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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.

Our deepest fear

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.

I’m pretty good at controlling my emotions, I think emotions can cloud your judgement. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes emotions can help in decision making – but you need to know how to read your emotions and couple them with rational cognitive processes.

I have been working non-stop since May, since I moved back to Zambia, working two high-level jobs, and it’s really beginning to take it’s toll. Thankfully, it has yet to affect my decision-making, it might have slowed it down a bit, but I’m still managing to make decisions that work and are effective.

But where I’m beginning to slip is on the personal side. We tend to be a bit more lax when it comes to our personal life I suppose, we take too much for granted.

I’m happy with Mr Mature but… It’s nothing to do with him, it’s all me. It’s times like this when I wonder if I can be in a relationship. Maybe it’s because I am from a large family, maybe it’s because I was never the IT girl at school, maybe it’s because… I don’t know, but I’ve never been the one who stands out in the crowd. I never thought this really bothered me. I guess that’s the price you pay for excelling in your professional life (if I do say so myself), you focus so much on that one side and ignore that the personal side is slipping.

It was only when I started to question wanting more out of my life that I realised that actually, balance is really important in life. We can work as hard as we want to but if we can’t be special to at least one person, what are we doing it all for?

Don’t get me wrong, I get a lot of satisfaction from my work, maybe because it’s not all superficial but can hopefully impact someone’s life for the better, it has meaning to it. But let’s be honest, we all have an ego that we serve. Ok maybe ego isn’t the word I’m looking for. I’ve never felt that I needed to have a thanks for what I’ve done, or a pat on the back or whatever, in fact, I always thought that if you needed the thanks then you weren’t doing the ‘thing’ (work/good deed/whatever it was that culminated in a thanks) because you wanted to, because you got satisfaction out of doing it. But, like I’ve said before, when you are constantly giving – mentally, emotionally, physically, financially, etc – you find that you are actually giving of your soul. And if you think of your soul as a cup, you can’t keep emptying the cup without refilling it.

But getting back to being special to someone, isn’t this ultimately how we want to feel? The only problem with this is that you then look for something outside of yourself. When you look for something outside of your self, you are pretty much setting yourself up for failure.

I’m by no means being cynical about this, I just think that we can not find true happiness until we find it within ourselves. I don’t buy into this whole ‘you complete me’ thing, like we are incomplete without someone else. Yet, I do kind of understand it. Something in you sometimes feels like you’re missing something, or someone, maybe. Is this a real feeling?

I have definitely felt it. I fight it because I can’t control it, and it can make you feel lonely, and who wants to be lonely?

So when you meet someone who has lived a good part of his life without you, how do you add something it to make you special in his life? Though I guess the same could be said in the reverse… Sometimes I forget there are two people in a relationship, and both of you have to work at keeping each other happy, keep each other feeling special.

Well, developing this new area of my life, the area of attempting to be special in someone’s life, might be part of my quest to find my personal legend. We shall see – I’m being optimistic here!

(and the vulnerability of tiredness means your guard is lowered and you think about these things in more detail – setting yourself up to hurt and be sensitive!)

I’m always telling people that they should live life with no regrets. Life is about living and enjoying the moments in them. Yet, I seem continously haunted by my past. Maybe I’m too harsh on myself, and too unforgiving, because no one is perfect, we’ve all done stuff in our life that we’re not proud of or wish we hadn’t done. But the real problem comes when we let it consume who we are as a person today. Or if we don’t learn and repeat the same mistakes.

People always say that I have EI, because I’m reflective and empathetic. Kind of true I guess, and the empathy goes against the Type A personality other people say that I am (therefore I’m going to say that maybe I’m not Type A – oh well). But I read somewhere that to encourage our more emotional side – the healthy side that keeps us optimistic and positive – we need to change the way we think about situations. Rather than get down about an event or a situation, we should flip it to something more positive and that will change how we view and feel about the situation and keep us happy.

There is some truth in that. Think about it, when you have negative thoughts about a situation, it just makes the situation worse. But it is easier said than done. I also think this is why it’s so important to surround yourself with friends and family who uplift you. People you can trust to have your best interest at heart. So when you’re feeling like beating yourself up, there’s someone to remind you about the positive things in life, and your own best attributes. Call them your cheerleaders if you will. I think we all need them.

The last week (oh it’s only wednesday) has been very interesting as I’m in the planning stages of a new production I’m working on (can’t wait to announce it), but after conversations with several people, I realise there are some very serious problems in prevention initiatives and no surprises that people are still getting infected.

Ok, I’m obviously simplifying the issues, but some of the things I see or hear really does make me think hmmmm.

I was looking at the messaging we’re focusing on for this show and it struck me that none of it is new. Not the messages of use a condom, or you can live long, healthy, productive lives if you test positive, or don’t have sex or don’t exchange sex for gifts blah blah blah. So my question to the people debriefing us was, why aren’t these messages working? I don’t want to flog a dead horse and make no impact by focussing on the same messages.

It made me think about the paper my sister wrote for her thesis (ok I didn’t read the whole paper – don’t hate me Tasha!), but I know it was along the lines of how our interpersonal relationships and emotions affect the risks we take. In other words, we know on a rational level the risks involved, but when you’re emotionally invested, you might do something stupid.

Yet rarely in HIV prevention campaigns do we talk about the emotional side of risk taking. I think there are other dynamics as well, such as low self-esteem, lack of personality personal identity and lack of a level of selfishness that puts ourselves first. Some of these are learnt as children and also developed as you mature (but usually post your early 20s). So if the foundation is weak, how can we try and rebuild from the middle of the structure?

And we can’t forget the environments we live in, if we can change the society then maybe we can find a way to get through these messages. But we also have to be honest and not judge people. For example, we need to be clear about the you can live a long and productive life if you test positive, as long as you take care of your health and have the healthcare infrastructure to support this, because let’s be honest, we’ve seen some people who have died within a few years of testing positive. Of course these can be explained, in most cases, but too often we want to gloss over any potentially uncomfortable or ‘sad’ information that might scare people or make them question what you’re telling them. But people aren’t stupid. If you give them all the information they can process it and make informed decisions or understand what happens when things don’t go as planned.

Or if you’re involved in multiple concurrent relationships, don’t tell people they are bad people for being in the relationship – make them safe, not ashamed.

If you tell them the nice, comfortable message and gloss over some of the facts, they don’t trust you – because it doesn’t add up. I’m losing my trail of thought here…

Anyway my point was that when it comes to HIV messaging, we’ve got to look beneath the layers and keep asking why until we get to the core. We need to stop jumping on the bandwagon of what the west powers that be in the HIV field say is the problem, or is the silver bullet. And there are some things that statistics can’t answer or capture – those are the issues of feelings and emotions that we need to learn to incorporate in everything we do. That is if we want to have impact and start making a difference in the HIV/AIDS response.