However, in my undergraduate years I was an enthusiastic and motivated young party animal and vodka promised me that I could dance, even though I definitely couldn’t! I believe there is a time and place for everything, including some stupid mistakes along the way. I don’t regret my youthful madness during my undergraduate years. However, as I got older, I had to work hard and dream big. I got one step closer to my academic dream when I obtained my Honours and Masters degrees majoring in medical virology at the University of the Free State. Like a postage stamp, I stick to a thing until it’s delivered, and here I am, pursuing a PhD at the University of Pretoria.

I have always felt like my academic career described who I am (a nerd), but I taught myself to embrace my hidden characteristics that make me who I am. Ask any of my friends, family and fellow colleagues, and they will describe me as a sarcastic, yet (hopefully) funny and friendly person. I would like to think that I am a likeable person, because I need at least one person to laugh at my ingeniously crafted lame jokes. But jokes aside, I am a caring and loveable person that wants to make a difference in life. Even if on some days this is a mere R10 donation to a homeless person.

I have a variety of hobbies that I enjoy. I am a big fan of crime thriller stories. I blame my mother as we always sat in front of the television watching true crime stories until late in the evenings during my high school career. I am particularly fond of reading crime fiction novels. It is so exciting when we discuss a thrilling crime novel after both having read it, and to this day we do still watch true crime television and discuss crime novels. These are the memories I always cherish. My favourite author is Mark Billingham who is one of the UK’s most acclaimed and popular crime writers.

I also grew up with a very talented sister, and I was always envious of her and the artistic things she could create. She did, however, inspire me to awaken the creative side of myself, as I was growing tired of exploring different ways of drawing stick men. I am no Picasso but at least I could prove to myself that I can do anything if I put my mind to it. Mosaic is an art that I recently started exploring. I can relate to it as I sometimes also feel like broken pieces of glass, but with some “glue” and patience you can mend any broken person and create something beautiful.

My brain says let’s do something exciting, but my body says don’t listen to that fool!’ is a statement I’ll always relate to more than I want to admit as I can be an extremely lazy person at times. But knowing I have completed 9 Midmar Miles (swimming 1.6 km in a dam) makes me feel very proud of myself. When I feel stressed after a difficult day, I blow off some steam by going for a swim workout, and, when I feel adventurous, I go hiking in the mountains like some kind of majestic mountain goat, though my twisted ankle would disagree. One of my all-time favourite adventures is when my four-legged children take me for a walk around the neighbourhood. For clarity, I am referring to children of the canine kind.  They know their lazy mom needs to be more productive!

Unfortunately, all people have demons they need to face and mine are depression and bipolar disorder. Over the last 15 years I struggled to find happiness in everyday things, but with a lot of support, wise psychologists, and well-educated psychiatrists I can now appreciate those same things with a big smile! I am extremely grateful for my family and friends that supported me through this journey, and I dedicate this blog to them. I have learnt so much from myself over the years, and I can now confidently say that I am a beautiful, strong, independent young woman ‘who don’t need no man’ to make her feel like she is worthy (it is still nice to have a partner who cooks and cleans though 😉). The advice I can give to anyone going through a rocky journey like myself is, ‘don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened’.

Stay tuned for more of my posts and thoughts during 2022!

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