If Not Me, Then Who?

Hello, world! So I’m quite intrigued at how my attitude and commitment have changed since I finally got my A into G and focused my efforts fully on this blog. Fingers flying, ideas flowing – I’m even tripping myself up with how many post ideas hit me in a day! I guess it was all about the decision to succeed – which has pretty much been the tone of this year so far. A pretty damn good path to choose, right?

If I look back on my life, I can remember exactly when I had to make my first ‘major’ decision. I was in Grade 7 and I had just started my riding career, which was obviously all-encompassing. But my grades were starting to fail, so I was suspended from riding by my parents and given the choice: either you bring the grades up or you forfeit riding. Naturally I chose to save my riding- I mean, my grades. But from then, the decisions started to grow in importance, and strangely enough, they were focused on horses. The high school I went to was chosen based on the fact that it was a boarding school, it was co-ed, and heyo, it had facilities for riding. When my horse came into my life, where I would study after school was weighed up according to where he could go. How much money we would part with in the month was influenced by what my horse needed and where he was (stabling costs, transport to get there etc). And probably the most influential; my first part-time job was taken in order to avoid having to sell him. At the time it was a good decision – I keep my horse, I work in an industry based on horses, I get work experience, and I earn some money. But again, my studies took a regrettable back seat. Now since then, the tune has changed a bit. My choices have moved from being influenced by my riding career to, in a sense, being bound by my riding career. And now at this point in my life, while I’m proud that I worked hard to keep at what I love, with 2018 came when some introspection led to the question: where are my decisions taking me in the grand scheme of things? The answer? Not where I need to be. So I chose to study big time toward an industry that I enjoy, which meant that the job with horses needed to fall away, which means – wait for it – it’s time for me to part with my horse. This is probably the biggest, hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, but I feel that as an adult trying to make it independently, I need to put my needs before my wants. Big girl pants, and all.

What I’ve learned through all this, though, is actually what I learned when I was studying psychology, or social work, more accurately. A decision means nothing if it doesn’t come from you. I’ve faced many times where I’ve had people advise me on which path to take, and where I’ve kind of avoided the responsibility of making the decision  myself. If I did take their advice, I’d often find myself second guessing the direction I was now heading. If I didn’t, I’d find myself feeling lost and a bit resentful of where I was (or wasn’t heading). But in the many decisions I’ve made this year, I’ve found a sense of peace and understanding because they came from my own experience. Am I getting all guru here? Basically, I own the decisions, therefore they sit well with me. Much more concise.

SO. How often do we feel like we made the wrong choice? Was it ours to begin with? We forget that we are the experts in our own lives and wellbeing, so we sometimes hand over to someone who we think knows better. But how can they know us better than we know ourselves? In the end, it’s best for our journeys to give authority back to ourselves, make mistakes, learn from them, and sleep at night knowing that we are the authors of our own days.

How’s that for empowerment?

Baci a tutti x

P.S: I feel like my decision to start drinking coffee more regularly also influenced my spike in maturity.

P.P.S: Red Bull was also involved.

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Ma Primo, Io

I repeat: 2018 is for the self.

Hello all! So in keeping with my previous train of thought, I want to look at how we treat ourselves. More specifically, I want to look at how we treat ourselves in the face of others. I think it’s something we don’t think about very often, but I’m curious about some things in that regard.

Have you ever noticed that the person you are at home, the person you are with friends and family, and the person you are at work or with strangers are not the same? There are subtle things that change when you present one of those ‘selfs’ – the things you think and talk about change, your actions differ (to eat to my heart’s content or to nibble daintily?) and sometimes your personality does a 180 from introvert to extrovert for days. But do we notice – and if we do, do we worry – when the selfs made for the outside world start to impact our lives as a whole in a not so good way? Family and friends normally don’t elicit this kind of worry (“don’t normally” doesn’t mean they’re incapable), but what about the place where we spend most of our time as adults – the workplace?

Compromise shouldn’t tip more in your direction.

Work is literally based on the principle of give and take. I give you as my employer my skills and labour, and I take compensation for the time and effort I give. Some employees go beyond the call of duty, and some employers are overly generous. Basically I feel like it’s kinda like a bubble in a spirit level – never sitting dead centre for too long, but not straying far. We should also acknowledge that we give of our personhood as well. Taking it in your stride when you’re irritated, leaving internal issues at the door in order to get the daily grind under way – that’s giving of yourself. Now. Sometimes – especially at work – to avoid confrontation or tension, we pressure ourselves to give a little more than we have. And sometimes this results in the hatching of a new personality trait that you didn’t even know was a thing. This shouldn’t be a problem, right? Right. The problem comes in, though, when that ‘dipping into your personhood savings’ and acting different for the sake of others becomes the expected norm at work, which you go to every day, where you have to act more or less the same for extended periods of time – are you picking up what I’m putting down here? It becomes exhausting when it becomes the norm. And that’s when your other selves, among other things, start to suffer. What is there to give to yourself when you give too much to other people? Not to mention that it’s borderline terrifying to look up at work one day and go “Who the hell is that speaking with my voice and my face and sounding like… is that me?”

 

It’s not a prison sentence, hallelujah!

The only thing binding us to this mental discrepancy is ourselves. One of the hardest things to do is step out of a comfort zone, especially when there’s even a slight chance that it’ll be challenged (What? My employee doesn’t actually like being uncomfortable for the sake of the job? Unheard of!), but it’s so very necessary to get out of an unpleasant space. Small steps still get you where you need to go – try the word ‘no’ every so often at work. No to extra work, no to things that aren’t part of your job description, no to picking up other employees’ slack too regularly. And make those tough decisions like choosing to tell your boss you can’t deal with certain tasks today. You’ll feel that steel band around your mind loosen just that bit, and you’ll feel the good vibes that come from simply doing you, booboo. It’s good to give a little, but it’s even better to give to yourself.

My own little achievements.

In being true to what I put out into the universe with my posts, I’ve decided that the job I have is not making me happy at all, so I’ve decided to put me first and go back to varsity! Pretty damn bold move, seeing as I’m 24 this year and now heading back to being a dependent (temporarily). As it goes so far, though, I’m immensely happy with my decision. Dreams are realized by getting up off our derriéres and making it happen, and our own dreams can’t become a reality if we’re giving our all to the dreams of others. I’m glad I’m finally realizing that. Great things are on the way.

Self-love is selfish. Put you first. ♥

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Baci a tutti xx

2018 is for the Self

First post of 2018 yasss! May this year be the year of answers, success and very good vibes for all. And for the love of all that is good, can we please be on each other’s team this year?

SO. Here we are rolling into 2018 as confidently as we have every New Year, with our energies renewed, our eyes shining bright and our get-up-and-go in full force. And with a new year, comes the flood of that phrase, now synonymous with a ‘flash in the pan’, all over our Instagrams, Facebooks, even Twitters; hear the hordes proclaim New Year, New Me. 

New Year’s resolutions are as iconic of January as red, green and white are to December (or August, according to most malls). Whether it be fitness goals, quitting smoking, or wearing less black, everyone’s got the mindset to kick their A into G in some way or another. You’ll notice, though, that whenever the topic of resolutions comes up, it’s an almost instant “that won’t last past February”. The backtrack rate of New Year goals is creating a habit of assuming that these things are doomed from the start, right? Here’s some speculation on why these things find their way to the back burner so often.

We bite off more than we can chew.

We often set resolutions that are a serious about face from long-term habits. “I will quit smoking”, “I will go to to gym six times a week”, “I will quit my job and meditate in Sumatra” – these kinds of things are a big thing to tackle if you’ve been smoking for twenty years, or if you prefer quiet walks around the neighbourhood, and definitely if your stiff office job pays well. If we started by breaking these desires down to smaller, more chewable chunks, the results will gain some serious snaps. Small steps still take you where you wanna go, right?

Whose life is it anyway?

It’s a trap we all fall into without even realizing it. We set our resolutions, and we’re amped about it, really throwing our shoulders into it – and then it falls apart. But we’re not torn up about it. So here’s something to consider; did that resolution really come from you? In the social media age, we have a habit of comparing ourselves to others and what they’re doing, how they’re living, how they look, all sorts. When the New Year comes around, sometimes what we want is influenced by what we’ve seen instead of what we’ve acknowledged as a need in ourselves. You want to work at a beach body, but you’re generally not an aesthetically showy person. You want to spend the year travelling, but you’re family-oriented and like to spend a night a week at your mom’s house. So before we dive into the work of changing, it’d bring it closer to home to really think, “is this want for change coming from me?”

Is the me now ready for these changes?

Looking to the future and gunning for all the good things to come is one of the most positive things we can do. But I think what trips us up very often is the fact that we look so far ahead that we don’t notice what we need in the present. Take stock of everything going on with you now. Are you well? Do you need a moment to get to know yourself after some changes in the past? It’s always good to know what you’re working with before you start remodelling. Which is so not to say that we should forget the future and dwell on what we’re doing now! Just get to know where you’ve come from, and where you are now, so you can better think about where to go next.

I’ve been thinking about what my goals are for this year. I’ve set lots of different, grandiose goals in the past (remember the revamp of 2015?) and seen them taper out and disappear. So this year, after taking much needed stock of things, I’ve decided that I need to get to know myself better in order to treat myself better. What that means, I don’t know yet. It could mean the gym, it could mean an extended holiday in a different country – whatever it means, I think it’s a very important step that needs to be taken before I can start doing great things. To start small on this journey, I’m going to start speaking my thoughts more. Like, I know I already speak a lot, but I mean I’m gonna start filtering less. You know? No more sugar-coating and softening the blow. Let’s see how that goes.

ANYWHO. This whole spiel was just a look at why some New Years resolutions don’t stick for as long as one would want, but please please please don’t let anyone ever tell you what you can and can’t achieve, or dictate how you should and shouldn’t achieve it. If you wanna move molehills or crack mountains, you do you. Show them haters.

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Baci a tutti per l’anno nuovo x

People Are People

So my name is Ipeleng. I’m born Tswana, raised in a Setswana-speaking household. Although I suck at history, I love my heritage, my lineage, my language and my family. Flipside. I’m not fully fluent in my mother tongue, I have a lot of stereotypically white interests, I love European languages, and – this pisses people off the most – I’m attracted to white guys. Allow me to spit my thoughts on this race thing. 

I’ve always wondered about dealing with black identity in South Africa, especially as a Tswana girl who is predominantly surrounded by and associating with white people. A dilemma I’m often faced with and profoundly bothered by is the question of where one draws the line and calls people out. What can and can’t people say? Obvious racist slurs, names, stereotypes, yes. But what about the subtle stuff? And moreover, what about the rude shit I agree with? In the targeted discussions, sure, a lot comes out and one can only hope that feelings are clarified. But in jest, so much is said that makes me go, “Okay so would you be able to say that to my mother?” because I genuinely wonder why our levels of ‘okay’ vary so widely. 

What I often come across, coming from the background that I have and with my personhood, is comparison. “Why aren’t all black people like you?” Or following something that prompts my protest: “No no, not you, bro, you’re different.” Now I’m very non-confrontational, to a fault – if you need me, I’ll have my head in the sand – so often when I hear something like this I’ll roll my eyes and passively admonish. But both in these times and when I come at it strong, I want to know: why in some situations does my race come to (general reference) your mind? Listening to music, sitting and chatting about nothing related, my work ethic – I find my being black pops up. But in that jest is the undertone of a kind of prejudiced curiosity or (for lack of a better word) appreciation? Which I can only interpret as offending on purpose meet the pretense of a joke as opposed to offending by accident through straight asking. 

On the flip side, I wonder why in this day, being hateful toward all white people has become a new requirement of being a black person. Without ignoring the obvious prevalence of racism, passive or active, standard or reverse, it feels like a black person who doesn’t treat every single white person defensively is siding with injustice. I’m a happy-go-lucky pessimoptimist (yep, I’m both) who takes people as they come individually as best I can. But it’s becoming harder and harder to maintain this when the world is tangibly polarizing. Love one side, hate another. Call me utopian, but I find it stupid and tiring. Hate the racist, not the race.

Pretty much, I just wanna know when a black person will be a black person and a white person will be a white person. And when they can be astronauts, criminals, priests and prostitutes, without the first thing coming to mind being how well they fit into the racial mould we all carry in our heads. The answer to that is probably never, but a “coconut” can dream, eh?


Un bacione dalla ragazza negra x

Post A Day: Day Two

I’m sticking to my own challenge, yay! One would assume that this wouldn’t be a very difficult feat, seeing as it’s of my conception, but I promise, I can talk myself into and out of anything. It’s the little wins, guys. BUTOKAYSO. I’m posting after the fact because last night my face met pillow and all was lost to me, but here I am to tell you about the most interesting things that happened to me yesterday. Prepare to interested.

So I went in to work for the first time in a while and I get SLAMMED with the bustle of show prep (SIDE NOTE: our yard is having a training show this weekend), so I get stuck into downloading documents, emailing people and other such prepping stuff. Finally comes the part I’d been raring for all day: the part where I go work my two very handsome Thoroughbreds. Both were an absolute treat, but they were both very different today. The first one was stiff and defiant to begin with because my  co-rider has decided to focus on forward pace and completely forgo the horse’s frame. So after I figure that out the hard way and then somewhat correct it, he goes beautifully and sweats like a beast. The second one, my own horse, was legit a gust of wind away from tearing off into the distance with me – he was so damn fresh. AND IT FELT GREAT. I haven’t had a ride on him where I’m kept in pace by him and not vice versa in so long and it just felt like it was him and I alone again. And then we jumped up some steps and he actually did fuck off for a couple of steps. Which was interesting.

Fast-forward to last night and my friends and I went out to our favourite spot, after I handed in three assignments in a scarily short amount of time. We had an amazing night; not one of those benders that ends up with you hungover and sad and taking refuge in your bed. What’s interesting is the night shifted setting very early on – we went from our favourite gay bar to a friend’s house and chilled there until we all started falling asleep. Which was great, but still notable in that we didn’t even touch the rest of that vibey street. It was a quieter jam than usual, which made it all the more enjoyable. Am I making sense?

Allora. That’s my second day of interesting things. Today is National Women’s Day, so it definitely won’t be a dull one. What’s the day got in store for me?

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Post A Day Challenge: Day One

FELLOW BLOGGERS, LEND ME YOUR SCREENS.

I’ve recently been afflicted with a severe need to blog for a living. What I’d like to know from the veterans, the experts, the amateurs – every one of you – is how one goes about reaching that path? Tips, tricks, rules – lay them on me! I think I’m going to get into exploration and document the journey. It shouldn’t be that as I get older, I get tamer. I’m going to dip my toes in every sea and learn some shit, and I’m going to drag people along with wit and cool pictures.

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This week, I’m challenging myself to a blog post a day about the most interesting moment or person of the day. Today’s most interesting moment, besides my moment of resolution, could be the moment I took my first ever puff of an inhaler. After a hectic sinus infection, the doctor decided to do a lung function test on me, the results of which show that I’ve got restricted air intake. I didn’t think anything of it – I’m always short of breath, what’s new? – until he says “I’m going to prescribe you an inhaler”. Say what? So I go to the chemist with my script, get the inhaler, and get a quick crash course on how to use it. I was honestly expecting to walk out of there with a clean bill of health, but at least now one of my accumulated curiosities has been satisfied. The others should probably stay unrealized (glasses, braces, a broken limb… I don’t even know).

Anywho. Day One done. I’m back riding tomorrow, which should prove interesting with both my boys. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

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Baci a tutti x

Appreciation Post: My Damn Self

I’m responsible for my own happiness.

So, yesterday was quite an internally venomous day. With the pressurizing friend, the boss who doesn’t seem to remember that not everyone’s equipped to take on the workload she does, the standard existential crisis – shit just wasn’t slotting in in a way that I could roll with, y’know? But today I got out one of my going-away (to where??) presents, which is a book by Anna Barnes called ‘How To Be Happy‘. It got me thinking that I get stuck a lot, swilling the bad stuff around and around my mind until I end up crying the friction sparks out. But I forget that there’s a lot I’ve done that deserves a pat on the back, or a celebratory vino. Let’s have a look at what this little pessimist has gotten done this year so far:

  1. I took a leap. It didn’t end well (hence the fact I’m still in South Africa), but I did it. It took bravery to decide to try leave the country for a few months with nothing but a rented apartment and a vague idea of what I was going to do over there, and goddammit I did it.
  2. I started a course that I’m really enjoying. The psychology degree is still going on – the results of which we’ll see at the end of this year – but I decided to boost my knowledge of the field I work in with some good ol’ academia. The material really sinks in and what I love is that I can put everything I learn to practice immediately.
  3. I ride two very handsome horses who love to jump. Granted, the owner of the one can be a little bit of an … adverse effect, but both do me proud in some small way at the very least literally every single time.
  4. My curiosity has piqued again and I’m looking outward for new things. There are myriads of opportunities popping up and, although it’s a little overwhelming to say the least, it feels good that people see potential in me and want to push me out of the tree, so to speak.
  5. Speaking of opportunities, I now essentially have like five jobs. Pay (what’s that?) aside, it’s interesting to think that I went from desperately searching for one to practically drowning in multiple. Hopefully there’s room to grow, which would be all the better.
  6. I do a lot more for me now. Unlike the old days, you’ll seldom find me in a place I really don’t want to be, or with people I really don’t want to be with. My own company’s good enough. Plus it gives me time to explore my own mind and see where I can take myself.
  7. I learned the word ‘NO‘. Next step is learning how to say it without feeling the need to ‘cushion the blow’ with an excuse or reason. But I’m damn proud of myself for listening more to what I want.

This is a pretty damn impressive list, if I may say so myself. But the most important thing I thought of while writing this is simply that I’m acknowledging my efforts and the fact that I’m doing okay. If I could pass this little moment of clarity and serenity on to people who need it, then I’d hyperlink the shit out of this post. If anyone is struggling with accepting their own pace without measuring it against that of another, just remember that it’s not their sweat running down your skin, or their muscles working to keep that forward momentum – it’s all you. And you’re brilliant for it.

Next up: mastering Italian.

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Baci a tutti xx