LIFE

THE SECRET TO LIVING

‘ In a world filled with endless possibilities, why do I find myself clinging tightly to that which is familiar?’

It is a well known fact that the life we live is unpredictable. One second you’re doing well financially, the next you’re struggling to out food on the table. One second you’re here, the next… Why don’t we then choose to live fully?

A year ago today, I received devastating news, death had once more knocked on my family’s door and claimed a member of the clan. The victim this time? Uncle Dick (God rest his soul). To say I didn’t see it coming would be a lie, but it still shocked me. He was my favourite uncle because, despite not having much to his name, he knew the secret to life; Savour the small moments because at the end of it all, they are the big moments. His way of doing this way subtle, but it worked. He would always take time to talk to his nieces and nephews at family events, even if it was only for 5 minutes.

In this last year, not a single month has passed that I haven’t thought about him and as my heart ached, I inevitably found myself thinking about this experience we call life. How despite knowing that every day above ground is a gift, we tend to live as though tomorrow is promised; like we are immortal. Watching once in a life time opportunities pass us by because ‘ tomorrow, next year, next month.’

My 22 years on this earth has taught me that the confines of your comfort zone is the most dangerous place to exist. In it you’re not exactly comfortable but to settle is better than exerting oneself or attempting to expand the boundaries of your knowledge. It is a place where you merely exist; a constant cycle of repeated actions. Within this space you fail to develop adaptability. This means that you will be unable to get back up when life pushes you over… and life will push you over.

To live, you need to allow your curiosity to force you out of your comfort zone making sure you have an open mind tagging along. 5 years ago if anyone had asked me what I wanted in life, my answer was simple: ‘To go to the University of Nairobi’s (UON) Dental School.’ I had always known I was walking down the wrong path but I chose to keep going, hoping it would amount to something all because I was afraid of venturing out to the unknown.

Its quite clear that I am not a dental student at UON, all thanks to a B+ grade in Biology. I remember being so upset which led me to do something uncomfortable; packing up and moving to the United Kingdom to study. 3 years later and that single decision has allowed me to enjoy life more than I previously did. I’ve made new friends and reconnected with old ones, I started this blog, travelled to Fiji solo on a volunteer expedition and most recently had the chance to take part in the Face of Kenya UK event which gave me the platform to speak from my heart and make a difference in someone’s life. Looking back, the only thing I do regret is not savouring the moments with my family and friends, Instead I would lock myself in all day studying.

I cannot finish this without saying how hard it is to step out of what is familiar to you. However, it is only the first step that’s hardest after you realise that it was worth it. You will fall down any times along the way, but its only by getting things wrong that you truly learn and experience life.

So what will you choose to do? Stay where you are or go out and live your best life.

 

This post was the piece I recently read for the talent section of Face of Kenya UK 2019. I dedicate it to Uncle Dick who may have gone to rest with the ancestors but will forever be alive in our hearts.

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LIFE

RECLAIMING MY POWER.

I never imagined I’d ever be counted as a statistic. Its one of those stories you hear about, happening to other people… never you; But one day you find yourself a victim and your life completely changed. 6 months later, you finally accept that its happened, but vow never to forget.

…THIS IS MY STORY…

Every time I think about it, I realise that he had it all planned out; pre-meditated on his actions and all that was remaining was for me to follow the script. The script to a play I never auditioned for.

Every time I think about it, I realise that in his eyes, I was (am) just a body, no soul. To him, I was an object designed especially for his pleasure; to be subsequently to be disposed of. 

I get shivers, every time I think about it. It could have happened differently, I could have been killed that night. I am thankful to be alive.

Its hard , not to hate every inch of myself, every time I think about it. Looking at myself in the mirror and not recognising the reflection looking back. Its hard to shut off the voices inside and outside your mind, telling you that its your fault… ‘you should have been more careful

Every time I think about it.

Its been 6 months of thinking about it. 6 long months of fighting with myself and my emotions. Of finding myself in a dark and what seemed like endless hole. Realising that time is standing still and passing me by simultaneously.

Sexual Assault: A term used to describe criminal acts that are sexual in nature e.g unwanted touching or kissing, groping or  forcing the victim to touch the perpetrator in sexual ways.

Rape: Sex without consent. Including oral sex.

I was sexually assaulted just as 2018 was coming to a close, by someone I knew. We were never really friends, but I knew him. What I thought was an innocent interaction, resulted in me losing a big part of myself.

He knew his intentions of the night. He had it all planned out. . He didn’t account for his lead actress not following the script. We met in a public place but that didn’t stop him.

His plan? To get me drunk and take me home.

His mistake? I wasn’t in a drinking mood and paced myself as he gulped down his drinks.

There was something about the way he downed the drinks that made me anxious then, after some time, he said it ‘ I don’t like this place, too noisy. Come to my apartment its close by. I can buy Champagne on the way and I can make you my special cocktail

There it was his intention.

I said no. Why would I go to his house from the restaurant, yet I have my own place to stay?

He bought shots, of the deadliest alcohol they had. 63% abv. He had 4 of them, all at once. I had two, paced. He then switched up, ‘ You know I love you‘ I laughed at the joke, except when I looked up, he had a serious look. ‘ I’m serious, I’ve always loved you, but you broke my heart this year’ Again I failed to follow the script because I just laughed and ignored his comments. It must have infuriated him.

About half an hour later, as I excused myself to go to the washroom, he grabbed my bag before I could and began walking out with my phone, my keys and my wallet. ‘Come you can use the bathroom at my place its close by…‘ He had the higher bargaining power, I saw no other choice.

Five minutes later, in his apartment (which I’ve come to find out was never his), I asked to use the washroom. I returned to the living room, picked my bag and looked for my phone to call an Uber… it wasn’t there… he had set the ball in motion. He had picked it out of my bag and hidden it. He said it was in the bedroom (which I hadn’t entered yet) then tried to manipulate me into thinking that I had put it there myself… silly boy! He misjudged my level of drunkenness.

If there was ever a moment that I knew I was in danger, that was it. As I was trying to call an uber, he burst out crying, taking me by surprise. My kind heart and curiosity let me down, because I wanted to know why he was crying.

*sob* you know I love you, *heavy sob* I truly loved you and you hurt me. I even bought your friends drinks and have been nice to them to get your attention’ ‘I love you’

Next thing I know, I was on the bed, his lips were all over my neck and he was trying to kiss me as well. I screamed ‘NO! STOP IT‘ many times, shocked that this was happening. I tried pushing him off but he is quite heavy. I was about to give up.. thinking that it would be easier to let it get over quickly… but somehow, I was still resisting and screaming ‘No‘ even though I knew that no one could hear me. ‘I would never hurt you, I love you. I would never hurt you, I love you’ he repeated over and over as though those words were to comfort me.

I don’t know if it was fear of what was about to happen, but something came over me and I shoved him, got off the bed picked my things and began screaming at him… you know what he did? He blocked the door and began crying ‘I would never hurt you, I love you’ He still had the audacity to keep going. ‘Don’t go I’m sorry‘ He made as if to hug me, and I took the opportunity to push him to the floor and make my way out… he still followed me, begging for us to ‘talk about it‘, all the way to the taxi…

End

Or so I thought, that was just the beginning of what was to be the hardest 6 months of my life so far. I was fortunate enough to have a friend act as my sense in the moment and convince me to report the incident. Had I not done so, I’m sure the secret would have made me worse off than I was.

The thing is, this experience is such a lonely one. The only true home you have on this earth (the body) has been violated. Emotions are all over the place, but you have to keep it together. An ongoing police case and the voices of people around you don’t make it any better. ‘ He didn’t know what he was doing and now that I’ve explained it to him, he’s sorry‘ The words of my assaulter’s friend, trying to convince me to drop the case and settle the issue without police involvement. Does it make it worse that this was a fellow woman?

It doesn’t end there, even those you’d assume would support you, end up victim blaming and try cover it up as advice. ‘You shouldn’t have been there’ and‘ Sometimes the victim needs to hear the truth’ These same people when unfortunately made to imagine the women close to them as a victim, suddenly become soft… ‘Oh that’s different‘ they’d say… Is it because only those that they love can be a victim?… I hadn’t explained the whole story because I didn’t see the need to beg for support.

I sat in the pit of loneliness for a while, deciding that it is best I keep everything to myself and very few trusted people. Hoping that I would experience the healing that they say ‘comes with time‘ On the outside, everything seemed fine, on the inside was a mess. The world kept going, as it should, despite my life being turned around. It was my job to keep up. I still attended classes and tried my best to keep up social interactions but it was hard. Imagine being physically present but the sights, sounds and even smells around you seem to be coming from a distant.

Anxiety crept up on me. I was scared of leaving the house, least I bump into him or his friends. When I did, my brain played tricks on me because I kept seeing people who looked exactly like those I was hoping to avoid. This kept going, until I actually saw him… twice! The first time he didn’t see me but the second, outside the library he did, and looked me straight in my eye… but I had to keep going.

Insomnia became my friend, fuelled by the thoughts that would not stop racing around my head. I envied my youngest self because she would sleep through anything, yet at hat moment, the slightest noise would wake me. My memory got tampered with, I could barely remember the simplest things and it was a struggle to pay attention when someone was talking to me. Worse, my speech was slightly impaired. I noticed how hard it became to speak without stammering, or to speak and remember words. I no longer knew myself and quite frankly was slowly losing the will to do so.

Nothing made sense anymore. Nothing was interesting and so I began giving up. The signs were there, the way I spoke, ate, dressed. I became increasingly irritable at the smallest things, the end of the month being the worst, my body felt 10 times heavier than it actually is. The simplest thing like getting out of bed became a chore, I completely hated this body that became a chore to carry around.

For 6 months, I slowly lost interest in everything even things I enjoyed seemed like punishment. All this went on until recently when I decided it was enough. He had taken too much away from me and so despite losing a big part of myself, I decided to reclaim my power not only for myself, but for those who may be afraid to speak up due to fear or those who sadly have been silenced forever.

This is a social issue that is avoided regularly because it has to do with sex. An act which has been labelled as shameful. How long will we refuse to speak about it despite the rising number of cases being reported? How long will we allow the victims to punish themselves because law enforcers decide its not an important enough case to get involved in? Unfortunately, the more we keep silent about it, the more we allow it and only when it happens to someone you love will you realise how serious an issue is. Question is though, will anyone be willing to help even then?

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LIFE

TO BE A WOMAN (II)

Growing up surrounded by numerous (XY) chromosomes meant I did not feel the rush to be romantically involved with anyone till I was 18 (much to the disappointment of many). This could also be attributed to the fact that my parents are strict and unlike my brothers, I was always afraid of getting caught. I eventually had my first relationship and it was sweet and innocent for the most part 🙂 but like everything else it came to an end. Now younger me was quite fortunate, the men around me were most often around to make sure I was protected, they always did it no matter how irritating it would be. My 13 year old self would be nervously talking to a boy when my older brother decides to pop up ‘to get something from me‘ or my younger brother screams my name from the balcony. More often than not though, they had been sent by the Mzee. They were always there, until they couldn’t be.

I am the daughter of a man who is more traditional than most; This means that there were certain topics he could not dare bring up with me, boys being one of them. However, the Sunday after I finished my high school exams he brought it up without me realising it. He took it upon himself to warn me of how dangerous men can be…

‘When you go out here are some rules to follow always…

  1. Buy your own drinks
  2. If anyone offers to buy you a drink, make sure it is opened in front of your eyes
  3. If you leave your drink to go to the toilet, don’t bother with it once you come back… buy another one
  4. Do not leave anyone with your drink, carry it with you if you can even to the dance floor.
  5. When you’re going out even if its during the day, make sure you have enough money to settle your half of the bill. Never rely on any man’

You see, what most boys don’t understand is that part of the reason I tend to be picky with who I decide to get involved with is because his words are always ringing in my head. The minute I sense something is off with a guy, thats the end of the road… The unfortunate part about growing up though, is that there is no blueprint to life. Those who care enough can give us advice but most times it is only experience that will teach you a lesson. No matter how good you are, or how much you try to keep yourself safe.

I went into university with the words from my father constantly ringing in my ear anytime I went out. Obviously due to society’s tendency to victim blame, I also make sure that I am dressed appropriately enough for the event but not to the extent that I would encourage a man to approach me. From experience though, men will always grab whoever they like no matter what they are dressed in. In fact, refusing their advances or fighting back will only lead you into more trouble. Being told no, is like a hot slap to their face, it angers them and the one way they know how to take care of their bruised ego is to retaliate; either through words or actions. Let me introduce you to three different guys I have have met.

  1. The Nice Guy/ Gentleman:  I met him during my first year of University. To me, he was only ever going to be a friend, but he saw things in a different light. We met outside my accommodation the first time, then the next was inside a club. We began talking and it was strictly on friendly basis, until two weeks later he messaged me saying ‘You know I like you‘. It came as a shock so all I could think of replying was ‘Uh, thank you‘. As can be expected, he didn’t take that too well and the conversation turned a bit nasty. He later apologised and we tried going back to how things were. Unfortunately he was good friends with my flatmate and was over pretty much all the time. He eventually managed to get a kiss during a party, but that only served to make it clear for me that I was not at all attracted to him. I gently broke it down to him the next day and he seemed to take it well until he didn’t. Messages came flooding  in, filled with insults. He called me a user and said that he had put off so much time from his final project and topped it off by saying that he only wanted to treat me like a queen . He would later tell me as he apologised, that back home, he never had to try so hard to get a woman’s attention and that I frustrated him to the point he couldn’t hold back the insults. I had to make it clear that we are from two different countries and that he would need to respect me as a person, before eventually discontinuing conversation with him.

 

2. The Rich Guy/ Arrogant: This is by far the worst kind of guy I’ve met. In addition to descending from a highly misogynistic culture, his access to the amount of funds he ‘accidentally‘ mentioned one day makes him feel entitled and therefore expects everything to go his way. He got frustrated because he tried it with me, threw hints my way, offered to buy me and my friends as many drinks as we wanted but nothing was working. What he didn’t know is that my father has always ensured I understand the importance of being independent from any man. Defeated he tried the I love you card one night and proceeded to break down into tears claiming I hurt him so much (we barely talked though). Fed up, he resorted to try take my power from me buy forcing himself on me. It was a struggle I won’t lie, but fortunately he failed miserably. Unfortunately, his assault broke a huge part of me that I am still trying to recover from. Despite his numerous messages begging for forgiveness and still claiming his love for me,  we don’t talk/ associate anymore.

 

3. The Unusual one: I’ll stick with this title for lack of a more suitable description. See I’ve never met this guy before. He saw me on my friend’s Snapchat post, three years ago and decided he likes me. I’m really strict with who I allow to follow me on Snapchat, but after constantly pestering my friend for my number I allowed her to give him my username. He followed me but didn’t talk to me for a good number of months and I seemingly forgot about him up until I posted a book I was reading and he commented on it. He seemed interesting and so we began talking. It was on neutral ground so I didn’t see a reason to keep my guards up. I travelled and was cut off from the world for a month and our conversation inevitably died. He knew when I was back in Kenya, we had a brief conversation through my friend’s phone, but never actually met. So why then did he feel the need to call me at 3:00 a.m on New Years day to tell me that he loves me and wants us to be together? Thank God for bad network that day because I honestly have no idea what I would have said. When we had a proper conversation later, I told him that I don’t get into a relationship with someone I’ve never met and barely know, a comment which he took to heart because according to him ‘we had spoken enough for me to know him‘ and he added that ‘a relationship is the best way to get to know someone‘. I was adamant and he did’t like it, so to try persuade me he began sending messages that pointed the fact that two people are better together and can achieve much more than a single person. He went on to say that he had to see me soon, tried to convince me to get a plane ticket home and even offered to buy it for me because I was perfect for him. When he later found out that I was seeing someone, he became emotional saying he had tried to befriend me because he wanted me. My lack of responses to his messages after, had him trying to get my attention on all social media platforms. I eventually had enough and let him know. His response was emotional blackmail , claiming I looked down on him and that’s wrong because I don’t know how much he will achieve in future… Safe to say I don’t bother with him anymore, even when he tries messaging me.

I unfortunately had to painfully discover that men tend to be the same, they just have different ways of showing it. Had I been told this before? Yes. But as I said sometimes you just have to experience something for it to actually stick. These three examples I’ve shared are all the same. They couldn’t accept rejection and so they tried to hurt me in their own way, through words or actions. They had to make me suffer for a decision I made that was contrary to what they wanted.

Being a woman is a terribly difficult task since it consists principally in dealing with men’

 

 

 

 

 

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LIFE

TO BE A WOMAN (I)

Growing up, I was surrounded by men; The only girl in my family and 1/3 of female grandchildren out of a total of 15. With my mum constantly travelling for work, I was left under the care of my father and older brother. It therefore came as no surprise that I developed some behaviours that normally would be associated with the male species. I was very competitive and at times violent (Possibly due to the wrestling we’d watch together). My behaviour was very similar to those of my brothers from mode of dress to eating habits to what I considered fun…like jumping out of a moving car

However, I did not always ‘fit in with the boys’ considering the fact that I grew up in an African country. Family functions would always serve to remind me of my place in society… the kitchen, or serving men. It always happened that after arriving at the event and greeting the early guests, I was sent into the kitchen to ‘find some duties to do’ (yet most times my aunties would send me out of the kitchen), while my brothers and cousins sat down and socialised or even began eating whatever food was ready. I was always caught between the two sides but I could never let frustration get the better of me least I risked embarrassing my father’s name and so most times I would end up washing the hands of the guests which I actually did not mind since most came up with interesting stories most about my dad as a teenager.

Further division took place with the actual meal. According to tradition, there are specific parts of a goat reserved for either gender for example the back part is for men who are required to eat it clean and then pierce it. For women, the kidneys. My father’s younger brother, Uncle Kimani, never failed to bring me the kidneys of the goat that had lost its life to satisfy the tongues of the clan. As I sit here writing this, I can hear him shout for me from the grill where all men stood tasting the meat as it was being prepared ‘Wambui! come!’ (sometimes he’d track me down wherever I was). I always expected it and he never failed regardless of the location woe unto me if more than one goat had been slaughtered.

Don’t get me wrong, culture is a beautiful thing, it is what determines our perception of reality and hence it differs across regions, countries and continents. I love certain aspects of my culture, the ruracio ceremony, the clothes, the language.. its all simple amazing but not perfect. This has been said before my the strong women in society but what harm does it do to ask it again? How can a culture so beautiful have so much disregard for women? Why is it that we are only noticed when labour is required, men are hungry or want to please themselves? It is a known fact that African culture bends over backwards in favour of the man child and despite there being changes in society, this characteristic is inherent in us so much so that should my brothers happen to make a mess in the house, I will be called from wherever I am to clean it up because I am a woman.

I used to be a firm believer in culture and the methods my parents used to raise us. I knew that when I did, by God’s grace, get the chance to raise my own family it would be in the same manner albeit with some modifications. Can you blame me though? I was ignorant having grown up and educated in an institution that is so close-minded that it teaches young girls to carry themselves in a way that avoid temptation of men and that exposing your shoulders regardless of the weather is not right in the eye’s of God. An institution that makes you believe you should stick it out with your husband even when things are bad and that women should not play football. On the other hand, men are taught that they are providers for the family and that they should protect and guard their family name. They are taught that women should be submissive to them and that is where the problem lies. It creates this ‘whatever I say goes’ mentality in their head from which stem a lot of problems. It makes them disregard the feelings of the women in society unless of course its their mother, sister, daughter or close relative (and this isn’t even always the case) and worse blind them to the fact that women are people as well.

Now all this may have worked pre-colonial era its all that they knew and it kept the society in harmony, but it cannot work now. The internet, International Business and cultural exchange have led to globalisation. We have and are increasingly becoming a global village, people are more educated and we are no longer (for the most part) embracing collectivism. So in as much as increased interaction with foreign cultures might make us cling harder to our own own, we must accept the fact that certain aspects of it must be left with our ancestors. Continuation of this culture can be through the languages, the food, the stories, the rites and rituals (some of them).

Having had the chance to experience more than one foreign culture has taught me one fundamental lesson; change will happen whether you like it or not, that does not mean we strive to fit in with everyone else. Instead, we should accept the change as it happens and adjust accordingly.

 

 

P.S/

I am still fundraising for Wezesha Binti to keep 100 young girls in school in Busia County, Kenya. To read more follow the link: FUNDRAISING FOR WEZESHA BINTI

To donate:

GoFundMe Page: Empower Girls through Wezesha Binti

M-Changa (for M-Pesa/ Airtel money) donations: Empower Girls through Wezesha Binti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

HOME.

When asked what home is to them, a vast majority of people would respond by saying ‘Its where I live’ – a structure. While that in itself is an answer, it may not be the most accurate response. (Everyone is entitled to their own opinion).

Sometimes, your home in its physical sense is just that, a structure with which you find your shelter from horrible weather, the place you have your own/ shared place on which to lay your head after a long day, it doesn’t feel like how a home should. Instead of providing you with the taste of peace and love, you arrive there just to find a continuation of all the negative energy surrounding you in the outside world.

You may ask, what is home to you then?

The past few months have been quite tough for me. It is in these dark moments that I began my journey HOME. I don’t live with my parents majority of the year and so finding home wasn’t a matter of walking into my parents’ home to plenty of food and drink. It was a matter of finding myself, what I love and what I don’t, figuring out why I was placed on this earth, all while going about my daily life.

I can’t say that I’m home yet, but I’m definitely closer than I was when this year begun. It definitely was thanks to my trying period this year that I realised how far away from home I was. It took life shoving me straight into a storm that helped me open my eyes. When the storm finally began to settle, I decided its time to find my way home.

Some of the few landmarks that have helped me along the way include:

  • Being comfortable with myself – This is something I thought I was okay with but turns out I still need to practice it a bit more. Getting to this point hasn’t been easy; there are days I feel like I’m the sh*t and then proceed to feel completely disgusted with myself the very next day; literally less than 12 hours later. It just happens and its completely normal. As I wrote in a previous post { INSECURITY; IT EATS YOU FROM INSIDE.} sometimes those we think are close to us, can use our insecurities to try bring us down. But when you’re comfortable with yourself and your flaws, keeping in mind that no one is perfect, you won’t let this phase you and hence will be one step closer to being comfortable with yourself.
  • Liberating myself from the ‘group mentality’ – This occurs when individuals act collectively, mostly without sense of direction. I don’t think we realise how easy it can be for anyone to fall into group think; more so with those who may suffer from low self- confidence. Speaking from experience, it begins when you agree to something that deep down know you’d rather not, or when you’re made to feel that something you love isn’t worthy of attention. You’re afraid to speak out, so you just go along with it. Slowly and without realising it, your flame is extinguished and you may no longer see the need of doing what you love. One way of escaping this is learning to speak out, even when you’re afraid to. Practice this often, and eventually it’ll become like second nature to you. Another way is:
  • Spending time with and by yourself. – The best way to discover and understand yourself is to actually spend time alone. Just like you’d go on dates with people to get to know them more, so should you do that with yourself. Despite what society may try make us believe, its not weird to take yourself on dates and enjoy your own company. Most time it is what we truly need. We get to recollect our thoughts and do whatever we feel like without the fear of letting others down or feeling rushed at some place because the other person you’re with just has to get home. Other times, its best to just curl up into a ball, under the bedsheets and watch all the movies we love. One can also choose to sleep, read or catch up on the hobbies that their busy life has been keeping them away from.

‘ We need quiet time to examine ourselves openly and honestly- spending time alone gives your mind an opportunity to renew itself  and create order’- Susan L. Taylor

  •  Finding your outlet – If you’re like me, and I’m sure a good number of you are, opening up is not easy; in fact it may possibly not even be an option. Its not that the people around you aren’t trustworthy; you’ve just secured the position of the strong one/ the one who seems to have their life in order, but you know that thats not necessarily true. That being said, it is very easy to get worn down by the obstacles life throws your way. To avoid breaking down, its important to have some kind of outlet. For me, its the gym. There’s something about pushing beyond my limits and breaking down the barriers my own mind creates that makes it just a little bit easier to breathe. Like I said above, the past few months have been somehow dark, and were getting darker with each passing day. I had taken a break from the gym to go on my volunteering expedition, and things seemed okay because I was distracted and disconnected. Once I was back, everything came rushing back, almost all at once and brought with them new obstacles, I needed to let it out. Getting back to the gym has been painful yes, but I feel lighter, both physically and mentally. I’ve come to appreciate it as my space; I can be distracted but at the same time clear my mind enough to try sort out the things that are bothering me.
  • Knowing your people- You know those people you can be yourself around? The ones who you don’t need to talk to everyday but you’ll always try to be there for one another when need be. Those are the ones you keep close to your heart. Why? Because when you’re around them, you feel at home. Coming back for the holidays has definitely been refreshing for me. I’ve managed to meet most of my people and I can say for a fact that I feel more at peace now than I was before. This is something I noticed after my best friend came visiting last week. Being able to unpack and open up was one thing i didn’t realise I needed. We don’t always have the best responses and in fact may find ourselves with no response to certain situations, but I’ve come to appreciate that someones presence or listening ear may be the one thing you need.
  • Being gentle on yourself–  I’ll just leave this to my KIPEPEO, to explain it here : GENTLE  

In summary what am I saying?

Home, is definitely wherever your heart is. Its with those you hold dear to yourself; be it friends or family. Home however, starts with you. You begin building your home by working on yourself, showing yourself love and doing what excites you. From there you attract those who resonate with you and are willing to help you build and vice versa. However, just like the physical structure, your home will attract those with ill intentions, the ones who will want to bring you down. To prevent that, you definitely need to ensure your barriers are high enough to block them out.

Find yourself, build your home and ensure that you secure it as well. 🙂

Home should feel like the taste of a cold milkshake from Java on a hot day.

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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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