Love and Vulnerability


I’m a romantic at heart, I’m the typical romantic comedy watching, happily ever after person. However, I live in my head and I overthink stuff and I think that’s partially why I’ve never really been in love.

Now, of course, I’ve said “I love you” when I was a teenager, but my definition of love then and my definition of love now are two completely different things. If we both loved sport, literature, shared the same taste in food and just returned each other’s texts and phone calls to me that was love but I’ve realized that loving someone romantically is more complicated than I thought.

To love means being your own person but at the same time being vulnerable and trusting that your romantic companion will not see your vulnerability as a sign of weakness. To love means committing to loving that person past their flaws, to love means to be secure, to be trusting and to be trusted. To love means learning your object of affection’s love language, to love means loving yourself first. It’s not limited to the things I’ve just listed, but you get the idea.

Whenever someone says “I love you” to me, I brush it off with wit and humour and I’ve done this successfully, I can’t say “I love you” back when I don’t feel that way about you romantically. The worst was when I dated someone for 6 months and never said “I love you” to them, they became frustrated and things just didn’t work out. It’s honestly not that I don’t want to open up myself to love but I’m afraid of being vulnerable with people in that way. I like being in control of my feelings and vulnerability just gets in the way of that.

When you’re vulnerable, you’re placing your heart and emotions on a platter for another human to affect it and that is scary! I’m a sceptic, trust isn’t something that comes easily to me. I’m fearless in life but I’m not as fearless in love, going all in and promising to love someone forever just isn’t me. Maybe I’m making excuses, maybe I’m afraid of commitment, maybe I’m scared of things I don’t understand – love being one of them but I also don’t want to be scared at the same time. I’m just confused right now.

I concede that my definition of vulnerability and its attachment to fear and rejection is a hindrance to finding love. I’m still a sceptic, but at least I’m aware of that and I’m working on fixing it. Being vulnerable isn’t easy and it comes with a lot of emotional baggage but I wonder if it’s better than living with “what ifs”.




Letters to my 16 year old self

Dear Athini

There’s a sense of security in being in control of your life, from a very young you’ve been able to calculate the outcomes of every decision you make, that’s responsible but that’s not living. Do you want to go through life existing or do you want to live life to the fullest?!

You think too much, you do too little, you give too much but you take too little, you give advice that you never follow. You preach self-love yet you’ve been showing love to others more than you’ve been showing love to yourself.

You’re rushing through life, girl where are you rushing to? You can’t outrun life, life is not a race it’s a marathon.

Forgive yourself for being unable to be everything everyone wants you to be. You’re one person, you’re not superhuman. You’re going to disappoint people, and that’s fine, forgive yourself for disappointing them. Also, it is much better to disappoint people than to disappoint yourself. Strive not to be everything to everyone but be everything to yourself!!

Learn that you can’t give what you do not have, you can’t form relations with people in the hope that you’ll find pieces of yourself inside of them. Water your own flower before watering your neighbour’s flower. You can only give the best of yourself to people when you’ve given a lot of effort and love to yourself first. Prioritize yourself!!

Fall in love with your flaws, embrace your imperfections and learn that true love starts from within.


If I were to have a daughter, I would tell her these words:

If I were to have a daughter, I would tell her these words:

  1. Someone who is comfortable with disrespecting you and who keeps on testing your limits will never fully appreciate and respect your loyalty and love no matter how much they claim to love you.
  2. Someone may love you unconditionally but their love is wasted if you first don’t love yourself unconditionally because they’ll be filling a void that’s not meant to be filled by them but by self-love. Love yourself first.
  3. Never allow a man to tell and show you that they don’t love you more than once.
  4. Open the door and leave when you don’t feel appreciated in someone’s life. Do not beg to be part of someone’s life.
  5. Communicate your feelings and thoughts and never allow anyone to belittle how you feel and how you think.
  6. Remember, you cannot associate yourself with someone with the intent to change them. Your presence in someone’s life won’t change their actions, people change when they are ready to change.
  7. People who don’t appreciate and respect themselves will do the same to you, people treat you according to how they feel about themselves.
  8. Always take note of the signs and energy people give off to you, someone who’s aggressive when you’re not together will be aggressive when you’re together as well. Relationships don’t change people; they just increase the traits they had beforehand.
  9. Focus on making yourself happy, when you practise self-happiness you bring happiness to others around you as well.
  10. Be comfortable in who you are and ensure that your Yes to someone else is not a No to yourself.
  11. Don’t compromise who you are to make someone else happy.
  12. Always reflect on your decisions, laugh, smile and learn to apologise without being apologetic about things that matter the most to you.
  13. Don’t be someone else’s everything, be your everything.
  14. Know the difference between giving up and letting go.
  15. You are enough, never allow anyone to tell you otherwise!!
  16. Finally, be a work in progress. Work on improving yourself constantly.

Be black without apology, be yourself without apology!!