Post-University Depression

A number of people said they had no idea post-university depression was an actual thing before I mentioned it in my previous post. So…since May is Mental Health Month, I decided – why not write about it in detail. It does after all affect our mental well-being and many people my age (in their 20’s) are suffering from it. Because you don’t believe there is a name or word for how you are feeling, you might not be aware that you are going through it. Well, there is. 

What is Post-University Depression?

Post-University Depression is not an official mental health diagnosis but it is a phenomenon occurring with increasing efficiency especially in developing nations. This is due to the uncertainty brought about by the economic and political landscape. We can call it the ‘quarter-life crisis’ – a time in which we grapple with life’s biggest questions: Who am I? What makes me happy? What do I want to do with my life? Where do I start? 

It is a form of situational depression that emerges following graduation as one finds it hard to cope with the reality of actual adulthood as uncertainty and change fuel fear. What’s worse? – we are starting out when the world seems to be ending. 

What causes Post-University Depression? 

When reality falls short of what we had hoped for, the accomplishment of graduating can feel anticlimactic as our expectations meet reality.  We are full of optimism when we graduate, telling ourselves that our lives are about to begin. We convince ourselves that our futures are set and we are ready. This may be true but we unfortunately don’t realize that with every big move comes big obstacles. Yes – life is a double-edged sword. Sorry, I didn’t make the rules either. The most common obstacle we face is difficulty finding a job. For some reason, job vacancies come with 5 year experience requirements at entry level. Like, where on earth am I supposed to have gotten that! This is only one example of how struggling to find the kind of work we studied for might put us in a depressive state. 

Another leading cause of this form of depression is the abrupt and seemingly ‘overnight’ transition into the real adult world. From the life of balancing academic goals and an interesting, well budgeted for social life, graduates are introduced to new responsibilities. If you have moved out of your parents’ house, you have to pay rent otherwise you will be homeless. You have to cover all costs associated with your assets, for example – your car. You have to show up and put in the work where you are employed otherwise you’ll be sacked in a second. You are also placed on the list of providers in your family. As if that is not all, the decisions you make now can quite easily be permanent. All this can be overwhelming and may result in depression. 

“For many of you who maybe don’t have it all figured out, it’s okay. That’s the same chair that I sat in. Enjoy the process of your search without succumbing to the pressure of the result.”         

~ Will Ferrell – University of Southern California commencement, 2018. 

One could suffer from depression due to comparison. Oftentimes we are led into believing that we will always somewhat move at the same pace with our friends and agemates. This isn’t true because our destinies remain independent and unique. Some of our friends may find it easier to blend into their careers and get an early start. Some may succeed in doing what you hoped you would also be doing – whether it be taking up the next level of studies, easily moving out into their own apartments or even settling down. You are also probably constantly reminded of your friends’ successes and compared to them by others, resulting in you feeling like a failure. 

Loneliness is also a factor. You may be the first to get a job before your peers and now your life is different. You cannot hang-out or see them a lot because you’re in a different phase. You could be the youngest at your workplace without anyone to relate to and so you end up feeling isolated. You feel like a little fish in a huge pond resulting in you missing your peers. In other cases, loneliness comes from separation from the people you had grown used to as they scatter to different futures and geographical locations. Either way, feeling lonely can leave you hopeless and can result in depression. 


  1. You feel uncomfortable with yourself and your life and you don’t know why.
  2. You feel incapable, stuck and even unmotivated without knowing how to move forward or what you want to do.
  3. You feel as if you’ve disappointed yourself, your family or your friends.
  4. You feel isolated or unsupported.
  5. You may even feel irritable or edgy without a valid reason.
  6. You also feel exhausted and overwhelmed most of the time.


  1. Trouble sleeping.
  2. Sudden bouts of tearfulness.
  3. Changes in your appetite.
  4. Headaches.
  5. Stomach problems.
  6. Overuse of technology.
  7. Overeating of unhealthy foods.
  8. Alcohol and drug abuse.

The transition from varsity life to adult life is a change that can be very challenging to negotiate. No one knows how their journey is going to go. There are healthy ways of dealing with that though.. 

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

~ George Bernard Shaw

Prevention and Cure

To survive this, you have to keep your optimism. Focus on creating your preferred version of yourself while you wait for Opportunity to knock on your door. He comes when you least expect it. Build healthy habits + Stay connected to friends and family but also make new connections and accept that people can outgrow one another + Engage in things that are meaningful to you + Set achievable goals and take small steps toward them. Trust me, this will make you have a different picture of life. 

You don’t have to have it all figured out to move forward.


Take A Selfie

The strain on today’s youth is so great that many of us are unaware of the significant progress we’ve made. So much attention is placed on what we ought to have or do but – do we take time to appreciate what we have actually managed to achieve or do?

I’m not saying this to encourage basking in past glories and being content – no. I’m saying this to encourage you to take some time to appreciate and thank yourself for achieving your current wins before you start stressing about the next one immediately. Breathe – celebrate – then move on to the next big thing. It’s about acknowledging that you are going somewhere, ticking some boxes – big and small. Take a selfie, there’s beauty there. 

Feel like you haven’t achieved much?

Well you woke up this morning and you are reading this. Congratulations! Go and buy yourself a little something and celebrate THEN get started on the next tangible achievement. 

Post-university depression is an often overlooked phenomenon that affects many recent graduates. Having spent three to four or even more years in a structured academic environment, it’s not uncommon to feel lost and unsure of what to do next. The world immediately shows you that adulting doesn’t come with a script or solid guidelines. Recent graduates tend to harbour feelings of anxiety and even hopelessness about their future as a result of this sense of uncertainty, which can easily develop into depression. 

If you want to win in life, first win in your mind.

You need to remember that It’s okay to feel lost and unsure of what to do next – BUT – it’s important to take steps to address your feelings and work towards a brighter future. Your only limit is your mind and the way you speak to yourself matters!

Rule number one don’t compare yourself to others. You have to realize that everyone in this life is on their own path, parallel to their purpose. This simply means that what one succeeds in isn’t necessarily what the other will succeed in as well. There’s beauty in that – if you actually think about it. If all of us were good at the same things, where would diversity and interdependence come in? Everyone’s journey is different so don’t be hard on yourself. Your successes are another person’s downfall and vice versa. In the end, we all make it.

Rule number two – show yourself some love. You don’t suck. Remember that time you couldn’t even spell your name right? Where are you now? Remember that time you said you wanted to graduate? Well, where are you now? Remember how you said you wanted to get your license? Well… you know what I’m about to say. The list of your successes since birth is endless. You’ve jumped some major hoops. Go ahead and pat yourself on the back. There are a lot of people who wish they had what you have, no matter how small you think it is. Someone out there just wishes they could walk the way you walk, or talk the way you talk.

The only time you should allow anyone to look down on you is when they are admiring your shoes.  

Rule number three – set realistic goals. Let’s be honest, sometimes we lie to ourselves. We live in this little bubble that we create for ourselves when we believe that life is all candy and teddy bears. Wake Up! Some things are just not achievable right now. No – you cannot buy and drive a Ferrari or move out next month when you haven’t even secured a driver’s license or source of income. You can’t expect things to just fall on your lap. You need to make some SMART goalsSpecific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound Goals. The best way to take care of yourself is to be realistic in your optimism.

Rule number four – reach out for support and be open to learning. You need to accept the fact that you do not know everything. In fact you don’t know enough. If you feel like your life is stagnant, reach out to those who inspire you and find out how they made it. Every successful person has a struggle story. It’s what built their character. So if 1 + 1 is 2 then your struggle plus will to fight is equal to success… It’s just in transit. Read books and do some research, you will gain knowledge on avenues you never knew existed. 

Don’t be defined by what you didn’t know or didn’t do. You are deciding your life right now. 

Don’t let anyone lock you up in a title that is lower than your gifting. You are more than what people call you. 

Don’t waste time living someone else’s life. Your time is limited. 

We view the world in the same way a camera captures images in front of it. Everything seems picture perfect depending on the angle. Flip the switch and take a selfie once in a while. You’ll realize that there’s beauty there. You just need the right angle. 

The Sore Loser Within Us

Playing a game and losing sucks – Of course, no one likes losing. But do you know what people dislike even more? – a sore loser. AND THAT is what most of us are. 

sore loser    noun

: a person who becomes very upset or angry when he or she loses a game, contest, etc.

If there is any lesson that life loves teaching, it’s that you won’t win everyday. It just doesn’t happen. We apparently have to take an L here and there. Sometimes we reel them in consecutively – one after the other. But alas – no one can escape loss. It’s an arena everyone gets to play in.

The biggest loss we often feel – even though we don’t talk about it – is the loss of our dreams

Growing up, everyone had this amazing dream of one day conquering the world in whatever field they were interested in. All six year olds have dreams of becoming well known celebrities like Rihanna, doctors, video game designers, lawyers, spoken word artists, pilots, the next Picasso and Bill Gates, architects, archaeologists…the list is endless

We had similar dreams, but life had something else in store for us – a bucket load of reality. So, for most of us, our dreams have become a distant memory and we dwell on this loss daily as we go to our day/night jobs that don’t tickle our fancy or ignite passion. 

Loss is a natural part of the game or contest that is life. We have to take the L’s, pucker up and move on. . 

This is easier said than done and unfortunately, it is in realizing this loss that we ignite the sore loser within us. How? – you may ask. Well – by going halfway through the grieving process that comes with loss. We have to take up and finish the entire five stages of grief. Here’s how…

When we lose at this game called life the first thing we do is to give into our defense system and deny the whole thing. At first we tell ourselves, ‘this is not happening’. But that’s only a temporary way of dealing with the situation. We eventually start procrastinating when we have to make life changing decisions and in some cases indulge in mindless behaviors just to get our minds off what has just happened. 

As we face the pain of our loss, we become frustrated, helpless and eventually angry. We get mad for failing to achieve goals we set ourselves. We blame ourselves for ‘dreaming too big’ in the first place.  More often than not, we direct our anger to other people, a higher power or life in general. Maybe we blame our parents for not being strict enough or not taking us to certain schools. Maybe we blame God for what we think is being unfair. Maybe we blame life itself for being unpredictable and unrelenting in its efforts to break us down. All in all we turn to pessimism and sarcasm as our dearest friends. 

We start bargaining in the third stage. This is where we think of all the preventative measures we could’ve taken. We dwell a bit much on the mistakes of the past, ‘If only I’, ‘I should’ve’. There’s a Shona proverb that says, “Dai ndakaziva haitungamirire”. This means that wishing you knew better in the past doesn’t change a thing. So basically, we waste time on the unchangeable. We start comparing ourselves to others. We overthink and worry about almost everything and miss out on life. 

Eventually we fall into the fourth stage of grief – depression. A wave of sadness sets in us as we begin to understand the loss and its effect on our lives. My dream is gone. I’ll never be the person I’ve been dreaming of becoming all these years. Our motivation and energy is reduced because – what’s the point? In some unfortunate circumstances, we give into increased alcohol or drug use. 

We, in one way or the other, fight against and avoid reality. This unfortunately, is where most of us are. Just like that guy who lost a game (loss of dreams) – contested the results (denial) – went ballistic (anger) – asked for a rematch (bargaining) and sulked when the verdict was given (depression). He was out here trying to prove he won despite the reality that he lost that round – embarrassing! – what a sore loser

Don’t worry though. You’re not stuck. The only way to emerge victorious after taking an L is by completing the grief course. Garner the strength to move on to the last stage and accept reality as it is.

acceptance    noun

: the process of embracing something without judgement and without trying to change it. 

Acceptance is where you deal with the reality of your loss. You’re still young. You still have some years to go. You have to live the life you desire – considering you only get one shot at it. Although you still feel sad, you’re able to start moving forward with your life. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and tolerate your emotions. Don’t stay in that zone too long though. Pick yourself up and be present in the moment.  Focus on what it is you can do. 

Few of us are too scared and unwilling to tap into the geniusness within us.

~The 5a.m Club

Grief brain affects your memory, concentration and cognition. Your very many good memories are diluted by the bad times that lasted two seconds. Concentration fails and we thus remain content where we are, failing to dream and take bold steps that could take our lives from 0 to 100. What’s worse is our cognitive function is also clouded as we fail to see any light in the future. 

Don’t allow one bad season in your life to dictate the rest of it. Remember, YOLO right? Who said dreams can’t be rejuvenated? Who said you and your huge brain power cannot conjure up a new dream? Who said the next dream isn’t the one? This is a world full of endless possibilities. Take this L, move on and prepare yourself for your biggest Win. 

This is the first step in freeing yourself from the bondage of being The UnBothered Youth

The unBothered Youth

What if we stopped being unbothered? What if we took a stand? What if expressing our true feelings and thoughts was actually COOL.

Nothing is more frustrating than being part of a generation that’s content with where it is…even if it’s in the pits. We – and by we I mean the youth – have been told that we are cursed with failure to succeed in the education system, a lack of employment opportunities, substance abuse, endless partying and sex, family problems and various childhood traumas – among others. We’ve been told that this is our generation’s portion and so now instead of fighting back, we just adapt to what’s been deemed ours.

We grew up being told we were the leaders of tomorrow. I know, that was some great motivation right? Yes. Unfortunately, what we haven’t realized is that tomorrow is now. We’re grown. We’re adults now. We need to start making real life decisions that will define our actual futures and fates. So why are we playing?

Majority of the youth thinks being ‘grown’ means being able to make independent decisions – this is usually in line with having fun – the easy stuff. We look and act unbothered because that’s what’s in style. We hear about all these negative connotations linked to our generation but choose to do nothing. Day in and day out we make decisions based on temporary feels despite the consequences because we’d like to believe that we are resilient. YOLO after all. However, we actually are undeniably bothered. We just choose to get in touch with that side of life on the down low, in private, in our minds, during conversations with close buddies – the safe spaces.

For some reason we’ve decided to postpone the future under the illusion that we are giving ourselves more time. This is really just a result of us not wanting to take responsibility of what’s expected of us as we grow older. We’re writing down plans of action for next month and when that time comes and we delay by a day or hours, we give excuses and move the plan to the next month…and so on. Procrastination is having a whole field-day with us.

But to what end?

The current lifespan is pretty low. Zimbabwe for example as of 2022 has a life expectancy of 61,89 years. Clearly not all of us will get to 90. Well, based on conversations I’ve had with people my age – not all of us even want to. So why are we playing? Is the plan to die young without having realized our full potential and purpose?

Delaying life decisions and choices means we are going to have to deal with them all at once. Imagine furthering your studies later on in life – while trying to meet the love of your life in order to settle down and start a family – while chasing the fertility clock – while juggling your career, which by the way, will be at its peak – while taking care of your ageing parents and their deteriorating health – while facing mid-life crisis – with the life expectancy statistics teasing you like the Grim Reaper. There is no way our mental health is guaranteed in such a situation.

School was easier. You had to follow certain rules and schedules in order to make it work. If your grades were at a certain level, you were good. Adulting however, has no formula. You just have this thing called time and a whole bunch of things you need to do. The world has too many requirements. Too many mixed signals. We need to find a way to combine originality and creativity with communication and reasoning even more compared to our parents. Most importantly – we need to start now. There is no escape and sadly, no one is coming to save you. Only you can save you buddy.

No matter how long you have travelled in the wrong direction, you always have the option to turn around.

~A very wise someone…

Social Media will fill your mind with all sorts of ideas. Initially it was meant to connect friends and family and create relationships. Now, it fosters peer pressure. It – on the negative side – promotes the idea that life is a popularity contest.

According to social media money solves all problems, morals are old school, risking your life is living because you’re an adrenaline junky, every weekend needs drugs and alcohol, dating is in demise and hooking up is the new relational medium. Is this really what you want? Is it helping to make your future easier? Are you even going to get to 60…or are we going to be writing your eulogy real soon? I’m here to drop the manners and tell you that you are wasting your life if you’ve been living for the views and temporary feels.

To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time

~Leonard Bernstein.

I know it looks like we’ve got time. Darn it, even I believed that. But truth is, we don’t. We cannot relive these years. The energy you have now…you won’t have in the next ten or even five years. Let’s make the most of what we have. Let’s put our future into perspective. The best way to do this is to ask yourself – who am I when no one’s in the room? Without the views and judgement – what is it that you want for yourself. Be bothered about it and by it.

We the active. We the creative. We the workforce. We the very educated. We the passionate. We the spiritual. We the woke. We the leaders of today. We the youth.

What if WE were bothered?

Do You Get It?

The answer to that question is you don’t. You really don’t get it. You don’t get how by simply being born a woman…one is assigned a role in which they have to take extra precautions. Like, life is scary but for a woman it’s automatically scarier. Only women will watch how they dress, what places they visit and how friendly they are with people in order to survive. I’m not writing this from the perspective of an angry black woman but from that of an angry human being. I hope this triggers you as much as it has triggered me.

Fashion trends come and go and pretty much everyone wants to flow with the times but it’s not always that easy for women. This is because our dressing can be blamed for a number of problems that we face. Rape for example is one of these. Rape is an unlawful sexual activity, typically committed forcibly or under threat of injury, against a person’s will. South Africa has the highest rape rate as it is estimated that a woman is raped every 26 seconds according to women’s groups. Police departments state that it’s likely that a rape case takes place every 36 seconds. Scary right? – Unbelievable…but facts. Now, one question the victims are asked is, “What were you wearing?” The question is casually asked as if said victim was perhaps dressed in a short dress with the inscription Rape Me! So bluntly said, a woman’s dressing can result in rape according to the status quo. Do you get it?

What you choose to wear as a woman can also lead to sexual harassment apparently. This is any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that occurs, with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person. I believe at some point in a woman’s life they are sexually harassed. The problem is that society has made it so normal to the extent that when you are harassed, you believe it’s the norm. It happens to everyone so whatever. We detach ourselves from the reality of the problem because it has become the daily bread. All you are told is, “Hey Nicole, don’t wear shorts in town because you know men.” “Hey Melissa, that dress is too short and you know you are going to a place with men.” But is it really the clothing? Women walking around covered from head to toe are being harassed and raped too. When has a man been told not to walk around shirtless because there are women? Have you (men) been warned not to wear shorts because women love legs too? Probably not. Why? Because no one randomly tapped your butt as you minded your own business walking from Kopacabana to Fourth Street in broad daylight. Do you get it?

My very close friend’s Dad recently bought her a taser. Yes, sis is moving around with a taser in her bag. Weird right? Like, for what? Well, because at her workplace the staff is predominantly male. Just the fact that you are working in an environment with a lot of men, means you are immediately in a compromising position as a woman. If the tables are turned though, I bet Ted would even remove the door to his office in a predominantly female environment. This is just how it is. Do you get it? Only women will watch the places they visit and spend their time. The grotesque events taking place within the human race on a day-to-day basis are making the other gender a threat in itself. Is there really hope in this world?

Documentaries on murder cases seem to have women as the victims, most if not all the time. It’s either a girl was travelling alone in a bus at night or she was walking peacefully through a forest. In some cases, it is a fatal attraction, a female falls for a serial killer who in the end murders her and disassembles her body. These gruesome stories leave women feeling scared 24/7. You cannot meet up with your boyfriend in a secluded place at night because…what if he’s a serial killer all of a sudden. I cannot commute at night because…what if I’m kidnapped, raped and mutilated. Do you get it? You don’t know how many times we check whether or not someone is following us. You don’t know how brave we are for even stepping out of the house.

Another friend of mine got into trouble recently after her uncle said something suggestive to her. She didn’t respond to it but she was blamed for somehow “playing a role,” despite there being proof of the uncle’s misconduct. Of course, it went to questions about how she dresses around him and how they converse. This is one of the cases where women are blamed for being ‘too friendly’ apparently. Society forgets that the man is clearly the perpetrator and focuses on how the woman might have made him do it. Do you get it? Is owning a vagina a sin?

You know, the idea of being friendly is actually a dilemma. If you’re not friendly enough you are viewed as uptight, but then again if you are friendly, you’re termed ‘too nice’ or at its worst ‘easy’. Do you get it? Walking in the city center is the same. If someone calls you via #insert hissing soundcourtesy of the men who stand by the sides of the road and taxi drivers or ‘conductors’ mostly– responding and not responding are the same. If you respond, best believe three quarters of the time he’s about to say something suggestive or ask for your number as if he deserves it. If you ignore, well something rather insulting will come from his mouth. There are so many things we have to overthink as women compared to the other gender.

I’m not discarding the male struggles and how men are not free from to rape and harm too. I acknowledge that. I just chose this very day to focus on the women. The women living and surviving in this patriarchal world. A world that, though not in writing, chooses to protect men more. In this patriarchy we hum for the male egos and nurse men’s weaknesses as we are told to stand by strength. “Shinga mwanangu, varume ndozvavari.” Which is translated to, Be strong my child, men are what they are. This needs to change. We know that not all men are dangerous, but we are not sure which men are…so we are wary of all men. I’m calling on all men to become the protectors and not the perpetrators. I can’t stop wearing my shorts out simply because Peter can’t help his thigh fetish. Grow up Peter! Have some self-control and self-respect Peter!

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Owning This Version of You

It seems like people keep talking about loving yourself – throwing around hash tags like #SelfLove or #LovingMe. But, do we actually know how to start the process of loving one’s self? It’s not merely accepting who or what you are. It’s about loving you, embracing you, being excited about being you-blemishes and all. It’s about owning you, unapologetically.

While most people prefer to focus on reshaping their lives and making goals as they reach a new point in their life…I decided I’d do something different. I decided to ask myself two questions…

Who am I?

Why am I the way I am?

I realised that it is the answers to these questions that will enable you to unlock steadfast love, for yourself.

Do you know who and why you are? Do you see yourself or do you wait on others to define you? We spend most of our lives chasing goals and wanting to evolve into better versions of ourselves. But- have you appreciated the version you are right now? I mean, just being alive is quite a task. You’re doing well.

I find it quite hypocritical how in a world where we are being taught to dare to be different, there’s still an idea of what is deemed perfect. The perfect body – The perfect woman – The perfect manPerfect? It’s a paradox. Who said perfect is perfect? We have artists singing about loving the yellow bones; we’ve also got Sauti Sol singing for the melanin queens. Oh and thank heavens for brown skin girls – Beyonce…without it a gazillion women out here would have bleached all in the name of wanting to be ‘perfect’. Let me tell you what’s perfect – YOU ARE. I mean, your Creator looked at you and said, yes…this is it! You are it. You are the best version of you there is, and you will be even better once you own it. Your Creator is the only one who can define perfect. I’m pretty sure He wouldn’t give life to someone who is not enough. You are enough.

So now I’ll answer my questions.

Who am I?

I am Nicole, Kundai

Daughter of God the Father

Saved by Jesus Christ

Guided by the Holy Spirit

I am a daughter, sister, cousin, friend and other titles to different people.

Who are you?

Kyle? Adiel? Lindiwe? Takudzwa? Nirupa? Sonwabile? Tom? Thandekile? Xavier? Waishe? Kadija?

Christian? Moslem? Hindu?

A brother, sister, mother, husband, aunt, grandfather or other(s)?

Why am I this way?

Now this is a question most people usually associate with the negative. Usually the ‘why’ comes with a complaint for example, “Arrrgh why did I have to be so dark?” “Why am I a middle child?” It also comes into play when we are looking at things we either cannot change or need to put a lot of effort to change. It could be your stature, skin colour, hair, accent even. We should instead use the ‘Why’ to support and form our affirmations. How? By dishing out the reasons ourselves, the Because.

You can change the world by changing your words.

Joel Osteen

My answers went more like…

© Why am I short? – Because everything grows until it’s perfect and I didn’t take that long to reach perfection.

© Why am I dark? –Because the darker the berry the sweeter the juice. Because being melanated comes with being dedicated, educated and motivated.

© Why am I loud? –Because I have to be heard, not only for myself, but for those without voices. A voice for the voiceless.

© Why am I an ambivert? –Because not everyone deserves my attention and effort but then time and again…I have to shine the light for all to see.

© Why the 4c natural hair? –Because I was made to wear a natural crown over the vain, typical and materialistic gold, silver, bronze and all. My hair won’t bow down, it defies gravity. It’s a symbol of how the Queen in me won’t bow down to life’s problems.

Now you know who and why I am… Who are you? Why are you the way you are? Speak your true self into existence. The tongue is known for either making or breaking so why not use it to your advantage?

Why are you tall? –maybe it’s because you are naturally meant to reach greater heights. So own it.

Why are you light in complexion? –maybe it’s because you’re supposed to be the light where there’s darkness.

Why are you skinny? –maybe it’s because you’re meant to dodge the raindrops in the storms that life brings. So own it.

Why are you plus size? –maybe it’s because you were meant to occupy the space your Creator gave you on earth. So own it.

Why is your accent deep African? –maybe it’s because the shackles of colonization through language weren’t strong enough to break your originality. So again, own it.

You are the best version of you there is. It’s time you started owning it. The world was never ready. Only you can tell the world who you are.

This post is on self-appreciation. Learn to love yourself – because, if you don’t… who do you think will?

Women’s History Month!

In commemoration of the United Nations, March is Women’s History Month I decided to travel back in time to find out what our fellow sisters were up to. I wanted to figure out how they raised our flag up high and I realised…they could play with the elements of nature just like men could.

Who runs the world? Girls!

Beyonce K

We’ve heard this phrase before that’s for sure. Beyoncé really did it with this one. I agree with her too. Greek Philosophy supposed the Universe to comprise of four elements and I believe that girls run the world because they’ve managed to work with these elements of nature namely; Air, Water, Fire and Earth. According to the Yoga Journal, Space is the fifth element and girls have managed to play with that one as well. They’ve managed to pull off what many thought they wouldn’t be able to handle. The pulled off what he thought only he could do. Therefore, he and she should have equal opportunities. He and she should have rights that are equally recognized, promoted, respected and valued.

One of the elements listed is Air and so my journey started off with the women who could play with the air. Those who took part in life in the sky like birds through air travel. We’ll kick off with Raymonde de Laroche. She was the first woman in the world to receive a pilot’s licence, around 1910. She was a French Baroness who learned to fly from Charles Voisin, a prominent figure where aviation was involved in the early 1900s. Raymonde de Laroche didn’t stop there, she also set the highest altitude flown by a woman in 1919. Moving on to the American Platform we are introduced to Harriet Quimby, first American woman to get a pilot’s license. She was a journalist who knew how to grab an opportunity with both hands. Harriet earned her pilot’s license in 1911 after convincing the magazine she worked for that her written work on flying would be more accurate from a first-hand experience account. The magazine paid for her lessons and she was the first woman to fly across the English Channel. She also earned the nickname ‘America’s First Lady of the Air’.

Bringing it a bit closer to home we’ve got Bessie Coleman, the first black African-American woman to earn a pilot’s license. She’s known as “Brave Bessie” and “Queen Bess” and she received her license in 1921. She had to get one in France because no American flight schools would accept her. Bessie was famous for performing stunts such as figure eights and loop-the-loops in flight. 59-year-old Asli Hassan Abade is Somalia’s first and only female pilot having made her first flight in 1976. These women from all over the world have managed to inspire many more female pilots today. Dare to go flying with the birds won’t you.

I refused to take no for an answer

Bessie Coleman

Back when the world of sailing wasn’t ‘woke’, women were considered bad luck on ships. They were viewed as more of a distraction to the crew and ‘an anger’ to the seas. Imagine. This brings me to my next stop. Women who managed to navigate the great waters of the world- proving the former belief, a fallacy. Krystyna Chojnowska-Liskiewicz, in 1978 was the first woman to sail around the world solo. It was after the United Nations declared 1975 the International Women’s Year that the Polish Sailing Association decided to send a woman on a solitary voyage. Equipped with experience as a sailor and knowledge as a ship construction engineer, Krystyna was the lucky pick and she took up the opportunity to sail the seven seas by herself. Years on, we find the World’s First Black Woman Cruise Ship Captain, Belinda Bennet. She is originally from St Helena (located in the South Atlantic Ocean between South America and South Africa). In an article by Forbes she mentions having faced challenges that stopped her from pursuing what was still a dream at the time. Some of them include the fact that she had a higher education than most captains at the time, she was a woman and she was black. Her struggles were worth it as she eventually, in 2016 became Captain of the MSY Wind Star, a four-masted sailing ship with 148 guests and 101crew. Like Moana, these women managed to take charge of the water and did what seemed impossible.

Some women fear the fire. Some women simply become it…

R.H. Sin

Fire – the next element and my next stop. You may not be aware but women have been dancing with fire for about 200 years now. They have also walked into burning buildings, stopped veld fires, and like the cliché- rescued a kitten stuck in a tree. The first female fire-fighter recorded was Molly Williams. She was a slave in New York City and later became a member of Oceanus Engine Company #11 in 1815. Lillie Hitchcock Coit, the San Francisco heiress became an honorary member of Knickerbocker Engine Company #5 as a teenager in 1859. Girton Ladies’ College in Great Britain had an all-women’s fire brigade from 1878 until 1932. In the late 1920’s, Emma Vernell became a member of the Westside Hose Company #1. She was the first woman officially recognized as a fire-fighter by the State of New Jersey. During World War II, many women entered the volunteer fire service to take the place of the men called into the military. This goes to show that a woman can do what a man can do. So why not grant us equal rights.

The Earth is the magnet for all humans. Gravity just won’t let us be. To see how women worked together with the earth we’ll also look into travel as with air and water. Bertha Ringer, now known as Bertha Benz was the first woman in history to drive an automobile over a long distance (1888). It may have been men who designed, created and developed the car but none had driven it over a long distance before her. When Bertha took the car for a spin she did it without her husband’s knowledge because he didn’t like ‘bragging’ about his inventions and at that time, anything that looked like a carriage and wasn’t pulled by an animal was associated with sorcery and witchcraft. Accompanied by her two sons Bertha drove 60 miles to her mother’s home. She drove with them mostly because women weren’t allowed to travel alone. Bertha knew how to increase the engine’s power and how to make the breaks stronger and with this knowledge, her journey went well. A man invented the car but it literally took a woman to show the world what a car could do. It however wasn’t until the late 1920’s that it was really acceptable for women to drive. In Africa, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti is the first woman to have been documented, to drive a car in Nigeria. The Mother of Africa, a teacher, political campaigner and women rights activist brought the dream home.

Valentina Tereshkova (IMDb) and Svetlana Savitskaya (IndiaToday)

Last but not least my journey took me to Space. Unfortunately, gender equality hasn’t been implemented fully in Earth’s space agencies as in the past half-century as more than 500 men have flown in space and in contrast just over 60 women have been awarded the chance to make the same trip. Among the lucky few is Valentina Tereshkova who was the first female astronaut to venture into space. In 1963, at the age of 26 she piloted the Vostok 6 spacecraft around the Earth and orbited the planet for 48hours. Svetlana Savitskaya was the second to reach space in 1982. Unlike Valentina, she was the first woman to travel to space multiple times.

Sally Ride (NewYorkTimes, Mae Jemison (Britannica) and Kalpana Chawla (TheEconomicTimes)

Sally Ride was the first American woman to fly in space in 1983, less than a year after Svetlana. Mae Jemison was the first African American woman in space. She was selected as an astronaut in 1987 by NASA and flew on the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1992. She carried out 44 science experiments with her crew. Kalpana Chawla was the first astronaut of Indian descent. These women managed to do what some men are terrified of doing- leaving earth. They made lasting contributions to science as we know it and therefore prove that women are as valuable as men.

Creativity thrives when people build ideas together.

Women made significant contributions long before their role was widely recognised in society. This is why gender equality has taken so long to be a norm. In a world where the men and women are made equal, the two can work together to foster development and progress. So, why not advocate for equality if it’ll make the world a better place. I mean, two heads are better than one right? We’ve also had an idea of what a better world would be like since forever, why not implement it?

Happy International Women’s Day.

Child Marriages: Slave Trade’s First Cousin

Once upon a time around the 16th Century there was Slave Trade in Africa. Once upon a time today…it still exists, with a trendier name- Child Marriage. The issue of child marriages has always been an alarming one and though it may appear minimized, it still exists on a large scale especially in remote areas. The youngest children to be wedded were three 10-year-old girls in Tennessee who married men aged 24, 25 and 31 in 2001. And yes, even young boys are victims of this as an 11-year-old from the same state in 2006, married a 27-year-old-woman.Child marriages can be classified as forced marriages because children at this age are too immature to make such decisions. And, why on earth, would a child be dreaming of marrying or getting married to someone old enough to be their parent! At that age all I cared about were my dolls and playing house. Not actually LIVING it!

Just to make sure we’re on the same page, child marriage can be described as a formal marriage or an informal union entered into by an individual before attaining the prescribed eligible age, 18.

Marriage in general is defined as the legally or formally recognized union of two people as partners in a personal relationship. It is the intimate union and equal partnership of a man and a woman. It’s basically the union of lovers. Trade involves the transfer of goods and services from one person to another, often in exchange for money. This is usually the situation with child marriages as the unity of lovers is replaced by transferring the child from one family to another, often for monetary reasons. Child marriage is thus, a transaction. Why am I relating it to Slave Trade? Because the child becomes a slave- a person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them. Marrying off a child to an older person makes them theirs and they have to obey them because according to African culture…respect your elders right?

In Zimbabwe, 34% of girls are married before the age of 18 and 5% before their 15th Birthday. 2% of boys in Zimbabwe are married before their 18th Birthday. Look at all these slaves!

Child marriage is defined with reference to a formal arrangement. Who formalizes it?-family. Now you might not have really considered this but who do you think enabled the whites to gain access to the black man? It was the black man himself. Oh come on, you kind of knew this. The white man needed to communicate with the black man in order to ensure the transaction goes smoothly. Those who ‘rounded up’ the locals to be bought into slavery were locals themselves. Now you know. This is similar to the family and relatives responsible for marrying off a child. They convince the child that somehow this will be better for them and all that’s expected of them is to do what they are told- do what the master commands and you will live. Now the child trusts these relatives and family members and in as much as they feel uncomfortable, they eventually give in. The slaves did end up on the ship, eventually accepting what seemed to be their fate.

Slave Trade always came with the Master-servant relationship. The slave was expected to follow the instructions she or he is given by the master. The master was expected to give instruction and consolidate his authority. In child marriages, the child is expected to do as they are told and follow orders in the name of respect. The older party is expected to form the rules and consolidate authority. A real marriage however is supposed to make the two partners, equal.  This setup is clearly unfair as there is a superior and inferior power- like in Slave Trade.

The Slave Trade seemed to benefit both the buyer and seller. The buyer received the best ‘goods and service providers’- athletic, strong, fertile and willing to follow instructions blindly. The seller received their payment- guns, ammunition, alcohol and other factory goods. Likewise with child marriages the ‘husband or wife to be’ receives what they view as a good investment-a young, fertile, obedient and respectful child who’ll satisfy their needs. ‘Catch them young’ hey. The child’s family receives what they view as aid. Daughters are sometimes married off to reduce the family’s economic burden. In some families the failure to afford school fees results in children being married off in the name of ‘a better life’. Religion sometimes plays a role such as in the case of the indigenous apostolic church where they marry off their daughters to older men for “spiritual guidance.”  So it’s a win-win situation according to those involved in the transaction. But is it? Are we considering those being married?

Child marriages, like slave trade in the end result in problems. The Slave Trade which was supposed to be the assumption of labor to work on the plots and farms brought more harm than good. The slave masters due to frustrations caused by disobedient slaves turned to violence and murder. Slaves were tortured, fed to the dogs, hung on trees among other gruesome ‘punishments’. Slaves themselves suffered from loss of identity, horrid living conditions, fatigue, loss of freedom and the loss of loved ones. Yes, it’s likewise with child marriages. The older parties in the marriage out of frustration mistreat the children they are married to. The child is immature and will fail to meet certain demands which will stress the marriage (A Husband’s Expectations in Marriage, Dave Willis). For example, as a wife a woman is expected to serve her husband, prepare food, clothing and other personal needs. She is expected to become a mother who takes care of her children’s needs and wants. A child is expected to bear and rear another child! Failure to do this will only agitate the older party (the Master). The child is at a disadvantage of course as on top of being expected to meet the aforementioned demands, they lose their freedom. Children are denied their right to a consensual marriage, education, protection, economic engagement and reproductive health care. Some of the girls are even raped by their older partners. More information is available from the Unchained At Last Organisation: UN-Arrange a Marriage…RE-Arrange a Life.

Child marriages bring more harm than good. They are basically another form of slavery- Slave Trade’s first cousin. Let’s put an end to this fiend. Children deserve their freedom, their rights! To end child marriage there is need for structural, institutional, community and individual strategies to tackle the factors leading to these forced marriages. This can include poverty reduction policies, improved access to education, enforcement of legal frameworks and registration of marriages as well as awareness, among others. More can be found on the World Bank Blogs published on Youth Transforming Africa. Our children are meant to be the leaders of tomorrow. Let’s give them an adequate shot at greatness!

#EndChildMarriage #girlchildeducation #pedophilepreachers #childgrooming #NoToChildMarriages

Travelling Through Time with Covid-19

As we closed the chapter on 2020, we hoped somehow Covid-19 would disappear. We thought somehow, we’d defeat nostalgia and go back to what was…our normal. We thought we’d be able to leave the house and breathe the air we once knew as ‘fresh’. Unfortunately, here we are, faced with the fast annihilation of the human race by various strains of Covid-19. These strains, possessing different variants, are leading to the second wave of the pandemic. It’s claiming more lives, more souls, and more loved ones. What do we do? How do we survive this beast?  

We have to work on the past, the present and the futureGod-willing.

May all the souls that left earth Rest in Peace.

The pastThe past for me is reflected by the symptoms depicted by the lives lost. The loved ones we could not hold on to because of Covid-19. It’s the past because this has already happened and we cannot change history. The most common Covid-19 symptoms include fever, dry cough and tiredness. The less common are made up of aches and pains, sore throat, diarrhoea, conjunctivitis, headache, loss of taste or smell, and a rash on the skin or the discolouration of fingers or toes. The serious symptoms include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure and loss of speech or movement. Approximately more than 91,6 million people have experienced these symptoms. There have been over 1.96 million deaths worldwide and this includes our loved ones. These are people who have left the planet…May their souls rest in peace… It doesn’t help that we cannot give them the farewell we think they deserve but remember; they have gone from our sight, but never from our hearts. To those of us affected after having lost a loved one, I hope you find some peace today, I wish I had the right words, just know I care. Whether Christian or not, we have to accept that they have moved into another reality. In Shona we say, “Akafa akazorora,” which when translated says ‘the dead are at rest.’ They are in a better place where there’s no sickness and/or pain. Their journey on earth is complete. They have passed on the baton. It’s your turn to utilize your time on earth as they smile down from above.

The world needs what you have to offer. Stay Alive.

The presentThe present includes the prevention measures and treatments we are taking now to preserve the life we have. It is your duty to protect yourself so that you complete your journey on earth at the right time- God-willing. Wash your hands often with soap and water, maintain social distance, and wear a mask as if it’s the latest pair of kicks on the street. Avoid touching your nose, eyes or mouth, if you have a fever seek medical attention, stay at home. It’s time to be selfish. Yes, you read that right BE SELFISH! Be selfish with your health. Protect yourself by knowing the facts on the pandemic and taking appropriate precautions.  Be selfish with your family. Don’t let the virus catch them because it might not let go that easy. Be selfish with your friends. Keep reminding them to stay safe because you want them present for that after-covid party you’re hosting when all this is over- God-willing. Be selfish with your brains. Who else can think of the amazing ideas brewing in your head? The world needs you. Be selfish with your story. Your children, grand-children and great-grand-children are going to want to hear about how you survived the Covid-19 pandemic. The one that took many. If you’re battling the virus right now, don’t panic. More than 50.6 million people have recovered and you’re about to add to that statistic. Just being alive right at this moment makes you a hero. Look at you looking all fancy in your shining armor. Everyone, positive and/or negative has to take the prevention and treatment methods in order to make way for the future… God-willing

There are over a million opportunities waiting for you online.

The futureThe future is in the cure- our preparation for tomorrow-God-willing. We cannot be seated, doing nothing for ourselves. Be Optimistic. Sometimes healing is started psychologically. You just need to believe that all is well, and it will be. Have a little faith! A lot of people seem to have gotten their niche during this pandemic. I’m sure you’ve come across the ‘have a hustle’ mantra. This is basically encouraging people to be more open minded in order to come up with a means of earning income. Online platforms offering goods and services have increased with the advent of the pandemic. The world was on the virtual path before the pandemic, currently is and will continue to be even after the pandemic. This is your chance to get acquainted with the online platforms for your benefit. Establish connections. Get that online degree. Post more content on your YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and all. Send those online applications. Staying up to date with the current news will keep you woke. It might motivate the growth of unique ideas in your mind that’ll be very useful in the future, near or far. There is unlimited access to information on the internet that you can use to your advantage. Almost everyone’s mental health has been tried and tested during this pandemic. It is the perfect time for self-evaluation in order to work on your weaknesses. This will help manufacture the stronger you. The pandemic has also given people the chance to mend broken relationships and pick diamonds from the rough. Get in touch with friends and relatives from all-over and who knows? Maybe when this is over you’ll have over gazillion destinations to travel to…God-willing

We have traveled through the past, present and future with Covid-19. I have simply given you the symptoms, prevention and treatment, as well as cure…respectively, to help foster the world’s recovery. Let’s heal our minds as we hope and fight for an end to Covid-19…God-willing. And I say God-willing because it is by His grace that we are here.

Stay Safe. Stay Alive. The world needs you.

Toxic Masculinity Needs To Go!

So 2020 is coming to an end after having taught us a whole load of things. People have been online more than ever and have discovered topics they knew little about. You’ve probably come across this topic here and there and just…scrolled past it. I felt the topic nudge at me after having received news about a fellow schoolmate who committed suicide about a week ago. I wondered if it could be because he couldn’t talk to anyone. Had he heard that he wasn’t supposed to show weakness or talk about the battles he was facing? Was he told that men don’t cry and that men are always supposed to be strong? Aren’t men as human as the rest of us? Then it dawned on me, this could be a result of toxic masculinity.

Toxic masculinity is manifested by a form of gendered behaviour perpetrated by men as a result of when expectations of what it means to be a man goes wrong. It is what comes from teaching boys that they can’t express emotion openly and that they always have to be tough as anything other than that is viewed as making them feminine or weak. Wade Davis, former N.F.L player who now speaks on gender equality and masculinity says that there are no better messengers to help men confront these issues than other men. Well, you are just going to have to think of me as a fellow brother at the moment. Or better yet, think of me as me. Why? Because researchers have shown that there is very little difference between the brains of men and women. Gender identity may be a deeply held feeling of being male or female or another gender but different genders often act differently not because of biological characteristics but due to societal norms centered on femininity and masculinity. So it doesn’t matter who you get information from it is the individual man who is going to have to decide how to define manhood and masculinity for himself. I’m just here to aid the process.

Masculinity supports traits such as strength, courage, independence, leadership and assertiveness. Toxic masculinity however disrupts healthy masculinity as it is linked to toxic traits such as aggression, self-entitlement, misogyny and negative health outcomes. Harris O’Malley in his article, The Difference Between Toxic Masculinity and Being A Man sheds more light on the variation.

Toxic masculinity is everywhere. It’s affecting someone somewhere and at any time.

Toxic masculinity says men should never ask for help. This is a problem because, who can live without help from others? There’s always going to be a moment or time when a person will need assistance to get through a situation, problem or challenge. This may be either physically, mentally, financially or even the big problem, emotionally. Asking for help often makes one feel uneasy because it requires surrendering control to someone else. Now toxic masculinity is of the view that a man should always be in control and thus this goes against its idea of being a man. Healthy masculinity instead supports the idea of strength. Seeking and asking for help is actually a sign of this strength as it means one is strong enough to admit they dot have all the answers. Relying on others and experiencing needs and limitations are all part of being emotionally strong. Asking for help is a sign of humanness and is thus natural. No man is an island unto himself after all.

Boys are also expected to never be scared. The word never there is a problem, as with the previous statement. Everyone experiences fear which is triggered by the threat of harm, whether real or imagined. According to The Science of Fear, “we are born with two innate fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud sounds.” How much more natural can fear get. It’s inborn. Fear is an important human emotion allowing us to protect ourselves from danger. It enables one to be prepared to take action. It enables one to be courageous (a masculine trait). The oldest and strongest kind of fear affecting everyone is the fear of the unknown. The fear of failure is also another one that results in one doing the best they can to succeed. Therefore, men are allowed to be scared. They are human.

Boys will be boys, is another phrase found within toxic masculinity. This phrase goes hand in hand with ‘all men are the same’. Phrases like these are usually associated with negative behaviour or regressive actions partaken in by men who are bad examples. Men however can be different and learn to be respectful and responsible for their actions. A lot of men have made it in life without criminal ties for example. According to Quora, Elon Musk (CEO, CTO and chief designer of Spacex) has ‘never been charged with criminal action by any jurisdiction and certainly has never been found guilty.’ This is considered rare by many as a large chunk of successful men have long criminal records to their name. Just like how we all have different names and identities, men can be different. Some men would never dream of being violent or aggressive. Others are disgusted by misogyny. Some likewise support gender equality. Assertiveness is a characteristic of healthy masculinity allowing communication in a respectful way and some men are on board with this quality too. Men aspire to be the first-rate version of themselves, instead of second-rate versions of somebody else.

Toxic masculinity says that men don’t cry. Well I say men should cry because crying is a natural emotional response to certain feelings. While growing up, men are taught not to cry and thus resort to other emotions to deal with their issues. This usually means making use of aggression or violence. What most don’t realize is that crying helps one build a better coping mechanism to problems and challenges. Tears can be a way in which one addresses their feelings, and the good part is, no one gets hurt in the process. Research suggests that crying is an emotional release mechanism useful to your mental health. According to Healthline, there are about 9 benefits associated with crying. These suggest that crying detoxifies the body, helps self soothe, dulls pain, improves mood, rallies support, helps you recover from grief and restores emotional balance, among others. Therefore, crying can actually help reduce the problems and challenges men are going through. If you ever need a shoulder to cry on dear brother, grab some tissue and get yourself one.

“Men tend to keep so much bottled up inside. This includes all the traumas and heartbreaking moments. Eventually there has to be a release. And too often that is in an explosive way.” 

Ron Blake, Social Justice Activist, Public Speaker
Bill Gates speaks at TED2015 – Truth and Dare, TED University, March 16-20, 2015, Vancouver Convention Center, Vancouver, Canada. Photo: Bret Hartman/TED

Apparently toxic masculinity has something against colour. It says men don’t wear pink. What on earth is wrong with wearing pink? Pink in itself is associated with love and kindness. Are men not allowed to be loving and kind? The colour pink has been set in stone by decades of cultural stereotyping and gender-based, pink-blue marketing. It is as a result of mere marketing to push kids’ products to sell more that pink is viewed as girly. The move for gender equality suggests that anyone can wear any colour. In fact, “In the 18th Century, it was perfectly masculine for a man to wear a pink silk suit with floral embroidery,” according to Valerie Steel, director of The Museum at the Fashion Institute Technology. Pink is associated with all that is good and also gives hope. I see no reason why men should not be associated with such qualities as well. I mean, Trey Songs never stopped being Trey because he wore pink. Bill Gates certainly did not lose his Bill Gates factor because he was dressed in pink!

Toxic masculinity makes men think they are weak for showing emotion. Did you know that men who adhere to toxic masculinity norms tend to be more likely to experience psychological problems? These include depression, stress, body image problems, substance abuse and the use of violence and aggression. Toxic masculinity dictates that the only emotion men can express is anger which can hinder them from getting in touch with their other feelings. This can also lead to men isolating themselves from others. It encourages violence and discourages the seeking of help. It also encourages misogyny, which perpetuates the idea that being a girl is a negative trait, indirectly influencing the rape culture and disregard of women. According to statistics, men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women. Males identified as having traits of toxic masculinity are 2.4 times more likely to die by suicide compared to men who do not exhibit such strong views. Let’s bring an end to toxic masculinity before it steals another man’s life.

“By far the worst things we do to males- by making them feel they have to be hard- is that we leave them with very fragile egos.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award-winning author.