One thing I realised along my journey is that our lives are an ever-evolving carpet of threads woven together over time. Only when you take the time to reflect back, do you see the pattern that has formed. All the people that made us, met us and touched our lives or influenced us in some way leave their mark on us. Events, our interpretations of those evens and the meaning we give to it become our stories whether we realise it or not. We all have many stories to tell about our lives and exploring them gives us perspective on who we are, who we see ourselves and how the world sees us. We first learn who we are through the eyes of others, then we have to take the opportunity to hold a mirror unto ourselves and re-write the stories for our own futures to unfold in the ways that we hope to live our best lives.
Some are started by us and end with other people. Some of our stories are inherited from others and we are given the opportunity to rewrite them or pass them on to others. It is a river of ever flowing states of meaning that are shared between people and within our inner selves. Getting to know our own personal stories can help us uncover what our values are, what is important to us and why we do what we do. They can help us stop living unconscious stories from others around us and empower us to live more conscious, fulfilling lives where we align on what truly matters to us on a deep and fundamental level.
Creating equitable futures is something that is very important to me. It is about holding space for a vision of the future in which society is characterised by fairness, justice, and equal opportunities for all individuals, regardless of their background, identity, or circumstances, and then acting in alignment with that vision. It is about creating a world where systemic inequalities and disparities are addressed and rectified to ensure that everyone has an equitable chance at a prosperous and fulfilling life. And, even if we don’t change the entire world, we can start changing one story at a time. These are some of mine.
My great, great grandparents were shipped to South Africa as indentured slaves. Many took the opportunity to escape appalling living conditions and famine caused by the British Occupation of India and were lured by lies of riches and opportunities for a better life in this far off land. Some of them came with their families, some came alone and some were forced into a life they never chose, even being stolen on the streets of their cities back home. Many lost their lives along the way and will forever remain unknown blanks on the shipping lists, leaving empty spaces in our family trees.
After slaving and saving for years to buy their freedom and land after indenture, instead of experiencing autonomy and freedom, our country decided to invent something called separate development, or “Apartheid”. My parents were born at a time where the Group Areas Act was enforced. They were forcibly removed from their homes and land that they owned. They were relocated to the Indian township of Chatsworth.This is where I was born and got to see the first hand the effects of intergenerational trauma on individuals, communities and society at large.
Growing up during such a time of transition and uncertainty in South Africa left me languishing in perpetual liminality. It was a struggle to find out who I was and what I stood for. I had no culture that I could identify with, no sense of self and all my self-worth was tied to what I could achieve academically. Becoming an adult in a country where you are explicitly taught that you are worth nothing or that your life is worth less than others because of who you are, or what you look like, made me feel like I always had to be the best at everything to prove to myself and everyone around me that I had value as a human being.
When I was a child, I was gifted with an eidetic memory, leading me to do really well in school with little effort. I ended up going to many gifted schools and programmes over the course of my schooling that forever changed my thinking. Here I was actually allowed to be creative! Regular school was much like a prison where you even had to ask permission to pee! I hated it. Being exposed to divergent thinking methods at such a young age made me a bit of a rebel against the systems that didn’t support us. Unfortunately, later in life I also learnt first hand how abuse and trauma can cause brain damage, so I no longer have such a memory, but that is another story.
After watching Phil Keoghan on an episode of the Oprah show, I made a list of “100 things to do before I die”. It was my “Amazing List” and I managed to do so many things I never would have been able to do if I hadn’t put it on paper and followed though. From publishing a book to travelling back to India to explore my roots, to having fashion shows in City Hall and ninety-seven other things I had dreamt up for myself. It forever changed who I was and how I saw the world. Not everything was a great success, some things were downright epic failures, but either way I got to cross them off my list and have fun doing it
Constantly doing new things seems like fun, and it often starts off that way, but when you don’t know who you are inside, you are always looking for something on the outside to tell you who you should be. Then you learn the hard way what you are not. Relationships, friends, businesses, partners, jobs, careers, cities, clothing styles, hair colours – you try everything on to see what fits and doesn’t, leaving a lot of casualties and destruction behind. If you don’t consciously make an effort to learn from these experiences, you tend to keep making the same mistakes until you do.
My life has taken many twists and turns, from being a single mother sleeping on a mattress on the floor, to being a battered wife with a gun held against my head, to who I am today, travelling the world and doing what I love. What I have learnt from my experiences is that nobody else can heal you, and nobody else can fix you. It is a conscious and intentional effort that you take to heal yourself and grow into who you are meant to be. If you really want to change the trajectory of your life, you have to put together your own healing journey, create a new vision for yourself, and really follow it through with focused action to get the results you want. If you spend the rest of your life never experiencing moments of joy, it’s because you allowed that to happen to you. Nobody is coming to save you so you need to save yourself. Choose you, choose to experience small glimmers of joy until you remember what you are really like and then give it all you’ve got.