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My 10 at 38 (so far)


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28 January 2014, I turned 38 years old. Okay 38 is not really a significant age, but what the heck; my 10 things I know at 38 are:

1. At some point of your life you will have grays. I’ve had grays since I was young but they have increased so much that my barber coerced me into colouring them.

2. There are some things in life that will make you feel “ancient”. For me, that is bars and clubs. Like seriously who am I kidding, I’m at the verge of 40, what the hell am I doing in a room full of kids and like seriously I can’t even think because of this loud music. As if I’ve never done that before.

3. Money, money, money. At this age how much I am worth is more important than how much I can spend, retirement is looming and chances of getting another job get slimmer by the day, saving is the order of the day.

4. Who cares what am I wearing. Quality, comfort and durability comes first now instead of whats in and whats hot. I’m over the point of trying to fit in.

5. I do want to have fun, but at this age it always turns into long lunches with friends talking about life and stuff. We are over dancing all night long and getting sloshed, we are grown ups now. Not bad at all (refer to 2)

6. I know more about life than I ever thought possible. That’s one of the things that come with age.

7. Laughing at all the “stupid” things I’ve done in my youth. Well, those are my lessons and without them I wouldn’t be any wiser.

8. Appreciating my body (flaws and all), and being thankful that it still carries me well without any troubles.

9. No matter how old you grow, mother still knows best and she will always look at you like her baby. I will never be too old to be chastised by mommy dearest no matter how hard I try to tell her I’m not a child anymore. (I know I’m not the only one experiencing this).

10. Turning a year older should be looked at as an accomplishment, the mere fact that I am still here is a reason to be celebrated. A lot of people would have liked to reach this age, but they couldn’t.

I am thankful that I am still here and the learning hasn’t stopped and the journey still continues. Without my friends and family to give me support, advice, laugh with and at me and sometimes use tough love and harsh words to get me back on track; I guess my life would suck. A toast to 38 years of life and anticipation to the big 40.

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Posted by on October 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The Emancipation of Phoe-Phoe

The Emancipation of Phoe-Phoe

Most of what we become as grown-ups is largely determined by what were taught and exposed to as children (socialisation). As children we a literally sponges that get saturated by what we are exposed as we are tend to accept anything that we hear and see, we absorb all influences and mostly it is our families, communities and friends that shape our thinking, behaviour and beliefs.

The formative years (Socialisation)

Mirror Mirror on the wall. We all struggle with a lot of things as we are growing up and mostly they are external things that we feel we don’t have control over, an most of the time if we did not get exposed to the things we worry so much about we couldn’t care less about them. With me it was my looks, I have drop-dead gorgeous siblings and all my cousins are also tall beautiful or handsome. Then there is me; short, scrawny, big forehead and sometimes I used to think I’m all teeth.

I laugh when I think about this because actually no-one ever said to me ‘Lucky you are so ugly’ or anything like that. This opinion was shaped by the magazines I used to steal from my cousin’s room when I ran out of reading material. Way back the all Black” magazines few as they were had these well-built guys with big afro’s, perfect white smiles and imagine I wasn’t even in my teens then but I was comparing myself to those pictures of the perfect man and the people whom whom I believed were very close to the “mannequins” I believed to be the way I am supposed to be. This goes on to show that it is not only the people we grow around with that influence our behavior and thinking, but also what we expose ourselves to and I my case it was an overload of pop-culture which instead of being there for entertainment became one of the drivers of my not so healthy self-image and of course my, very beautiful family.

Are you a boy or a girl? “Go outside and play with other boy and throw that doll away. Who bought it?”, that is my father shouting at me as he finds me playing with my cheap fashion doll which I secretly brought with my lunch money after months of saving in my bedroom. “You are not supposed to be playing with that. 

This is what I always think of when I have those moments where I think about my sexuality which is very rare. 

What or who makes the rules on what boys or girls are supposed to be like? Society, our parents and to some extent the media teaches us what we can and can’t do in order to be accepted. Well who wants to be normal? Your normal and my normal will never be the same, so why do we pull our hair out and cause ourselves headaches for something that is beyond our control.

I’ve never been an outdoors kind of boy (I’m still not) and see nothing wrong with my choice of toys, my brother (turned out to be heterosexual) played with my dolls too, but I don’t remember him being told he is a” sissy”. Why me, is it because even though I’m three years older than him, I am shorter, skinnier and more fragile. Well that also caused a lot of scaring as I am now being taught that I can’t do this or that because it is not normal for boys. Growing up surrounded by my male cousins, my brother and not a single girl living with us, I am being “programmed” to be a man. “Don’t cry, man up, drop that, here is a soccer ball, is that a doll” is what I remember hearing all the time in the house. How do I respond to this? Well I’ve got no choice but to man-up as I’m told or I’ll end up being like my uncle whatever that means.

The latter years (re-socialisation)

Freedom from the mirror! Like I said in the first part of this piece, what I saw and exposed myself to shaped my body image. This is something I have struggled with until I discovered Oprah Winfrey. The first time I saw her I must have said “who is this fat woman with big hair and a flat nose and why is she on TV?”, this is how my relationship with talk-shows started and more-so I had someone who did not look perfect to look up to and say “well if she is on TV, so why am I stressing about the body I did not choose” I don’t know if it is the fact that our birthdays are both in January (mine on the 28th and hers on the 29th) that I felt such a bond with this woman who is halfway across the world from me or is it the positive way she portrayed people; black, white, big, small, good –looking or plain”.

I found my release from the prison I have built for myself through the magazines and comparing myself to people who did not even care how I looked but gave me love and affection. I am now so confident that I don’t even notice my teeth and humongous forehead (well most of the time).

Thank you Susan Erasmus I’m 14 and yet again I’m reading a stolen magazine. This time it is well known around the house where the magazines go as my pile is growing by the day. As I page through this copy of YOU Magazine, (reading every page as always) I come across an article by Susan Erasmus (I think it was based on her thesis) and it is about homosexual teenagers and it was like reading about myself, Light bulb moment as my “friend” Oprah would say. So I am gay, but what is it really? Then after several sessions of going through Susan’s article, I finally come to realize “absolutely I am” 

So there is a name for this “thing” and it is not wrong or weird as I used to think. Well a sense of relief came over me as I am now able to name my “condition and break away from the pretence of being a “normal” boy. 

I pick a book and sigh in relief as I have found that nothing is wrong with me. Nothing has been wrong with me and nothing will be wrong with me. I am normal, not anybody else’s normal, but my own normal. The world can either take it or leave it (I think this is where Lucky the activist was born).

Well going forward, my father stopped asking about the dolls and the pink floral wrapping paper I used on my school books and it is still a mystery why.

I started this piece by saying we are shaped by what we see, hear and expose ourselves or are exposed to, but this socialisation is not a permanent thing; learned behavior, made up opinions, social influences can be undone. And it doesn’t take a person that you know to “re-socialise” you. It can be that fat talk show host, that lady you have never seen but whose words struck a chord in you and revealed who you really are.

I still read magazines, but I’ve come to terms with my skinny frame, my big fat nose and my forehead. That can’t be changed because it is the person that counts, the human being. I am no longer scared of my love for pink and “girl” things an funny enough I think I’m manlier than my three close friend, but we are the same in many ways. I don’t have to live up to societies expectations of what beauty and manliness is. Like flowers in a garden, we all add beauty and variety to this world.

How we are socialised, be it willingly, or unconsciously can be undone is at most of the times not our own doing, but determined by how we were brought up, the social norms or cultural background. But all that is not the all in all. Things change, people get exposed to other cultures, move to other place or discover new things. Everything changes, so can socialisation.

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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