The Prize.

Every time I am asked ” what do you regret?” My answer is always the same ” Worry. I worry too much”.

I remember sitting with my therapist last year, as I went on and on about my confusion. I had either turned 25 or was about to. I didn’t know what I wanted out of life, but I knew that what I had was okay, but not it.

The only problem was, I had absolutely no coherent plan of what I wanted, and that felt frustrating.

And then the pandemic that cannot be named happened. And in all that confusion, life slowed down for me. For a moment there I forgot about this big life goals or plan that I was supposed to come up with.

Instead I read books. By jove I read them! Almost 80 books in one year, without even trying hard. And I fell in love. And experienced a different kind of experience while at it. Simple, not taxing. A love that gives. That laughs. That is easy. That is beautiful and exciting. That made me feel so light. As if I can fly.

And I travelled within the country. To Amboseli and all their beautiful elephants, to border posts such as Namanga and Oloitoktok, to dams that made me feel lightheaded just watching that water flow in that speed, to good old Diani, to the beautiful Watamu, to one of the most beautiful hotels that I’ve always wanted to stay in since I was young.

And I also grew fat. Really fat. The closest I was to this body was in high school. Till my clothes don’t fit. Till when I look into the mirror, I still see myself, it’s like I can’t conceptualize the change, and yet, it has happened.

And then at the start of the year, my confusion came back ten fold. Life was returning back to normal. Again, what did I plan to do with life?

And for the last 6 months I have battled with feeling overwhelmed. Doing okay in life, but feeling as if there is just this fog that won’t clear. Knowing that I’m supposed to do ABCD but week after week passing without me doing it.

It felt frustrating. Really frustrating. At some point I considered trading my brain, it was chaotic living in there. I made plans over plans over plans, but my system was working on none of them.

I had never experienced something of the sort.

You see, I grew up in a system that always had the next thing in store for me. Finish lower primary, join upper primary. And on and on the system kept on providing me with plans for my next phase of life.

But what happens when my system just doesn’t align with that laid out system? For a long time, my plans weren’t being interfered by the existing plan. I mean, all children have to go to school.

But adulthood comes with the responsibility of taking charge of your own life. It takes a young child, puts them through the system of the society and education system of that country, and delivers them two decades later, sometimes broken, sometimes brainwashed, sometimes scarred… whichever the case, they are delivered to go out there and live life.

And for someone like me, who distrusts life, that was the hardest thing ever.

For one, there was a part of me that didn’t even want to indulge life. The part of me that has been brutalized and scarred. Never seen a reason to continue being in this circus.

But there is another part of me that appreciates certain aspects of life. The things that bring me joy. The things that blow life into my soul. That side is my happy place. And that side, felt that there is hope. That we may not have chosen to be here, to be born, but we are here. There must have been a part of our soul that felt like existing on earth. That felt like experiencing itself in the human form. And yes, my life may have had a rough start, but that is no reason to not take the tools life gives for healing and see if we can enjoy the next phase.

The only question was, what is that next phase? What comes after?

It’s taken me a while to realise that not everyone asks themselves this question. That in fact, people just live. The way a day is followed by another. That in fact, it could be that I am a product of my specific environment, that taught me that life is to always chase something. Chase that good mark in KCPE, chase that A, and not just any A but one that guarantees a sport in the newspapers, get that good job, get that bag, run after that money..always have many life goals that you are chasing after. Up to now, that was how I conceptualized life. Like a whole big list with some things that I enjoy and others that I don’t, all that need to be done.

But I’m the kind of person who included running away to Mozambique should I choose to end my life. Why die before seeing a new country? Like in the least, should you decide that life isn’t worth it, at least see one new African country, before leaving the living.

And it’s taken me forever to reconcile the two. Who I thought I was supposed to be, and who I actually am. And I’m not sure I’ve even managed to do that successfully yet.

But my own system has proved beyond any doubt, that it shall never do what it doesn’t wish to do. They say that talent beats discipline, that you sit at the table even when you don’t have anything to write, even when you don’t feel like it. But my system knows that when words come, we are not told by anyone to sit at the table, we do it until the words exhaust themselves.

Reconciling who I am, with my day to day life, has got to be one of the gifts that year 26 gave me. It came served on a tray full of struggle, feeling overwhelmed and willing to do anything to be at ease.

Just to realise that after all those plans and goals, all that life requires of me, is to be myself.

That I am the prize. Not the accomplishments, not the achievements, not the accolades, Me. Just me.

And I always know I have arrived home, when everything is just synchronized. It’s like a safe. Or trying to break in or open a safe without knowing the combination. Some numbers will make it move slightly. Until you input the correct number, and you hear that click as it opens.

That was what my soul felt like after such a torturous journey in my mind.

And this comes with several acceptances, if I may call them so. That I will just never be your regular woman. I have never been. And will never be. Despite how much I wanted to fit in. Despite how much I wanted to just be part of the crowd.

But the thing with that, is remembering that being myself, gives me the sort of connection and belonging that feels authentic. It gifts me friends after my own soul. It gifts me experiences with people that bless me endlessly because I can feel it deep in my soul. It gifts me a world that has a place for a soul like mine.

And I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.

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