Winning in a loss

Before my election began, I wrote down three cardinal rules for myself. I knew this election would be challenging and would really test my limits. I had to find a way to keep myself grounded and focused.

  1. God is always in control. I’m a firm believer that my life is in God’s hands. Whether I won or lost the election was a decision to be made by my creator according to what’s in line with my purpose. My only role was to do my absolute best. That’s the most you can do in any situation. If it’s for you, there is nothing in the world that will stop you from having it. If it’s not for you, take the loss as a redirection to what is truly for you.
  2. Competition is important. There’s nothing glorious about running a race with nothing at stake. It’s quite ironic but competition helps you focus on yourself better. Competition is a reminder that you need to be at your best. It keeps you on your toes and pushes you to your limit.
  3. Politics is politics. It’s just a game so it’s never that serious. Don’t sacrifice friendships or relationships for the sake of winning the competition. Try hard not to take things so personally. Focus on the prize and be strategic about everything.

I put my blood, sweat and tears into my election campaign. And I didn’t win. It’s so easy to get upset and vow to never try again. I heard a fellow candidate who didn’t win say that they would never run in an election again and it got me thinking- if you face a challenge with the mindset that it is either a win or a loss, you are already setting yourself up to lose. It’s never about the outcome- it’s about what you gain from the process. Whether it’s an election or any other challenge, the process is what builds you- not the outcome. So you have to value the process and perceive it as a win in itself. You are already a superior version of yourself just by virtue of going through the challenge. So when the opportunity for another challenge comes again, please don’t turn away- grab it with both hands and run with it! You have to try again.

Theodore Roosevelt says it best;

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Not winning is okay. There’s something to win in every loss. Look for the lesson, appreciate it and carry it with you.

(p.s. If you want a sneak peak into what students’ union elections are like at the University of Manchester, check out this cool video! Brief cameo from me, other candidates and the 2015/2016 Exec team)

Full elections results can be found here, if you are interested! -> http://manchesterstudentsunion.com/top-navigation/student-voice/elections/elections-results

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© Tessy Maritim

My human parents

When did you first realize that your parents are also human?

Before I came to Manchester to study, there was a day that my Dad left the house to organize drinks for my leaving party. After a couple of hours I began to worry. So I went to my Mom’s room to seek comfort, as you do when worried about something.

Mom, have you tried calling Dad?”

Yes, he’s not picking up” she responded. She was staring straight ahead, eyes wide with fear. I knew at that moment, that her fear and my worry could not coincide. She needed my comfort at that moment. She needed my reassurance that he was okay.

So I put on a brave face and told her, “Don’t worry, I’m sure he’s caught up or something. He’ll call back

He called back soon after and my Mom breathed a heavy sigh of relief.

We grow up with the warped perception that our parents are superhuman beings. They are perfect; they never worry, and they simply can do no wrong. As you grow older you start to realize that this actually does not hold true. They have emotions and are capable of mistakes- just like the rest of us.

Sometimes the decisions parents make may have a strong effect on you. It’s easy to get angry with them for not maintaining that impeccable parent thing they do. You think, “what are you doing being anything less than superhuman?” But parents are people before they are parents.

In that moment with my Mom I wondered, “Who is supposed to be comforting who here?” But your mom and dad need you sometimes. As you grow older they begin to accept you as an adult and you see that they too have weaknesses. You begin to see that it’s normal and inherent in each one of us.

My parents have a great relationship with my sisters and myself. We share with each other, sometimes agree and sometimes disagree. But the most important thing is to be able to understand and accept each other through being friends with your parents.

As my Mom says, family is really the cornerstone of life. Accept, love and understand each other.

 

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© Tessy Maritim

Yes Days Off

It’s no secret that our generation is hungrier than it’s ever been. Everyone is on their #workflow and taking #nodaysoff. We’ve glamourized and glorified overworking at the dangerous expense of self-care.

For many of us, myself included, overworking begins in university. With strict deadlines, late nights and copious amounts of coffee, overworking is an unspoken language. But I often wonder whether there’s another way to do it.

It’s easy to feel selfish or lazy for taking time off and taking care of yourself. But I’ve realized the importance of keeping your cup full. You can’t give anything you don’t already have. You are far more productive when you regularly reboot.

Your physical and mental health is never worth the sacrifice. If you’re overwhelmed and need a break, take one. Find what rejuvenates you and fills your spirit. It’s okay to take care of you!

We live in a society where we are made to feel guilty for resting. But what many don’t realize is that the habits you cultivate in your 20’s stick with you for the rest of your life. I believe work ethic is the discipline to put in work and equally, the discipline to put in rest.

I am blessed to work in an environment where we are encouraged to take time off and rejuvenate. I love to unwind by writing, reading, cooking with loud music on and most importantly, sleeping. I’m going to learn how to bake this year!

What if we were taught to take care of our wellbeing as earnestly as we are taught to work hard? There’s nothing noble or admirable about overworking yourself.

Wishing you a productive and equally restful week!

 

p.s. Please spare an hour to watch this amazing talk by Oprah. You’ll need a notebook for this one!

 

 

© Tessy Maritim

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Don’t Forgive Me

Last week my Mom and I were driving down from my auntie’s place when a conversation about forgiveness came up. We came to a unanimous opinion- many people think forgiving someone means leaving an issue unresolved, when in fact resolution is necessary for forgiveness.

I witnessed a very interesting situation early this month where a young boy was being accused of stealing money. I watched from a distance as more and more people surrounded him demanding for him to give back the money. This was really disturbing for me to watch. How did they know he stole the money? Nobody had any evidence that he actually took the money. Someone claimed that they gave him the money and he said that he placed it at the window sill but the money was not there. So they insisted he stole it.

I figured that this was not a situation I would be comfortable approaching because I was a visitor, so I approached my friend and explained the situation. He empathised with me and walked towards the commotion. I felt at ease knowing he was going to deal with the issue.

To my shock, he walked up to one of the women accusing the boy, called her aside and emphatically asked her to “forgive him“.

WHAT? Forgive him for what exactly? Had anyone confirmed that he actually stole the money? Theft is one of those things you are often not sure of. So WHY are we forgiving someone we are not certain is a thief?

This is not the first time I’ve seen ‘forgiveness’ being used as a blanket technique. My friend is often told to ‘just forgive’ his cheating girlfriend. The problem with blanket forgiveness is that it just throws a pretty rug over broken pieces of glass. It doesn’t examine the situation to determine why the glass is broken or how it can be fixed.

I believe in resolving issues. It’s difficult, it’s painful and it requires vulnerability but it is always worth it.

© Tessy Maritim

Vision 2015

Happy 2015! I trust you are all well and hope you had a lovely Christmas break. I must say, I’m still on holiday! For the past couple of years, my December has been marked by endless, stifling revision. This one has been different. As I am now part of the workforce, I’ve had the opportunity to take some time off and just relax. I’ve visited family and friends, ran errands for my parents and unapologetically overslept. It’s been delightful.

Now that 2015 is in full focus, many of us are planning for the upcoming months and setting goals. It’s great to feel a sense of direction for the year. But it can also be daunting if you’re not quite sure what you want to do or where you want to be. I think being uncertain about your purpose is healthy and normal. Uncertainty gives you the opportunity to reflect and re-evaluate what’s truly important to you.

Some years ago while I was wandering about on the Internet, I came across an eye-opening set of questions and thoughts that helped me brainstorm and reflect on what my purpose is. They may not give you the answers you’re looking for but they are definitely a good place to start.

p.s. I have no recollection of which blog I borrowed this from! So I must clarify that the following content is NOT my work.


 

 Lets start with the basics:

For these exercises, grab a sheet of paper, make yourself a cup of tea and go to a quiet, comfortable space.

PURPOSE 

To help find your purpose, answer these questions:

  1. What are you most passionate about?
  2. What activities do you find the most joy in?
  3. What is the one thing you feel you couldn’t live without doing?
  4. Who are your inspirations, and why?
  5. What skills are people constantly complimenting you on?
  6. What goals in your life are the most meaningful?
  7. What do you want to be remembered for?
  8. What comes exceptionally easy for you?

Once you have answered these questions, try to find the ‘common denominators’. Do you see any patterns/similarities? Is there a recurring theme? These patterns/similarities are an indicator of your purpose in life. If you are still having issues; try to focus your quest on uncovering your rawnatural abilities, things that come innate to you.
GOALS

Set your goals using the S.M.A.R.T method:

S
: Stands for specific; you must be as specific as possible when writing down your list of goals. Focus on why you want to do it, how you want to do it, and when you want to do it.

M: Stands for measurable; you need to find a way to keep track of your goals so that you are able to make any necessary changes to your plans along the way. There needs to be “mini-goals” built in your main goal so that you are able to note milestones and progress.

A: Stands for attainable; make sure the goal set is truly important to you; whenever a goal is important to you, you remain motivated, and you are able to think of workarounds to bypass potential problems.

R: Stands for realistic; make sure your goals are within reach. However don’t confuse setting realistic goals with lowering your expectations. Setting realistic goals helps fuel the momentum and keep the excitement going as you move through your list. Make sure you have all the tools/skills/resources available to achieve your goals, as you are more likely to work hard to achieve them.

T: Stands for time based; make sure to set specific dates for completion of your goals, if specific time frames aren’t set, you may feel like you can start at any time.

 

BE-DO-HAVE

Once you have figured out your purpose, and written down your goals; it’s time to practice the BE – DO – HAVE Paradigm. Are you are a Human Doing or a Human Being?

Simply put, you need to BE in harmony first. That is your state of being. Acting in love manifests an abundance of blessings.

Once you’ve mastered the art of “being” you need to actually DO some work prior to HAVING the true fulfillment you desire!


 

You can take it further than this and create a vision board which will help you envision your goals and purpose. I shared how vision boards have helped me in this previous post.

This exercise helped me clarify some of my plans and I hope you find it equally helpful.

 

 

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© Tessy Maritim

14 Reflections

Can’t believe how quick this year has flown by! It feels monotonous to always say the same thing at the end of every year but where does the time go?

I’ve had a great 2014. Although I can’t quite capture some of the high highs and low lows, here are some of my special 2014 moments.

 

Saw the Queen

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In February, my girl Nyambura and I went to see Beyoncé live. I’m not the biggest Beyoncé fan but she is a phenomenal performer. Being there was an experience like no other and the energy was infectious.

 

Lupita Season 

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Lupita’s success this year reminded me that the success I envision is not elusive. She reminded me that it’s possible. Adore her!

 

She wins, We win 

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I had no plans of running in an election but God did. The weird thing is that I had random thoughts in my second year of how amazing it would be to be part of the Students’ Union Executive. Somehow, what’s meant to be will always happen! My election taught me that there is nothing to ever lose by trying. Making an effort will always take you a step ahead. It’ll give you courage and fearlessness. You owe it to yourself to always try.

 

Page 3, darling 

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Soon after my election, I got several requests for features in Kenyan newspapers. To God be the glory! Yaasss.

 

Law School Graduate

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Earlier in the year I wanted to repeat my third year of university. I had received my January exam results and they were not great. So I figured that I would rather repeat than graduate with mediocre grades. But I wasn’t allowed to because I didn’t have mitigating circumstances that would justify me re-doing my final year. I was told that the chances of me pulling up my overall grade with the remaining set of exams were slim but my only chance nonetheless. So as you can guess my final semester of third year was tough. At the end of it all, I was content knowing that I did the best that I could. So whatever I achieved I would be at peace with. In the end, I graduated with a 2.1 Honors degree! My family was there to celebrate with me and I could not have asked for a more magical day.

 

Team Spirit 

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One of my favourite quotes is “If you want to fly with eagles, you have to stop hanging out with chicken”. So imagine how lucky and blessed I am to work with a team of 7 highly intelligent, brilliant, activist eagles. My mind has been stretched because they have each in their own way taught me something new about the world. Luvz my team!

 

My Money Story

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This event took 7.5 months of planning. I was in Manchester for 7 of those months. The execution of this event can only be attributed to my team and the guidance of God. I’m so thankful for a supportive and dedicated team who went all out to ensure everything was organized. Teamwork makes the dream work, for sure.

 

Oh hey AM Live

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Courtesy of The Arena, I did my first TV interview ever on AM Live! It was a wonderful experience and Kobi was so warm and welcoming to us.

 

Radio came calling too

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I did some radio as well in the run up to #MyMoneyStory and it was sweet! Made some good networks and met the loveliest people.

 

Family 

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My family make everything I do worthwhile. Celebrating success with family and friends is the sweetest!

 

Aspire Scholars

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I won a scholarship to attend the Aspire Women’s 2-day ‘Connected Leadership’ conference in December in London. ‘Networking’ is a word I have used a lot but this event taught me true networking!

 

Tiwa Sa-vage

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I would pay double what I paid to see this woman perform again- she is amazing live! She carried the show all the way and hit it out of the park.

 

fLAWless

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Relived my high school prom at our Law School Ball. Definitely had a princess moment!

 

As we step into 2015 in a couple of days, I wish you a groundbreaking new year. May success, whatever that means to you, be yours. Be great.

 

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© Tessy Maritim

What Determines Who We Fight For?

For the past couple of months I’ve been asking myself a question- what determines who we fight for? I’ve reflected and reflected and reflected some more. Last week, on my flight home, I came across a very interesting revelation about character that links well with the above question.

We form friendships and relationships with people based on their character- interests, behaviours and traits. We love who they are when they are with us. And as a result we begin to expect based on character. There’s reliability and consistency in being able to have that expectation of the people who are close to us.

But as humans are fallible, there are times when people fall short of those expectations. Many times we’ll compare a mistake that’s been made to what we expect of the character and if the two are not a match, we drop the friendship real quick.

As I was reading ‘The Tipping Point’ by Malcolm Gladwell on my flight home, I realized that we often forget the role of context in influencing the character of a person. He explains so eloquently, “It is much easier to define people just in terms of their personality. If we constantly had to qualify every assessment of those around us, how much harder would it be to make the thousands of decisions we are required to make about whether we like someone or love someone or trust someone?”. It’s just much easier to categorize people as either bad or good. No in-betweens, no understanding.  

As humans we ought to understand that others too are human- complex, delicate and powerful beings influenced by anything and everything. People are not absolute. Your closest will do things that will hurt you and your perceived enemies may pick up battles on your behalf. For this reason, be open to forgive when wronged and be quick to remorse when wrong.

As I’ve grown and developed over the past couple of years, it’s become clear to me that choosing who you fight for is about a deep understanding of yourself- your needs, your wants, your boundaries and the other person(s) needs, wants and boundaries. And this requires stepping out of situations and always looking at the broader picture- who is this person outside this situation?

I will leave you with this excerpt from the book,

Character, then, isn’t what we think it is or, rather what we want it to be. It isn’t a stable, easily identifiable set of closely related traits. Character is more like a bundle of habits and tendencies and interests, loosely bound together and dependent, at certain times, on circumstances and context. The reason that most of us seem to have a consistent character is that most of us are really good at controlling our environment

 

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© Tessy Maritim

Birthday Behaviour

December 13th is my date of birth. I remember in my younger years, I would wait with great anticipation for my birthday morning. Birthdays were exciting because my family would wake me up with their croaky morning voices singing ‘Happy birthday‘, my Mom would make me a yummy big breakfast and later I’d meet my friends & family for a birthday lunch.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve realised that birthdays, surely, should mean more than just a materialistic celebration or gifts. A new year represents new possibilities and a second (or third) chance to get things right.

One thing I know I need to get right this year is my health. For a long time, I have forsaken my health while I pay attention to what I thought were more important things such as doing well in university and working hard in my job. But these past few months, I’ve reached a new low in my lack of health-care. My foodie-ness is through the roof. I eat when I’m cold. I eat when I’m tired. I eat when I’m hungry. I go to the gym but not as regularly as I should. I think my body has had enough.

As I turn 21 this Saturday, I want to make a few commitments to myself:

  • I promise to eat clean – clean eating is consuming food in its most natural state, or as close to it as possible. More clean eating tips here.
  • Drink at least two litres of water a day.
  • Go to the gym at least 3 times a week- Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (flexible depending on schedule)
  • Reducing sugar levels from 3 spoons to a maximum of one spoon and gradually decrease until I wean myself off completely.
  • Go to the doctors’ twice a year for a health check. 

This is here as a reminder to myself and for you to keep me accountable. If you spot me anywhere eating a burger, spaghetti bolognese or pizza, please take a picture of me as I dig into my food and tweet me or post a picture on my wall and remind me that I’m backsliding. Seriously.

It will be really difficult! Apparently it takes more than two months before new behavior becomes automatic – 66 days to be exact. But I know when I look back a year later, I’ll be thankful for these changes.

I’ll leave you with this song- Happy Day by Patoranking, which I love and will be dancing to on my birthday. Happy born day to me!

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© Tessy Maritim

Monster(s) In My Head

We all have things we worry about. I certainly do. My anxiety is particularly worse when I’m alone. The scope of anxiety extends far wider than it should when you are alone because your mind is idle. If you’re not occupied doing something, your mind takes the opportunity and runs wild- sometimes with positive thoughts but more often than not with negative, poisonous thoughts.

I think my anxiety is far worse when I’m away from home. I spend most of my time alone and if my mind is not occupied, I start to think about home. I’ll remember that I haven’t heard from my Dad in a couple of days. So I’ll text him and wait on a reply. If there’s no reply after an hour I check to see if he’s seen my message. After another hour, I’ll text my Mom, my sisters, my cousin(s). And sometimes there’s no reply from them also. At that point, I get obsessive and stop everything I’ve remotely been doing and focus on waiting for a response from anyone. Why is no-one replying?! From there, it all goes downhill.

If you’ve been in a similar situation you understand how paralysing it can be. The worst thing about anxiety is that you don’t stop until you solve what you’re worried about- and sometimes that’s not possible.

Most times, you’ve created a situation in your head that actually does not exist. Or rather, as they say, “You’re mind becomes the devil’s workshop”. I’ve realised that sometimes you just need to focus on keeping productive.

My sister Tebby sent this list to me a while back with things to do to keep busy (I’m quoting her exact words from here):

  • Buy a pot and seeds and grow a plant.
  • Go ring window shopping (get fitted and all lol)
  • Cook something special and have a special dinner for one
  • Hire a bike and ride ride away
  • Go to the park and run
  • Make some flavoured water
  • Draw something
  • Do push-ups. Loads, the right way

Create your own and refer to it whenever you feel anxious.

As I conclude I’d like to highlight something very important- sometimes anxiety can be kept at bay with simple activities like going to the gym or cooking. But be aware that there may be a more complex underlying mental health matter that you need to speak to a medical professional about. Don’t let your mind paralyse your existence.

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© Tessy Maritim

Lollipop Moments

About 2 months ago I watched this very eye-opening TED talk.

Lollipop moments. We create them. We are part of them, everyday. Something that may seem so meaningless to you could mean the entire world to someone else.

During my students’ union elections I was on the receiving end of various lollipop moments. When I decided I was going to stand in the elections, I didn’t know where to start. I had never done this election thing before. I was excited but very nervous.

I decided to text all my contacts- friends and acquaintances alike. I needed to at least tell the people I knew so that they could vote for me. What surprised me though was their response. Many of them I wasn’t particularly close to. But in the week leading up to the election, they were the ones who were there for me most.

They offered to help hand out my flyers, they used their networks to get societies to endorse me, they told their friends to vote, they came with me to my lecture shout-outs, they gave me ideas for my campaign, they helped me go around student accommodation over the weekend to put up posters; they encouraged me. And as if that was not enough, on the night the results were announced, my friends came to be with me and cheered so loudly when I won.

I was touched that people could pick up my battle and fight it as if their own. Those are moments to celebrate, moments to cherish.

Embrace the magic of small moments today. Someone out there needs it. And if someone has given you a lollipop moment, go on- let them know.

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© Tessy Maritim