Collage: The art of not fitting in (because you really don’t have to)

Collage: The art of not fitting in (because you really don’t have to)



a technique of composing a work of art by pasting on a single surface various materials not normally associated with one another.

Let’s admit it. Being an outcast is difficult. Yet it is a reality we often must face at some point within our respective journeys when entering new spaces, environments and phases in our lives.

I like to liken my own journey to a collage given how the elements within it, when pasted together, create an uncanny piece of art. An engineer, who never intended to work as one by the way, working as a business consultant, and is passionate about sharing content on money. Let’s not leave out the fact that I decided to publish a paper on my Masters in Petroleum Engineering, when I never (ever) intended to be an academic. And if money was not a thing, due to my avid interest in books and literature, I’d spend my days on a hammock somewhere writing. Every piece of this journey when placed next to the other, can be considered an outcast.

I have discovered great beauty in being an outcast. The discomfort. The doubt. The feeling of giving up. The anxiety in the moment, followed by the serenity that it will all work out eventually. Forging through the emotional roller coaster that comes with being an outcast, following your truth, seeking more and giving up good for great, is what I have discovered to be a recipe for success in almost all areas of life. I’ll give you examples in 3 areas (because I ironically find 4 an odd number for lists and nobody really reads lists of 5 or more items anyway).

Being an outcast when it comes to money: saving when others spend

I am a car lover. During my undergrad whenever I needed motivation, I’d head out to the computer lab and look up cars that would make my “Oscar-worthy” potential first car shortlist. Now, this was not a list I stored in some crusty old note book. I’d print out the pictures of the sparkling vehicles that would potentially be lucky enough to be owned by me and stick them on my bedroom wall.

Much to my disappointment, my first car ended up being a second-hand Hyundai Atos 1.0 liter engine, which my sister refused to drive because she said it looked like half a loaf of unsliced bread. I couldn’t drive it too fast or the wind would sway my jalopy, creating twerk-like vibrations as I drove it on the highway. And you’d drive behind me at your own risk. It smoked like someone who’s just discovered the existence of e-cigarettes.

The purchase of my smoking, twerking jalopy, when I’d just struggled through a degree that could afford me a luxury German car, was inspired by my desire to purchase an investment property, which I did at the tender age of 22.

Saving when others spend sounds sexier than the reality that comes with it. Do it any way. You’ll thank yourself when the fruits off passive income start streaming in your bank account.

Being an outcast when it comes to your time: saying “No” more often

I understand that I’m treading on thin ice here. Especially with the distaste we all have for evangelists of the “You have the same 24 hours as Bill Gates” rhetoric. Also, considering the very real structural inequalities we have that dispel the notion that everyone who is wealthy or successful got there purely because they spent their time better. However, for those of us fortunate enough to have opportunity knock on their door, the failure to rise to the occasion is often littered with beliefs we hold that prohibit us from working towards what we are capable of. The biggest of these is “I don’t have enough time”. I too am guilty of this.

Due to the demands of my career, I often have limited control over my schedule from Monday-Thursday due to the unpredictable nature of my work. I’ve recently noticed that this had put me in a mode where others could easily control my schedule in the way that the demands of my employer did.

“Time is the greatest wealth that can’t be replenished.”

I have a tradition at the start of the new year where I spend time secluded to reflect on the year that has passed and set goals for the new year. This year I decided to do my annual stock-taking on the 1st of January. The same day, which I later discovered, a relative had planned an intimate lunch. Although I’d initially agreed to go, I had to pick up the phone on the morning of the 1st to decline the invitation. My relative was “shook” since they’d become accustomed to me being agreeable. But they were just fine at the end of it all. And I’m told the lunch went very well.

I learned a key lesson after enjoying a serene, reflective and rejuvenating day by myself. As with money, there are always things that are willing to spend your time. The power lies with you to be extremely intentional, and sometimes a bit selfish, with what you decide to spend it on. Don’t give that power up to easily. Time is the greatest wealth that can’t be replenished.

Being an outcast when it comes to competition: helping others win

This is lesson is one I believe in so much that the next few paragraphs may sound like a “Yes we can” election campaign.

A few months ago, I attended a work training on negotiating like a pro. They split our group into teams of 2, where one had to play the role of a car dealer and the other the role of a person seeking to purchase a car. Each decision the purchaser made regarding the make, colour and price of the car could either not affect, add or reduce the points of both parties during the negotiation. It was the dealer’s job not to permit decisions that would negatively affect his/her points and the purchaser’s job to push hard for decisions that would increase his/her points.

I’m naturally competitive but was paired with a someone who outsmarted me and ended up with about 6000 points more than me.

We later learned that although each member in the team was pitting against the other, the winning team was the one with the highest score, when both members of the team’s scores were added together. The trick to winning the negotiation was letting the other win, when it would cost you nothing. That way, both members would receive the highest scores obtainable in the game. This blew my mind. It’s a lesson that remains etched in the membranes of my brain whenever my competitive spirit tries to get the better of me. You lose nothing by helping others win.

‘Embrace the makings of your collage, for there is no other like it, nor will there ever be.”

The art of it all…

I won’t be long in summing this up. Don’t resist being an outcast. Be uncomfortable more often. The lessons you’ll learn, the people you’ll meet and the experiences life will afford you will paint a picture so beautiful, Picasso with all his talent would have never topped it. Finally, learn to embrace the makings of your collage, for there is no other like it, nor will there ever be.

This post was written by Cikida Gcali.

Follow Cikida on Instagram (@missmagnate) and Twitter (@missgmagnate) and follow her blog The Money Fam on Instagram (@themoneyfam),Twitter (@themoneyfam) and Facebook ( 

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Cikida Gcali
  • Vuyelwa
    Posted at 10:26h, 09 January Reply

    You are an inspiration…keep going.

    • Pelontle Mosimege
      Posted at 13:36h, 17 January Reply

      100% agree with you on that 🙂

  • Selebogo Molefe
    Posted at 04:00h, 10 January Reply

    Beautifully written. It’s been such a pleasure seeing you rise. Keep thriving

  • Mashilo
    Posted at 14:01h, 14 January Reply

    Beautiful. Will wait for more of this beautiful work

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