In the past year, I have been so consumed by work that I haven’t had much of a social life. Everything was just so heavy, I didn’t think I was fun to be around (particularly when sober) and when I did have some free time, I just wanted to sleep. I never want to be consumed by work like that again. I want to be consumed by things that set my soul on fire and to find a balance between adulting and doing all the little things that make me happy like drinking rosé in a teacup, hanging out with my girls and eating my youth.
So, in order to bring back some normalcy and fun times into my life, I accepted an invitation to attend the Brown Girl Social Club (@browngirlsocialclub) luncheon hosted by social entrepreneur, Huffington Post SA blogger and melanin goddess Kagiso Matlala (@kagisomatlala_). And what better way to revive my social life than attending a social?
At first, the luncheon hosted at Arts on Main, Maboneng, felt like a high school reunion because 95% of the guests where Pretoria High School for Girls Old Girls, which I actually loved (my close friends and I have decided we won’t be attending our actual school reunion so this was perfect because it involved champagne and we didn’t have to sit through questions on when we are planning on getting married or having kids) and then when the programme started I knew there was nowhere else I would rather be, in that moment. The theme for the luncheon was “How to Successfully Grow in your Career and Business through leadership” and the Keynote speaker Mme Nana Magomola, a phenomenal lawyer and businesswomen with years of experience in numerous business and legal fields and sits on or has sat on a number of national and international boards. She was so insightful and really engaged the girls in attendance on a number of topics from the importance of taking time to visualise what success means for each of us, to ask ourselves who do we want to be; to realise that we all brands, even in our small little corners and how that relates to how we want people to see us; she encouraged us “to be present when present”, to read and never stop yearning to learn and the importance of having a mentor.
I was really inspired by Mme Magomola when she spoke about finishing high school, she studied to be a nurse and a couple of years into her nursing career, she decided she wanted to be a doctor, so she studied towards it and right at the end, she decided she didn’t want to be a doctor anymore so she worked for a pharmaceutical company before moving into Law and then finally the corporate space. I was particularly struck by how she had moved from one field to another while still progressing and growing. I sometimes feel like I’m not growing, particularly, in anything that has to do with adulting. I don’t feel like I’m really building a career in anything, in particular. I feel very all over the place. I worked for a magazine, went to teach English in Thailand for a year, came back and now I work in the NGO space and I don’t know what I’m going to be doing in a couple of months times, let alone a year. So, how do I not come off as being unfocused? I’ve never wanted to really be anything. You know how some people grow up knowing that they want to be a pilot, an actor, a fireman and they work towards it and they become pilots, actors and firemen, I’ve never had that. I always thought about the kind of life I want to live, never thought about being a something. So, after her address, my good friend Khanyisa and I went over to thank her and to ask for a picture for our Instagram’s but I couldn’t let her leave without asking how do I go about not pursuing my ever-changing passions without looking crazy and unfocused. So, she listened to me go on and on and on and finally she spoke and she literally said “Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that, it (wanting to try different things) builds character”, and she added that I’ve gained so many different experiences, gained so many different skills and worked in different environments with different people that I actually have so much more to offer to the world. Sometimes, it’s good to hear from someone who doesn’t know you that you are okay. They don’t even have to say much and it might not even seem so meaningful to anyone else but you’ll know how much you needed to hear it.
The rest of the afternoon was an absolute delight, the food was delish, the champers was flowing and the conversations with my fellow brown girls was everything. I definitely won’t mind attending future Brown Girl Social events and I’m excited to see the initiative grow and to connect with more brown girls.
Speaking of high school reunions and getting back some normalcy, I decided to finally face my guilt of not making the effort to see my best friends and got the girls together for a very overdue lunch. These girls are like my family, we have known each other for such a long time that the friendship is so natural and effortless, also they know where all the bodies are buried. So much had happened since we’d last all been together though, we’d seen each other separately but it had been years since we all sat at the same table and instead of talking about how annoying our boarding school teachers were, we were talking about the baby shower I missed while living abroad, the moving in with the boyfriends, the jobs and of course the sexual exploits. We even took a moment to read through my DM conversation about the Italian I had a very short rendezvous with while in Venice. That guy has earned himself a whole page in my autobiography. I digress. Seeing my old friends again, reminded me of how connecting with people who have known you for a long time can really bring you back to your core, I was reminded of all the dreams I used to have and the person I wanted to grow into and I realised how for the most part, I have remained true to who I really am and in the same breath I need to go back to being passionate about the things that I love and want in my life, the way I was all those years ago when we all first meet. So, I left feeling more like myself again, this past year has been so hard (2016 was for the dogs), I felt I lost myself in it a bit and I’m also grateful for my friends who regardless of the time apart, when we together, it feels like we just saw each other yesterday.
Now, moving on from brown girls socializing and girlfriends to Lena Dunham’s Girls which was continuously criticized for its lack of brown people representation which isn’t my topic of discussion right now but rather how sad I was to see it end (I know it ended months ago, I’m still sad). I don’t think there is another show that I have related with in my early 20s than Girls.
When the show premiered, I was in my third year of university, and as much I loved the show, at the time I couldn’t really relate or see myself in any of the girls so I stopped watching. At the time, the Girls were a year or so out of university and were struggling to get it together. Life hadn’t worked out how they’d planned it would after graduation. I never saw myself as being like them after university. I figured I’d get an internship while studying for my honours and my career in international relations would just flourish from then on. It was all going to work out. Life is funny because as soon as I graduated just the idea of a nine to five made me want to vomit in my mouth, so nothing worked out how I had dreamed it would, earlier. I ended up spending 2 years living at home, copy-editing for a business magazine which left me feeling so uninspired while constantly pulling myself out depression and trying not to hate my life.
So now, as a 25-year-old, having been through what I went through and being where I am, I can relate with Hannah, Jessa and Marne more than ever. I am Hannah, Jessa, Marne and Shoshanna in one way or another. I’m also finding that I’m having a new understanding and appreciation for Joan, Toni, Maya, Lynn, Carrie, Maranda, Charlotte and Samantha, as I am getting older. Catching up on Girls brought me so much joy. It’s crazy. I often felt like Lena Dunham had a bird’s eyes view of my life because she was telling my story on that show. Hannah, “the writer” who is a complete mess, she just can’t get it together but above all else knows that she is a writer and she wants to write. That she knows for sure. Hello, hi! Then there is Jessa, the free-spirited one who doesn’t really want to be tied down, who does her own thing when she is inspired and when it feels right. Now Marne, first she really wants to work in the art gallery scene (Charlotte 2.0) but her passion is music. Marne’s story sounds like the time I studied politics when all I’ve ever wanted was adventure. Lastly, Shoshanna, our personalities couldn’t be more different but I related to her selfishness. If something doesn’t interest her, she doesn’t even bother trying to pretend. I’m very selfish with my interest and attention. I really have a new appreciation for the show now and am sad that after 6 seasons, it is over. A lot of people weren’t happy with the final two episodes but I loved every moment of it. Sometimes people don’t depart from our lives grand farewells. Sometimes goodbyes aren’t filled with hugs, kisses and long speeches about needing to move on. Sometimes people just stop talking and so much time goes by that you can hardly remember what it was like having them in your life. The ending felt so natural for me. And I think the timing was also just right, the Girls had outgrown each other and their character archetypes. They were becoming different people and isn’t that what life is all about, becoming?