Unbreakable.

The morning my aunt called me about a publishing internship, I spent the half hour that followed concentrating, as I never have before, on washing the dishes in the sink. I don’t like washing dishes. I don’t like domestic work. Her call came in the middle of Alan Walker and Sia’s “Unbreakable”, a recent obsession of mine. I stared at my phone for about five seconds wondering if I should pick up as I knew what she was calling about. Even before I picked up, I knew it would be a destabilizing call emotionally.

Spoiler alert guys: I am not unbreakable. And now I feel cheated that I still cried even after I gave everything I had to washing dishes. Because what was the point? What good are distractions if they don’t assuage your emotions?

Let me back up.

I have this recurring dream.

A couple of friends and I are at a restaurant with good music but really bad service having an okay time. Would I rather be in bed, yes? The answer to that question will always be a yes. But my friend is holding my hand for some weird reason and he’s telling a stupid joke and I’m laughing, partly to humour him and partly because my sense of humour needs prayers. And then everything goes dark and I’m sitting with snakes (literally) yapping (hissing?) on about my plans professionally. A lot of the snakes, which are very friendly looking I might add, are of the opinion that I should go back to school and every time the word school is mentioned, venom is sprayed on my skin. My skin slowly cracks and peels away until my true self is revealed and she is just a little girl shaking at a corner, crying for help, begging the snakes to leave her be.

This dream worries me. It is an accurate, albeit bizarre, representation of how I feel about school.

Anxiety.

Whenever I tell people I hate school, I get the classic response, “who doesn’t?” And maybe I don’t hate school entirely. School gave me a first taste of pride, and largely, a sense of purpose. We were learning standard six trigonometry and nerdy me just knew all the answers. I was answering the teacher’s questions as fast as he could get them out and after the fifth question, he made a declaration, “this is why she defeats all of you.” Other than the few hateful glances I got, the class was intensely silent. I said nothing for the rest of that lesson but for the very first time in my life, I wasn’t backing down because of shame or guilt, I did it to give others space and a false sense of achievement. I was thinking, “I’m going to own these people!”

But lately, I just hate school. For the place that built me, it sure did break me. I often joke that the only things school ever gave me were mental health problems and righteous anger.

As early as my youngest sister could understand me, I’ve been teasing her about school. At first, it was about how Jesus would come back even before she starts school and now that she’s in class eight, I keep joking that she should quit school because Kenya is too messed up for her education to do her any real good. My mother missed the memo about this being a joke and she gets so frustrated when she catches me saying this. One time it escalated and she ended up berating me about my unwillingness to do a master’s degree. Somewhere between her not understanding how I became so anti-school and trying to reconcile it with her parenting style, I remember mumbling, “school gives me anxiety and until I’m in a mental space where the very thought of school doesn’t make me want to slit my wrists, I won’t go back.” She of course didn’t hear me, and I left her “soul searching” because I needed to scream into a pillow as getting those words out of my mouth had left me feeling utterly spent and exhausted.

My aunt’s call made we want to scream into a pillow. I had to go to go back to school to get some documentation. I had to go back to the buildings that I was bullied and traumatized in.

School; a physical representation of my inadequacies. It’s been about eight months since I was in a class room and I still can’t get over how small and stupid the gates of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology make me feel.
Just the thought of going to school and I’m already spiraling out.
It’s the reason after I read Tolu Daniel’s essay here, I sat slumped in a chair for five minutes wondering what right I have to call myself a writer.
It’s the reason after a meeting with my friends yesterday where I mostly cackled and had a good time, I crawled into bed last night, sadness and disappointment wrapped around my throat, wondering why in the hell they would believe in me.
It’s the reason I’m sitting in my bed, writing this blog post that I’m convinced is subpar, hoping one of my friends will call so I can talk it out and get some emotional validation. What in the fuck?
It’s the reason I took it way too hard when I couldn’t find inspiration for a blog post. Because it stops being about having nothing to write about and becomes statement on my failure as a writer.

It’s the reason I couldn’t answer a simple question my sister asked me in the morning because it felt like an attack on my spirit which needed nothing more than to fly away to a safe, quiet corner.
But I’m writing anyway. Because, as far as I remember, it’s been my way of saying,”Screw you universe.” I mean I could actually more vulgar variations of that phrase, but you guys know what I’m saying.

2017

Hey guys.

I know it’s been a while. I’ve been meaning to write a sequel to my previous post but as you can see, I didn’t get around to it. I got such overwhelming positive feedback from you guys, it felt like anything after that wouldn’t be good enough. I just stopped trying at some point. But I promise, even if it kills me, I will write that sequel.
Unwillingness to post substandard work isn’t the only reason I haven’t posted. I have also been feeling a bit substandard, generally. Haha, that’s so sad and pathetic. And yes while the first reason counts as growth, I do remember the reason I started this blog wasn’t to amass a following, it was to vent. So today, I’m going to write for that same reason.
So here goes, a review of this past year, in some fashion.

For a year that generally seemed good, it sure did kick my ass; emotionally, mentally, educationally (whaaat?!) I mean, I graduated and I sort of figured out what I want from life and how I want to go about it. And that’s a big deal, I just never got around to celebrating it. Also, I stayed alive.
Anyway, here are the highlights.

Books.
At the beginning of the year I set out to read at least one book a week. That didn’t happen, because, I’m broke. But I did read a lot more than the previous years (Thank you Vushya.)
My favourite book this year was Khaled Hosseini’s, “A Thousand Splendid Suns.” As I’m getting older, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to stomach books written by men (especially, straight white men.) They never seem to do the female characters justice. They all portray this stereotypical woman; sexy and girly, smart and boyish, powerful but mean and unmarried. While women are and can be these things, I find it dangerous to box women into stereotypes. Because then it propagates the notion that a woman who isn’t these things, is fundamentally flawed. Women are multi-faceted human beings and I think it is important that they are portrayed as such, because then we can normalize women living to the full extent of their humanity and sexuality, and not have to be labeled weak, sluts, intimidating and not fit for marriage or just bitter hysterical bitches. I like that Khaled Hosseini in this book, in as much as female subjugation is a major theme in this book, doesn’t portray the women as damsels in distress who are finally saved by this man. They fight and they earn their happiness and liberation.
Aboyami Adebayo’s, “Stay With Me” comes a close second. I was a bit underwhelmed because I heard so much about it and I went in with really high expectations. I think it’s one of those books I’ll have to read more, than once to fully appreciate. I came out with this quote, “If the burden is too much and stays too long, even love bends, cracks, comes close to breaking and sometimes does break. But even when it’s in a thousand pieces around your feet, that doesn’t mean it’s no longer love.” I came really close to ending an important relationship because stuff got overwhelming and this quote weirdly put things in perspective.
I think my all-time favourite quote however is in Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” She was talking about her brother when she said, “Of all the needs (there are none imaginary) a lonely child has, the one that must be satisfied, if there is going to be hope of wholeness, is the unshaking need for an unshakable God. My pretty black brother was my kingdom come.” All the lonely children in me come out to weep every time I read this quote.

Owning my pain.
I had suppressed or just blocked out a lot of painful, traumatic experiences over the years and these last three months, my demons came out to play. They were seated on my chest and dancing on my throat. I was sleeping fifteen hours a day at some point just so I wouldn’t have to listen to my chest heave as soon as I opened my eyes. Sidebar: can we just take a moment to realise how lazy and uncool I am? I could have done heroine, but instead I chose sleep. The beauty (or cruelty) of life however, is that it goes on and as long as you’re alive, you eventually have to get out of bed and catch up. I honestly didn’t think it would be as hard because I’ve been really down before and I dealt with it. You however don’t feel the same kind of pain twice and yeah, my ass got thoroughly kicked. But now that I’m slowly getting out of it (or maybe just not fighting being in it), I’m beginning to appreciate the importance of unpacking your trauma, of laying it out on the table and examining every crevice. Oi had to admit to myself that I wasn’t oaky and consciously take steps towards healing. Some things are a matter of waiting it out and others require standing up for yourself and confronting the people that hurt you. It requires that you stop apologizing for your emotions and keep reiterating, even if it’s just to yourself, that you’re not a bitter, unforgiving person. Sometimes things take time and you can’t rush through your emotions. Sometimes you need to scream and kick and through it all, not forget that you are deserving of a space free of judgement and fear to do that. If somebody wants to be in your life after they hurt you, they have to be willing to let you go through the motions. They have to own up to their shit, and sometimes just sit there and let you speak your truth as uncomfortable as that may be for them. Because really, a relationship that can’t survive brutal honesty and mind-bending introspection isn’t a relationship you want to invest yourself in.

Take a leap of faith.
So I decided to pursue writing professionally and dear God I’m scared. But really, it’s the only thing I feel good about in my life right now. I’m prepared to make a few mistakes but all in all, I feel I’ll live a more fulfilling life this way than if I chose a different career path.
That said, my friend and I are working on a project that we’re super excited and proud of. We’ll be done in the next couple weeks or so. I’ll probably do a blog post to inform you of the details and availability of this project once it’s complete. So please spread the word and say tuned? (Does that phrase apply to blog posts?)
Also, I’ll be a lot more consistent in posting next year. I’ll be doing a post every week. I’m excited about that too.

Gratitude

I cannot thank you guys enough for believing in me and taking time out of your days to read my somewhat censored and scanty ramblings. Thank you guys so much. I promise to be a better host next year, and do everything in my power to make visiting this space a worthwhile experience.

I started this blog to just get stuff off my chest. And now it’s blossomed into a career and I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated that before this moment. I went from being the girl that went for walks at one am in the morning because I was too sad too sleep to being someone that thinks, “hey you’re awesome. Hey you’re beautiful” when I look in the mirror and actually believe it. It’s all because of this blog. So thank you guys. I hope in my own sad, angry and intense way, I made somebody’s life a little better.

Happy holidays:)

Conversational Anxiety.

Hey guys. I realise that’s it’s been a long while since I posted here. 

I am trying to grow up so I won’t use writer’s block as a scapegoat.  I do have ideas I’d like to write about. Truth, I just don’t have the energy. So I went through my drafts and I found something that rings true today as it did a few months back.

Here goes..

I find that I’m unable to have a proper conversation with anyone of late. Without thinking about it, this needn’t worry me, or anyone else for that matter. I have never been much of a conversationalist. Normally when I’m in a setting that requires conversation, I zone out. The only times I get out of my head long enough to have a conversation, though I wouldn’t call it a conversation; it’s more of giving  somewhat sasatisfactory replies to posed questions, is when I’m in the company of someone I care about enough to make the effort. 

Is this a good thing? I hardly think so. It is however, justifiable. 

I hate, nay, loathe small talk. I firmly believe the only time someone should ask what I’m doing is if they intend to take up my time. Asking for the sake of having something to say annoys me in varying degrees. Sometimes it’s just an incomprehension (if I really like you), but more often than not, it’s gut wrenching anger(why in the fuck do you have my number in the first place? What lapse of judgement in my part could have possibly allowed that?)

I believe that the best conversations are held in silence. There is something about never needing to say anything, knowing that whatever you have to say is already known that sort of gets me going (sexuallly I might add.) People don’t appreciate the intimacy that comes with silence. They feel this need to fill the silence with small talk or emotional assessment (are you sad? Are you angry? )That exasperates me.

I do like conversation. Start a conversation about something that interests me and it’s unlikely that I’ll stop talking. Well, until recently.

Of late however, I’m unable to master the will to even participate in a conveconversation I would enjoy. My head could be full of ideas, but I’ll still keep my mouth shut. I feel as if I’m subjecting my opinions to the judgement of others. And that makes me anxious. It makes me feel as though an unhygienic fat man is sitting on my chest. Previously, airing my opinion has never been a problem. It had to be one of my favourite things (I’m stubbornly opinionated.) 

I can’t really say I know exactly where this new-found anxiety is coming from. I’ll try and venture an explanation if it’s all the same with you.

First, I don’t feel as smart as I think I am. I feel as though my opinions don’t hold much meaning. And if that’s the case, then why even have one in the first place?

Second, I feel as though I have run out of people who care about what I have to say.  People who’d care for my unfiltered opinion. I constantly feel as though I’m expected to stick to a script everytime I try to say something. The problem is, I don’t think this script was availed to me. So I’m mostly trying to construct pieces of the story from what people around me are saying. An endeavour I’m failing at, disappointingly so. So I opt to skip the table reading altogether.

But mostly, I’m in no head space to carry on a conversation. I’m a lot more emotional than I always am. I’m prone to bouts of intense sadness. I feel numb(such a paradox) and empty by day and drained by night. I have all these words swirling in my head, carefully reconstructing themselves into doubt, fatigue and despondence. If I were to have a conversation, I can’t promise this negativity wouldn’t find it’s way out of my head and into my mouth. I don’t want to be the person who kills the mood. So I choose not to speak until I’ve found my way out of this dark, dreary place my head has become. 

Also, I’ve increasingly grown hateful of texting. I’d prefer it if people just called me. Well, only certain people.

So until I’m back to being myself again, I hope you don’t let the silence drive you too crazy.

Also, please don’t leave me:(

​If you are going to love me.

If you are going to love me, please love me in my entirety. Love the parts of me that sob for no apparent reason at two in the morning and the parts of me that bursts out laughing because of a lame pun in the middle of a tragic movie. It is in bad taste I know. It’s just that I feel sad a lot, it’s difficult to stifle a piece of happiness when I stumble upon it. 

If you are going to love me, please love me when I’m insecure and avoiding my reflection. I’m not saying I hate myself, but there are times I see a seamlessly beautiful girl in the bus next to mine when we’re stuck in traffic and I can’t help  but think, “she’s the kind of pretty that incessantly just is and I’m the kind you can only capture in a certain light at a certain angle. So it’s not that I’m vain, it’s that in that moment when I catch a glimpse of my reflection as I’m hurriedly trying to look away, I notice I look sad. The kind of sad a smile can’t conceal and for a moment, I forget that I’m smart and weird in a way that people think is funny or any of the things that actually do matter.

If you are going to love me, please love me for my humming brain. Love me for my detrimental ability to turn ant hills into mountains. Love me when it’s two years later and I’m still heartbroken and blaming myself. Love me when I have dug deep into my head and I can taste blood in my mouth. Love me when my head is throbbing and I can’t sit still. It’s not that I’m not letting it go because I swear to you I’m doing the best I can. It’s that my head is like a video reel of my life and there are days the shuffle function only selects the videos that make me cry. 

If you are going to love me, please love me for my meltdowns and deathless anxiety. Love me when I’m too wound up from life to converse properly. Love me when I’m starving but won’t get out of the house to look for food, because you know, people. It’s not that I’m a negative person. I’m actually quite optimistic about life. Too optimistic even. And maybe that’s why I panic. Because I know things could be better and when they aren’t, that reality sometimes suffocates me. 

If you are going to love me, please love me when I’m being needlessly emotional.  Love me when I need reassurance and won’t let the hug end. It’s not that I don’t believe you or that I think I’m not worthy of love, it’s that I’ve been loved as an afterthought one too many times and I’m still a little bit scarred. My wounds are healing, there are times they just need a little more tending.   

If you are going to love me, please don’t try to fix me. I understand I look broken to you, but believe me I function just fine. I promise you I’m okay. I just feel deeply.  

The sound of other people’s lives. 

I spent most of today fighting the urge to yell “shut up” in people’s faces. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t hear what they were saying, on account of my ringing ears, or maybe not even talking at all. Everything just seemed so loud. 

Everything feels loud these days. I can’t seem to still my brain.

It could be argued that a loud mind is my fundamental building block and in a lot of ways, that argument would be correct. I don’t know how to live outside my head. Reality is too disappointing.

But every once in a while, I feel the need to numb my brain.

Every once in a while, I want to indulge my sister in small talk, or a classmate about an assignment. Every once in a while, I want to focus outside of myself, if not for anything, then to avoid how vividly red the darkness in my head feels. This is an endeavour I fail at more often than not. My mind on such days only feels hotter, so much so, it makes my eyes sting.

So I retreat into my head, the only place that feels familiar, the only place that feels like home. Oh the irony of that. And in the end, I’m still a snub, even when I’m trying not to be. Especially when I’m trying not to be. 

But really, the routine of existence exhausts me. People going about their lives; telling their jokes, grieving their losses, celebrating their triumphs simultaneously enrages and numbs me. It feels like white noise that has long overstayed its welcome and no longer motivates and/or accompanies me as I go through life. I’m bored and tired and I just want a hug from my best friend. 

I am immensely sad and for the life of me, I cannot explain why. I just want to sleep for a really long time. But then again, I’m wide awake at 1.30am on a school night. So maybe if I’m irate, it’s not because I’m sleep deprived. I could sleep if I wanted to.  My soul is tired, my spirit is battered. Sleep remains only an escape, a foolish indulgence, for a few hours at best. And what kind of grown up would that make me, if I solved (avoided really) all my problems by taking a nap?

More than anything, I want everyone to stop talking. I want the world to slow down. I want my head to stop spinning. I want my eyes to stop stinging.

I miss feeling happy.

Writer’s Block

Do you ever wake up mad at the sun? How it rises day after day? How it abides by this routine, never caring to honour the terrible nights we sometimes have? Nights full clear darkness and loud silences packed in the cracks of our heartbreaks. But more than that, how can a creation be so stoic?  You would think having a ball full of confused human beings revolving around you would every once in a while dull your shine. My question is, how did the sun learn to be so indifferent?

That is a strange question to ask. It almost seems like I am trying to humanize the sun. And in a sense, I am. I am trying to relate to the sun (another strange thing) and I feel the only way I can do that is if the sun was a little bit human. 

Why am I trying to relate to the sun? The answer, I imagine, is as simple and as complicated as feeling like a fraud would be. I haven’t been able to write these past few months. I have a case of the infamous writer’s block. As any writer will tell you, this is as agonising as a wooden stake would be to a vampire’s heart. My nights consist of hovering(trembling really) around a keyboard and my eyes fixated on a blank screen, only punctuated by a stinging eyes that sometimes go on to become full blown sobs. I am a very emotional human being. 

On nights like this, I stare at the sky. I stare at the moon and the stars. And on mornings that follow such nights, I stare at the rising sun.  A lot of times, it is out of anger and frustration but every once in a while, I feel a twinge of jealousy. Sometimes I envy everything the sun is; its immortality, its strength. I am awed by how the sun has thawed mountains and catalysed the decomposition of generations. I am amazed by how it simply never stops rising. Because such days begin with me wishing, praying, that I never stop writing. 

Because writing shall be my legacy, an immortality of sorts. So what right would I have to claim to be a writer if I can’t relate to the sun? How can I seek immortality if I can’t catch a glimpse of my soul when I look into the stars? How do I never stop writing? 

Fear of Photographs

My best friend is always trying to take pictures with me. Poor guy. That’s an endeavour I will almost always botch. I don’t get pictures. I don’t know why people insist on capturing moments. Can’t we just enjoy them and save them in our heads? The irony is, I don’t want him to ever stop trying to take pictures with me. I realise that is selfish; to subject a guy to mild forms of embarrassments every time he puts a camera in front of my face, but hear me out. I know pictures have no intrinsic value (as my friend put it), and maybe that’s why people take lots of them, because it’s no big deal. However, every time my best friend tries to take a picture of me, I want to believe that he treasures that moment and he would like to freeze it and have something to remember it by(To him it’s probably just a picture, nothing deep.) So call me selfish but I find the thought that he would stop wanting to freeze pieces of the moments that we spend together a bit alarming. And that right there is the paradox; me attaching so much sentiment to a gesture whose expression I don’t really understand, let alone care for.

That got me thinking about my phobia of pictures. Why is it that I don’t like taking pictures? Could it be for reasons as vain as not wanting to take a bad picture and have this eternal reminder of that one time I spent a fraction of my life looking ugly, terrifying people with my face? Maybe that was true a couple of years ago. These days, I adore my reflection in the mirror even on my worst days. Or maybe that is the problem, the image I have of myself in my head is so good, no camera could ever capture it. And when I say good, I do not mean superficial beauty. My friend says that’s a genetic lottery, no one deserves it. And I agree. There is so much more to people than the symmetry of their faces. If we take pictures of the moments we are proud of, then something as simple as a pleasant face that you were lucky enough to be born with shouldn’t be on that list. It really isn’t an accomplishment.

I go to school in this dusty, sunny, miserable little town. This town is half stressed out, drunk and/or high college students and half motorists constantly asking you if they can take you somewhere. I find the latter funny, because more often than not, I’m always dying to go somewhere; anywhere else. Half the reason I always have my earphones plugged in is to distract myself from this apathy. The other half is people. I feel like I would commit suicide if I had to be constantly aware of this reality. 

On my way to and from class, I have to walk past this group of motorists. I notice that one of these motorists never asks if he can take me somewhere. I never thought much of it at first. I just assumed he was one of the very few people left who are respectful of other people’s spaces. Eventually, it began to worry me. This is his living. Why is he not as aggressive as the rest? Why is he so calm? Before I knew it, I was actively looking for him every time I passed there. Studying his facial expression, his body language, trying to figure out why he is so different from the others. Surely, he has to know something that the others don’t. Or he could be sick and dying. I don’t know. Granted, I didn’t find out anything about him (I’m not Sherlock Holmes.) I did notice however, that he always seemed distracted, like he was never really aware of his surroundings. And on the occasions that he wasn’t in his head, he was busy doing something else; like talking to someone or eating or fixing his motorbike, anything but asking people if he can take them somewhere. I think I began to relate to him. Here is someone who seems to spend his days distracted or being an oddity. That is kind of my story. So you can imagine how surprised I was this one time I saw him laughing. He was laughing so hard, I was scared he’d fall off his bike. It was the happiest I’d seen him in months. This is weird as hell but I was so proud, I wanted to take a picture. It literally was the first time in years I have wanted to take a picture of anything.

I once read this article about things that make you feel good about yourself. On that list, was take a lot of pictures. I do not understand this at all. Somebody explain it to me, how is taking a picture of yourself, especially when you are feeling down going to improve your mood. Essentially, all you’re doing is documenting a phase of your life that sucks. How is that helpful? Anyway, people seem to agree with this premise so I’m just going to shelf it with other arguments that I vehemently disagree with. An example would be the phrase, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” How is that even true? There is no way that something that could have killed you leaves you stronger. It just has to weaken you. Otherwise it wasn’t that serious. But that is an argument for another day.

But every once in a while I try to explain the urge to take that motorist’s picture. Me relating to him aside and thereby treating his happiness to be my own by extension aside, I wanted him to always have a reminder of how happy he looked. I wanted him to put that picture on his bedside table. I wanted him to wake up every day and look at that picture and strive to be happy like that. I wanted him to look at that picture on the nights he’s had an awful day and remember that despondence isn’t permanent. I wanted to give him hope. I wanted him to know he can be happy like that again and again; all he needs to do is find a really good joke. 

And so maybe when I say I don’t like pictures, maybe it’s just selfies and all other forms of pictures that require you to be aware when they are taken. Because I wouldn’t mind having a freeze frame of the moments I’m happiest. I believe, the moments we’re happiest, the moment’s we’re most beautiful are the moments we’re being ourselves the most, the moment’s we feel most in love with ourselves. When we are laughing at a terrible pun, or helping an elderly person cross the road. The moments we’ve forgotten about the acne on our face or the size of our butt; the moments we’re least aware of our insecurities, when our brains aren’t reminding us of our failures. My best friend took this picture of me in a supermarket holding this teddy bear. It’s not even the best picture anyone has ever taken of me, for one you can barely see my face and I look like I have no butt, but I love that picture. Because in that moment, it was just me, happy with a cuddly toy and a friend who cared enough to hand me that moment. And I think that is what pictures should do. Selfies on the other hand, require you to get out of that moment, and make a face or a force a smile for the camera. It just ruins the moment. They make us aware of our terrible reality. And it doesn’t matter how convincing your forced smile is, every time you look at that picture, you’ll always remember you were failing math in the moment it was taken.   

And maybe that is my fear. To look at a picture and think I’m not good enough. To have this frozen reminder of a time when I wasn’t the person I’m working towards being. I know it’s not a healthy way to perceive things, but my brain already is on overdrive, I don’t want to give it one more thing to obsess on.