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Taking time out from thinking about work and my career – sigh it really is hard when you’re on a trajectory for world domination – but I’ve had another thing on my mind – babies.
Yup. Living in Zambia you’re very aware of all the babies/children around. It seems everyone follows the same path growing up, which at some point involves getting married and having babies. And everyone says the same thing, ‘you should have one, having a baby changes your life!’
I have to admit this threw me because … well… I like my life as it is, why would I want to change it? Well I’d like more money, buy more shoes, travel more and stay in luxury hotels, but none of that has to do with having a baby.
People seem to find this response shocking, because after all I’m a 30 something year old woman, shouldn’t I want to have kids? As a child I never wanted to have children, I’ve never particularly liked kids – I like the ones related to me, though even they have their moments – and as I grew I expected, like other things in my life, this to change and I’d get all broody and have the 2.5 kids with the white picket fence.
I think around 29 I did get broody. The idea of a little baba was very appealing. A year later the broodiness was gone! People who don’t know me well think my none-interest in kids and having babies is because of my significant other – he has his kids, he doesn’t want any more. But I learnt a long time ago not to let a man drive my decisions – biggest way to regret anything you do! So while I took it into consideration, thinking, ‘what if one day, this so called maternal instinct kicks in’, but the more I’m around kids, and as the days go by, I just don’t feel it.
Ok maybe I’m also lazy and children are hardwork. It’s not like you can just leave them to just get on with it while you chill in front of the TV. And I’m not a morning person, so if kids needed to eat before say 11am, they’d starve until they learnt to make their own food. Waking up in the middle of the night? Nah, not for me. Call me selfish but I’m quite content with my life as it is. In fact the only reason I even fleetingly entertain the idea of a child is the fear of having all this fabulousness die with me! How will I be remembered if I don’t have kids to carry on my memory? But that is probably too selfish a reason to have a child, surely I can just have a stature of myself erected?
Children are expensive too. School- fees! Sheesh. These people pay in dollars! The amount of money they buy would really add fabulous new shoes in my collection, not to mention a few handbags and diamonds too, I’m just saying.
For me that whole biological clock is ticking just doesn’t seem to resonate, and seeing that the clock of choice for me is a Tag Heuer, I have no doubt that it’s ticking away just fine.
I was thinking about hate and this pull him down syndrome we have in Zambia. When I refer to hate I generally mean the act of being jealous of someone’s talent or success.
Now that I’ve cleared that up let me get back to my thoughts on this. I understand hate. Today was a real eye opener for me, after I got so upset about someone who I’ve known for a really long time, tell me that our show Love Games isn’t having an impact because no one is talking about it or watching it. I was really hurt because I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not the best product, but it’s definitely a lot better than what is currently on TV. Now that isn’t a reason for us to rest on our laurels, as I’ve said time and time again, we must always be doing better than our last work, so that’s why I appreciate the feedback good and bad. But sometimes the bad is just hater speech.
Anyway, back to my point. After I calmed down I thought about this some more and I thought abut the people I surround myself with and the people I’ve come up with. Imagine you all start out together. But a few years later, someone in your group – maybe more than one – is much more successful than you – maybe not financially, maybe through reputation, or education attainment, or happy family, whatever it might be that you find lacking in your own life. You can either be happy for their success or be bitter with hate.
Too often people choose bitter with hate. And when you explore the reasons it is because of something they are lacking in their own life. I’ve been there so I understand. I have these great friends, who are really successful in their lives, one recently was in Forbes Most Powerful African Women under 40 – I mean, what an achievement! Another started a new website that has made waves and headlines – another trendsetter to watch! And here I am in my lil corner in small Zambia. It would be easy for me to hate on their success – maybe they know a writer at Forbes, or she’s not that clever she ripped an idea or she slept with someone, or whatever other lame excuse haters find to bring someone down. But instead, these women inspire me. They inspire me to keep on doing what I do because we all have to start somewhere (and I have a few more years in me before I hit the big Four O).
But more importantly I’m proud of my achievements – they might not mean anything to anyone else, or deserve recognition from the public and the media – but I worked really hard, and still see the distance I still have to go to achieve the success that I want. And even more so I’m proud of these amazing friends of mine, who I surround myself with, who are doing incredible things in their lives, paving the way for other little brown girls to say, I can do it too! Why would I want to hate on that?
After having this thought on haters, I decided that I’m no longer going to give any thought or mind to them – I mean I rarely did but occasionally one managed to break into my thoughts – like today. The more we focus or even pay mind to them the more it perpetuates the cycle. If each one of us would focus on the positive, surely we could end this talk of haters – we’re just giving life to them. So that’s my conscious decision is to focus on the positive, surround myself with my supporters, and cheerleaders (they really help), and keep doing me. I hope you choose to do the same today, because it’s time to let our light shine.
It comes down to the bottom line, are you happy?
A friend of mine has recently decided to throw in the towel with her seven year marriage because her husband didn’t make her feel special. I do simplify the issue, yes there were some very real reasons why the marriage didn’t work, and while people (her family, his family) would have preferred if, like other married women, she shipikishered (endured) it boiled down to that very simple issue.
I may not be an expert on love but I’m certainly an expert on heartache. I do believe relationships are hardwork – like anything worth having – but I do think the benefits must outweigh the hardwork. What is the point of putting in the effort and time to just feel miserable at the end of it all? While on the surface my friend and her husband seemed happy, the effort she was putting in to keep her marriage was eating away at her until she realised that she wasn’t being ‘rewarded’ for this effort with the love, respect, and affection she wanted and deserved.
I think it takes a strong person to leave a relationship that isn’t working. After all, it’s in our nature to want to be loved. But deep down when you’re not feeling special or fulfilled, all you’re feeling is miserable, unappreciated and empty.
Call me a hopeless romantic but I do believe that when you care about someone, you consider them and their feelings. You change (as difficult as it is) to make them happy, not because it’s important to you, but because it’s important to them. It’s the little things that count I think.
I’m beginning to understand the benefits of getting into a relationship when you are a whole person. What I mean is that you need to know who you are, what is important to you and what isn’t. I think, especially as women, we ignore the problems in our relationship because the man makes us ‘happy’. We ignore that that happiness is short-lived, if you’re only happy when you’re together but spend most of your time apart, is that enough to sustain a relationship?
We tend to fight for things long after we know that thing is broken or is not meant to be, rather than ask ourselves the simple question, am I happy?
Maybe I am simplifying it again. When asking yourself that question, put it in context. I do believe happiness is a state of ‘being’, which means that at any given moment you can be happy or unhappy depending on the situation. But I refer to the question of am I happy in this relationship? Am I happy with who I am in this relationship? Let’s not forget we tend to become different people to accommodate someone else in our life/relationship. I believe we should become a better version of ourselves, but if you don’t like what you see when you look honestly in the mirror then you shouldn’t ignore that. But back to the questions. Ask yourself, does this person have my best interest in mind? Does this person try to make me happy? Does he listen to me, does he put me first when he can?
Communication is key, be honest with yourself, and be honest with your partner. If one person is unhappy in the relationship, sooner or later there will be two unhappy people. Address it when you can, to nip it in the bud, and if it doesn’t work out, don’t be sad to move on. Take those lessons with you to find true happiness. Seven years later, my friend said, ‘life is too short to be unhappy’. We know this, yet we tend to think life is longer than it really is. Be happy.
Demarco’s song I Love My Life is definitely my new theme song. And it’s fitting that I’m listening to it right now, on Zambia’s 47th Independence Day.
The last few months have been full of learnings, both good and bad, but on this day, I feel like I have a lot to appreciate, I’ve learnt a lot and I still have so much to look forward to.
Today, we had some family friends over to visit my dad, and I was so happy when I heard him tell them that he had accepted that he has cancer.
I think the cancer diagnosis was hard on all of us, but even though it’s still early days as he still does more and more tests to figure out the best treatment options for him, I’m happy that he isn’t letting him get down.
At his age (70 something), he has lost a good number of his friends and he says he is grateful to have lived as long as he has. Which is such a great and positive attitude to have, but I hope it doesn’t meant that he won’t fight his disease anyway. As annoying as he sometimes can be, I’m definitely grateful to spend these days with him, especially now as he opens up to his life during Kaunda days and before independence – he actually is enjoying having a captive audience these days. Though sometimes I worry about him giving his opinion willy nilly. Right now the country seems to be split – you’re either PF or you’re not. The point of an opposition hasn’t fully sunk in to everyone – but that’s a side bar.
I digress. My father’s illness has been one challenge. The other challenge has been running our business Media 365. I don’t think there is anything more rewarding than owning your own business, especially if it’s something you are passionate about (though can be equally rewarding to work for a company that is unlike anything else ). But it is no easy feat! It comes with all sorts of challenges and sometimes I feel like I’m out of my depth – my almost complete MBA did not prepare me for this! Just when you think you can’t swim any longer and it might be time to sink, something comes up that makes it all worth it.
I’m so excited about the new opportunities that have come our way and that in the next few months will really test us but will be the beginning of a very exciting path for us. The thing that stands out to me about our business is that we don’t just care about the money (though we do want to make it) but we truly love what we do. We have been blessed with the ability to follow our dreams, and now it’s just about putting in the hard work to make it reality. And boy is it hardwork!
I’m also learning to put myself first now, for real, I know I say it all the time, but I do think I’m getting there. Slowly but I’m definitely getting there. It’s about learning to prioritise your needs and getting people to work around that – no more guilt trips for me! The reality is that I’ve been able to work this hard and get to where I am in just over eight years, then why haven’t you? We all have the same opportunities – in different forms, but opportunities nonetheless – so what have you done with them? We’re all born with some talent or another, how have you used them to your advantage? Only you can determine how you shape your life, don’t think the world owes you anything, because it doesn’t. And frankly, neither do I. I just made the decision that other people’s problems are not my priorities, as adults you make the decisions in your life and you must live with the consequences of those decisions.
I’ve also learnt when it comes to family that perhaps not everyone’s priorities are the same, and I can’t blame people for doing their own thing, but I’m also not going to be the glue to hold it together. You either want to do it, or you don’t. That’s just how I see it. Anyone with a (large) family will know what I’m talking about, whether it’s emotional support, financial support, or just communicating with your family.
I’ve also learnt to let go and just relax, not always analysis everything or need a definitive plan for where my life and areas in my life are going. This is really working well with Mr Mature, 4 months strong and I couldn’t be happier. It’s a huge learning curve, but like he says, we’re both learning, so we take each day as it comes and just see where it leads. I can honestly say, I’ve never been in a relationship like this before and that’s a good thing. For now, I’m just going with the flow.
On this independence day I also vowed to myself that I will get my financial goals in check and really begin to work on them. Paying off my debt and building my house will be my biggest priorities. I’ve already got some plans in mind for my house – it’s not going to be my dream house just yet – maybe if I ever get married that will be my project with my man – but for now, it will be something that I can call my own – and that Mr Mature can spend the night at, because sneaking him into my parents house would not be cool! My worry is that the rainy season is coming soon, so I have to work fast – at least get the foundation done. So fingers crossed I get all my cash in hand in the next few weeks (hope springs eternal!).
Right now, I feel like I’m in a good place. I might not be in the best place financially but emotionally, I think I am. And sooner or later, the finances will come together too! For now, I’m enjoying the moment and living in the present – it is the gift of today!
Have a great week ahead and don’t feel bad to put yourself first. You do matter!
I believe one of my biggest flaws is empathy. Especially when it’s people that I’m close to, friends, family, and occasionally people who’s stories I’ve followed in the media.
If a family member is hurting or in need, then I find ways to alleviate that pain or help them in their time or need. But when you’re constantly giving it drains you. I remember when I used to be in therapy and my therapist asked me why I helped people, including family members, and I replied, like it was a no-brainer that because if I didn’t, who was going to? I was in a position to help so shouldn’t I? His response was no, I didn’t have to, not if it ultimately hurt me more.
At first I couldn’t understand this. We should help, if we can, with no expectations of anything in return, that was the right thing to do. But after awhile I realised that what he meant was sometimes you have to put yourself first and ask if you can afford – emotionally and/or financially – to give of yourself. Actually the more I think about this, it’s not sometimes, but always. You have to for the sake of your soul.
After awhile I began to resent my family. Don’t get me wrong, I loved them, and knew that deep down, but I felt very alone from them. I was the first one people called when they needed help because I always came through, but when I needed help, I didn’t know who to turn to. I have been blessed to rarely need financial help, but emotionally, when I’ve been at cross-roads, and I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve suffered from mild depression (people told me to never admit it, saying it was career-suicide, but there I said it). I have been lucky to not have had severe depression, but even mild ones are hard to deal with, you really have to fight to stay happy and positive, which is draining, and difficult to do, especially alone.
But I overcame it, I got to a place where I was happy with who I was and happy with the decisions that I was making, really listening to what my heart and soul was saying, to keep me happy. As I’ve gotten older, gotten ‘successful’, I’ve realised that nothing can replace happiness.
I continued to give of myself, because I thought I could afford to. After awhile, I started to feel unappreciated – probably one of the things that furthered my depression – and felt that everyone took from me, but no one gave. I know that my friends and family love me and I would never question that, but I did wish that someone would stop and say, ‘I wonder how Cathy is feeling? And what does she need that I can give her?’
It never happened. It finally dawned on me that the victim mentality I was plaguing on myself was also not contributing to my mental health. Why should other people care about you? And why should you care if they don’t? Do we not have the capacities to be responsible for ourselves? We came into this world alone and we’ll leave it alone, so what is this need to have people focus on you?
It’s not me being cold or indifferent by any means, I simply mean it as a survival mechanism. If you are always giving, sooner or later there will be nothing to give. You will be tired, bitter and miserable, and then what good are you to anyone?
You have to put yourself first to keep your soul intact. If people around you can’t appreciate that, then that’s their loss. Because when you feel you are sacrificing for someone else, or being considerate of other people’s needs, while giving a piece of yourself, then you are only hurting yourself. Life, and indeed, relationships are about give and take. For everyone to be happy the scales have to be balanced.
It’s not a selfish attitude to take care of yourself first, it’s a healthy attitude. And it’s one I’m trying to do more and more, I might lose some people along the way, but then, that’s just a consequence I need to deal with to get myself to a better, healthier, happier place, and that’s my priority right now.