Juxtaposition: Co-existence in the time of all or nothing.

[A reflection prompted by a corrugated roof; a wild body of flowers and plants.]

The first floor of my gym overlooks a golf course. It provides a view of the upper middle-class dream. The brand new executive cars that are always gleaming in the car park next to the club house. I mean, always gleaming. Rain, sun, wind; you name it, these cars are always glistening and spotless. It’s a phenomenon I have to look into. But that’s for another day.  The members-only clubhouse. The very fit-conscious executives and their business partners- there is no one more self-conscious than the early middle-aged executive; no beer bellies here- trim and supreme. The caddies on the green. The expensive-looking clubs. The golf carts. Aspirational.

What really catches my eye however, is another view. It never fails to make me pause and reflect. I see it almost every day, but it makes me smile, stop and think a little about the beauty of life and nature, and to feel really grateful to be alive at that moment.

A rusted corrugated red roof of the outhouse garages where the little golf carts come home to rest after a long day of leisure. Peeling, long-exposed to the elements and corroding.

A sprouting of purple flowers on a leafy green bush. I have no idea what they are; I just know that I like them. Wild and overrun, uncut and droopy. 

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Usually by the time I make it to gym, the sun is setting. Golden delicious. With the advent of December, the rainy season has started in earnest. Often there will be a raging storm, a little hail sometimes or simply angry moody grey fluff gathering menacingly in the distance and making me impatient to work out and head home before I get caught in the mania of rain traffic in Harare.

Whichever it is, cooling rain after a heat-wave or the delicious golden shimmer of an impending dusk, I am always in awe of the beauty surrounding me. Perhaps I am altogether too romantic for my own good, but it is something I have made my own and make no apologies for; there are very few things as stunning as nature which we get for free in this world.

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What makes this particular view special to me is the juxtaposition of man-made with nature’s design. Incredibly hard and unbelievably soft. As different as possible but making the most delicate and calming picture.

Our world is currently in a time of great polarization, divisiveness, intolerance and hatred; it is ugly and disconcerting. There is an obsession with having things done one way or not at all. One is either with us or they are against us, even if they have not said this much. There is no compromise or engagement. That is unsustainable. Even our environment shows us that the only way to move forward is by encouraging compromise and co-existence; allowing diversity to flourish. It is possible to accommodate everyone and everything; it just requires a little effort, understanding and a lot of empathy.

How many times do we angrily reject something or someone whom we feel is a threat to our comfortable existence? We fail to acknowledge their challenges, are dismissive and speak over them, silencing them and cowing them before our own views which we believe, for whatever reason, to be superior.

Ultimately, the most gorgeous picture is not created by only having one version of something. There has to be nuance and difference for anything interesting to result. The only reason this particular view makes me stop and think is the way that the rusty lazy red of the roof blends with the striking purple, the leafy black trees in the background as dusk approaches, and the yellow and green of the grassy knoll. I would not take a second look at a green field. As it is, I am writing almost a thousand words inspired by a little piece of land simply because of the richness it embraces.

In the same way, we need to learn to co-exist, to respect the differences which we have and to actually using them to enhance our relationships, realities and experiences. That is what makes this journey worth anything at all; the ability to see others for their realities and capabilities and respecting what makes them, them. Diversity and individualism are not dirty words. There cannot only be one truth and one point of view; what a sad and bland existence.

 The freedom to live one’s truth unharmed by others, causing no harm to others; that is the true measure of tolerance and humanity.

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10 Poets of Colour we Discovered (or Rediscovered) in 2014

Media Diversified

by Samira Sawlani

Never has poetry been as crucial as it is right now, to remind us, people of colour, of the importance of self love, self care and self acceptance. It has a central role in creatively articulating the many injustices in the world today, giving a human perspective to the tragedies occurring around the world, and in those moments where our own words fail us, poetry is the avenue through which so many of us can express ourselves. Throughout history poets of colour have inspired: Rabindranath Tagore, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Maya Angelou, Sandra Cisneros — the list is endless. Now comes a new generation.

So here is the latest crop of poetry legends that we discovered or rediscovered in 2014:

10. Hannah Sanghee Park

hannahEarlier this year it was announced that this young American-Korean poet had won the prestigious Walt Whitman Award. Based in Los Angeles, the…

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Sunshine Stalk

Anyone who even vaguely knows me will know that I love flowers. I might love flowers more than food, which is saying something! There is just something so wonderful about a fresh bunch of beautiful flowers. I find so much joy, love, happiness and hope in a bunch of flowers. The bigger the better.

Roses are great. Structurally, they might be one of the most superior creations we are blessed with. The delicate bud tight and concealed that, at the right time and in the right conditions, bursts forth into a beautiful circle of beauty; something poetic there.The way that the petals grow outwards from the core, pushing against each other but in the process creating something collectively great; that’s grand! In full bloom? Unmatched in beauty.

I know this is terribly grinch-like but I am most certainly not a great fan of the red rose. Chalk it down to too many failed Valentine’s Day plans. Of course I would not turn up my nose ever at a beautiful bunch or even a single stem left outside my door (wink, wink secret admiter), but I do prefer my roses in different colours. There is something a little more magical, a little more convincing and special about a non-red rose. One of my forever favourites is the yellow rose.

Yellow roses are symbolic of some of my favourite things. Friendship; loyalty; well-wishes; warmth; love; optimism. They are associated with “life-giving warmth.” Yellow roses never fail to make me smile. Life is hard. Sometimes you just need something beautiful in life to remind that it is still after all worth living. Yellow roses are it for me.  You are essentially getting sunshine on a stalk! What more could one want?

The purpose of this post was simply to celebrate the yellow rose. I got a beautiful bunch of yellow roses last week and it made my entire week better. Anytime I felt low I would just look at them and never fail to smile. Mostly because of what they represent. Long live friendship, love, loyalty, warmth, the sun, optimism and all the beautiful things in life.

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until further notice.

 

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About two months ago, I was admitted as an attorney of the High Court. It marked the end of a five year journey to the bar, and the beginning of what I hope will be an exciting stage in my life and career.

As with most things legal, the ceremony was fairly dull and uninspiring. There was a judge, a court room, a bunch of impatient attorneys waiting for their cases to be heard, family members and about ten nervous almost-lawyers. There was some very polite applause once all of us had been sworn and duly registered. No ululations, no dancing, no popping of champagne. Cold and clinical. My voice trembled a bit. Then it was over and we went to lunch then back to work.  Painless and almost a footnote. I was underwhelmed given how long it had taken me to fulfill my career goal and to get to this point.

So obviously I decided to throw a little party. A soiree with my closest friends. It was a chance to just dress up, drink and be happy and sparkle. At this point I hadn’t seen my friends in a few weeks, months and years in some cases, so I made sure that I chose a date where everyone, or as many of the,  would be home for the holidays.

We had pasta, cocktails and cake and  more drinks; we took pictures; went dancing afterwards , drank champagne and had a lovely evening. Whenever I am feeling particularly low, I just look at the pictures and enjoy the night all over again. I decided to share a few with you here. I am the type of person who is very hard on herself and does not ever really take time out to celebrate; I am already on to the next stage of the paper chase. This was a chance to slow down and relax and acknowledge how far I have come. It does not mean that I have done it all. It takes nothing away from your goals when you stop breathe and dance.

Until further notice, celebrate everything…

Thanks for reading.

 

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Consistency as the only currency.

“We accept the love we think we deserve.”

When I read a book and I love it, it’s characters come alive and I become deeply iimages (8)nvested in, attached to and dependent on them, especially in times of need. The  Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of those reads that you keep going back to, that you  page through on a bad (or good) day because there is so much good in them that you cannot simply be satisfied with just one read. Please do yourself a favour and read it. I still haven’t watched the movie. I never may. There is no real need.

We accept the love that we think we deserve.

It is an easy and light phrase to skim over and repeat without really understanding what it means. It took me a while to not only understand, but to embrace it.  Crossroads.

A time to pause. I increasingly found myself deeply disappointed in a lot of people whom I was never meant to feel that way about. I was incredibly disgruntled. I simply felt that I was not getting the love I deserved from them. There was little to no reciprocation. I felt that I was pouring myself into loving people and making an effort for them when they would not and were not doing the same for me. It was an incredibly frustrating and hurtful realisation. I was in denial about it for a while. These people were never meant to hurt me like this. It had to be me. I was the problem. Right? Yes. I said yes for so long. Then one day, I woke up and said “No.”

No. It left a bitter taste in my mouth that realisation. The answer to the question which I posed to myself as a benchmark, was more often than not, “No, absolutely not.” The question? Sorry, it was simply a matter of “If I do this for X, would they do the same thing for me in my time of need?”

First of all I tried not to ask that question and to simply do good things and try be a firm friend. After all, that is what love and friendship is all about, right? Loving without expecting a reward for it? The only problem was that I was not expecting a reward or acknowledgement; simply love in kind. And it was not forthcoming.  And I increasingly realised that I could not sustain all these one-sided relationships that were leaving me cold and desperately sad and depressed.

I did not like to use this question as a method of living my life and deciding on my friendships, so I ignored the nagging voice of my conscience . The question kept coming up in my mind over and over again; I kept suppressing it and I kept on giving and and loving and making an effort and fighting. God, I fought.  I fought to love and to hold on. Until I could not.

Breaking point. I suppose we all have our breaking point. I reached mine one day when I realised that it was a necessity for me to cut people off and I had to do it to ensure my own survival and mental sanity. I was falling apart and had nothing left to give without being embittered. I was loving all these people, trying so hard to stay in touch and be involved in their lives and be a support system. And I had…nothing. They were giving me nothing.

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Cold
. I was so afraid. I was afraid of being alone. I was afraid that I would lose everything and be left all alone with my thoughts. I was afraid of being alone and unloved. That fear kept me hanging onto relationships that had long run their course. That fear blinded me to the reality that I was already alone.

I got stronger. Consciously. I read and wrote copiously. I spoke to a lot of people. I prayed and meditated. I went to the gym and I started running more. I filled my life with love, genuine love, activities, an extra class, tennis.  I worked on me and built myself up. God was listening. I prayed to be stronger. My fear left me. It was a long painful process. But I made it. My fear left me. What replaced it? A love of solitude and a spirit of discernment. I would rather be in my own company than around forces draining my light and love. I grew to love my solitude and the fear I had once had no longer ruled my life.

My fear left me. What replaced it? Anger. Righteous anger! I can laugh about it now a little. But it is still incredibly painful. I was angry that I had been rejected and abused and taken for granted. I was trying to be a good person. Faithful, loving, dependable, constant. I was trying to be better. Love more. Be kind. And the thanks I got was basically people spitting in my face after taking what I offered without so much as a thank you! I was furious! Hurt and furious! Hot angry tears. I felt overwhelming hurt.

Why was it so easy for people to walk away? It hurt that they could walk away that easily.  It still hurts. Sometimes I find myself wiping away tears as I am hit by an overwhelming hurt. I just miss someone so much it nearly knocks me down.

It shouldn’t be so easy to walk away. Maybe I am a sentimental fool. But I have so much love for the people in my life. Family, boyfriend, love interest, friend or person simply around me. I will not hesitate to let them know, and to show them. I am baffled as to why people would not show love to those they love while they are still able to. Life is so short and fragile. Why are we wasting time not showing people how much they mean to us?

I realised that it did not really matter why they left. It was not about me. It had never been about me. It was about someone’s inability to love and to be open and honest and reciprocate. Simply put. I had done all I could do. I tried my best. And I respected myself enough to walk away. That took a lot from me. Tremendous strength. And I am proud of myself for it. The people I have had to cut out of my life were not necessarily bad people. They were just bad for me. I could not understand why they would not love me. I did not think them bad people, so I could not understand why they were the source of so much pain and anger and negativity. I still do not understand why it was so hard for them to love me. I still get sad about it. Cry. A lot.

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Losing people hurts. Not only lovers and boyfriends, but friends, solid people, people you depended on. It hurts like crazy. And is confusing and debilitating and sad.

But I am slowly getting past it and accepting it. I would rather direct my energy toward loving those who love and do not hesitate to let me know, not simply through their words, but through their actions as well. Show up, be involved, be there for goodness’ sake.

Don’t only tell me. Show me. Let your words be convincing.

I don’t want to “love me enough for the both of us.” Because then why am I not simply alone? Learn me. Love me. I do not ask for much. Just love me. And remember to let me know and to show me.

“All I’m saying is, spoil me with your consistency.”

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Deep breath. And exhale.

A little too rosy a tint.

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I found myself awake at 4 a.m. today, thinking and reflecting. My mind turned to an article I  read yesterday. I could not finish it the first timeIt was a piece titled “10 things young Zimbabweans need to know to profit from the economy.”  It can be found here http://www.itamari.com/advice/item/70-10-things-that-young-zimbabweans-need-to-know-to-profit-from-the-economy

 I read it several times and felt confused so I put it away but I could not stop thinking about it and the points made therein.

 Feeling a little more forgiving and mellow this morning, I decided to give it another read. The feelings it evoked in me were not positive. The first time I read it and dismissed it angrily. In subsequent readings, I tried to be less emotional and reactionary as suggested by the author. I still found myself angry, irritated and confused, so much so that I first rant- tweeted about it, and then decided to keep one of my resolutions and actually write a blog post on it.

One of the main problems faced by Zimbabwe abroad is a publicity and popularity problem. It has been vilified and labelled a rogue-state. Words thrown around when speaking about our country are “failed state, dictatorship, starving population, hyper-inflation, economic meltdown,” and so on. Most of us can recite any number of nuanced statements about Zimbabwe even when aroused from a deep sleep; we have been hearing these things for years; at least a decade. We know them. We have heard them. We have lived and survived, (if not thrived) in this “failed rogue state.” And we are tired of hearing them.

We are tired of turning on the news and hearing clipped British accents criticising our country. We are tired of being treated badly at immigration offices across the world as we search for better lives. We are tired of feeling hopeless and criticised and like failures. Zimbabweans have begun to own their stories and truths because they are tired.

Until Lions write their own history, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”

We are an intelligent people and have finally understood the truth of this statement and have begun to own our story and to tell the truth of it. That is sovereignty to me. Standing up for your country and telling the truth about it, pretty or not. We are tired of hearing only the negatives, so we have begun to tell our side of the story, exposing the positives. And that pleases me. The foreign media will never report on the positives of Zimbabwe as that does not serve their narrative. We must show that we have good in our country on our own. The problem I have is when the positives are now used to act as though there are no negatives at all. That cannot work. We need to own our stories fully; good and bad. That was the issue I took with the article.

I found it too bright, optimistic and pretty. Call me a cynic. It glides over the problems facing this country’s young people. I am all for empowerment of the youth and personal agency. But the author’s tone I found insulting and condescending. I even called it smug. I do not know her and did not mean a personal attack on her character; this is only a critique of her words and the tone of the article.

The writer ignores so many of the hardships facing young Zimbabweans in this country and takes a very optimistic and basic approach. Zimbabwe is a special case and we cannot pretend as though it is not and as though what works in a functioning economy would be equally applicable here.

A population of 13 odd million wants to say ONE man single-handedly got our economy to where it’s at. Let’s not give anyone that much power.” Oh? I will just leave that there and you can make of it what you will.

Young Zimbabweans need to learn to save.”

This statement reeks of privilege and ignores the fact that many are living hand to mouth and saving is thus not even a viable option. The reason people are not saving is not because they do not wish to save for a rainy day or build up a plush trust-fund for their children later on in life. It is simply that they CANNOT. How can anyone not understand such a basic premise? People are simply not getting paid enough to be able to put any money aside. They barely have enough for the present, let alone the future.

Last time I checked, ZBC employees had not been paid for half a year. 6 months! How do they save? What do they save? People who are getting paid $300 a month: what do they save? Once they pay their rent, water and power bills, buy food, pay their bus fare, give the parents a little bit of money and well, simply live in this expensive state, what will be left for them to save? They are trying to make ends meet today! Next month is a distant thought. These people are not spending their money on bottles in the club or Sushi Sunday at Mekka. They are spending it on the very basic of basics! Perhaps her article was aimed at the rich in Zimbabwe. THEN it would make sense. Instead of that bottle and $20 entrance each weekend, put a little away. That makes sense. It makes no sense if you are directing it at the young ordinary “people from all walks of life.”

“Young Zimbabweans need to wake up every day and work hard.”

Zimbabweans have never shirked away from work. That is the only reason they are still standing; they are surviving because of just how hard they work. But at some point, the government and our leaders need to meet us halfway and give us a viable economy. Yesterday, it was reported that Reckitt Benckiser was closing down; no, it has closed its plant and given retrenchment packages. It is not the only company to do so. Many are downsizing or closing up shop. Many simply could not reopen after the holidays. So no matter how hard you are working, if the economy is not working, where are you going? You will only get so far.

We can do as she suggests and “take away party cards, schools of thought, totems or international influence and study the economy.” We can do all that as young people. And it is indeed admirable. But are we in charge? Not really. The people in charge, our significantly older leaders and politicians are running the economy based on party cards, totems, schools of thought and the refrain of sanctions and international interference in this country. So I am not sure how far one will get with THAT admirable approach. Each way we turn, frustration abounds.

“Young Zimbabweans need to realise the economy is not in “their hands”- it’s in young hands.”

Actually, Zimbabwe is a gerontocracy: a state where the leaders are significantly older than the average population. The economy is by no means in the hands of the young.

Gerontocracy: a society dominated by elders. In a gerontocracy, people who are substantially older than the bulk of the population hold most of the political power, and they tend to dominate companies, institutions, and organisations as well.

 We are a state of young people ruled by old tired men and a few women. The economy is NOT in our hands. Our leaders are often hopelessly out of touch with the young people, with modernity and innovation. Our Minister of Information and Communications Technology is 68 years old. Let that sink in. Most of our parents in their late 40s struggle with technology at a basic touch-screen level.

Yes. Young people in this country have become selfish and are working for their own benefit. Our leaders have forced us into this situation where we must “keep calm, be Zimbabwean and make a plan.” It is the only way to survive. No one will ever be concerned about the well being of Zimbabwe as a whole when they have no sadza on their plate and no money in their pocket, no job and no discernible future. That is simply how it is. Just ask Happison Muchechetere. He realised this and made a $40 000 a month plan for himself while his subordinates forewent their salaries for six months. Unbelievable. Inexcusable.

Young Zimbabweans need to realise that our economy is not controlled by one man or one party.”

I am not an economist. I only know that Zanu PF is the ruling party. It always has been and as far as I can tell, as the MDC implodes, it will be for the next couple of years at least. They are in charge of the indigenisation policies, the land redistribution program, the mining revenues and exercises. For as long as I can remember, Zanu PF has been in charge of this country, controlling our economic progress.

“The blame game is for old haggard people who cannot raise their voice, who are too tired to fight…” Indeed. We must be seen to be different from our parents’ and grandparents’ generation. But many young people, unemployed, educated, frustrated, are also haggard and too tired to fight.

In so much as Zimbabwe needs a positive narrative, I am not a proponent of feel-good delusions. We are young, educated, unemployed and desperately poor. We are struggling and are not in charge of the economy. We cannot delude ourselves that we are. We might be masters of our own destinies and make a plan for our lives, but making a plan for Zimbabwe and her economy? That is truly difficult and monumental. I feel like a cog in the wheel of politicians in Zimbabwe. I cannot make a plan within a Zimbabwean context because I am powerless and at the whims of politicians and political decisions.

What do I propose as an alternative plan? I do not have the answers. I do not have any answers at all. And that terrifies and enrages and humbles me.

Writers don’t give prescriptions, they give headaches.” Ikem Osodi.

Aside

Hello old friend. 

I love that opening line. It is so profound and simple and perfect. It conveys a new beginning of something already embarked on. I have neglected this spade. I say this every few months, post sporadically and retreat into law school. This year I have written more than before, but it was more academic and thus did not make its way onto this space. It has been an incredibly rough academic year, more challenging than anything I have ever had to do. I doubted myself, cried, participated in aggressive acts of self-love and preservation. Results will be out in a few weeks and regardless of how it all turns out I am proud of myself for making it through without having a full-blown mental breakdown. My goal for summer break is to write more than I have done the entire year. Not everything will make its way onto the blog, but the fact that it is written will be more than enough. I will try share as much as I can. I have lots of stories to start, a lot of unfinished ones floating on my laptop, phone, tablet and most importantly and urgently, in my mind. The goal is to finish 2013 strong. ☺️

Epiphany. Mr Right is not right, right now.

download (2)I had an epiphany today. It wasn’t about anything profound like what I want to do with my life when I graduate or where I want to live. But it was still an epiphany. And it had me floating through the rest of my day.

 

There is a young man that I am and have been deeply enamoured with. I was trying so hard to make it work and to make us ‘a thing’ because I haven’t felt this way about anyone in a really long time, if ever. I really wanted him in my life. It felt right. He and I were meant to be. We have great chemistry and conversations and laughs. We have a lot in common and enough differences to make it interesting and exciting. When I am with him, I never have to think about what I am saying or feel uncomfortable or be coy. It is really quite extraordinary.

 

Then today I realised that I am not looking for a casual hook-up or meaningless drunken half-coherent conversations and sweaty kisses in the back of a car after a wild night out on the town. I have never been looking for those things.

 

All I want is someone like him, who understands me and likes me and with whom I have fantastic chemistry. I want someone who can make me laugh but will listen when I come to him in tears because I am having a crisis of self or my friends have abandoned me or I have just had a bad day and failed a test. I want someone who will hold my hand as we walk down the street and hug me tightly for no reason. I want someone who I can sit with and say absolutely nothing and listen to some good music and eat Doritos all night with and never feel the need to use words.

I want late night chats, on the phone, and face to face. Laughs and plenty of them! Pizza and wine parties. Soft kisses. Hungry kisses. Long enveloping hugs. To fall asleep and be safe with him and wake up in his arms. I want someone to share my dreams and fears and insecurities with, as well as my desires and plans. Someone who will challenge me and laugh at me when I am being an obnoxious and insufferable pig but who will forgive me and still see the value in me despite my many shortcomings. Most of all, over and above anything and everything, I want to be with someone who wants to be with me and only me.

 

I want to commit to someone who is ready to love me the way that I deserve to be loved rather than someone who sees me as a space-filler until someone prettier comes along or his girlfriend comes home from her trip overseas. Life is too short to compromise on the things that matter the most. And what matters most to me right now is to love the right person at the right time and in the right way.I know we are in college and these are the best years to hang loose and let it all out, but that is absolutely what I am not looking for. I just want a mature and passionate and fun type of love. I deserve to be loved and to be loved properly and to be treated right.

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The thing is, there will always be someone who will be the perfect person, but if they are not ready to love me perfectly in my imperfection and with all their failings, then they are absolutely not the right person. Or rather, they are the right person but at the completely wrong time. And that is alright. If I want soft kisses in the middle of the night from a slightly intoxicated man, I can get that any day of the week. But that is not what I am looking for right now. And I am ready to let go of the perfect person who has come along at the wrong time.
That was my epiphany today. I realised that even if I were with my perfect person, it would not be enough because what he has to offer me right now is in no way close to what I am ready and looking for. If I am going to be with someone, it has to be right in some basic ways. So in so much as it hurts me and I will die a little to let go, the joy I feel from letting go of him is inexplicably freeing.

Clinging to the right person at the wrong time is dangerous. And that is exactly what I have been doing. I was so afraid that if I let him go, I would never get over it. I have been so sad and depressed and self-flagellating about the entire situation. I ask myself why I could not just let him go. It took time and a lot of it, and I have no doubt that it will take even more time to fully translate into my life. What I realise now is that if I don’t let him go, I will never forgive myself and I will be depriving myself of the joy I am currently feeling. It has been a day of great introspection and honesty. I told my friend today that I have been endeavouring to lead a more honest life. Especially with myself. Honest. Brutally honest. And he laughed and replied, “You are always honest.”

 

I fell deeply for the perfect person at the wrong time and in the wrong circumstances. Today I freed myself from that pain and resentment and fear and self-loathing. He might be Mr Right, but he is not Mr Right right-now. And he would never be

the right one if I accepted him as he currently is and with the inadequate offerings he would have for me at this time. We might end up together. We might not. We probably will not and I will look back in a year’s time and chide myself for being melodramatic and childish for thinking I would never find anyone like him when I have barely seen what the world has to offer. That’s me for today. I feel much lighter and happy and hopeful.

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Thank you for reading.