about my face

Formalities: happy new year! (It felt strange not to capitalise that.) I hope your holiday season was lovely! I hope some people got over their irrational anger over the phrase, “happy holidays”! Congrats on living to today! This is a little mess of what I think will become a little collection of essays about my insecurities on the internet. Yes, that is dangerous if some day someone finds a way to use these all against me in some super saiyan attack. Yes, I am posting it anyway.

Hello, gang.

It’s 3:57 AM and I have a day full of adulting that includes seeing other people (some of which include people from church and a 10th grade weeklong boyfriend), talking to university management, sort out this ear infection from hell, do my laundry and go to the pharmacy.

It’s not the busy that bothers me, really. Nor is it the lack of car, the ineffective public transportation system, or the lack of sleep I’d have gotten by the time I need to be up. It’s the fact that I have to see people. It’s also not the people that are the problem. It’s my face.

This isn’t a pity post. Even if it was, that’d be fine because this is my corner on the internet. This is a sort of…organising my thoughts about my face and my dislike of it post.

Growing up is hard to do. Growing up as a cis female in a somewhat accepting society has been a lot easier than it could have been, but it’s still been hard. I can’t say really when it started, but I think as I got older and became more aware of myself (and in turn, my face) in society, I really really didn’t like it. I just didn’t like my face.

For a while, it was anti-blackness. Oh my GOODNESS did I want to be white. It was a messy, messy stage, and I’m glad to be past it, but I understand where I was coming from. I was in the middle of primary school, and I wanted to be pretty. It was that simple! I was already smart, but every book I read told me that being just the smart girl was not enough to be liked by anyone; that the pretty girl always won; that the smart girl gets bullied, and that the smart girl only wins if she becomes pretty. So I wanted to be pretty. Pretty in 2008 was a petite white girl with blonde or brown hair in a pony tail some days and in two another. I wanted pretty, and I couldn’t attain it. It made me sad, because I didn’t really understand why I couldn’t be pretty. I had never done anything to make myself particularly ugly, except that one scar on the bottom of my chin. Why couldn’t I just be white?

When I got to high school, my sister told me that I didn’t like my face because I didn’t take care of my skin. A plausible reason, I took it seriously and started a face care routine. I also started watching Glee and did almost exactly what Rachel Berry did because she was a star and goddammit if I wasn’t going to be a star! My skin was pretty good, and I never really went through any bad hormonal changes in terms of it. I hated the fact that I had this baby moustache that I couldn’t get rid of, no matter how hard I tried to pull every hair out, and three or four random hairs near my chin stitches’ scar. I used to think they were the scar’s fault.

I learned the magic of threading and how a little less hair on my face could make me feel so much better – and I never really understood why that was so – and really wanted to feel better. And some days, I do! Some days, I think that my face isn’t too bad a face. Most days, I talk about how I want a head transplant but want to keep my brain.

I don’t like my face. I don’t like that it looks smooth but really isn’t. I don’t like how it makes me the go-to less conventionally attractive friend (cue society denying its very, very loud anti-blackness). I don’t like how, before, when I liked my body, I felt as though I could achieve much more if I did a trade-off and got a face that matched the body of a lean, strong, smart dancer and athlete. I don’t like how make-up brands think that black people darker than the preset brown on MS Paint don’t exist. I don’t like that for a year I decided to pull ridiculous faces in every photograph, because I figured I’d rather look bad on purpose. I don’t like that my hair made such a difference on how I felt about my face, and how I only felt pretty when I had enough hair to put into one long, flowy pony tail, or sometimes two. I don’t like how people answer, and will answer, “but you’re pretty, Shalom”, because it does nothing but make me feel bad for having convinced them to speak with that pitiful lilt in their voice. I don’t like how I’m fighting back tears while I write this because I don’t like how much I don’t like my face.

I don’t like my face, and I really wish I did. I wish I felt the slightest bit better about it. I wish my mother and sister didn’t say “but if you just _____” every time I tell them. I wish I could take it seriously when I get called pretty amongst my friends. I wish I could help people to understand that I’m really not being modest, and that I really can’t accept compliments because it feels like fraud on a massive level. Pity fraud. I wish that the lipstick, the eyeliner, the gold eyeshadow, the glasses that used to make me feel better still did. I wish I could work out why I felt like this. I wish I liked it here.

I don’t know if I just need more therapy or if I’m just going to keep on feeling this way for the foreseeable future (I hope the former), but I’d like to not feel this way in a couple of years. Self hatred can be really tiring, you know? It also plain sucks.

win_20170109_045317

an awful quality webcam photograph courtesy of five a.m.

It’s after 5 AM and I have to be a human now. Now, you know even more about me than you’d thought you would. Do your best to have a good day. Do your best not to put any more hurt in the world when everyone’s doing their best to deal with their own. Congrats to Donald Glover and Tracee Ellis Ross on their Golden Globes!

Good morning.

love and light,
shalom xo

a note to student (employees)

listen to this while you read this:

 

Hi, fellow student.

I know, depending on your hemisphere, you’ve just started the new school year, or that you’re trying to crawl through the last three months of the university term. I know you’re busy, and I know you’re tired. I work a lot too – both in and out of school. My desk looks like that of the normal college student: messy, covered in loose sheets of paper and sticky notes and matches and medication. Under my ridiculously expensive textbooks, I have other textbooks, from 5th up until 12th grade. I’m a tutor, and I am a red-pen-stained-worksheet-making mess.

I work an easy 10 hours a week. Officially. Ten hours doesn’t seem like a lot, and it isn’t really. It’s doable. If I only worked those 10 hours, I’d be okay, but tutoring, like almost every other job, demands that it must eat into any and all time I thought I could mark as free time. I’m sure you can empathise. I know some of you work up to 25 hours a week, and I know that I can never feel the tired you feel, but I can feel proud of you – and I do.

I don’t think anyone’s better than anyone, but I do think that students who work while they study are extremely resilient. Yes, that’s most of us, but most of us are resilient. I think that the six hours you put in on a Saturday because you’re helping your parents pay your tuition, or because you’re paying your tuition yourself, or because you’re saving for a trip or a car, or because you just want some money, are six hours of phenomenal work. I think that you’re brave and powerful and strong. I think that you’re doing a great job.

Regardless of whether you work or not, drink a tall glass of water. Take three deep breaths, and remember that you’re doing okay. Don’t let the university monster eat you alive. I’m proud of you, and you’re doing great.

This is your reminder.

love and light,
shalom xo

I AM HERE FOR MYSELF ||the identity series

Recently, I’ve been thinking more about who I am,  why I am that person and what it means in terms of the way that I live. “Recently” is issue sensitive- some I’ve been pondering for a year, and others for closer to eight. Either way, this is what it culminates in: a series of posts concerning something vital to my being: identity.


FreshPaint-22-2015.08.17-09.49.50i am here for myself

A while back, my friend Casey set her WhatsApp status to the following: “Radical self-love. I am here for myself.” The words stuck with me and have been swimming around in my head next to my history coursework and a massive section of differential calculus that I don’t understand. What does it mean to be there for yourself? To be here for yourself? I wondered, and I said that sentence many times in my head before I said it out loud. Until today.

Time: the present. It’s the day after my first exam. I’m at the store, browsing the biscuit isle in preparation for the food coma that comes with the sadness after a maths exam. I stop at the Oreos, consider them, and decide anfainst them. Then, I get cat called. In. A. Supermarket.  Are you kidding me? These men- at least 25- whistle at me and start speaking to me — A HUMAN BEING IN A SCHOOL UNIFORM CLEARLY INDICATING THAT I AM MORE THAN LIKELY A MINOR– and don’t get the message that I’m uninterested.

One of them asks to buy the Oreos for me. I smile and say, “No, thanks.” He says, “Come on, I’ll give you a treat and you can be my treat.” I stop smiling. I say, “No, thank you.” He reaches for my phone (by the way, be very glad that I am behind a computer screen because I am furious) and says, “Give me your number, baby girl.” I say, “No. I’m spoken for and you make me uncomfortable.” He gets upset, obviously, because he throws the Oreos.

Needless to say, I left the biscuit isle.

Anyway, after this incident, I went back to the biscuit isle – BECAUSE I FRICKEN LOVE BISCUITS OKAY?- and two men who work at the store talked to me. In essence, they said: “That guy wanted to buy you a big box of Oreos and you said no, and now here you are buying a tiny pack of biscuits.

I don’t know why, but at this moment, Casey’s words clicked.

I looked at them and said, “I’m good. I don’t need him or his biscuits. Radical self-love, man. I am here for myself.”

It should be noted that I flipped my hair and sass walked away. It was like a movie. It was fricken GRAND.

Long winded Oreo saga aside, my point is this: independence is a huge part of my identity. Whether it’s objecting to cat calling or refusing things from others, it’s all me.

I am here for myself. And I always will be.

love and light
shalom x

there are so many things a new year can possibly bring.

that being said, a new minute can also bring hope; a new day inspiration, a new week depression. new years are supposed to bring joy, prosperity, and excitedness.

friends, i am excited.

there is so much of this world, so much in it, too. this year, i’ll be throwing so much out into the world. at least 40 pages of applications to universities (11 so far) will go out across the world – to the uk, the usa, and south africa. everything that you write your name on is a piece of you, you know.

i’m going to be in my final year of high school. well, i am. i am in my final year and i’m going to have to work harder than i ever have before. i’m going to do a lot of head shaking and nay saying. i’m going to have to look out for myself.

on that note, without further ado:

shalom’s points for 2015, vol. one

+ drink more water. just do it.
+ laugh genuinely.
+ work for yourself.
+ remember that the world is still yours.

+ slow down.
+meditate.
+run. just run and when you’re tired, come home. but run if you need to run.
+ be self sufficient.
+ save R1000. without any help.
+keep lib balm on call.
+light candles whenever.
+remember to put on lotion!
+take care of your hair.
+do your  maths homework.
+ask for help.
+ take your medication when you need to.
+talk to people before you get bad again.
+talk to people because they’re lovely.
+  do your part to make your dreams reality.
+remain hopeful.
+wear more arm candy.
+stop apologising for your existence and preferences.
+be lovely and kind.
+

thank you for a beautiful blogging year of 2014. i can’t wait to see what this year brings, and i’m sending lots of nice things your way. *super brain transfer*

So speak of all the love we lost, and what it cost us,
Left us beg our breath to stop but we kept on and
We were strong. We stayed bright as lightning,
we sang loud as thunder, we moved ever forward.
We are not our failures. We are love.

The Castle Builders, La Dispute

love and light,
shalom