We live in a world that only seems to accept us based on what we can offer. I have suffered with this issue throughout all my life. I’ve always felt the overwhelming need to have an opinion about something, be it the latest news on education, entertainment, politics or spirituality. Whenever I didn’t know the answer to a question or didn’t have a viewpoint about something, I felt as if I was neither smart nor worthy. I then went on the “I’ll act as if I know everything” journey, which meant I fell into the trap of talking too much.

I wanted to be seen as someone who was well informed and relevant. But what people didn’t know was that I was trapped inside that image you know, that voice you hear from your core that says “You’re not being true to yourself”. I remember praying for direction and feeling God replying: “Bongeka, it’s OK not to have an opinion or talk about matters you know nothing about”.

I wish I could fully express how liberating it was to realise that it was fine for me to simply say: “I don’t know.” Recently a senior colleague sent an alarming email before an important meeting, insisting that every attendee should prepare no fewer than three questions to ask.

It’s amazing how society tries to box us in so that we all act the same. This begins early in our life journeys: if you speak out more than others in class, you’re considered smarter. The pressure rises from a low boiling point to blazing hot when you enter the corporate world.

We’ve all heard the saying: “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.” Actually, there is- usually asked by people who simply want to be heard. The pressure to always sound well read, informed and intelligent is a daily challenge. But I’ve realised this truth: if my motive for saying something isn’t right, I might as well shut up.

My enjoy life tip is this: Here’s my advice to everyone reading this- next time you feel overwhelming pressure to open your mouth and speak, first ask yourself: What’s  my real motive?” Only thoughts that genuinely offer ideas, solutions or healing should be uttered. I’ve made up my mind that I won’t comprise my heart or dignity any more. I sleep lighter now knowing that I’m more genuine in all the meetings I attend and that when I contribute, I do so from a place of peace.

This article is featured in the  2016 September issue of Destiny Magazine.

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