On Darkness, Demons and (self) Destruction

Marshawn McCarrel, a 23 year old American activist, died last week from self-inflicted gunshot wounds. This is the message he left on his Facebook,

My demons won today. I’m sorry.

I read those words and felt defeated. I feel defeated because it reminds me of the helplessness I feel watching people close to me suffer emotionally and mentally.

Unlike physical pain, which is typically overt, emotional and/or mental pain is very difficult to detect. You can spend time with someone and be completely unaware of the demons they wrestle.

But soon, they can no longer hide the darkness.

You notice that they look different. Sound different. The energy is different.

Is everything okay?

They promise their okay. They smile at you, laugh with you and things flow back to their usual.

But it doesn’t last long. The darkness is persistent.

You hope. You pray. You hug them, tight.

You reassure them endlessly, “I’m here for you, you know that“.

If your love could heal them, it would.

But they can’t receive the love. They can’t help it.

You get angry with them. Please, stop self-destructing.

But mental illness isn’t self-destruction. It’s like someone falling over, cutting their arm and then telling them to stop the bleeding. How?

There’s no switch on or off button for mental illness. It creeps into your life and you wonder how, why – I didn’t invite you..?

Here’s what I know- you can’t fix people. You can try- but it’s an exercise in futility. You don’t have magic healing power. Healing comes from within. Healing comes from God.

So don’t take it personally when your efforts are met with no response- it’s not about you.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep trying. Or that you won’t cry endlessly knowing that someone you love so much is in such pain.

You would give anything to see them whole again.

But again, just remember- it’s not about you.

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See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.”  (Isaiah 60:2) | Glasgow, Scotland

For mental health information and support, check out:

 

T

© Tessy Maritim

#faves: Blogs & Vlogs

When I started blogging in 2012, I didn’t have much to look up to except for the few gossip blogs that would often pop up on my timeline.

Today, I relish the work of so many thoughtful, engaging, creative and inspiring content creators. It’s beautiful to watch journeys start out, metamorphoses and move-making right before my eyes!

This #faves post pays homage to some bloggers and vloggers whose work inspires me (not in any particular order).

writing to lift your spirits// Hayet Rida | thathayetrida.com

photo via www.thathayetrida.com

If you want raw, heartfelt writing, look no further than Hayet Rida’s blog. I love that she uses her blog as a space to uplift herself and others. She seems like the kind of friend who’d sit opposite me at a cafe chatting about life over copious amounts of tea, cake and laughter. She’s basically my spirit sister-friend. Her style and hair is also sooo swoon-worthy! Yum.

comedy with a conscience// Chesca Leigh | youtube.com/chescaleigh 

Chesca Leigh

photo via franchesca.net

Chesca Leigh is remarkable. I came across her work earlier this year when I had just started making my own vlogs. Although I am not a comedian myself, her content inspires many of the topics I speak about. I love that she makes profound social and political commentary in an accessible and easily understood format.

photography & lifestyle// Cynosure by Lyra Aoko | lyraoko.com

Lyra Aoko

photo via lyraoko.com

I love the clean aesthetic on Lyra Aoko’s blog. Her photography is beautiful and I can hear her authentic voice through her content. I also keenly follow her segment ‘Play Kenyan Music‘ which features new Kenyan music each month. Truly an all-rounded lifestyle blog!

africa to the world// Siyanda Writes | siyandawrites.com

Siyanda Mohutsiwa

photo via siyandawrites.com

I first came across Siyanda’s name and work on my Twitter timeline. The first line on her Twitter bio says “I don’t come here to be governable“- it was love at first follow! Her content is witty, smart and stimulating. She writes book reviews, speaks about black consciousness and has a dope vlog called ‘Africa This Week With Siyanda‘ featuring hot topics across the continent. Another spirit sister-friend!

p.s. Please support her as she raises money for her project ‘Africa this Week’. Details here.

I’m grateful to each one of these content creators and many others- for being a reminder of the power of stepping up to be seen and heard. Wishing you all much love and flourishing!

 

T

© Tessy Maritim

Self Care- Mental, Emotional, Physical, Spiritual

Just before I boarded my flight to England three weeks ago, I called my cousin-friend. It’s a ritual for me to call 7 people before I travel- my cousin-friend is one of them.

We talked for a bit and just before we cut the call, she said “See you soon babes! Take care of yourself.” I shuddered a bit and almost choking with emotion I said, “Yes, I will. See you soon.”

Her words made me reflect – do I really take care of myself? What does that even mean? Outgrowing this cocoon of mine has meant that I’ve acquired the independence and agency over my own life- how am I using it

Her words reminded me of my duty to myself. My little holiday retreat where I enjoy chasing my Dad every night (it’s a game we play called Kunet- all my tupchet will know what I mean), eating my Mom’s delightful food and catching matatu’s with my sisters was now over. I’m grown now. I have grown people things to attend to. 

I’m not equating studying abroad with growing up. They are two separate things. But in my case, and for many others, the two have a symbiotic relationship. They feed into each other. I’ve found that growing up has been amplified because I live abroad. And similarly my experience living abroad has been influenced by the fact that I am currently defining myself. Doing and undoing. Becoming and unbecoming.

This past couple of weeks I’ve really been conscious of what it means to take care of myself. So I wrote a list of things that mark my mental, physical, spiritual and emotional wellbeing.

mental In the past couple of years, the one principle that has marked my growth mentally, is speaking my mind. It’s come to the point where I feel a heaviness when I am silent about something that I feel strongly about. Even for something as small as my hairdresser blow-drying my hair too much. I can no longer sacrifice my mental stability because of the fear of offence. Who cares what the hairdresser feels about how my hair looks? It’s my hair, after all, and I’m paying for a service.

If you are silent about your pain, they will kill you and say you enjoyed it” – Zora Neale Hurston

emotional I have learnt to be responsible with my emotions- especially towards myself. We are often so generous to others but utterly reckless towards ourselves. I’ve been the girl who has blamed herself for break-ups, fall-outs and misunderstandings. There has to be fault- it’s either mine or yours. And if it was mine, I would completely self-destruct. I had no understanding of the fact that sometimes life just is. And that you can’t depend on people to be your world. I’ve learnt that you can give your all in situations and sometimes they still. won’t. workout. Because that’s life! I know better now. I am kindest to myself first, because I know that is the source of my kindness to everyone and anyone else. I have learnt to embrace my emotions- I am open about when a close friend has uset me. I tell those I love that I love them. I appreciate when I should. I give of myself freely but cautiously. My heart has learnt how to balance the two. But sometimes we get it wrong. In those situations, I allow approximately 6 hours of wallowing in a puddle of my own tears and then it’s over. We get up, take a shower and face the world. Emotionally responsible.

I find comfort in knowing that anything meant for me has not missed me. It knows me by name. And when the time comes, it will knock on my door and I will wonder where this missing part of me has been all my life.” – T

physical Doing my eyebrows or not. Working out or not. Dressing to the nines or not. Wearing make-up or not. The beauty (pun intended- wait, do people still say that?!) of growing up is that you choose. The decisions had always been made for me- either by parents, other people or media. Not anymore. I do what feels good for me. I understand what I need, when and how. And despite the popular narrative that my self-care is for the pleasure of others- I defy. I resist.

“My body. My dress. My choice.” – T 

spiritual I nurture my spirituality by questioning. Why, why and why?! I have a friend who articulates my thoughts and questions so accurately. I won’t mention his name here but if he reads this he will know. I talk to God. A lot. About things other than my questions. But I have a feeling I should probably address them directly with Him. I like this stage, but I am also wary of going too far off the edge. Hold me tight, Lord. 

“I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust” – Psalm 91:2

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backdrop to my thoughts | Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh (taken using my trusty iPhone)

Taking care of yourself is a learning process. There will be ups. There will be downs. My only request is that you be intentional about it. Think about it. Mediate on it. Learn yourself to the level where no-one can tell you about you.

© Tessy Maritim

T x Gen 50 +

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking with a group of 17-21 year olds on the topic of how to use social media as an effective tool in communicating a powerful message. I’m always eager to speak to young people so when the Gen 50 + team got in touch with me, I could not say no.

Here is an excerpt of what I spoke about:

My name is Tessy and I write. I write because I enjoy it. I write because I’m good at it. And I write because my voice is important.

I was asked to host this masterclass on how to use social media as an effective tool in communicating a powerful message. But you know what? I’m not going to take you through how and why you should use social media. You know all that already. Your entire generation was born into the internet age. Most of you probably knew how to use Facebook before you learnt to count.

Today I want you to leave this masterclass with an understanding of why your voice is important. Because that’s what scares most people about starting a blog or using any other online medium to communicate a message. You ask yourself- what will people think? And it can terrify you to the point of paralysis.

I started my blog in my first year of university abroad. My blog was a lifeline in many respects. I started it to help me cope with living away from my family. But most importantly I wanted to document my journey. Sharing is a powerful thing. It brings people together; it highlights commonalities and also celebrates differences.

Over the years I have realized that what makes a blog successful is a writer’s ability to sustain an audience through consistent content. But more importantly, to me at least, a successful blog is one that is authentically and unapologetically you. People connect to a blog when they can feel the personality of a person shine through.

As I’ve grown, so has the content on my blog. I look back at some of the posts I used to write and feel embarrassed. Thank God for the glow up!

For a long time I was a very safe writer. I wrote about what I thought people wanted to read. I filtered a lot of my thoughts, packaged them gently and posted them with caution. I was also a shallow writer. Glossing over issues; saying without really saying.

That changed when I joined student politics in my former university in 2014. I found myself in the thrust of a politically charged, socially conscious team of elected representatives. They opened my mind, exposed me to new concepts but most importantly- they taught me to speak up.

I’m very much an afterthought kinda girl. I need time to reflect on a discussion before I can share a viewpoint. Discussions on politics and social issues with my team were always very intense and I found it challenging to articulate my thoughts immediately. Which is why my blog worked so well for me- I could reflect on an issue, gather my thoughts and share them in my own time.

My students’ union colleagues were by and large much more knowledgeable than I was on politics and social issues. They were involved in campaigns, joined political parties and knew feminism like the back of their hand. Then there was me- 20 years old, never been involved in politics and having a shallow understanding of world issues.

It didn’t take long before their passion and fearlessness rubbed off on me- I started sharing my thoughts- or as my friends called them, mini-rants- on my snapchat story anytime I felt strongly about something. One day I downloaded one of my videos and shared it on my blog page- the response was overwhelming. I had 3000+ organic views in just a few days.

But I also want you to know something- as I’ve made videos over time, some of them have had a really poor response rate. Can you imagine being welcomed so nicely with 3000+ views and then that reducing dramatically to like 200 views?! I almost stopped at some point because I felt shortchanged I couldn’t be baring my soul like this and only getting only a few hundred views- No way!

These days I find myself watching my videos and reading my posts several times before I upload them. It’s scary to be honest and vulnerable. But whether I get 100 or 1000 views, it’s my voice and it’s important. It’s my responsibility to share my experiences. Especially when it comes to gender-issues.

Equality is what we’re trying to achieve. And I believe feminism is the vehicle that gets us there. Feminism has two important tenets: firstly, understanding we live in a patriarchal society and secondly, a belief that there must be a women-led liberation.

Saying that this liberation must be women-led is not to say that it’s exclusively a woman’s job to fight for equality. Men must be involved, but should acknowledge the power that women have to lift themselves up from the jaws of the dreaded patriarchy.

You don’t need to look far to see the patriarchy manifest:

Catcalling – how many of you have experienced catcalling in the recent past?

Forced early marriage– Many girls in African communities face this today. This is different from an arranged marriage.

Rape culture – the idea that men are entitled to women’s bodies and that no somehow sometimes means yes.

Feminism needs to be intersectional. This means we acknowledge that gender can intersect with other identities such as race, sexuality and class. The issues faced by an upper class woman from Lavington will not be the same as the issues faced by a young girl from Samburu. Let’s stop applying Western feminist ideals to ourselves.

Too many people out there are trying to define and control the narrative of what it means to be African, Kenyan, Woman- if you’re not African, you don’t know what it means to be African. If you’re not a woman, you don’t know what it means to be a woman. Stop trying to speak for us. For those who define, use the internet to tell your story.

Social media allows us to share the African/ Kenyan story. We can’t all be interviewed on NTV or CNN or Al Jazeera, but we can create our own platforms via the internet. No one needs to invite you! Invite yourself and have something powerful to say.

You’ll hear those people who say “OMG, everyone is a blogger these days!” Guess what? No-one owns the internet. If you have something to say and want to say it consistently, do the damn thing! Don’t let anyone shame you into thinking the Internet is some kind of exclusive club.

With that said, have something to say. Read, watch, listen and learn. There’s already a plethora of vacuous content on the internet- please, don’t add to it. We need to hear intelligent, well thought out perspectives from young people.

Your voice is important. Your voice is so important. Don’t be a closet believer. When people are sharing sexist memes on Facebook, call them out. If you have friends shaming women for wearing ‘skimpy’ clothes, speak up. It takes courage to put yourself out there- but do it.

When you are afraid remember these words, “It’s not the critic who counts. Not the person who points out where the strong person stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the person actually in the arena.” The credit belongs to the person actually in the arena.

It doesn’t end on social media. Social media activism is powerful but it does Not. End. There. Grassroots action is so important. Use social media to inspire, galvanise and mobilise people into doing things on the ground. Have a protest on the streets. Write a petition. Speak to the authorities, whoever they may be- but do things on the ground.

Things are looking up. Even if just one of you leaves here today and does something to challenge status quo, Gen 50 + has done it’s job. Thank you.


After I spoke, the questions came in thick and fast. If I thought, for any second, that they were going to just nod and accept what I shared, I was wrong. They challenged, critiqued and questioned.

What do you mean when you say men shouldn’t speak for women? The best example I can think of to explain this is the diaspora saviour complex- the idea that people who have studied abroad are more capable of contributing to their respective countries than local people. Those who have studied abroad have had the privilege of exposure and can often be blinded to think that this makes them the answer to all their nation’s challenges; without an understanding that the people on the ground can often be equally as capable as they are. Similarly, when men speak up for women, there’s a danger in that being interpreted or understood as them using their superior status in society to save women from the oppression they face. This doesn’t sound bad at first glance, but where there’s a power dynamic, there’s a danger that this could continue to be enforced when the more privileged take up the role of ‘saviour’. The people who are oppressed should take a lead role in liberating themselves. But that’s not to say men shouldn’t speak up for women at all- so Iet me correct myself- men, speak up for women, but just be conscious of what you say and how you say it.

What do you mean by gender equality? Someone from the audience made a really interesting point. He explained gender equality as this:

10 = 10

7 + 3 = 6 + 4

2 + 4 + 4 = 3 + 1 + 6

His point was that when we speak about gender equality, we do so without acknowledging that men and women are different. And that gender equality can be achieved, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ll have a 10 = 10 situation.

Okay, I really like how he explained this. And I agree. But think we should note that some times, the differences in women are socially constructed to keep women in their place. For example, someone once wrote to me asking me how rape can be eradicated when women are (often) physically weaker than men.

Having strength is not inherently a bad thing. It’s how you’re taught to use that strength. And men are often taught that their masculinity is defined by how they exercise that physical strength- through media, sometimes family and even friends. This has contributed to the rape culture mentality- if she says no, I can still use my strength to get what I want.

So we should be careful when we say that men and women are different- yes, it is true, in many respects. But how these differences are spoken about is often a social contruct designed to uphold a power dynamic.

Gen 50 + was eye-opening. It’s great to be challenged because it helps you reflect on what you believe and why you believe it.

T

© Tessy Maritim

Appreciating My Blackness As An African

The first time I was introduced to the Black, Minority and Ethnic (BME) identity was in my sabbatical year. Being the only black sabbatical officer during my tenure meant that I was the only full-time officer who could deal with the BME campaign. I was expected to work and support the elected part-time BME officers in furthering the aims of the campaign.

I was reluctant at first, for two reasons. I had only ever defined myself as an international student. Being black had never been part of my conscious identity. In Kenya, we are gender, tribe, class- but race? We don’t quite understand what it means to be black. Most poignantly, there was a stigma attached to being black- becoming black would also mean I had to embrace the burden of being black. I didn’t want that.

As a black international student, you quickly notice there’s a shame associated with being black. It’s apparent in the questions about where you’re from and who pays your fees. So whenever you have the chance, you want to disassociate yourself. You want to wriggle yourself out of the negative immigrant stereotype. That’s why you’ll hear so many international students boldly remind everyone how much they pay in fees whenever Teresa May announces new immigration rules. As if your deep pockets make you more worthy of crossing the border. I’m irritated by this school of thought but also reminded that I too, thought like this not too long ago.

This desire to place others beneath us to enhance our own status is a theme I remember reading about in The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, many years ago. In the book, light-skinned and black Maureen is placed a level above darker-skinned and black Pecola. In the hierarchy of immigration, international students are Maureen.

In Africa, our hierarchy is based on gender, tribe and class. The conversation on race is mostly irrelevant (with some exceptions- hi, South Africa). I’m still trying to figure out whether being black means anything to Africa.

Living abroad has helped me discover and appreciate new identities. Despite the fact that I was hesitant to identify as black, I finally did. I have the Black Students Winter Conference 2014 to credit for that. The conversations and interactions at the conference made me realize that the perceived shame and stigma associated with being black was externally imposed- through structural oppression, colonialism and reinforced stereotypes. They were not intrinsic characteristics of black people.

The conference helped me feel empowered and comfortable enough to be a representative and voice for BME students on campus, despite my previous feeling of inadequacy. Today when I look back at my sabbatical year, I am most proud of my work with BME students. I no longer feel embarrassed to speak up on increasing black representation, protecting black-only spaces and tackling structural oppression. My identity is multi-faceted and I feel proud to be a black, African woman!

 

T

© Tessy Maritim

Rome Wasn’t Built In One Day- And Neither Will The Arena

Building something from the ground up is difficult. It requires:

– an unshakeable foundation

– builders, architects, interior designers, quantity surveyors

– functioning systems (think water, electricity, sewage pipes etc.)

When we started The Arena it all seemed so simple. We wanted to create a space for young people to interact and learn from one another. So we put together a programme, invited amazing guest speakers and hosted hundreds of young people at our events.

But with time, it’s become redundant. This became apparent to me earlier this year after we won a business start-up competition- what exactly are we trying to do? What’s the outcome? How are we measuring the success of our work? And most importantly, how do the people we serve have input into the work we do?

Criticism of your own work is a difficult task. But it must be done. Otherwise, how do you progress?

We’ve done well. We acknowledge that. But we’re at a stage now where we want to do more. We need to do more. And not so much quantitatively- but qualitatively.

Arena 100 main pic

So we’re hosting The Arena 100– an intimate buzz session to listen to your thoughts and ideas on the development and vision of The Arena. We want to know (among other things):

What are you working towards?
What steps have you made towards that vision?
What do you need as part of that journey?

We’re calling on young people in Kenya to join us as we build this Arena. To build an unshakeable foundation and functioning systems, we need you- our builders, architects, interior designers and quantity surveyors. We all have a part to play in creating this space and platform that will soon be a force to reckon with- not just in our country, but across Africa. 

It’s exciting and I hope you can make the time to join us! RSVP here.

T

© Tessy Maritim

 

 

Obama, I’d Love To Let You Finish But-

What a weekend. Obama touched down and brought home all the goodies- the entrepreneurship summit, praises for Kenya’s progress, promises of investment and (by default) a traffic-less Nairobi city.

Most poignantly, Obama blessed us with a message still ringing in the minds of Kenyans- work hard and you can do and be anything you want.

Let’s not lie- we’ve all heard this before. But coming from Obama? It sounded magical. So sexy. I wish it was that simple- for all of us.

I am privileged. I benefit from education, a loving family, food and shelter, global exposure and working parents. Each of these privileges in themselves come with their own set of fringe privileges. I don’t want to discredit the fact that I work hard. I do. But the environment I have grown up in has had a tremendous influence on my ability to do so. I am painfully aware of the role privilege plays in enabling me to work hard and flourish.

To his credit, Obama acknowledged this, and said as much. To say that you simply need to work hard to be successful is an insult to the many people who face social inequalities and structural oppression. These injustices fueled by tribalism, sexism, economic inequalities, among other issues, trounce the ability to work hard for many Kenyans.

People with privilege often have a very myopic view of how society works. I found this comic that puts my point across perfectly.

Being successful is not purely your own doing. The ability to work hard, in itself, is a privilege influenced by external circumstances.

This narrative of ‘hard work’ is a political tool used to maintain status quo and uphold the power structures that continue to oppress the marginalised in our society. This power play applies in a global context as well. Kenya, and Africa at large, can work hard to progress economically, socially and politically, but the playing field is definitely not level. We are still often at the mercy of the West. We have colonialism to thank for that.

This isn’t about Obama or privileged people- it’s the ideology I have a problem with. There are people who when reminded of their privilege begin a pretentious, ‘it’s not my fault I was born in wealth’ tirade to deny the fact that they benefit from these inequalities. Awh, poor you. Do me a favour please- check your privilege.

 

T

© Tessy Maritim

Kenya, I can’t wait to be back

If the conference I attended this past weekend is anything to go by, Kenya is an African powerhouse. The President of Ghana referenced Kenya as the potential Silicon Valley of Africa and many others paid tribute to the groundbreaking innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity taking place in Kenya.

And why wouldn’t they? With people like Sam Gichuru at Nailab, Peggy Mativo of PACE and Boniface Mwangi at PAWA254, Kenya has a lot to be proud of.

Coming from abroad, it’s easy to feel like an overseas education will give you the best answers to overcoming key issues in the country and continent. You go back home with the diaspora saviour complex, but the reality is that people in Kenya and the wider African continent are already creating solutions to these problems.

We have global exposure and experience but should never assume that this is necessarily better than local insight and experience.

Leaving Kenya has been the greatest gift. It’s enabled me to broaden my mindset and envision my role in African growth and development. For some, this involves being abroad. For me, it is undoubtedly living and working on the continent. I want to tour Africa. I want to learn more about our East African neighbours, discover West Africa and traverse Southern Africa.

At the conference, I attended panel discussions on education systems, civil society, social entrepreneurship, migration and energy. There is so much great work happening, I almost feel like I am missing out by being abroad.

I can’t wait to be back- permanently.

 

T

© Tessy Maritim

 

Puzzle Pieces of Purpose

Someone asked Mark Zuckerberg a question and his response struck a chord with me.

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Zuckerberg has undoubtedly found his purpose in life- he wants to connect the world. His means? Facebook Inc. Facebook does not exist in a vacuum. It exists to fulfill a much larger purpose.

Many of us have jobs and many of us are doing degrees. But many don’t understand that they should be used as tools towards a vision. Jobs and degrees in themselves don’t offer much. But they become meaningful when they are pieces of a bigger puzzle.

A purpose requires you to go much further than simply working a 9-5 job. When you’re not at the office, you’re reading to enhance your knowledge, having conversations about ideas or even dreaming about it. Your whole life revolves around your vision- in a healthy way.

I’ve seen it here at my Students’ Union. Many students spend their time outside university hours in planning meetings, organizing, campaigning and working tirelessly for causes they believe in. They have powerful convictions and channel relentless energy towards them. They have taught me what it means to be dedicated.

Your life purpose will require you to find all the puzzle pieces that enable you to paint the bigger picture. These pieces many be jobs, degrees, hobbies, activities, people, conversations- the list is endless. Keep a hawk eye for opportunities that fall in line with your vision.

I have an idea about what my purpose is. It involves young people, Africa, communities, activism, politics and education. Any job, degree, hobby, activity, person or conversation that is related to any of the aforementioned, I openly embrace because they contribute, one way or the other, towards the bigger vision.

I want everything I engage in to honour the purpose that God has given my life. There’s not a second to waste.

 

T

© Tessy Maritim

(p.s. When I’m not writing on this blog, I’m on my facebook page which I update regularly- would love to see you there 🙂 )

One Small Decision

I’ve got some good news today! Three weeks ago I submitted an idea into a competition our university runs called ‘Venture Further‘. It gives students and recent graduates an opportunity to submit an idea and win £10,000 to implement the idea. I didn’t have plans to submit an idea until three days before the end of the competition, when someone nudged me to submit an idea I had been researching about into the competition. After 30 mins of uhmming and ahhhing, I realised there was really nothing to lose by entering the competition.

So with a couple of days before the end of competition, I hurriedly put together the entry and submitted it- 10 minutes before the deadline.

A week and a half later, I received an email with the news that the idea had been selected as a finalist in the competition! I was in shock. It took me about 20 mins of staring at the email to finally understand what was happening, without fear that it was a hoax or a case of mistaken identity.

Small decisions can shed light on a bigger story, as they have for me.

Connecting the dots The funny thing is that two years ago I entered this very competition with a different idea. It was rejected in the first instance and the idea died at that point. Timing is a great thing because this many years later, I submitted an idea that I know I will work on, even if we don’t win the competition. Things needed to be in place for me to have a strong entry that will go beyond the competition. Everything in its own time; everything in God’s time.

Try. Always try I know I repeat this message but its because I can’t emphasise enough how its changed my life. Last week a good friend of mine asked me what gives me the courage to try and my answer was simple- every time you accept a challenge, you are making a decision to take your life forward. Staying comfortable doesn’t do anyone any good. Keep your ears to the ground and when a challenge presents itself and requires you to try, say yes!

No-one is ever 100% ready Following on from the decision to try, I think it’s so important to remember that no-one is ever 100% ready. You may be waiting for the perfect moment to apply for a job, start a project or make a move on someone you care about, but if you wait until you are ready, you will wait forever. I thought my entry from the competition was far from perfect, but I sent it anyway. You don’t have to be all the way ready; there’s room to figure things out on the way.

All you need is love As I’ve shared my idea with a few friends, some have disappointed me with their responses. I’m reminded that I need to surround myself with love. I don’t have time for naysayers on the sidelines as I play my game. I need cheerleaders- friends who send love, thoughts, prayers and encouragement when I need it most. If you find that the people sitting front row at your game are not doing the aforementioned, don’t be afraid to take away their courtside tickets- they don’t deserve them.

Tomorrow, we find out who the winner of the Venture Further competition is. I’m excited and anxious, all at the same time! I’d appreciate your prayers and positive thoughts.

p.s. If you’re interested, more details on the competition can be found here. The idea I submitted is called ‘My Nairobi’. 

UPDATE- Our idea won second place in the competition! We’ve been awarded £2500 to implement the idea. More details here. Here’s a pic from the awards night!

Awards dinner pic

T

© Tessy Maritim