The month of love is upon us again and would you believe, we are on the eve on the one-year anniversary of the first major COVID-19 lockdown. Whilst the impact has been varied, far and wide, none more apparent than that on human interaction. Screens, masks, keeping your distance, all now added barriers to possibly connecting, particularly in an environment or country with existing barriers like language or culture.
For the month of February, Strawberry Lips wants to talk about a different kind of love, that of your girlfriends. As a champion of sisterhood and women empowerment, South Africa’s favourite strawberry cream liquor, Strawberry Lips has always made it its mandate to highlight the issues that really matter, whether it is entrepreneurship or breast cancer because let’s face it, it’s tough out there but we all get by with a little help from our friends!
We’ve seen across our community thousands of women who are struggling with adult friendships, only worsened by COVID restrictions. So, Strawberry Lips has partnered with former editor of O Magazine (SA) and previous creative director of Design Indaba Taweni Gondwe Xaba to show you how you can make your friendship circle bigger with their latest campaign #LoveYourCrew.
Who better to talk friendship in the Rainbow Nation than someone who passionate about writing about friendships, particularly in South Africa with its diverse culture? But, enough about us, let’s hear from Taweni herself.
‘I believe that good and true friendships, not unlike marriages or other long-term unions, are ordained through divine alchemy. Human meets kindred spirit and, instantaneously, a soul bond is formed. But there is, without a doubt, a bit of an art to making friends across cultures and languages. The following have proven the most important success factors for stepping out of my own comfort zones:
1. You’ve got to come to friendship with open heart and mind to others! I hear some say “People have to earn my trust before I let them in” and that just doesn’t resonate with me. If you don’t let people in, how will you get to know them in order to decide if they are trustworthy or not? I mean, I believe in “Trust the vibes” – those things keep us safe – but woooooh how does a stranger start at zero? Especially when you have grown up in different backgrounds, with diverse histories as well as different value systems and world views. What a mountain to climb to attain intimacy! Consider starting people off with a 10% benefit of the doubt maybe? Take each person on their own merits? Give everyone a chance to show you who they could be to you, then decide? Look beyond gender, tribe, culture, race or age. Try it. You could be pleasantly surprised. I know I have been!
2. You’ve got to come as you are and be authentic. Bring as much of your whole self to the early encounters as you can, so people get to see what they’re going to be signing up for. Give them ammo to decide if you’re for them or too rich for their blood. It’s not necessary to do this in a confrontational manner, just take an honest approach and let your authenticity shine through. If you feel more comfortable wearing certain clothes or dressing in your cultural/ traditional gear, do that! It’s a great conversation starter and an opportunity for people to get to know the real you. If you’re smart and opinionated, don’t pretend to be agreeable for the sake of looking “nice”; if you are a big personality with a loud laugh or dry humour, don’t put on a “genteel” demeanour just to fit in. Eventually, everyone’s authentic disposition surfaces. That’s when people start crying “fake!” You don’t need that. Narrow the gap between your “on-good-behaviour” persona and your real personality. And if they don’t accept the “real” you, you’ve got your answer… That is not your tribe!
3. Love is love in any language. So is respect. But words help a lot to communicate both. I have lived in three countries for significant amounts of time, racked up some proper air miles as I criss-crossed continents over the years and filled up three passports in the process. In some countries, I have been able to communicate in the local language (I speak seven). In others, I have had to invent some makeshift sign language just to get help finding a public toilet! In none of them, have I left without making a friend. At a minimum, learn how to greet and say goodbye in someone’s language. It underscores your openness as a person and your genuine interest in others. Make the effort. Love is work!’
Preach! We couldn’t have said it any better, sis Taweni. And there’s more where that came from, every week on Strawberry Lips’ social media platforms, she’ll be answering your questions about making friends and friendship in general – don’t miss out! Plus. We’ll be exploring the complexities of language and friendship as well as gifting those who put their crew first with a fabulous professional photoshoot! Head to strawberrylipstequila.co.za/love-your-crew to find out all the details. What are you waiting for? It starts with love, so this February reach out to someone who inspires you and make your friendship circle bigger, #LoveYourCrew.