I started this year heartbroken and jobless. I was still crying over the boy I had loved and lost- wondering if I should text him and ask for us to get back together but somehow finding the wherewithal not to.
My work contract had also just come to an end and despite having close to nothing in my bank account, I wasn't particularly looking to apply for any more jobs. Mentally and emotionally I was done and against the backdrop of a worldwide pandemic that had changed the way of life as we know it, I had already given up on 2021.
Yet, despite the beginning, as the year comes to an end, I can't particularly say this was one of the worst years of my life. In fact, if I'm being quite honest it was actually quite good.
Without really noticing, as time went on, I accepted some hard truths and got over my breakup. Also, the office I was working at realised I was a hardworking ray of sunshine and decided to renew my contract. And as I look back in retrospect, these were just the tip of the iceberg.
So before I dwell too much on the more interesting things that are boys, breakups and boardrooms, let me do a U-turn and share with you my 2021 highlight reel instead.
1. I launched my website
In 2019, Ngasa said it would be a good idea to get my own website. And even though she said it casually I latched on to the statement. Two years of planning and procrastinating down the line, and here I am with my own little corner of the internet.
2. I started sending out telegrams
In the same vein of launching my website, I also started my mailing list. The response from it has been overwhelming to say the least - with quite a number of people writing back to me and sharing their stories. I am so proud that I've also been very consistent with it - and although I haven't done my market research yet, I am pretty sure I am high up there on Malawian content creators when it comes to making sure my email newsletters are thriving. Also, If you haven't subscribed feel free to do so here.
3. I graduated
After spending five good years of my life in the hellhole that was college, I finally got my degree ( with a credit even).
4. I started a Master's programme
But of course academia wants to have me in a chokehold and so I somehow tripped and accidently found myself in a Master's programme. It's hectic cause I'm both working and doing school but to be honest, I'm having so much fun. This is the academic experience I had hoped for in my undergrad.
5. I became an editor with Africa in Dialogue
This year I decided I wanted to read more afro-lit and get to know African writers. So I applied to become a contributing editor with Africa in Dialogue - a literary magazine that profiles African storytellers - because I would be "forced" to read these dialogues whether I wanted to or not. Coincidentally this has also been the year I've read more African lit than than anything else.
6. I became a brand ambassador
For one reason or the other TNM approached me and offered me a contract as a brand ambassador. You can read more on that here.
7. I got a whole year working experience
With all these little jobs and my work contract being renewed, not only did I accumulate over a year of work experience on my CV, but I also held down my office job for over a year and counting.
8. I recited poetry to an audience for the first-time in 4 years
Sometime in 2017 I - eh - retired from reciting poetry because at the time I wrote poetry for reading and not necessarily for performing. However, when I was contacted to recite a poem for Africa Day at Petit Paris for some reason I was like "why not?" I wrote a poem I really liked for the event and ended up enjoying being on stage again. See all my other performances from the year here.
9. I attended Tumaini
I've been wanting to attend the Tumaini Festival for the past five years but something always came up. This year I finally got to attend (as a performing artist) and it was everything I thought it would be and then some.
10.I got published in a few literary magazines
This year I was concentrating more on writing than publishing. But one way or the other I found myself published in two literary mags. My poem was shortlisted for the Briefly Write poetry contest and my auralgraphs from Malawi in Doek!
11. I finally got my license
I’ve wanted to learn to drive since before I was eighteen, but I was broke and I was still in school. Last year I finally decided to sign up for driving lessons. Despite it taking me eight months due to work forever being on my neck, I finally finished my lessons and passed my tests. Now I can legally reverse in these streets like a pro.
12. I bought a car
This is perhaps my biggest highlight, beloved. Last November I made the decision that within the year I would buy myself a car. I only had 3k to my name when I was making this declaration but lo and somehow behold, I slaved and I saved and I got myself my first baby.
13. I was more intentional in being a friend to my longest best mate
I have acquired a few best friends over the years who mean the world to me, but none of their friendship have been as long as that of Amos. He and I have been friends for two decades. Over the years, probably due to the duration and to the fact that I knew we'd always be friends no matter what, I started taking the friendship for granted. But this year I decided I'd be more intentional with being his actual best mate. And man, not only is it simple to be a present and intentional friend, the results are rewarding.
14. I clocked a year Hulahooping
When I picked up hulahooping last year, I would have never guessed how much happiness I would find spinning inside a plastic circle.
15. I started learning cardistry
Ever since I watched Shim Lim on America’s Got Talent and got captivated with his sleight of hand card tricks, I knew I had to learn. (Nevermind that another boy I had also once loved and lost had been able to woo to me cause he was a card magician way before Shim Lim, and I decided I would also one day be that impressive.) Anyway, after two years (or four- depending on whether you consider Shim or the boy my inspiration) I finally started learning cardistry this year.
16. I started juggling
Obviously I'm on some ultimate quest to become a one woman circus, because after hulahooping, card magic and being an overall clown, I decided to also learn how to juggle. This is by far the hardest hobby I have ever picked up.
17. I made a difference in a few children's lives
My office job involves interacting with quite a number of people - children especially - from the most marginalised corners of society. I get to meet with most of them on a regular basis and hear their stories. It's through this that I met a few students on the verge of dropping out that reached out to me and I was able to help them out with a few costs. Now every time I visit they are always so happy to see me and even when I haven't been there for a while, they call just to tell me how they've been. Working in non-profit can definitely be rewarding.
18. I started my microlocs journey
Having been a loose natural for about six years, I decided it was definitely time for a change. Taking care of my afro had gotten tedious and expensive and I was one more wash day from cutting it off. However I stumbled across microlocs Instagram and thought, why not? I have had them for five months and so far no complaints. In fact, I absolutely love them! Not only do they save me time, energy and money, but they are absolutely pretty and versatile.
19. I hired personal assistants
Might not have been a million jobs like some empty promises we heard, * cough*, but this year I managed to employ two people and actually pay them to work for me. I had a lot of things piling up and I needed the extra help. The first one left because she got a better job *sob*, and I had to let go of the second at the end of her contract because my expenses were going through the roof. Still one of them called me the other day to say she was including me as a referee on her cv and the other gave me a digital card saying I had been such a great boss, so yay! The minute I get my finances in order I'm deffo hiring again.
20. I became a weekday vegetarian (sort-of)
For seven months of 2020 I was a vegetarian. I learnt to cook balanced meals without meat and quite liked the experience. Sadly, after I finished school, moved back to Lilongwe and got a job, I backslid. I was too tired after work to cook, let alone teach the maid how to make vegetarian meals, so I just ate whatever was made at home. But sometime in September I decided to give it a go again but with a bit of leeway. In circumstances whereby there were no vegetarian options such as workshops and family gatherings I could eat meat. Of course this isn't going totally as planned but my meat intake has decreased significantly.
21. I got to see Kilimanjaro
I have been saying this ever since I went, but seeing Mount Kilimanjaro was my highest high (Ha! Still as funny as the first time I said it.) I think it’s important to mention that I did not hike up the mountain, I hiked some other highland just so I could see the summit of Kilimanjaro.
Well there you have it beloved, my 21 highlights from the year 2021! Let me take this opportunity to thank you for reading my blog! I hope to see you here again in 2022! Wishing you more good things than bad as we go again, once more into the fray!
Happy new year!