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Rehema Isa, Entrepreneur ” Twenty five was not gentle, she was a culmination of the past but she also set a tone for my future. It was not my most powerful year, there were so many inflection points personally, career-wise, emotionally and physically. Looking back, it was the most vulnerable year of my life and a tipping point.”
Thabisile Phumo, Executive@Sibanda Gold “I wanted to save the world. I was attuned to the existence of others and social justice held my centre. I was naive, I dared to swim in the words of my former boss ‘through the ocean with one breathe…'”
Grace Sethlare, Banking Executive “I was very optimistic and determined to work hard and be best at everything I was given. I was very open to challenges. I never refused to do anything, I just wanted to work, work and work and that’s all I did, didn’t have much of a life outside work.”
Gao* female executive shortlisted in top three businesswoman few years back ” I got married before I was 25, turned 25 three years later. I was partying like CRAZY!!! Hayi my dear we weren’t that serious at all. Mina, at that time my life revolved around fun, fun and more fun…Yho we partied mahn, Cape Town was lit!”
Dr Tamsin Price “I had just graduated, I turned 25 after writing my final Vet exam and I started my first job. That year was extremely stressful career-wise, a very steep learning curve. And I was naive emotionally and spiritually, twenty-five wasn’t necessarily a happiest year, it was more a year of immerse growth.”
Mokopu Itumeleng ” I was dealing with the loss of my mom…unemployed with a national diploma. I was down and out to a point I questioned God’s existence.”
Cylia Hyde ” By 25, I had been married for 4 years, jointly running a business with my ex-husband…both bad life decisions. So at this stage I was desperately trying to convince myself that I knew what I was doing and did what I wanted. Suffered with awful IBS because my stress levels were so high.”
Siphesihle Linda Ngoka “Quarter life crises. We are raised to think that a house and a car with a degree and a job mean success. I arrived at this point and I was like HUH? Is this it? surely there must be more to life. These things had no value nje. So I reevaluated my life, questioned my purpose…started living towards a purpose driven life.”
Ingrid Kgola ” It was the year of 1998, I was determined to build a career as a nurse so I was job hopping and exploring. I got my ICU post-grad the year before that…I parties hard, shopped and never dropped!”
I recently celebrated 25 years of the gift of life and upon turning to this wonder age, my mind has been flooded with a lot questions relating to my existence as a person, as a young woman. Among these questions the most frequent has been that of my purpose, the reason I am in this world. And whether my daily choices and actions are contributing to that purpose or at least leading towards the fulfillment thereof.
Sometimes I feel as though I am sleep walking through my life, like I haven’t lived. I am experiencing serious insecurities, most of the achievements I dreamed I would have accomplished at this stage in my life are only in the foundation face with some seriously slow progress. It deeply bothers me that I do not have a thriving business to my name, no car to move from point A to point B. I still stay at home and not exactly pleased with where my career is. I have random breakdowns at the thought that the life I am leading isn’t mine, it CANNOT be my destiny. There must be more, I want more and I will work for more.
In a quest to understand my state of mind at this age, I approached some inspirational people I know to share their outlook on life back when they were at the same age. This exercise was very rewarding and had some therapeutic effects on me. In sharing their different and some similar stories I hope that inspiration and counselling will be drawn and some self-introspection encouraged.
REHEMA ISA, 40, ENTREPRENEUR
Rehema Isa lived the truth of “superwoman” juggling and fulfilling various roles in both her personal and professional life. While her peers focused on self-discovery and having fun at 25, Isa was juggling being a wife, a mother to 2 teenage siblings, a sister, a daughter in-law and a career woman. She had personal ambition to be best at everything she did despite being called snooty names socially and professionally. She put herself forward to do things at work and took every opportunity presented before her and had no boundaries. “I honestly believed I could achieve anything and I was willing to learn. I then tried to excel at everything I said yes to.
“Success was measured by a number of opportunities you participated in.” says Isa. At the age of 25 she did not have healthy career women for reference. She explains”The women who succeeded made significant personal sacrifices, which they communicated as the one and only way to make the progress they had. An example was the attitude towards having children…”. Having a child equalled to an end of a career.
At this golden age, Isa was highly attuned to the societal expectations of women and challenged the status quo. She was also aware of her social responsibility, understood the value of developing and investing in others. “I believed I was supposed to do it all…” she says.
In the same year of her 25th, Isa “crushed and burned” and was referred to a psychologist by her GP as she could barely function. And she still had to uphold all her roles with a facade of togetherness. ” I had to be positive and strong until I didn’t know anything else,” she explains.
“I didn’t get the opportunity to develop myself even though I was highly perceptive of developing others. Twenty five was not a gentle year. She was a culmination of the past, she also set a tone for my future. It was not my most powerful year, there were so many inflection points personally, career-wise, emotionally and physically. Looking back, it was the most vulnerable year of my life and a tipping point'” concludes Isa.
ANA GARCIA*, 43, TANZANIAN AUTHOR
“In life kilakitu wa kina wakati” loosely translated in life everything has its time, says Ana Garcia. Being 25 was the age of breaking boundaries and wild experiments for Garcia. She shares that there was a time she would climb the DJ booth to dance, same era of dance floor, staircase, changing rooms, elevator, balcony and parking lot sex. “There was nothing kinky about it, it was just a reckless age,” she says.
Garcia explains the 25th year as the age where one wants to prove a point to the world and to oneself. “There was a time of proving a point to myself, how far can I go?” The 90s were a time of selling, selling of fake IDs, drugs etc…driving into police cars, going on dangerous raids, riding with gangsters and experimenting further with the sex. She emphasizes ” again it was not kinkiness, the recklessness got curious,”.
“Older, wiser, sasa[now] I know myself and it is not about the world or proving anything to anyone. It’s about savoring the moments and appreciating your worth,” she says. The reckless curiosity led to wisdom and valuable lessons for her. She explains that while she is not proud of swimming in the mud, it made her realize she is worth swimming in clean water. She is not proud of what and who she was, not proud that in proving a point she treaded in murk. Garcia concludes “…I am thankful that I discerned it was not right and asked God to put a stop to it (I did pray about it, by the way).
” While I know myself, I was not always aware of who I am. Getting out of murky mud and getting in clean water made me aware of how my actions and I as a whole impact others. With every turn in front of the mirror I see a little dent here and a beaming, shiny surface there,”.
MOTSHABI MANOTO, 39, ENTREPRENEUR, PROJECT COORDINATOR: SPECIAL PROJECTS, CEO OFFICE (THE INNOVATION HUB)
“At the age of 25, my biggest concern was my career. I felt I was not where I should be and where I’d hoped to be,” Motshabi Manoto shares. It was at this age that she learned the hard truth that tertiary education does not equal to the reality of the world especially the corporate world. She explains that “tertiary feeds one with empty dreams-you get to the real world and get the shock of your life! By this point I had a decent job but not close to what I’d imagined,”.
As a young independent woman, Manoto had “super-woman energy”and the will to conquer the world and enjoyed care-free life. She only had responsibility towards herself and making it in this crazy yet exciting world. “The heart was open to possibilities and was fearless, there was no time for doubts. Networking-meeting new people, experiencing new things and learning new things was order of the day,” she explains.
In her 25th year, fashion and grooming were some of the key factors. And she knew then that marriage and kids were not her plate, she had things to do, people to meet and places to visit. Despite her thoughts on marriage and kids, love in its different facets was valuable to her, love for family and close friends. As for romance, Manoto says” I wanted something stable and decent to carry me through to my 30’s before I had a child and got married (in that order). I’ve always been one to do what feels right to me and not what society expects of me.”
“This was a time of self-awakening and self-love. I was in love with myself-not in an arrogant but good way. It was also a spiritual awakening time, I knew I was in this life for a reason and often chased answers around that ‘school of thought’. I believed and still believe in God. I also knew I was here to serve and help others. I wanted to touch people’s lives in a positive way. I never believed in oppression but empowerment especially for young girls and women. Twenty five was really a time of learning about myself and reinventing self,” concludes Manoto.
Twenty five, the wonder age!
“There is no pinnacle of success…” Rehema Isa, CEO of Hadithi Media and my personal coach, said to me the day we met. She explained that you dream and set goals and when you reach a goal, you think about the next. It is not enough, once you reach it you want to make it better or innovate things. There is never a moment of lasting contentment with what you achieve. I sat there thinking ‘It must be human nature to never be satisfied. Do people know what they want? Do they notice or know when they have made the achievement? I would be happy and would have reached the pinnacle if I had what she has‘.
The conversation remained in my head, then I tried to reflect on my own life and she was right. I built my family a home at the age of 22 and endured all the hardships that came with pursuing such a dream and the underestimation of men involved in my journey. And before the house was fully complete, I was already thinking of the next thing I need to do with my life. I was already itching to shift my focus to the next big thing such as getting a car, moving out of home or starting a business. The ‘pinnacle’ of building a comfortable home for my family was no longer a big deal. There had to be something better to do next.
After reading ‘Understanding your potential‘ by Dr Myles Munroe, I came to realize that it is not being ungrateful for the wisdom,courage and resilience we are blessed with for our achievements, rather it is our nature and a good one. Our dreams and goals are our potential and once we achieve them, we realize we can do more because potential can never be reached to its height-there is no height for it. As Proverb, a South African media personality, explained how he achieves through hard work:”…it is the constant pursuit of the level beyond the next”. And there it was, Isa was explaining this phenomenon to me. Dr Munroe says “…refuse to be satisfied with your last accomplishment because potential never has a retirement plan”.
So it is clear to me that we alive as long as we continue to pursue the level beyond the next. Once we settle for what we have already done, we stop living and kill our potential to do more, we allow our lives and certain areas of it to be stagnant. One must never let that happen because it kills imagination and because dreams and pursuit of nay potential starts there-a whole world of possibilities dies.
Keep pushing, keep imagination alive and do not fear to go out in the world to make your mark from which the next person will be inspired. You can impact change and give hope simply because you are alive!
I am so excited to finally take on this journey of writing and sharing my content after a long period of planning. There is a chance I am still not ready but I have reaslized that I will never be ‘ready’. And there is no better time like the present.
Some things you just have to start or they remain a plan forever. And I am done planning, it is time to take on the journey. I can’t wait to share my views, my thoughts, my moments and most all the inspiration life brings through tribulations and victories.