SIZAKELE PHOHLELI, SOCIALLY KNOWN AS HER MENTALITY. I AM A BLACK XHOSA RAISED ZULU WOMAN AND I AM THRITY ONE YEARS OLD. I AM A DEMAND PLANNING MANAGER IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY, A SELF-PUBLISHED POET, A BODY POSITIVITY ACTIVIST, A STORY TELLER THROUGH WRITING, AN UNOFFICIAL MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER, A ROOKIE MARATHON RUNNER AND AN ASPIRING DJ.
You have come here many times before, to this point of remembering your magic after your bad habit of forgetting it because you let the world control too much of you, you disappear too often, you forget the many magicians you’ve birthed within yourself too easily as if you weren’t made of amazons, oceans, winds and forests. You are always afraid to stand out, to speak up, too afraid to say what you really mean, what you really feel, said yes when you really meant no because you have confused shrinking for humility, you have confused mumbling your true thoughts for respect to the point of your own harm. Wake up, forgetting your worth is not humility, silence when you should speak is not respect.
This big, heavy body has carried you through many wars, new wars, old wars, coming wars, remember that the next time you want to spit at the mirror for one thing that didn’t go right, for one love that couldn’t stay, for one or even just two jobs that you couldn’t bag just because your childish ego is bruised and staying firm in your old dreams is mandatory. Remember how far you’ve come in these limbs forever running and never tired and the novels you could write of your many tiny successes the next time you want to be someone else because of one failed fast, little Esther.
The next time your face feels fatter than it actually is, and your eyes start to look like foreign planets on your already flawed face, remember you have been here before, you are beautiful. You have always been beautiful, even in your ugliest moments.
The next time you are afraid to look in the mirror because your smile is crooked like that of your gone father who taught you loss before any lover could, your teeth are off white and you whisper when you speak because your voice doesn’t sound like the candies that come out crawling when your older sister sings her enchanting church songs, remember that you are a lighthouse and that many have found their way home because you spoke and you smiled them into strength when their worlds came crumbling at their feet. Remember that all the many failures you have seen in yourself, many have seen paradise and second chances in the same places you have learned to hate in yourself. Remember that for Amazons like you, ordinary days are made of extraordinary necessary tiny wars that could finish you if you didn’t know your strength and many victories to remind you of how far you are yet to go in this race.
How many miracles must become of yourself for you to stubbornly believe in yourself as readily as you believe in others, especially in the moments that tell you not to, doubting Thomas?
All the battles you’ve won, within yourself and with the world are enough testimonies for you to not question how much this body and your gallant heart can achieve.
You’ve been here before, doubting yet winning, crying yet winning, and if you dare, if you stop being so afraid of yourself and how far your arms can reach, many legacies will stay behind long after you’ve gone and many stories told about you like legends of everything mountain you climbed bleeding and the dead bodies you’ve called back into life.
We have gone through many women in you, named them after every triumph and ruin, peeled through many versions of yourself, to be here, your best version yet.