These Nairobi streets can be harsh. Harsh with its standards. Many wouldn’t believe this but I struggled so much to fit in with my peers. This was my early and mid 20’s. (I know i make it sound like i am so old LOL).
I struggled to be a cool person. Come to think of it, this did not start when i got into my twenties. Back in Primary school i tried so hard to fit in that i faked fainting and epilepsy, God forgive me. Ilikua Ujinga.
In High school best way i knew to fit in was go to all extremes with entertainment events. I was not in a popular sport but i loved playing it, and today i still obsess over it. Basketball. I never wanted to be popular really, that I left it to the light skin girls,(no offence it was just a wrong stereotype back then), I just wanted to be seen. I did manage to do that, but as a crazy person. Things I did.
Sigh. In university i participated in almost all activities, main sport, basketball; singing/dancing competitions, I even once modelled for Mr and Miss KEMU.
The real struggle came when i got into the real world. I was always keen to impress my peers. My mitumba ( Still love mitumba stuff) high heels which i easily accessed at Ngara did not do me any justice, to say the least.
I was that girl who for all events whether sporty or gala-ish, would wear heels. They would kill me. I would walk with the heels till the heel wore off one side and would glide through town in pain. The heat in foot inside the heel and the uncomfortable shoe which all of a sudden had become a size 4 from a size 5. (Ever experienced that? You buy a shoe, it fits then later the size miraculously decreases smh).
I was a yes person. I even made up lies to my ‘back then’ friends of cool parties i was in, while i was at home huddled reading a book or repeating an episode of one tree hill or prison break.
I remember as a Teacher in Practice at State House Girls i loathed the idea of telling people that my undergraduate was a degree in Education. It just did not seem trendy. So i lied and lied. All to fit in.
The sycophant ideology of ‘close friends’ was a story which would change depending on who i talked to;just to seem cool.
Through out my career say 2010-2012 I had a bunch of misplaced priorities. Full of scattered opinions and hardly no principles.
I was once a worship leader in my then home church(yes i see you laughing and grinning with skepticism), but that wasn’t cool enough. It just did not sync with my night time activities which was serious partying.
My past articles (some) between those years were a bit naive and silly. I would jump at any opportunity to have a boy take me out for coffee and damn did i struggle in the heels.
I would worry over not replied texts, and would jump into conclusions of feeling unwanted.
I was one of those girls who after the first date would conclude that we are now officially an item, and if my art skills would be anything to go by, i would have a premonition of some sort-a portrait of the two of us, our babies and our house.
I made stupid mistakes. A time reached when i started to lose my confidence. I would hardly hang out in cool places.(read tackos, then some club at Kenya Cinema, concerts, meet ups etc) I had a bad acne which made me feel like i would not be accepted in any cool circle.
I am so happy that social media was not as vibrant as it is right now because, i would probably be one of those girls who walked into buoart, get half naked pictures with flawless skin and post them all over, send them to bloggers and have ghalfa highlight ‘New socialite in Town’. ‘Guess what Corrie did over the weekend’..things like that-so as to gain confidence or whatever gratification comes with that.
I would probably transition from a socialite to a TV personality to a foodie which would give me the title of a wife material and ‘influencer’ in these streets.
I remember when a friend took me to java for the first time in 2012, i panted through the menu, ‘What are all these things?’ I wondered. Not because i was poor or anything, but because i had misplaced priorities. I would waste money in other stupid things like cheap KK, Naps or liquor that would easily freeze my liver.
Anyway, fitting in is a real thing. And its a stupid thing.
I’m in a metamorphosis of growth(these past three years) and with each day I learn something new.
I have come to love my own company. Family comes first, God by default is always first (now). I valued friends too much-but now I value, only those who build me otherwise it’s never that serious.
I’m confident to ask a guy out for coffee or a beer or whisky, with no bad intentions, just a chat and a good hangout. I don’t really fret about heels. I wear them whenever i feel like. I can go to a club in my pajamas. And yes i have done that. Just because i felt like. I dress up for some events, because i want to feel beautiful for me, not because some guy will spot me or some lady will feel jealous and want to be me.
Side news: So i recently bought my first pair of boots-Like a month ago. Now i think i will get obsessed.
I have no apologies for opinions.
In the society we live in, we are expected to do things according to what is trending or according to what the society thinks is right or cool.
Women are not really expected to be independent and people who set their own trends. Girls are expected to have a particular lifestyle to attract cool friends and boys.
Maybe i am getting in way over my head with this confidence, but it’s a harsh world. A harsh city which will never hush on how you live. But don’t get me wrong i am one of the most emotional mammals alive.
Things i used to care for like pleasing people, no longer bothers me. I am scared of hurting people though, and try hard not to be that person who does such intentionally.
Care for people’s opinions, only if they build you. If toxic conversations occur, then stride away. Care for the little humbling joys of life, like your mum/dad/guardian/brother/sister taking you out for your first fancy dinner to that Ksh 100/200/300 Mpesa from a loved one(because it’s all they have).
Care for the happy moments when all you did was laugh till your tears would hold no more and all you did was walk away to contain your mucus lining in the stomach. Care for that moment a loved one tells you that they are proud of you but can not give you a gift to show it, but mere words. Care for those who seek to build you with words not tear you down with their opinions of your life.
Love hard. Cry hard if it hurts.
Treat yourself for a fancy dinner on and off. Enjoy your own company. Don’t be scared to do what makes you comfortable and happy. If you want that big ass wedding do it. If you want to elope do it. If you want your kid to have a natural afro hair do it. If you love mitumba high heels, wear them, walk with your head high. Post it on Instagram, we will double tab, and if we don’t do you. Eat that mutura. If you don’t like it, then grab that chicken from KFC or Chicken inn hell walk into into Sankara enjoy that meal. Drink that expensive cocktail. Don’t have a car, ride that boda boda if you feel safe, if not walk with confidence-take pictures of the streets and show us your hood because you are proud of it, whether it is the high end estate or a ghetto that makes you appreciate life and want to become a great woman. Read that book that tells you how to become a better woman (however obnoxious and fake the literature may sound) read it because it’s what makes your heart leap. If you love to cook post those chapatis and difficult to pronounce recipes, do it because, that to you gives you satisfaction. So what you are a light skin, embrace it aggressively. So what you are a dark skin, work it!
Take life in small doses. Live it as you can, for you. Not for other people. Because life is what is is. And the beauty about it, is its all about choices. Enjoy it. Cherish it.
Don’t do it, because you want to please us, or fit in do it because you love it.
But above all be you. Inspire More. Don’t grow alone. Take a girl under your wing and mentor her. Let’s continue to build Kenya one woman at a time.
I’m just a 29 year old; learning more about me; Learning to love me more; easily getting rid of the negative people and vibes in my life; Working hard more; Achieving more; loving family more; Loving God more in the best way I can.
My mistakes made me become the person I am today.