I have been having so much fun these past couple of weeks featuring in My Bulawayo! What an honour! In my zeal, I’ve been sharing some of the lessons I’ve learnt in the beautiful city of Kings and Queens but I almost forgot to share the most important one, CONFIDENCE!
I know it seems cliché and a little over emphasised but, honestly for me, confidence was the best lesson the city of Royals ever taught me. In high school and most of my life really, I was timid, awkward and insecure. I didn’t think I was good enough for anything or anyone and as a result I operated in the dark shadows and made sure I never stood out. I sat at the very back of every classroom and prayed that none of my teachers would pick on me to give an answer. I’m pretty sure most of my high school teachers have no clue they ever taught me.
Confidence in the city of Royals isn’t defined by clothes, friends or money. Confidence is a symbol of embracing your true self and being comfortable in your own skin. Have you ever seen someone so comfortable in who they are, it makes you uncomfortable? That’s the city of Royals in a nutshell! Everyone seems so bold and carefree, attributes which I must admit, made me really uncomfortable. I can’t be sure now but I think it’s because I couldn’t or wouldn’t unlock that freedom in myself.
In my day the hottest joints to hang out were Haddon & Sly and Bulawayo Center, so every Friday after school, you knew where to find me. No matter how uncomfortable and outraged I felt, I found myself drawn to these hubs of activity every single week. I would blatantly stare, actually point and sometimes pass mean comments about people I encountered. But you know what? I got the same reaction every time, NOT ONE PERSON PAID ME ANY MIND. It didn’t matter what I did or said, THEY JUST COULDN’T BE BOTHERED WITH MY MESS! They were so confident, my reactions and judgements didn’t even make a dent in their lives. It sounds crazy, I know, but I have never been in a city with such a warm embrace. DIFFERENT is not only okay, it’s ACCEPTABLE. I cannot even begin to explain how much that blew my thirteen year old mind. I grew up believing that DIFFERENT MEANT BAD, it wasn’t okay and it certainly wasn’t acceptable.
There was such a disconnect in my life because not only did I feel different, I could tell I was different and the truth is that the people around me had no idea how to handle it. So they gently encouraged me to be like other kids my age, but that was the problem, I didn’t want to play, I just wanted to EXPRESS with songs and skits that flooded my mind and heart. My Bulawayo became a giant stage with interesting, unique characters playing out their lives!
I didn’t understand what was happening most times but I felt welcome and most importantly accepted. I didn’t know how to pick up all the pieces but my city (My Bulawayo) showed me it was possible! There is no shame in being different, in being myself!
My one desire is to have the same sense of boldness and confidence in who I am and who I’m becoming just like my city taught me. I have made strides in the right direction and moved away from being that timid girl in high school but confidence is a lesson that I’m still learning on a daily basis. It’s second nature for me to take people’s opinions about me a little too seriously, to still be hard on myself or crawl back into the shadows and hideout but I’m working on getting better. Every morning, I have a cup of Joe with a dash of confidence to start my day!