Written by: Siliziwe Mapalala
Though the calendar is quite arbitrary, as humans we have agreed to place value in January being a time for reflection, new beginnings and setting new goals. Being a Taurus, I will find any excuse to ground myself (see what I did there – earth sign and all) and do some introspection, and this year is calling for a large dose of reflecting and changing. Brace yourself, this instalment of the Editor’s Desk will read like a journal entry; a peak into my soul.
2022 came with a lot of changes in my life – I became a parent, I left my secure corporate position, I took my writing seriously and I started honouring my boundaries.
Becoming a parent
My wife and I agreed a few years into our relationship that we would not have children of our own, but we were happy to take on the role of ‘the greatest aunts to have ever lived’ to her nephews and niece. In 2022 our teenage nephew moved in with us and we were scared but hopelessly (if not foolishly) excited for the new chapter. And though my wife and I are highly reflective and open individuals, we were never ready for the teenage angst, nevermind that we ourselves remember clearly how we were as teenagers.
What the year has taught me though, is that parenting is a calling; a decision which needs to be taken seriously and a privilege that comes with the greatest responsibility. This is the one area where I will advise ‘if in doubt, don’t’ because you need empathy that resembles God’s (in fact, you are god in your child’s life as you are able to build and destroy). The blessing from this experience is that raising him is teaching me how to treat myself better. In modelling healthy relationships for him, I have had to question the true health of the relationships I have maintained and make some hard decisions. Parenting is not only explicit action, but the implicit moments as well where we think we are not being observed, and it has highlighted the importance of authenticity in how I move. I can no longer say one thing and live another – congruence matters in order to create trust and a safe space for children, and I aim for this continuously.
Security vs. Liberty
Talking about congruence, my career was the one area in my life which was not authentic. Who I was at work was not who I was at home, with friends nor with family. Until last year, I had accepted that it was part of life to give of yourself five days a week to get the reward that is a roof over your head, medical aid, retirement savings, a car and extra money for holidays and restaurants. I had found a sustainable balance, until I added one more responsibility onto the plate which pushed my scales completely off balance. I had to face the fact that being inauthentic was making me ill, and I could not teach the importance of living truthfully without modelling it. For me this applied to my work (as I felt comfortable and open in all other spheres in my life), but this can apply to you in different areas of your life. It may be the risk of losing the security that is family, or a community, faith or friends. Liberty is rewarding, trust me I know, but it does not automatically come with security. And that is where I find myself right now; happy I made a tough but true decision, yet still figuring out what the next step is for me and my family so that we have the security that comes with finances.
Taking myself seriously
This is a work in progress. One of my 2023 mantras is ‘no room for imposter syndrome’. Another is ‘F*** fear, drink beer’, but that is a conversation for another day. One of the greatest blessings that came out of 2022 (besides an angsty roommate) was the call from Exit Newspaper wanting to interview me for the editor role. It is not often that an organisation will take a chance on you, especially if you do not come with the traditional experience, but they took a chance on me. It is because of Exit that I have honed my voice and gained confidence in the art of writing. I still have plenty of development to do and room to grow, but I now call myself a writer. When you are a queer individual taking up space in the world, we do not have the luxury to doubt ourselves or our contribution. We should be granted the right to be vulnerable, confused and searching, but due to the community we live in and the responsibility placed on us we keep it moving. So I pray, not only for myself but for the readers too, that we not only own who we are and proceed to take up space, but that we also create spaces for one another that allow for vulnerability and rest.
‘No more saviour complex!’ This is me shouting at myself. 2023 has no room for playing saviour for anyone but myself. I will care, have empathy, and create safe spaces. But I will not be a martyr for anyone. I have lost thousands of Rands, countless hours and way too many tears on ‘friends’ who have done nothing for me and family members who would send a Bible verse instead of lending a helping hand. And I am done. I still struggle in this area, as I have been the enabler for many years, but for my own mental health I have to be stern. In trying to teach the importance of dealing healthily with conflict, I have also had to learn to demonstrate this. But like everything else, this too is a work in progress.
Blazing the trail into 2023!
I have shared my reflections and some of the mantras I will be taking into 2023. But to sum it all up, my overall goal this year is to blaze a trail for those who come after me. I want to be an even better partner, better parent, better friend and a better queer.
This month’s issue also focuses on 3 trailblazers; Lula Odiba, Clement Lloyd Schultz and Mr. Allofit. Sive Mjindi chats to all three about their journey thus far as well as their vision for the future. We also spotlight Alok Menon (who was in Namibia and South Africa in December 2022), Imprint ZA (the afro-futuristic luxury brand), and A. Wolf continues his series ‘For the love of it’.
Happy new year to our readers, may 2023 be a gentle, creative, healing, kind and love-filled year! Let us move with intention, love vigorously and take care of ourselves and our community.