i have never been called a genius

This is for Kazzi and Raymond From Surrey and Borders Partnership

Can you believe these two boo boo the fools threatened to send me to prison yesterday afternoon if I didnt behave like their latest guinea pig by taking an unknown concortion of tablets. Am I a Jew? Is this a concentration camp? Are we living through World War Two? Are you two really more concerned about your admin duties than my recovery?

IF YOU ALL LOVE TYPING UP, STORING AND PRINTING YOUR MOST VALUED PIECES OF PAPER-

WHY DON’T YOU ACTUALLY READ THE RECORDS YOU KEEP?!?!?!?!?!??!

To say you two are biggest pieces of shit I have ever come across is an understatement. Is it my fault neither of you studied Maths and that you are imbeciles?

CALL ME AGAIN, VISIT ME AGAIN. I DARE YOU.

I know how pressed you are about editing me into the label of Schizo Affective,

so, no, I am not hallucinating that I am good at Maths. I actually have certificates to prove that. I also keep pieces of paper. I also know how important it is to read said pieces of paper I work so hard to accumulate.

also cz I am petty petty petty mcFCK petty. And also I am a snitchety snitch mcSnitch, sorry to your ancestors that you had to learn the hard way that,

‘Jumping on my dick ain’t free’

No I am not hallucinating that I was born with a penis. This is a quote from a Kendrick Lamar song. It is also an analogy. He is not rapping about people literally jumping on his dick, just thirsty hoes like you two that act senile when they witness melanated bodies that are intelligent.

OOO also, I am not hallucinating that I am good at English Literature and poetry.

Also, no I did not hallucinate that I studied woven textiles and wove this fabric in 2012

for Arthur

K I am creating this document cz I am trusting you with my inner most.

I am so scared that I will be misunderstood hence why I rarely go into much detail about what I experience during what is called psychosis or mania.

For me, a more appropriate name for what I am experiencing would be ‘a calibration/alignment of my being’. Aligning me to my true purpose and reason for existing. The Japanese call this ikigai.

During these periods I feel like isangoma. I am very powerful. My whole being is very fine tuned to even the smallest changes. Contrary to the stigma of psychosis, I am very much aware of the tiniest things. As you can imagine, being so sensitive during this period also means I feel pain a million fold. I also feel joy, rage, all the ranges of the emotions,  probably more than a million fold. 

It is very important that you do not give me advice or ask me questions during this period. As I would be elated, please speak to me in a calm voice. If I do not respond or respond with something that seems weird, please do not push me to explain then, just make a note of it and ask me later when my emotions have come back down to a baseline (this could take weeks or months). I am very aware of other people’s emotions during this period and very aware of how scared and worried they are. Please try not to show this. Just speak to me in a calm voice.

I cannot stress this enough!! DO NOT GIVE ME ADVICE during this period. I am fully aware that what I am doing may seem odd to you or not make sense or embarass you. Unless I am actually putting myself in physical danger, please allow me to process what I am experiencing in my own way. Regardless of how far fetched or irresponsible my actions are, only intervene when I am putting myself in physical danger or others.

I would like to think that I am in a stage of my life where the likelihood of me actually harming others or being abusive is low, but I’m saying it just in case I lose control.

I have also found that during this period I have to be in my home. In my space. Being taken out of my home severely disorientates me and causes me to be violent/sink deep into delusions & hallucinations that don’t even make sense to me and it’s even harder to come back down to a baseline.

Also being around strangers is very scary for me during this period, or people that are not emotionally mature. 

During this time because it feels like I am processing SO MUCH! I have developed my own rituals to help me navigate everything I am processing. Hence the “odd behaviour”. To me these are my rituals.

So before you read any further, it would be helpful to watch these TED talks

OK now moving on to the part that is most scary. For me, these periods of alignment show me that World Peace will happen because of me. 

This idea has scared me so much because I feel like it’s a huge ego trip and negates my core belief that World peace will be achieved by all of us. I am also very much aware that this idea is also a symbol. Something my being has to aim for in order for me to achieve my life’s purpose. 

But since having psychotic episodes, I have seen how influential I have been in the lives of those around me. I am fully aware that the symbol could also mean maybe I bumped into a stranger and said the right thing to them at the right time which leads them to bring the world closer to World Peace.

I don’t know myself what my visions and ideas truly mean but I understand that there are severe negative consequences if I don’t take note of them and act accordingly.

Hence why it’s so important to just let me process what is happening uninterrupted.

K so I also experience what I call God and believe others have described as God within me. It feels like my soul transcends and travels far beyond even God, past universes and time. Beyond God? I asked myself once I experienced this. I am everyone and everything and can see so far beyond what I would normally do in our shared reality.

It is alluring. Pure creativity. Unbound. Anything could be anything. Everything could be anything. .. . . Its feeling all things at once with the ability to shrink your view point to the tiniest particle of existence. Having access to everyone and everything in existence. Being everyone and everything.

For this reason, the idea of a male God as the most powerful being seems obsolete to me. The bible is a collection of poems to me. An anthology. Religions and belief systems are like movies for me. Basically ways of translating information we are all experiencing and trying to make sense of it all.

K let me give you a taste of my religion/what I want the world to look like when my time is up on earth and my body disintegrates into the soil. . . .

It will be helpful if you take your time processing these. Looking up the lyrics and reading them. Looking up any words you don’t know. Taking your time with it. Researching the histories, concepts, myths etc . . Analysing the word play and symbology. Watching the interviews with the artist explaining their work, researching the artists…. Take your time. It’s a marathon not a sprint. Also you have to watch/listen to the full video/song so as to not miss what I am trying to communicate.

If like me, you feel scared or too overwhelmed, just remember to put it down and focus on the things that bring meaning to you. After all, you are also the creator of your life and have the power to shape it in a way that is more aligned to your beliefs.

Also not sure if you know, my name Nozipho means Goddess of Gifts and I do like to think of myself as a deity.

K here goes:

  1. Saul Williams poem – Said The Shotgun To The Head – https://youtu.be/wKdHX2T5WcM 
  2. Saul Williams poem – Coded Language – https://youtu.be/jzY2-GRDiPM 
  3. Beyonce – Run The World – https://youtu.be/VBmMU_iwe6U 
  4. Janelle Monae Song – Many Moons https://youtu.be/EZyyORSHbaE
  5. Janelle Monae Song – Tightrope https://youtu.be/pwnefUaKCbc
  6. Janelle Monae – Dance Apocalyptic – https://youtu.be/eaMBagakSdM
  7. Kanye West – Ultralight Beam – https://youtu.be/6oHdAA3AqnE 
  8. Kanye West – New Slaves –  https://youtu.be/B8Uxvp1ctfA 
  9. M.I.A. – Borders – https://youtu.be/r-Nw7HbaeWY
  10. Andy Weir – The Egg (very short story) – http://www.galactanet.com/oneoff/theegg_mod.html 
  11. M.I.A.- Bring The Noize –  https://youtu.be/RvUVxYndYuU 
  12. Frank Ocean – Pyramids- https://youtu.be/wqcqj62NcZg
  13. Frank Ocean – Pink Matter – https://youtu.be/uaLV003llhY 
  14. George the Poet & JP Cooper – I Got You – https://youtu.be/XyawsnK9TLQ 
  15. Hugh Masekela -Stimela https://youtu.be/n4Bb7p9gggc 
  16. Beyonce – Bigger – https://youtu.be/JED5wEKc3Lc 
  17. Beyonce – My Power –  https://youtu.be/uCzeVj4x_Hs 
  18. Beyonce- ALREADY – https://youtu.be/agCgvFTJeRs 
  19. If you have time, the whole film for Black Is King on Disney Plus by Beyonce is AMAZING!
  20. Little Simz – Venom – https://youtu.be/Kh8Q2iytzns  – this song articulates perfectly the rage I feel towards you when we talk about the roles of women and gender roles + how women are treated. To me it seems like you regularly dismiss ideas I tell you initially and mock/ridicule/down play their importance then months later you tell me the very same idea but this time you say it’s AMAZING and makes perfect sense because you heard it from a man. I regularly feel disrespected by you because of this and have to remind myself that you were birthed and nurtured by a society that celebrates the mundane shit of those who were born with penises whilst destroying those who were born with vulvas.
  21. Staceyann Chin – All Oppression Is Connected – https://youtu.be/4XfvZPG32-g 
  22. Staceyanne Chin – Feminist or Womanist – https://youtu.be/PQOmyebFVV8 
  23. SEVDALIZA – HUMAN – https://youtu.be/9t7SclAXoQw 
  24. FKA Twigs – Mary Magdalene – https://youtu.be/fD7kgjYo7Ls
  25. FKA Twigs – interview – https://youtu.be/FU88-ILTX5A 
  26. Hannah Gadsby – Nanette (comedy special) – https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/80233611?s=a&trkid=13747225&t=more&vlang=en&clip=80998602   
  27. Janelle Monae – Cold War – https://youtu.be/lqmORiHNtN4 
  28. Janelle Monae – Q.U.E.E.N. – https://youtu.be/tEddixS-UoU 
  29. M.I.A. – YALA – https://youtu.be/r4VQoP2_eL4 
  30. M.I.A. – Broader Than A Border – https://youtu.be/SJuFdkMOP20 
  31. Erykah Badu – On and On – …..& on too – https://youtu.be/AjRURNO4bd8 
  32. Little Simz live – https://youtu.be/fUjFLdUTpo0 
  33. Little Simz – Tiny Desk Concert – https://youtu.be/Nkt93coQzqg 
  34. Solange- When I Get Home – https://vimeo.com/329841592 
  35. Dave – Black – https://youtu.be/mXLS2IzZSdg 
  36. Stomzy – Vossi Bop – https://youtu.be/9ClYy0MxsU0 
  37. Beyonce – ALIEN SUPERSTAR – https://youtu.be/e_aT9pAGQo8 
  38. Beyonce – CUFF IT – https://youtu.be/yrtWLyp5gLI 
  39. Stormzy- Mel Made Me Do It – https://youtu.be/2litzsFCwkA 
  40. Ted Talk – The Art Of Being Yourself – https://youtu.be/FU88-ILTX5A 

TTHEQUUENSMANIFESTO

  1. World peace – shake Nyash on a yacht as I receive the last Nobel Peace prize
  2. All design should follow nature – biomimicry
  3. All man made products to be completely and safely biodegradable within 1 year max
  4. No more borders
  5. Free movement of people
  6. Money to behave like air and bank accounts like lungs
  7. All basic human needs to be free
  8. Freedom to express our truest selves in a safe and nurturing world

i hold life in my hands and i am aiming it at you

nozipho ndlovu mathe

Dear Blog Post Reader,

Dear Blog Post Reader,

Thank you for staying with me thus far

I bid you a safe farewell

Thank you for staying with me thus far

I bid you a safe farewell

Soothing music by Nai Palm x x x

my time at SHE GRRROWLS

Thought I would share a few video highlights at some of the work I did at She Grrrowls.

Honestly, I think this was my first nurturing collaboration/working environment. I learnt so much and Carmina cultivated the safest performance spaces I have ever been to. Also wanna say that she was like the Akon to my Lady Gaga. I finally got the opportunity to fully express delicate storytelling amongst sober people that paid their full attention to me. I found my ideal audience there.

I’m sure black women performers know what it’s like performing at london events.

It is my dream to see more nurturing spoken word spaces like this. Also shout out to Rose Condo + Emilie Epperlein aka My Hairy Vulva and Me

Also just to let you know where your girl was at, towards the end of 2019, (after 8 months volunteering), I asked Carmina, “what is intersectional feminism?”. Ok before you get upset, my feminism was already down that pathway, but yoh! I did not know the name for it.

ok so here are my fave videos.

*disclaimer – dont just watch mine, there are loads more videos of other incredible womxn poets. As much as I do like to toot my own horn, YOU ARE NOT READY! for the talent I shared the stage with.

HOT GOSSIP
me attempting to track my thoughts
unnamed PART 1
unnamed PART 2

Trigger warning for the last video (sexual assault + mental health)

disadvantage (featured in Chosen Family)

About my recent posts,

I am going to argue that my mind is not broken, rather unfortunately for me, I have some very self unaware people in my life who in their own clumsy way were trying to help me and show care. This translated as them being hell bent on proving that I am mentally unwell as opposed to accepting that my life is good and I am an amazing artist. 

To me, it appears, they are more comfortable attacking me with emotionally charged situations and words when I am most vulnerable to drive me into a state of anxiety. So much so that in the past, I have  experienced what abathakathi and isangoma (a being of songs) call ‘ukuthola amadlozi’. I am not sure what the exact meaning for this is, but on the surface, the words mean ‘receiving ancestral spirits’. For me, my mind retreats into music and songs. I can only communicate via songs and dance and creating artwork. I do experience what I identify as ancestral spirits communing with me. You have to understand that in this state, everything is symbolic. What I call an ancestral spirit someone might identify as a knitting pattern. I identify them as ancestral spirits because of my upbringing. I am Ndebele, was born and raised in Zimbabwe and believe in amadlozi. Honestly these states are very beautiful and deserve to be observed in a nurturing way without being pathologized. 

This definition from Wikipedia is helpful:

Amadlozi are African spiritual figures of the Nguni people. The Nguni people believe that these entities can be summoned for assistance and protection.[1] This belief plays an integral part in explaining some of the attitudes Nguni people have around subjects such as fertility, life, death, fortune, and misfortune. Amadlozi are also believed to have the power to guide their people towards a life of purpose and integrity.

(Zim Ndebele people are part of the Nguni people)

When I am in this heightened state, I become very scared. TBH I would argue that every emotion is heightened times a million. In the past once friends & family had convinced me that I was unwell and a danger, I would believe them over me. 

You have to understand, I have experienced people gaslighting me and the last thing I want to do is harm others so I picked their version of events cz I was the one experiencing hallucinations, writing that aliens exist, painting on my walls with lipstick……. 

Naturally I trusted their judgement over my own. 

“I must have deliberately hurt them and my mind removed the memory because my mind was doing something that a lot of minds cannot be trusted is doing right?”………..nope, 

  • Every time I was violent, someone was violent to me first. 
  • My sister cried because I had sesame seeds in my hair. I guess to her it was a sign my mind was broken but to me, I had counted sesame seeds in one hand, thrown up in the air to see how many i would catch in my hair….. 
  • In medical notes a doctor said me having ‘unkempt’ hair was a sign that I was unwell (I was deliberately growing locs), 
  • Some people only hang out with me when they are on drugs and assume that I must be on drugs too. Listen, I know how to have fun without drugs and I would argue that drugs are no fun at all and actually dangerous….. 

Basically things that just make me different that are actually not dangerous have been used against me to diagnose me as broken. As you can imagine this makes it very dangerous for me to even create anything original because people are likely to say ‘oh it’s her mental illness’ completely forgetting that I have accomplished the following:

  • 10 GCSE A grades (incl. maths, all the sciences, french, english language & lit.)
  • 3 B grade A Levels in Fine Art, Maths & English Literature
  • 1 C AS Level in Biology
  • a distinction in art & design foundation course
  • I was on track to get a 1st on my textiles design degree course at Loughborough university where I specialised in woven textiles. I learned how to make fabric from scratch, designing where each little thread would go, what colour it would be…
  • I speak isiNdebele fluently and plan on learning plenty more languages
  • I am an artist and am always learning new skills to express myself

I have so many more accolades and accomplishments but I have never thought the status they afforded were important. I deliberately didn’t finish my 3rd year of uni to prove that you didn’t need a degree to be successful (excl courses like law and medicine).

I am very efficient and use my time efficiently. I don’t just chase things for the sake of it. I have had many more social media accounts under different names in the past. I would argue that I am already big on the underground. I am running circles around my peers.

I got my own flat in the most exclusive area in Surrey, I am surrounded by greenery, I have access to very good healthcare and food, I create what I want when I want to. I plan all my days as I see fit. As you can imagine,  I feel like it really would be more appropriate FOR ME TO ASK YOU if you are ok and sending you ‘peace and love’ cz most of you are living struggle lives.

With each episode I experienced, I realised 

  • Most often those who were quick to pathologize did not like me. Yes they loved me but hated my success. Or simply saw me as a celebrity and themselves, my fan. 
  • Some have been close female friends who assured me with multiple breaths that they were not queer yet resented me for not flirting with them. 
  • Some are poets who told me they felt very uncomfortable seeing me shake nyash. Why me dancing makes you feel uncomfortable, I don’t wanna know. But I would like you to know that since primary school I spent a lot of time growing up emalokitshini, townships in Bulawayo where we danced all day every day. I still do that now to manage stress and anxiety. Why that makes you uncomfortable – angikwazi…… 
  • someone was triggered that I was awake that late. Honestly in that moment the anxiety was so high that the best thing for me to do was to dance & write my own song lyrics inspired by the songs I was dancing to…to tire myself out. It worked. I worked up an appetite, ate lots of food and clonked out …..
  • only to be woken up prematurely by many people calling me to tell me how much they were worried that I was not sleeping (Carmina is exempt from this because honestly that was my fault). The irony. Because of your so-called ‘looking out for me’ I was so anxious to reply to you all that I was in a bad mood when my friend  and her daughter came to visit me in the early afternoon. I was in tears and tired because I didn’t understand how me expressing parts I don’t usually on instagram would suddenly warrant violence targeted at me loosely veiled as ‘peace and love’ messages from people who don’t know me. 

You all, in your own ways tried to  convince me that I was going mad for dancing to Kendrick Lamar’s album DAMN and creating lyrics inspired by that. What does that say about you? So what if that was psychosis? And then? Was I harming myself? My headphones were on, I ate, I was drinking water…..I wasn’t bothering my neighbours or anyone so why were you so bothered? Madams and sirs your MISOGYNOIR is showing.

Also to everyone who messaged me/called me in the last 36 hours to ‘see if I was ok’ and ‘being safe’ – respectfully choke on my dick. If you really cared, you would know more about my life now and know better to not be scared when I am posting things you don’t understand on my socials.

If you only have my 499 phone number or social media information, you are not part of my support network so there is no need to message me if you are worried. Focus on soothing your own anxieties. That is my work phone. I don’t care if we are blood relatives. You have not proven yourself to be emotionally mature for me to let you into my personal space when I am experiencing altered mental states, so respectfully I am going to keep you at a distance since you can’t separate my personal life from my work life. 

Yes creating, writing rhymes, songs, poetry is work for me. Yes it is glamorous and has all the trappings but honestly I recognise it as the most efficient way to acquire, process and transmit complex ideas to those around me without forcing them to sign up to an unnecessary expensive university course.

Those who are in my support network know exactly where I live, have my most up to date phone number where they can reach me anywhere, some even have spare keys to my home. It’s my way of maintaining a healthy work life balance.

What Self Care Might Look Like

For me, self care covers any action I do that mitigates the toll and stressors of everyday life.

In this post I am going to go through some of my everyday self care rituals. I believe ‘prevention is better than cure’. As such, my self care practices involve a lot of upkeep such as cleaning my body, eating nourishing food and practising mindfulness.

Cleaning My Mouth | Firstly, teeth are expensive! With a dentist appointment nearing, I am reminded how costly it can be not to clean my mouth properly. For this reason I spend a good 10 minutes everyday flossing, brushing my teeth, scraping my tongue and using mouthwash. Doing this has kept my teeth cavity free and awarded me plenty of compliments from my dentist. Financially this practice has been a Godsend as it keeps the cost of dental and hygienist appointments low.

Practising Mindfulness | I maintain a daily practice of 10 minutes each of yoga and meditation. It feels like a shower for the mind. Maintaining such a practice allows me to be better equipped when dealing with anxiety and intrusive thoughts. It is also a great practice to deal with stress. I find that since beginning this practice, I am a lot more patient and can focus much better.

Eating Nourishing Food | I believe my body is a vehicle and has to be fed the right type of fuel to function. My diet is plant based as studies show human bodies are most happy when fed diets high in vegetables. Eating nourishing food ensures I am eating food as medicine rather than medicine as food. 

Cleaning My Space | It is often said the environment we create is a reflection of our state of mind. Keeping a clean and tidy space allows me to have a quieter mind. The process of cleaning is also a cathartic one as it feels as though I am shedding the old and welcoming the new.

These are the self care rituals I practice most regularly. They are important to me as they mitigate the tolls of day to day life and keep me feeling refreshed.

If you would like to find out more about self care practices, tune into our first ever Self Care Saturdays event on the 13th at 3pm.

What does self care look like for you? Let me know in the comments. 

x x x

A Beginner’s Guide To Fashion Sustainability

All the above clothes were previously owned

More sustainable fashion can be defined as clothing, shoes and accessories that are manufactured, marketed and used in the most sustainable manner possible, taking into account both environmental and socio-economic aspects.

greenstrategy.se

Reuse unwanted clothes

Mend clothes that have some damage

Buy less by buying clothes that are of good quality

Some tips on how to be fashionable whilst being considerate of the planet and the people who create our clothes.

It is becoming apparent how detrimental the fashion industry is. Not only on our planet but in the violation of human rights for the workers who make our cheap clothes. 

A starting step to mitigate this damage is to reuse clothes that are no longer wanted. This can be done by shopping primarily in charity shops. Charity shops contain well made one off pieces and are cheaper than vintage shops. The trick with shopping in charity shops is not to imitate current trends with clothes from yesteryear, rather to develop your own unique style.

Skirt from a charity shop
Oversized shirt and tie from charity shops

Another way to mitigate the damage done by the fashion industry is to buy less by buying clothes that are of good quality. This ensures items of clothing can be reworn for years without needing to be replaced.

Mending items of clothing can be a great way of being sustainable. Although this tip requires learning some new skills such as sewing, overall it is a great investment. Rather than throwing away an item of clothing that has become damaged, you can repair it yourself at home with little to no extra cost. Saving the item of clothing from being thrown away prematurely.

Dress from charity shop
Jacket and tie from charity shops

These are some tips for a beginner looking to be more sustainable when it comes to fashion. The rule of thumb is to reuse the unwanted and to buy less. 

Do you have some extra tips on fashion sustainability? Let me know in the comments, I would love to read about them.

x x x

Choosing To Romanticise My Life

My purpose is to

‘make love to time’

To romanticise my time in this life.

This blog post is going to discuss the benefits of having a purpose. Having a purpose can be helpful in making decisions that best align with your values. This can be particularly helpful during stressful times.

The idea of having a purpose to live by first came to me via the book, Act Accordingly, by Colin Wright. The book had been recommended by Michaela Coel in a 2018 article in the Guardian.

After reading the book, the purpose I chose was to, ‘make love to time’. I wanted my purpose to be a reminder that I have very limited time in this life and to romanticise each waking moment. To treat my time on this earth as though it was my lover.

I now watch more sunrises and sunsets. Take in all the hues of light that pass through clouds. I set up my plates of food to have lots more colors to excite my eyes and mouth. I listen more. Take in the full picture, sounds and textures.

At times when I feel overwhelmed, I ask myself, “how can I romanticise my life right now?”. Often it is by lighting a few candles, burning some essential oils and making myself a pretty drink. Not only are these things aesthetically pleasing, they also help to calm me down.

Having a purpose to live by can be beneficial in all areas of life. Especially when it comes to making decisions best aligned with our values.

Do you have a purpose you have chosen to live by? I would love to read about it in the comments.

x x x

10 reasons for Tattooing ‘I Am Beautiful’ On My Forearm

In this post, I am going to go through the reasons I tattooed the affirmation ‘I am beautiful’ on my forearm.

It is important to remind myself I am beautiful for many reasons, amongst others, to maintain a healthy self esteem and to celebrate positive qualities within myself

Many of these qualities are linked with inner strength, mental resilience and accomplishments.

Disclaimers:

  • I believe that by purely existing, we are all beautiful as we are all sophisticated, complex and unique miracles
  • I also believe physical beauty is the least interesting thing about me
  • My tattoo is written in the Zimbabwean Ndebele translation, ‘Ngimuhle’

10 Reasons for Tattooing ‘I Am Beautiful’ On My Forearm:

  1. The tattoo reminds me that all of me is valid 

From the age of 5, a prominent caregiver made constant negative comments about my appearance. I grew up in a society during a period where a woman’s value was intrinsically linked with her ability to find a husband and create a family. I experienced other forms of childhood abuse that made it easy for my young mind to deduce I was invalid. I felt as though I was a burden and a mistake that had to apologise for its existence. A round of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in my mid twenties gave me the space to challenge this belief and talk to myself like I would a friend. Since in my mind, being beautiful and being valid were interchangeable, it was soothing calling myself beautiful. So much so I would notice my mood lift by reading the statement ‘I am beautiful’

  1. The tattoo is a reminder of my resiliency 

I got the tattoo a couple of years into my recovery journey from rape. Although the sexual assault had annihilated what little crumbs of self esteem I had at the time, I was in awe at how much I was filled with life. I had a vibrancy and positive attitude towards the future that could not be erased even by the worst of days. I also noticed I was doing something miraculous by choosing to get better and having faith that recovery was possible, regardless of what was being thrown my way. 

  1. The tattoo reminds me to nurture myself

Seeing natural things mature and thrive in optimal conditions is an interest of mine. Although my tattoo is not a living organism, the skin it is on belongs to a living organism, me. As I want to see my skin and tattoo mature gracefully, I am incentivised to drink more water, lead a more active life, eat more green vegetables and eat more fermented foods. Living life in this way also benefits the rest of my physical body.

4. The tattoo reminds me to respect myself

This is the opposite of the broken window theory. The tattoo is aesthetically pleasing for me and whenever I look at it I feel a deep admiration for it. This also seeps through to an admiration for my talents as an artist to have designed such an elegant, engaging design. This talent and achievement remind me that a beautiful soul and mind are housed within this beautiful body. It acts as an incentive to further treat myself with respect.

  1. The tattoo reminds me to be comfortable being treated with kindness from others

Sometimes insecurities make me paranoid of kind actions from others. With the belief that I am unworthy, I am suspicious of those who treat me with respect. I find having a tattoo to remind me of my good qualities keeps such reactions at bay by constantly challenging the unhelpful belief.

  1. When I catch people staring at me, the tattoo reminds me to be comfortable with others taking my features in

This is similar to point 5). Being reminded that I am beautiful can explain why people would be staring at me (at times when I catch them staring with no explanation from them). It is more soothing to think that they are taking in my features. Thinking this way also gives me the courage to be kind enough to have a chilled conversation with the person doing the staring.

  1. The tattoo unleashes an inner strength and power

Believing I am beautiful gives me ‘Bad and Boujee’ energy. I find it makes it much easier to be assertive and say no.

  1. The tattoo is a great conversation starter 

As the tattoo is placed in a very visible part of my body, and it is in a language not spoken in the UK, most people I meet ask me what it means. Often a long conversation about identity or mental health follows which allows us to get to know each other on a deeper level.

  1. The tattoo reminds me of my choice to use my body as a canvas

The font is designed by me in patterns I used to doodle when I was in school. It feels like the tattoo is also a permanent record of my mundane experiences in school.

  1. The tattoo reminds me to appreciate the beauty in other people

Learning to recognise the parts in me that make me beautiful has made it easier to recognise similar attributes in others. As I know how much compliments can lift a mood, I am now also quick to give others compliments.

These have been the top 10 reasons I tattooed, ‘I am beautiful’ on my forearm. On the surface, calling myself beautiful and having that tattooed on my forearm may seem conceited. However, I hope to have shown that for me, beauty goes beyond physical features. There is beauty in mental resilience, the uniqueness in each human and the intelligence of our bodies to keep us alive.

Have you ever thought of having an affirmation tattooed on your body? Or do you have an affirmation tattooed on your body? I would love to know the main reasons behind wanting to get the tattoo. Let me know in the comments.

x x x

The Struggles of Having a Non English Name

Salibonani ibizo lami ngu Nozipho

hello, my name is nozipho

This post discusses the good, the bad and the ugly experiences of having a non English name. From having a name that has a beautiful meaning to strangers demanding shorter versions of your name.

Most of us living in the UK with non English names know too well the dread of introductions. Trying to regain composure in the lift after sharing stomach clenching laughter, a colleague fully turns around to face me, 

“It’s my floor next, it was nice meeting you. What’s your name?”

“Nozipho”

“Sorry”

“NO-ZI-PO”

“Do you have a nickname or what can I call you?”

Some shorten their names to easily digestible syllables to suit an English palette. Some change their names completely to English ones. I do neither, opting to teach each new person I meet how to say my name.

Almost all who hear my name initially are shocked to hear it. They proceed to refuse to say my name worried that they might butcher it so much so it will offend me. I then have to reassure them that I prefer them to butcher my name as it means they are in the process of learning how to say it correctly.

I used to shorten my name to ‘Nozi’ until I realised no one would learn how to say my name fully. Worse, some people would make a rhyme, “is your name Nozi because you are nosy?”. In my mid twenties I decided to put a stop to this by using my full name, Nozipho. I felt my name was too beautiful to be shortened into a meaningless word. I also felt it was the least a stranger could do as a sign of respect towards me. Saying all 3 syllables of my name.

It is soothing hearing a British person say my full name in the correct accent. I feel legitimate and have a true sense of belonging in my adoptive country.

Nozipho is a Zimbabwean Ndebele name literally translating to ‘goddess/mother/deity of gifts’. I am not too sure whether it means, I am gifted academically, I give others gifts or that other people give me gifts. I like to think it represents all three. 

My artist name is ‘ibizo lami’, the Ndebele translation for ‘my name’. I named myself this as a reminder of the phenomena I experience when introducing myself as Nozipho in the UK. 

Whilst non English names often carry with them profound and beautiful meanings, most of us who carry them feel pressure to change our names or shorten them to make it easier for English speakers. 

Do you have a non English name? What is your strategy when introducing yourself? I would love to read about it in the comments.

x x x