was too much work, needed too much effort and too complicated for a man just looking for a young thing to hang with whenever he needed. Sooner than I could learn to say "hello to you too" he moved on. I was a hard headed girl who stuck to her guns, men won't take too kindly to that. So what, I still think to myself. I wasn't groomed for a man. But to fulfil my destiny whatever that is.

Armed with lessons from the past 18 years of my life, I defied the odds, unapproving parents and wandered into the world never before explored by any member of my immediate family and settled in Cape Town for my tertiary education. My whole life looked set before me like a white sheet. As my high school teacher Miss van Niekerk once advised, each mark I make will show. Everyone here was different from what I could see on the surface. They dressed differently, looked different, spoke different, acted different. It seemed the spotlight wasn't solely fixed on just one individual. Everyone here was a start in their own movie, so many spotlights and no side judges to call out the difference in people. I quickly unpacked and took out my unique. The first year went fine, we were all different and came together to learn more about each other. In my second year, I learn just how much more different my different was. The more I met new people the more I got to learn about the me, I was supposed to be. French, not South African, Model, dark, tall. There was never the right side of town to walk. In the township I was a foreign from outside Africa, in the suburb I was a black call girl, in the city I was a model, I was everything but myself. Until I opened my month in front of strangers, no one could give me a guess close to what I really was. I opened my mouth a lot  to fight stereotypes. I was not seen, I was heard. Being seen along with comfort are not things I want for myself in my 20s as a woman. In my early adulthood I learned that places of complacency won't bring me joy. Gave the idea of relationships a go and it resulted in two long lasting relationships. Priorities changes,  people change and maybe others stay consistant while its change you really looking for.  I've fallen inlove too with people I have no intention of ever telling. Sometimes its good to just love from a distance and keep it to yourself. In my early 20s I found my issues grew from being a girl and skinny with funny names to being a woman, black, rural, and forever in the disadvantaged bracket.

I constantly wake up from a dream "education is the only way out of this cycle". My dream is that clear. Recently I learned that education is not only about how many classes one gets through in their life-time. Its about discovering who you are. Being first in a class with yourself, about yourself. Discovering what you like and dislike, what moves you and what irks you. Also overcoming any prejudicial notions I might have. For me this part speaks more about getting to know about other people, learning about different cultures, visiting different countries and try to speak in a different language. This phase of my journey is in its early stages, I have a map and I would like to us it. Italy and Ethopian were a great start. I figured if I wait for the giant balloon that is out planet to miraculously catapult and  land me at the perfect spot, I will walk around feeling empty for a very long time.

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