“How Africa Changed Me” – Chapter 1

*This is chapter 1 of the series of posts called “How Africa Changed Me”, a book about my experiences for 2 weeks in South Africa.*

Chapter 1

Before Africa

I’ve allowed myself only a chapter to quickly tell you about myself. But as I’m writing this, I realise that it is an entirely impossible task because how am I meant to tell you about twenty years of life in only a few pages? And how do I convey it in such a way that you will truly understand who I am and why Africa was such a meaningful and challenging trip for me?

Sugar, I didn’t think this through… Abort!

Maybe I could sum myself up in five “simple” words – introverted, creative, unlucky, anxious, and loser. No, not loser in a cry-me-a-river, feel-sorry-for-me kind of way. Loser in the “I lose a lot” kind of way. I’m a literal loser. So, perhaps I could drop all the other words and sum myself up in just that one word, to save time and all that.

Why, you ask? (OK, you didn’t ask but I’ll tell you anyway).

I’m a loser because I did a year at university before dropping out, whilst my friends continued and got their degrees.

I’m a loser because I’ve self-published three books that no one reads and I don’t have any idea how to market them.

I’m a loser because I have these illnesses called depression and anxiety, each taking it in turns to mess with my life.

I’m a loser because I’ve worked jobs since leaving university that hurt my soul and stomp on my creativity.

I’m a loser because my best friends are my boyfriend, my siblings and my mom. Oh, and my cat. (Yes, I’m kind of a cat lady – except I get laid regularly).

I’m a loser because I doubt myself…every-damn-day.

Boo hoo, right? It could be worse. At least I have a good, loving boyfriend who’s suffered through my bull for three years. At least I’ve not got cancer, or malaria (well, I’ve not gone to Africa just yet), or irritable bowel syndrome, or ginger hair. I’m not ugly or stupid or poor. I should count my blessings.

I tried that once, the whole being a grateful and spiritual and level-headed person thing – but it turns out that my head is all too busy and messed up for that.

Am I painting a decent picture of myself? I’m guessing not so much. But that’s the point. You need to understand that I am not OK. I am not together. I am not strong or a natural-born hero. So, if that’s what you want from this book, you may be disappointed.

I’ve decided that I probably am starting this story all wrong. Instead of lying stark naked, displaying all my flaws, I should be like “so everyone, my name is Siana-Rose, but you can call me Siana, and I’m a budding author who hopes a scary but needed trip to Africa with her boyfriend’s family will give her the enlightenment and push she needs to become who she knows she can be.” Inspiration, intrigue, and all that jazz.

But if you’re reading this then I’m assuming you’re not a 10-year-old who believes everything in life is all rosy. At 10 years old, I was still a budding author but my stories weren’t as “deep” and had a bit too much imagination compared to reality, and often lacked an ending because I became too excited by a new idea to discipline myself to finish a story. So no, 10 years on from that I decided to tip the balance of the imagination to reality ratio, and write a no bullsh*t story for you – that has an ending, too. Lucky you.

I’m writing this because I feel I have to. It’s just leaking out of me. I have this…unique experience that I must share for a variety of reasons.

It’s inspiring.

It’s ridiculous.

It’s touching.

It’s real.

Maybe it won’t be any of those things for you – sorry if so. But the only way to find out is by reading it, right? So, stick around and find out how Africa changed me – this broken, messy want-to-be author who just needed something…anything to relight her spirit.

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