Updated: Nov 12, 2020
"Dear 20-year-old Rumbi
OMG! The year is 2007 when you have just turned 20. (By the way, OMG means Oh My God) Lol. (And that means Laugh out Loud). Anyway, yes it's me… Rumbi… from the future! I just wanted to let you know a few things from beyond the grave…. haha don’t worry, you are still very much still alive in 2020. But the world is very different compared to your time. So many changes, so many developments and we are currently living through a pandemic, which is quite scary, but we are coping and all is not doom and gloom.
I know you have so many worries right now and concerns of issues you are not sure of financially, but I’m here to tell you not to worry and that you’ll be alright kid."
A bit of background; my family migrated to the UK in 2004, I stayed to complete my A-Levels in Zimbabwe and joined my family in 2006 and came as an international student. For those who might not know much about international study; the fees are usually double if not triple what home-students pay. Furthermore, home-students have the benefit of student loans and maintenance grants. So my parents had to utilise all their savings, sell things from back home to get us to come to the UK and some hefty bank loans to fund our education. So, for me and my brother, it was a lot. Two children in university as international students at the same time. Thankfully during term-time we could work a maximum of 20 hours a week and during holidays and it was unlimited work hours. I would take on temp jobs in admin, retail work, call centre (cold calling) etc. I think 5 jobs is a bit of an exaggeration, but I had about 3 jobs at any one time, but some may have been as and when I was called by an agency. Somehow, I managed. I learned how to manage my time and be responsible at a very early age. Although it was daunting, I did feel bad that my parents had to sacrifice a lot for us, and I was determined to make the most of this opportunity. You would never hear a grumble from me or when my parents would make us pay rent. It was all part of that becoming an adult.
"There are so many pressures you are currently facing if I could tell you one thing; its just to be strong and block them all out. Believe in yourself and keep working hard."
Depending on your family dynamics, you may have extended family who are quite close like I have. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. And that is very true, but sometimes that village can be quite intrusive leaving a child feeling overwhelmed with an unnecessary burden of expectations of that village. That’s how I felt... Being an only girl child, so many of my kind and close relatives had advice to give and instructions to convey on how I should carry myself. Bearing in mind I hadn’t done anything wayward, no one would really say, you are doing a great job... it just seemed to be “don’t do this”, “do that”, “be careful of that”, “if you do this, you would disappoint us”. It all came from a good place and I would never doubt their good intentions because they all cared (and still care about me) but it was how I handled all that attention. I felt at the time I was pressured to be this shiny ornament of pride and joy for the family and because I thought, at the time, it was too much pressure. What if I couldn’t live up to their expectations? The most important thing sometimes is to block out those comments and expectations and do what is best for you. Live your life and not mind what they think. Without that feeling of pressure to be someone, I may have been a bit happier with who I was.
"One word of advice; don’t be too quick to lose it. Wait for someone worthy of you and your love. Mistakes happen, so don’t beat yourself up about it."
Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about virginity. I think this stemmed from the pressure above to keep myself pure, I was just scared even to date. One day, I just thought, to hell with it, let me get rid of it and live my life. It was a personal retaliation. Why did I feel I needed to do that? I don’t know. In my head, it made sense. Imagine you have been given a briefcase full of rare diamonds and you are told if you lose them, the whole world will crumble. You would want to give it to someone else to carry that burden, wouldn’t you? One thing I thought was I wasn’t perfect; I didn’t value myself as much as I should have. There were a lot of things that had happened to me which made me feel that I wasn’t who they thought I was, I didn’t want that burden. So I wanted to give it away. But I picked the wrong person to lose it to. That’s the sad reality of most of these first-time stories when there are no actual talks about these issues. One thing I would do differently is talk to someone about sex, safety, and the importance of love in a relationship. Something very intimate can be turned into something meaningless very quickly. This is a whole big podcast episode on its own! If you would like us to explore the topic of first times, waiting until marriage. Please comment below. I would love to know your thoughts.
"At this point you might not be getting along with Mum and Dad. It’s okay, it’s only a phase. They are the best friends you could ever have, and you are going to make them so proud."
Parent-child relationships can be very tricky. And as my parents say, “children don’t come with a set of instructions”. They were doing their best and what they thought was the best way to raise me as a firstborn only girl. We didn’t fight, it just seemed they didn’t trust me or get me for a while until much later when we had several discussions. It was just a weird time but I’m thankful for the way they raised me. I did turn out alright so they must have done something right! Our relationship now is as stronger than ever, we talk about a lot of things which has really lightened my burden over the years of anything I worried about. Over time they have accepted me for who I am, and they really do support what I do, which makes it easier for me. If anyone is having that phase where you are struggling to get through to your parent(s), sometimes it takes time, and you would be surprised to learn that sometimes they are facing their own personal challenges which have nothing to do with you. They are only human and may inadvertently make feel the brunt of their personal issue without realising it. Most of the times, just talking and opening that dialogue is always a good start.
"You have been writing so many internship applications. Some companies might make you feel like you are not good enough for them. But just know that it’s them who may not be the right fit for you. Don’t settle for less when you can have the best."
One thing I would recommend anyone in university to do is seek and secure that internship. Most of these degrees will be meaningless when searching for a graduate job without any experience. But I totally get it, internships are hard to come by... I’m hoping with the new era of the BLM Movement, selection processes will be different. I had a soul-sucking experience. It was not pleasant; it was very hard. I was increasingly becoming despondent and demotivated with each application and each rejection and sometimes just silence. It started to reinforce my already flawed opinion of myself that maybe I really wasn’t good enough. But thankfully, I persevered and secured a great internship with Intel Corporation. It was eventually, one of the best experiences of my budding career and opened so many doors after that.
"Lastly, I want to say to you, you are not exactly where you saw yourself in 13 years. But we are more than halfway there. What’s most important is we (i.e. me and you) are very happy, our heart, is so full of so much love you can barely contain it. God is continually working on us every day. I’m so proud of you then, than you were of yourself back in 2007. Just know, you are doing great and keep being you."
I would really recommend writing a letter to your past self because you appreciate what you have been through and what you have achieved in all that time. Without that perspective sometimes it’s easy to feel like you haven’t accomplished much. But as I said in Episode 23 with Leo’s Letter. When you put your two versions of you back when you were 20 and they see you and you see them, you would both be happy and proud.
To listen to this episode click here.
I hope this story will help even at least one person. If anything at all to get from this episode is that; me sharing some of these intimate moments is only to highlight that; someone with low self-esteem at some of the worst moments of her life can come out more than okay, learn to love herself and turn her life completely around. And so can you.