If you want to know yourself better, write.

unkown

For the longest time, I have had so much trouble expressing how I feel, what I want and what I need. I have never really thought that this was such a challenge, until I had to answer questions in class. I always thought that this was a confidence issue, so I thought that by putting myself out there, I would get to practice every moment, every minute, and that I’d get better at it. However, according to mama, I was never not confident, and this was never something she thought I could struggle with. As a matter of fact, she opines that I always shoot my shot and say whatever is on my mind; that I am absolutely fierce and fearless. According to her, there is nothing I have been unable to accomplish, and if a goal was too high for me to reach at a certain point, what I settled for as second was always pretty great. So imagine her surprise when I one day tell her that my mental health has been such a struggle for me.

If you want to know the world, read.

unkown

How funny is it that when you read a book decades old, that you quite possibly share the same emotions as someone else did decades ago? I tend to read a lot these days, perhaps because I am not very outgoing. I am extremely introverted, but enjoy the company of those I love and care for. As long as I can remember, I have always had issues concentrating, and at the same time, I would completely obsess over anything that I found interesting. The best example I can share of my childhood is one that my momma tells as a story whenever she is asked what kind of a child I was when I was little; the ‘bird incident’.

In grade three, I was having these extra classes, not because I needed them, but because mom and dad had to work, and tuition was more of a ‘productive’ day care. This particular afternoon was quite hot, the kind of hot that causes a mirage over a distance. This was ukambani, my homeland. I was already used to the heat. I had completed my math assignment, which I found quite uninteresting at the time, and I was staring outside, completely oblivious of Mrs. Kyungu, bless her soul. My mom says a bird landed outside, which immediately caught my interest, and I threw a pencil at it. However, what she doesn’t know, is that the bird she speaks of, was a beautiful crow that was more curious of Mrs. Kyungu’s math problems than I was. The crow had been up and about, scavenging around the assembly ground and kept walking towards the classroom. I watched it the entire time, like I was calling to it, beckoning it to come closer to me. It did, and all the while what my seven year old brain processed was “my, what a beautiful little birdie. Can I pet you?” As soon as he got to the classroom door, I reached out, and my pencil shamefully flew out the door in his direction. Startled and probably scared, he flew away. Of course, mwalimu thought I was playing with him and not paying attention, therefore, I earned my pinch at the thigh for being naughty. Unable to explain myself, I took the pinching that day, and my mother got to hear of the ‘bird incident’ and my inability to focus.

Grade three must have been particularly challenging for my folks because I also had very little regard for danger or safety and security. Our public primary school had what was called a ‘fish pond’ that, interestingly, never had any fish. They probably thought we would fish them and roast them over a fire at lunch time. Heck, that would beat the matonya ngelele (our code language for maize and beans) lunch provided by the school. It was more of a water reservoir for when students had to wash their classrooms in preparation for events and functions at the school. Hmm. I had a best friend back then, her name was Joy. Hope and Joy, my, what a beautiful duo. Furthermore, they insisted that Joy and I looked alike, which of course, we never agreed. Anyway, my interest in the scouting movement was borne from my interactions with her. My parents never had much, but always had more than enough for my sister and I. After expressing my interest to join the movement, my parents worked hard to get me the required uniform, and thought I would look cute with a new pair of Toughees and a maroon sweater. I sure did that Monday morning, and by Wednesday afternoon, little miss Mating’i had somehow fallen into the fish pond with the new uniform and Toughees. Sigh. My mama had to come and get me from school. I still remember the look of disappointment on her very beautiful face. I was sad, because I could not fathom why I sometimes behaved so abnormally. Did I mention that I did not know how to swim? I do not remember how I got out, but I know that I, now as an adult, do not like reservoirs of water larger than a bathtub.

What was worse about all of these incidents, was that my sister, who is only one year older than me, was the perfect little girl; always composed, very polite and quite responsible. Not only that, she topped her class and was the epitome of a ‘model student’. It is no surprise that she landed at Alliance, that was very much expected. During the County prize-giving ceremony, my math teacher at the time was genuinely surprised that we were even related. I was in grade eight then, and was jeering while she scooped the numerous awards and certificates. I had no care in the world for what anyone thought, never did, never have. However, now that I am an adult, every time I remember teachers asking me to ‘behave more like my sister’, I consider that the worst piece of advice any caregiver should give to a child. We both turned out okay, she, a graduate Geologist and I, well, a storyteller. Not so bad, eh?

My company as a child was always with the boys, and not there was anything wrong with the pretty girls, I just had different interests. I loved football, I loved physical education and was relatively underweight. I was such a late bloomer and always slow in catching up with my peers. I did not know the latest movies, songs or which girl liked which boy. All I wanted to do was play, football for that matter, you pervs. The boys never seemed to care either, they stank after games and for some reason, I found that more comfortable as opposed to who is going to kiss who after school. Thus, as I grew up, I had only one girl friend and numerous boy friends, and honestly, never felt like I fit in either because boom, puberty. Boys stuck to boys, and girls, well, the usual. As a result of being a late bloomer and not quite being able to fit in, I stayed indoors a lot.

I had a very traumatic high school experience and was extremely depressed by the time I was done. All I wanted to do then was run away, have a fresh start where no one had any idea who I was. My parents did their best and gave their all, which was more than I could have ever asked for. Law school had its own challenges, but the one thing I feared the most was what I was running away from. While I ran away, my best friend needed me and I could not be there for her. Before I graduated, she gave out. The pain. All I can think of now, is whether she knew that I still loved her, regardless.

I feel safe at work, cared for and most importantly, respected. I love being among Queers because I have never felt this safe, this comfortable. There are zero expectations as to how I should behave, who I should love, or how I should show that love. Here, I do not feel like I have to fit in, and here, my demons stay at bay. Everything is shared, love and hugs included. I am a sucker for both. I absolutely love it here, but my anxiety kicks in every time I remember that I might have to leave one day, because out there, it is scary and I will have to conform. I do not want anything that is ‘normal’ or ‘proper’ or ‘standard’. I do not want to be a ‘model’ human being, I want to be as imperfect as I can get. I want that form of love that is unconditional, that is pure. I want to feel safe in how I express my thoughts and my feelings. I do not want to feel caged in and I certainly do not want to feel as though being different is being a freak!

I will not conform to whatever is expected of me, I choose to take my time and march to the beat of my own drums. I do not choose a reality of black and white, I choose one of many colours, full of love and light. I choose to love any soul that is pure and affectionate, warm and kind, regardless of whatever body that soul comes in. I deserve good, warm, nice and kind. I deserve a compassionate love, one that does not question how I choose to express, whether in clothing or writing or my choice of music. And who says we have to figure everything out all at once?

Young blood thinks there’s always tomorrow.

justin bieber

It was funny for a while because all the books and novels I read, the movies I watched, made this young and clumsy, disorganised, nerdy little girl quite cute. I mean fumbling for words, being introverted was depicted as quiet and shy. No one ever thought to explain how uncomfortable an introvert usually is to interact with people we are not comfortable with. Being forced to be outgoing and conversationalists in order to mingle and ‘make new friends’ is the worst. How about asking your child if they feel like being in the company of noisy people, or if they just want to stay in and read a book. When did quiet become so boring? Why do I have to adjust my personality to fit in with the crowd? Trust me, I tried this once and almost got suspended, and in the process, hurt the one soul I most genuinely cared for as an adult, and I’m not talking friends. For once, I found that soul that danced with mine before the dawn of mankind. Ha! I lost that trying to fit in, and while that is entirely my fault, I would not have had I stayed true to who I was, to who I am.

Slowly, I intentionally isolated myself because I became too tired of crowds and people, conversations were never that interesting to begin with. I found that I became quite exhausted very easily, even though I went to bed early. Sometimes, I would awaken in the middle of the night because I could not sleep further and my mind would go completely into overdrive. Other times, I was in such a great mood in the morning, and by evening, I would cry myself to sleep. It is no longer funny how obsessive I get with routine, yet, become completely disorganised at the smallest inconvenience. Mental exhaustion became worse because I have responsibilities to myself and my clients, as well as duties to my profession. All that seems irrelevant if my mental health is at stake, right? But the thing about anxiety is that it does not allow you to rationalise. One can have both depression and anxiety, two completely different challenges and as you get older, these signs in women tend to get milder and can therefore go unnoticed.

Often, we know what is wrong with us, but the minute we reach out, someone will ask whether you have self diagnosed yourself, or whether you aren’t just having a bad day. No Justin, I absolutely know something is wrong, but you take it lightly, so I end up having actual conversations with myself in the middle of the day. No, not conversations with another person inside my head, conversations with myself because I cannot trust that you will understand what I am telling you, Justin. I can’t afford a Psychiatrist, but if it would make you feel better if I am certified as a freak by a professional, I will gladly consult a Psychologist once I am able to afford healthcare. In the meantime, allow my mental exhaustion to carry on. Allow my mind to fight my mind for survival and supremacy.

Never have I doubted that I will one day be great, nor that I would do great things. And no, I do not want to change the world, I want to change worlds, individual worlds. I want to be the reason someone smiled today, the reason one finds comfort, the person another would reach out to for safety. I want to be all that, y’all can change the world. However, I know that I cannot be of help to anyone when I am having trouble with my mental health. I mean, insurances have insurance too, and Psychologists have Psychologists as well. I am not ashamed to have all this going on inside my head, because nothing about me was ever ‘normal’. No, I embrace all of these flaws, weaknesses and freakishness. I only hope that I will hold on long enough for that light at the end of the tunnel. I pray that I will want to have the will to keep at it every day, because unless you are ‘abnormal’ in any fashion of this binary black and white society, you will never comprehend. I mean, you can understand struggle, struggle is struggle, but you can never comprehend.

I pity you, you folk who think it is okay to choose what struggle to validate and which one to downplay. You, who think it is okay to limit fundamental freedoms and human rights. You, who think that unless you understand it, you cannot recognise it. You, who want women to have successful careers, so long us it does not overshadow thus emasculate you. You women who think that bold and fierce women should not hold elective seats or lead in any type of way. You women who do not think it proper for other women to model, mother children and simultaneously have professional careers. You, who still think that a young girl should not have autonomy over her own body. This is what is “normal” and “humane” according to your standards. This is perfectly okay with you, and you will feel accomplished because you are “preserving the morals and culture of our society”. I do not need a college degree to understand that what I enjoy should be enjoyed by every human being. Rights and freedoms are inherent, not granted by any State or authority; but for you who comprehends very little, it shows.

Love is a verb. Love- the feeling- is a fruit of love, the verb.

stephen covey

While we cannot choose those that love us for who we are, we can choose to focus on the fact that we love ourselves and live our authentic truth. Therefore, explore the heavens, love, run through the fields, go for that drive and feel the wind against your hair. Kiss that girl, move countries, risk it all for love, go bankrupt, because all these things, we can gain them again. However, family, friends and partners are rarely found once lost. Once we lose these beautiful souls, life rarely gives us a chance with them again. So with the pain of loss, may you find hope in healing, because this is the hardest form of self love. Take your time love, feel everything and lose your mind while at it. Your soulmate will find you when you are ready for them. The universe guarantees it.

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2,314 Responses

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