Until recently, I thought that I had to have a captivated audience to tell my story, but I have been thoroughly disabused of that and I thank Kenyatta Otieno a.k.a ‘YouK’ a.k.a ‘Mteka Maji’ who helped set me up and get started on this blog. And though I have heard it a hundred times over, when he said it, it clicked! I just had to start, and whereas there may be no-one out there to hear what I have to say, I will have said it. Further, the more I say it, the better I shall become at saying it and one day I will be able to proudly say I have X number of words under my belt. As you are reading this article, I can say I have already surpassed my initial goals and there is at least one person who has read me.
I look at my life and I feel that I have a wealth of information: mistakes I made along the way; great decisions, bad decisions; happy days, sad days…. at the end of it all, we are the sum total of our experiences, so if any of my experiences can make anyone’s life better…. Amen!
My favourite quote is one from Marianne Williamson (much quoted by the late great Nelson Mandela … RIP) and from this I draw my inspirations regularly…
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest dear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. there is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.“
When I reflect on this and think of myself as a child, I remember standing on tables to recite poetry, standing on bus seats to talk to the guy behind us, asking my parents’ friends if I could make them a pancake (I had just learnt to make them on my own and needed to show off my skill) and I wonder who have I become. Do you know that I can make a leather bag from scratch by hand? Do you know that I can make a killer shepherd’s pie? That I can do intricate embroidery? Probably not. How sad for me and for all those others who hide their abilities so as not to appear too different.
One of my most vivid memories of hiding my brilliance (modesty aside), was when I was in high school. I went in to this institute of higher learning, full of good nature and determination to make something of myself. I was eager to learn and eager to show that I had learnt. I was not shy in the least, I would raise my hand at every opportunity I got, either to seek clarification or answer a question. I had even picked a seat that guaranteed me an unobstructed view of the blackboard (green boards, whiteboards and smart boards had not arrived by then). Further, as I am a visual creature, I also ensured I had an unobstructed view of the teacher and any demonstration he/she made. I was set to learn and to excel! I positioned myself at the front centre of the class.
Imagine my horror when a couple of weeks into high school, the teacher moved me to the last column, next to the wall and a few rows back. Even worse was the reason she gave; my hand shooting up all the time was proving to be a distraction to both her and the other students! That was my first lesson in dimming my shine. I relegated myself to a quiet, brooding back-bencher.
This continued for 4 years. The lesson to not be too loud or too confident was always imparted with a soft tone and guised as concern for others, but in truth all it did was cause me to check myself before raising my hand. I was encouraged to give others a chance to speak; not to intimidate others with my knowledge and confidence. How sad that the very people who were meant to be building my confidence and moulding me into a knowledge thirsty being, ready to learn and impart knowledge, were the very ones quashing my ambition and lowering my standards.
Fast forward to my life today and I find that I am having to unlearn some of these bad habits because, guess what? Knowledge that you possess, yet fail to share is as good as non-existent. This bad habit has had a financial cost to me. While running my consultancy business, I found that one of my greatest hindrances to business was not being able to confidently sit at the table and tell my prospective clients exactly what I am capable of; I would find myself downplaying my abilities and achievements so that I… (I can find no rational end to that statement).
I am however vindicated by my love for life. I live, I learn. If I can learn from others … great! If not, I will learn from my mistakes and hope never to have to learn the same lesson from the same mistake more than once.
So, I have decided that I will live Marianne Williamson’s mantra:-
- I will embrace my power
- I will make no apologies for being brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous
- I will not let my fear imprison me
- I will manifest God’s glory in me
- I will by my actions liberate others