I always used to think that I had to have one designation in my life. Until I realized that I did not want to live according to society’s’ expectations. I did not want to just be Candice the Academic or Candice the Gender Activist or Candice the Social Entrepreneur. I just want to be Candice Chirwa: a charismatic, bubbly, fun, confident, smart, independent, passionate, and unique human being.
I’ve realized that as human beings we tend to always live our lives according to our designation and performance and never live our lives according to the human beings that we truly are. I always have to remind myself that I am Candice Chirwa, a human being, not a human doing, and that I am allowed to have multifaceted jobs, that feed into my spirit. That is my life’s purpose: Trying to live a genuine and authentic life whilst being an academic, which feeds into my social entrepreneurship, which feeds into my activism.
Being Candice the Academic and Activist
It is important that I put Academic and Activist in the same line because Academics can be activists too. We fight the system through our writing. We fight the world through our research. One thing about being an academic is that it’s never perfect. But I slowly realized that Academia is just another workplace, it’s just a job. A job that has all kinds of hidden agendas, invisible work. My love for Academia occurs when I want to learn more about the world, when I want to write about it, share the information with others and have important discussions. And through the writing of social issues, I realized that my activism allows for me to ensure that I can do something about trying to change the world. It is important that I put Academic and Activist in the same line because Academics can be activists too.
We fight the system through our writing. We fight the world through our research. One thing about being an academic is that it’s never perfect. But I slowly realized that Academia is just another workplace, it’s just a job. A job that has all kinds of hidden agendas, invisible work. My love for Academia occurs when I want to learn more about the world, when I want to write about it, share the information with others and have important discussions. And through the writing of social issues, I realized that my activism allows for me to ensure that I can do something about trying to change the world.
One thing that I have learnt during my postgraduate studies that helps me in different sectors of life is that evaluation is tough. When you have to submit your proposal, or your thesis and you get harsh feedback, it is tough. But it is important to note that you can’t escape the constructive criticism called life, and that you’ll tend to experience, the good, the bad and the ugly and the world will not end. So long as you stick to your roadmap for your life, you’ll be good.
Being Candice the Entrepreneur
My activism values has fed into my reality of being an entrepreneur in South Africa. Through my academic research and activism, I have found that a lot needs to be changed in our society, and thus here comes Candice the Entrepreneur. The Solution-Orientated Queen trying to save the world one Menstruation Workshop at a time. A lot of the time, people tend to have the perception that when I say I am the Director and Founder of my Organization, they tend to associate it with the flashy and wealthy lifestyle when in fact they tend to forget that the reality of being an entrepreneur is scary and daunting. When asking about my experience as an entrepreneur, a lot of people say “You’re so lucky,” or “It must be great to be out of the rat race.” Statements like this make me smile because they couldn’t be less true. Luck has nothing to do with it. As for the rat race, while different, it’s faster than ever.
First a disclaimer: At the end of every day, I wouldn’t trade my current situation for any other option, and I am grateful to able to do what I truly love. However, being an entrepreneur isn’t the easy, carefree career path that many believe it to be. When everything is invested in your own business – time, money, passion and creativity, it can border on obsession. The life of an entrepreneur is never-ending. In most jobs, you can leave the work behind when you go home to your family, friends or hobbies. As an entrepreneur, the workload can be intense especially during the early stages when you are the CEO, CFO, HR Person, sales staff, marketing guru, tech person, office manager and janitor. With all these roles, there’s rarely a moment that you feel your work is “done” for the day. There’s always something more you could be doing and that can eat away at time formerly devoted to other aspects of your life.
But despite all the stress, pressure and workload, being within the academic, activism and entrepreneurial space is rewarding. There is a chance to create something great, to help other people or leave a legacy behind. No matter the motivation, creating something from nothing that grows and develops through the years can be almost like raising a child and nurturing it to its current level of success. I am glad to be an academic activist mother to my organization.
About the author
Recently finished studying her Master’s degree in International Relations at the University of Witwatersrand, Candice’s research interests focus on Gender Studies more specifically – Sexual and Reproductive Rights. Candice has consulted for the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) which sparked her passion for Menstrual Health Advocacy.
In 2017, Candice represented the youth of Southern Africa at the SAIIA Young Leaders Conference and led work on the gender and the emerging youth demographic in Africa.
Candice has been on several media platforms notably eTV, PowerFM, YFM and 702 as a gender activist and youth commentator.
Candice is the Founder and Director of an NGO called QRATE which is focused on curating critical thinking in young people through educational publications and workshops on social topics. Through her NGO, Candice brings Eduliftment (a cohesion of Education and upliftment) to young people through workshops. Recently, Candice organized a Menstruation workshop for 140 girls in Johannesburg and plans to bring Eduliftment nationwide.
Candice is currently working on a book series called the Perils of Patriarchy. She has also recently become a radio host for a show called Feminism is for Everybody on CAPS Radio.
Visit her website on: https://about.me/candicechirwa