Having grown up in a family that has no filter nor boundaries, I was certain my grandmother, aunts and older female cousins had armed me with enough knowledge to navigate relationships without getting too lost.
Their advice seemed pretty simple and most often than not, I would receive it on occasions of reaching pivotal milestones in my girl-becoming-a-woman journey.
What was I first told about boys
When I first got my period, my aunt, Aus Mookgo sat me down in her bedroom, showed me how to use a sanitary pad and followed it up by strongly advising me to never play with boys again, ever again. Consequences of not complying with what she said, would result in my falling pregnant.
Listen, it was pretty sound advice but in hindsight, it was probably not packed with enough information for the comprehension level of a 11-year-old girl who still thrilled at the thought of playing Chicargo (a two-team ball game played in the township) with the other neighbourhood kids, mostly boys.
My perception of boys in my teens
My aunt’s advice left me frightened to the point of hardly ever engaging in conversation with any of the boys that I grew up with. In fact, by the time I turned 16, I was known as the pretty stuck up girl from the house across the post office.
I recall how the boys in the neighbourhood would catcall me every time I would be sent to the shops. Not because they had any interest me but mostly because they realised how uncomfortable it made me feel. These particular encounters may have scarred me but let us not digress – that is not the point of the story.
By the time I turned 18, I was never quite certain how it was all meant to work. I was meant to stay away from boys and yet, there was the expectation that I should know how to get and keep a man once I became a fully grown adult.
Learning from the ones who came before me
Every lesson learned from the women in my family was delivered in small nuggets, of which I now view as my life’s “aha moments”. The only problem with how this information was expressed to me was that it was hardly ever given with any context. For example, my mom and aunts would always utter the phrase, “nyala o nyele”, meaning “get married and get into sh*t”.
Now, as a 32-year-old female, recently single, trying to navigate the dating world and trying to make sense of what it is that I want in a relationship, I have come to the realisation that these little nuggets would have never been enough.
However, with context, there is so much to be derived from the personal experiences from the women in my life. I just fear that the way our parents were brought up, and consequently how we were then brought up, never allowed for a real exchange of life lessons.
I suppose it was out of fear of giving too much context and in turn exposing too many of their marital challenges to us as children. Or, just maybe, our parents never had enough in their emotional vocabulary to articulate their feelings. One thing is for sure though, the conversation needs to start happening.
Let’s change the narrative
With this blog, I intend to decipher some of the little nuggets that I received from my mother. She passed in 2009 when I was only 21. I was convinced that she had been taken from me too soon but I am now of the belief that she was able to give me just enough of what I need to win on my own. She instilled in me the courage to speak up, the motivation to go after my dreams and planted in me, a seed of faith that would bear the fruits of wisdom. Now I’m ready to share with others.
My blog posts will not be written as a how-to guide because I certainly don’t know how-to. Potentially nothing will be based on any research. It’s all emotion, very raw and unfiltered. You are allowed to disagree but more importantly, you’re invited to engage.
Let’s talk dating in the time of Tinder and Bumble. Let’s talk about our traumas and triggers. Let’s talk about how we heal. Let’s talk about expectations. Let’s talk about love, vulnerability and God. Let’s have the conversation. Let’s talk about the extreme sport that is dating in our 30s. It’s going to be a long walk to the one but it won’t be lonely because we’ll walk together.