16Oct

I am currently making my way out of a creative decline, slump or what I could even term a burnout. These descriptors all fit and signal the dynamic nature of this experience. I started Down Media Lane in June of this year and have been working as consistently as I could till September. Creating media content alongside digging my heels into the emotions that come with this season. This season of uneventfulness, rejection and uncertainty as a result of being an unemployed job seeker. I articulated my feelings, thoughts and experiences in a 4-part podcast series intended to reflect and process being an unemployed job seeker in this fragile economic climate. It was so impactful to have language to articulate such a tough experience in a way that hopefully others could learn from or relate to. A true and deep catharsis I am grateful to have experienced through my creative output.

One thing kept coming up as I was producing the 4 podcast episodes on a topic as unsexy as unemployment, that one thing was feedback. I appreciated my friends and family who shared thoughtful and kind comments on the YouTube channel, in my DM’s or when we spoke. And it was the first time my perspective about feedback assumed a new awareness of its value. Enabling me to further ponder on the composition of feedback which was how I moved from the abstract comprehension of feedback toward the practical composition of feedback.

Here goes: 

Firstly, I determined that feedback needs to be married with kindness. Kindness for me is the thoughtful consideration of another in a way that embodies care and empathy in one’s actions and words. As a result, I don’t consider it feedback when people share unhinged and unkind arguably hateful statements claiming “I’m just keeping it real” with their feedback, a common phenomenon in virtual spaces like social media platforms. 

Secondly, the communication framed as feedback in its essence should be communication one can use to improve, that is a key marker, can this which I communicate intended as feedback be considered or applied toward improvement? Unkind and unhinged statements especially emboldened by our use of the internet cannot be categorised as feedback because they are typically void of ideas, perspective or suggestions that can serve in the pursuit toward improvement. Typically, unhinged statements do not even identify what works in the creative output.  

Thirdly, I recognised that feedback in the ideal sense requires the presence of secureness. Secureness facilitates or enables the atmosphere for feedback to be shared and received. It allows the generous assumption that those engaged enough to give feedback do so in good faith. That eliminates the fear to even share those thoughts and views that can be considered as feedback. Equally important were secureness is concerned is the recipient being in that state as well. As that helps curb issues like defensiveness or being offended. As a media creator being secure and open to feedback is an area of keen interest. To build and fortify my sense of secureness is so I can benefit as good feedback aids toward improvement. This secureness is multifaceted and includes but not limited to emotions, nuance and the identification of insights from the media content I have put out into the world. Secureness is about being open and curious to receive feedback which is a worthwhile use of my agency. I am pursuing that daily by detaching my value from my work. I want to be a creator who communicates my openness to feedback and want to cultivate a practice of engaging with those good faith actors, generous enough to share feedback with me that aligns with the 3 compositions of feedback outlined here. 

As I have been pondering about feedback as a by-product of my creative output, naturally the curiosity has extended to the practice of giving feedback to one another in our various relationships. Feedback in the context of our relationships is without a doubt an area I am aware is met with a lot dynamism beyond the clear cut margins of work/creative output. I honestly am unsure if the composition of feedback outlined here, I can apply just as easily in the context of relationships. That arena requires more thought because of the weight/fragility of relationships carry in our lives. I will be reading and learning to form a better understanding and hopefully acquiring language regarding feedback in the context of my relationships.

23Aug

We live in late stage capitalism. And that means our time is monopolised by work as a means to earn money to meet the needs that come with being human. As work is attached to how we meet our needs, work also finds its way deeper into our humanity insidiously becoming an identity marker we glean value from. With that said, looking for employment means much effort as extreme as a total of 200+ applications and still no ideal outcome such as the highly coveted letter of appointment email screenshots, we see on social media. Therefore, seeking for employment means likely dealing with endless rejection while on the perpetual roller-coaster of emotions like feeling hopeful one minute, discouraged the next, exhaustion only to gather energy to make an effort once more. Rinse repeat. 

It is valuable to direct attention to the significance of knowing how to identify feelings as they come up as a result of unemployment. One such emotion I have identified is shame, which Brené Brown classifies as the place we go when we fall short.  We may feel like we fall short due to job application outcomes. Shame can come up as one may realistically fall short regarding money. Shame is defined by Brown’s research outcomes, as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love, belonging and connection. Personally there have been moments were my being unemployed has resulted in feeling like a burden, even just regarding the conversations I need to have with people in my life about my current reality. Which speaks to feeling unworthy to experience the connection that comes with honest and vulnerable conversation. Which can then lead to feeling lonely and isolated. SHAME is that deceitful.

Another important emotion to be able to identify and name is regret, some of us have made decisions that were necessary and sensible like leaving behind employment that compromised wellness. Regret shows up to question the logic of those decisions to the point of introducing unproductive narratives we cannot afford to get consumed by. Brené Brown refers to regret as the place we go when things don’t go as planned which makes perfect sense in this context. The according to plan of it, maybe the timelines one hoped they would be able to find work within, and that not being the case likely brings up regret. It therefore becomes important to have a way to process this feeling because much like all other feelings it is temporary. Furthermore, reflecting on my experience with regret it discounts the harm of the experience that lead to the decision to leave. Regret introduces the belief that maybe the decision was not valid or sound. Regret is not useful.

I think these two examples are enough to capture the benefits of learning to identify and name emotions as you feel them. I have kept intentionally to these two examples because they have come up repeatedly for me, however there are many more feelings that have been felt at this time I must state, plainly. Marc Brackett, Ph.D in his book Permission To Feel lays out a useful approach on how to manage our emotions. He named the approach The Ruler Skills. 

R: Recognising Emotion 

U: Understanding Emotion

 L: Labelling Emotion

 E: Expressing Emotion 

R: Regulating Emotion

Brackett asserts that emotions are information, useful information we should get curious to explore so we can express ourselves to those sharing and doing life with us. This is good to know particularly when navigating the season of unemployment. The practice of emotional awareness and intelligence for a long time was not considered a worthy subject matter even in psychology until schoolers Peter Salovey and John Mayer introduced the first formal theory of emotional intelligence to the scientific literature only in 1990. Salovey whose work dates back to the 70’s when the prevalent idea was that humans have emotions but they didn’t predict anything important, a premise he just couldn’t buy into. Motivating him to study emotions to show they mattered in a positive way. Salovey wanted to show we have an emotion system that helps get us through life (Brackett,2019:24). It’s precisely this premise by scholars Salovey and Mayer that I think it is a worthwhile to have conversations regarding the complex emotions that come when job seeking while unemployed. This helps us get through the experience with the right perspective on a daily basis. Going back to the r-u-l-e-r approach to emotions, I have recognised and understood these two emotions of shame and regret not just once. I have thankfully been able to label them because of the information I have learned through books. I have expressed them in journal entries and in conversation in suitable spaces with suitable people. And ultimately have been able to regulate myself anytime they come up, as it is not a once of experience. Thus, I wish everyone currently experiencing unemployment the tools that enable resilience and perspective. We need everything that is useful and healthy that aids in our pursuit to cope.

After months of living with the grief of his passing. I finally have the courage and words to express what Lutho means to me now and always.

Lutho was beautiful, intelligent and talented. Literally the man was a Model, an Actor, a Presenter, Writer and an all-round exceptional artist. I recall my aunt whom Lutho was her only son had piles of magazines all because her beautiful son was among those pages. And being in her space to have access to those magazines was always fun for teen me. It was so exciting to walk into Woolworths and see a sizable pull up banner of him. The same excitement was present when I would see him in adverts, movies and presenting on The Style Report. Him who I admired; my excitement would never cease. What a joy!

Lutho means many things to me: 

  • He means people indeed remember how you made them feel. Jambase had the capacity to give the BEST compliments and affirmations with such generous, warm and colourful language. You walked away from a conversation with him feeling assured you are enough.
  • He means there is enough sun for all of us to shine. Lutho was so good at dreaming for other people based on what he could see in them. He would even exceed what another, frankly what I could imagine was possible for myself. 
  • He means a dynamism that draws you in, as you just admire him be. Be intelligent. Be witty. Be charismatic. Be hilarious. Be insightful. Be silly. Be the life of the party.
  • He means me now learning to be ok with what won’t ever become. We spoke about starting a Podcast for a few years. Early this year we made strides conceptualising 3 solid episodes which we would record later…but later will never come.
  • He means coming to the awareness that friends as chosen family are likely to know us deeply and profoundly than our family as a result of the autonomy to choose to share life together.
  • He means someone who shared in my misgivings of the isiXhosa culture that leads to misnamed relationships as a child born to an unwed mother. Your grandparents become mama and tata, while your mother becomes sisi or makazi. We spoke in-depth about the feelings we had on this arrangement intended to honour the "umntwana we ntombi ngowakulo ntombi" cultural practice. I had someone to explore this subject matter with till finally letting go toward neutrality. Toward okay-ness. 
  • He means a profound loss. Of him, his gifts and talents. His love. His masterful use of words. All of him.

Lala ngoxolo Msuthu. Yours was an outstanding light.

❤️ W.

The significance of storytelling has been a recurring thought lately. The significance is evident in phrases like “a success story” the popular Brené Brown phrase “the story I’m telling myself is…” All art being story telling is yet another example of this significance. Books, movies, songs, paintings, pictures, podcasts, tv shows etc. all tell stories. With all that said, it remains clear to me that the most important story is the one I tell myself. The story I tell myself went from “not enough, not worthy & not lovable”. To journal pages filled with endearing, warm & loving entries from me to me. Changing the story, I tell myself remains the best result to come out of being effortful. Shout out to Mandisa Hadebe (Counselling Psychologist) for being the perfect companion to help me tell a new story to myself. It still moves me deeply that I am here. 

Finally❤️.


A piece that captures the power of radio and intended to serve in keeping the memory of Buck Matyila.

Buck Matyila was doing tru fm’s Mid-Day Frequency solo with Abo Manka as Show Producer is 2019. That show made my day, countless times that year. That is the joy and impact of radio. The Xhosa Prince Charming was in his zone of genius so many times in 2019. Thinking about it still gives me goosebumps. I looked forward to 12:00 because I knew my mind would be engaged, I would be laughing & I would sometimes be talking back at the radio. And the music was SO GOOD. Shout Out to Mihlali Ngele. Part of what can serve as insight into these words of praise is that Buck Matyila was a Generator Radio Personality. Generators are the Radio Personalities who can easily work solo or with a team. They can effortlessly generate original ideas and also make the ideas of others come to life and sometimes be better with their signature spin. Generators have a powerful and independent imagination, are not overwhelmed by the starting place of nothing on the page. They grind to what eventually leads to memorable radio moments. These are some of the qualities Buck embodied with ease & lots of energy. It was key that he worked with someone who is also a generator and very committed to deliver awesome content. Abo lined up some fire conversations that showed she had a sharp eye for great content. Lastly, as a duo they had a great respect & adoration for one another. Truly a dream team! 2019 was the worst…and having their show to look forward to was meaningful to me. And the radio person in me still feels everything like it was yesterday.

I miss you so much Dawg.

 ❤️ W.