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

TO THE ‘STRONG’ FRIEND

There was a tweet I saw on Twitter some time back:

You’re not the strong friend, you just failed to set your boundaries.’  

I’m on the fence with this statement. On one side I feel it was something said out of ignorance, on the other side, it bears a lot of truth for the vast majority of those classified as the ‘strong’ friend.

To the strong friend,

Know that you are treasured and loved, that someone somewhere is able to get through their day because you took your time to listen and understand them. You didn’t throw any judgments their way as they confided in you, nor did you just let the information pass you by. Instead you, with your empathetic nature, were able to correct them in the areas they fail at and at the same time, lift and encourage them in those that they are giving up on. In fact, you push them towards trying new things which you see they have the capability to excel at.

You’ve dedicated your time, precious and limited, to ensuring those you care about are able to go about their daily lives. Don’t you see the great sacrifices you make? Calling them when you know they need someone to talk to, being there when they need a shoulder to cry on? Welcoming them into your home when they want to run away from theirs?

You’re giving your time, making sacrifices for them because you value them. You’re able to detach yourself from being selfish and uncaring to being able to accommodate others.

but..

Who is there for you when you break down? They don’t see the tears you cry when you close your bedroom door nor do they notice the stress lines you’re developing from having to carry their burdens in addition to your own.

They call you when they’re doing good, to talk about their successes, to share their joyous moments because that’s what friends do. But what kind of friend barely tries to find out how  you are doing? Is it that they actually do not give a single damn if you’re alright or not. I won’t deny, they do ask, but only for a brief second, how you are, it’s more a formality than anything else. You answer the generic ‘I’m fine’  , but in a way that says ‘I’m not fine, please ask me once more’  unfortunately you’re the strong one and so they accept it as is and move on.

And now you’re finding yourself, drowning in all your problems; school, family, your relationships. The worst part is any straw you were trying to desperately clutch at, is further away now that you’re also dealing with the issues of your friends as well.

See, you’ve failed to set your boundaries. You’ve failed to show what as well as how much you can tolerate. You think that just because you’re the stronger one, you don’t deserve to  have time to yourself, or to have a shoulder to lean/ cry on. You’re breaking slowly, falling into depression and there’s no one around to help you. Unfortunately you trying to reach out for help causes them to turn your perceived ‘strength’ against you. The minute you try to get things focused on you, they find a way to change everything  and make it about them. You let them, because they’re the weaker ones, they deserve to be listened to and helped but you don’t.

You’ve begun using this position of yours as someone’s shoulder, to temporarily hide from your own personal issues. Can’t you see, by doing this, you’re causing yourself to be eaten from the inside out. Everyone expects you to be strong and sane, live a perfect life; you know that’s impossible but here you are trying to do it by playing hero and not focussing on the main problems in your own personal life.

See we all carry our own problems. No human being on this earth lives a life free from trouble. If it’s not one thing, it’s definitely another.

But as the strong one,who is there for you? You’ve built yourself  in such a way that you feel you have no one to go to because your friends have no time for you,

Its time to focus on you, not by refusing to help your friends, but by finding a way to take care of yourself in addition to trying to help them out. Find a balance, find peace.

 

Side Note:

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I’ve personally gone through the emotional trauma of having to deal with issues people brought to me. I was receiving it all but had nowhere to let it out. It was both mentally and physically draining. I had to find a solution, and the perfect one was learning how to put myself first. 

Remember you can’t help others if you’re unable to help yourself.

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LIFE

TO: A YOUNGER ME. (Part II)

A continuation of Part I..  TO: A YOUNGER ME. (Part I)

 

THE FINALE?

The point of this ‘chapter’ is to enable the reader to appreciate that change happens to everyone both internally and externally. Take time and use the questions to reflect on your own change over the years.

 

4.  IS THERE ANYTHING YOU DREAMED OF ACHIEVING WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER, ARE ON THE WAY TO ACHIEVING OR ARE STILL HOPING TO ACHIEVE?

 You may not be where your younger self wanted to be.. but one thing for sure is that where you are at this moment, is where you’re meant to be.

R.J.K – We all have dreams as children of course. My main ones are in the category of hoping to achieve or still hoping to achieve. I’ve always loved the idea of wealth and making a name for myself in the world. Remember when I said I am materialistic? For me the end goal is to be at the top, successful and powerful no matter what. People say first you get the money then the power. You make some paper then you make your own rules. I probably push myself to get on with my life and try to make something out of myself so that one day I can look at the life I’d be living and just smile and my efforts.  That’s what makes my world go round.

Nyambura–  Yaass! I dreamed of writing for a larger audience than my diary, God and my four walls. Now that this is a reality, I am working to build Bloomkalture to greater heights. Always dreamed of being a talk show host as well, let’s see how that goes! 😉

Titania –  I guess intellectual growth is major one. I’m currently in Uni and I love what I’m doing. When I started my course guys were betting I wouldn’t even finish an year but I’m going to my second semester in second year and I think I got this. The second one is really funny I want 12 children, I always have, but I’m still hoping to achieve it.

I also hope to travel the world.

 

Serut–  I’ve always wanted to do well in school all through which I can say is still going well. Sometimes I tend to be short sighted so I never thought much about the future. More of my goals have started to pop up as I’ve grown.

 

 

 Stephanie- I dreamed of many things, to date I still do. I’ve always thought of myself as a child in this playground called the world. I wanted to start a blog and I did. I wanted to get to med school, worked hard and I did. Even small things like learning matatu routes…done that! There are some projects I’m working on currently, humanitarian in nature .. let’s see where that goes 😊

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Rafael–  I always lied to myself that I will be a pilot and I will fly the world. Well, I have achieved the latter, the former remains a bucket-list item. I also dreamt of never having to struggle to approach girls and engage them in conversation. So, I believe that is a bonus.

 

Andrew –  I dreamed of performing for crowds of people and making my own music. So far I am achieving that, albeit with smaller crowds and more or covers than original music. The dream has “evolved” to being a producer as well. So far I am still learning how to do that.

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Owen–  Umm, I always dreamed of becoming a performer. Lights, big stages and the audience always made me happy. Made me feel like I was at a home away from home. Have I achieved it? I’d say I’m in the process of achieving it. Everything takes time and everything has its Own time.

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Louise–  I dreamed of being a model. I am currently working on it and have made steps towards it thankfully

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Photographer’s IG Handle : @kidd_volt

 

5. WHAT DOES ‘GLO-UP’ MEAN TO YOU? IN WHAT WAY DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE HAD A GLO-UP BETWEEN YOUR YOUNGER YEARS AND NOW?

‘OMG Ivy you’ve had such a glow up’.. is a sentence I’ve heard enough times. I appreciate that I have physically change but that shouldn’t blind me from acknowledging my internal growth as well.

R.J.K– The term “Glo up” to me means transformation as you grow. A positive change in you that portrays you in such a manner that can be paralleled to you radiating a glow thus the term “Glo up”. To me, “Glo up” comes with two types of growth: Physical and Mental. Sometime this week, I met somebody I had not seen in a few years and just as we got to catching up, she expressed how I have changed and I’m looking pretty handsome. That statement wouldn’t be uttered if I was looking ugly lol. Personally, I’m very conscious of my physical appearance I don’t mean I’m embarrassed or anything but I pay keen attention to detail when it comes to how I look. I like to dress in a certain way, I like my haircut done in a certain way and neat, by the time I’m leaving the house, I’m feeling confident in my look. I guess this contributes to my physical “Glo up” heavily but I’m happy with myself and how I appear as opposed to the chubby little me looking a bit fugly but wouldn’t change a thing on myself now and I guess I have “Glown up”

In reference to mental growth, my mental “Glo up” has probably majorly happened in the past 1-2 years. I did state that as a younger person, I was a naïve person.  The last 2 years have come with some hard-learnt lessons from mistakes that I have made, perceptions of “friendships” that I deemed to have been the ideal friendships but soon tumbled down and the hardest of all, seeing dark sides of people who I thought were my riders. Shit happens, friends come and go, relationships actually do die but that’s not the end of the book, but the end of a paragraph or a chapter in the book of being the greatest version of you. Life goes on like nothing happened and you indeed meet other people who you will fall in love with as friends and others as companions and what I’m just trying to point out is that for me to state the previous sentence without a heavy heart or any despair, it requires you to fall, probably fall again and get yourself up but for you to get up I believe you have to grow mentally as that growth only comes as a result of learning something from the things that put you down or tear you apart. Embrace each setback. So, looking back I’m really proud of the person I’m growing up to be and to me, for me to look at myself and be impressed with the character I’m building for myself simply tells me that there is growth in my character and mentality.

Nyambura– Yaass! I dreamed of writing for a larger audience than my diary, God and my four walls. Now that this is a reality, I am working to build Bloomkalture to greater heights. Always dreamed of being a talk show host as well, let’s see how that goes! 😉

Titania– For me a ‘glo up’ is to grow or change in all aspects of life (for the better of course) whether it’s physically, emotionally, spiritually or even mentally.

So how have I gone through a ‘glo up’? I think I’m still going through my ‘glo up’ phase because I’m not where I want to be as yet but I’m seeing progress. I won’t lie it’s hard like waking up to work out or food prep or even constantly doing my devotion and learning how to balance them all. But the journey’s alright. I think becoming more confident is my major ‘glo up’

 

Serut– I see a glo up as general improvement in different areas of your life despite most people taking it in the physical sense. This could be a book on it’s own 😅 I’ve learned to trust and believe in myself more and disregard the negativity around me which has helped me stand on my own feet and be happier in general. These looks have come from far heh 😂 looking back at late primary and early high school I realize that puberty hit like a truck. I love my body more now that I have accepted that what society deems to be desirable isn’t set in stone. My decision making is also much better at the moment because growing older and experiencing different things has made me wiser to some extent.

 

Stephanie– Glo up to me means becoming a better version of yourself be it physical, emotional or behaviour-wise. I’ve had a glo up character wise, but it’s still a work in progress. I’ve learnt to accept that not everyone will like you but that’s life.  I’m not perfect but that doesn’t mean im not one step closer to becoming a better person than I was yesterday.

 

 

Rafael– Well, for me a glow up would be you becoming a better version of yourself. And I feel in as much my academic prowess has dwindled over the years, I have heard glow up in social, mental, and even physical areas.

 

Andrew– “Glo-up”, to me, would mean a noticeable positive change in one’s character, style or activities they do – an incredible step-up.

I feel like I have had a glo-up in interacting with other people – speaking less and listening more, not being too open initially and being patient with the process of forming friendships.

Also, I feel like I’ve had a glo-up in music. I have become more confident when playing for people, valuing practice time more, as well as in airing my views during practice to other band-mates or a singer.

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Owen– “Glow up”. Hmm does Puberty count? to me means a transition, a change from one thing to something better. Do I feel like I’ve had a glow up? Umm yes. A very serious one. Emotionally, Mentally even Physically 😏 but definitely there’s been a change. Both seen and unseen

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Louise– To me, ‘Glo up’ means becoming who you want to be. Whether by losing or gaining weight, starting a natural hair journey or even broadening your knowledge on certain topics (not just the physical stuff). It means becoming the best version of yourself to the point not even a single bit of negativity can deter you, because you know how much it took for you to build yourself to that point.

 

6. WHAT QUOTE/ WORDS OF WISDOM/ BIBLE VERSE/ SONG LYRICS KEEP YOU GOING?

See the thing about words is, they cut deep, particularly in the long run. For that reason we are always warned to be careful of what we read and listen to..

R.J.K

Life must go on & The only person that’s got my back is myself.

A reminder to myself that things will not wait for me, if I want something I work for it and go get it, if something puts me down I should not fall and lie down but instead try put myself together as things will go on if I was to stagnate. There isn’t time and room for bitching and sulking in my life.

 

Nyambura

Life is short and precarious.

-I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! Phillipians 4: 13.

-It’s okay. Keep going!

-Do you, ‘cause no one can do you like you do boo!

Titania

Bible verse Joshua 1:9-10 Galatians 6:9 Proverbs 3:5-6

Quote

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”
 – Buddha

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”
– Lucille Ball

 

Stephanie

  1. Be yourself, you don’t have to fit in .. that’s why you’re you.
  2. Don’t do stuff expecting rewards or payment back
  3. If everyone loves you , there’s something you’re doing wrong
  4. Go for it , whats the worse that could happen?
  5. JUST DO YOU, BOO BOO!

Serut

it’s always darkest before the dawn (lyric from shake it out by Florence and the machine) because no matter how bad things get there’s always light along the way.

Rafael

If you always say no, you will never say yes. (Mine)

Life is like a bike, to keep balancing, you have to keep moving forward. (Anonymous)

Prayer without action is useless. (St. Paul)

 

Andrew

The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

Dream big, start small.

Owen

“Every wolf has its own platform, so choose the wolf to feed.” Words of wisdom? not every-time will the world accept what you’re doing as right.

Louise

  • My Dad once told me ‘The only thing stopping yourself is you’ and that really helped me get out of my comfort zone.
  • Thought become things

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do and he will show you the right way

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Photographer IG Handle : @hanso.theman

 

 

REFLECTION

I’ll keep this short since all I wanted to say has been put forward by the responses above.

  • Glo ups can be both internal and external
  • We all have dreams which we may not have achieved but there’s no time limit to achieve them
  • Life hits us in so many different ways which results in us having different scars.. but we’re still beautiful

 

‘If you are alive, you haven’t reached your best yet.- Eric Thomas.

 

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I know you won’t see him clearly but my dad is in the background 😀

 

 

 

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LIFE

INSECURITY; IT EATS YOU FROM INSIDE.

Insecure (n) : Not feeling at all confident about yourself, your abilities, or your relationships with people.

This ‘condition’ of insecurity is something I’ve suffered from for a big part of my life. It’s crazy the things we allow people to say to us and worse still the negative comments we make to ourselves in addition to that.

‘Would you be friends with people who spoke to you the way you spoke to yourself?’ (Found this on Twitter @jyoungwhite)

I’m going to tell a story about what I have personally allowed myself to go through. Before I begin, I must warn you that this is a very personal post and it may be quite lengthy.

THE BEGINNING

Younger me was very well fed and I say that without exaggeration. I was round but my parents weren’t worried. I was born underweight at 2.9kg, so you can imagine my parents’ satisfaction when I ate well and added weight over the years. In fact according to my mum I couldn’t wear the clothes my brother wore at four months when I was only a month old.

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My mother and baby me. I wonder how she got me to smile because I was a grumpy baby.

HOME IS WHERE IT HURTS

Kids can be cruel. I was about 6/7 , walking around the estate. I saw some girls and decided to go and try befriend them but when I got close enough one made a comment about my weight and size and they both burst into laughter, “fat mama” is what they called me.. there was no one else around us at the time.

We moved, this brought about mixed emotions in me, this is because having no friends in the previous area, I resorted to playing with my pets(we had dogs, cats and birds which were sadly eaten by the dog )and this current estate does not allow pets.

I wanted a change in my life. I was 11 and wanted to have ‘neighbourhood friends’. One night KPLC decided we didn’t need electricity and unfortunately the generator that was available was only for the security systems and street lamps. We were out walking, all of us but I was shy of talking to them, I didn’t know how. As we were passing under one street lamp one boy not so quietly told another “Look at the size of her stomach” and they then proceeded to laugh. I think I cried that night..in my bed the only place I felt safe.

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I miss Mombasa!!

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I honestly look at such pictures and laugh at my choice of clothes

FAMILY DON’T REALISE THEY HURT US TOO

You’d think your family wouldn’t partake in bringing you down right? Wrong? When it comes to family, it hurts the most because these are people who are supposed to love you unconditionally and aim to bring you up when you’re down.

It was an uncle’s wedding year 2012, I was asked to be a bridesmaid, God knows why, I am not close to him, in fact that was the first time I had heard of him.. anyway.. I went for the dress fitting with my mother , I wasn’t feeling confident at all in the dress especially because of the design and the material but it was too late to back out .. I step out of the changing room to find an aunt of mine ( married to my dad’s brother) talking to my mum. She didn’t even bother to say hi, just watched as my mum checked on the dress and the fitting, she then decided to unleash her thoughts..‘Ivy you’re too fat!”

I honestly cannot explain how that made me feel, and how for the rest of the day I had to hide the fact that I wasn’t affected by it, I even managed to convince myself that I wasn’t hurt at all.

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This man is my hero without the cape. I was clearly not amused with being lifted

SCHOOL, THE SECOND HOME

Personally, I was in the same school for 12 years (cue the 12 years a slave jokes) and reflecting on my life there now, I can safely say that they also had a role to play in feeding my insecurities. First of all, and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, the liturgical dancers were always a certain height/size.Okay, maybe that was their personal preference but did they really take the time to think about the impact selectively excluding a group of girls because of their physique could have on them? Probably not. The rest of us were made to watch them practice day in and day out because they didn’t have clothes that could fit us. Couldn’t they have invested in adjustable outfits? (I must admit however that I noticed a change in this trend a few years later).

Now my close friends know that one of my biggest insecurities is my thighs. Trust me when I say that the school played a role in feeding this insecurity. Being called aside during a swimming class and told to invest in a biker(a tight fitting black short) to wear with your costume because your thighs are thick and not firm doesn’t really sit well with a young adolescent, it wasn’t only me though, in following classes I noticed that all ‘big’ girls had been made to buy it. Ever since then, I’ve been so ashamed of my thighs, I’ve always fantasised about getting a thigh reduction just so that they aren’t as big.

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Who remembers how Village Market used to be the best place to go to for swimming?

BE CAREFUL OF THE FRIENDS YOU CHOOSE TO KEEP

When it comes to friendships, we really only have ourselves to blame, because these are people we choose to keep around us.

I had a friend in high school and we were close, inseparable you may say. Our friendship was not a healthy one at all. She’d make all sorts of comments about my body such as my weight or the thickness of my lips(yet another insecurity of mine), you may say it was just banter but truth is it was beyond that and I knew it. Instead of distancing myself from all that negativity, I chose to stay and suffer. Things got so bad I slowly started changing things about myself like my smile, I tried to reduce the thickness of my lips during that simple action because apparently light skins aren’t supposed to have thick lips.

We were reshuffled at the end of form 2 and I was moved to the other class. Honestly, I saw this as my escape route despite feigning sadness at the thought of not being in the same class. For the remaining two years I was constantly being asked why we stopped being friends and being thrown for comments such as “…but you guys were soo close…” someone even had the audacity to tell me that I was hurting her by ignoring her and not talking to her.

Okay maybe I used extreme methods to distance myself but if I was to go back I wouldn’t do it any other way knowing the kind of person I am.

Truth is, when you allow people into your life, you give them some sort of power. With this power, they can either help you or destroy you depending on  how close they can get. It’s better to find yourself and save you from being put down so much you can’t take it anymore. If a friendship isn’t beneficial to you, leave, no one is holding you back.

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I can see the effects of insecurity in this one picture.

 THOUGHTS..?

Who came up with the idea of a perfect body type?  Everyone is allowed to have their preferences but there’s no need to bring another down just because they don’t fit your idea of perfect.

We all need to watch what we say carefully, truth is you may think you’re just messing around with someone but once you touch on their insecurity you can really hurt them.

Children should be taught from an early age to love each other despite their differences. That way as they grow up, they’ll embrace the diversity of people openly.

 

CONCLUSION

You may ask why I’m doing this? Well I’m doing it for the big girls, the small girls and the ones in between. I’m also doing it for the boys because they go through similar experiences but shy away from sharing them.

Love yourself so fiercely no matter what anyone says to you because at the end of the day you only have yourself. Walk with so much confidence that no one will be able to bring you down.

My insecurity ate me from the inside. To date I consider myself a very shy person and would prefer to be alone majority of the time. I am still very insecure about a lot of things, still learning how to deal with my insecurities. I make baby steps each day , because I know I’ll eventually get to a place where I have a sense of security.

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Photo was captured by my friend Brian Wagako. Instagram (@w.a.g.a.k.o) and the makeup by my talented friend Terry Mburu 🙂

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