Guard Your Energy

“Have you ever been in a dark hole and you just couldn’t find a way to exit, yet you can acknowledge that you’re in it?”. This is how one of the students described what it feels like to be in a toxic situation. Be it with a friend or a significant other. But how do these toxic situations affect you as a person? Are you really the company that you keep?  

Throughout all social media platforms, we are seeing more people using the word ‘toxic’ to either describe a person or a situation, but what does it really mean?. Toxic, as described by the English dictionary, is something that is poisonous. After multiple interviews with several students, it was evident that at some stage in their lives they have found themselves in situations where they felt that the people they were surrounding themselves with had negative repercussions and this had an impact on their emotional and mental health.  

The energy that you surround yourself with might not dictate who you are as a person, however, it does impact you emotionally and mentally. As nothing organic can grow when it’s surrounded by poison, subconsciously you are absorbing all the negative energy around you. With all that you do in life, be careful of the people that you allow into your space and the energy they bring with them because you could very much be feeding off it.  

No choice but to buckle up

As students, we have a lot on our plates; academics, relationships, commitments our resources are stretched to the max. It can be overwhelming. But we do not have a choice. The show must go on and we learn how to rise and carry on.  

One way to deal with anxiety is to make use of goal-setting. It’s important to have a “Why” – remember why you started and where you want to end up  

Here are a few other tips of dealing with stress: 

  1. Make time for and take care of yourself. Avoiding yourself is dangerous. You need time for self-reflection so that you can harness your strengths and develop your weaknesses.  
  2. Know where to direct your energy. Not everything is worth your energy. So steer it towards things that will bring you satisfaction and help you grow. 
  3. As much as this can be a cliché, prioritize. It will help you know what to focus on. 
  4. Be easy on yourself. It’s okay to fail. It’s ok to make mistakes, but do not let those failures and mistakes define who you are. 

Whenever you feel like giving up, buckle up and keep going, because the greater the challenge, the greater the achievement and it will be so worth it.  

Photographer: Lithalanga Vena 

Thought you’d have your life together by now?

Did you ever leave high school thinking “When I’m in university, I’ll have my life together,”? And now that you’re here, your life is still all over the place, probably a little messier if you’re honest? Many of us start wondering whether we’ll ever get to that time where life feels “in place”.  

The truth is we are all trying to figure life out – no one has a formula. The older we get, the more difficult life becomes, as responsibilities begin to pile up and our energy is pulled in many directions. Should this steal our happiness though?  

Absolutely not. Stressors are inevitable in life and “perfection” is a construct you will always be chasing. The answer is not perfection – it is a balance. Balance is about peace and harmony amidst the challenges. How can you move towards this type of balance? 

  1. Put your mental health first. 
  2. Ask for help. 
  3. Talk to someone about your problems. 
  4. Spend time with yourself. 
  5. Prioritize yourself. 

Along with physical health, mental health is extremely important. As students, life can be crazy – it is crucial to stop, pause and recharge. Learn to know what your mind and body need for you to be at your healthiest.

Photographer: pexels.com 

Alcohol does not rape

It does not hurt to have fun and we owe it to ourselves to live life to the fullest, but we should always remember that our actions have consequences. It’s sad to see how our generation claims to be enjoying life and complete liberation while willingly handing over control to alcohol over and over again.  

The issue of rape has gone viral in almost all the higher education institutions and often we come across statements such as “Decreasing rape is simple get rid of alcohol”. Such statements have raised controversies 

Asive, a 3rd-year student at NMU, voices her opinion by saying, “Alcohol only gives you the courage to do something that you have been thinking of doing, but have had too little bravery to actually do.  

Asiphe Witbooi from UCT touches on why most people would believe alcohol to be the leading factor when it comes to rape. She explains, “We cannot run away from the fact that alcohol does influence a person into doing questionable things, but nothing can justify the act of rape, not even alcohol”. 

It is no secret that most people are using alcohol as a front to carry out their villainous desires and a blind eye is turned to that. The question remains, “What about the victim?”. Leticia Dhlamini from NMU states, “A woman can never ask to be raped. Under no circumstances. The fact that I drink alcohol does not deny me any right against my body. How can my way of having fun be regarded as a way of asking to be violated?” 

Photographer: Bianke Fouche 

Evolution of the youth

In light of recent events, there have been several cases trending on social media. From the brutal death of Thoriso Themane, all caught on video, to the recent saga that happened in our own city’s San Souci where a pupil got into a physical confrontation with a teacher, one cannot help but wonder whether the youth has evolved or if this is how it’s always been.  

We were able to ask our university students what their opinion on this matter is since most students are on social media and are thus aware of the incidents mentioned due to videos going viral on various platforms. We asked students, “In what way have the youth of today evolved? and this is how they responded: 

The consensus amongst the students interviewed was that young people have become more violent due to society exposing them to these violent acts from a young age, making them believe that it is okay. Another issue that was brought up is the lack of corporal discipline. As one student said, “Nowadays the youth have various rights which could be detrimental when incorporated incorrectly.” Others took an opposing stance, saying that the youth of today is no different from the days when we as students were still school-goers. In this day and age, social media is able to highlight much more than it did in the past, making it seem like a problem that is on the rise. 

Whether the youth have changed or stayed the same over the years is subjective. However, the videos that surface on social media are the reason for concern in our society and we as young people should work together to restore safety and fairness where we can.  

Photographer: Lithalelanga Vena 

Showing where it hurts

Some people are frightened by change while others embrace it as the only way forward. Keep in mind that the people you surround yourself with might be surprised by the change in your life and it might take some time for them to adjust to the new you. In his article titled “Don’t bury your feelings”, Dr Barton Goldsmith, who is an emotional fitness expert, mentions how we act differently when we bury our feelings. “Being in touch with your feelings will make you a better person as well as a parent or partner,” he says.

When we were younger we did not hesitate to answer the question: “Where does it hurt?” Although then the question usually referred to physical pain, it is a relevant question regarding emotional pain too. We answer the question with little resistance to the admission of pain. As the years go by, [ ] we begin to hide the pain, sometimes even from ourselves. But denying the pain does not make it go away.

So why do we insist on putting on a brave face? Showing pain is seen as a sign of vulnerability, but the misconception we have is that it is a sign of weakness – especially among men. In his book “Unspoken Words of a Gentleman”, Pierre Alex Jeanty speaks about how it is not a crime to cry, especially when you are a man.

He assertively states that the only crime is the disallowance of a man to express his emotions but to instead bottle them up, resulting in a ripple effect of negative consequences. Show people where it hurts, especially the ones closest to you, is a vital way to increase trust in relationships. Most importantly, it is where the healing begins.

In a world where every person has a unique walk of life, it is unfortunate that we might not all have people we can open up to in our daily lives. At Nelson Mandela University, this need is catered for by the Student Counselling Centre, where students can receive the psychological support they need for mental and emotional growth. If there is unresolved pain in your life, consider being brave enough to show someone where it hurts.

Photographer: Thando Khanda

It’s the vibe of the thing

“[ ]I don’t think I’m quite ready for a relationship. I think we should just vibe and see where that takes us,” are words that have not only affected me but [ ] many individuals within the dating community. It leaves one asking, what exactly is [ ] “vibing” and what is the difference between it and [ ] dating.

Vibing can differ from situation to situation, but the best way to describe it would be a relationship between two people where all the basic rules of dating still apply but with less commitment and pressure. The parties involved simply establish how exclusive they want [ ] to be. In some cases, it could be seen as an open relationship. Now the question is: why are people leaning towards vibing instead of [ ] good old dating?

A statement by Sindiswa Shabalala put everything into perspective, “The person who initiates vibing is taking this stance as a coping mechanism. He or she is not ready for the vulnerability in the relationship and instead chooses to hold onto control over the situation and their feelings”. This shows that a lot of people who enter such relationships do so because of their past failed relationships and the fear of being hurt.

In a time where it seems like all people who enter your life are there with malicious intentions, it is only instinctual for you to attempt to protect yourself. Vibing is the fence-sitter’s answer. It provides desired elements of a relationship, but is free from real vulnerability, leaving less room for disappointment and getting hurt. When there is no real investment, there is no real risk. Hence, out of fear, people choose to be more shallow so that if anything goes wrong, their bounce-back will be easier and faster. There is no denying that upside. The jury is out on this one – take your pick.

Photographer: Thando Khanda

A Student’s Guide to Eating Out on a Budget in Port Elizabeth

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Some of the reasons us students eat out at restaurants are for a quick break, to unwind at the end of a long week or an exceptionally long day, when there’s no time or energy to cook a meal because there’s always something to get done, or to catch up with friends.  At the same time, it’s fair to say that we do so when there is no pressure of having to pay a ridiculous amount of money just to eat out. This is where these top three restaurant deals come in. They are just the fix!

Seattle Coffee
From their spacious Walmer Branch to the on-the-go branch in Summerstrand on the way to school, Seattle Coffee is perfect for both coffee and non-coffee lovers alike. The cafe has a point system, recording each purchase you make when you enter your phone number. Your 11th drink is free, ensuring that all your visits don’t go to waste.

Bocadillos
This is for all the pizza lovers who also appreciate a restaurant with great decor and ambience too! Every Monday at Bocadillos is half price on all their pizzas, with a variety of choices for meat-eaters and vegetarians as well.

The Bru Bar
The Bru Bar is a great place for both drinks and great food. Mondays at the restaurant offer a 2 for 1 pizza special while Thursdays are for their buy 1 get 1 free for burger special.

These are just some of the great restaurant deals that P.E has to offer. So whether you’re a little low on cash or not, there’s always an opportunity to save but still enjoy some time out!

Photographer: Likhaya Tshaka

Should South African Women Stop Celebrating Women’s Day?

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OPINION – In South Africa, the 9th of August and indeed, the month of August in its entirety is a time when women and the institution of womanhood is celebrated, appreciated and most importantly, protected. It is a time when all the issues that South African women face daily are finally addressed.

It is a time when all the prejudices and disadvantages that dehumanise and threaten the lives, health and success of women (simply because they are women) are debunked and dealt with by the government, private companies and other organisations powerful enough to institute change. Am I right?

Wrong!

That could not be further from the truth. Yet, that is what we have been led to believe. Somehow, a single day of a so-called women’s day celebration is supposed to be enough. A celebration which in reality, feels like a disingenuous attempt at placating South African women.

For years now, women have complained that it is truly not enough and naturally, this complaint continues to go unentertained by the organisations whose responsibility it is to take action. As a result, in 2018, many South African women have simply decided to ignore the very existence of the day and rightfully so.

Until such a time when sincere, effective and permanent efforts to tackle the plight of women in this country are finally in place, South African women ought to continue to ignore and even condemn any half-baked pseudo celebration of our place on this country.

Until the extremely high statistics of gender based violence in all its forms, femicide, unequal pay and other acts of discrimination against women in this country are addressed and dramatically reduced;

Until legislation that seeks to make the aforementioned a reality is enacted and acted upon;

Until the contributions of women to our history and development as a nation are given the weight they deserve in the form of statues and renamed landmarks;

Until an honest widespread conversation about gender roles, sexism and patriarchy is effectively engaged on;

Until all these and more, the women of this country should not recognise such unimpressive and isolated events like women’s day because they do very little for our cause.

Image source: Kelley Felix

Here’s A Toast To Remarkable Women

OPINION – We grew up taught to only associate the colour pink with girls and blue with boys. Yet today, your favourite colour might be reliant on your mood, fashion trends or even the weather. We also grew up taught that girls should be seen and not heard. Yet today, even if you’re the loudest person in your circle, your friends still adore you. So I guess how we use the things we were taught to find our own uniqueness is what defines us as people … as women.

Every August, when we celebrate women, our minds first drift towards famous women who achieved something so remarkable that they now have a shiny spot in our nation’s history. However for once, if not for the first time, let’s take a moment to celebrate our own success.

Let’s celebrate the old lady that runs a soup kitchen from her house and the high school teacher who always made you feel like you were worth something more.

Let’s celebrate the church lady who constantly says that she is praying for you and girl who got pregnant at sixteen but didn’t let that stop her from chasing her dreams.

Let’s celebrate our mothers and motherly figures who taught us how we should be treated and that friend who made the decision to get out of a toxic relationship because she realised that she deserves so much more.

Celebrate the cool aunt that let you get away with everything and the random girl who unknowingly made your entire day better because she complimented your hair.

These and many more, are the women that need to be celebrated.

Most importantly, celebrate the reflection in the mirror. Celebrate the fact that she is not the person she was three years ago. Celebrate her amazing ability to feel broken inside and still be able to mend someone else with her smile. Celebrate that one day she is going places even though it might not seem that way right now. Her imperfect life might be someone else’s greatest inspiration.

Applaud her.

Be proud of her.

See, we often compare ourselves to others and end up feeling insignificant and inferior. We measure our success and beauty to that of women with different backgrounds and circumstances when the only real measure of success and growth should be against the woman you were yesterday.

Raise a glass of sparkling pink champagne (or grape juice for those of us with different diets) to yourself and the remarkable women in your life.

Cheers and happy women’s day to all of you, my fellow sisters.

Image source: Valento Gouws Photography