Lessons To My 19-Year-Old Self


If you could be a fly on the wall in the BONA office, you’d witness regular debates and arguments about everything under the sky. One of the topics we were recently discussing was age, specifically the age 19, and the lessons we wish we knew then. Each person was asked two questions: What were you doing when you were 19? What do you know now that you wish you knew then? Some of the answers are wise, and some are hilarious! Read on…


Linda Mali – Editor

  • I was doing my third year Journalism degree at UCT. I was also a singer in a band that was signed with Universal Music (I was semi famous!).
  • I wish I knew that I don’t have to tolerate nonsense from boys! I now know that I can walk away if I’m not treated with respect.

Nikita Singh – Art Director

  • I was getting drunk and not attending lectures at varsity!
  • I now know my own value. I wish I could have told my 19-year-old self that you’re actually awesome, and things are going to be fine.

Patience Gumbo – Copy Editor

  • I was taking a gap year after completing my Advanced Level (almost similar to Matric) of high school the previous year. It felt great, but strange to be waking up late and not having anything to do.
  • I wish I was more patient. Now, over a decade later, I realise that had I exercised a bit of patience and paid more attention, I would be a totally different person in a totally different place. At 19, I thought I had all the time in the world, but now I wonder: “Where did the years go?”

Zethu Zulu – Copy Editor

  • I was doing my second year at varsity. I just remember being a broke student.
  • I wish I had taken time off university (which I did the following year) because I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. Also, that I’m stronger than I believe.

Ayanda Ngcobo – Fashion Editor

  • I was in varsity, doing my second year.
  • I’d tell my 19-year-old self to value time because it shouldn’t be taken for granted. Also, I wish I appreciated the little things in life.

Boitumelo Mmakou – Features Writer

  • I was doing my first year at Wits University, certain that the course I was doing at the time (BA) was good for me. But I soon realised that I would come across many challenges, and that chasing my goals wasn’t easy. I was also trying to get back to being a professional dancer after having left for two years – I wasn’t confident to handle the pressure in the dance industry. I was also a TV presenter.
  • I wish I knew that you can’t do it all and that not everybody will like you. I’d tell my 19-year-old self that eventually I’ll be confident, make it through varsity and also know that I am good enough.

Amanda Ndlangisa – Digital Editor

  • I was doing my second year in Journalism and ready to give birth to my daughter.
  • I wish I knew that it’s okay to run my own race and not compare my life to my peers. My day is coming, and that everything really does happen for a reason.

Lloyd Magano – Designer

  • I was studying graphic design and was chasing after girls on campus and drinking cases of alcohol (laughs)!
  • I wish I knew that the older I grow, the tougher life becomes. I used to be so eager to grow older, but I didn’t know there’d be consequences.

Ntwenhle Gcabashe – Food Editor

  • I was doing my second year in varsity.
  • I had low self-esteem because of my weight (I was big at the time). I wish I didn’t spend so much time on different diets, but should have accepted myself the way I was.

Phila Tyekana – Features Editor

  • I was doing my first year at Wits University. It was my first year in Johannesburg, first time living alone and interacting with different races and cultures. I learnt how to be independent and became aware of myself.
  • My roommate, Ayanda, taught me how to have fun, live in the moment and stop holding back. I’m glad that I lived life to the fullest because varsity life is about being crazy, and it was the best foundation for my life. I don’t yearn for those years anymore; I’m content now and happy with the woman I am.