Live your life, not the life

It's always you against the world
It’s always you against the world

Today is one of those days you don’t know whether to be sad or happy. I got a call as I was about to leave for work (Yes, I have an actual job) and the conversation spanned over 15 minutes. I barely spend more than 4 minutes on a call and even that is stretching it.

The nature of the call? Nothing to smile about. If it was a jam, it would be one of those Ciara being dumped by Future and pretending she’s not hurt tracks. Out of respect for the individual that made me write this post, I won’t go into specifics but I’ll sure as Kenyan teachers, strike where it hurts.

You see, when I was growing up, most of my friends were significantly older than me. It was all cool until they all graduated to high school and I was still in primary school. That was the case in high school and university as well. All this while I always thought to myself, “How come these guys get all the girls and money?” Over time I became comfortable with the fact that I wasn’t at the same level with these people at any given point in my life.

As it stands, some are managers, others successful businessmen, while there are those still trying to find out what they are really good at. Does it bother me? No, it doesn’t bother me one bit. One thing I learnt as a child is that a duck and chicken are all birds but they don’t have the same abilities, don’t taste the same and don’t get the same reviews. Do I want to drive a G Class one day? No, I want to be driven in a G Class on more than one day, but I’m not willing to lose what I’ve built over my two decades.

I’m young, barely two and a half decades old. I’ve grown up in two very different eras. I’ve seen the good life where a few thousands could do a million things and the life where a million can barely fulfill a thousand wishes. The pressure of making it ‘Big’ is constantly poking me. People looking at me and wondering, why haven’t you made it yet? I was the kid with potential but now I’m a just a young man still getting my potential going.

There’s a very big problem when a 20 year old wants to live the life of a 40 year old. True, there are isolated cases of young people that have hit life’s jackpot and laughed all the way to Swiss bank accounts. Does that bother me? Unfortunately, no it doesn’t bother me. I’m not comfortable with where I am but I’m content with what I have. Whoever said money is the root of all evil was probably a reincarnation of some god because that’s as true as it gets.

They say fake it till you make it but never tell you the price you have to pay. There’re many things that make a man but a good reputation has to be at the core of the man. A good reputation means people respect you. If people respect you, you’re most likely a person of virtue. So why would you want to lose that for a moment of madness?

You say circumstances led you to that situation. What circumstances? If we handed everything to circumstances, wouldn’t the jobless have a reason to delve into crime because life is almost unbearable without employment? You always have a choice, whether it’s a good one or a bad one.

I see people writing that they don’t do anything to impress anyone. Bitch please! I won’t bend over either way for anyone but I’ll certainly want to impress. When you have people driving state of the art cars, living in plush neighbourhoods and wearing the latest designers but can’t point at anything tangible they’ve done in life; who do you think they are doing all these things for? I usually come off as disinterested whenever anyone proposes anything that I believe is against who I am.

I’d understand you spending money to impress a section of your family because, I mean, buying you mum a fridge or your dad some reserve whisky is worthwhile. Those are people that nurtured you, but your friends? Why would I want to please people that know my lifestyle? I’ve drank the cheapest brands of alcohol available and as much as I’ve graduated to slightly expensive ones, I’m not going to live beyond my means to make myself an alpha male.

I know you’ve read it in papers, books, candy wrappers and even adult magazines; WE ARE NOT THE SAME! Equality is a fallacy that will never be achieved. When some people have no legs, eyesight, hearing, hands and other normal bodily functions, when will we ever be the same? Take your situation and make it work for you.

By making your circumstance work for you, I certainly do not mean you should do anything illegal. The forbidden fruits more often taste better but always choke you. I’m not much of a role model and I’ve always made that clear. I’m not rich either so I won’t borrow money to bail you out when you’ve been arrested for fraud or impersonation. I can go out of my way to bail you out for getting caught smoking weed because there’s no one you’re putting in harms way other than yourself.

I’ll repeat it a few more times, don’t go out of your way to make yourself something you’re not. You’re a special individual in your own right. There will never be another you. Even if people plug you as the ‘Next Michael Jackson’ don’t take it as a compliment. Look at yourself as the next you. Once you peg yourself on someone else’s success you can never walk out of their shadow no matter the time of the day.

Once you start appreciating who you are and know that you can only be better than yourself, you won’t have to struggle comparing yourself or trying to impress those around you. Your situation and circumstances will do that for you. They say you only know your friends when you’re down but when you trip over your shoe laces that they warned you about, there’ll be no one to pick you up without rubbing it in your face. Live your life, don’t struggle to live the life. Just don’t be comfortable being average or mediocre.

The struggle to be real

I struggle with many things in life. Being an African and having been shipped off to boarding school at barely 10 years because, “I requested”, I know the struggle. I come from the struggle. I’m not talking about the struggle of wearing the same pair of shoes for four schooling years because your mum knew the science of feet. I’m talking about the struggle of waking up at 5 to go to class only to sleep for the rest of the day.

The struggle isn’t limited to young, good looking, semi-poor gentlemen like me and a handful of other lucky souls. I’d like to write a long post but this is targeted so I can’t go too deep into a monologue without losing myself in it. I’ve written about identity and I don’t think I’ll go back into clarifying or further breaking down what my interpretation of identity is.

Every now and then I see my fellow countrymen proudly represent the nation at global events. How proud I’m I? Usually, just proud enough to mention it to every stranger I meet. The thing is, there’s a very big difference between where I come from and other countries from my continent. Which country does this bowl of life hail from?

I emanate from the bully of countries. My country is the kid that makes every kid jump rope and lift weights during Physical Education just because they can hold their pee in during tight situations. My country has terrorized nations globally, regardless of race or gender. Only kids are spared. I come from the country that runs things. And no, I am not American. Americans, sprint. My land is Kenya.

Well, I’m very proud of my nationality as a Kenyan as much as I have received offers from different nations to switch my allegiance and share some of my brilliance. Most countries in Africa, at least the ones I’ve seen at global events, have an identity.

The identities come in different forms; accents, the size of noses, missing necks, attires and other funny things. In high school we had students from all over the country. This meant we had diverse accents all over the place. I laughed my head off first time I heard a Somali guy pronounce pause as “Bawse”, like Rick Ross would. I did that continually for four years.

Was it cold? Very. I was immature but would still laugh even if I heard it today. What I liked about the guy is that our laughter got under his skin but he didn’t try to pretend to be something he wasn’t. After high school, I came across people I went to school with in earlier years. Some however, wow. Well, let’s just say some were probably rehearsing for slots on MTV or TLC.

People who’d for the longest while struggle when pronouncing parallelogram, would now even camouflage some words. Why? I’m still conducting a qualitative study on that so I don’t understand. Girls that would say hi to you in slang now can barely speak Swahili. We all have our insecurities. For a long while I never rocked shorts going anywhere. I didn’t hate my legs but you couldn’t call them steady when I was younger.

I spend the better part of my day online so I see a lot. I see girls posting photos in panties and captioning it, ‘God created me wonderfully. Motivation 101%.’ Moments later, she (not you) puts up a post whining about how guys are insensitive about other people’s posts and goes on to rant about it. One, I’m not a proponent of cyber bullying. Never have been and never will be. I’m equally not a proponent of false praise.

Whenever you put something online, you have one intention, for the communication to reach people. You may not have pictured the response you get but you obviously expected a response. You need self confidence to be able to get through most things in life. Self confidence means, accepting your struggle. I know I’m skinny and have embraced that fully. Ok, I still try to gain weight by eating regularly and putting pressure on the weighing machine every time I weigh in but I’m comfortable.

Life has always been unfair. Look at Esau who was swindled off his blessing for soup and bread. Soup and bread! It was probably some watery soup with carrots, peas, slices of cabbage, potatoes and French beans. That’s what made Esau lose his intended inheritance. Soup Njeri.

Likewise, we can’t all look good, be rich, be intelligent and all those nice things that go well with a nice cube and a stout glass. If you’re ugly, embrace that ugliness. How many times did a monster lay a damsel in history? Beauty and the beast, Red Riding Hood and the wolf (not of wallstreet), Snow White and the Dwarves, T.I and Tiny and so on.

It’s all about knowing equality is fictional and we all have our individual struggles that other people seem to breeze across. We all want that girl whose hair always seems to be blown by the wind because even the gods are cat calling her but someone has to take up the Fantasias as well. All guys can’t be Crisitianos or Beckhams, the Riberys and Robbens have to have some fun too.

Your identity is the most important aspect to you. You may put on layers of make-up or borrow an accent from you bougie friends but you can’t lie to yourself. Ok, you can if you convince yourself for a long time but then again that’s confusing your mind. Some of your grandmothers can’t even recognize you because of syndicate content.

I won’t ask anyone I know to drop a fake accent or wash off that make-up their cousin  from the States bought for them at a thrift shop. Some live by the mantra, ‘Fake it till you make it’. I live by be yourself. You will never please everybody. Girls will like you for those corny jokes if they want. Guys will like you with that hair that can barely tie a goat tail because a pony tail is a fantasy. Just be yourself. The only time you can blame other people is when they miss out on your awe.

The inner you probably doesn't know the outer you
The inner you probably doesn’t know the outer you

Words

Words. There’s something about words that just leaves more scars than any physical wound would. Being brought up in a family where violence wasn’t tolerated, I learnt how to use my words to do the same damage bodily harm would.

For a long time I advocated for that and I haven’t changed my mind, but if you can’t rethink about your past you are no different than a blind dog leading a blind man. I went to a public school so it wasn’t anything out of the normal to get corporal punishment from teachers. I was beaten so many times I forgot how it felt to stay without pain.

I got accustomed to the pain and the pain didn’t change my character or affect me psychologically. I would almost always look the teacher in the eyes with the, “Are we done here?” face. It was something any normal kid would get used to over time.

But words! Words are not things you go throwing around without thinking of the repercussions. Tell a kid he’s dumb over and over again and one way or another it’ll get into his head. Tell that oversize kid in your class he’s fat and monitor how his esteem and attitude towards anyone mentioning their physical appearance changes over time.

Walk over to that girl who’s slept with three different guys at the office the past three months and tell her how everyone thinks she’s a slut. You don’t even have to tell her people say that, just the thought of it. Words. I can give more scenarios where words would do more damage to a human being than a blow to the temple but I won’t.

I write opinionated pieces. All the time. People will tell you, but the facts say so. According to whom? That sample size a social marketing research firm gave to university students to fill? I’m not any more innocent than the next writer. Nothing close to that. I’m as guilty as a man found flipping through channels in boxers at his best friend’s house with the wife in a t-shirt in the kitchen.

The online space has brought with it the much sought after freedom most people clamoured for. What they didn’t count on was nobody would be accountable for these actions. I won’t delve into how many people have taken their lives because of cyber bullying or a simple photo. The worst bit is that the same people that played a role in the psychological torture have the time to go on your social media and typing out RIP.

What rest? What peace? Had that person had a peaceful time online they’d have been resting somewhere on earth, not ‘A better place’. As I said earlier, I can’t absolve myself from these things. I’ve played my part in making fun of people online. I can’t say I won’t do it again. One high school literature book with the character of a certain Dr. Stockman, preaches moderation.

When I read the book, I didn’t think I’d apply it to my life. I’ll partake in drugs if need be, take part in orgies if I’m in that state of mind. But to what end? The thing about being young is that you dodge responsibilities on the fallacy of youth. True, you’ll be young, but only for a while.

Unlike in a controlled environment, on the digital space everyone thinks they know more than the next user. True, google may only be one tab away but you can’t google how to respect opinions and not defecate on everybody’s head just because you think you know.

At times, some people have it coming their way, but even then moderation works. Being old enough to operate an email account, you also need to be mature enough to know when to let it go. The internet never forgets. You may delete your browsing history or use incognito but you’ll have to account for your actions at one time or another.

Also, don’t put your affairs online. Your husband cheating on you or getting laid isn’t information the internet needs to know. Unless you’ve slept with a first lady or your divorce settlement is in excess of $1 billion then nobody really cares. People will empathize with your post but text your man as they type, “He’s a dog.”

Why did I write this? I’ve seen people I know say things they probably meant but shouldn’t have said to each other. You may apologize and say it’s cool but it’s never really cool. The only cold thing between the two is the attitude they have towards each other. It’s good to be honest but whoever said the truth hurts was only one philosophy away from starting his religion.

I don’t want to start a revolution. I go to the internet for laughs so I’m dependent on some of the content that may be offensive. All I’m looking at is a generation that can’t solve anything because they believe hashtags will create social change. Actions and words are like Tom and Jerry, one without the other looks familiar but really doesn’t drive the point home. You’ve probably heard this countless times but you are the difference.

Words are everything
Words are everything