When you are your biggest critic, it is hard to believe that you are doing well, or have done well. In most of the things you do, you seek perfection, idealism.
You spend a lot of time and energy analysing and cross analysing, asking if what you did was the best that could be done, if it is possible to do better, and how to do better, but better is not good enough.
When you are simultaneously your biggest competitor and your biggest cheerleader, you will have to learn to thrive in nearly eternal chaos in the mind.
To be very vulnerably honest, I wish I could let myself rest.
I wish I would let me admit to myself that I have done well.
Life Cookie No. 1; Sometimes Loyalty Means Letting Go
‘‘I have learnt to embrace the excitement of having something new.
Or even merely just the possibility of having something you’ve hoped for- for a long time, or even for a short time.
And I have also learnt that it is okay if, when you finally get it, you’re not as excited as you thought you’d be.
Or you are, but it eventually dies down
Or it dies down quicker than you thought it would.”
It is a gift, to be able to live in the moment, relishing on best case scenarios of every other thing going on in your life.
Every chance you get, choose wildness. Choose to entertain the biggest, fiercest, craziest of your dreams. Constantly be assured that this thing-is the best thing that ever happened to you, or will be the best thing that ever happened to you. Entertain the thought that this thing will actually bring you the joy you expect it to bring, and in uncontrollably big measures.
Decide that whatever you do, whichever road you take, it will be the one to lead you to the place where you have always wanted to be. And so, whenever it makes sense to you to pursue that happiness, do it.
And take yet another road; again, with the same dedicated conviction that this new road I’m taking, it will be the one that leads me to the place I’ve always wanted to be.
And if you do, and the happiness turns out to be not the kind of happiness you thought it would be; or it does bring you joy, just not in the glorious amounts you thought it would; or it fails to bring you happiness at all; or it turns out to be a source of pain to your life, it is okay to give up and retreat; and it is also okay to recharge and give it another go. Or fifteen more gos- what the heck?
Things are unpredictable. People are unpredictable, the world is unpredictable. Do not waste your time preserving your grit, watering down your eccentricity, rounding off your aspirations to the nearest normal, striving to be typical.
We exist in a strange space, where one thing is totally unacceptable today, and by tomorrow morning, it is a train that everyone seems to be quite okay with, and everyone is racing to jump on it. Some of the things we can’t probably imagine our lives without, today, were not even in existence two years ago. One day you wake up and everything has changed. You cannot afford to inconvenience yourself by depriving yourself of the very thing your heart beats for, in exchange for fitting in and being ‘acceptable’. The weight of regret and self-betrayal does not sound like pleasant or easy baggage to carry.
One thing I ask, is that you do not romanticize the idea that your happiness is a destination. Allow yourself room to grow and evolve; and adapt.
Pursue your truth with conviction. Stay true and loyal to you and the little nudging voice in your head that always reminds you to be you and do your best. Do not feel guilty for changing your path whenever you feel like it is no longer leading you to your truth. Sometimes letting go is loyalty.
Romanticize your life, and romanticize the fact that it is a continuous and endless journey.
Can you be better? Can you do better? Do you have even the smallest, bare minimum requirements to be better? Then go do, and be better.
I hate clichés. I absolutely detest them. Anyone who knows me well enough knows this about me. This introduction also happens to be one of the most common clichés, it is actually my first. But with the year we’ve had, please allow it – I’ll allow it. See, this year, it has been the most important year of my life yet. I am unable to refuse to acknowledge the fact that this has, indeed, truly been the best year so far, and I have absolutely loved it!
The highs of 2020 were so high. Very high. And the lows? Extremely low. What I would say was the lowest point, was this period where I was experiencing what I would term as a bout of dysthymia or something akin to that. It was a very difficult and wearisome period. I felt unhealthy, unhappy, unwanted… I suffered from dysmorphia in vast degrees- (something I never got to realize until months later when I was already way over it, and in the process of investigating what the heck had been going on) – crazy. I felt heavy and unattractive. I was also unoccupied, and stuck at home, life felt frivolous and trivial, but also so overwhelmingly large and heavy. I felt like this housefly- a small, irrelevant, more or less useless creature – that somehow, was expected of by the world to accomplish giant and complex human tasks that its little housefly hands could not bear . Like, how cruel is this world, to assign me, a mere housefly that feeds and thrives on dirt, the huge responsibility of successfully performing open heart surgeries on humans? l was an alien. No one spoke my language or understood my existence, experience, feelings, actions and emotions. It was a dark place. I hurt a lot and discovered many wounds. Many healed too, a lot of old and some new. At the lowest moment in my life, I managed to learn the most about joy – and how to make happiness out of seemingly irredeemable situations. The paradoxes of life. It is difficult to know you are happy if you never have been sad.
The highs. The highs were absolutely, insanely beautiful. The greatest blessing of all, was finding my tribe. I got to meet some of the most amazing people, that I deeply understood and who deeply and equally divined me. People with warm hearts, loud laughs, fiery souls, unending banter, witty humour, intelligent minds and kindness so pure, I was surrounded by angels- it felt like. People who filled my soul with so much love. People into whom I poured my love and my heart into, and they reflected it back, matching my energy, me and them mutually complementing each other, so divinely effortlessly, it was unreal. I unapologetically and wholeheartedly indulged in countless beautiful moments, with these beautiful people, feeling the warmth of community with this tribe, and never have I ever, experienced so much love. In such generous servings, I thought I would explode! I gave, and almost immediately, I always received. I never asked but boy, did I get! This year I loved. I said Iove you so many times, it became second nature! I told everyone in my life who mattered, that they did! I lived my life in love, and moved in love, spoke with love, served with love, corrected with love, gave with love, and received with love! I sent so much love out to the world, and I got back so much more right back! I may have lacked, sometimes, in faith, finances or fortitude, but never shall I dare say that I lacked in love. For I truly loved and was truly loved.
The learning that I have done in this year alone opened my eyes to so many things that I never really thought about, or otherwise really just took for granted. This past year was filled with many firsts, lots and lots of Aha! moments, a lot of keen reflections, meditation, affirmations, mindfulness and intention. It is as if a whole new element of life was unlocked, and my greatest blessings just started pouring in, and overflowed. I suddenly gained access to my emotions and was able to feel so intensely that each day felt like the first day of my life. My thoughts were amplified, clear as a bell. I exercised religiously as the dopamine was so pleasantly intoxicating. I went on long walks alone, just me, my headphones and my playlist of an assortment of all genres of music. I danced alone a lot, a lot! I wrote lots of stories, read even more. I poured lots of love and lots quality time into myself. I learnt new skills, improved some and monetized some. I bought myself many presents, and I received so many presents too! I cooked and ate lots of good food, imbibed lots of drinks, partied so hard, tools lots of pictures, I might have even fallen in love at some point, went on so many adventures, all with this heart that felt brand new – it felt like this heart was soaking up these experiences like a sponge. The curiosity, the yearning, the intensity of intention with which this new, brave heart was beating, its enthusiasm and strength of will, its indefatigable craving for more activity, more joy and more stimulus, ah, it was exhilarating!
You know, before I fell into that pit of never-ending sadness earlier in the year, everything was mundane. Food was just food, school was just school. Family was just some people I shared genes with – and for some reason looked like me in one way or another , friends were just some random individuals I happened to stumble upon as I went by with life. Nothing was profound or deep, things just were. I stared at myself going down a very dangerous path of mental health struggle, unable to help myself or stop the madness. I was so convinced that I was not going to make it. Somehow, though, I did. In some sort of way, I did, and I will be eternally grateful. I swore to be eternally grateful. This has been the greatest achievement for me of all this year- to have carefully and commitedly educated, relentlessly loved and desperately cared for myself, and eventually nursing myself back to health. With endless nights of reparenting and learning and unlearning. Talking slowly to myself. I still do. I talk to my heart, I tell it it’s okay that you are hurting, you will be okay. You are strong and you will be just fine. Just give it a little more time. I ask my mind, what is bothering you today? I tell my mind it is okay, my dear, that you are fearful, and scared of all these things. You are not foolish, to feel like that. Your feelings are valid… And sometimes, I find, that that is all we truly need, to be told that we are not crazy and that our emotions are not trying to betray us, rather, to guide us to and through healing and finding our purpose.
This year has been the year that I have cried the most, fought so many battles within and outside myself, lost friends, lost jobs, fell into deep dark places. It has also been the year that I have laughed the most, loved so much and so many people and so hard it almost hurt, won so many battles, read the most books, worked the hardest, grown the most and prayed the most. I have so much to be grateful for, too much. I feel like I have been truly and greatly blessed.
It was a tough year, I can’t believe I made it. Yet I did, despite all odds. You did too. We’re not so bad, after all. We’re on this other side, already, dear friend. Cheers to us 🥂
This is my prayer for you this new year. My affirmations for you, for this next phase.
I hope you find peace. I hope you find love. I hope you are surrounded by people who uplift you and encourage you. I pray that you always have the courage to go out and seek that which makes your heart jump in joy. I hope that you always have the courage to keep going, dusting yourself off and keeping on moving. I pray that your heart remains strong. I pray that your body remains strong. I pray that your bones and muscles exponentially grow stronger as they support your greatest pursuits. I pray the ground on which you walk on feels firm. I hope your skies remain eternally high and the may the air you breathe always be crisp and may it always fill you with enthusiasm, renewed strength and hope to keep chasing your joy. I pray that you give in love and that you receive in love. I pray that you always remember that you do deserve all the good things in life. I pray that you always feel beautiful, worthy and good enough. I pray that you accept your blessings and welcome more. I pray that you laugh heartily, and that when you cry, you know that you shall soon laugh heartily. I hope that as you are kind, the world be kind to you. I pray that you never lack, in material, in ideas nor in emotion. I hope you pray, give thanks, practice gratitudeand growmultidimensionally.
I earnestly pray that you have an amazing year. May it be a cornucopia of blessings, pleasures, wins and joys.
You know, every so often, or maybe once in a while, I look at you, and I see something I had never seen before. See, for instance, a couple of months had passed after knowing you, before I realized that your hairline was a little heavier on the left side, and the hair on the right side of your head generally seemed to be thinning quicker than the left side. You had said that you had hoped I would never get to notice it, but you had also said, afterwards, that you were happy I had. It was new, then. We were new. Now, I know every inch of your body, as you do mine.
Yesterday, I noticed this look on your face, when I confidently say something that is either possibly not completely true, or something that is close to a truth- or an irrelevant lie. An irrelevant lie, not a white lie, because normally this kind of lies, I don’t tell in order to protect anyone’s feelings. It is usually those trivial things that I really don’t want to get my thoughts and energy into so much, so I overly summarize. Or I round off to the nearest yes, no or okay. Or sure. I love saying ‘sure’ . I see how confident it makes you in my word. And also it shuts down conversations very quickly. But sometimes when you summarize something too much it becomes almost like a lie. Do you find?
The thing with these little lies, is not how petty or irrelevant, or even how potentially dangerous they are. It is the fact that if I ever told anyone else these lies, they would believe them instantly, without a cloud of doubt. They would eat it up, devour it ravenously. I think you would agree that I know my way around words. And that I could almost always get the reaction I am aiming for, from people with whom I interact. Especially when I talked like that, lied like that, so effortlessly. Dismissing the areas of conversations I’m not interested in getting into, watering down relevance of points I don’t consider worthwhile, postponing arguments, steering results of a dialogue, with lies like these. But not you. You see right through them.
You don’t really look at me in the eyes. You do, actually: rarely. And when you do it, it is quick and evanescent. You said I have an overpowering gaze. That my eyes intimidate even those who I love and love me. Like the way you love me, you know, you said. You said that when we make eye contact, it feels like I am piercing into your soul, dissecting through all the things you want concealed forever. Your failures, shortcomings, impediments, past traumas, secret longings. And it feels like, even though you have known me for years, this is the first time we have met. You said a short session of eye contact with me is like a long and difficult staring contest with that version of yourself you deem most ruthless. You said you like watching me as I sleep, because that way you get to look at my face, without having to feel overpowered. I am often unable to explain why I always thought these were compliments. You once said that you would much earlier engage in a heart to heart before you ever sought out an eye to eye. I remember, that night, we had laughed so much. We had had a heart to heart. A conversation I still look back to, and smile from ear to ear, and occasionally I feel some cold droplets of on my chin. Once or twice, I have bawled my eyes out to the memories I hold of this night. If you had let yourself see me in the light that night, you would have seen how lit up, with excitement and fascination, my eyes were. And the mixture of sad and happy tears running from the corners of my eyes all the way to my ears. You would have seen how much emotion you inspired within me. How much power your words had over me. I smiled, laughed and cried that night. And years later, I smile, laugh and cry at the memories of that night.
Yesterday, when you asked if I had completed that task we agreed I would sort out, I said yes. I didn’t bother to immediately watch you and see your reaction, to see if you had bought it. I said it, almost in passing because I was at the sink. I was washing plates and glasses from lunch time. You were holding a glass of orange juice in your hand, and you were looking at me. I could feel the warmth of your gaze on me. You said, Hm, and almost immediately turned with your whole body and went into the next room. Yet as you turned away, quickly, it wasn’t quick enough. As I saw it. I saw that look. There was a little bit of unsure disappointment, kind of asking ‘why would she lie about something like that?’, yet in the same breath, another thought was reprimanding the original thought. It said that it was counterintuitive, it would make no logical sense that I was lying. But I was.
Yet there was a resignation, a knowing that what I had said was not the truth but recognizing too, that delving into it would hurt my and our feelings. A humility. Almost noble. You didn’t say it loudly, but I heard you saying to yourself, ‘She is definitely lying to me, but I could never confront her.’ So you made yourself believe I was right, and you decided that you weren’t. Even though you knew very well that you were.
I always felt blessed that I seemed to possess the ability to discern the cues people displayed in colloquy. Their unspoken feelings, unaired thoughts and suppressed or withheld emotions It seemed to give me the upper hand in many social interactions, and made me feel like I was always in control of the scene. Like a director on set, or a puppeteer with marionettes. This has always a blessing, I said yesterday, with one rare exception.
Yesterday, I was filled with shame, fear and anger. I looked at the face of this person I have been in love with for years and it finally dawned on me, deeply and profoundly. That it was not you, it was me. It is me. It has always been me. It had always been me. With my guilt, the conceited pride, and all the shame I felt for feeling these feelings. My attrition inflicted upon your will and stance. I had trodden on the hearts of the people who cherished me, of the person who worshipped the ground I walked on. I had- I have, always made the people who ever valued my presence, indentured to me and my needs. Putting them under the obligation of assuaging my desire for approval, praise and romance. I have been constantly, compulsively and so selfishly choosing myself. For so long have I been indulged in this selfism, I do not even imagine there exists any other way to live.
I know that you want to break free, and you know you should, but you will not. You enjoy how my eyes jab into and exacerbate the streams of the invective you inflict upon yourself, don’t you? You are human, and we humans, are obsessed with the bliss that flanks the imagination that we have permission to loathe something, even if the thing we are detesting, is ourselves.
So do you like my eyes, Lover? I know that you do.
Flashback to this time one year ago… Unfortunately, I suffer from selective amnesia and I can’t seem to intactly preserve my memories as well as most people I know. I have had hilarious encounters owing to this ‘defect’ but that is a story for another day.
So last year. Between balancing school, life, work and starting a business from scratch, I am unable to decide what takes the cup in terms of magnitude of achievement. I have achieved so little so far because the plans and expectations I have for myself are so huge, but I am eternally grateful that I managed to get past the planning stage in most of those areas. The planning stage, anticipation stage, the getting ready to do stage, the procrastination stage. So comfortable, yet so detrimental, but again so so comfortable. Vicious chain of you ask me.
What to do?
This is a list of 5 key things that I think were very instrumental in my growth this past year
1. Start Just start. I know this has been said literally over a thousand times and when things are said as often as this one line has, they start to make less and less sense over time. However, really, the only way to swim(or to learn to swim) is by first getting into the water.
2. Obsess. I am all for just do it, just start, things will figure themselves out, etc. However, I am not a proponent for doing things without thinking them through, absolutely not. I suggest you obsess over details. Read widely, watch as much content as you can on the topic, ask questions, think, analyze, turn your topic inside out. Think through all those things that matter as far as that task goes, and all the things that matter to you, personally, in terms of values, compromises and expectations. List all the pros and cons you can think of, the risks involved… Do a proper SWOT analysis of all your ideas, plans, fallback plans and yes, plan to fail. Anticipate to fail.
3. DecideAlready After planning and thinking and obsessing, it’s only fair to yourself that you put out all that good work, somehow. You don’t want to be stuck forever at the talking stage with the love of your life, I don’t see why you would then choose to not embrace your ideas and solidify them.
4. You’ve got a cushion! This should have probably topped the list but, no worries. This goes two ways. One, as a student in the university, you have the advantage of being able to save and invest your pocket money without risking you being deprived of your basic needs. You have the liberty of asking for help from parents/ guardians from time to time and getting a little more than enough cash out of them, if you’re lucky. Not all the money that you get is to be used on luxuries. Unless of course, you decide it is. It is good, to once in a while spoil yourself, but it should be within your proper means and under control.
Two, in case you started and you’ve just hit rock bottom, or you feel you are fast approaching there, you can always ask for a boost from the parents; your parents don’t want to see you fail. One plus one. A subpart of this second point – when you’re past the initial stages, and you are doing quite well and you feel the need to expand, you can easily obtain assistance from your folks. I know somebody is going to start wondering what in the world I am talking about, obtaining money from a tough talking Kenyan parent like that. Knowing very well you need a mixture of mathematics, at least 2 sciences, art, tears, mothertongue and lots of prayers to get a single coin out of our lovely African parents, I’m just saying it’s easier to get financial support now, more than ever. You will never be able to get your parents to give you money as much as they will/do while you’re in college. Think about it.
5. Legitness and your gut They go hand in hand. Obviously, whatever you set out on should be legal, moral and legitimate. That goes without saying. Pyramid schemes= scam. Okay? Whatever shape or form it takes, I’m yet to see it hear of a pyramid scheme that is not a scam. Don’t be the one to test out this theory.
Find something that you like and enjoy, something reasonable, something legal. It cannot be that hard to get at least something, right? When it comes to your gut, listen to yourself when you’re researching on and thinking or talking about this task of yours. I know we’re told trust your heart but take your mind with it, true, but do not underrate the importance of what your gut tells you.
Those 5 things are quite a bit of a concoction of ideas and lessons learnt from across all aspects of my life this past year, touching mostly on starting my small business.
Ultimately, discipline and hard work should be core principles for anyone in whatever field of engagement, who desires progress. Progress is success.
What are the things that have been instrumental in your growth this past year?
As it turns out, I wrote this all the way back in April 2020, but forgot/put off publishing it until now. Procrastination says better late than never, and I totally agree, (for now)!
This is my reaction to the Becoming documentary, based on the book Becoming by Michelle Obama.
My general feeling towards this story is… Well, satisfaction. This is a well told story. It is a beautiful story that is being narrated, yet manages to remain personal and real. The beauty transcends the outward and superficiality, it goes on deeper into souls, igniting sparks, sending chills, lighting fireworks. It is a spirited story. It is both alive and life-giving.
One thing that brings tears to my eyes is watching people discover themselves and what they want, and going on ahead to reach out to these things, budding, fighting, growing, achieving all they planned to, and exceeding their expectations. There’s something about a spirit being, and staying undefeated and unwavering that gives me chills. It’s beautiful. So bring in those happy tears, I’ll happily cry for this one.
So, faith. I hope you have faith in yourself and your instinct. In the institution of your soul to lead and guide you to what is meant for you.
Courage, to wander into the unknown to pursue all your dreams and all that gives you joy.
Passion, to keep doing what you do. Without giving up or complaining. To agree to possess power without forgetting the mission nor forsaking your roots.
And a love like this. Tenacious. A purposeful dedicated, driven love. A love that is both the foundation and has a foundation. A love that drives motivates, supports and fights for and for you. A partnership. A power.
I hope you learn. I hope you grow. I hope you get more comfortable saying no, and more courageous saying yes. I hope you become whatever you want to be.
Me? I am becoming a woman who is passionate, strong and dedicated to my life, the life of those around me and those I love and care about. I am committing to a life that is about building and enriching other lives.
I wish I could get a tattoo. Somewhere on my arm right under the wrist where it is so pale, and the green veins are openly visible. I have dark skin, very dark skin, in my opinion. But this area under my wrist resisted all the melanocytes so it is pale and beautiful. It’s so pretty, one of my favorite parts of me.
So, a tattoo. That says something common but both deep and profound like ich liebe, or live and let live, or one of those semicolon ones that apparently should mean more than just punctuation. Or I could have it be a symbol. Like the Taurus bull, or, or.. the sign of my Cancer lover. Wouldn’t that be nice. Or my initials, or my mom’s initials. Or yet, something, again, meaningless. Because who fucking cares? And why the fuck not? For a second there I was about to defend myself and claim that I don’t normally curse, but that would only just serve to further prove a certain point.
I wish I could get a piercing. I have one pair of piercings, the old mainstream churchy earlobe piercing, which by the way, I only recently came to care for. I’ve wanted a tongue piercing for the longest time. Ahhh I just love the idea of it! It’s so adventurous and outgoing and nothing says fuck the world better than a tongue piercing. Everything you say has to go through that pierced tongue. It would be one hard task to love what you hear from a pierced mouth, if you don’t like what that mouth looks like. Oi, most of the time I don’t make sense. It’s mainly unintentional. But what if it weren’t? I will come to realize that I am a coward. It is blunt and crude, yes, but seriously, why I can’t imagine a life where I don’t wonder what people will say, what my family shall say, is beyond me. See, sometimes I wish I had a rebellious phase, maybe then I wouldn’t be scared of pissing people off. I’m almost thirty, and I realize that all my life I’ve been walking around adventure, trouble, fun, always played it safe, never scared my parents with that ridiculous teenagehood stubbornness and I have no idea why!
I wish I could just get a tattoo, and not care whether my mom stays up all night to pray for her daughter who is losing her way. I wish I didn’t care that if I pierced my bellybutton, my friends will say that I’m a whore. I wish I could get past the tough replies to ‘I want a tongue piercing, what do you think?’ and go well ahead to do it!
So that when you ask, ‘What about that time, when you said you couldn’t sleep?’, we would tell you about that day.
How exhausted we were. How tired our hearts were, of pumping blood to our jaded limbs that didn’t even want to be limbs anymore.
The fact that our lungs incessantly complained about pain. They said,’ No more. It hurts to breathe’. With every breath we took in and out. Yes. ‘Oh,’ we shall remember. How every breath felt like the last one. How we wished it was the last one. ‘It was so so painful.’
Yes, I know all we ever said was that we couldn’t sleep. Or couldn’t eat, or couldn’t go to work.
…but at that moment, when all of this is behind us, oh we shall speak!
We will narrate tales of how hard we fought to stay happy, even when we weren’t.
We will tell you that we never, at any moment, decided to anesthetize our souls. Or numb our spirits.
We will explain, to the detail, how alive we were when we were fighting for freedom.
How we felt each and every storm. As it came, as it endured, as it passed.