Norms & Conditions

I love contradiction. I enjoy being one. I love that the human experience is one shot, no training wheels and full of surprises (and it’s been a while since I did a listicle of my weird and wonderful unsolicited thoughts on stuff).

I firmly believe that when you’re in doubt, ask an expert and then ask a reasonable person that you trust (step 3 is: check in with your intuition because you usually already know exactly what you should do but are unsure if you’re willing or able to do it). You should always change your mind when better information presents itself. You’re not tied your opinions, they’re not a contract. Some thoughts:

Compassion & Revolution
It’s wild to me how casually we expect and, frankly, insist that people fight against indoctrination (we absolutely should but still, its not easy). Proverbial “society” is indoctrination. The nuclear family, “first comes love then comes marriage…”, house picket-fence and 2.4 kids is indoctrination. There’s a reason that cults and imperialism still exist and it’s not because those people are unusually stupid or naive. In this day and age people still believe in the American dream, other crazy things like capitalism. We routinely fight our DNA and natural rhythms, we’ve accept 3 clear meals a day as convention, and asking permission to pee in formal spaces; we condition ourselves to express traits perceived as favourable and suppress the more animalistic aspects of human nature. There’s a reason revolutionaries are revolutionary: it’s rare. Bucking tradition and going against the grain is swimming upstream; it’s difficult and, well, radical. Learning is hard but unlearning is like pulling teeth. It’s why simple acts like black joy are revolutionary. When every human of colour has been force-fed (and at times willingly eaten) a steady diet of anti-blackness from literally day one, that’s indoctrination. It’s why the “easiest” advice gets so complicated in practice: “just be yourself”. Well Thandi, it’s difficult because between the constant messaging that says I shouldn’t, I’m still figuring where myself ends and the “society” begins and it’s going to take a minute. We really don’t have the moral high ground on cult survivors. And we’ve been hearing and singing these songs since before some of us even understood English. Indoctrination is, why despite Traditions & Expectanctions and my well-documented aversion to marriage as it exists in the agreed upon “normal” form, I still say things like: “if I get married, I’m doing it in my yellow shoes”. Unlearning is hard and even if you’ve chosen to go against your indoctrination it’s not a linear path and no one can walk it clearly. Compassion and fun. It’s why I don’t judge victims for needing several attempts to leave, why I’ll do my best to not give a friend a hard time when they go back to the same raggedy guy they’ve been bitching to me about. Again. Pick your personal revolutions, celebrate them fearlessly and its OK if you fall at times. Revolutions are rare pockets of bravery when we tap into our best and most authentic selves. And it’s rare and beautiful. You’re fighting a whole entire system. Indoctrination.

We’ve been fed a steady diet of expectations and “norms” and have all done a decent and mediocre job (at times failing) at various aspects in very specific ways that we call our personalities. Morality, sexuality, personal style, communication skills, charm, self esteem and neuro divergence are all caught up in a tangled web of hits and misses according to the established order. I say this because we all believe many things that aren’t true but we believe them anyway, even against reason. Whether your chosen poison (and I use the word poison abstractly of course) is individualism over community, gluttony because of access (and excess), astrology, science or religion: no one is 100% right about anything. We all subscribe to norms that are entirely abnormal and for better or worse we’re all tied to this world at this exact time in this specific collection of miracles and explosions of stardust & dirt that is your current form under the collective banner of the species Homo sapien. And I think we should have enormous compassion and should be having a lot more fun with it. We are a constellation of failures and ticked lists. Mundane and magic. And this how I choose to move through the world.

ALL RULES ARE GUIDELINES ANYWAY

But this one is a golden rule: Your intuition is your guide. And that is not to say that following your intuition is at all easy to do. Or that the the outcome will be immediately postitve but I believe in the deepest part of my being that this is your guide (Or Guide) and will never lead you astray (incidentally the only time I’ll ever feel comfortable using the word never). Never ever. As humans we are more than our bodies. This much is very clear and I know that we exist at the intersection of a spiritual plane. [random insert: I don’t think that Jim Carey is “crazy” at all. I wish people would spend less time feeling uncomfortable and more time listening to him.] There is more going on here than blood and bone. By following your intuition, you will always get the answer you need even if it’s not the answer you want or expected and tuning into this part of yourself is a gift and a skill. Intuition is gold. Mining gold isn’t easy. Fools gold is easy to find as it crumbles and all that glitters isn’t gold. But gold it is. Value the voice inside.

Love is EVERYTHING
In the human experience, it’s the lifeblood. It runs through, feeds and enables everything of significance. The worst thing we’ve done to each other is packaging love as romance, placed it on a pedestal and invalidated the love of self, of community, family and platonic intimacy. And if you think I’m lying, there are several multi-billion rand industries built around selling romantic love. Entire streams of income take advantage of the black hole that exists in the collective vacuum that is the absence of self-love and this exploitation crosses industries (no matter how well meaning). On a tiny island you’ve never heard of, people with more problems greater than you can fathom and/or riches beyond belief still seek to love and be loved in every which way that you do. We have, thankfully, normalised the supernatural feats that spring forth from a mother’s love (allowing it to take on its full form). But when are we going to make space for (see: “normalise”) the transformative power of a fathers love, the incalculable value of a dear friendship, sibling love and the wag a child innocently loves their caregiver. We are programmed and hardwired for community. Small, large, chosen or assigned: we are social creatures who thrive best outside of isolation. Of you need proof, ask notorious homebidies and introverts how they feel about what the pandemic we’ve found ourselves in has made the feel about their level of social interaction this past year. Humanity is struggling because its inhuman. The truth is independent of belief.

So here’s love and life advice from a somewhat reasonable young(ish), single(ish) human woman from somewhere.

Sacrifice is not a dirty word. It’s the cost of sharing (physical and emotional) space with another human being. It’s only a problem if you have to sacrifice an important part of who you are. And No, eating in bed/not washing dishes is not a fundamental part of who you are, it’s a habit and habits can be unlearned.

That being said: please never bank on someone changing. It can happen but its rarer than rare. It’s the exception and even then the results of such a drastic and solicited change are unpredictable. Beware of resentment. A human who is kind or generous will be these things no matter where they are in their life or finances. Potential only exists if the human in question is both aware of and is actively perusing their own potential.

Anything that you intend to be permanent should be approached with a great deal of pragmatism. I am a romantic, an optimist and I love love. Please, invite me to your weddings! A wedding is, at its best, a wild display of optimism and joy. Extreme hopefulness. And that is beautiful. Please invite me, I clean up really well and bring excellent prayers and well wishes. But if you think love is the main ingredient to a good marriage, you’re a fool. I personally am not getting married without it but I will never marry because of it. There are better ways to tell the world I love you than tying my bloodline and taxes to you. I don’t need to introduce you to my ancestors just because I love you. So yeah, take a step back and evaluate what else you have going for you (compatibility, friendship, respect, enjoyment, values, finances) before doing something as serious as marriage. That thing is a legal, spiritual, traditional contract and while you should leave room for magic, lead with your head.

Leave room for magic. Its well documented that most people don’t know what’s best for themselves until they find it. Why it’s sometimes a great thing to not get what you want but respond viscerally to something you need. I suggest that you set aside your “list”. Human beings can be magic. And surprises can be pleasant. “Your type” is a guideline not a rule. Try new things, new people and steonout of your comfort zone: you don’t always know what’s good for you.

Try new things and enjoy old things:
If you lead with your heart, experiment with leading with your head and vice versa. If the soil is fertile flowers will bloom.
Do one thing that scares every quarter (a conversation, a hobby, an attempt, a huge deal, anything) then every month and the next thing you know your muscles are accustomed to being brave. I’m still working on it. Its called the #MonthlyFail.
You don’t need to be good at anything the first time, you don’t need to be any good at your hubbies (their exclusive job is to bring you joy) and try to do good with your gifts. Money doesn’t need to enter the equation. That’s what jobs are for. If all of these are the same thing, lucky you. But you don’t need to monetise your joy.
There’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure. It’s just a pleasure.

This being human is a play with no rehearsal, it’s opening night darling. Be kind to yourself and ad-lib as you see fit. Scripts are just guidelines and you don’t have to stick to yours if it doesnt fit. You are a creature of stardust and dirt. Have compassion and fun, practice pragmatic optimism, lean into the romance of ordinary love and please please: leave room for magic.

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