Strongest Self(ie) – 2018

What does strong mean to you? How do you embrace and represent strength?
Naturally I’m quiet, reserved and observant. Because of this I like to think my strength comes from a place of mindfulness and peaceful intentions.  To me strength comes when we can embrace fearful situations, and not let them control us. It is accepting what is and forging ahead as best we can with what we’ve got. It means that we know intuitively when to be the bigger person and not engage with people who are not being reasonable. I honestly don’t think we need to be superman or superwoman to be considered a strong person. We just need to be willing to walk an authentic path in our lives knowing that we are capable of anything, that we are all powerful beyond measure and that no matter what happens to us in life, we will always at the end of the day, be okay.

What is your passion? How has this shaped you into a strong girl?
Every person has a story that makes them who they are. As for me my passion comes from my life stories. For as long as I remember I’ve always been a misfit, lone wolf, outsider, and different. Although I would like to say it never bothers me, the truth is it sometimes does. Because of this I’ve learnt to be resilient by turning my experiences into creative fuel. Fortunately I’m raised by parents who celebrate uniqueness and are opposed to intolerance and injustice. They constantly remind me that “If you are neutral in situations of injustice you’ve chosen the side of the oppressor.” I was introduced into activism at an earlier age and because of this and my bullying experience I was drawn into understanding and learning more about “bullying.” This topic soon became my passion and  I decided to start a club / movement where kids empower each other by organizing and developing leadership skills to prevent bullying. So when I’m asked what shaped me to be the person that I am today, it’s quite simply – my life and experiences.

Are you involved with any charities? If yes, how did you choose which one(s) to be involved with and what are your responsibilities?
Nandi’s Anti-Bullying Youth Club is the charity that I started last year. Again, the club is drawn from my experience and my life story. I was born in Maryland to an African mother (Zulu tribe) and a Caucasian father but moved to South Africa when I was 2 months to live with my grandparents. I returned to the US from South Africa when I was 7 years old and attended a school in Southern California.  My accent, puffy hair, lack of knowledge about the popular culture resulted in me being identified as “different” by my peers, and I became a target of bullying. Many students didn’t want to associate with me. During lunch break, hardly anyone would sit next to me because they were afraid that I might “contaminate” them with an “African disease.” There is a lot more to my bullying experiences… but the good thing is that these experiences motivated me to unite with as many kids as I can so that together we can protect others by stopping the torment. We need to show them that they’re innocent in this game of life and that they DO MATTER. My responsibility is to spread awareness by bringing the message to a larger audience. My vision is to combat bullying with love by looking at the person next to you and try to understand their story and by inviting my peers to be the generation that can change the world in unison, one step at a time.

What do you like to do in your free time?
Ballet and reading whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. My parents are very scholarly and so I grew up surrounded by books. Books help introduce one to new characters, new environments, new cultures, new philosophies. Other than that I have discovered photography and music is my escape. My dad has such a sophisticated taste in music I think I take after him (I hope :-))

Do you have a positive saying or quote you would like to share with the STRONG self(ie) community? What made you choose this particular quote?
Steve Jobs: “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinion drown your own inner voice.” You have to know who you are and what you want to be – and vigorously pursue that. It’s not about pleasing everyone, it’s not about being loved; it’s about accomplishing goals.

       Article credit: © 2018, STRONG self(ie)