Growing up, I was running the wrong race. I yearned for long hair, a big house for my family, and a Landrover Defender for my father. I somehow felt I wasn’t beautiful, and fitting into clicks was a hurdle. My school performance moved from excellent to sub-standard, and I lived a life of technical existence. Right there, I had forgotten the beauty of being just a child. But, how did we get up there?
My Entry Point into Fear Territory
A teacher had punished me like crazy for failing in dictation. In Primary 2, he called my name out,” Wanjiku, go to the board and write encyclopedia.” That voice still reverberates in my ears to this day. I mean, he was the headmaster. And those days, being called by him was a matter of life and death. Very few escaped the thrashing, but so far, I was doing well. As a matter of fact, I was a genius. I had yet to feel the whack on my little bum. Every time he called anyone’s name, many would pee on themselves, and that meant a further thorough beating.
Now, surmounting all the courage in little mini-me, I did spell ‘encyclopedia’ only, I added a letter ‘a’ after the ‘p’. And just that one mistake, cost me my self-esteem for ages to come. The effects sent me to the shadows, ending up living a ghost life. Fear engulfed me, holding me a prisoner. Life became blurry, stagnation became my service station, mark-timing a way of life.
This yoke of fear ensures you zero graze. The culture of needing to know someone in order to receive a service that is a right creep in. You no longer think on your own and mediocre standards become a norm. To move your feet, your brain needs a trigger and you turn into a zombie. Being a loner becomes your lifestyle. Forgetting that you are a tremendous unique being and not another soul has your qualities. Shame rubber stamps itself on your forehead, and you remain convinced that everyone is talking about you or pointing his or her fingers at you. Distrust and paranoia lodge in you. You lose focus on your purpose, compromising for the sake of acceptance.
I hated that life. For years, I struggled to make friends, whatever the cost, I was going to fit in somehow. I lived a lie. I would traverse miles, just to attend an event and be associated with so and so. I would club and party all night, and still not touch a lot of alcohol. Then drag my feet home the next morning, cursing and nursing guilt, all this while. This definitely was not responsible living. The urge for external validation took its toll on me. I wanted to be someone renown so bad, I almost lost myself in the process.
Afraid to be alone, I spent time with the wrong people. I woke up to build other people’s dreams. I became a pro at confusing water for vodka. Others defined how I lived my life. I kept repeating the same old mistakes, expecting different results. I was comfortable with the ordinary whereas all I ever desired was extraordinary. I was so hard to love, that it was easy to leave me. Assuming everything was under control, I struggled to appear sane, building walls so high, so that nobody would ever get to know me. I had concluded that my life was going nowhere and I just kept concluding.
My Turning Point
You see God has an interesting sense of humor. So, this day, working somewhere, someone asked me a question. Thinking out loud on how to answer him, that became my turning point. I wanted more than I had. I had let the shadow of fear shortchange my life. It was all on the inside of me. For a moment, I stood agape, awed by the vision before my eyes. All in black and white. I still recall the delight on his smile, and as I responded, I knew right then, what I was meant to do. I was going to rewrite the story my life.
The script had just been flipped.
And rewrite I did. Looking back, I am surprised at how a single small experience, can shift life’s purpose for generations. I had allowed another to dictate my life’s journey. Being a very quiet and reserved child, there was no way for anyone to notice the change creeping in. I became an expat at masking it. But, see where it got me.
Time was nigh, I had to break out of the cocoon.
To learn to be comfortable even when alone.
To get to dress for me, and not the response of the crowd.
Time to give my skin some tender loving care, and not just exist.
Time to stay silent and enjoy the peace and tranquility that comes with solitude.
Time to forget the sad stories of how I never pursued my dreams and instead reinvent the wheel.
A time to become whom I was born to be.
My hearts desires were all going to be achieved. And guess what? When the new spirit is ignited, you become unstoppable.
Arise and Become That Which You Were Born to Be
You too can say ‘NO’ to fear. Refuse to just exist. Look fear in the face, shrug it and trudge on. There is no better time than now. Crawl if you cannot walk. Walk if you can’t run. Take the baby steps, but no matter what, keep moving. The power to reinvent the wheel lies on the inside of you. And you have to do this alone. Stop waiting for confirmation and validation, that may take too long to come. And if at all they ever come, you might just have missed your boat.
Martial up the little strength on the inside of you. Small as a mustard seed, it can move mountains. That ounce of hope can redirect your story. There is no looking at the rear-view mirror, your life is not there. The future beckons.
Challenging It May Be
Challenges will haunt you left, right and center.
Friends will desert you.
Family, in turn, might disown you.
Church will say, “ni challenges za Maisha, God will surely see you through.”
Don’t let that define you.
At this point, do not let fear creep back in.
Loneliness will be your companion. Like the eagle rejuvenating at age 40, you will be down in the valley alone. But when the remolding period is done, arise and shine like the star that you are. Remember the process and let it humble you. Lessons in the chapters of life. Live your purpose to the full. There is no longer anything to hold you back. You are a new bird and there are no limits to what heights you can soar.
Stay true to you. Your feelings, opinions, thoughts, and emotions. Live your life the best way you know how. After all, there are no repetitions on this stage.