One of my friends was asking me about South Africa via facebook. Mistake! I saw the message on my wall just after I received an e-mail telling me that I don’t appear to be on the travel agency’s list despite the fact I registered with them a couple of days before I headed down to the training day in Watford last month.
Sigh. Some days it just seems like sooo much hassle, and I wonder if I should be going, and then I’m reminded that actually I’ve known I’ve had a calling to do this since they first set up Soul Action.
I was chatting to my friend K. who is also going to be taking part in Soul in the City Durban. She’s running the Edinburgh Marathon as she has to fund her trip pretty much purely on fundraising, but struggling to find an efficient way of collecting money from her sponsors who she’s not likely to be able to see in person while she finishes up her uni degree in Scotland over the next couple of months. I totally can empathise with that.
For me it’s not just going to South Africa. To work at the pregnancy crisis centre (which is only part-time) while paying off debts and bills over the last 18 months and to go to South Africa has meant I’ve had to give up things. I started listing them, and I began to realise just how materialistic, selfish and vain I can be without realising. I’ve been brought up in a culture that encourages people to express themselves on how we look and what we buy. And it shows…
Here are some of the ‘sacrifices’ I’ve made:
1. Not getting a second job – partly because my health is not the greatest but has got significantly better in the last 6 months!! Partly because it’s tough to find a job that would work with what I do with the pregnancy crisis centre and with the national charity we’re affiliated with. Not to mention the youth work stuff I do on a volunteer basis. To me those are my priorities.
2. Stopping wearing contact lenses. Wearing glasses is cheaper than contact lenses. My eyesight is shocking, so the contact lenses (even with a discount care plan) cost about £60 every 3 months. My glasses cost about £130 and unless my eyesight changes that’s it. Paid for. Done. I’ve had the same glasses since 200. You do the maths and tell me which option is cheaper.
3. Stopping buying clothes & shoes for sake of ‘retail therapy‘. I last bought a pair of shoes last September. For me that’s huge, because I love shoes, and I’m known for the shoes I wear. My clothes are beginning to fall apart, they’re not the most fashionable. But I’ve stopped my shopping sprees. I had a ‘relapse’ in January, but rectified the situation by returning the items and getting a refund. I’m not even using birthday money for a shopping spree (although if I find a fairly traded purple headscarf I will buy it for the summer).
4. Stopping buying DVDs. This is probably the most difficult because my TV has stopped working. Notice that I’m always on Twitter? Now you know why…
5. No hair colouring. I wanted to go blonde again. But it would mean paying about £60-85 every couple of months. We’ll just stick with the brunette-ish hair.
6. No piercings or tattoos. I don’t need them. I’ll just stick with my scarred navel and the 4 holes in my earlobes.
7. No trips to Aberdeen. Each time it costs me about £25-30 in petrol. Plus there’s the cost of socialising in Kilau or Illicit Still.
8. Living at my parent’s house. Something I swore I’d NEVER do. Yeah, well, here I am.
9. Cutting down on ‘going out’ to pub, Starbucks, cinema, theatre, restaurants etc. I do still do these things, because it’s important to spend time with friends and it’s what keeps our economy going. I just do them less…like I won’t go to the cinema unless I actually want to see the film. I (usually) won’t go to Starbucks unless it’s to meet somebody there.
10. No more iTunes downloading or buying music in Fopp/Avalanche. No more spending hours on Amazon buying CDs, books and DVDs. I’ll confess I do now have an ‘Amazon Wish List’ that is pages long as a result!! Yeah, ok I’ll repent for my coveting later.
Has all that been tough? Yes. It has.
But it’s not without rewards, because it means that I’m being wiser with my money, and treats are real treats. I’ve also been so blessed by other people’s generosity during this time. And let’s not forget it’s more of an exchange really. In exchange for less of the ‘stuff’ and vanity, I get to do the things I love doing.
I don’t have a job that I hate, and I know that going to South Africa is going to be an experience I’ll never forget.