For as long as I could remember I was always doing something. Always dreaming, building, and wanting something bigger.
As a really little kid, this involved taking care of grasshoppers. I was maybe 10 and I would keep them in a pencil case with grass, some water, and would make sure they were fed every day.
I didn’t know why but at that time this project consumed all my energy. I really felt like I was helping them and doing something that was greater than me until one day they escaped. Seems maybe I was keeping them in a cage and not actually helping but that didn’t stop my child-like mind of thinking of how else I could do something that was beyond just the norm.
As a teen, I became obsessed with the power that writing had to change the world. So I started a magazine and started helping people and talking to people online.
From there I started writing scripts, then I started doing music management, did a talk show, started a video production business, learned how to do digital marketing, learned how to make websites, and year after year I was writing business proposals and doing different projects.
Since I was a kid I never just stopped. When this year started I had a clear plan of what I wanted to do and then the world stopped.
For everyone else, this meant a holiday, for me this just meant adapting and starting a new project. Since the pandemic started I gained 4 online certificates and this is when SMBLO (Education Platform) went into overdrive, this is when I started writing a book (which is finished and I need some huge confirmation to publish), immediately started writing a second book. Started pushing for It’s A Feminist Thing Platform, started podcasting and somewhere in the middle of that had to have some real conversations with myself about quitting my full-time job and not saying yes to everything and things seemed to be going good.
We were set to launch Smblo and as usual, I was dreaming big, we were set to break this world record and then I got sick.
It started slowly with my body breaking down. Headaches, back pain, cramps, and then when my period didn’t come I thought it and I felt it. I must be pregnant.
Three tests later I realized that I wasn’t. The doctor said my body was just stressed out. I was stressing myself out so much I was now starting to have physical symptoms.
Then a week later something else hit, COVID 19 or a cold from hell this is maybe one of the suckiest things I’ve ever gone through. My whole entire world stopped, it just stopped. The rest of the symptoms where maybe bearable the weakness and the fever but the coughing and inability to breathe that took everything. Now I’m not tryna make people scared cause you do get over it but there was one night where I was lying there coughing my lungs out like this is it. I’m about to die. For that small moment, this thing that I had taken for granted as a kid wasn’t working. I knew that my lungs just automatically used to breathe every single day, constantly going. Think about it right now, notice your breathing. When was the last time you ever even consciously thought about it? Yet here I was unable to do this one simple act I had done since I was a kid.
That’s when all the thoughts came; like am I happy? I’m working and working but like is this what I want? What is it that I even want from all of this? Even though I originally wrote this as part of uBu’s series with the title: ‘They said I couldn’t do it’ it became a part of really questioning where I’m at right now.
It became a part of me realizing that for a long time I said that I couldn’t do it. See I’ve lived a life of conquering since I was a young kid. I conquered abuse, conquered bullying, conquered losing my right to an education, conquered losing my right to a stable home. I fought against every stereotype that said I wouldn’t amount to anything and conquered every doubt that even with failed O Levels you can make your mark on the world.
Yet here I was doubting again. I was doubting so much that I was filling every moment that I could with activity after activity. Not giving myself time to rest and time to breathe. The thing about the body is if you don’t let it rest then eventually it’s going to give up on you.
I realized all this was important to me because I needed to prove that I could do it but I also realized that I was important to me too. See since I got better it’s been hard to pull myself together and simply start pushing forward again. I still have clear goals. I still want to help people and I still want to ultimately live in a gender-equal world but it’s been hard to pull Mandy back together and try to figure out what the first step entails.
All I know right now is eventually I need to put one foot in front of the other and get moving again but the first step for me was writing this. Not to say that look at me, I’m struggling but mostly to say that check in on each other.
There’s so much pressure right now to use this time to excel and do everything and make sure that at the end of it all you made use of your time but also just let yourself breathe, it’s really important that on your road to success, you give yourself moments to love and read just for the fun of it and watch something funny and positive and stay away from all the negative stream of content we are always receiving.
Let each other breathe, I’m slowly learning what that’s like again and let me tell you we take for granted the simple act that is clean air coming in and out of your lungs without feeling pain.
Live the life you dream of and make sure to enjoy your life while you still can.