Why I Keep Going

This is a personal story that touches my heart but I would like to share it. For the dear reader, I must say that this is a part of me that I hold dear and you can take it as you will.

I wasn't the strongest child when I was young but I would say it was based on the environment. I was quite energetic and jumpy at home. In fact, my parents always remind me of how chaotic I was. I would jump on chairs, run all the time and touch everything. I was a monster in their eyes but they still let me be. I remember one incident where I was running at cucu's place and I ran into a glass coffee table. My relatives thought I was incredibly hurt as I knocked the table. However, I woke up calmly and continued running. Another incident was when my dad and his friends had met at my cucu's place. I was being cheeky and I decided to give myself the challenge of knocking their bottles of whiskey off their table. I stood at the corner where I knew I could run. I placed the ball carefully and prepared myself to hit the ball. I had one shot and I was not going to miss. When I knew I was ready and run and shot the ball. It must have been 15 metres away and the ball hit the table and the bottles tumbled. By the time they knew what hit them, I was gone. I was such a menace.

However, my menace behaviour was damned down when I joined school. I hated school for many reasons. Firstly, it was not home where I was loved. Second, the kids were mean and they didn't understand me. Three, good handwriting curtailed my creativity. This was pre-unit.

On the first point, it was clear that the teachers were not there to pamper us. They were there to impart knowledge and we were the targets. I only remember coldness from them, especially my handwriting teacher, who I will talk about.

Two, the kids were nothing like me. They thought I was weird because of my wild imagination. When they wanted to play on the swings, I wanted to imagine and build things. I once built a sand castle, which was a intricate pile of sand, and placed some twigs and flowers to make it look unique. When I was done, some kids came and stomped on it. I wasn't happy about that and I threatened to tell on them. When they saw I was serious, they started to tell me that it wasn't even hard to build and I should stop crying and not tell on them. I went home sad that day.

Three, the rules sucks. This is where I throw shade at my handwriting teacher. That bitch wanted me to write slowly so that I can have good handwriting. What the hell was that? I remember attempting to write slowly, in-between the lines and make the shapes look nice. Then I was like fuck it, I started writing fast and produced my so-called bad handwriting. She was not pleased but I was at the point of not caring. She would compare my handwriting with other pupils and even give me their books to copy their handwriting. Enyewe, fuck that hoe.

These are just some points on how school drowned my free spirit. The question is what really when on. School was hard because I did not fit in to the crowd. With the people I grew up with, it was easier to be myself. They wanted the best for me and they knew that putting me down was not the best way to bring that out. In the outside world, things are very different. Especially in school, people don't care about your best interests, they only care about theirs. If you are not following their rules or towing the line, they will put you in your place, especially if you are a child. That's why it is common to see teachers being tough on their students, they want them to know who is charge. This goes for all forms of authority. Authority has a set path for you and if you defy it, you will get crashed and spit out. To survive, I had to take the stance of hiding my free spirit and following the rules. I guess I was the one of the weak ones. We always hear stories of the free spirit who always stayed true and became successful[1]. For me, I succumbed to the pressure and became what they wanted me to be. In fact, I became very good at it. It took a while because I was quite different from everyone. I just thought differently about a lot of things. While guys talked about football, I talked about rockets. When people were meeting girls, I was obsessing about video games and building PCs.

In this situation of being what was enough for people, I was a target of ridicule. This was very apparent in high school where people would pick on me for the most foolish of reasons. They would attack my filler words and statements, how I talk and how I walk. When I made a mistake in the lab, they would laugh. When I would struggle to read, they would laugh even harder. In all those situations, they wanted me to fail. They wanted me to be the butt of the joke. I was their entertainment. When I was down, they were happy and I was miserable. I would never go back to primary or secondary school. I hated it and I dreaded every minute. An example to illustrate my hate was then we were close to doing our KCSE. I had a countdown of the number of Kiswahili sections we had left. I even got into the minutes. In those minutes, I would hype myself to get through it, it would all be over and I could go to a new chapter of my life.

I was not confident in myself and that was the pain point that they exploited for their own gain. I was scared and I didn't even know why. I am still scared today but I have built confidence over time that has masked it. It shows in certain areas in my life but I have learnt to handle it and push forward regardless. The world opened up to me when I left high school and joined a diploma course at IIHT on IT. In that class, I was exposed to a new environment and I knew this was my chance to reinvent myself. I took the initiative of doing all the things I was afraid to do in high school. I would ask questions, answer questions, read questions and topics, lead sessions and so on. I used this opportunity to rebuild my image of myself. Slowly but surely, I was recognised as one of the best students in the class. I would even say that I was the best. The lecturers respected me and management knew about me. What sealed the deal was two confrontations. The first one was when we were making presentations about some projects and I was presenting. Some of the students, who were from my high school, would laugh as I spoke. I saw this and I was determined to make sure that they don't get away with it. When their time came to present and it was question and answer time, I criticised the presentation, their ideas and other aspects like a cruel judge. Their faces were so blank. I destroyed them and their presentation. Fuck them. The next one was when one of my high school classmates decided to make fun of me in front of everyone. I initially walked away but I turned but and confronted him in front of everyone. I made sure that I passed the message for all present to witness. Don't say stupid shit and think you will get away with it.

The formula that I learnt is that competence builds confidence. When you become competent at something and people recognise it, you become confident in yourself and your abilities. You become less tolerant of fools and more intune with your true self. Being competence gives you the confidence to unravel your true self and I liked it[2]. I still do because people take your mistakes less as entertainment. Like the king with no clothes, no one is willing to tell him that he is naked. This is both a good thing and bad thing as it can affect your culture when you make foolish mistakes and keep doing them since no one will tell you. However, when you are competent and confident, you are also more receptive to criticism since you have a strong grounded in who you are and what you are capable of. Related to the essay on In Search of Competence

The reason I fight is so that other young people like me can learn this formula and use it in their lives. I have gone from an enclosed child who barely spoke to a young venture-builder who can lead teams, build product and sell a vision. I am fighting for the young boy who has big dreams, a wild imagination and feels like an outsider in a mediocre world. When I went for a hike at Suswa, I got to see a small boy all alone in the sand. He had all manner of buckets, sticks and metals. He was determined to build something and he was deep in his imagination. He was in his own world. As the other kids played football in the distance, he was experimenting, learning and having fun. I fight for him because he reminds me of who I was and who I still am. At heart, I am that young boy with big dreams and a wild imagination. Deep down, I want to be him in the sand but that's not how the world works. In a world full of fools with power, there needs to be strong and wise men with vision. I have a duty to become those men and lead the next generation of men to do the same. We need those kids in the sand to take their place in the world. They rarely do but when they do, great things happen.

  1. The movie, Spirit, by Dreamworks is a great example. The horse who was captured but never lost lost its spirit to be free. It didn't settle for captivity. ↩︎

  2. Read my essay on In Search of Competence to learn more about the idea of growing competence to grow your confidence. It is a powerful flywheel that can take you to great heights. ↩︎