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

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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!

Guest Post: Maybe Things Need To Fall Apart by Larissa Subira

Things Falling Apart - Niquita Deviant Art online
Photo Cred: Niquita Deviant Art

 

I have been wracking my brain on what to write – what else I could say that has not been already said about abuse.  Many discussions have been had: we’ve been told the signs to watch out for (see the article from two weeks ago); and we’ve been told about the maladies in us that create the abuser and abused. What kept striking me is that most cases of abuse happen at the hands of those closest to us, at the hands of our families.

And for some reason, the close proximity of abusers somehow translates to paralysis of action: A wife suffers in silence for years in fear of her family falling apart. Her children see this, the toxicity seeps into their lives and twenty years down the line the same parents wonder why their children can’t seem to get their lives together. Or the wife reaches out to her family for help and she’s sent back with a harsh lesson that many women have been through the same, so she must suck it up and keep it moving.

A daughter or son is molested, they tell an adult in the family. Most of the time one of two scenarios takes place:  The adult family member rubbishes the claim and vilifies the child, branding them a trouble-maker, or; the adult raises it in a family meeting, and the situation is quickly ‘dealt’ with – the perpetrator may get admonished and banished or the child is sent away for their ‘protection’.  Case closed. No counselling, no acknowledgement of the pain and trauma and definitely no discussion about the work that needs to be done to ensure this never happens again.

The need to maintain peace has somehow taken precedence over the healing of the one who has been hurt. Many steps are taken to make sure the story doesn’t get out. Families are ravaged by this secret, split into camps and the abused are left to navigate the minefield of their lives with very little support.

You can see the common thread here right? The goal is to not shake the boat, even if the boat has a couple of holes in its sail; the sailors manning the boat are blind; can only row with one arm; and the captain is missing in action.   The boat will eventually sink. How can it not? But that’s the irony – we fight tooth and nail to keep the boat afloat when it will sink anyway because it’s battered and bruised, rocked by storms. So why not let it sink and build a stronger one?

Let the ship sink. Let it fall apart so once its laid bare, it can be taken apart, the problem diagnosed, to help figure out how it was incorrectly built and begin the work of rebuilding a stronger boat that can weather any storm. Can we not try something new? Can we put those that have been hurt first? Put a hedge around them, love them, protect them and fight for them and their healing? What do we have to lose?  We’ve tried the whole maintaining peace at all costs for generations, how has that worked for us?

Above all, if family is meant to be a reflection of God’s love, can one truly say our need to portray false perfection shows that? I leave this with you to ponder upon: 1 Corinthians 13: 7: “*[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

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The gorgeous Miss Subira is an integral member of the bAw team. She is a passionate, smart, driven and opinionated young woman seeking to improve the lives of those who are unfairly oppressed. You can find some of her thoughts on FB, Twitter and Instagram.

While You Wait: Insight from ‘A Time To Remember And Give’ Event by Larissa Subira

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The gorgeous sisters who formed part of the first ‘A Time To Remember And Give’ Event (All Photos Cred: Noxolo Chalale)

I recently had the pleasure of spending an amazing 3 hours with 8 beautiful women as we delved a bit deeper into the struggle of feeling left behind. I personally left that breakfast feeling as though I was exactly where God needed me to be. One of the ladies who attended the breakfast, Larissa Subira, chose to share what she got from the conversations and time we had together.

Enjoy 🙂


I had the pleasure of attending the recent bAw prayer breakfast, ‘A Time to Remember and Give’ , where an intimate group of women gathered to share and reflect on their experiences and pray for one another.  One thing we all had in common is that we definitely had an area or two in our lives that we felt we were lagging behind in.

One of the hardest battles we fight as women are the messages we feed ourselves about our lives, be it our family, friends, our studies or career choices and our body image.  Perception is powerful, but what is even more powerful is what drives these perceptions.

 

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The breakfast was at the beautiful Buitengeluk restaurant in Broadacres

Part of the discussion we had was what are these drivers?  How does one discern between this feeling perhaps just being an insecurity versus there being an area in your life that actually needs work?  It is perfectly normal to want to grow in all spheres of your life be it spiritually, career wise or family wise. Once you’ve separated the lies from the facts of your life, what do you do with the information? You now know that something in you is called to move to the next step but nothing is working. You don’t have the money or every time you come close to attaining that next step it all falls apart.

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Taffy Pfupajena graciously shared her own struggles with feeling left behind

We had the lovely Taffy Pfupajena share her own personal experience with feeling left behind, and what God taught her in that journey. In the end, everyone shared their own story and we were able to pick up on some key lessons with regards to waiting on God’s timing for our lives.

Here a few nuggets I took with me from the breakfast:

  • You’re where you’re meant to be: As hard as it is feeling like you’re left behind and nothing is going your way, there is a reason why you are at this point in your life (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Rushing to where you think you should be before God has readied you tends to have pretty catastrophic results.
  • There’s a lesson you’re meant to be learning at this stage of your life: So you’re at this point in your life, looking at what needs to be changed but you don’t know how. It could be there’s something you’re yet to learn.  Remember, God always keeps his promises. He says it over and over – Isaiah 41:10 “ Fear not;  for I am with you; be not dismayed; for I am your God; I will strengthen you; yea, I will uphold you with the right hand of My righteousness.”
  • God needs to put you in a place spiritually, emotionally or physically where you can receive what is coming: Think about any blessing that has come into your life. Okay, now think about the time before it. Despite your frustration, there were some lessons you learnt that prepped you for what came into your life and you think back and thank God for His timing because had that thing happened when you wanted it to …again catastrophic results.
  • Leave room for God’s sprinkling: God will always work things out for your good. Don’t be so tied to how you want things that you miss out on God showing you another way. As you grow, you’re meant to reach a point where you’re completely at peace with your life, because you have the confidence of the promise that God has for your life. I am not talking new age stuff here but rather knowing that God ultimately wants the best for you.  “For I know the thoughts I have toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and hope” Jeremiah 29:11.

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The lesson here?  While waiting on the change in your life, enjoy the ride, learn what you’re meant to and arm yourself in preparation for what is coming and this can only be done through a constant walk with God. The challenge is what to do in the meant time. I am in the midst of reading ‘The Wait’ and one of the nuggets of wisdom I noted was that the time when nothing appears to be happening becomes your personal self-development laboratory. The trick is not allowing the ‘wish for more’ to turn into a self-hating exercise. The key is using this period of your life productively as you seek and work to reach the next point of your life. Ultimately, God is using this point in your life for you to draw closer to Him, and once that link is solidified ‘all these things will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

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Larissa is an intuitive young woman with a passion for encouraging and uplifting others to have the life that God has purposed for them. She is also such an integral member of the bAw team who loves Jesus and is on the journey to fulfilling her purpose according to His will.

The bAw Team
The beautiful ladies that make up the bAw team

It truly was a time to remember and give 🙂

Thought-Provoking Tuesdays: Your Life

Sometimes we don’t take enough time to pause and reflect on our life and the meaning it possesses. Taking the time to do this allows us to be grateful and to appreciate what we have, and to encourage us to continue moving forward.

I think my answer would be: Miracle

What’s yours? Post your answer in the Comments section 🙂

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Photo Cred: Thought Questions Online

 

6 Truths That Helped Me to Discover My Purpose

purpose word in letterpress wood type
Photo Cred: The Jesus Flock Ministries online

 

Our generation is one that is quickly getting over working for the sake of working. Working to pay bills or to rise in the ranks of a company or to achieve some form of accolade. I believe that this generation is one that craves meaning behind almost everything it does. Whether it be the reason why we don’t indulge in certain foods any longer or choose to spend time in specific places, we base our decisions on what we believe will add value to our lives. Therefore, even one’s choice of a career must be purposeful. Actually – one’s life must be purposeful. Period.

 

This may not be true for everyone but it certainly is true for me and for a number of people I have had the priviledge of engaging with recently, and was the inspiration behind my first post on Purpose. For quite a chunk of my adult life (from when I first got to University), I was questioning my reason for being. I was pretty sure that God created me to provide a specific gift to this world, and that He deposited within me all the things necessary for me to share it. It took a bit of time but I believe He has finally placed me in my path of purpose, and I know He can do the same for you. As a black African woman (bAw), you may be wondering what it is you were placed on earth to do. You may be questioning how you can actually discover what that purpose is. I thought I’d share some of the thoughts and truths that led me to discover mine:

 

  1. Pray

This must be the most important step in this journey, and one that never gets old even as you discover and live out your purpose. God encourages us in His word to ask and we will receive, to seek and we will find, to knock and the door will be opened for us (Mathew 7:7). Some of us struggle with this because we believe that God is all-knowing and knows that we have this question in the first place – that’s how I felt anyway. But I got so tired of just ruminating on the issue internally so I eventually prayed a specific prayer asking God to reveal my purpose to me. Doing this leads you to acknowledge that only God can guide you into your purpose and reminds you that you will be fully dependent on Him in fulfilling said purpose for the rest of your life. It also acts as a way of opening your mind to receive the answer.

 

  1. Think About What Keeps You Up at Night

I remember an old mentor of mine once saying that you will know what your purpose is because it will be a niggling feeling in the back of your mind that will not rest. It will be something that wakes you up at night. It will be that issue or idea that you just can’t seem to give up on, and that seems to follow you wherever you go. It will be your passion. Passion is defined as a “strong and barely controllable emotion.” Your purpose is something that in essence has a hold over you. It is strong and will not be ignored.

 

For me, that strong sense and need to do something had to do with women and over time, with black African women and black African people in general. I could not help but be drawn to the issues that these people face. I can spend hours thinking about how to best encourage and uplift these groups of people. I can wake up in the middle of the night with a burst of inspiration or questions on how to aid them. It is constantly on my mind and has become a part of my being. So ask yourself, what idea or dream or question keeps you tossing and turning?

 

  1. Make Sure it is Impossible to Achieve

This same former mentor of mine, Andrew Adar, also highlighted the fact that your purpose will be bigger than anything you could imagine achieving on your own. It will feel and appear impossible! This reminds me of one of my favourite quotes which says, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.” I’m not sure who said that but it is spot on! Your purpose must be like a mountain with you standing by it as an ant. This is because God must be the Ultimate fulfiller of your purpose. And as Luke 18:27 says, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” So be encouraged when your purpose seems foolish to achieve!

 

  1. Speak to People who Know You Well

Once you have spoken to God about the issue, it helps to take the asking a step further and speak to those who know you well. You may have an idea of what you are passionate about but it is also beneficial to hear from loved ones what they think you are good at or talented in. Sometimes we may miss what our gifting is because we have limited our understanding of ourselves. It may take the words of another person to ignite the fire and open our minds to what we are capable of. Ask God to show you who to ask and He will use them as vessels to confirm or reveal His purpose over your life.

 

I will never forget a young lady I met during my time at university who was insistent that she could see me doing my own thing and not working for someone else for the rest of my life. Then there was my ex-boyfriend who said with conviction that he could see that God had set me aside and was going to use me to do great things for His kingdom. From there it was people telling me or confirming my suspicions that I enjoy listening to others and encouraging them to desire and be better. Or the fact that I had a heart for women and most especially those who are looked down upon or look down on themselves. Looking at the purpose that God placed on my life, I can see now that these people were mouth pieces for God in guiding me into my purpose. What have some of your friends, family and even strangers said about you and what you’re good at?

 

  1. Notice Opportunities That Come Your Way

As you try to discover what your purpose is, you will notice opportunities that have come your way in the past or that are opening up before you. You will not need to have done anything for these to present themselves but without a shadow of a doubt, you will realize that God has and is orchestrating the right breaks that will propel you further into your purpose. For me, I realized that God allowed me to attend a high school where English Language and English Literature were offered and celebrated, which is what I was drawn to and chose to study. This has helped me in sharing stories in the form of writing. He also provided my school fees on more than one occasion so that I could complete my current Diploma which will aid in fulfilling my purpose. There are many other ways He has provided and without any influence from me. Look out for these in your own life.

 

  1. It’s Not About You

One of the best ways to tell what your purpose is, is when it reaches beyond you and your little life. It seems to have a life of its own. One’s purpose does not entail just making a comfortable living for yourself or doing things that benefit only you. Just as Christ’s purpose entailed saving humanity, your purpose plays a part in this great story of restoring sinful beings to their Creator and former glory. Your purpose will touch the hearts and lives of others – maybe even people you will never meet or know about. Your purpose comes with great responsibility because it is meant to change the world one small step at a time.

 

These are some of the things that helped to point me in the right direction as I searched for my reason for being. I hope they have helped you to do the same if you were seeking for yours. Maybe you have other things that have led you into your purpose. Please do share with the rest of us so we can learn and grow together.

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

Thought-Provoking Tuesdays: Your Story

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Photo Cred: YIPA Online

I received this short devotional from my mother-friend, Aunt Gail. It really made me question whether I honestly understand my story as God has purposed it. Do I short-change His vision for me? Do I doubt who He says I am? Do I truly understand how He desires to heal and grow and love me? The answer is that I do not get it most of the time. The below devotional reminds me that my story begins where I end and He starts. I hope it provokes you to think about your own story. Enjoy 🙂

 

Where Your Story Begins by Uknown

Daughter, you hear Me say it true: I begin a new thing in you.

The past is behind you. I was there with you. I can show you where I was.

Looking back is not bad, but staying there is not My plan. Let Me place My hand on the places of pain, where you feel alone, where you cry out for rescue.

I have rescued you, daughter. I created your frame, the contours of your skin, the timing of the way your eyes close, just so. I know your makeup, all the details of you, your entire story.

I author you, daughter.

The drafting of your story, your hand in Mine . . . there is paper not more beautiful–curls of letters that make Me smile.

Daughter, the story of your name is written in My book, your beginning, the moment where you felt you ended and I begin. That is your beginning, child.

You begin where you end and I begin.

And the story keeps writing, child. After beginning there is adventure. After beginning there is trust and falling and catching and believing and choosing and waiting. There is much waiting and beginning again.

Your story running right off the page with Me.

 

Guest Post: Kim’s Naked Selfie by Sikhonzile Ndlovu

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Photo Cred: Jeyjoo Online

 

This International Women’s Day (IWD) I am still reeling in shock following Kim Kardashian’s nude selfie. Not that I am totally surprised because it’s become a regular thing with her. But happening around the occasion of IWD, I  can’t help but wonder what ideals Kim is putting forward. For centuries, women have been marginalized, recognised more for their physical attributes than their intellectual capabilities. Yes Kim’s selfie has black tape over the ‘essentials’ but honestly the image leaves nothing to the imagination! She then says ‘When you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL’. I know she is not alone in this and this is not an attack on her person.

 

Mass media often portrays women in ways that emphasise their sexuality.  Advertising, especially, has managed to commodify the female body. Then we have women who willingly display their naked bodies. Is this self-actualisation? Are they trying to prove a point? To who? Who is this for? I worry that such behaviour plays into the very stereotypes that we are trying to dismantle as women. Or I am the only one trying to reverse this negative portrayal?

 

I am also concerned about several young women out there who want to keep up with the Kardashians. As black African women (bAw) we need positive role models, who will drive home the point that as women we have much more to offer this world than our bodies.

 

Personally I am not against well-toned, curvy women, but I have everything against public display of one’s flesh most especially as a Christian. How will the world respect us when we present ourselves as nothing but sex objects? The bible says ‘know yea not that your body is the temple of God?’ Is this how we want to treat the temple of the living God?

 

Being a daughter, sister, mother and aunt, I want the girl-child to have positive role models. I want my daughter, especially, to know that she doesn’t have to be naked to feel beautiful. For those that don’t know, I have the prettiest daughter – made in the image of God. If we believe that we are made in His likeness, we will start appreciating ourselves more.

 

On this occasion of International Women’s Day, let us celebrate our beauty, but never forget the difference we can make in this world by giving of ourselves through serving others and uplifting the name of our Maker. Let us remember that the best we can offer the world is much more than our physical attributes.

 

With love,

Sikhonzile Ndlovu

 

Sis'Skhoe

Sis’Skhoe is a big sister of mine from Sandton Church, and a woman I respect and admire. She is a wife and a mother to a handsome young boy and a beautiful little girl. Skhoe is a Media & Communications Manager who conducts media research and advocacy on gender responsible portrayal. She is also in love with her Saviour Jesus Christ.