Picture this. An apartment on the third floor. Stellenbosch. Mid-February, Saturday morning. Summer drizzle, irregular for the Boland, but a relief from the scolding heat. I’m getting married in four weeks. It’s the very last bit of solitude, of living alone, of being a singularity. I grab the camera, determined to document these last days. The result? This amateur study in self-portraiture and self-reflection.
I am a collection of dismantled almosts
I distinctly remember the fierce determination in my journey to individuation. Being nineteen years old, getting my first tattoo in a small town in the Free State. I was still living at home, but spending weeks on end at friends’ apartment in a haze of the literature and mythology that I had chosen to surround myself with.
I filled journal after journal with what I now have come to understand as a pastiche of my heroes; replicating the sexuality of Sexton, the existential dread of Hemingway and the coming-to-terms with the absurdities of existence à la Le Roux. An early adopter of all things technological, my earliest expressions of selfhood manifested in long soliloquies on Facebook, MySpace, and Tumblr among others.
If you have reasons to love someone, you don’t love them.
Most notably, I became obsessed with the teachings of Slavoj Zizek. Author of The Sublime Object of Ideology, this Marxist philosopher, psychoanalyst and cultural critic is best known for his studies in the art of film. In fact, he describes cinema as the ultimate pervert art as it “doesn’t give you what you desire – it tells you how to desire.”
These ideas shaped a lot of my thoughts in my early twenties. I discovered a way of thinking, which quickly reflected in my romantic as well as professional endeavours. I believed, as Zizek did, that our problem is not if our desires are satisfied or not, but rather how we identify what we desire.
The end never comes when you think it will. It’s always ten steps past the worst moment, then a weird turn to the left.
What followed this confusing exploration of desires was, what I think looking back, a natural discovery of female camaraderie. HBO’s Girls, and Lena Dunham, as well as the writings of Roxanne Gay (author of Bad Feminist), defined my thoughts on what it means to be a girlfriend.
This coming-of-age or, more accurately, coming-to-oneself marked a time for me of feminist empowerment extending beyond the day-to-day to include a new and refreshed focus on experiences, especially in my relationships – both romantic and platonic. It also meant surrounding myself with, and empowering, women that I could find a report with, but also supporting all those that identify as female.
Emotion is contagious.
Individualisation in the office is… hard. Finding your voice is, at best, a struggle. It is a study in uniqueness and originality. It is probably one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do but the most rewarding. Moving aside my love for the esoteric, I defined my love for the professional, for working hard and for serving a greater purpose.
I found that joy at work almost always translates to joy at home. Juggling a singular definition of creativity versus art, two paramours I have worshipped since I can remember, proved to be untranslatable to an office environment. I turned to the research of Adam Grant, finding comfort in the explanation of creativity as a space to make mistakes and art being the ability to know which mistake to keep.
When you’re young you just run \ But you come back to what you need
The accumulation of nearly a decade’s worth of back and forth in an attempt to meet the id (thanks, Freud) came to a head upon meeting him. There is no ‘you’, without a relation to ‘me’ – without the concept of ‘me’.
Everyone always says that you need to find yourself first, before entering a relationship and here in my very last days of being single and living alone, I can agree and confirm and acknowledge that I have gone through several draft versions of myself, ultimately ending here. Shedding a final layer before crossing this frontier, but not saying goodbye to myself, rather welcoming this new me with open arms.