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Dying To Be Me: A Journey To Self-discovery.

By Salima


There is nothing more painful than being unable to be your true self - The You that you know deep down you are, the You who is screaming to come out. The version of yourself you're certain people around you will not accept because it doesn’t fit the image they have assigned to you.


A few years ago, I came across a book titled "Dying To Live" by Bhatupe Mhango - Chipanta. Those words got me thinking because I had felt that way. They made me pay extra attention to that loud voice inside me that was telling me that I was meant to be more, do more and experience life to the fullest. In order to achieve this I had to remove all the invisible mental shackles I put on myself, the societal expectations of who I should be in my journey to self discovery.


I remember when I was about 14 years of age, I saw a pretty white dress with black dots in a shop and I wanted to buy it. It was such an elegant outfit- my first decision about what I was wearing and my dad gave me the money to purchase it without question. I was ecstatic, but the moment my mother saw the dress she disapproved completely and made me return to the shop to exchange it for a dress she judged more fitting for me. I recall all the times I disappointed her with my actions and by vocalising my thoughts, she always wanted me to be more like her, and sometimes I would get so ANGRY at her, and in not-so-nice words, I would tell her, “This is ME, I am not you!” but every time our family members walked into our fights, I was automatically the bad guy, blamed and judged harshly for disrespecting my mother, who had given me life, and no one cared about the specifics or my feelings. For a long time, I resented her for it, but now that I'm older, I realise she wanted and always wanted the best for me, albeit on her own terms.


When you spend your formative years in an environment that constantly disapproves of you, that negative energy becomes internalised and can hinder you from living in accordance with your innermost desires. Even if you consider yourself a nonconformist, repeatedly hearing certain phrases over time can become ingrained in your psyche and subconsciously prevent you from living on your own terms.


Journey to self discovery

Photography by Daryl Johnson


My mother told me a story about one of my aunties, who was, at a young age, coerced by her father to marry an elderly man..In that era, it was unthinkable for women to defy their father's wishes, and they were devoid of any autonomy or personal agency. As a result, she was compelled to marry the old man and resented him for the rest of their lives, despite having three children together. Her story is a powerful example of how societal and cultural expectations can have serious consequences on individual lives.


I often wonder why anyone should be born into this world only to be denied the freedom to express their individuality. Why should we not live wherever we want or do whatever we want, as long as we don't harm anyone else? I'm so tired of these arbitrary rules that confine us, and even though it will be a long journey, I refuse to be on my deathbed wishing I should have been more me than I ever allowed myself to be. My heart breaks for all those people who die with the dream still inside them and those who were never given the freedom to dream in the first place. The mere thought of it makes my heart ache for them and everyone else who is now living in such circumstances.


The societal expectations and pressures to conform can lead to feelings of suffocation, frustration, and even suicide in some extreme cases. It's critical to recognise and heed that inner voice imploring you to break free and be true to yourself.


Living authentically requires courage and self-acceptance. It means accepting yourself for who you are and embracing your unique qualities and characteristics. It also means understanding that not everyone will accept or understand you, and that's okay.


"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Salima is a coffee lover, a dreamer, a traveler, an entrepreneur, a blogger, and an avid student of geopolitics.


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Edited by Bwalya Mphuka & Natasha Chitimbe-Mukamba




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