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ShE is Empowered Update: Personal Development Reflection with Judith Malepe

This piece was contributed by Judith Malepe, an Africa Matters ShE is Empowered Leader from South Africa, as part of her engagement with the Personal Development module. This module focuses on self-esteem building, finding your why and understanding your purpose.

I’d often think of buying a new colourful diary.... or think of looking for online tools that can help me draw up my vision board, I’d think about how I want to write my personal goal plan, a combined goal plan with my husband and encourage him to write his personal one too. Somehow, the excitement of a new season or a thrilling encounter with a focused goal-orientated person had me thinking of important life lessons such as planning my year goals and how I plan to achieve them.

It’s a thinking tale, really; the goals don’t get to materialize, just thinking! 🙁. Did I lack discipline? Maybe. Did I not take myself seriously...? My 1st module on personal development got me thinking today. I had recently become a ShE Leader at Africa Matters Initiative (AMI) and the session was a much-needed talk. I realized that it had been long since I reflected and became in touch with myself. The failures I faced previously in my varsity career had weakened my perspective about how I see myself. Although I had triumphed over school financial difficulties and despite the challenges I faced, I had managed to complete my studies. That was something to certainly be proud of!

Of course, I had forgotten. As soon as I had won, I was onto the next thing – forgetting to celebrate my victories. Our facilitator for the personal development session spoke genuinely about self-esteem. How failure is part of the process of winning. I had heard this one before, but the discussion was so meaningful to me. The more you celebrate yourself, the more you win! And the more you focus on what you’re good at, the more you become good. Something about focusing on your strengths that stabilizes you and you begin to embrace who you are, you appreciate your abilities and your not-so-good abilities. Self-worth!

Much more than anything, this is a chance to pull myself, I have full support other than my close family and friends; a group of young ladies who I can be accountable to and who are passionate about development and women empowerment which resonated with who I am as a woman. I had taken up projects before and found myself to be at my happiest when the “not so bright” student passed her varsity project and when that learner eventually understood the concept; when my weekend consisted of some time off to spend with teenagers at school who were full of ambition and had zeal for life. These are the things that made me happy. It was a simple connection of wires with a battery and a light! It brought me to life, gave me the illusion that I could do everything and solve any challenge. This was my WHY. WHY I studied Engineering! The facilitator engaged with us on finding our WHY and finding our PURPOSE. It quickly reminded me of what I wanted to do this year.

I wanted to create a space for young women to be creative and stimulate their thinking ability through introducing them to programming projects/robotics projects and implementing fun workshops. This was a good initiative. It would help young women to develop complex thinking abilities which would resultantly, help them make a good impact in whatever field of work they find themselves in. I finally wanted to not only think but go get that colourful girly diary and start with my plan of action; make my goal clear and define it well enough that it is engraved in my mind. This part here, is finding my PURPOSE which informed my WHY.

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