I’m a chronic planner. Throughout school I bought into the habit of setting goals at the beginning of every year. I think I took it to the extreme though when I thought I could anticipate my life when I left school with 5 year plans of what I wanted to do. Nobody warned me about the danger of removing the exciting part in living when we believe that life is all mapped out. I thought that if I had a plan I would have structure and stability and growing up wouldn’t be such a scary prospect. It was only after my first 5 year plan started falling apart that I realised that it’s true when people say life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. My obsession with stability is a result of my strange childhood and wicked youth that had both the joys and woes of growing up but little structure. I’ve realised that my obsession with control has been about pining for my childhood and youth that was devoid of stability since I was 6 years old and I came back from school being told we had been evicted from our mansion.
Since the first 5 year plan fell apart I have been living with a strange excitement in my life. I can’t remember when it all started happening but I blame it on my honours year: I went to New York and Berlin in one year, I started writing for the public and people who read my words told me I made them think about things, I “met” Nontsizi Mgqwetho who taught me “asinakuthula umhlaba ubolile’ (we cannot keep quiet when the world is in shambles), I had people trust me with the well being of their children, I was awarded the Mandela-Rhodes Scholarship that led to me meeting Madiba in person, I had lunch with Prof Gerwel-the man who looks permanently bored at our graduation ceremonies and discovered that he’s nothing like the portrait outside the council chambers here at Rhodes, I presented a lecture at the National Schools festival that caused the learners in attendance to get talking and the same thing happened this year at the Eastern Cape Schools Festival, I have been nominated to sit on Councils with people double my age, I have been selected for the 200 Young People...Mail and Guardian list, I was involved in initiating training for young leaders in Grahamstown and was grateful to see the pitfalls that ensued-seeing what it’s really like working with teachers from low performing schools. Recently I helped my sister get married (one down two to go) which is quite a monumental task in our family for many reasons I will explore in another conversation. I was also asked to lecture this year so I had people trust me with ideas and students’ minds. I recently told an elderly woman that I was doing my Masters in Education and she asked me how old I was. When I told her I’m 23 she laughed and asked me “iMasters yinto yokudlalela kuyo na mnta,am?” (is a Masters degree a toy that you can play with?).
In short I’m living a life I never anticipated when I wrote my 5 year plan down and could never have anticipated when it started falling apart. But there’s something so ordinary in this spectacular life I’m living, I still have the same challenges of juggling my priorities and keeping out the background noise, I still worry too much and have heart palpitations whenever I think about my work. I still think I don’t have what it takes to do what lies ahead of me. Lately I’ve been actively searching for some sort of comfort, something to keep my heart still and my hands steady to do the things I know I can do but too fearful to begin at times. I’ve realised that prayer is not enough sometimes, that simply asking and expecting things to fall into place or the anxiety to drift away is not the ideal situation. I have to make conscious choices about my reality and my capabilities and be determined not to give way to fear of any kind-of myself, what people will say, of failure and above all to keep my heart open to the spectacular. The truth is I want to die empty. Whether I die young or at 100 I want to die knowing that I have done all that I could do with all that I have been given. I want to die knowing that I have failed and picked up the pieces thereafter, I have been part of people’s lives in a meaningful way hence I thrive on the relationships that I have.
One other thing that has been spectacular these past 2 years has been the ability to look in the mirror from time to time, learning to love the person that I see. I’m learning to understand my flaws and make peace with the fact that I will never be perfect but trying to be good and simply just being me is sometimes enough. I don’t have to strive for accolades and recognition to believe that I’m worthy, I simply am worthy just the way I am, “I am sufficient as I am”. Maybe this could be my mantra to keep my feet on the ground.