I remember a holiday in my mid 20s. A group of us, then second year varsity students, were invited to a friend’s farm for the weekend. On the Saturday morning of the trip the six of us, a gangly mix of shaggy-haired girls and boys, donned our swimming clothes, lathered up in suncream and meandered down a gentle hike that led to a secret mountain pool.
As twenty-somethings are wont to do, it wasn’t long until someone had the bright idea of leading us all to an overhanging cliff edge, where we could plunge some 20 meters into the dark water below. As the rest egged each other on, and took leaps into the murky waters, I sat panicking in the heat. This wasn’t for me. Frankly, I was scared. And I wasn’t prepared to YOLO my way towards what seemed like certain death.
Standing over the precipice, with the risk of being exposed for the inveterate loser that I am, I turned back. Would my life be forever changed for having this experience? Maybe.
Or did I, perhaps, feel satisfied that I hadn’t succumbed to the peer pressure; that I’d made my own choice about it, and stuck to it. Actually, yes.
The first documented positive COVID-19 case in South Africa was on my 29th birthday. Slightly alarmed, but not in the full pitch of panic that was yet to come, I went ahead with a dinner date with a friend. One week later we closed the marketing office on our Hout Street store, and in a matter of weeks most of our team had moved up to Plett.
Soon we were in the thick of it. Businesses closed, restaurants shut their doors, and routine grocery store trips became nail-biting experiences. Like many other small and independent businesses, the fate of Mungo hung in the balance.
Friday night glasses of wine with girlfriends became awkward Zoom calls: “Should I come over at 6?” replaced by “Can you hear me? I think you’re on mute…”
Days that might have been spent outdoors turned into hours of Instagram infinite scrolls and long walks to the fridge.
You know the rest…
Let it be said that I believe in such a thing as toxic positivity. For the very real losses that have occurred as a result of this pandemic, we don’t all need to be told that ‘everything happens for a reason’ or to ‘look on the bright side’. Sometimes the weight of the world is overwhelming. And sometimes it feels better to lie in bed all day than do an online yoga class. In other words, we don’t all have to look for a silver lining in a sh*tstorm.
But there have been some meaningful messages out there, beyond the humdrum of ‘unprecedented times’ mailers.
So here’s one: quitting is for winners.
Saying no to things that aren’t for you isn’t lame, it’s self aware.
And declining to jump off a cliff is absolutely fine.
Be more selective – with the people you spend your time with, the decisions you make and the products you buy.
Hell, isn’t that the spirit of Mungo?
To stay true to an initial vision.
To not compromise on quality or be bulldozed by bullies.
To set the trend rather than fall in line.
To commit to the pursuit of excellence
And the betterment of the planet.
To not let a price dictate the product.
To dream big, but take calculated risks.
To know the limits.
To self reflect.
To do things a little differently. In a good way.