SLICE OF LIFE: Overcoming my ‘quarter-life’ crisis

As 2016 came close to an end and people started popping champagne bottles to usher in 2017 with happy smiles, I came to a very stark realisation. I was terrified of what lay ahead. I had reached a point where I could no longer hide behind the title of student to explain why I wasn’t employed in a job that was taking me places.

I couldn’t excuse the fact that I was still not financially independent after four-and-a-half years of university study (preceded by three gap years). Worst of all, I could no longer continue in the miserable pattern of waking up, going to work, going home, trying to do something valuable before going to bed in the hopes of achieving some change, falling asleep and struggling to wake up the next morning to repeat the pattern again.

Truth be told, I didn’t regret any of the choices I had made until that point. I valued all my experiences and I was grateful for every opportunity life had presented. I had been an ambitious, daring go-getter but my then situation was not sitting well with me. I had fallen into what I came to regard as a “quarter-life” crisis. I didn’t know where my life was going career wise.

The more I spoke to friends and acquaintances in more or less the same post-university stage in life, the more I realised this crisis was a real and common thing. Talking about these struggles and comparing mine to other people’s stories helped me to feel normal. Once you realise you’re not alone, that there are other people feeling exactly the same way, you gather some courage to carry on fighting.

So, on New Year’s Eve, 2016, having mulled this over and gathering the courage to climb out from behind the bottle of champagne, I made a decision to make two changes. I wanted to apply for bursaries to further my studies overseas and I wanted to find a new job.

It took the whole of 2017 to make any sort of progress on these resolutions. It was a difficult, pick-yourself-up-again, time-after-time, kind of year – applying, being rejected and feeling nothing I had to give was good enough. By the end of the year I could hardly find the strength to get up and go to work in the mornings. I loved life but I just didn’t feel as if it loved me back.

It was at this point that I decided I needed to make a drastic change. I stopped looking overseas and set my sights on studying closer to home.

In the process, I had discovered that I wanted to pursue a career in journalism.

As 2017 drew to a close, I had applied, been for an interview, and had been accepted for study towards an honours degree in journalism at Wits. It was a step I nearly didn’t take – not because I didn’t want to, but because it was logistically very hard for me to go back to full-time studying. Despite the hurdles, I decided to be that ambitious, daring go-getter again and, in my experience, life has a way of rewarding that. Things fall into place like they should precisely when they should when you refuse to give up.

I’m not there yet and I can’t say I’ve made it but, if I survive this year, I can face the end of 2018 full of hope in my heart, happy to be popping a champagne bottle or two in the face of 2019 and the start of a new chapter in my life.


Witsies teach Soweto learners about the path less travelled

PLAN A: Wits Masters students part of the non-profit organisation Rethink Africa hosted a career day at Morris Isaacson Secondary School in Soweto yesterday.  They identified a need to make information about career options more accessible to grade nine and 10 learners from underprivileged areas.  The day served to give learners guidance in their subject choices to further their tertiary education.   Photo: Lameez Omarjee  ​

PLAN A: Wits Masters students hosted a career day at Morris Isaacson Secondary School in Soweto yesterday after they identified the need to make information about career options more accessible to learners from underprivileged areas.
Photo: Lameez Omarjee

A group of Witsies spent part of their weekend with learners at the Morris Isaacson Secondary School yesterday to try and expose the youngsters to a wider range of careers options.

The Masters in Development Theory and Policy students, who are also part of the non-profit organisation, Rethink Africa, visited the school in Soweto to “express the broadness of the choices” available to grade nine and 10 learners.

“Normally people are told you can either be an accountant, engineer or physicist but there are other careers that people never get a taste of,” said Witsie Ayabonga Cawe.

Empowering choices

Cawe said one of the most important things of the initiative is to share information not normally accessible to students of Soweto.  “One of the biggest challenges is that most people don’t see themselves going to university.  They don’t have resources to get there and don’t have role models in their social network who have been to university and done so successfully,” he said.

The purpose of the day’s event was to “empower young people in local communities, specifically in the underprivileged areas,” said one of the organisers, Nompumelelo Melaphi.

The event, in partnership with the School of Economics and Business Sciences, included up to 135 high school students from Emshukantambo, Morris Isaacson, Immaculate and Reasoma schools.

“Us coming up here and actually giving career advice and informing them of ways to finance their studies is very useful in them planning ahead.” 

Witsie Siya Biniza said it was important to host the event as the students were entering the most “decisive year of their high school career.”

“Us coming up here and actually giving career advice and informing them of ways to finance their studies is very useful in them planning ahead.”

This is the second year the event has taken place and there are hopes to expand it to the Eastern Cape and other provinces, according to Masters student Gillian Chigumira.

The learners were encouraged to study in all fields, including science, arts and commerce. Economists, doctors and forensic anthropologists also addressed the learners as part of the day’s programme.