Sometimes we need a break

Sometimes we just need to step back out of our normal routine and stop to catch a breath. We live in a funny world where everything has been narrowed down to competition; everything we do has to have been done by someone for us to compare ourselves. In writing this, I have been a victim of the circumstance. I know I have done things that I have seen people do without asking myself if that is what I wanted to do.

What do I want? I want to succeed, share, communicate, contribute and inspire. I want to be open and courageous enough to give voice to what I want to be accepted and appreciated. I want to love and be loved. I want to be free from fear.

This attitude of not hiding or shying away from life is what I call ‘warriorship’. For me, warriorship is also about my battle with my fears and insecurities. Remembering that we will be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because everything- all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure- these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. Steve Jobs said this.

We all live in constant fear that what we do will not be approved by our friends, parents or the society. We have let their expectations of us shape our way of thinking. This has never been nor will ever be a good thing. For the last couple of weeks, I have learnt a lot in this life. I have learnt that the only decisions that will change the way you act are your decisions. In as much as everyone expects me to behave or talk or walk or dress in a certain way, the only person who can make that happen is me. I have also learnt that most of the people around us want us to live a life similar to theirs, if they are kind enough, or below theirs for their comfort to be within the levels they withstand. People will always want to be above you, some people will go to the extent of making sure that you remain below their standards. You have to define your own standards and live to it. You cannot let anyone’s slightest comments ruin you.

It is perfectly normal for humans to want to be superior to another, no one wants to be seen lacking. We have conformed to the notion of trying to fit even where we do not belong. I was going through my meme gallery (my daily dose of bliss) a while ago and this one simple meme caught my attention. I spent the entire meme session thinking about the picture that spoke a thousand words to me. It was a slice of an onion sandwiched between orange slices. However much alike and fitting the onion seemed to be with the orange, it wasn’t where it was supposed to be; its rightful place. In fact, that is what most of us do not realize. I admit that I had never given a thought about where I belong in this life. I have always let situations and circumstances shape what I want to be and how I want to act.

Sometimes, all you need to do is step back and observe the path our life has taken. Is that where you want to go? Is that really what you want to do? Is that what your heart wants you to do? You need to ask yourself questions of this kind if you really want to live a fruitful life. We cannot all be apples; some of us are oranges, some of us are mangoes. Of course not literally. We cannot all be of the same kind. There is a lot more to life than we tend to live. Why die pretending to be a lemon while your stem is a plum? Why kill yourself so quick when all you can do is be you. That is all that takes. No less, no more. And the only permission you need to have is from you. Why deny yourself the pleasure of living your life at the expense of the friends. Why try to fit where you do not belong? This doesn’t mean you should not associate with anyone different from us. Our lives cannot be complete without friends or people close to us, that is why we have spaces between our fingers; so as to fit onto another’s and perfectly complement one another.

This life will always amaze me, I learn everything new each day.

 

 

Duck-a-chum chuck-a-chum

 

 

It’s dark; I begin to notice the shadows forming from the faint light in the room. Dark shaky silhouettes spread across wall to wall. My throat feels dry but I force a long dry painful lump down my stomach. I’m aware I have never been here before. I don’t know what this place is but sure as hell I know it can never be a good place. It reeks; a sharp acrid smell of old rusted metal fills the room. From a distance I can hear strange voices, nay whispers.  More like moans. No, not those but the kind you hear in a horror film. Deep guttural cries, wild shrieks, a mixture of whispers.

I bet this woman is from this place, she doesn’t seem bothered by the voices. Could I be the only one hearing these voices? Is it just my imaginations? Well, there is only one way to know.

“Can you hear that?” I asked her but clearly she isn’t so friendly like I thought.

“Can you just shut up for a minute?” she hisses in a calm friendly voice. It reminds me of my older sister Joy. She always does that when she feels like she has to. But there is something different with this woman. Where the h— are your arms? Holy Jeeezus! My head feels heavy on my shoulders, I feel drowsy. The long ugly projections from where her arms are supposed to be jerk out and keep me upright just S I am about to pass out. A sharp screeching pain pierces the back of my head to my temples.

My inhaler! I need it now more than before. I feel choked, my throat very dry as I sigh heavy dry lumps. I have just enough time to notice other silhouettes appear one after another in one frantic gyration. I have never been here before but I can bet on my life that it is one big hell of a celebration. One grizzly creature emerges from the center of the now formed circle. It must be their leader or something more judging from the way the shrieks stops by her wave of its twig-like arms. The gyrating subdues and a loud silence ensues. It marches forward to where we stood and spreads out its arms.

Aliens? I can’t suppress the building fiery desire to laugh at the thought. God what is wrong with me? It reminds me of the jokes that Joy and I had about the aliens? What if the UFO that killed all the dinosaurs was true and we are the aliens? These creatures looked different. Ghosts? No they can’t be. I struggle to focus but my thought won’t let me. The leader creature turns to the lady that brought me here and in a slow movement does something close to a node and dismisses it away. It comes closer to me and pulls me closer. This creature reeks. The smell makes me nauseated. I can’t keep things going. The ground begins to shift, my vision gets blurred and my head pounds. I slump into my feet and hope this makes these creatures go away.

 

Inferiority Complex

 

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Have you heard of the new disease in town? The one that eats you up more than the deadliest virus? The one we bring ourselves to contract? Have you? There is this degrading illness of the mind that gouges itself in our minds, hearts and finally our whole system. It infects the way we think, the way we see things and the way we relate to others and to ourselves. It sparks from just a thought. If not taken care of during its early stages, it cultures and spreads. And it spreads really fast. Most people refer to it as a complex disease of the mind. And is it not complex?

Most of us compare ourselves to others. Mass media beams in the finest looking, richest, and most talented people into our lives 24/7. This creates the illusion that we ‘know’ all these beautiful, clever, younger, athletic, rich, able people. Because we compare ourselves to people we know, this illusion of knowing air-brushed ‘have-it-alls’ can make us feel correspondingly worse about ourselves.

Confidently knowing that Usain Bolt can run faster than you can is not the same as feeling inferior. True inferiority complex has us feeling:

  • We should be as good as others.
  • We are not as good as others, but we don’t really know why that is; a generalized feeling of inadequacy not based on rational judgments.

In a world in which we are on the one hand encouraged to buy stuff because we’re “worth it” whilst simultaneously being force-fed airbrushed perfection, it’s easy for someone with a pre-existing inferiority complex to feel worse.

It might be you were repeatedly told you weren’t good enough by a parent (one kid I know was repeatedly told by her mother she was the “ugliest girl in the street” and no one liked her). Some people were constantly compared to other people: “Why can’t you be more like your sister!” Other people feel inferior because they are perfectionists and feel that anything less than perfection is inadequate.

Whatever the reasons for inferiority complex, here are a few ideas to help.

1) Be specific

As I said, we can know we’re inferior in some ways. If you find yourself feeling inferior, ask yourself: “Okay, exactly who do I feel inferior to?” Narrow it down.

Emotional thinking is always sloppy, so tighten it up to make it less emotional. There are close to seven billion people on this planet (last time I counted). What kind of person do you feel inferior to? Rich people? Good looking people? Very academic people? People you view as accomplished? Most people aren’t these things.

Now get even more specific; name names to yourself. “Actually, I feel inferior to Ken down the street.” Why? How, specifically, is Ken better than you?

So from ‘feeling inferior’ we’ve gone to ‘feeling inferior to specific types’ to ‘feeling inferior to Ken down the street’. Now ask yourself in what ways Ken isn’t superior to you. Does he have your humility? Wit? Life experience? If we are too narrow with what constitutes ‘good’ or ‘successful’, then we’re more likely to come off feeling worse. Believe me, ‘Ken’ has issues of his own.

2) What would make you feel as good as others?

If you feel inferior, imagine for a moment how you’d need to be to not feel inferior. What would you need to look like, to own, and to be doing? Now reflect: Would all of that really be you?

 

3) Dare to be different

Life is much less restrictive now in westernized counties. In the ’50s, you were expected to be married (perhaps in your early twenties); to have kids and a ‘respectable career’ (grave robbers need not apply); to have short hair or longer hair, depending on gender; to dress ‘properly’ and have all the right opinions. We haven’t cast aside all these norms and I’m not suggesting they are all bad, but people are much freer now to live a bit differently.

No one is a ‘failure’ if they are unmarried at forty (or eighty), or if they don’t have kids or a traditionally professional career. Not in terms of current societal norms; though your parents may still have these retrospective expectations which may have influenced you. But the kind of thinking that prompts: “Oh no! I’m forty-five now. I should have a mortgage, a partner, 2.4 children! I should be like how other people are!” is a trap. If you really want these things, that’s one thing; but if you only feel they are expected of you, then remember that your life can only really be lived by you.

 

4) Drop the mime

No one has written on his tombstone: “Here lies Ralph; he was quite like Ken.” All Ralph can be is Ralph (or the best possible version of himself); he ain’t ever gonna be Ken. Wanting to be someone else is okay(ish) when you’re fifteen. But how can an impersonator ever be true to themselves? Being inspired by someone else means assimilating some of their traits into who you are. It doesn’t mean trying to have their exact same life.

Inferiority complexes thrive on people wanting to be someone they’re not. This doesn’t mean we have to limit ourselves as to what we can do, but it does mean that we can get by much better when we don’t try to be someone else.

 

 

5) Beware utopian thinking

People who feel inferior tend to think in ‘all or nothing’ ways (any emotion will drive us to do this). ‘Utopianism’ is a type of this simplified emotional thinking. It’s a kind of ‘if only’ thought.

  • “If only my nose was straighter…then I’d be confident and happy!”
  • “If only I earned ten thousand more a year…then my life would be good!”
  • “If only I could be exactly the same as Bob…then I’d feel great about my/himself!”

Life doesn’t work like that. Because much of what we feel inferior about is relatively superficial; the non-superficial part of us will always feel left wanting by external band-aid remedies. Sure, you might have more confidence with a straighter nose for a while, but you are much more likely to forget about comparing yourself to others (either favourably or unfavourably) when you live your life in a sustainable way that utilizes your real core character strengths, values, and personal ideas.

As the explorer and translator Sir Richard Burton wrote:

Do what thy manhood bids thee do, from none but self-expect applause;
He noblest lives and noblest dies who makes and keeps his self-made laws

(The views presented above are those of the writer and are commonly shared by others of similar thinking. If it helps,, fine. If it doesn’t, then seek for medical advice)

 

 

Learn to Live

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What I learned at the end of it all is that no one really cares about you if they do not want anything from you. They only care when you are successful, dead or beautiful. In the many years I have lived, I have seen things to prove this. Many at times when you need people, you can’t fine none. Your family, your friends, the people you always though had your back.

People only help you if they get anything in return or if they see the prospect of you succeeding. They build bridges, they make a connection with their eyes fixed on the future benefits they will get from you. To them it is an investment. They help you today, you help them tomorrow. Anything short and they will disappear.

I have been through that in life, a lot of times. Sometimes I think about it until I get used to it. It makes me hate people, which I love doing and makes me aware of the beasts we are although we claim to be good people. It is a bad thing to be a bad person. It is the worst thing to be a bad person and claim to be a good person.

There comes a point when even you family will distance themselves from you. You will be left alone when they can’t understand what you are going through, especially if you depend on them. They won’t believe in you no matter how much you want them to. They will always find a fault in you and then make it big. They will go ahead and make you hate yourself and think that you are worthless. They will make you feel bad about yourself.

It will reach a time when you can’t even trust yourself, when you hate yourself and eventually hate the person you become after listening to their opinion about you. Remember what they say about you is not true until you prove them true. Explain to them your situation and if they do not understand, then move on. It is not your fault that they don’t understand. At least you tried your best letting them in but if they do not want to put themselves in your situation, then there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

People are wired to hear what they want. They always want to hear what they think about you and thump their chests confirming that they were right. That is our human nature and the sad part is that we can’t avoid. We just have to deal with it. Why let anyone take your happiness away from you? Why let anyone control the way you feel about yourself? Never try to please anyone. They will all judge you at the end of the day.

Do what makes you happy. I mean anything legal to the state and legal to your standards. You are the source of your happiness. No one will make you happy if you won’t make you happy. You will never find anyone interesting if you are not interesting. Go, as they say, live, love, laugh out loud!

This is for you, gentle one

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In this letter, gentle dove is hope, love, passion and confession. The treasures I found in you. All this began the day we met. Ever since then you have been on my mind, but truly it is in because you have taken hostage of my every thought and dream.

I never thought this would be possible, I had never imagined my mind captured all the time. You have never left my mind since the day I first saw you. I knew you were different when I saw you and my life has so much changed since then, thanks to your innocent soul.

No effort has proven enough to get you off my mind however much I try. The harder I try not to think about you the more I do. Innocence, passion, compassion, elegance. No one could have had it better than you. So sweet you are, so empty I feel.

Sometimes I’m terrified of my heart; of its constant hunger for whatever it is it wants. The way it stops and starts. Sometimes I sit and think about you, most of the time I do not need to sit because everyone I meet, everything I do constantly reminds me of what I miss in life: You.

I have never known myself for what I am and for what I do when thinking about you. Sometimes I think, how can’t I have noticed how my life was incomplete before I met you? I love the way I feel when thinking about you. It’s greater than the feeling I get when I’m about to get paid…

If this is love, then I want to be in it neck-deep. If this is obsession then I wouldn’t want it any other way. And if it is a crime then I plead guilty. And if one morning you wake up in a red room, no doors, no windows… don’t panic gentle one because you are in my heart.

Moon of My Life

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You looked beautiful today, no that is an understatement. You looked smashing, really beautiful. I swear I told you that like a hundred and one times, in my mind. I wish I had the courage to just be plain with it and get it over with. I like it when you smile, it crashes me to the marrow. I saw you smile, I like your snow-white teeth. It has a way of suiting your every smile, every laughter and it leaves me grinning like an idiot. Girl you take me to the other world where I am the only hero, your hero.

Was it today when you smiled and looked back to where I was seated? For a second I thought you were smiling at me. For a second a strong bright wave struck across my heart and froze my mind. There I sat, a trickle of sweat streaming down my armpits. Forgive the look on my face for that was all I could afford. Yes I know it was a stupid look but I thought I was smiling back at you. I thought it was a sweet smile, but then Bron later told me it was an awkward face. It seemed like forever and in a slow motion. You whispered something to your friend then smiled again, this time wider. You took your time, you were so sure of yourself. My eyes fixed on your face, your every single emotion. That lipstick agrees with your lips, it makes them look like ripe, plump cherries. So full they are.

You wore a musky cologne today, what was that, Scent of Jasmine? It smells like fresh sweet pea. I am also in love with that so it has found its way to my tiny shopping list. I hope this doesn’t sound creepy. You see, I have this habit of buying you everything you love. First it was Game of Paris, you loved that one and used it for over a month. I bought it and kept it for you. It’s what I also use hoping that you would notice it, but now I have to change.

I refuse to believe that this is an obsession because I would have gotten over it already. It has been so long a time for an obsession. Bron told me that a crush on someone only lasts for four months beyond which it acquires a stronger and more powerful taste. It is when you say you are in love. So yes! I fell in love. I noticed you the first time we were introduced in our classrooms: you wore a blue long sleeve cosmic floral ruffle cuff dress. Why did you stop wearing that? Oh, you have grown out of it. It was tight and imagine how long it has been. Sometimes I look up your gallery and can’t stop falling in love with it over and over and over again.

I later came up to you and introduced myself and requested to have your number. That was much later, at night, in my bed, in my dreams. I woke up so mad at myself that I had failed to ask for your number. I promised myself that I would the following day. That was when you didn’t come to class but had your friend sign you in. That was when I knew your name. I made progress! I cheered myself later that night as I tucked in to sleep. At least I made progress. Days soon became weeks, and months. It went too fast I could not imagine the semester was coming to an end and I had not spoken a word to you. That made me feel really bad. It was exams period so I knew you were busy so you would not take me seriously if I made an effort to talk to you.

Then it slipped away. I knew it from the moment I heard you laugh, a short coy smile on your face. I was so determined to make an impression that day. I had my old blue pair of suit on. I knew I looked good that day, I even asked Bron and he assured me so. Then I saw you smile, no grin. I knew I had killed it! My mind froze and I could not tell how fast it happened. There I was,smiling like an idiot. There you were, smiling. No, that could not be true! That just can’t have happened. It was the moment I knew I had missed the point. I didn’t know what to feel; happy that you smiled at me or sad that I wasn’t the reason you smiled. “Gib, meet Joan, my girlfriend.”

You smiled and leaned on Bron’s chest.

“Nice to meet you Gib.”

I knew it was all lost.

(The events or names cited above are fictional as this is not a true story)

All systems in order tend to disorder

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Sometimes life has to follow a certain order while some of the other times, well… It gets all screwed up you can’t know where you started. I have been thinking a lot of times about this lately that I was prompted to ask a friend if life should follow a certain order for it to be considered a life well lived.  ‘An orderly life is where there is no order’ she said.

Not to dispute that fact but I think that there has to be some sort of order in life. So to say, you have to put the horse before the cart. As in, you cannot skip some prerequisites and jump in to the next thing without first having to accomplish some others. Some things cannot be skipped, you have to go through them in preparation for the next thing. On the same thought, I have an opinion that life should follow the sequence of Education, Career, Love and then Marriage. Many will not agree with this but that is how life should come down to. No matter how hard we struggle to fit into the order, it all gets messy and we finally lose track.

Just today I expressed this thought to some friends and the responses I got were hilarious. Some didn’t agree with me, which I was cool with because, you know after all it’s personal opinion. And some even went to a further extreme and modified the order that we should begin from Education then Love to Career and Marriage. I had not given much though into this but this really made me want to know more. The fact that I’m writing this confirms my intention and urge to hear from a wide scope.

I am a firm believer of the initial order. That Education comes before anything. Well, even a second grade will definitely tell you that. People are cool with that. Now what about after that? Like, what’s the point of educating your kid? As a parent, I would take my kid to school to get education because I  want them to have a greater career. Which brings us to Career. But before that, let’s talk about education. It’s a process right? Meaning it happens over time. Happens from lower level to the highest. And in that process is where we get to know people, we meet with people from various backgrounds and cultures, different families and places. We learn from them, still part of education.

I do not want to think of life as that simple. It’s not about what happens but also about our perceptions to the surrounding and to what happens to and around us. You might get yourself still in the process of learning but already falling in love with people. You make friendships, break them and well, sometimes fall in love only to get your heart broken. You start hating life, hating people who broke you, and to some rare extreme have psychological damages.

Some people are actually lucky to find love in the process. They fall in love while still at school, especially at college, because this is the stage we have all been waiting for to spend it to our fill. This is the point where what you have been reading in books or watching in movies come in handy. We want to know how it feels like to be in love. We love so deeply, give in so easily and find life so amazing when we are around the ones we love. We need to show to the world how love has made us so wonderful and fulfilled all our wishes. We try new things with the love of our lives just to make them happy. Nothing matters to us except for the wellness of those we love. Some are lucky this works while for some, it’s just the beginning of a life’s most painful lessons. Lucky are those who will be living next to each other.

Luck may not be on some others. Their loved ones may be so far away from them. Long distance relationships. There is a term for that. And it’s not as pleasing as they would like to be. These are the kinds who constantly look for ways to make these relationships work. Google mostly, you guessed right. They will seek for ways to get in touch with their loved ones. Some of these relationships will work but most of them will weaken over time and tear apart.

The most unlucky ones, as most people tend to say, are those who do not find love at all in the process of education. These are the kinds who will face all ridicule especially from friends who are already at it. They will be made feel incompetent, missing out in most of life’s pleasures. When will you enjoy life? The most common question asked. You have to get in, time is flying. Some will give in to these demands and join in while some may be so busy with their lives and not giving any thought about it. What most people will fail to understand about them is that they are not weak or unfit in any way, they have made a decision to stay that way for a reason. They will be teased about how others get to enjoy their lives while still at school and how difficult it will be for them to find love later in life.

What we have to understand is that we read from different scripts and never at one chapter of this book of life is any of the events similar. What may work out for me doesn’t necessarily have to work out for you. But common sense would guide us at some point. What’s the point of falling in love if you both remain as inertly as you were before? If I was to fall in love, then it should be something worth falling for. That’s why I am of the strong opinion that career should come before love. You first need to find direction out of your imagination and face the real world. What are you, 22? Man, you’ve got more way to go. You fall in love at 18 only to realize later at 25 that you should have built your career when you had a lot of time on your hands. I believe it is more fulfilling to get into love when you are ready and not when you feel like you have to.

I do not mean to say that those already in love at 18 made a mistake, I mean to say that it would have been more likely to work out had they settled for their careers first and focused on a thing at a time. Come to think of it, it’s better to get your heart broken in a Range Rover than in a matatu.  Set priorities right and follow them to the end and you will live a more fulfilling life. Look at most prominent people, Lupita Nyong’o, for example. Patrick Ngugi Njoroge, BoB Collymore, Larry Madowo, the list is endless. These are the kinds of people who had their career second in their priority list. But whatever, you know… I’m just saying what worked for them and may not be what will work for you, isn’t it?