Thoughts on Life


Never Ever Ever Settle

I’m so over settling. Standing at a crossroad and choosing the easier option. Sitting in a comfort zone. Living the proverbial dream.

I’m over being told what to believe. Who to trust. Where to shop. What to wear. How to eat. What to cook. How often to exercise. What house to buy. What investment plan to have. Which decisions to make. What to be. How to look. How to act. How to live.

I find it hard to explain how frustrating prerequisites are. Those things that you should have all sorted by the time you’re 30. Why don’t you own a house? When are you getting married? What will your kids’ names be? Their names will be Not Now and I won’t be taking any more questions from you right now, dankie Tannie.

I recently found myself in a position at work that caused me unbearable frustration. Having skilled up and learnt the ins and outs of my position, I soon felt like each day was a churn as much as the next.

At the risk of being labelled a millennial – I worked my ass off. I gave my 110% and I worked my public holidays and evenings going the extra mile. In the end – why are you doing it if you’re not willing to do it proper. Why are you doing it if you’re not willing to push it a second mile to make it epic. Why are you doing it if you don’t care enough to ensure it is perfect? Beyond perfect.  An embodiment of the ultimate. Out of this world brilliant work that you know you are capable of.

And although it was a lovely reward knowing I was doing my utmost best, the frustration of not learning and growing travelled straight into those little fibers in those bones that feel emotion most. That feeling of being at a peak but the view isn’t quite as picturesque as you’d imagined.

What do you do when you’re sitting up there and your view is nothing more than a sea of clouds? Do you take the advice and settle and show gratitude for the job you have? Do you settle on those prerequisites and suppress your desires because you’re supposed to settle down and be grateful? Or do you do something more brave and take matters into your own hands – tactfully…

Here’s what I found to be my truth: You open your mouth and you speak the truth in you. You gather the best of words your mind can muster and you call up your boss and you discuss. You swallow your pride. You gather your confidence. You state your case. You take control of your future.

Soon enough you will find yourself in a position you love. One you believe you will thrive in. One in which you will give even 130% just because you want it so badly.

Celebrate your abilities.

There is no moving forward if you’re not willing to take control of your life.

There is no growth if you’re not willing to take the risks.

There is no shine if you’re not willing to polish some rocks.

There is no contentedness if you’re not willing to do any of the above.

Seeking advice doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be constructive. Sometimes it’s necessary to trust your own answers to your own questions. You know you. You get you.

You have no control if you don’t decide to shove the criticism aside.

The “don’t show your weakness”

The “don’t be too ambitious”

Shove that old school shit where it belongs.

I refuse to settle.

I will not be mediocre.

Rising into Mediocre Bliss

I’ve never been one for missed adventures. I like to be where the action is. I like living by the idea that the day I’ve just survived brought me something new – a new experience, a new friend, new knowledge or some sort of new outlook on a part of life.

The sad realisation is that not each day has all of this to give. At some point, every new morning really is just another morning. Lunch is pretty much the same. Work is work. Routine is routine. And before you know it, you’re lying in the same bed at the same time weeks later wondering what day it is.

This all kind of got me thinking:

I want everything. But I also want nothing. I want the award of happiness. But I want the bliss of being happy without needing anything.

I want to not always want more.

I used to attribute a lot of value to events. I think this is something most of us do. We look forward to the show. We wait for the weekend. We live towards our next holiday. We need something to look forward to because the idea of just doing nothing forces some sad notion into our heads that our lives are lame. There’s no time to chill. There’s only time to get busy and do shit.

How exhausting is it to keep expecting of your life to be more exciting. How terribly tiring to the mind to have to project some sort of fairytale-ised concept that what is now is not enough and what is next is everything. When I was younger I used to write about running from the chains of routine and the unfulfilling poisons of a responsible life plan and towards the prospect of an impulsive choice leading to a magnificent life. Dramatic, yes. Mind you, I DID make those impulsive choices and they sure led to some unforgettable adventures.

But as something different, what I’ve been doing for the past 3 months is a blissful pot of nothing. Most days are wasted away reading books, cooking weird new things, working out, eating a lot of broccoli, and going to bed at 20:30. No, I’m not your grandmother. I’ve simply never been this healthy, rested and well-read since I was a hadn’t-yet-discovered-beer student.

It has become all the more apparent that we feel happiness or despair based on how our minds compare our external environment and experiences to our expectations.

I’m not saying it’s greedy to look forward to the weekend. Or that being busy and making a lot of plans is too much. I’ve simply come to appreciate the bliss and the contentedness that a little touch of mediocrity gifts the soul.

Tomorrow I’ll drive the same route to the same job. I’ll come home to the same house with the same routine and I’ll end my day switching off the same light before closing my eyes and waking up to a new day.

My life is pretty average.

And for once, I’m pretty damn happy with that.

Shut your eyes and see

It took me three years to realise that I was wrong.

For a really long time, I believed that the most important things in life are captured by the eye. It’s kind of like a window to the soul thing in which your eyes allow for you to discover the world and read people and learn things and expand horizons. I thought that you could feed your soul through feasting your eyes on amazing and beautiful places and things and people.

But I was wrong.

It has been almost three years since I first read James Joyce’s Ulysses. There was a sentence that stood out as if it were being shouted at me…

“Shut your eyes and see.”

I re-read it at least fifteen times before my brain was able to wrap itself around the confusion.

Shut your eyes and see.

I’ve been wrestling with it ever since…

What I see through my eyes are signatures of all the things I have been placed on this planet to read. But somehow there is a limit to that. There is a limit to what can be seen. Limits to discovery. Once you’ve seen it all, you are done. It is done. You have done it. You’ve seen it.

You’ve travelled to Germany and you’ve seen their giant pretzels and now you can tell everyone about it and show them the pictures when you get back home.

But really you did so much more than that.

There is something bigger than seeing everything.

There is something to which there really is no limit.

Something you can never exhaust.

Because there is no limit to what can be felt.

And that is why, when you shut your eyes, you really see.

You discover more. You delve deeper. You understand better.

You comprehend.

That is why, when you shut your eyes and allow yourself to experience and to feel, I imagine you create the most powerful of memories.

It is huddling around that table in the freezing cold enjoying a glass of Glühwein with people who speak in your native tongue.

It is standing in the rain in Amsterdam with a friend you only met twelve weeks ago, but who somehow has become a soul more connected to you than even some of your lifelong friends.

It is climbing trees in the Gooise forest with the sound of summer hissing from the treetops.

It’s not about where you go or where you’ve been or what you’ve been taking pictures of.

It’s about the one thing no-one can take away from you.

It’s the memories.

It’s eating a bowl of bitterballen in a restaurant in Utrecht not because you’re hungry, but because they have heaters that will help bring back the feeling in your hands.

It’s listening to Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3 – the saddest classical symphony of all time – over breakfast with friendly strangers in Belgium.

It’s stroking your fingers across the rough sand of the North Sea.

It’s dancing so joyfully the soles of your shoes tear off.

It’s cycling against gale force winds in aggressive rain and complete darkness through the narrow paths of ‘s-Graveland.

It’s falling off bicycles.

It’s thinking about the people you loved when you were home.

It’s the nostalgia when listening to that song from that drive to the ocean that day.

You must remember this.

It was all I had.

All I’ve ever had.

The only currency.

The only proof that I was alive –


There is no time to waste

It took me a long time to realise that we don’t have much time. And even less so, time to waste.

In my past four months living in The Netherlands, there has been a sense of urgency to see as much as possible in my time there. To cycle to cool places every day. To catch the bus to amazing events. To spend all night dancing. To meet as many people as I can… It’s a desire to experience anything and everything I possibly can in the limited time that I’m there.

And it has changed the way I perceive the value of time.

My one week back in South Africa for Christmas has taught me much the same thing. I only had 6 days in which to reconnect with my people. With my car. With my way of life here. With my country. I was unable to spend even just one moment doing nothing or going nowhere. I had to see my mountain. Feel my ocean. Drink my wine. Laugh with my people.

It has allowed me to see that I do not have the time to spend any of my days doing nothing. Or to spend any of them doing things that don’t allow either for growth or a sense of fulfillment. I do not have time to waste on any trivial pursuits or a life not lived with the unapologetic intention to make every moment mean something. I do not have time to sit on my ass doing nothing. There are places to see and people to meet. Music to make. Books to read. Sights to see. Memories to make. Get up and go do things that make your days worthy of crawling out of bed in the morning.

I do not have time to pine over things from the past that didn’t quite work out the way I’d hoped they would. It’s done and its effect on my present should be only to have learnt valuable lessons and to have grown stronger and more resilient to the universe and the punches it throws.

I do not have time to spend time with people who are not my kind of people. It took me a while to learn that you really can choose your friends. But it took me an even longer while to learn that your friends sometimes choose you as well. So to be yourself and the best version of who that is at all times is of vital importance in having the right people choose you as a friend.

I do not have the time to disagree with you over set opinions and dogmas. There are some things in life that are by all means worth discussing, but much less worth picking a fight over. Tolerance for the beliefs of others, for their ideas and for their choices in life is a sign of respect that not many people ever show. We’re so invested in how we live and what we believe is right that we become ignorant towards the right of others to believe their own things.

Be open. Be tolerant.

I do not have time to not be present. The past couple of months living abroad have added a freaky little twist to many of my friendships back in SA. My need to soak up every moment has pulled me away from my cellphone and my computer to such an extent that people have begun to think I have forgotten our friendship.

I really haven’t.

I see my people in everything I experience.

I see my crazy friends with their infectious laughter in every foreign smile. And I see the big blue eyes of my friends near the ocean every time the blue skies reflect in the canals of Amsterdam.

I am reminded of my family every time “o ek wil huistoe gaan na mamma toe” loops on the local bar’s speakers.

I think about all of my favourites all of the time. And it sometimes even feels like they’re right there with me experiencing every epic moment, becoming part of all the new memories I make.

So here’s to an exciting 2016 in Dutchland! Remembering all the ones I leave behind. And embracing all the ones I am yet to meet.

Tot straks, bitches!

In Defense of my Arts Degree

I have a Bachelor’s Degree in the Arts.

In my first year of studying this, I spoke briefly with a guy at a social and the first question we automatically asked each other was, quite unoriginally, what do you study?

His answer was Engineering.

Mine was Humanities.

He laughed. And then he said “Oh, so you’re one of the dumb ones.”

I learnt a lot of things about people through studying Languages and Psychology and Philosophy.

It’s not that it infuriates me that some look down condescendingly on the Arts Degree. It’s that I don’t understand what they believe sets them at a higher level with their Science or Commerce or Accounting Degrees.

I respect the knowledge they have built. I respect how they can create and how they can make sense of a mess by using their logical mind, mathematical skill and analytical brain.

Maybe that’s why I also gave a go at Engineering when I first started my studies. I also wanted to use numbers to create and build systems that would make life easier through analysing and improving on existing theories and appliances and infrastructure. Why, though, are my Arts-related abilities to create, analyse and build believed to be of a lesser calibre than theirs?

I grew up in a family of achievers. There’s the one with the Masters Degree in Science. The one with the MBA.

The grandad with the Doctorate in Agriculture who basically orchestrated the invention of synchronised reproductive processes in farm animals so that all of them go into heat at the same time to provide farmers with a stable income and the industry with a stable supply of wool.

And then there’s me. The”Black Sheep”. With the Arts Degree.

At the university where I studied, they label this degree as the one you study when you’re trying to find a man. Because it’s apparently really easy and you’ll probably never find a job so best spend your time finding a husband to take care of you.

Are you fucking kidding me?!

Who let you climb on that pedestal? Because the pride clouding your judgment is making you forget that I have acquired the ability to analyse the insecurity that stepped you up there. And the facets of your societal surrounds that will eventually cause irreparable damage to your public image due to your disrespect of the supposed underdog.

There may come a time when you will meet an Arts graduate who has far surpassed your successes. Surpassing your expectations through their understanding of life. Of what makes people choose the lives they do. What makes people respect the choices and paths and mistakes of others.

They will teach you about the dynamics of society and its need to prove itself to itself.

They will teach you about the art of expression.

They will teach you about culture.

They will teach you about societal structures and its evolution over time.



The liberation of modernism.

The crisis of experience.

The evolution of space.

The philosophy of Science.


The art of logic and conversation.

The taboos around sex.

Man’s ability to love.

Man’s ability to hate.

They will open your mind to new focuses on religion and ways of life.

They will help you discover respect for agnostics who love and live honourably without the thought of divine reward. You will understand their need to do good simply because they believe the world deserves it.

They will help you externalise that which is interior and put it out there in the world. Like downloading your knowledge and your consciousness onto paper.

They will teach you how to differentiate between what is beautiful and what is ugly. In a less shallow sense.

They will teach you how to use literature to teach.

To entertain.

To escape.

To switch off minds.

To change mindsets.

They will teach you that reading that novel really is you writing that novel. Creating pictures in your mind and people in your life that only disappear long after you’ve read that last page.

They will teach you how to tap into the human unconscious.

My professor once said that “Communication is an ORGAN!” It influences everything. Without it, we’re pretty much hanging on by a thread. We lose touch with other humans. We lose control. We lose order. We lose life. It carves culture and communication carves life.

Respect the Arts, my friend.

There’s a lot beneath the surface here.

An adventure in the now

I don’t get jogging. I don’t get how putting that strain on your legs and your body and your lungs is fun. Let your lungs rip just doesn’t resonate with me. Sprinting I get. If I need to run from danger I will do the fast run. But no. I will never jog.

A place where people meet up for a jog would be a good place to hide something from me.

So I spent the past weekend drinking wine amongst vineyards in the Franschhoek Wine Valley. And while I was sipping on a glass of Grenache, and characteristically spilling it all over myself, I felt a tiny little surge of what people call happiness. Sitting in the sun. Drinking wine. Sharing thoughts with smart people. In a wannabe French town. In South Africa. Right here at home. And it was good.

But for years I’ve made myself believe that South Africa isn’t enough. It’s not enough to have a dayjob and it’s not enough to grow roots here and it’s not good enough to settle for something as simple. I should leave. I should explore. I should meet new people. I should speak new languages.

And I’ve saved and saved and saved everything I earn. Everything. I wear clothes I bought three summers ago and I never go anywhere and I restrict my budgets because I’m saving a bunch of money for an escape. In my refusal of mediocrity. But then I realised that I haven’t really been living. I’ve been holding so tightly onto a goal for my future that I’m purposely pushing aside the short-term ones that would make me happy in the meantime.

And I blame all of it on jogging. My need to sprint to the end-line is making me fly by all the little experiences I could be having in the place I’m “adventuring” in now. It’ll be quite some time before my dreams of running really far away will realise. If they ever will.

Also, jogging is hard. It’s like you’re getting somewhere but you’re getting there really slowly. And it hurts, man. Jogging is not done quietly. And it takes a really long time to get used to it. Though I’m hoping my proverbial legs and lungs will forgive me by evoking the endorphins my soul has so desperately been craving. So in the meantime, it’s a mini-venture towards making what I have and where I am exciting and memorable.

Maybe it’s not always the far-off places and culture shocks or language barriers. Sometimes it’s just making music. Or reading books. Or maybe it’s just you and your mind and your thoughts and pushing them to the limits in the meantime.

Let’s be adventurers.

If they cannot be literal and geographical,

let them be intellectual, emotional, spiritual, interpersonal,

and my very favourite 


Because: onward.


300 Days in Digital

I was 9 years old when Google was first invented. I’d say it changed everything but that’d be an understatement.

For the past year, I’ve spent my days trying to understand and trick and master the beast that is Google. I now know what an algorithm is, what ORM means, how obvious your internet stalking really is, and why people in digital marketing never take lunch and always have Red Bull can towers on their desks.

I also know what a nerdgasm is.

I’ve spent, as a guestimation, 300 days driving to work in bumper-to-bumper traffic for up to 2 hours a day. I’ve sifted through all genres of music I could possibly find and have now resorted to listening to the Harry Potter soundtrack on repeat to distract myself from the pains of traffic.

Every day, depending on the temperament of Cape Townian weather, I drive into blasting view of Table Mountain and it still excites me to move into view of this natural wonder knowing that I actually sort of live here.

table mountain

I’ve climbed that devil and I’ve sworn at it and it never ceases to be incredible. But for more reasons than one, it is time for change and it is time to move on.

Things I’ve learnt over the past 300 days:

You are not your profession

Some days I feel upset with myself that I didn’t become something like a Doctor or an Engineer or a Teacher. Because then I wouldn’t have to explain my job and why I do it. Everyone would be like, oh cool, a Doctor? Nice.

Every conversation kind of starts with “I work in digital marketing but it’s not like the marketing you think it’s more about Google stuff.” And then they think you’re really smart because you said work and Google in the same sentence.

But if everything was designed solely to serve its intelligence, things would be pretty bleak around here. So you have your degree and you have your job and that’s amazing. And you work hard and you enjoy it and you feel happy.

To me, though, there needs to be a definitive mid-ground here. A characteristic of your life or of yourself for you to escape to. Not because things are hard or because times are tough. But because somewhere between the emails and the conference calls and the continuous strategising, there needs to be a YOU.

A Lelanie who is an individual. Not the Lelanie who is the developer or the Lelanie who is the strategist or the Lelanie who is the analytics chick. There needs to be the Lelanie who is the girl who tells the dirty jokes. Or the Lelanie who’s learning to play the banjo. Because the Lelanie who is the analytics chick isn’t meant to define her. It’s meant to be a little part of the whole that is her as individual. You are more than your job. Don’t be Lelanie the analytics chick. Be Lelanie – the girl who gets invited to parties.

Your parents are not always right

Everyone keeps saying that you should listen to them and that they are wiser than you and that they have all the answers. But in the end they’re also just people. Who are sometimes also confused and angry at life and want you to not make the same mistakes they did.

If I listened to my parents a year ago, I’d never have started working in digital marketing. There wouldn’t have been that “memorable” adventure of having a tequila brand as a client and I’d also never have been given a brilliant analysis of how my ability to retain relationships is similar to the bounce rate of the Terms & Conditions page on a Japanese porn site.

tequila2This by no means constitutes being ungrateful for their lifelong efforts or disrespecting their opinions and advice. Those are always welcome. But I am the one who will essentially carry the consequences of my decisions. I am the one who needs to live with it.

Your mistakes do not define you

Man. I’ve done some stupid ass shit. I really am not always very smart. And I really am not always a good person. You may see me smiling in the corner, but deep down in my soul somewhere there is a bitch who ruins lives. But after a lot of wine and a lot of binge-writing, you reach a point where you are able look past your mistakes and move into a place where waking up and going to work is less a chore and more something you look forward to.

What we do is we try and build something nice around the black hole. We start from the bottom and we build our way up to something we can be proud of. And we never make those past mistakes again.

In the end

You work through the night and you swear at your computer a lot and you’ll probably start smoking just to deal.

Many digital marketers end up dreaming about conversion rates and landing page optimisation and these things tend to drive you to drunk Facebooking. It’s tough and it’s a 24-7 job and it will inevitably, at some point, crush your fragile spirit.


And it would’ve been totally worth it.