An ‘essential’ workers’ work

[TW: mention of death, loss, mental illness]

It’s January 2020 and my stress and anxiety levels are in a constant competition to outdo each other. I had just completed my final year of university at the end of 2019 and was now at home job hunting and praying, panicking and praying, very depressed but was still praying.

For me, the panic kicked in on the Monday after graduating with my Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Media Studies, and isiXhosa. I woke up in a panic that morning because it had just dawned upon me that come the 30th of November 2019, I would be an unemployed graduate so the job hunting began.

I would make sure that I applied for at least five jobs a week. With my busy schedule as an Honour’s student, a Sub-Warden, a Tutor, Teaching Assistant and Hairdresser, five applications a week was a miracle. I had so much on my plate because I wanted to make sure that I capitalised on each and every opportunity that came my way, and I did. I was great at all my jobs, I even managed to bag a few awards at the end of the year because of my outstanding performance, but nothing ever entirely felt like it was enough.

I recall feeling like I had hit a brick wall when I realised that my student debt was yet another obstacle that I had to overcome. My alma mater was in no way helpful and the money I was making was no longer enough to cover the expenses that came with insisting on studying further even though I had no prospects of funding for that year, a decision that I will never regret.

Eight months later the hard work, sweat, literal blood and tears paid off. I got a call for an interview from one of the biggest newsrooms in country. I was shaking throughout the call and couldn’t believe my ears. Straight after that call, I cried my eyes out and thanked God for answering the prayers that I had been praying for months, and particularly that morning. Besides being unemployed and in desperate need of a job and a promise of survival, I was going through the most mentally. The anniversary of my late mothers death was coming up and my mental health was hanging on by a strand of hair. Fickle in reality, while having to be strong on the outside.

Might I add that this was now my second job offer, but the first one that actually counted. The first offer required me to settle my student debt of more than R60 000 and still cough up close to half of that amount for student registration and tuition for the year. So even though I was pleased to have this as an option, it was also a rude reminder of my bleak reality in relation to my dreams to carry on in the world of academia.

According to the call with the man who was soon to become my boss, I was to be flied up to Johannesburg for a full day of an interviewing process that was made up of 12 potential intern graduates for a programme that could only accommodate 10.

And so the day came. A lot happened between me receiving that call and me sitting in a conference room in front of the other candidates listening to their story pitches, nervously awaiting my turn. This was everything that I had been praying for, I was well prepared and even had some familiar faces around me that were rooting for me. It was a gruelling day, not because of the interviewing process but because of the fact that I was so tired. I was tired on the inside and was so desperate for it to all work out. My mental health was still fickle and I was so stressed that my period even started at the end of that interview day.

Left: Photo’s were taken at the end of the interview process.
Credit: Modiegi Mashamaite

I recall sipping on some red wine on my flight back to East London, thinking to myself that even if the job did not work out, I had tried my best and that was enough for me. Do not get me wrong, I really needed this job, but I was also extremely proud of myself for making the cut. According to the interviewing panel, there were more than 500 applicants, and knowing that my application stood out for them gave me hope. So much hope.

Fast forward to a week later and I got the call I had been so nervously waiting for, me Amina Deka Asma got the job and was due to fly back to Johannesburg to commence my internship in less than three weeks! It all finally paid off and I had myself to thank for sticking it all out. I never gave up on myself and getting this job was so affirming. I did not take it for granted that I managed to get a job the very next year after graduating, at one of the biggest newsrooms in the country within my field of study. A dream come true, if you ask me.

But all dreams come to an end right? Well, at least mine did.

Like my fellow interns across the country, I started my job on the brink of a pandemic that no one really sufficiently predicted. Not many people knew how much it would change our lives as we know them and the world around us. I for one, only got to spend a period of two months in the office, and worked from home for the rest of year. Not only did this sudden transition affect my work ethic, my psyche, and my holistic experience of my first year of work, but it also had a huge impact on my general outlook on life.

Within less than two months of lockdown I was tired of being an essential worker. I no longer wanted to be the intern reporter/journalist who had to come up with something to write on a daily basis, I slowly but surely grew to hate my job. As time went on I even grew tired of my colleagues, my housemates and my living space. Like many other people, I was tired of the pandemic and I did not have the choice to take a break and detach from everything.

By June, I realised that I hated working in the fast news industry. I often questioned myself as to whether me having studied Journalism was the right choice. I doubted myself in everyway possible and the nature of my work as well as the work environment did not help at all. An array of things happened that I will not mention for the respect of my previous workplace and for my own protection. Being surrounded by the news of so much death, gloom and sadness affected me so badly and I didn’t feel like I had a choice out of it. I constantly felt like I was not allowed to complain because I was an essential worker according to the National State of Disaster. My job was essential and I had absolutely so say in this.

On the days when getting out of bed became a mission, I would like there and fantasise about what my next work experience would be like, but would quickly be reminded of my reality. At one stage I recall being so tired of working in the news world that I researched other career fields that I could potentially enter, from being an Au Pair to a Personal Assistant, anything and everything was a lot more appealing than what I was doing.

But at least one good thing came out of it all. I got a chance to work within the news industry and because of that, I now know that I never want to work in it again. At least not anytime soon. Thank you to God and my faithful ancestors, I no longer work in the fast news world. My journalistic love, passion and interest has been restored and I am slowly but surely working towards a point where I fully believe in myself and my capabilities again.

But I was told that I am Black and beautiful

So here is my attempt at writing about being ‘desired’ as a dark skinned Black woman and how this has affected me up to this day.

All trigger warnings observed – and I do not say this because I am trying to get people to read this, but because I really do not know which triggers I should mention. I am also still struggling with the process of admitting to myself that this has been a very triggering topic for me. I mean that my mind is taking a while to reconcile all of this, and for this I offer my humble apologies.

****************

From the time that I was 6-years-old, I realised that I was a lot darker than both my sister and mother, who were the only family around. To comfort me, my mother would show me photos of my sperm donor who I resemble a lot, accompanied by words that I assume were meant to reassure me; “Amina, you are my dark beauty, you are Black and beautiful”. These words hardly lived long enough to serve their purpose.

To be a dark skinned little girl meant that I often over compensated with my personality and jokes because I did not want my lighter friends to ever get a chance to point out the one thing that embarrassed me the most, the shade of my skin. When and if this was brought up, it was almost always around the context of being fetishised or between sentences that came out of the mouths of people that wanted something from me. My dark skin would get complimented to my face, but get compared to the well-known Kiwi black shoe polish behind my back.

I have written extensively about being made fun of as a little girl in primary school, from being called an array of derogatory terms to being compared to midnight darkness as a joke to make everyone laugh. Yes, we were kids, but those words still hurt. They hurt me a lot. What I have not really written a lot about is how I navigated my high school years as a dark skinned young girl, teenager and now a woman.

Amina in Grade 8
Amina in Grade 11
Amina in Grade 12

The photos above give you a glimpse into what I looked like during my high school years. In grade 8, I was very dark. A lot darker than my classmates and this was something that I was conscious about. I was aware that the shade of my skin acted as an added identity marker for my peers to use when deciding how to treat me, which language to speak when addressing me, or which conclusions to make about me.

I recall one day during Art class, very early in the term during my grade 8 year, a few of my classmates were talking about me in isiXhosa because they were convinced that I couldn’t understand what they were saying. And even though they didn’t say anything negative about me, I still took offence and looked one of them in the eye and replied by saying,”Ndiyaniva” (I can understand what you guys are saying/I can hear you guys. The look on their faces was priceless and I got such a good laugh out of the entire situation. Excuse me, I digress.

As a student who didn’t attend primary school at two of the main feeder schools that my high school worked with, meant that I had a lot of ground to cover. I had a lot of work to do in terms of proving myself worthy of anyone’s attention, let alone their friendship. Making friends was already one of my weakest points, so I had to use my brains and ‘smart mouth’ to charm the people around me. And yes, it did work but only to a certain extent. The people whose attention I really wanted was something that I never got, not because of me at least.

What I mean here is that I was always the friend that guys befriended in order to get closer to one of my friends and this messed with my mind a lot. It made me wonder what was wrong with me, or what I had to change in order to become a bit more attractive to the people I went to school with. I already believed that my dark skin was working against me, so I always stayed in shape and didn’t laugh too loud or let anyone get too close. Yes, I was in high school and these are things that people go through at that age, but it didn’t help that none of my close friends were as dark as I was. Or that the one guy who ended up showing interest in me broke up with me for a white girl. How much worse can it get? Might I mention that this gentle brother was also dark in complexion, but he had it easy, I mean he fed right into the stereotype of tall, dark and handsome, and he was a guy!

To be completely honest, I did not believe that I was beautiful at all. I did not believe that I was desired or that I ever would be, because of the shade of skin.

And this is what went on in my head for years until the early years of university where I had to unlearn the harmful ideas that I, Amina Deka Asma believed about herself. I had to spend hours in the mirror starring at my features and finding beautiful things about my face. I started to fall in love with my eyes, my smile, the shape of my nose and eventually me. I fell in love with myself. With my dark skinned self.

This was a process that had to happen over and over again because the cycle of self-hate and the feelings of undesirability always found a way to creep up on me again. In fact it just took a stranger referring to me as a ‘dark bone’ for me to dive into a downward spiral. Or for one of my residence mates to ask me why I preferred to were black clothes instead of wearing bright coloured clothes that ‘would bring out my skin tone’. The triggers were everywhere and quite frankly people didn’t care. People do not care. We see this every time the colourism topic comes up on Twitter, during such a time that I choose to log off until something else becomes the topic of discussion. For the sake of my peace and sanity.

I recall being interested in trying out make up for the very first time in grade 12. My matric dance was coming up and I was advised to get some foundation in order to achieve the all-matte look that I was going for. I kid you not, but up until that day when I was standing in Foschini and the make-up consultant had covered my entire face with foundation, I did not believe that there was even make-up out there for me. Make-up for my skin shade that would suit me and enhance my beauty. Lucky for me that lady was not phased by my dark skin, so she didn’t offer me any unsolicited advice like many of the other make-up consultants that I have come across.

My favourite one is when they advise me to use sunblock, or a range of face products that have lightening agents as their main ingredients, as if I asked them how I could make my skin lighter. If you have ever done this to someone you know who is dark in complexion, STOP THAT THING!!! It is extremely harmful and darn right rude. No one asked you and even if you feel like you are offering your professional opinion, KEEP IT SHUT, KEEP IT TO YOURSELF!

One thing I am grateful for is my ability to fight the urge to use these said lightening creams, and please do not take this as me judging those people who do use them because everyone has their own reasons and I have no place to judge anybody. The ‘accepted’ beauty standards that society has decided to align themselves with is enough of a reason for me to understand why someone would lighten their skin. However, what I am trying to say is that as a person who descends from a country where skin lightening is the norm and where the skin lightening market is thriving, overcoming the temptation and urge is something that I will always be proud of. I thank myself for arriving at a place where I love who I am and what I look like, and even though I still have to check myself when it comes to issues of colourism, I have definitely come far.

I feel beautiful and not because I am ‘a true African Queen’ or a ‘dark beauty’ but because I am beautiful.

SelfLove Chronicles – 31/12/2020

Photo: SOURCED

And today I am sitting in the decision of choosing myself. Choosing to love myself and to honour that love by granting access to me to only those who understand what it means to love a person like me.

I am one of a kind, special, incredible and magnificent. I deserve a sweet and gentle love, one that does not involve hurt and pain, one that does not involve continuous uncertainty and second guessing. A true love, an honest love.

As I sit and soak in this moment of triumph I am also met with feelings of sadness. I am mourning the girl who would have stayed in an unhealthy relationship for the sake of being chosen day after day. I am beaming with pride because I am at a place where 18-year-old Amina couldn’t be at. I have chosen myself and I am so proud of that decision. I am no longer afraid to be alone, I am no longer afraid of not being chosen because I will choose myself over and over again.

So as I redefine what love is to me and how that love needs to look like I am also on my knees because this reincarnation is not an easy one. But I am comforted by the fact that I do not walk alone, but with my God and my Guides that love me.

Ameen.

Being fathered from more than 3000km’s away

The title gives it all away doesn’t it?

Yes, you guessed right. This blog post is going to be about my deadbeat father – among other things of course. Dedicating an entire blogpost to him wouldn’t be right. If anything it would be an injustice to me, myself and I.

Now, if you know me on a personal, personal level, you would know that I was raised by my single mother. My father left us in SA just before my 2nd or 3rd birthday, or at least that is what I was told – top tier deadbeat criteria, no?

To put this all into perspective, what I am trying to say is that I have never met the man that I am continuously told, without fail, that I am almost identical to. Apparently I have his eyes, nose and even walk and laugh like him.

Fast forward to my 2nd year in varsity and I managed to track him down. I was 21 when I spoke to my father for the very first time as grown up, and it didn’t take long for him to slide into his ‘fatherly duties’. The funniest for me, was when he gave me a lecture about hosting my 21st birthday dinner at a place that sold alcohol. I recall reading that message in not only disbelief, but I was also met with a wave of anger and utter confusion.

Okay, shap nhe. I am your daughter. You are my father, my mother’s ex husband. BUT you don’t know me!
You don’t have the slightest idea of how my life turned out because you decided to do like Zola7 and ‘pack your bags and hit the road’. Yet, you have the courage, the gull and the audacity to tell me where I can and cannot celebrate my 21st birthday.

And that friends, is when I decided that I needed to create some space between this man and I (as if him being more than 300km’s away was not enough).
A man who carried the title of being my father, but was only willing and able to carry out these duties via WhatsApp messages, voice notes and of course the routine ‘Jumaah Mubarak’ pictures that were sent to me every Friday with pride.

Here I am at 25, having survived a pandemic (or rather, still trying to survive one) in a new city away from familiar spaces and faces, away from friends and family. Having lived my entire life without you in it, yet every now and again I can’t help but wonder what my life would have turned out like, if you had stayed.

More than anything, these thoughts and feelings are triggered by the trials and tribulations that are so securely attached to losing your mother and only parent at an early age. The yearning for my mother’s love, comfort and care after a long day at work. Wanting to have an adult to vent to. An adult that is genuinely interested in how my day was, which story I wrote today, or which source I struggled to get hold of.

It also does not help that it is December, the month also known for family time. Also the month before my mother passed away.

Lest I say that the triggers are all around me. I mean, it isn’t like they will ever entirely go away.

Nonetheless, I am grateful to Allah and my guides for getting me this far. I am very grateful to myself for never giving up, not even when that was all I wanted to do. I have made it so far and I am so proud of myself.

There are times when I think back to my matric year when I was in foster care and was in need of the supportive words that only my mother knew how to give me. Yho, foster care was tough. But I was tougher. Hell, I am tougher. What I went through during those years deserves a blogpost on its own. One that I am nowhere near ready to write.

I guess I just can’t help but wonder what it’s like to have a present father in your life as a young adult. A father who is committed and interested in being your support system, your confidant, you knight in shining armour – and yes I know having a present father doesn’t always equate to everything that I have mentioned above, but I am sure or at least hope that it comes close.

If anything, I am glad to be past the stage of feeling like I am not worth of being fathered.
There was a stage when I couldn’t for the sake of me, fathom why this man left his entire family in a foreign country, only for him to go and start another one back home. I thought I was the problem, and that maybe something was wrong with my family, until I realised that he was the problem and that he is the problem.

And that friends, is my experience of being fathered from more than 3000km’s away.

15Nov – 22:19

It’s that time if the year again.
The time where sleepless nights and stiff necks become the norm.
End year fatigue has taken over and there is nothing I can do to shake it.
“What does the next year have in store for me?
Will I have a job, let alone a place to stay?”
Questions that ring in my head daily.

Oh! How I wish for a softer landing.
Not much, just a place to call home and a bed to rest my head on when the going gets tough in the war zone.

Yes, the war zone.
No one can convince me that this life we are living is normal. That this is how it’s supposed to be
and this is how the cookie crumbles.
(We) oh, I mean I.
I am in a war zone.
Standing in the trenches side by side with people that I can recognise on good days but whose names disappear on bad ones.

I am spending my days dodging bullets, praying for the best.
Walking through kilometres of mud, praying for the best.
Carrying heavy machinery and ammunition, praying for the best.

I want to wipe the mud off my cheeks, but my hands are just as muddy.
All I ask if for a softer landing.

Words have meanings

PICTURE SOURCED

If there has ever been a time when the universe was sending me clear messages, it is now. For the past two weeks I have been getting signs and affirmations from the universe that Allah knows I have been so desperate for.

So let us rewind to about a month and a half ago. Pay day was nearing and like usual, I was trying to figure out ways to save money – to make my money stretch and last longer. It was after a few days of deliberation that I came up with the plan to discontinue my cellphone insurance, but before I made a final decision I had to consult the people in my life. I always do this.

It was through a brief conversation with a friend, that I shared this ‘master plan’ of how I plan on saving a bit of money. My friend didn’t hold anything back when she told me exactly why this was not a good idea, and because people’s opinions matter to me, I listened. The opinions of the people who I care about and who care about me.

Little did I know that this piece of advice would serve it’s purpose in the weeks to come.

What I forgot to mention is that during this month and a half, I had realised just how much I needed a new phone. But because of imali, this realisation just reminded me of my circumstances. I mean, how ironic was it that the same person who is trying to cut down their expenses, also wants a new phone. “Awunamali Amina, let it rest and accept your circumstances,” I said to myself.

Yes, I accepted my circumstances, but the idea of getting a new phone never really left my mind. I started doing research around which phones are currently available on the market and would laugh out loud everytime I came across the price tag. Nonetheless, the researching didn’t stop.

Now let’s fast forward to two weeks ago when the universe started showing off. If it wasn’t my editor congratulating me on a job well done, it was a precious soul responding to my Twitter rants about craving take-out but being too broke to afford it.

Yes, I know. Brokeness is the overriding theme here.

Excuse me. I digress.

And so these messages kept on coming. Each day had a lesson and a soul-fulfilling reminder attached to it, and I was enjoying each and every moment of it.

Until last week Sunday when my cellphone got stolen out of my fanny pack. It happened so quickly that the shock from the realisation brought tears to my eyes. All I was trying to do was have fun with my friends, and someone saw it fit to ruin that for me. Call me naïve or whatever, but having something that you have taken such good care of for such a long time, just taken away from you, hurts like a bi**h.

So there I was slowly sobering up to the fact that I was in fact phoneless and that I would unlikely see my phone again.

But here is where my friend’s golden advice comes in. I still had cellphone insurance, which meant that if the odds were on my side, I could get a new phone. What I had been wanting all along. I just needed the claiming process to go smoothly and Bob is your uncle!

And yes, that is exactly what happened. After blacklisting my phone the next morning and taking care of all the other admin that comes with this process, I made my way to Vodacom and claimed from my insurance.

Within 3 hours, I was signing forms to renew my insurance for the new phone that I was about to walk out with. And just like that I went home with a new phone, the very next day after my phone had been stolen.

Personally, I do not believe in coincidences. I am waaaaay too intentional for that. However, what I do believe in is that my phone getting stolen was the universe’s way of blessing me with a new phone that my broke ass couldn’t afford.

And that’s why I say, words have meanings bantase.

When I relayed this story to another friend of mine, her response was;
“[Do] you see how powerful our words are friend??”

To which I replied,
“They really are powerful and they have meanings attached to them <3”

S/O To Allah, the universe and my ancestors for having my back!

Hello Amina, it is wonderful to finally meet you

PHOTO BY: Magic Photography

Thank you for being brave enough to hold my hand, my heart and sometimes my thoughts through this process of getting to know myself. For allowing me to get to a point where I finally got the chance to meet me. 

“Hello Amina, it’s wonderful to finally meet you,” I said to myself.

And have said to myself over and over again through the past few months.

Having the presence of the people in my life that never shy away from reminding me of who I am and who they see me as, has been the best and worst experience for me.

I am human and through my years of teenagehood and recently womanhood, it is only now that I have come to truly understand and believe that.

There is something about having to raise yourself from an early age, and yes, I say this a lot, but emphasis must be put on it. 

The fact that through out my life I hardly ever, actually never felt like I was allowed to make mistakes. Allowed to be wrong, be in the wrong, be on the other side of things. I never felt like I had the room, time or space. Every single decision I made on a daily basis was based on and affected so many future events of my life.

And so I grew up to be an overly observant, quiet and reserved human being, that held back her urge to laugh out loud and to cry even louder. Life did a number on me and humbled me from an early age, and so I mastered the few mannerisms and ways of life that I believed would keep me safe and sound.

And of course there is nothing wrong with being overly observant, quiet and reserved, except for when it supresses who I am and holds me hostage. In fact I love laughing out loud and crying my lungs out. I am still working on the latter, but we are getting somewhere.

This year, I got the chance to meet and get close to an array of individuals that didn’t shy away from calling me out on my bullshit when necessary. Yes, I already had and have this calibre of people in my circle, but relocating meant that our interactions and DMC’s were limited to video calls as opposed to the usual wine sessions that ended when the sun came up.

I often found myself in sticky situations where none of the voices in my head wanted to take responsibility for my actions. Situations where I would go back and forth with my intuition and end up crying in frustration. It was during these exact moments when the people whose names I am choosing not mention, held me gently, gave me enough room to spiral and stood by me as I navigated through the journey of admitting that I am wrong, that I was wrong. And that. even though I didn’t do the ‘right’ thing, I was always made to understand that, “you cannot always be the victim Amina”. It is indeed alright to make mistakes, you are human after all.

What I do not intend on doing in this blog post, is justifying the times that I have been wrong. What I am doing though, is taking ownership of my ability to admit when I am wrong or when I make mistakes because I am not only in a space where I can see and understand that, but also in a space where I know myself better. I trust myself a lot more and love myself even more.

It was when I read a blog post by this really awesome soul, titled You are a glorious mess, that this piece finally came to me. It had been coming for weeks and now it has arrived.

Meeting myself has also allowed me to admit some interesting things about myself, things that I was either too shy or too modest to admit.

The list is as follows:

  1. I am a really beautiful person, on the inside and the outside. I have a great personality and an even better skin tone. Do not even get me started on my smile!
  2. I am a hard worker who is good at what she does and who is only going to get better.
  3. I am worthy of Love. To give Love and receive Love. In fact, I am my own bundle of Love.
  4. I have trust issues and that’s okay.
  5. I really enjoy being in my own space, with my thoughts and there is nothing wrong with that.
  6. I am also a really funny person and I don’t even have to try to be one.
  7. I am a moody person – the slightest shift in energies and I am gone!
  8. I have done a really great job of raising myself, especially through foster care.
  9. I am destined for the greatness and I can define what I want that greatness to look like.
  10. Life has been tough and I do not always have to be tougher.

The list is endless and is growing by the day, but for now I am happy with my recent discoveries during this journey.

To the souls who have had the courage to hold space for me in whatever space or form, I would like to say Asante Sana. There is not a day that I do not appreciate ubukho benu ebomini bam.

Here’s to many more meetings on this journey ❤

Amina.

A skill set

Picture: SOURCED

My skill set is made up of the qualities of a chameleon and the abilities of a shape shifter.

It was as if my mother knew what kind of life was destined for me when she named me.

A name diverse enough to secure me acceptance when I need it the most.
Is it the ease of the pronunciation of my name that has contributed to how easy it is for me to adapt to unadaptable situations?

Maybe it was my upbringing that led to my ability to carry many identities.
The same myriad of identities that led my demise.

Worry not. For along the way, I adopted the ways of a phoenix.
Burning myself to the ground after every few years, just for me to rise again in time to live through another cycle of life.

– ADA

Yes, I have facial hair.

And so do many of my fellow Poly cysters.

(Disclaimer: I am not saying that all women that have facial hair also have PCOS)

Photograph taken by: Vee Motingoa

Excessive facial and body hair is known to be one of the common signs and symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and is better known as Hirsutism in the medical arena.

For me, my facial hair has carried a lot of shame, embarrassment and guilt with it.

Hair growing on my chin translated to me as an immediate disqualification from the definition of beauty. Of course, now I can happily admit that this is not the case, but there was definitely a time when I believed this very much. It also didn’t help that there is so little information available out there that speaks to what PCOS is and how it literally takes over your life.

I can clearly recall the first time I decided to get my facial hair waxed. It was in January 2018, a few days before I was due to return to campus ahead of leadership camp, and because of all the new people I was bound to be around, I made sure to get my facial hair removed. I didn’t want to answer the string of questions that often follow soon after an individual has clocked that, “Oh shit, Amina has facial hair!”

And just in case you didn’t know, it is rude to question someone about anything they did not openly come to you and talk about, and even so, it is important to be sensitive at all times. Uphold respect betuna, you honestly do not know what the next person is going through – or better yet, just keep shut up. Ask Google and educate yourself. Especially when it comes to a persons physical appearance – hou jou bek 🙂

Excuse me, I digress.

About a week after I had waxed my chin, my skin began to react to the harsh procedure that had taken place. I grew a really dark, scab-looking layer of skin that took about three weeks to fully heal, which meant that my confidence had taken a knock either way. Yes, I had managed to get rid of the hair, but then I ended up having to walk around with a layer of skin that attracted the same amount of question, frowns and shocked faces that the facial hair would have.

Did that stop me from waxing my chin again? Of course not! The beauty standards that I was accustomed to and brought up with, meant that beautiful women do not have facial hair, and because I wanted to fit into this definition of beauty, I made sure that I kept my chin clean and facial hair out of sight. At this stage of my PCOS journey, there were so many PCOS-related symptoms that I was dealing with and didn’t have much control over, so me waxing my chin was the only way I felt like I could take back my power. The only aspect of this condition that I could fully control.

Alas, I no longer wax my facial hair. I stopped around October last year because I accepted that facial hair is just another thing that comes with living with PCOS. Do not get me wrong, this was not an easy point in my journey with this condition to get to. I had to unlearn a lot and redefine what beauty is for me. I also had to interrogate the beliefs I had around what it means to be beautiful as well as to reach a point where I started to see myself as beautiful, and I am glad that I got here. I am glad that I am here.

Understanding why I had facial hair, also helped a lot.

Lifesource.org explains this in the following way:
Excess body hair or hirsutism is one of the most dreaded PCOS symptoms. PCOS is considered as the most common cause of hirsutism. One may start to notice thick, dark, masculine pattern hair growth on various parts of the body. These parts include the chin, along the jawline, around the mouth, arms, legs and torso. Again, the underlying cause of excess hair growth is hormonal imbalance with high androgen levels.

Once I understood this, I was able to then research ways on how I can help keep my hormones as balanced as possible, and even though this is a daily goal and a never-ending journey, I am glad that I am now able to better manage what comes with having PCOS.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Awareness Month

Happy PCOS Awareness Month!

Quoting Instagram page life.source, PCOS Supplement support page;

September is global PCOS Awareness month. PCOS is still one of the most misdiagnosed and mistreated female health issue all over the world. PCOS is a severely misunderstood condition and with so much conflicting information on the internet, it can be quite overwhelming for a PCOS cyster

Like many of my posts relating to life as a PCOS cyster, I have been stalling and procrastinating to write this piece, mostly because this condition is continuing to take me on the usual roller coaster ride.

My last period brought with it the most unbearable period pains. There I was swamped in deadlines and all I could focus on was the throbbing pain in my pelvic area, abdomen and legs. For the first three days I had no choice but to pop four different pills every 3 – 4 hours. As if I am not already on enough medication as it is.

So, here I am once again sharing a piece of my experiences around living with PCOS as a 25-year-old multimedia reporter. My job is demanding and is riddled in stress. I am required to be agile, always available to go out onto the field and be willing and able to produce a newsworthy story at the end of it all. But, this isn’t always the case, at least when it comes to being willing and able.

One of the things that come with having PCOS is the chronic fatigue that can only be managed by more medication (rolls eyes!), a balanced diet, minimised stress and frequent exercise. On more weeks than others, I am able to achieve either a balanced diet and frequent exercise, but haven’t been able to achieve all that is required of me. It is nearly impossible, especially in my line of work.

This in turn causes me to be in constant pain while lingering from mood swing to mood swing. Then comes the guilt. I always find myself in a situation where self-blame is my immediate point of departure, and at the end of the day, who is responsible for my health and well being if not me?

In fact calling it a roller coaster ride, is…an understatement.

Of all the signs and symptoms that come with having PCOS, the cystic acne has tremendously taken over my life, especially since relocating. And yes, you guessed it, it can be managed by more medication!

Look, I am tired. All the women in me are tired. This journey is an expensive one that an intern like myself is honestly unable to currently afford. But we move, right? We soldier on and weather all the storms because like my good friend Tsholofelo always says; “God does not give us which we cannot handle,” or something to that effect.

My only plea is for anyone who might be experiencing any of the signs and symptoms that come with having PCOS, to go and get themselves checked out. Yes, I know it is experience and can also be a very daunting and life-changing experience, but giving your experience a name can be the start to learning how to manage and live with it.

I wish that I had more words in me today, but I do not. Between juggling year-end fatigue and the pressure that comes with any thoughts associated with 2021, this is all I have to offer ❤