LIFE

TOXIC FRIENDSHIPS

‘ The prerequisite for spending time with people is that they will feed your flame’ – Will Smith.

Sometimes I sit and reflect on these words, wishing that I had heard them early last year;  I probably would have avoided the pain and a near-depressing episode. But when I really think about it, everything happens for a reason, you either gain something or you lose. Either way though, valuable lessons are learnt.

In this digital age, we are definitely blessed to have social media platforms which we use to share information as well as show our love and appreciation for those we consider dear to us. We celebrate them on a daily basis for being there with us.. in good times and in bad..in sickness and in health. But as with everything else, we tend to only talk about the good times; avoiding even within ourselves discussing the impact of a toxic friendship.

Its taken me months to begin scrambling out of the dark pit I found myself in after a betrayal I was not in any way prepared for. Now I’ll be honest, I saw ALL the red flags, {and they were plenty}, but as always I choose to see the good in someone and give them fresh slates all while promising myself that it would be the final one. It became a cycle, 1 and a half years, but one that had to be broken eventually.

Some of you may be rolling your eyes saying ‘You could have just stopped being friends.  You should have walked away.’ If only it was that easy. Its not in anyone’s conscience to just up and leave someone who told you they suffer from a mental disorder and has in fact self-harmed in front of you. How do you gather up the strength to ignore your conscience and leave? How do you shut off from their cries for help? How do you walk away, with the thoughts of something going wrong at the forefront of your thoughts? Reality is, you can’t do it, in as much as you may want to.. not at first anyway. You first have to fall so far down the pit of goodwill before realising that the end only comes when you have given everything of yourself and there’s nothing left.

There are some signs to look out for that I’ve picked up along the way, both from this incident and another. Hopefully they may help someone else.

THE SIGNS:

  1. Non-Supportive

Toxic friends will not support anything about you, or if they do it will be half heartedly; as though they’ve been forced

2.   Competitive

Anything you have or want, they’ll for some strange reason get it as well or tend to try get it before you

3. Will always try bring you down

Thing about this one is that it happens so subtly; can easily be brushed off as banter. The worst part is if they touch on your insecurities. This is the absolute red flag for me, any genuine friend should never; not even in a joking way bring up any of the insecurities you felt comfortable discussing with them.

4. Will only be your friend when its convenient for them

They have a problem or are bored? They’ll hit you up even when they know its forcing you to go out of your way.. because you’re the good friend. You have a problem? Yeah deal with it yourself; or even worse try convince you that you’re overreacting and whatever is bothering you is really minor even when its not.

The truth is though, everyone is really just looking out for themselves and they can’t be blamed for that. There are good people out there; sometimes you just have to experience the negative ones so that you can truly appreciate the good ones that come along or have been there the entire time.

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So unrelated, but enjoy this picture of me in my dad’s coat during simpler times.

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LIFE

SIBLING RIVALRY.

About 12 years ago, if I was asked about my older brother I would have very few positive things to say. Trust me my parents especially my mother gave me endless talks on the importance of having an older brother and how if they were to die at that moment he’d be the one to take of my younger brother and I.

I being the stubborn girl I was,refused to listen to them until they eventually gave up. I would literally find the smallest excuse to fight with him and when I say fight I mean literally that, the blows that have been exchanged between us would definitely have earned us roles in WWE ( who else was shocked to find out it was all acting? ). Funnily enough that was one of the few shows we could have been found watching in peace. He probably disliked me because he enjoyed being an only child and getting attention all the time until that attention had to be divided, or maybe it’s because I was just annoying. 😀 (If you know him feel free to ask).

I guess things begun to change when he left Kenya to study, you know how they say absence makes the heart grow fonder? I kind of missed his presence in the house but pride would never allow me to admit that. It was actually so bad I never used to Skype him cause I was scared my true emotions would show.

3 years later I also left my parent’s house to join him and I guess its safe to say we’ve grown closer.

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No we don’t look alike -.-

What breaks my heart is seeing our parent’s generation allowing material things to get in the way of their relationships with their siblings. These are people they grew up with somehow getting along and now they would go as far as wishing death upon them.

How does a fight even get to the point of wishing death upon another?

They say charity begins at home, maybe that’s why there’s no love in the world; there’s no love between us and our brothers.

How would you let a stranger come between you and your brother? To the point that you’d get joy from seeing your own blood suffer. Remember the methali(proverb) we used to be forced to write inshas on? Damu ni nzito kuliko maji. English equivalent: Blood is thicker than water.

Remember the stories you’d write? Why not incorporate that in real life.

How do we let the hate we have towards them blind us from remembering how good they were to us in the past, and possibly prevent us from experiencing the good times we could have with them in the present.

Only when they die then we will know..

Our pride will be the end of us all.

Why is it then when we disagree with someone we let it develop into an argument which ends up as a fight. We are all entitled to our own opinions, but that doesn’t mean we are right.

Why then can’t I be the bigger person in that situation and try meet the other person halfway?

Why would I then allow the fight to go on for years on end ? I can barely face the person while in the same room as them.

The worst thing about fights between parents and their siblings is that they allow them to trickle down to the next generation as a means of “shielding them”. What are you shielding them from other than the chance to get to know and interact with their own blood?

20 years might be too late to try forming strong relationships with someone you had the chance to get to know from the day of their birth.

I fought with my brother yes, we still do fight at times and we still have future fights to go, but that doesn’t mean we let it get in the way of our relationship.

I cannot expect myself to be closer friends to people I meet out here in the world than I am to my own siblings.

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Me and my baby ❤

Jealousy could be the issue.

You see them making a name for themselves and building themselves up, it eats you from the inside out, you do not like it. You had the same opportunities, you probably even got more from the parents that you share but you let jealousy consume you and you begin pulling away.

You then begin turning people away from them by spreading false rumours, they hear these rumours and laugh in disbelief but continue loving you..however they learn to love you from a distance.

You can’t stand to see your brother happy while you’re hating, you gang everyone against him and it makes you satisfied to see him all on his own.

Money , what is it other than paper that is meant to help in conducting business. Why do we use it as a measure of our wealth?

Or maybe we’re jealous of the people who steal our sibling’s hearts and turn their attention away from us. Well how else would you expect your family to expand?

You honestly do not have to agree with their partner of choice. It’s okay its just none of your business honestly. Now I’m not saying sit and watch as they are being led astray, by all means step in and advise them if you see them changing for the worse.

However, do not interfere where you shouldn’t. Welcome him/her to the family especially if they end up getting married and treat them with the same respect you’d want to be treated with by another family.

 

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Last words are so important.

If say, (God forbid) your sibling was to be called back by God today, can you remember the last words you said to them?

How do those words make you feel? Good or bad? Are you proud of your last encounter with them or would you wish to God you had another chance and you swear you’d do better?

Well instead of waiting to wish for better days, try make amends now, call them or text. It doesn’t matter if they don’t respond at least you’re at peace.

Lets not allow our siblings to suffer in silence when we are there to help them. <3.

Spread love. 🙂

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This is a picture that will welcome you to my late grandparents house 🙂

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Feel free to add your thoughts. 🙂

 

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LIFE

THERE’S NO RUSH, TAKE YOUR TIME.

So let’s switch things up a little bit.

What I’m addressing here, is a subject that’s been on my mind for a while. In fact its something that I personally went through and I see a number of young people experiencing the same thing.

‘….High school is over ..what next?’

Some people have this figured out :straight to med/law/engineering school and that’s okay. Others..well they just have no single clue and that’s still okay.

THE END OF MY HIGH SCHOOL CAREER

November 4th 2015: lunchtime

Having my last exam paper collected by the invigilator was such an exhilarating feeling, and what made it better was that some people in that room still had one more exam to write.(Yes History was always the better choice..debatable). If you had asked me at that moment where my next steps were I’d have given you a clear and concise answer. I was going to the Dental School at the University of Nairobi (U.O.N), parallel of course because given the high levels of cheating that year and also knowing my capabilities I had already ruled out the option of going in direct.

 

This was a dream I had since I was a 10-year-old child in standard 4. All my compositions for “What would you want to be when you grow up” contained the same thing, ‘Dentist’. At that tender age I already knew all the hard work it was going to take; a) Perform well in my KCSE particularly in the three sciences, b) Work my way through the 5 years of dental school, c) Do a government attachment, d) Probably end up doing a masters e) Begin practicing. 

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This is a picture of me in class 4..YEAR 2007. Dreams of being a dentist began.

One question I always ask myself is: would my younger self be proud?

POST HIGH SCHOOL.

Truth is I was ready to do the short courses everyone does after high school. Reality is my parents refused. I’m sure most people would be surprised by their decision because for most, they are forced into doing short courses to avoid trouble and perhaps laziness. Meanwhile, my parents wanted me to just take a break. 4 years in the Kenyan system is enough to drive anyone mad, and the next 5 would be even more hectic. They just wanted me to do something that wouldn’t be as tiring for that period.

Little did we know that would result in me being off school for nearly a year.

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2016.

My year started with a short trip to Dubai with my mum where a conversation with her made me realise that my passion for Dental Sciences had begun to diminish. Obviously being the proud person I am, I did not let anyone know my true feelings. Instead I kept that to myself. I thought that maybe not talking about it would once again, light the fire that used to fiercely burn inside me.

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Results Day.

Let me tell you how this was one of the most stressful days of my entire life. Not only were results being released but I had the gift of having BOTH my parents in the house. My dad literally refused to leave the house till results were released. The main cause of that pressure however, is that 2 days to the results’ day I had a mini panic attack, I was very certain I had failed my Chemistry practical which would be the main reason for my poor performance.

My mum sent the text.. 5 seconds later the reply came.. I held my breath because she was silent for a while.. then all of a sudden she’s coming towards me hugging me and REFUSING to show me my grades… I was so confused.. when she finally announced them, they (she and my dad) were over the moon. But I..I  broke down in tears (Never seen my parents both confused at the same time)

Truth is it was at that moment that I just knew I had reached a dead-end on the path towards reaching my dreams.

After finally opening up and explaining to them the situation, they advised me to go ahead and apply for the course then we see what happens. They had faith I’d get in but my gut feeling told me otherwise.

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This Photo with one of my closest friends was taken the evening of results day in school.

The Aftermath

Panic set in and I decided to try apply for a business course. Business has always been my Plan B. Although after reflecting on it I came to realise that it actually has always been my preferred choice, I just deviated a bit and was too scared to go back to it.

Well, I did apply to Strathmore University for a Business Course….which was a disaster..  I got rejected. ( Contrary to what people believe, anyone can get rejected doesn’t matter if you were in Kianda before or not.) My parents don’t even know this by the way, I was way too embarrassed at the time to let them know. (Sorry mum and dad)

Time was ‘running out’, and I began panicking because I did not know where I’d end up. My mum did not want to hear of me applying to majority of the Universities in Kenya for business so that really left me desperate. My only other option was to leave the country, which I was uncertain of.

June-August

Most application statuses by this time had changed from verified to shortlisted and finally to admissible. Personally my status still read verified. It was in this period that I went to the only person I believed would help.

Getting down on my knees I asked God to show me where I was meant to be. I was lost and needed help finding myself academically. Deep down, I already knew the answer but I needed to be sure.

In early August I finally made my decision. It was really hard because it meant letting go of a lot of things, some of which I’m still trying to come to terms with over a year later. I decided to take the opportunity offered to me by my parents and leave the country. This decision was made based off of two things:

  1. My application status still read verified.
  2. Opportunity only knocks on your door once.

 

Final Remarks

You may ask, “so Ivy how do you know you made the right decision? ”

Remember how I asked God for help? I got my response from Him on 22nd September 2016. While walking into the arrivals terminal of an airport miles away from home, I received a text from U.O.N which told me to report to school the following day with immediate effect three weeks after my course had already started. It was at that moment that I knew I had made the right choice.

The point is  it’s okay to take your time figuring out what you want to study in University or if you even want to go to University. It may be better to delay your year of entry than to start something you’re uncertain of. At the same time its okay to start a course you may think is for you only to leave after a year because you realise halfway that it’s not what you want.

I know not everyone is lucky enough to have parents who are willing to let them take a year off school, or who support their dreams of perhaps becoming musicians, but don’t give up on your dreams, they are valid. Just try find a way of showing your parents how passionate you are about something and maybe, just maybe, they’ll give in.

‘You have to know where you are first, to know where you’re going.’- Eric Thomas.

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I have no idea why I always look mad at something. Photo by Tara Thiani. I.G art_lens

 

 

 

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