“Each age comes with its pressures” were my mother’s words a few years back. Back then, this quote did not make sense but fast forward to the present, and the quote with only six words speaks volumes.

There was a stage in my life when my peers and I believed that the best thing that would happen to us was to pass our Ordinary Level examinations and be admitted to the Advanced Level. My friends and I put in the extra hours because we wanted to study three subjects, carry the textbooks written by Dennis Richards and David Waugh, and with pride. Not forgetting styling our hair, wearing a well-maintained pleated skirt, and being role models to the juniors.

In 2014, the dream became a reality, but celebrations were short-lived as my friends and I were busy working towards University admission.

One group chose to take a gap year before university, and another went to university just after high school. When we were at a particular age going to university was the only thing that mattered to us. We looked forward to wearing our clothes, becoming independent, and pursuing our careers.

What I have learnt is that as you grow older, your priorities change, which is why some people end up outgrowing their friends. I hope that I have painted the right picture for you to understand my mother’s words.

My mother had me when she was twenty-five years; my sister’s husband paid lobola for my sister when she turned twenty-five. My story is different because I am not expecting my second child or looking for a tailor to design my lobola ceremony attire. Life is not a competition; some people fly to their destination, some cycle, and some even walk. But there are a lot of life lessons that one should learn in this journey called life. Instead of pressuring or gossiping about a friend as a woman, let’s focus on being our sister’s keeper.

So many times, people who bring us down are not people who live in some distant land, but these people are close to us. They are the women we adore and look up to. And sometimes, they use our past mistakes to bring us down.

Family gatherings are always memorable, and meeting your loved ones is priceless, yet some young women my age or older than me would rather spend the day at home and pretend to be sick rather than meet their family members. This is because everyone they meet will ask them many questions at once. “When are you getting married? How is your boyfriend? Are you in a serious relationship?” Instead of catching up with loved ones, the young woman has to answer these questions, and she counts down the hours left to go home.

Unfortunately, some women have become case studies in their communities and families because they are not married. We now come up with an appropriate age to get married and give birth after getting married, and so on. Many women have received calls and messages from their female wedding planners, tailors, or photographers asking them if it is time to organise a baby shower. This might seem thoughtful, but it is offensive and unprofessional. There are a lot of women who are trying to have children or grieving over the loss of their children whom they never got to see or hold. These questions will only bruise a bleeding wound. So instead of asking some questions as a service provider, wait until your client reaches out to you.

Maybe she wants to have a home of her own and be a mother, but the timing will never be right.

Domestic violence and the aftermath of the same make many women afraid of getting married because they are haunted by how their mothers were beaten every night. Up to today, their mothers have not fully recovered. Consequently, young women need someone to talk to and help them face their fears. Will that be possible when women who are supposed to help gossip and mock these young women instead?

As women, let us look out for one another, be kind, and do what we can to ensure that we help one another. It’s time we become true sisters rather than enemies. Do what you can to be your sister’s keeper!