You’re Not The Only One by Larissa Subira

You're Not The Only ONe
Photo Cred: Inspiration DE Online

 

Growing up, I had no real concept of what depression or any kind of mental disorder was. I began having some understanding when I started to have panic attacks when I was 18 and in my final year of high school. These episodes were periodic, mainly around exam time.

 

I would have episodes now and again but funnily enough they intensified in my honours year. By appearances I had ‘less stress’ – barely had any exams to write – was getting the best grades in my varsity career – going to church every week – getting along with my siblings. I struggled to understand my inability to get it together, to control my mind and reactions.

 
At 22 I realised something had to be done. My panic attacks were happening more and more often. It was debilitating. I’d lose time trying to recover. So I went to campus health and sought counselling. I think my friends wondered why because I seemed to be doing alright. Force of habit that – I wasn’t one to really express my emotions. I had however reached a point where I wanted to move on.

 

Take your wounds to Christ
Photo Cred: Pinterest

 

I had counselling for 3 months – 7 years later I haven’t experienced a panic attack at all. Funny thing is life has definitely gotten more stressful – #adulting and all.

 

Let me be clear – I am by no means comparing my panic attacks to depression. What I am hoping rather is to demonstrate that any sort of challenge such as anxiety isn’t a reflection of how mentally weak or strong you are.

 

This weekend’s story of a 19 year old student committing suicide took me back to my 19 year old self. It demonstrated that young people are facing desperate challenges. In South Africa suicide is one of the leading causes of deaths in the 15-24 age group.

 

We are all broken final
Photo Cred: Crush Cul De Sac

 

I am not sure what that says about our society but it may partly have to do with the fact that beyond getting good grades, not getting pregnant or being on drugs, there is no further indication of how well you’re doing which is needed or required. Who’s to blame for this? Oh I’m not sure. In my humble view at all sectors of society, a lot of challenges are being confronted. So perhaps we all need to join hands.

 
Let’s do away with viewing depression as a testament to one’s lack of faith as is sometimes seen in our faith-based communities. It is at times viewed as a clear black and white issue, cause and effect.  And even when your depression is acknowledged there is an assumed timeline as to how long YOU should take to ‘get over it’.

 

My prayer is that we be kind with another and ourselves, more especially that we care more that our loved ones get healing. That life be less about outward achievements but more about one’s wellbeing. Lastly – for anyone experiencing depression to know that there’s NOTHING wrong with you and most importantly, you can get help. Whatever form your mental health challenges comes in doesn’t matter as long as you heal.

 

He heals the wounds
Photo Cred: Pktfuel Online

 

God doesn’t make mistakes; David beautifully encapsulated it in Psalms 139:13-14 – “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

 

Love,

Larissa

Larissa

Larissa is a regular contributor to the blog and a young woman who is passionate about the betterment of women in today’s society. She holds a Masters in Development Studies and is also a daughter of the Most High God seeking to live a purposeful life for Him.


 

Before you go sis:

  • Thank you so much for reading today’s post! If you are facing some challenges in terms of your mental health, please don’t remain silent as hard as it is to speak up. There are people willing to listen and help. Feel free to drop me a message or if you would like a referral to a psychologist, psychiatrist or support group, please do call the South African And Depression Anxiety Group (SADAG) on 011 234 4837 or 0800 20 50 26 and a trained counselor will assist you. Alternatively, you can email Zane at zane1@medport.co.za. We’re in this together.
  • We have a phenomenal Ladies Gala Dinner coming up in November if you’re in the Johannesburg area!! Please do book your tickets here by 27 October to avoid disappointment. Me and the team have been working tirelessly to ensure that this is an evening to remember! Can’t wait to spend time with you all 🙂

Wishing you a fantastic week ahead and do know I’m praying for you.

With love,

Sonia Dee

 

 

 

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Guest Post: I Was Hijacked By Lupus by Nompumelelo Simango

Shattered Glass
Photo Cred: Bloglovin’ Online

 

Imagine driving down a quiet suburb, with beautiful scenery, on a Sunday afternoon and then suddenly you are confronted by a couple of assailants; they smash your window, demand that you get out of your car with a gun pointed in your direction. Can you imagine how you would feel? The fear, the confusion, the shock and suddenly the world seems so much more different to what you had believed it to be.

 

Well, that’s exactly how I felt when I received the diagnosis on the 28th of August, 2013. For years, prior to the diagnosis, I woke up each morning with aching joints and muscles. I wondered what could possibly be the cause of the pain. I would visit my family doctor hoping that she would tell me something different but she would conduct numerous blood tests and find nothing.

 

Draw near to God
Photo Cred: Prayer Note Online

 

For years I lived with an illness whose name I didn’t know until a random swelling in the eye prompted my GP to refer me to an Ophthalmologist. He tested for a completely different element but, even then, when the results came back he assumed it was either one of these obvious two, HIV or an STD.

 

Then, when the HIV/STD results come back clear, he spoke of an Autoimmune Disease. When he said that, I was thinking; what in the world is that? Like how you would probably think, as the assailant approaches your car, is this happening to me? Right here, right now?

 

I was referred to a specialist to determine which of the Auto-immune diseases I may possibly be living with and that’s my story, that’s how I found out my body was hijacked by a chronic illness called Systematic Lupus Erythematosus or better known as Lupus.

 

His yoke is easy
Photo Cred: Pinterest

 

Most people have never heard of it. I, myself, only heard of it when Toni Braxton disclosed to her family in their Reality TV Show. So naturally, I was afraid, confused and shocked but I don’t think I experienced all these emotions at a scale higher than that of my parents. I recall the moment I tried to explain what Lupus is; I laugh today as I think back to that moment.

 

Being an African child makes the experience of living with an illness like Lupus completely unique in that there is not much awareness around the condition or any of the auto-immune diseases. In light of that, I was bombarded with numerous theories of what could possibly be wrong with me.

 

I was told that there is no such thing as an immune-system that is harmful to the body, I must just accept my “calling” as a Sangoma. I think the most bizarre of all the theories, bizarre because it came from the Christian community, was that it was a demon and I just needed to be delivered.



I simply cannot imagine where I would be right now if it weren’t for the fact that I have my own unique and personal relationship with God. It has kept me grounded but also, it has given me the will power to continue living.

 

Strength and Power
Photo Cred: Imgfave Online

 

Paul writes “…In order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)

 

And so, 4 years ago, I was given a thorn in my flesh to keep me from becoming conceited. The moment I accepted that the grace of God is sufficient I began living in the power of Christ. Not afraid of death, not afraid of pain anymore, I love God even more fiercely now and whenever I have a flare up I turn to my body and speak to this “thorn”:

 

“Lupus, you live in my body. Play nice because if I die, you die too.”

 

In the African context, living with Lupus is an everyday challenge. We are either considered lazy, bewitched or have some sort of calling. To all the beautiful bAw’s living with Lupus, you are stronger than what you believe and what you are suffering from has a medical explanation; but God is still in the business of healing. Even in the face of all the biological facts; have faith that defies logic.

 

Victory Found in Jesus
Photo Cred: Pinterest

 

Love,

Nompumelelo Simango

Mpumi Pic

Mpumi is a gorgeous young woman who is passionate about God and spirituality. She is a middle child with an older brother and younger sister. Mpumi holds a degree in Political Science and currently works as a PA. She enjoys reading, writing, singing and outdoor activity. You can find Mpumi on Facebook or Instagram to get a glimpse of some of the inspiration she shares.


 

Thank you Mpumi for your vulnerability and testimony. God truly has been good to you and may He continue to be your strength and joy.

Thank you sisters for reading. If you would like to share your story, please don’t hesitate to drop us an email at theblackafricanwoman@gmail.com. Your story can set someone free and bring them healing.

I’m still praying for you.

With love,

Sonia Dee

The Hardest Thing About Being A Single Christian Woman

Single Christian Woman 2
Photo Cred: Space For Inspiration

For whatever reason, God has seen it fit that I bear the cross of singleness in my life. And over the more recent years, I have been fortunate to see the blessing in my singleness.

 

Ever since I was in my pre-teens I have dreamt of getting married. At one point I would walk around day-dreaming about being Nick Carter’s (former Backstreet Boys member) wifey and living a charmed life (Haha!). Marriage was the ultimate for me. It was one of my many idols, and from a young age.

 

So, God has had to take me through a process where He has kept me single to shift my mind-set around what is of ultimate importance in my life. It certainly is not marriage. I have come to appreciate the peace and true joy in embracing (and not fighting) the single season.

 

When you let go
Photo Cred: Instagram

 

Today, I was impressed to share the realities of being a single Christian woman. To share some of the things that make being single really tough for us in hopes that as a community of believers, we can better support our single Christian women.

 

Now, to all my single Christian sisters, I’m sure you’ve faced some awkward and sometimes annoying questions about your relationships status:

 

  • “Why are you still single?” – This question from people who read the same Bible as you and share the same beliefs you do, and so know that you know that you are the one to be pursued and not to pursue – so why would my single status be on me when I must be chased? And with the knowledge that everything happens in God’s time.

 

  • “Why are you so picky?” – Again, this question is asked as though you yourself do not sometimes wonder why you must have such high standards. Trust me, there are days where I have thought, “You know what? Who needs a God-fearing man anyway? As long as he goes to church I’m sure we’ll be alright.”

 

And the questions go on.

 

Surrender
Photo Cred: ProGood

 

The above questions (and those similar to them), I have learnt to brush away. I get that very few married men and women in the church truly get the circumstances of single Christians today. And I don’t even hold it against them because deep down they mean well.

 

But over the last couple of years, the one question or statement that has caused me my greatest struggle with being a single Christian woman is:

 

“You are such a beautiful young woman who clearly loves the Lord. How is it that a woman like you is still single?”

 

It’s similar to question number 1 above, except that it has added salt that rubs into the wound. It’s one thing to know that you are a single Christian woman who is seeking contentment and healing from past relationships/mistakes/mind-sets. You have no doubt that were you to enter a relationship now, it would go down – and not in a good way because you’re so broken.

 

The older I get
Photo Cred: Pinterest

 

But then, it is another thing to know the journey you have walked with God to receive healing from all that. You are still on the journey, yes, but now you can turn around and look back to see how far you have come with and through Him. It leaves you in tears knowing that you are not the same person you were years ago.

 

This question then suggests that there is something wrong because you are a prime candidate for marriage yet you remain alone. It can cause even the most grounded Christian woman to wonder, especially because it is a recurring question. It can threaten to undo all the work God has done in you up to this point.

 

From family, to friends, to colleagues and even strangers (yes! I’ve had people I’ve met for the first time say this to me), such a question is probably one of the hardest things to carry as a single Christian woman. And more so because it is a question that you probably ask God in the crevices of your heart before anyone else voices it.

 

God I'm frustrated
Photo Cred: Immanuel Prayer Wheel Online

 

I’ve stopped dating for the sake of it. I’ve stopped watching movies that make me pine after men. I’ve dedicated my life to Jesus and I’m walking in His purpose for me. I literally seek to live a life of worship and my favourite pastime has become spending time in God’s word. I’ve finally laid down that idol of marriage. Yet, this gnawing question that suggests I am doing something wrong consistently follows me.

 

This has been my greatest struggle family, and maybe some other young woman’s too. I feel as though I have gone through all the steps of struggling with singleness that a Christian woman can face and this one is the biggest sucker. And probably because of the context of the African culture we grow up and live in.

 

Yet, this very question I have taken to God in my darkest moments and asked it to Him – “Why God? Why have you allowed me, a woman so devoted to you to miss out on a desire YOU planted in me? Why have you allowed others who didn’t even care to go through all the groundwork to get married and have babies while I watch? Why?”

 

I ask such questions not because I believe I am better than any other woman or even understand their circumstances that led to their marriage etc, but because this is my reality. This is what I am grappling with today.

 

Free women vulnerable
Photo Cred: The Free Woman Online

 

What am I trying to say? I have learnt in the last couple of years that being transparent with God will get you through such hard moments. It doesn’t matter how long you have walked with Him or how much Bible you know or how long you’ve served in the church or how much you’ve grown content in your singleness – you are human and you will still battle with these tough and painful feelings/questions about your status. And that’s okay.

 

It just reminds you how much you desperately need God to do life. It reminds you of your humanity. It establishes and maintains the intimacy with your God. It builds trust with Him. John the Baptist understood this which is why he questioned Jesus on whether He really was the One who was to come or if they should wait for another (when he was locked up in prison and Christ was not trying to save him). Or why Christ cried out on the cross, “My God, My God! Why have you forsaken Me?”

 

See, we often like to jump to the part of our Bible heroes’ stories where they share such profound statements of faith and don’t doubt God’s goodness – definitely all things we should seek to fulfil. But we skip over all the messy, human parts of their experiences and in the process nullify our own experiences which causes us added heartache. Just like you, they went through doubts and depression and anxiety and fear. But the greatest of them expressed these to God.

 

You don't protect your heart...
Photo Cred: Pinterest

 

One of my favourite Bible characters, David, understood this so well which is why I believe he was called a man after God’s own heart. In Psalm 18:6 he says, “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry came before Him, even to His ears.”

 

So sis, take the hardest questions about your singleness to Christ and don’t deny them. In your quiet time, pour it all out to Him because He cares. He wants to know. And He has the anecdote that will take away your pain and replace it with joy and peace. He can show you where you need Him to enter and transform you even more when you’re this honest. I have personally experienced it.

 

And to all our married friends and family and colleagues who don’t quite get it yet, no this post is not an indication about how sad or bitter we are about our singleness. It’s just an education of our experiences so you can better support and encourage us. So you can be a little more sensitive about the questions you ask us, no matter how well-meaning. To those who are already doing that, please don’t stop. You have no idea what it does for us.

 

Thanks once again for reading. Let me know what’s been the hardest thing for YOU as a single Christian woman. Encourage another woman. And remember that God loves you more than you will ever understand.

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

 

Photo Cred:Worship  Gifs & Conexus Counselling

 

Before You Go Sis:

Would you like to be part of a community of black African women who are daily speaking and seeking healing for different aspects of their lives and returning to their true identity in Christ? Then join us on InstagramFacebook and Twitter to receive daily encouragements and connect with like-minded sisters!

 

Chat soon!

Guest Post: The Most Harmful Ingredients in Shampoo for Naturals by Patrina

Harmful Shampoos
Photo Cred: Coisas De Diva

 

If you’re looking at the most harmful ingredients in shampoo, you should know that not all the ingredients on this list are detrimental to all people. Our natural hair requires different ingredients than the products available on the beauty supply shelf.

As we gain more knowledge about natural hair, we come to realize that many of the mainstream shampoos that millions of people use every day simply don’t work for us naturals.

In this post, you’ll find the most harmful ingredients in shampoos, specifically geared toward anyone who wants to maintain their beautiful curls.

 

Sulfates

 

Sulfates
Photo Cred: Waxine

The culprits are: Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, or Ammonium Laureth Sulfate. It’s heavily debated whether these ingredients are harmful to the body, but one thing is for sure: Sulfates strip natural hair of its moisture and luster, leaving it dry, brittle, and tangled.

Always choose shampoos that do not contain sulfates if you have natural hair. A product like Shea Moisture Coconut Hibiscus Curling Shampoo is an excellent choice because it doesn’t contain chemicals, and has ingredients that nourish kinky hair.

 

Mineral Oil and Other Petroleum-based Products

 

Greasy Products
Photo Cred: Derby City Naturals

Mineral Oil and other petroleum-based ingredients are tempting because they add a lot of shine. But what happens is that they coat the hair strand with oil that is impossible to penetrate. When you can’t get anything through to the hair shaft—including water—you’ll be left with dry hair underneath.

The only way to remove petroleum-based products is by using a harsh shampoo, usually one containing sulfates. Try shea butter instead. It will coat the strand, and leave your hair nourished instead of dry.

 

Fragrance

 

bottles of health and beauty products on white background
Photo Cred: Astroglide Online

Beauty companies are constantly trying to make their products smell good to consumers, but the way they’re doing it is sneaky. One innocent fragrance listing could contain anywhere from 1-100 chemicals within it.

Fragrance contains phthalates, which are esters of phthalic acid. Phthalates are linked to endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and cancer, according to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

To avoid fragrance, choose products that have essential oils listed for aroma. These will be far more beneficial to your hair and scalp, and they won’t be toxic.

 

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)

 

Polyethylene Glycol
Photo Cred: Avacare Medical Online

This chemical serves to dissolve oil and grease and works as a thickening agent in shampoo. Stripping the scalp of its natural oils is never a good idea because it lowers the immune system and leaves the skin vulnerable to fungal and bacterial infections.

Natural hair thrives on moisture, so cleansing oils away from the hair can lead to dryness and breakage. Apple Cider Vinegar makes a gentler rinsing agent and will help remove product buildup without removing natural oils.

 

Silicones

 

Silicones
Photo Cred: Reef Cosmetics Online

Silicones usually come with the names Dimethicone, Cyclomethicone, Amodimethicone, or any other word with a “cone” in it. Silicones are good in theory because they soften hair, smooth down cuticles, and give hair the illusion of being shinier.

The problem is, they will prevent moisture from your sebum from penetrating the hair shaft, eventually leaving your hair dull and lifeless. Silicones may even lead to breakage. The only way to remove the ‘cones’ is by using a harsh sulfate shampoo. Combining sulfates and silicones will likely lead to further damage.

 

An easy way to avoid buying toxic, chemical-laden products is to scan the first five ingredients on the label. Are they all names you can pronounce? If not, place it back on the shelf. What’s the point in buying chemicals for your hair? Many beauty products are expensive, so you should get one that has the most helpful ingredients possible.

Kinky hair thrives on moisture. You might consider limiting the use of shampoo, and opting to do mostly co-washes.

If you’re in an area where you don’t have access to great natural hair products, try to find the ingredients and make DIY products in your kitchen instead.

Now it’s your turn to discuss. Have you found toxic ingredients in your regular shampoo? Which products and natural ingredients do you use instead?

 

Patrina Pic

Patrina is the founder of Naturalhairqueen.net; a blog to educate and inspire women with natural hair. Patrina just celebrated her 10-year natural hair anniversary, and achieved her goal of waist length hair. With the knowledge she has learned over the years she is dedicated to share her knowledge, and experience to educate women who wish to have moisturized, healthy natural long hair.

You can connect with Patrina on these social media platforms:

Website: www.Naturalhairqueen.net

Facebook: www.facebook.com/naturalhairqueensite/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NatHairQueen

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nathairqueen/


 

Thank you Patrina for sharing your wisdom on how to best care for our natural hair.

Take care ladies, till next time!

With love,

Sonia Dee

Guest Post: How Going Natural Was A Journey Of Love by Paloma Ka-David Ncoco

 

Journey Of Love
Photo Cred: Ana Rosa Tumblr

 

Are you confident? Headstrong? Did you believe “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?” So was I till the day I decided to do something different.

 

I was 17 going on 18 and I had been relaxing my hair for years. If it wasn’t relaxed it was always blow-dried and straightened. I would spend hours the night before frying my hair to bone straight perfection. That was what society deemed ‘acceptable’ so that was what I fed my mind until one day I decided to make a change. Little did I know that that change would come with hurt feelings and hiding a part of who I am once again.

 

Pain of Change
Photo Cred: i.pinimg.com

 

I had learnt how to put my hair in twists at night and let it out in the morning. This was one of my go-to tricks when I’d wear my natural hair (there were times I’d go up to 8 months without relaxing and only blow & straighten). One day I decided I’d wear my hair natural at school and so I did.

 

When I walked into my first class the white kids started to laugh at my hair asking, “What did you do?” “Where you electrocuted?” The black kids felt my hair and would ask why it’s not coarse or why it felt like cotton; “You’re not really black then”, they’d say to me. After that day I was so overwhelmed with emotions of hurt and I knew then I wouldn’t wear my natural hair for a very very long time.

 

Words kill or words give life - you choose
Photo Cred: Pktfuel Online

 

My big turnaround came towards the end of 2015. Mid-year I had bleached my hair and the ends were fried & dyed to death so I had to chop them off. My friend had been researching natural hair and I asked her to share with me tips on how to take care of my natural hair and I myself began to do my own research and I started buying the correct products and wearing my hair natural with the occasional straightening.

 

This time around I wasn’t in high school and over the years I had grown a thicker skin. The world around me had grown and was more socially aware and accepting of change so if there were negative comments I knew those words wouldn’t affect me as much as they had years before.

 

Give some love to yourself
Photo Cred: Walk The Talk Show

 

In 2016 after experimenting with different hair colours for months and bleaching more than I should, I went and did ‘the big chop’. I must admit I felt like “What did I do? Now I look like a boy.” But eventually I fell in love with my new look. My hair was growing at a steady pace and more importantly it was healthy and strong. This time around I was accepting of myself rather than accepting of what others expected.

 

My journey has been more than just switching lanes from chemical treatment to natural haircare. It’s been a journey of learning self-love; not letting the opinions of others affect me enough to change who I am and making sure I have beautiful strong hair to show for it.

 

Paloma Pic

Paloma ka-David Ncoco, is a 23 year old creative and designer who currently lives in Sandton, Johannesburg. Her passion in life is creating whilst using many different art forms to do so. She completed two courses in makeup and photography and is currently working as a photographer and makeup artist whilst making plans to complete her fashion degree. Paloma is a strong young woman who is determined to live life not bound by the opinions of others.

 

 

I’m so grateful to Paloma for sharing her personally painful but hopeful experience in seeking out her true identity. She has reminded us that your journey with your hair goes far deeper than the external. It is an expression of what is going on within you.

What has transitioning to natural hair meant for you personally? What challenges/obstacles have you faced in this journey? I would love to hear about your experiences too.

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

 

 

Things I Wish Black African Queens Would Realize – Open Letter From A Black African King

Journalling 2
Photo Cred: Pinterest

 

Dear black African Queen,

Do you get that many civilisations are born through you and because of you?

It may come to others as though I am being biased because I am black and have been raised by you, a black woman. If you look around, however, Nubian Queen, you’ll notice, many other races are raised by you too.

Resilience and Confidence
Photo Cred: Bippity Boppity Boo

 

Dear black African Queen,

Do you understand your value and how much you give back?

It’s said that when a woman has money, her society is always blessed. She will always sow seeds of development in her society because she naturally gives back. I have seen this in my own home. How my mother would take care of cousins and send them to school with our home’s collective incomes. We would move from country to country and she would bring someone from her home village to educate and care for.

You have changed lives Nubian Queen, because of your generosity, consideration and love for your people.

 

Seed
Photo Cred: Jew In Jail

 

Dear black African Queen,

Do you know how tough you are?

How resilient you have to be in the work place? How opportunities that land in your hands can sometimes be leftovers from those before you but somehow with little you make much.

You rise, dominate and sustain.

 

Still I Rise
Photo Cred: I Like Calligraphy

 

Dear black African Queen,

I bow in adoration of your resilience, selflessness and ability to raise nations.

More importantly, however, I hope you appreciate yourself just as much too.

Regards,

A Young Black African King

 

Nubian Queens
Photo Cred: Pinterest

 

What are your thoughts on this letter? Do you see yourself in this light bAw? What else would you add to this letter?

With love,

Sonia Dee

 

Before you go sis, here are a few things you may be interested in:

  1. We have a Hiking Event to celebrate you gorgeous bAw this Sunday the 27th of August at Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve in the South of Joburg. If you desire to get out, meet other bAw and hear inspiring stories about how to best reflect on your life and live it in a way that God desires for you, this get-together is for you. We will have a lovely picnic after our short hike and some uplifting words from our older sisters who have learnt the value of taking stock of their lives. Come and let’s Heal, Exhale and Reflect together.
  2. Would you like to be part of a community of women who are daily speaking and seeking healing for different aspects of their lives and returning to their true identity in Christ? Then join us on InstagramFacebook and Twitter to receive daily encouragements and connect with like-minded sisters!

 

Chat soon!

17 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Turned 21

21st Birthday
Photo Cred: Boho Weddings Online

 

Towards the end of last year, my aunt asked me to help her put together some advice/words of encouragement for a young lady who was turning 21 years old. She asked me to think about what I wish I had been told or what I wish I had known at the age of 21. As I did the list, I realized that there was so much that I was forced to learn from experience as I entered adulthood.

 

I think it is an assumption in our more modern black African community that you’ll figure things out as you go, especially because most of us are growing up away from home and from our elders. Granted that the best teacher is experience, but some guidance and counsel never hurt anyone.

 

Most of the words of wisdom we receive as we enter adulthood is to work hard, get a good job and get married – especially as black African women (bAw). As though that is the fullness of life. This got me thinking that there may be some young 21-year old who hasn’t had the opportunity to receive counsel on life and could benefit from reading up on a few key lessons that can help make their next stage in life more fulfilling. Or possibly, just a woman who needs to remember what is important in life.

 

And so here goes – 17 things I wish someone had told me as I turned 21:

 

  1. You are beautiful both inside and out. From this age onward, understand that society and your own doubts and fears will try to disagree with that statement. Begin now to choose to believe that you are beautiful and tell yourself that truth every day when you look in the mirror.

 

  1. You are more than worthy of love. You may find yourself seeking validation and worth in different places as you reach this stage of your life – in men, friendships, career, beautiful clothes or just looking good. In all instances, nothing and no-one will be able to validate you. Understand that your worth and value stems from your Creator God alone. This will serve you well in years to come.

 

  1. Be much kinder to yourself. You’re going to find yourself making some major mistakes in life because now you’re playing in the big leagues. There are enough people out there who will try to make you feel bad about this so don’t add yourself to that equation. Learn to be your number 1 fan by encouraging yourself when you fall.

 

  1. When it comes to people (associations, friends, family, romantic relationships etc) take those associations with an emotional maturity. Understand that not everything done to you deserves for you to take it too seriously. Most times, it’s not even about you.

 

Be Kind to Yourself
Photo Cred: WordPress.com

 

  1. Expect less. This is not about lowering your standards but about what you hope others will do for you. This gives you the opportunity to be taken by surprise in a good way in life. The less you expect from people, the better.

 

  1. Rejection and disappointment is not the end of the world. Now that you’re a little older, rejection and disappointment will hurt a little more than it did when you were younger. Try now to learn that it does not mean the end of everything. The sun will still rise tomorrow.

 

  1. People who were meant to shield, love and protect you the most may end up being the ones who hurt you the worst. Learn to discern the hearts and intentions of people early on so that you can gauge those you can lean on a little more. Remember that only God will never disappoint you.

 

  1. At all costs, avoid debt in your life. You will soon be on your own, making your own money and making your own financial decisions. There is such a pressure and a tendency to want to get all the wonderful things in life that you can’t afford just to keep up with others or to “show what you’re working for”. Try as much as possible to adjust this mind-set and attitude. Instead, pursue the freedom and peace of owning what is yours and living a lifestyle you can afford. This will allow you to sleep better at night.

 

Save Money - Don't Get Into Debt
Photo Cred: Frugal Farm Wife Online

 

  1. Make time for your family. Yes life is exciting and you’ve got so many amazing friends and adventures but remember where you have come from. Your family will always be there for you regardless of what you go through or how life changes. Remember to make time to appreciate and enjoy them.

 

  1. If you haven’t already found it, seek out your life’s purpose. This is usually closely linked to what you are passionate about or what you’re really good at and love doing. It’s the thing you would be willing to do without ever getting paid for doing it. Knowing your purpose makes life that much more of a joy to live. It gets you out of bed on a tough day. It warms your soul even though things are unbearable. It can also become your career. Find out what you’re on Earth for.

 

  1. Take your time and enjoy your season of singleness. Contrary to what social media/family/friends may say, singleness is a blessing. Seek to enjoy and bask in all the goodness that it holds for you – your own time; travelling; meeting new people; excelling in your career and purpose; making mistakes and getting back up amongst other things. You will never get this time back so get over being single and get into how amazing it is before it passes you by.

 

  1. Wait for a man of his word. You’re young and beautiful with so much life ahead of you and men will recognize and desire that. Try to keep a cool head when it comes to choosing the men you date. Be selective – be hard to get but easy to be with. Be a delight but set your boundaries early on. This will serve you well in protecting you from men who do not have your best interests at heart. Wait for a man who does what he said he will do and with whom you will have no questions about his intentions.

 

Be Selective 2
Photo Cred: Skinny Sticks Tumblr

 

 

  1. More likely than not, your heart will probably be broken despite all your efforts to wait on the right guy or to protect yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over that. Instead, learn from your experiences so that you are clear on what you deserve, which will make it easier for you to identify that in future.

 

  1. Understand that you will probably lose friends as you journey on in life. It’s not necessarily because you or they are bad people. As you grow, you evolve and so do those around you. You may not grow in the same direction and sometimes that may mean that you must part ways. It’s alright. People who are meant to be in your life will remain there to walk with you as you become your best self. The rest are for a season or a reason. Learn to differentiate who is who in your life.

 

  1. Find a mentor. Be on the lookout for a woman or women you admire in terms of how you desire to live your life and where you would like to end up. Women who uphold your principles in life. Seek to develop relationships with them. Life is not lived in isolation and as a young woman, you can learn much from your older sisters and mothers who have already walked the path you are embarking on – regardless of how “old school” you may think they are! Life and its principles never go out of fashion.

 

  1. Never make anything or anyone else more important than God – not even yourself. As long as you grasp this simple but powerful truth, you can have the best life ever and become all that you were meant to be.

 

  1. Have fun!!! You are young. You’re at the peak of your youth and the world literally is your oyster. Don’t rush to grow up because that comes with its challenges. Soak up every single year of your life because it will never be the same again. Have no regrets.

 

 

Have Fun
Photo Cred: Allure Online

 

 

And so there it is. Thanks to my colleague Tumelo Bosaka who also helped me out by sharing a few of the truths she wishes she had been told at 21. I hope this serves someone well as they enter into the next season of their life. Maybe you’re past 21 but you haven’t come across some of these. It’s never too late to learn and grow. Or you may have just needed a refresher. Let’s keep going ladies 😉

 

Let me know your thoughts on the list and please share any other lessons from your experiences. Maybe you had a completely different experience. I would like to learn from yours too.

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

image
Photo Cred: Noxolo Chalale

Before you go sis, just a few things you may be interested in:

  1. We have a Hiking Event to celebrate you gorgeous bAw on Sunday the 27th of August at Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve in the South of Joburg. If you desire to get out, meet other bAw and hear inspiring stories about how to best reflect on your life and live it in a way that God desires for you, this get-together is for you. We will have a lovely picnic after our short hike and some uplifting words from our older sisters who have learnt the value of taking stock of their lives. Come and let’s Heal, Exhale and Reflect together.
  2. Would you like to be part of a community of women who are daily speaking and seeking healing for different aspects of their lives and returning to their true identity in Christ? Then join us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to receive daily encouragements and connect with like-minded sisters!

 

Chat to you soon!