Tag Archives: South Africa

Newly 31

If you know me, you know that I have a best friend named Jessica. Today is her 31st birthday.

Looking back on the past two years specifically which centered around the last year of being a 20 something year old and then making it to 30 there are two reflections that I want to make that have been an overarching theme in these years.


noun: lack of success.

Jessica is and will probably for the rest of her life continue to be a mentor. This is not one of those soppy moments where I talk about how she is one to uplift others as she works on herself. Rather a moment for me to reflect as someone close to her, but still on the “outside of her being” about how she navigates those relationships.

She is a person who is not afraid of speaking about her failures, about her struggles with her studies and about the possible delays that this may have caused. There is a power in that which can never be underestimated because if there is one thing that we can all relate to on a human level is failure.  My best friend has wielded her possible halts as a stepping stone to greater things. It has not slowed down her momentum to dream and successfully execute certain goals.

The main reason for this is because she has done away with automatically equating failure as a shameful experience.

Her resilience is something that I am certain each and every one of her mentees will attest to. She will support you through your career highs and lows, will fight for you in spaces that your name is being spoken of and will take the time to advise you should you need that moment. Although this isn’t a true measure of impact, I see in the material form how much she means to the people that she mentors when she receives gifts, treats and trinkets from them.

Mental Health

noun: a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.

Working in corporate, growing up as a black body, living as a woman in South Africa and so many other challenges can and will take a strain on one’s mental health. I saw this first hand a few years ago. It was a difficult task for her to stay close to me when I was in a battle with my own mind that impacted my sense of reality, hormones and ability to be or want to be social. However, she and my really awesome support structures pulled through for me. Only for the roles to be reversed in a different way as corporate attempted to swallow my friend alive.

It is an amusing and often odd thing that because we have our own relationships with our psychologists it has trickled into our relationship. The lessons learned and reflections given in those sessions have made us better friends.

Currently, one of the major loves we have for each other is holding space for the other. I am certain you have come across this term before but if not, it means being physically, mentally, and emotionally present for someone. It means putting your focus on someone to support them as they feel their feelings[1].

Holding space for someone is difficult. Being present in a busy world is increasingly hard. Moreover, not being judgmental as someone pours their heart out to you is also challenging as some of our natural thoughts would be to ask ourselves why they did certain things. In order to hold space for someone, you have to be ready to do so. If you aren’t, you risk the possibility of not being present, making the other person feel unheard or completely missing the point of what is being shared with you. This has led to many pre-conversations with the crux being, “can you hold space for me in this moment?” “I have something to share with you with regards to xyz, do you have the mental capacity for this?”

Doing this has allowed us to have a relationship that does not feel like a place to dump issues and move on. An actual safe space where I can tap into as a place of care and love.

There are other reflections to be made for the past two years, some on lovers, love, reaching limits, boxing, dreaming and travels but perhaps that should be for another day.

To draw these two things together I want to finally say to you who may be reading this, if there is one thing that my best friend will tell you it to take your mental health seriously and do not be afraid to try again. There is no harm in aiming higher than what you think is possible and you never know if it may actually work out.

Happy birthday to my best friend and I hope we have many more years together!

[1] https://www.gstherapycenter.com/blog/2020/1/16/what-holding-space-means-5-tips-to-practice#:~:text=%E2%80%9CHolding%20space%E2%80%9D%20means%20being%20physically,judgmet%20while%20you%20are%20present.

Sliding into the DM’s

When Olivia and I first interacted in the middle of 2015 I didn’t think that we would be chatting daily. You see, I mistakenly tagged her on my natural hair page @Hulis_Hair (previously AfroHealthSA) and she corrected me but then still went on to follow the page. Soon after that she followed my personal account and I followed right back.

Weeks later she sent me a direct message and asked if she could do a post about me on her website at the time (kayiniafrika.com). Of course, I said yes because I thought it was amazing that this girl all the way in Tanzania thought that I was cool enough to feature.

As we chatted through emails I found out that she seemed to be a nice human being. My gut also told me that she was genuine. After going back and forth between emails and DM’s Olivia mentioned her desire to come to South Africa. I took a leap and gave her my number and asked her to send me a message if she didn’t think I was being too weird. In some parts I kind of  expected her to just say thank you and never make use of my number, but I soon found out that she was actually happy to have it.

We were talking every day for most of the day on WhatsApp about our normal lives with voice notes and video calls in-between. Very soon after that came the tagging on Instagram when we saw a funny picture or a lovely quote. We discovered that we had a similar sense of humour and it became effortless to talk about all things under the sun. We went from being acquaintances on social media to becoming great friends online.

As we continued to talk Olivia would bring up South Africa more and more. We played around with ideas of what I thought of certain places and arranged a few logistics. I must say though, my first and then recurring thought was that she was absolutely brave! Who visits a country where the only point of reference is a stranger that they met online? What if I was a serial killer who preys on Instagram girls?

After many mails about accommodation and transport details she was booked and ready for her travels to South Africa. We had arranged that I was to meet her on the day after her arrival in October 2015 when she had finished a hot air balloon sunrise experience. I drove to the venue at the approximate time that she had advised me to arrive and I waited in my car. I sent up a prayer hoping that this wasn’t an elaborate plan to try and kidnap me and sell me on the black market.

What followed was a day at the Harties Zoo, the dam and then a drive to Sandton to find her accommodation. After a bit of a mishap and location changes we managed to check her in and went for supper and drinks where we met up with a few of my closest friends. Olivia then spent a few more days in the area and managed to make friends everywhere she went with such ease and grace that I was in awe.

Since then we have been involved in each other’s lives. The highs and the lows, heartbreak and heartfelt laughs.

My experience with online friends has always turned out for the best, but this was my first life changing one. Seeing bravery in a young black woman who wants to explore the world on her terms. Her visit here afforded me a strong friendship and an even better prayer warrior who intercedes for me.

Then in 2019 my best friend and I had the opportunity to visit Olivia in Tanzania for an extended Christmas visit. A story that I will tell another day.