Shit no one tells you about buying a home & other adult problems

dont-make-me-adult

Frack! I bought a home. This is very good news, so I hear. Well, it is. Really. As a young African, carving my way through this brave new world trying to make my mark, longterm investments like property is one way to assert my adulthood. That and it’s one way of getting my dad to stop asking me when I am getting married. So I get to grow up, like watching my investment appreciate.

There is a certain level of empowerment that comes with owning property or living alone and having to figure out life’s great mysteries. It is wonderful, chaotic and fun. But, fuck me! it is hard.

There are things they don’t tell you about this growing up thing. I think there is a societal consensus to never tell young people what is waiting for them on the other side of growing up. There is probably a collective cackle when someone discovers these previously unknown facts of life. The realization that dawns a poor unsuspecting young person when they discover the cost of bread and have to pay for it with their own money. That terrifying choice they will have to make between toilet paper and food, the terror of saying no to wine because gotta have heat. Yup, all the grown ups giggle and point in hysterics as we flail about trying to make sense of our new reality looking for a life raft. The withholding of this information is not only morally reckless, it is dangerous.

As fellow flailer, I am here to give you some of my insights on the heels of my recent home purchase. Shit is hard dudes, that is for truth. So pay attention marshmallows.

Shit is expensive, seriously! No you cannot have another handbag just to match that one top you only wear once in a blue moon! You got bills to pay.
Electricity is a nightmare. Watch what you use, and when possible get a prepaid meter.
Groceries don’t come cheap, buy the essentials first before you decide on luxuries. Yes chocolate is a luxury, but not wine ( well sorta) — you will need it to cope.

Levies, are the worst. This is a fee you pay for the upkeep of the outside of your home if you live in a sectional unit and it is sizable amount.
Special levies are even more dangerous. These are for when you body corporate decides to paint or do something you might not give a shit about.
Then there are rates — this is to the city for taking care of things, ahh the beautiful world of tax. Shot city dudes for taking care nothing but whatever take my money.
When you buy property expect to pay for everything. Is like going on a date that turns into a weekend away and being expected to pay for everything just because you said the words: “should we grab coffee later?”. You pay your lawyer’s fees, the seller’s lawyer fees and if the bank had their way some other random costs that would make no sense. These fees will be in the tens of thousands. In some cases people have to take out loans on top of their mortgage just to be able to cover these fees. Also some of these attorneys that you will deal with during this process are the literal worst. Yeah, bond attorneys I am looking at you.
You inherit all the problems that come with the property so be sure to find out if there are any before you sign on that dotted line.
Upkeep! Now you own the place, someone has to take care of it and that someone is you. Electrical problem? That’s you boo. What? the door is broken, babe get that sorted.

No more swipe swipe. Growing up means getting very intimate with the concept of a budget and learning to really stick to it. That’s your bae from now on.

Fall for broken things: 15 things I know to be true this year

walking

This has been such an amazing year with so many wonderful adventure in some many wonderful places with incredible people. I have learnt a lot and had some old lessons reaffirmed. So, here are somethings I know to be true this year, and hope 2016 brings even bigger stories tell and glorious adventures to have.

Fly direct when possible — it makes your life, trip and everything you do that much more enjoyable.

Gold status means very little — regardless of what the brochure says, what they actually give you with this status but the lounges are nice.

You will get food poising from airplane food at least once — this will likely happen just before an important event or during.

Walk every city you go to — this is the only way to really see a city and be part of its great story. Yes almost every city in the world has a great story to tell.

Visit strange places and talk to locals — this not only expands your world view but you learn a great deal about a place by talking to the people who create indelible marks there.

Dance in the rain — you have not experienced true freedom until you abandon all sense of decorum and dance in the rain while the world watches.

Be brave enough to fall for broken things — only when you see the beauty in the broken can you appreciate the gift of the whole.

Airlines will lie, that is a fact of life — once you deal with that flying gets a little less annoying.

Apologize when you are wrong but stand firm in the truth — there is no shame in saying sorry and no reward will ever come from hiding from the truth.

No mistake is impossible to come back from— barring trying to murder someone, people usually forgive those they care about.

Second chances are a dime a dozen — take them when you they come, but also give them when you can.

Love is a two-way street not a punishment — if someone, friend or otherwise, cannot love you back you should move on.

Laugh at yourself — because other people will always take the opportunity to laugh at you, so take that power away.

Walk away from the past — but take its lessons with you

Tomorrow is a new day — you can also try again.

I am not my hair: discovering my face was good enough

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“No colour?”, “Your natural hair is so long!”, “What happened to the weave?” and “Woah you are gorgeous!”

I have been a loyal member of the weave cult for the better part of the 10 years, as soon as I realized that braids were not doing my hairline any favours. For ten years, I have not seen what my natural hair actually looked liked and neither had the people closet to me. It felt like a state secret one that me and my many hairstylists in the last ten years guarded with our lives.

I had good reasons for not wanting my natural hair exposed the world, or at least they seemed good to me. My hair is quite thin and after years of trying to fix it I gave up. It also frizzes, just introduce it to air and it will grow a life of its own, with the most intense tiny curls known to man. This meant that my natural hair would require straightening every day, it laughs in the face of relaxers and at the risk of looking like ‘Cousin It’ in every photo I take I just to hide it. It was my secret shame. My untamable beast.

So what changed?

The weave I had seemed uncomfortable somehow, I felt like a fraud in it and I needed to take it off. I marched into my stylist salon and said to him please take this off and give me temporary braids till I decide what is next. He wants to get paid so he did as he was paid. I generally never pay attention when he is working as I trust him with my hair implicitly. He was in the process of blow drying my hair, when he asked if he could try something before we braided. I said yes. He blew out hair and styled it with very hot GHD and asked me to look. My natural hair, long and beautiful. Stared at the person in the mirror for a long while because I clumsily asked: “Is that me?”

“I know you want to cover this up as quickly as possible but, I have been doing your hair for a year now and I have never seen you more beautiful, please keep it like this,” he said to me.

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Then it hit me, I wasn’t afraid that I would be unable to manage the crazy hair I had been blessed with, I was afraid that without the weave extras I would not be enough.

It’s almost as though as black women, we don’t trust that we are beautiful enough without the weaves. At least this held true for me. I didn’t trust that my face on its own was beautiful and that as the perfect product of both my very good looking parents that I was enough without the mask of the weave.

I don’t know why we do this. A friend of mine reckons its the media. We have been influenced to think that our own hair is not good enough and enhancements are needed for us to truly be beautiful. I suppose that is what India Arie meant when she said I am not my hair, because underneath all that weave or braids or whatever you have the person remains the same, the face remains the same. We have been sucked into a cultural vortex that we get introduced to as children when parents try to beat our hairs into submission for the purposes of the school conduct. We look at our wild crazy hairs and think if only it can be straight and just do as it is told. We wonder why we don’t look like all the beautiful people and their perfect hair, and we forgot to look at where beauty truly comes from and that our faces are made of the smiles and generosity of spirit we allow it.

I am not my hair, but I am face and my heart that should be more than enough for me and anyone else who takes interest.

Courtship and intimacy: the scar tissue of the Tinder generation

Tinder-Logo

“You are a walking contradiction,” Demi says to me as he peered into my eyes trying to unlock its secrets. He had interrogated me for the last 70 minutes. We were on a first date and somehow it felt more like an inquisition than a date. I met him on Tinder the previous week and we chatted for a couple of days before I summoned the courage to ask him out. It wasn’t a big deal, but call me old-fashioned I still wonder if people I meet online are serial killers.

For reasons I will not explain to you now I spent two weeks on Tinder, it was an experiment, of which I am not sure what my conclusions are. I found myself sitting across the table from my Russian interrogator, his probing gaze daring me to deny him the answers he desperately wanted.

“Where do young successful people (women especially) meet people?” I was asked two days before my Tinder explorations began. I get this question a lot, I don’t know the answer. I don’t think these so-called young successful people know either.

“Somewhere on the path of life?” I offered.

Somewhere between theorizing where these young people found to mingle: for love, friendship and dare I say it for sex, I found myself signing up for Tinder. There is some irony to that but I digress.

“You have to tell me more about your travels. Have you been to Saratov, I am from there.” Demi’s thick accent was giddy with excitement as he whispered the word ’Saratov’ like a love song, a longing for his home town no doubt.

I have never been to Saratov, much to his disappointment but his questions were not done. He had one critical one left.

“Why did you swipe right?” he asked.

Do people actually ask this question? Shouldn’t you just assume that people swiped right because something about you piqued their interest. Are we a generation of such insecurities that we are surprised that our carefully chosen images and perfectly crafted bios get us attention?

The truth: my friend that convinced me on this ludicrous exercise actually did. But I don’t tell him that, I know where all this is going. Instead, I get cheeky and ask, why did you?

“Because you look like you would be good in bed.” All sense of civility was gone, and the false curiosity about me peeled away. A part of me admired the moxy a statement like that must take but another part of me rang in the ‘told you so’ with a disappointing sigh.

The evening ended and Demi went home alone. I had a series of dates some playing out like the one above and others bored me to the point of narcolepsy. It really could just be me, I could just be a disinterested snob. Though from the people I have spoken to about their Tinder experiences, it seems there is a sense of understanding. One person called it a ‘sex app’.

In the last three weeks I have read a lot about Tinder experiences and what is happening to the generation of Tinderers. Young people all over the United States see Tinder and apps like it for what it is, is a means to gratification. One that mostly leaves women hollow and some men counting.

Tinder is a platform sorely dedicated to satisfying the sexual appetite of a generation too busy to figure out how to make connections away from screens. It gives this generation carte blanche on openness and sometimes bad behavior. It is the play ground of instant gratification, there is little to no real human connection there.

It has been touted as the hookup culture, 20 years ago this culture still allowed for some human niceties and maybe polite conversation. Now it doesn’t seem you have to play at being nice anymore but available. The creators of Tinder built a place for people to meet, what they met for was up to the people.

Human beings have a propensity for creating technology that will make their lives easier. Food on demand, cars on demand, homes on demand, why not sex on demand as well. This is not necessarily a bad thing if everyone is clear on the rules of engagement.

There are of course exceptions to the rule. People who have met and made genuine human connections and since left the world of Tinder to go enjoy those connections. However, the majority of the Tinder experience are the rule, just read many of the think pieces that explore the average experience. Friends convince you to keep at it because they know guy who knows a guy who met his wife on Tinder.

What people do with Tinder is actually quite irrelevant, it is here to stay and with busy lives it is likely the easier way to try to connect. What I am interested is how Africans are playing on Tinder. Is the app’s use, results and experiences universal? Have young Africans too resided themselves to the hookup culture as well and is it a case of wham bam thank you ma’am? Is there even a thank you? Or do people just go back to swiping? Are we also playing the game of who gets to care less? Or Perhaps when it comes to sex and love, more is more?

There isn’t a fine line between love and sex. I am not sure people are looking for love on Tinder. How would that look if they were? However, there is a fine line between sex and intimacy, hookups and courtship. On Tinder, we don’t bother to fake intimacy anymore, the nature of the platform requires images to be doctored to attract a suitable coitus partner. There are no courtship just hookups.

If young successful people are looking for a place to meet like-minded people for the purpose of courtship, then we are all in trouble. We keep asking the question, where do you meet people in current times? It seems the real question should be why and what. Why are we looking for places to meet people? What is the outcome we hope for?

If Tinder is our last hope for connection, then we may have some thinking to do. Perhaps we need to begin with a redefinition of connection before we can find the place we connect. To exist in the world of this appify dating, you have to be open to the reality that no one will give you their heart, just their body. Frightening more, no one will want your heart, just your body. A generation that solely thrives on that is bound to leave some damage.

As we make our way through the evolution and revolution of our sexes we forget that most revolutions end in blood shed and the broken pieces of a world long gone. The hookup culture only works if everyone checks their hearts and feelings at the door. The societal and emotional damage that will follow is bound to shake up the fabric of how we date and maybe even love.

The scar tissue of what the Tinder generation are doing to courtship and intimacy will be indelible and not in a good way. No one has given this much thought, the consequences of who we are becoming, of who we have no choice but to become.

Dancing in the glorious Johannesburg thunderstorm

JHB thunderstom

Almost a year ago, I left everything behind and moved to Johannesburg. I did so kicking and screaming. I was convinced my life as I knew it was over, I wasn’t shy telling everyone this. How could it not be, I was forced to live in the apocalyptic wasteland as I like to call it.

When you live in Cape Town and experience other cities around the world that make life seem easy and accessible, the car-filled and distance embroiled Johannesburg seems to be the place where souls like mine go to die. People tell you this, and sometimes experience tells you this.

My experiences of Johannesburg before the move was in 24 to 72 hour stints. Hours spent in moving cars reading odd billboards that say: “Chinese Christian Church, Virgins Welcome.” Something like that stays with you.

My first month in the city as my new home was filled with distant aching for what I left behind. Whenever I poured myself a glass wine, there was a sense of hollow nostalgia, the kind that had no place in my new reality. It was pretty clear that I was a doomed character in my very own make-believe — what a cliche.

So I escaped it every chance I got. But this sly city has a gift for the swiftly interesting and surprising encounters. It wouldn’t let me escape, even when I wasn’t here it reminded why I needed to be.

After much resistance, on a rainy morning in the middle of Braamfontein, no umbrella in hand and only a sweater vest to keep me warm, it hit me: Johannesburg had gotten under my skin. As I stood there waiting for an Uber that may never come, the bone crushing cold of the midwinter rain pierced my skin. I wasn’t cold, I wasn’t sad or annoyed by the wetness, I was content. Happy to be in this place, so much so I danced. Stretching my hands out to the rain and danced with careless abandon. The onlookers probably thought I was nuts.

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There are elements of this city that very few cities around the world can claim, the epic thunderstorms, the people with a plan ( people seem to know what they want here) and a community for everyone. The genuinely friendly people that makes you question your own civility. This truly is a global city, full of locals, expats and people just passing by.

I have been on the search for my city for so long, I am not sure I know what my city looks like but I know what it needs to fee like. I don’t know if Johannesburg is my city but it is the city I want to play with right now. Where else will you meet a Nigerian investment banker and an ex-Russian prostitute with a Masters degree in Russian Literature buying food from your local Nigerian food supplier?

In one of my favourite Doris Day films, Pillow Talk, Tony Randall in abject exasperation says: “this is New York, we’ve got air you can sink your teeth into, it has character. Why would you want to leave?” Or something to that effect. That’s Johannesburg, it has air you can sink your teeth into, character you can unpack.

So for now, while I find my city, I am just going to dance in the glorious Jozi thunderstorm!

Top image by Alexius van der Westhuizen (his photos are amazing)

Dear single girl: it is okay to be alone and be happy

silhouette of mother kissing her daughter

Last year, on the occasion of my birthday I began to reflect on my life and the lessons I was learning in my twenties. As part of the transition from my early to mid to late twenties, my life was only as complicated as I made it.

As I settle uncomfortably into the last year of my twenties, the lessons from last year become even more important and my transition into adulthood is that much more critical. The questions that family and friends pose now are different. For the girl in her late twenties it is clear that it is time to forego the criticism that every act in her life is a publicity stunt because it is not the norm. It is time to just get on with it.

Single girls in their late twenties have a clock ticking, and everyone reminds them. Women in their late anything are problematic to the world. To some, it is an embarrassment to womankind, a terrible choice that likely stems from unchecked feminism that the examined hierarchy of life has not approved. Don’t achieve too much because the men might be too intimidated to share their lives with you. The thought is an insult to the men of the world. A society that prides itself on the assumption that men do not have the emotional maturity to handle success in women, an assumption that success is intimidating and not attractive?

We are the problem with the dating world, I have been told. We, these women who value success above all, these caustic women who refuse to be vulnerable and are able to separate their lives, emotionally and professionally. We are problematic because we are steely creatures with unapologetic sexual appetites. We, these women, in our late somethings entertain the thought of coupling forever without marriage — perish the thought.

There is a dynastic threat that single women in their late twenties and beyond pose. It is a generational question that is coming more and more into societal consciousness. How do you keep the ideals of old in a world where things of old are easily discarded or no longer on hand? The more comfortably you settle into your place in this new world of generational angst and raspy well-meaning voices asking questions you rather not answer, the finely honed your skill of civil politeness gets. For the most part all you want to say is ‘mind your own fucking business’ but civility demands you say something nice. No one bothers to ask if these women are single by choice, the assumption is that they are unable to attract a partner because of something they are doing wrong and by default happiness will elude them.

The real threat and problem is far more insidious than generational or hierarchical misunderstandings. It is the doubt that begins to creep into women’s minds that it is not okay to be alone and that being single is an unnatural thing. It is the dangerous problem that links happiness to coupledom and alone to loneliness. You could argue that this is not the case, that women are happy to be single and are not bothered by the comments from friends and family. Your argument will be debunked by the number of Facebook updates and Instagram posts that begin to take on a rose-tinted and happier tone once a significant other is present. Almost every book, movie and tv show always finds a way to couple up before the end. The happy ending seems to only work once heroes and heroines have been coupled up.

This argument is not that coupling up is a bad thing, but how we sell it and its unrealistic correlation to happiness. There shouldn’t be a culture of humiliation around being single, people should be encouraged to get to know themselves, succeed and fail before they find someone to share all of that with. We should teach young girls that their lives will not be judged by the match they make but rather the person they chose to become.

Dear single girl, it is okay to be alone for as long as you see fit.

When did it become okay to receive kindness and forget to give it?

The standard mantras of well run homes and well behaved children is that they always say please and thank you. They never raise their voice and are always polite. The children are the jewel of every parent, these adults are the symbol of what courteousness should be. Pretty much Colin Firth, the epitome of the perfect gentleman.

I recently stopped hearing from a friend and wondered why. When I confided in another friend they asked me I always always ask how they were. It is a simple question, one that the answer would ordinarily be an easy yes. Then I thought about it, how many friends forget to ask their friends how they were, how their day went. It seems our society has bred a generation of receivers of kindness but not givers of kindness.

I have spent hours in conversation listening to the dramas of other people and not once in that conversation did they bother to ask how my day was. It usually never bothers me until the cynic in me comes out and then I call people out. I probably have also been on the other side of that, spilling out the stresses of my day but forgetting that I was not the only one in the conversation. It’s a natural thing, to ask someone how they are. Sometimes it feels almost robotic, the thing you are supposed to say after the heys and the what’s ups. The natural progression after our response to their how are you. Somehow we find ourselves regurgitating the deluge of our oft horrible days forgetting that horrible days are not exclusive to just us.

We all talk about random acts of kindness and publicise how well we have behaved by acting so randomly. Why should kindness be random? Why can’t kindness be natural and good manners? Would we not be better off if when we say our pleases and thank yous, we also say how are you, excuse me and how I can help you. Why should we wait for some social media game to remind the people in our lives that we care or to take a moment and be courteous or generous with out time, wealth or heart.

Why do we forget to keep in touch with people we call friends and act surprised when they seem distant? When did friendship become work, something that has to follow your schedule. When did we become so busy that our friends don’t even deserve a simple “just checking in”. I remember when conversations with friends could take place with a series of emoticons because all you wanted was to let the other person know you’re thinking of them. I remember when thought was important and all that counted.

When did it become okay to put our friends on to do lists and forget catch ups because it wasn’t in our calendar, when did friendship become an agenda item in the big meeting of life? When did we decide it was better to walk away than stay and understand?

When did it become okay to receive kindness and forget to give it back? When did we start forgetting to ask our friends how they were and how their day was? Why do we always forget to simply ask ‘how are you?’

I hope I can be a better example of a giver of kindness.

How to be a grown up 101 — the ‘DYI’ edition

I should have known my entire universe was going to come crashing down the minute I had to insert the L4 lever into B3. There was no L4, I looked in every single packet that came with my brand new plasma stand, every single one. And so, after 63 minutes of pure agony and frustration I stared at my unfinished work in defeat, I would never find L4 and my plasma stand will remain unassembled.

This is what happens when you grow up, the bright lights of childhood dim with resentment of playgrounds lost, the mischief of youth tries to groan on like a sluggish predator given up on the chase. Schedules become the norm, budgets become exciting activities and old lady pants are not just a thing but a cherished calendar item.

Welcome to the reality of the late 20-something.

My theory of what happens to people in their late 20s comes from years of watching sitcoms that made your 20s when things finally made sense and life became manageable — this is a big fat lie as we have already established. The reality on the other hand shows dramatically different lifestyles and world views from what we have been led to believe. As the assault of being a grown up looms, your inner child suffers and good sense is compressed to sense right now. In the quest to make sense of this growing up thing, this adulthood you find yourself trapped in something comes at the mercy of cruel and malignant being dancing at your every failure. Growing up is not easy they tell me, you have to work hard at life. Why, is what I want to know. What did I ever do to life that I have to keep working hard at it? Who is keeping score? Nobody knows.

The main curse of the 20-somethings is of course the Gwyneth Paltrows of this world, the women in their 20s who as one Buzzfeed writer described seem to have this life thing “sufficiently figured out as to be both enviable and mundane”. You often wonder who these women are, how on earth did they manage to do it and you can’t. Where on God’s green earth did they find the L4 lever that goes into B3 effortlessly, when you searched tirelessly and couldn’t. Who are these women, who are these people? These people that make you feel that while the rest of the works is winning at DIY you are failing at DYI because the instructions are all mixed up for you.

Incase you missed it: I am struggling a bit with this being a 20-something thing and giving adulthood a go. I am pretty sure I have everyone fooled and I am faking adulthood well, so I think. If things I read, watch and listen to are anything to go by, all you need is six things to be good at adulthood.

  • learning to make grown up decision
  • looking like you have it figured out
  • living an enviable lifestyle
  • understanding what is actually happening in the world
  • having a definite sense of style
  • finding yourself and knowing who you are

If all these things are indeed correct then I have failed with a soul-crushing grade of D- or more accurately an F, I am being generous. Somewhere along faking adulthood I seemed to have boxed myself into a corner that says I must be adult at all cost. No room for real play. Going out drinking does not count, if we are being honest that’s the worst inheritance of adulthood. Convincing ourselves it is okay to behave in an ill-mannered way, act with little dignity that even children are mortified and cause our bodies to reject everything it has ingested and possibly harm others because we think we are so invincible that drinking and driving is a contest — no not fun. No, I mean actual fun and play coupled with genuine laughter.

Though I easily allow myself to get lost in an existential crisis over why DIY instructions don’t add up. The ridiculousness of a pinch of something to a recipe (what is a pinch? Or a dash? Are these quantifiable measurements? Really?!?), I think it is safe to say, I am a grown up in my own way.

Everything in my home may not match or be fully assembled, I may still think the purpose of making money is to spend as quick as you can, I have yet to poison myself or set the house of fire. Adult supervision not needed. I feel there is a fine line between playing adult and eventually becoming one.

‘Damn You Instructions’

Saying goodbye to Memeburn: the hardest thing ever

Cape Town

I wrote Memeburn a ‘Dear John Letter’ and someone asked very nicely that I share it. So here goes. Note, Burn Media is the holding company for Memeburn and Creative Spark is the parent company for Burn Media. My goodbye was doubly hard because I had to leave Cape Town…

Dear Burn Media and Creative Spark,

After four years, more than a 1000 posts, over 800 000 words, four continents, 12 countries and 30 cities it seems our time has come to an end. It is not you, it is me, well its you a little. From our humble beginnings in the crack whore den in Hope St. The hipster havens of trendy Kloof St to our contributions to the tech gentrification of Woodstock. Our time has been great, but alas, it is time to signal in a new chapter of my life and so I must pack up my boxes and go.

In every box I have packed there is a memory of you. The day we hit our first million, our first big interview, the day we became 20 people and the day the new york times recognized us.

When I tell our story, I will talk about the smiles, the tears and the frustrations. I will talk about the good times, the bad times and the times I nearly gave up. But more importantly I will talk about the person I became because of you, the strength I got, the persistent that became the norm and the opportunities I found. Friendships gained, the fat cactus, Rick’s cafe and the rooftop of kloof street. I will think of Apple events, company exits and share prices. Ceos and founders interviewed and heroes met. Stories I loved, stories I hated and stories that sadly couldn’t be helped.

When I talk about the losses we endured, I will also talk about the victories, I will talk about Paris, New York, Lagos, Nairobi, Seoul, London, Accra and San Francisco. I will talk about the price of passion, its rewards as well as its consequences. When I tell our story which has been written in the indelible ink of friendship, love and respect, I will talk about an unstoppable dream. A dream we all bought into without question or hesitation. A dream that would see us all break the walls of our shell to become something quite remarkable. A dream that took me out my comfort zone thrust me in the uncomfortable yet rewarding light of stardom.

Most days I felt an exorbitant amount of anxiety and vulnerability when doing this job. But Africa’s stories had to be told. Tracking entrepreneurship, the adrenalin sport of business. One I revelled in.

Even though I will miss you terribly, I must grow outside of this new comfort zone. I am looking forward to this new challenge and to starting a new phase of my career. Thank you so much for allowing me the immense privilege of telling Africa’s stories.

To my team, there are not enough words and even if there were they would mean nothing to what you guys mean to me. No human being has ever had the privilege of sharing an amazing journey as I have. I wish you all everything of the best. You are each so talented and so very clever that I can’t wait for the rest of the world to take notice.

To Creative Spark, I beg you not to lose your sparkles and continue to be a special and creative place.

I have learnt so much here, and I hope in some small way I have taught something as well. I am sorry I have to break up with you. Forgive me.

Yours always,
Mich

Eat cupcakes: things I am learning about growing up in my 20s

cupcakes

When I was a little girl I always assumed that your twenties was the time where things come together. Every book, film and television show seemed to make it so. You get your own nice apartment, get a job and all of a sudden your life was made.

They LIED.

Getting a job is super hard, the current job market doesn’t really require you to do anything you actually learnt at university. If you happen to be lucky to have a job, you will not always have a nice apartment. You will get a shoe box that you will likely have to share with someone. Most importantly, your life is not made, in your twenties, you are constantly cash-strapped and sometimes it can be struggle between eating, rent or moving back in with your parents.

On my 21st birthday I drank a lot of alcohol and was still able to stand and function the next day to many people’s surprise. I thought that was the most amazing night of my life and I didn’t think much else could beat the fun, love, laughter and just plain amazingness of that night… I was wrong.

I recently had a birthday, as I now creep closer to the last years of my twenties I found that the perceptions of my 10, 15 and 20 year old self were grossly misrepresented. So while I reflected on my life as one does every birthday, there are some lessons that have dawned on me.

If I could talk to my 21 year old self, here is what I would say.

Friendships will end, let them: I love my friends and I love making connections but I found out too late that some friendships are meant to run their course. Don’t force friendship and don’t chase ghosts in friendships. It is better to have three great friends than 30 lukewarm ones. If you are the one always initiating conversation perhaps it is time to walk away. It is okay if people don’t like you, that’s life.

You have a lot of time, make some mistakes: stop worrying what people might think and think about how you feel. You have so much time to figure out who you are and what you want to do and be. Don’t waste your time trying to please people when you could be having fun and achieving your goals. Take some risks.

Have goals, but don’t be chained down by them: give your life focus and work toward something. Just remember that not all your goals are meant to be achieved all at once. It is okay to change your mind about your goals. Life rarely works out the way we plan, so don’t beat yourself up if you’re not president of a fortune 500 company yet.

Everyone is making it up, even your parents. There is no fast and hard rule for life, the people who seem to have it sorted are faking. No one really knows what they are doing with this living thing, so don’t stress. Take it one day at a time and see how you get on. If you win yay, if you lose, get up and try again.

See the world because there is no better time than the present. Travel as much as you can and take all the opportunities that come your way. You can never understand yourself than when you have explored spaces beyond your own. Travel, travel, travel.

Don’t date jerks or try to change people: there is no point being in a bad relationship. No one ever tells you it is okay to be single, but it is. In the end you have to be able to live with this person and who you are with them. Don’t settle because everyone wants you to. You can never change people, only people can do that.

It is okay to not want to party: just because you’re young doesn’t mean you are a party machine. Nice quiet nights in can be good and is often more rewarding than nights of binge drinking. What is the point of showing up at work the next day and feeling like the world is exploding in your head?

It is okay to question yourself, do it often. Every decision you make will feel like the wrong one. Job choices, cities, relationships, you will always feel someone else is doing it better. It is okay to have doubts, just don’t live in them. Question yourself and resolve it after all if you make a mistake you learn from it.

Each year gets better. You will have more fun the older you get because you understand yourself better. Don’t worry about getting older because you will get better with age if you embrace it. The only person that is worried about how old you are is you.

Stop wishing for more, it’s never enough. The more you want the more you wish there was more to have. No matter what, there will never be enough if you keep wishing for more. Be happy with what you have.

Do what you’re good at. There is no point suffering through a bad job. Never work to live, live to live and let your work be part of that life. Be passionate and always believe in what you are doing.

Have fun. Always play in your twenties and make sure you try to play your whole life, it keeps you alive and young at heart always. The more fun you allow yourself the happier you will be.

Finally, eat cupcakes: because every now again, you will need an injection of happiness. Growing up is hard and the sugar sometimes helps get through the bad days.