UP CLOSE & PERSONAL: COURTNEY MITCHELL

Through hardships and pain, Courtney Mitchell takes us through her journey, finding her passions and gives us great advice on how to love yourself. Read her journey below:

1.       What made you get into poetry?   Was it an interest you always had?

It’s kind of ironic the thing I loathed became my passion and love. I cannot see my life at this present moment without poetry. Whether I am writing, or reading poems from other poets it’s one of the things that keep me going in life. I went through a really hectic break up, that involved abuse and somehow after months of trying to deal with so much pain I was internalizing, poetry was my way of escape to express and articulate all I was feeling inwardly. This may sound cliché but poetry is very healing and therapeutic. And the rest is history from there my poetic journey began. 

2.       Is it hard to come up with expressions (words)? Or does it just flow with you?

It depends on the mood, my headspace and what I’m feeling emotionally at that moment.  The specific topic I am writing about, if someone or something is really close to my heart it’s going to be easy but if it’s something I have no interest in its hard because one can’t fake what you feel. Sometimes that’s also a good challenge to go to a place that you maybe never thought about or write about things you would not generally write about.

3.     Where do you get your inspiration from?

Life, it never fazed me what was happening in the world, in my community and in my life. I’d say I was numb to a lot of realities. It somehow takes a life changing situation to take you out of your comfort zones. The pain people experience inspires me, because in writing I’m able to vocalise what they feel and the same with our victories. When we overcome us always wanting to shout from the roof tops and poetry allows one to express this sort of joy as well. Music is my all-time go to thing, jazz or afro soul is the genre of music that definitely also unlocks words and chords within me to create beautiful words and melodies.

4.      You’re also a makeup and designing student. How did that become a part of your life’s interest?

After I finished high school I went to study make up artistry, it was always something I loved doing.  Dressing up and making myself look cute was my life goal as a teenager lol. As for the fashion part, I don’t consider myself fashionable but so many people say they love my style and the way I put my ensembles together. I had a mentor and this person challenged me to pursue fashion studies and also to dress the way I wanted, no limits, no boundaries just do me and express myself through fashion.

5.       You went through some hardships. Mind telling us about it?

As I mentioned above I was in an abusive relationship. I was so blindly in love that I didn’t realise I was losing myself and giving over to the demands of someone that never really loved me. I was extremely naïve I guess because I was still young and the person I was dating was older. From that experience though, the thing that was supposed to kill me saved my life. I now know who I am and how I need to love myself and others. It also made me so much more aware of the pain women and men go through who find themselves in abusive relationships. Whether it be physical, verbal or emotional abuse, it is toxic and it is not okay.

6.      What advice would you give to someone currently in that situation, trying to get out and for those, like yourself, who have survived it on how to move on and be positive from there onward?

There are so many articles about seeing the signs of an abuser but guess what people think its cliché, and you somehow realise when it’s too late. If someone wants to control your whereabouts, the job you have, your friends, the clothes you wear, your dreams and aspirations get out and run and never look back. Abuse is the same as drug addiction if the person does not admit it themselves every time they hurt you and say sorry it’s never going to stop, the day they stop will be day you are dead and they will be standing over your dead corpse saying they’re sorry. I have absolutely no chill for people that want to instil such fear in others. You are staying because you don’t know how to love yourself so you stay for the carbon copy of love. You will never know the definition of love if you always wanting to be loved by someone else. Real love starts with yourself. Love all of you and especially the ugly parts because that’s usually the things that an abuser notices

The “curse” has become my blessing; I have accepted my past and made peace with it being a part of my journey and life story. I surround myself with people that love me for me as well. Sometimes what we go through is meant to save the life of someone else, I now invest my time in writing poetry for others as well and inspire hope in their lives with my words.

What’s next for Courtney Mitchell?

I’m going to take the world by storm it’s written in my DNA. I aspire to break down stereotypes, and misconceptions of Africa and its entirety. A desire that’s very dear to my heart is bringing the Khoisan back into society, a group of people that’s still very marginalised to this day because people are ignorant to the real history. Poetry and fashion is both a powerful tool and through this I will impact my generation. I will rewrite history with new poems and create fashion pieces that will be worn for years to come.

Photographers: Charlene D Edwards | Meegan Mitchell | Lwazi