Malawi and it’s hate for beauty queens

Today is the day!

Fourteen beauty queens selected from across the country will today be battling it out at BICC Lilongwe for the Miss Malawi crown. The event has been heavily publicised by Zodiak and the team; and from the look of things, the organisers have been doing a terrific job. Only one girl will be crowned by the end of the evening, closing the curtain on the long race it has been.  However for some contestants, the real battle might have just began.

Deciding to run for Miss Malawi has got to be undoubtedly one of the hardest decision a girl can make. I mean, putting yourself on the national stage to be judged on your looks?  That requires guts. I should believe one goes into such a competition with the belief and confidence in their looks and abilities to fulfill the requirements of such a role. However I doubt if they all come out with the same belief and confidence they possessed while going into the race.

Malawians are brutal.

I do not want to dwell on everything that has been said about the contestants, just one comment I read off Nyasatimes. One “Le Colone” had this to say;

Koma ku Malawi komvetsa chisoni ndithu. So these skinny shabby looking girls consider themselves beautiful? Pitani mukaone pa Nairobi, Maputo, South Africa, Addis Ababa ndi Lusaka.

“…..So these skinny shabby looking girls consider themselves beautiful?….

The idea that only a special section of the population have a right to feel a certain way about themselves is truly disturbing. I am tempted to think maybe as individuals this type of thinking in our society is what really holds us back; this idea that certain feelings, goals, ambitions are meant for a secluded extraordinary that were born to win and succeed.

We are perplexed when we see someone that resembles us, whose past and experiences we share go out on their way to break through the boundaries we have set for them. We are quick to point them out because just like we have condemned ourselves to the average life, they too should do the same. How dare they? what do they have that we do not have? And maybe that is the problem…

We fail to realise that life is for the ordinary person. You and me. No one is born extraordinary. I know there are some people are that are born into great families, with great genes and with superior intelligence. But that does not mean they have a monopoly over that. Everyone can feel the way they want to about themselves and anyone should be able to dare and dream beyond their currents state. Life is for the ordinary. As a society we have got to learn to let people be free to curve out an extraordinary life for themselves; without projecting our own insecurities on them.

The sad reality is that while we would have gotten over the Miss Malawi fiasco after tonight, some of these girls will go back to their homes questioning their self worth and whatever confidence they had built before the competition. And that is a battle that rages in silence but whose impact we see in our own fears.

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Feeling anxious? Try fixing a light bulb

I am pretty excited for the new week, which is odd. Mondays are supposed to be boring, a rude reminder that our fun is restricted to two days of the week only! Well, that theory rings true when the weekend was actually fun. Spending the whole day in bed scrolling through my Facebook feed doesn’t count as fun. Don’t get me wrong, my weekends are not usually like this. Just that the past week I have been pretty anxious. And when I am anxious my brain shuts down. I usually cant focus on one thing, I have the constant urge to not be in one place. When knocking off last Friday it had already been settled in my head, I needed to stay home the entire weekend, and fix myself –not in a drug abuse kind of way. I needed to know what was making me feel this way. A part of me knew it was because lately I have been making plans regarding my future. Unfortunately some of those plans rely on decisions of other people, a thing I have no control over. That makes me anxious.

And so the weekend arrived, on schedule. The only problem was I couldn’t shake off this uneasy feeling. I opted to constantly refresh my feed and sleep a little. But still, this feeling wasn’t going anywhere. I got a call, I needed to drop off a phone my friend had forgotten some weeks back. Maybe that would get my mind off this anxiety, or maybe not. Still I went, dropped it off and on my way back passed through Game stores to window shop headphone prices- pretty expensive! Before I went out on my way, I remembered! I needed to buy a light bulb. The light bulb in the toilet had exploded some weeks back. Like literary exploded. I still don’t understand why. I had tried to replace it with a bulb I had in the house, turns out there was a fault with a bulb. But I did not know this. All along I had thought the explosion messed with the bulb holder. But anyway,I went ahead to buy a new bulb, maybe it would work.

I feel like sparing a paragraph to praise these bulbs I get in Game stores. But let me not waste your time. I pay for my bulb and walk out of Game feeling like am carrying the sun in my hands. I get home and straight away try it. It works. And from that moment I feel my anxiety lift away. I really did not understand what was going on. But then it becomes clear, as clear as these amazing Game store bulbs.

My anxiety kicks in whenever I feel I have no control over a situation. And lately waiting upon another persons decision regarding my own future has been making me pretty anxious. But fixing my light bulb gave me some of that control back. I did not think I would fix it- which is embarrassing because it is just a light bulb really. But I did.

There are a lot of things we can not control in this world. But there are things we can- however small they be. When the big scary situations come knocking on your anxiety, try fixing yourself by fixing that which you can control.

Happy anxious free Monday!

 

 

 

 

 

Happy International Women’s Day!!

Growing up, I never thought  I would one day celebrate being a woman. I hated it, being a woman that is. It brought with it too much pressure and expectations – things I knew I would never meet or satisfy. I wasn’t ready to go through the rigorous scrutiny and race for one to be declared a good woman. To be placed on the scale of beauty, respect, how well I carry out my chores, to always look together and dressed up – and for my success to ultimately be measured by the man I attract into marriage. I just wasn’t ready or built for such a race. But nonetheless, I had been placed into this race anyway. And what was left for me was hating what got me into such a race in the first place- being born a woman.

A lot has changed since then; a lot more is changing. Just like with any challenge, perceived or otherwise, being a woman has taught me a lot. The journey of identifying myself as a woman has led me through dark sleepless nights and bright sunny days. Through fighting pimples and dark spots(ugh) and wanting a particular hip waist ratio to basically just being flat out depressed about it all. Through moments of trying to fit in and failing at it. But here I am still, a proud woman. Soft to the core but courageous and daring still. Ready to mould the next generation of brilliant young women. That is what I am becoming from this journey.

A woman faces a lot of challenges everywhere just as men do, though arguably at different levels and scale. A lot more women are still on the journey of identifying themselves while others do not have the strength to even begin. But there is hope for all women. You do have the strength to conquer your fears, to rise above expectations and to stand tall on the highest mountain. You are a woman, and that is all you need. Be bold and discover what the world holds for you -beyond the expectation of mankind, beyond your imagination!

Happy International Women’s Day!

 

Why are we here?

Am not a morning person, not at all.  

I woke up today and hurriedly prepared for work.  My sister was still getting her sleep the whole time I was preparing -and not jogging as she has been saying for the past two weeks. Resolutions are hard people!  Now, getting ready for work is something I do every working day, I can do it even without  thinking. Usually my mind is wandering elsewhere the whole time am getting ready. But I still manage to get everything done. Today my mind wandered in a different direction and it came in the form of a question(s); what is my purpose on earth?  Just being an accountant didn’t seem like a good answer.

Before I get judged for not being grateful that I have a job in the first place, maybe I should mention that I almost got into an accident last weekend. I was driving in Chilobwe close to ‘pa centre’ as people call it. There was a Lorry driving ahead of me with those mchenga boys in the back. As I usually do when going uphill, I drove a bit slow because I have this fear that those cars can easily develop a braking fault and crash into the car driving behind. Well guess what? The Lorry lost its brakes! It lost it’s brakes! It started moving backwards to where I was. Now, let me at this point thank God for keeping me calm the whole time. In normal circumstances I would have probably died from fear alone. But nope, I was calm. I simply drove to the side of the road and kept driving uphill while the Lorry sped uncontrollably downhill. I do not know how it ended.

As some guy from some clip I watched said, we live life with the assumption that we will live forever. Rarely do we make plans with the knowledge that someday we will die.  But moments like these remind us. We are not going to live forever, at any moment we can die. Any moment. Once this realization sinks in, most of what we do in our daily lives doesn’t seem as important anymore. But what should we be doing instead?

The idea of our mortality remains a constant fear in our lives. We fear death and yet there is nothing we can do about it. Literally nothing. We will go. But when you really think about it, the idea of our mortality should not be scary. Worrying over the inevitable is really a waste of time; and time is ticking. The idea of our mortality should be a good motivation for us to haste and create/find our purpose, whatever that might be. Simply surviving on this earth seems like a raw deal. I definitely do not want to spend my limited time on earth with the only goal being surviving from one paycheck to the next.

With the year still fresh, I hope you start to find the answers to why you are here. Or better still, write your own story of why you are here. And while at it, make sure you sing out loud, dance, travel the world, love hard and laugh so damn harder. Because whatever your purpose, we are here to leave a mark.

 

 

Happy New Year!

Days go by so fast! I can not believe today is already 9 January 2017. Where are we rushing to people?

I could pretend I had a blast during the holidays, but who am I kidding. The past weeks have been quite slow and not different from how I spend the festive seasons. The only different thing is that this year I spent my new years eve at my grandmothers place in Mzuzu, sleeping as usual. Am used to this by now. I have never really been one that comes back from the holidays with adventure stories and a missing memory of how the night ended. But regardless I am excited for the new year, really excited.

I believe the start of a new year gives us a chance to start all over and to build ourselves into the people we want to become-without having to explain to everyone why we are changing certain things in our lives. It acts as a mental block to separate and leave behind all our mental junk in the previous year while we forge into a new one. I know it all has to do with the mindset and that yes its just a change in the calendar, but for me it is more than that. That is what I believe anyway. Nanga can you imagine an endless year where there is no end in sight! Seems quite hopeless to me.

As a believer of new beginnings, I also do believe in making resolutions for the new year. This year am not going to lie, my list is quite ordinary and quite short. I definitely need new ambitions in my life, sigh!  All the same, I have some pretty amazing plans I hope to achieve. For starters, I would like to learn programming and start a business. Staring a business is a resolution I probably have each year. Each year I fail at it, I just can’t seem to decide on a business to venture into. This year we swinging it! It has to be different.

Before I did an assessment of the year 2016, I really thought 2016 was not the greatest year for me. I do realize now that it was an amazing year after all. On a micro level, yes I lost a lot of little emotional battles that clouded my judgement of the year, which ultimately kept me unnecessarily stressed. I hope as the year unfolds, the small battles you lose do not hinder you from seeing the great battles you do win.

I wish you an amazing year my loves!

P.S I plan to upload more often.xoxo

Believing in yourself

I have been reading a lot of motivational articles this year, mostly from Patrick Achitabwino. He has an opinion column in the Daily Times newspaper called Mindset Change. It is featured every Monday above Lorraine Lusinje’s column. It always makes me look forward to my Monday mornings in the office. Now, if there is anything I have learnt from the articles, it must be the need to believe in yourself. This has been a recurring theme in most of the articles I have read.

Believing in oneself is not as easy as it sounds however. There are after all diverse reasons why people do not believe in themselves. For some it is because of past failures, what they have been told or generally their experiences in life. However for some it is simply because they do not want to be considered arrogant. And this a major reason for most people I know (I think its really just me) given the conservative culture we have been groomed in. Arrogance borders so closely with strong belief in oneself. Unfortunately  arrogance is not a character we usually want to be associated with. Most people are aware of this and its why some use it against others whenever they persist with a position they disagree with. Its not uncommon to call someone wamakani if they persistently hold on to their ideas. I have called people that; people have called me that the few times I have stuck to my opinion on matters.Obviously it is a statement that stings.

However it is impossible for a person to believe in oneself without crossing over the arrogance boundary every once in a while. Finding balance between belief in oneself and arrogance is an art, it requires constant practice and takes time. It is inevitable that at some point one will fall at either extremes of the continuum. Some find their balance quick, while for some they need time. Some never do find the balance. What is essential however is not whether one finds balance or not, it is about the process and what it teaches you about yourself. The process of believing in oneself is empowering. It makes you aware of your biases, your strengths, your weaknesses, your reasoning and your abilities. People who believe in themselves have an identity whether it is positive or not. Ever wondered what people think of you when your name is mentioned? Do they know your ideas? what you stand for?

Knowing oneself and believing in that person you discover is essential for success. Not just success in work, business or making money, but also in finding happiness and peace. It is difficult to be happy and at peace if one constantly doubts themselves. It is difficult to be happy and at peace if little comments made about our ideas completely paralyse our brain from thinking. The few times I have chosen to believe in myself and my ideas have been among the best. Hopefully 2017 will see me experiencing more and more of those moments. I wish you the same!

Making hard decisions, or just decisions

Its been months now since I moved from my cousins house. Finding a house in Blantyre was a hectic experience! I do not know how many viewing fees I gave out to agents who always succeeded in disappointing, always. I convinced myself I would never find a house through an agent; I reasoned a decent house really wouldn’t require the services of an agent anyway. Everyone these days seems to know someone in need of a house, so why bother hiring an agent, you know. I must have been right because I found my house through a referral from a colleague from work.

I did not really know what to expect with moving. I was excited to get my own place and to decorate it the way I want, and get all the little cute furniture I saw on pinterest (haha). I would eat whatever I want, sleep whatever time I please and I would wash the dirty plates the next day, sorry mum. But it was also scary to think of especially for a woman living alone in a country that has security issues. But when I had found the house, I did not have time to think, I had to move and figure it all out along the way.

Needless to say, its been months and I still haven’t got the cute pinterest furniture I planned on getting. My stuff is piled up beside my bed, gosh gives me a headache each time I see it. I do eat what I want, but the mid month bug does cause havoc at times. How do those married people who have kids manage? My house is not what I wanted it to be. My mum always says furnishing a home takes time and I should be patient. I do agree with her. But I partly blame myself for the state am in, I never seem to make the hard decisions on getting stuff, or even the simple ones for that matter.

If there is anything staying alone is teaching me, it is my hesitation to make decisions.  Take buying a mbaula for instance. I knew I needed a mbaula thanks to the persistent blackouts sponsored by ESCOM or is it EGENCO? But am pro environmentalist, if that is even a thing. I mean charcoal does us good, but is one meal good enough reason to make up for years of growth of a single tree? The decision to buy a mbaula wasn’t an easy one (still isn’t) and it took such a long time. But I eventually got a mbaula. I haven’t used it yet, it still sits in the space beneath the kitchen sink. I hope I never have to use it.

I came across something interesting on Facebook today. A list of 21 suggestions on becoming successful. Suggestion number 17 reads, ‘Be decisive, even if sometimes you will be wrong ‘. That resonated with me on a whole different level. I realise now that what scares me from taking decisions is the fear of making the wrong decision. The fact that my ideas sound peculiar to most people doesn’t help. I keep postponing decisions because I do not want to make the wrong one or make compromises that would hurt someone else.

But decisions have to be made, whether they end up being the right ones or not. Some bad decisions have ended up being the best ones for some people.  I have told myself to make conscious effort and make decisions. To make my stand on matters clear, no matter how peculiar. My decisions are a reflection of who I am, what I stand for. I will definitely brush off people the wrong way with some of the decisions I  will make, but we can not agree on everything now can we? My mind is me and decisions are who I am. I know it is not as easy, but it’s worth the try.

I hope as people we get the courage to make decisions that matter in our lives, even the little ones. Oh and that reminds me, I really have to decide quick whether or not to get a haircut. This debate has gone on for so long in my head! I mean, a pixie would be nice, but do I have the time to maintain it? Will it be okay if I cut my hair in December given that it is so cold? Can my current wardrobe go with a short hairstyle; not that it goes with long hair either lol… But see what I mean?