by Thato Mokhothu-Ramohlanka
There is something very special about the holidays. Not only is it a time to recuperate after a long, tiresome year, but it is also a time to reflect and plan ahead. Not everyone has the same experiences because we are all very different. However, many can attest to the fact that generally it was a challenging year economically for many.
The cost of fuel and food soared while unemployment rates remained high across the continent. These are very trying times for many people, especially those without any contingency plans. This reality coupled with the high rates of suicide this year in particular has got me thinking very deeply about the importance of mental health.
It is very interesting how people who grew up in abject poverty many years ago often relate their own financial challenges and express their shock at how some people living in better conditions than they did are unable to cope with some of the challenges of life. I have therefore learned that challenges and hardships are constant factors in life and that has always been the case throughout history. One major variation in our times is technology and its ability to connect people. As a result, people become more knowledgeable about the integral parts of other peoples’ lives and tend to compare themselves with others beyond the level of curiosity. Jealousy, anger and feelings of inadequacy are common results of this new phenomenon.
So it is safe to assume that sometimes it is not necessarily the challenges themselves that drive us towards an unhappy state, but it is the perception of ourselves in relation to the lives and lifestyles of others. We are often rushed and pressured into certain behaviors because of the perceived fear of failure. Our dreams and ambitions are not given enough time to manifest due to the pace that we set for ourselves based on what other people are doing at the time and this cannot be healthy.
There is a sticker that my mother put on her closet while we were growing up and I often reflect on it. It says: “If all else fails, lower your standards.” I find this very useful during times of frustration when my needs exceed my resources. It is a philosophy that keeps me in check when I become frustrated with where I am in life. Most importantly, it helps me to reassess my decisions and live within my means when the temptation to make appearances beckons.
In a nutshell, this year I figured that some of the challenges of our generation can be overcome by learning from the wisdom that exists in the lessons from the past. Also, that patience really is a virtue.
Thato Mokhothu-Ramohlanka is the founding director of MR Consulting which offers legal and management consulting services to SMMEs. She graduated with degrees in Psychology, Sociology, Marketing Management and Law from the University of Cape Town and the National University of Lesotho. Thato is a member of the Global Shapers (Maseru Hub), a global non profit organization founded by the world economic forum that seeks to uplift the youth through various educational projects. She is passionate about young people and uses her writing to uplift and motivate them through their various challenges.
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