When second-year University of Cape Town architecture student Nompilo Sibisi was going through a tough time, she took to doodling and sharing her creations on Instagram this year, and later creating a zine called Maybe. Her contour drawings articulate her personal life experiences, but resonate when it comes to self-love, Instagram and mental health.
“My style of drawing has become very particular in the past year as I fell in love with contour and single line drawings… I’ve always doodled up to the edges of every piece of paper put in front of me but only really started sharing them [online] this year,” she says.
We spoke to Nompilo about her zine, her love for doodling and her self-care starter pack.
What made you create your zine Maybe?
I was having a conversation and the phrase “optimism as a mechanism of survival” came up, and I was like “Ahh, I have to doodle that! And when I was thinking of what to doodle, I just had so many more “mechanisms for survival” to explore, that it felt like I needed more space to explore than just an Instagram post. So, a zine gave me that space and the opportunity to something tangible for a change.
And why the title Maybe?
For me, anxiety manifests in layers of some real, some imagined scenarios that I play repeatedly over in my head. How I get past it (sometimes, when I manage), is through the word “maybe” — “maybe it’ll be terrible, but maybe not, maybe it’ll even be okay”.
On Instagram, you say the zine is about self-love and anxiety. Why do these themes resonate with you?
Anxiety is part of my daily reality and whilst talking about it is hard, sharing my struggles and experience often helps in my healing. The anxiety generates a lot of my content as I’m continually thinking about how to best communicate my feelings. “Self-love” is the other side of the coin, and it’s something I try to use to combat those self-destructive anxious thoughts.
Doodles can be very therapeutic. What do you enjoy most about it?
The freedom to make errors and see your mind wonder out loud on paper.
What has the response to your zine been like so far?
Overwhelmingly good and affirming. I think a lot of my friends bought the zine to be supportive but then found it really relatable. It’s mostly served as a reminder that mental illness is not a unique experience (we’re not in this alone) and that it is so important to continue to talk about mental health!
Besides drawing, which I would assume is part of your self-love starter pack, what else do you do to take care of your wellbeing?
Getting out of bed and out of the house, and claiming that as a small victory. Talking to my mom and friends about my thought processes so that I get some perspective. Being disciplined about regular exercise. And taking pictures of the sky because Cape Town is beautiful. Order Maybe via Nompilo’s ‘gram page.