Well, only one woman made me (and a guy, thanks parents!). But as an insecure, Type A personality obsessive, there have been a few really powerful women in my life who’ve helped me to become the lady (yes, lady) I am today. Apart from my three best friends who are my guiding stars and the safest place for me when I fall, I’m really grateful that I have had the chance to meet and be taught by the following ladies. Consider it a pre-Women’s Day shout out as on the 9th of August, I’ll be in London. Doing London things. With my London friends. In LONDON.
Mrs Goodall, Grade Four
Grade 3 (like most of junior school) was a horrible year for me. I have shocking hand eye co-ordination and fine (and gross) motor co-ordination. So learning to write was a huge challenge. As in physically learning to make the little characters fit on the little lines in way that’s actually legible. Grade 3 was the year we learnt to write in a kind-of-not-really-cursive (my school did weird shit, like teaching us to spell phonetically before teaching us to spell in, you know, the alphabet everyone else uses), and if we did it well enough, we’d get to graduate from pencils to fountain pens (serious honour here). Needless to say I was terrible at it and my teacher was no help, she really didn’t like me very much either. So Grade 3 was hard on this little overachiever with an inability to write neatly.
Along came Grade Four, battered ego and bruised sense of awesomeness, I met the first woman (apart from my mom) who really believed in me. Like, totally believed in me. She loved my ridiculous stories I made up for creative writing (think estate agents as aliens come to take over earth) and my interest in history. Her belief in my writing was what first made me really want to be a writer for a living. She asked me to dedicate my first book to her, and while that was probably a throw away comment for her, that level of belief that I could one day really make something of this word thing has always stuck with me. Mrs Goodall, if I ever get my ass in gear, I’m dedicating that first book to you.
My second editor, Khwezi Magwaza
Khwezi was my second editor – but my first at seventeen. I’ll never be totally sure what she saw in the ballsy 23 year old who applied for the Deputy Editor position that asked for at least three years experience when she only had one. But she saw something. She took a chance on me and because of that risk, I’m where I am today, sitting in the Media24 offices, a part of two great digital projects. As an editor, K was always kind (but stern when the moment required), a guiding force in our team and someone we could all trust. The chance she took on me and the faith she had in me has continued to be an inspiration to me for how to treat juniors and the interns I’ve had. I haven’t always succeeded in following in her example, but I will continue to try.
My last boss, Annelize
It feels weird to call Annelize a ‘boss’. Not because she was anything but my manager, but because boss has this weird, scary connotation to it. Some unapproachable, cold, distant figure who yells about figures, stats and misplaced commas (well, she was a fan of a well placed apostrophe). But Annelize was never that. She was the calm, guiding presence in our little team, the glue that held us together. I only worked with her for six months but it was a shaky six months for me having lost the centre of my work world that was seventeen. But A made me feel welcomed into her team, she calmed our nerves with her steady presence. She’s moved on to another division within our sprawling company and it’s been really hard for my team to adjust to life without her. I still email her occasionally (okay, she only left last week but it feels like months have passed in the last seven days) and am glad I can still seek her out for a calming word and good advice,
I’ve been given the great honour of acting as mentor to one of my old interns from seventeen (old as in from the past, not old as in she’s wearing dentures). I’m not sure what I can teach her or share with her, but I only hope I can give her the same support I’ve had. Be a champion in her corner. She’s a bright one and I’m honoured to be a part of her journey.