Self-Confidence and Courage: I Got It Through My Mama
In the past couple of months, I’ve come to realise something about myself that I have taken for granted for many years; I am pretty courageous confident in myself. I’ve been told numerous times that I am confident, but I never actually listened to those words, they literally went over my head. The day I came to the same realisation, I also immediately knew where it came from; it was my mother’s “independent” parenting style.
Now, I’m not saying I don’t ever feel nervous or shy, those are very common feelings for me. But I do not have a fear of others and I am sure of my abilities. That is one of the reasons why I do not fear writing articles or shooting vlogs that are honest, questioning leadership at work when necessary, travelling solo, dining and people-watching alone at high-end restaurants and doing many other things which are not comfortable for others. I attribute these strengths to the way my mother raised me; to be independent.
My mom, who is late, was a single mom of two since I was 4 years old. She was a sweet, calm lady and bordered on being both an extrovert and introvert, like me. She worked as a nurse, and often worked night shifts and extra “moonlight” shifts so she could provide my brother and I great education and a life that was way, way, way, way better than hers. I think a lot of Black South Africans reading this can relate. So, even though it did not feel like it, I spent a lot of time without my mother, and for certain periods I basically lived alone (my brother lived somewhere else) through primary and high school. Many nights were scary, and I would constantly phone my mom at work to report a strange noise, a flying cockroach or a gecko, and to ask to open packets of biscuits and chips. My calls were the centre of her of her teams jokes. I also didn’t have many friends close to where we lived, so I played a lot by myself. I did not play the usual games that my cousins would want to play when the visited me. Instead, I investigated crime cases that I made up in my mind in very dangerous and risky locations that I would actually go to by myself at night. My mother never knew the extent of my absolute favourite pastime. I also loved sitting outside under the stars, trying to figure out creation and the meaning of life, at 10 years old. I was a loner child, and that meant that I looked to me to make things happen and created my own world made up of unique activities, thoughts, philosophies and ideas. These were strange to my peers, but I was not shaken because they made sense and felt right to me. I appreciated my individuality.
In high school I made more friends, and we loved gallivanting and partying, as teenagers do. In our group, I was the only one who’s parent allowed frequent clubbing and partying. My friends would visit me almost every second weekend when we wanted to go partying, because their parents didn’t know that my mom was so chilled about it. She let me explore life and enjoy different phases of growing up. She never forced me into any certain lifestyle or religion. Although she very casually encouraged me to attend her church and dress more modestly at some point, she would still give me the freedom to make my own choices. That really built my self-confidence.
Also, I remember being selected to participate in the Cell C Take a Girl Child to Work programme for one-and-a-half weeks when I was 15 or 16. Then, I think only up to three scholars were selected in our school. I was chosen to visit a corporate Marketing Manager, an advertising agency and a PR agency. A few days before, our teacher advised that our parents should contact the companies to confirm our arrangements and visit the companies if they could. Mom was home that day, so I relayed the message to her after school. Instead of picking up the phone and calling the companies herself, she coached me. She sat me down and coached me on what to say on the phone, and on how I should handle the entire experience from my work wardrobe to speaking with confidence and being proactive in the workplace. She mentored me. Mind you, she was a nurse and had never worked in corporate or agency, but she equipped me to succeed without her presence. That entire experience was amazing, and I received great feedback from each person I ‘worked with’, and so I grew confident in my abilities. It also informed my career path, which has been perfect for me and a success.
Many people, especially women, think that being a working mother or an ambitious mother who has little time for her children will result in them being neglected and having all sorts of issues. I’m nowhere near perfect, but I definitely am a well-balanced individual and I was raised by what some would call an “absent parent”. Because my mom could not be as physically present as she maybe wished to be in my upbringing, she and I intrinsically ensured that I was an independent child, and of course grew into an independent woman. Being independent requires the courage and confidence to stand alone in many ways, and now it makes sense why I often have a different view on things compared to the majority around me and I am brave enough to express it. It is a gift from my mother, which I hope to pass on to my own children, and for which I will always be grateful and hope to never take it for granted again. Thanks ma.
I’d like to know how your relationships with your parents have influenced the person you’ve become. Please share your stories with me in the comments.