So 2016 began and you have never felt so alone. And right now I don’t just mean in the lacking of a go-to-guy. You’ve started to realize that you spent more than you had planned to and saved a lot less than you should have, you still dread family gatherings because some of the people you grew up around are terribly exhausting, you fell out with old friends and made new ones whose company still left that lonely-in-a-crowded room feeling you were trying to escape. You’re still at the same job you’ve sworn to leave for the past year to whoever will let you rant about it, your love life is typically non-existent, you wish you could drink to wash off the flat taste of your existence but you kinda don’t do that anymore, you’re still mean to yourself and bitter and critical of everything and everyone in your life. Even the new look is a new look on an old face you don’t even like so you only really enjoy it when people point out how “nice” you look because you are “finally growing out your hair”.
You are not alone.
I got hijacked towards the end of 2015. A stupid decision to go back to the office and look for a missing purse started me on that road. The purse was on my office chair. I ignored the urge to take a taxi to town with the friend who had brought me for company and moral support. She lost a bunch of stuff too and got hit on account of my seemingly suspicious silence. Then we got left near Mathare, practically in the middle of nowhere. I was scared out of my mind. Literally. Because I got a panic attack when we finally got help at the Moi airbase. I know there are worse feelings, but helplessness and fear have to be in the top five that exist. And regret. Upside, we came across a handful of wonderful soldiers who told funny stories and played music on their phones to help us relax. One of the best reminders that there are still good people left. They let us stay until the adrenaline dropped and we started to feel tired and cold. Thankfully, we still had our ATM cards. They gave us fare to town and hailed down a matatu which took us to the city.
Days into the new year, I was at the Mater Hospital maternity ward sharing my most secret thoughts with a girlfriend going through painful contractions. We went into the delivery room together and I witnessed the birth of Maya at 2123 hours. I spent the night at the hospital and left the following day at noon. It was the first time I had entertained the thought of having a baby for more than an hour at one go.
Then I met Oyunga Pala at an open forum he was hosting, where we talked around women and women issues, and he paid me a wonderful compliment. My week was made. I grew up reading this man’s columns. He is part of the reason why I decided to write, because he did it with such a wonderful ease. And he held you hostage from start to finish. Also, he wrote on issues affecting men and women from the perspective of men. I was oh so young and I wanted to understand men as much as I could, so Oyunga gave me some closure. I got to write my blog address in his notebook and take pictures. Again, week made.
Last weekend, I attended a reading where my short story had been accepted at the Amka forum for a public critique. The writers of the submitted pieces remained anonymous and I listened with utter pleasure while Tony Mochama, a ruthless critic when he thinks your work is crap, praised my work for several minutes. Week made. Add to that that I had three of some of my closest girlfriends present to root for me and make it painfully awkward to sit through such lofty praises from the rest of the group.
A good friend of mine on a Being Mary Jane bender mentioned that she wanted to put up sticky notes in her house to help her get herself together. If there is something I happen to know about not feeling like you have life figured out, it is that it can leave you feeling as if you are a waste of time. That and the sense that you are all alone; which is worse when you have been talking about going back to school for two years and two of your friends are finishing off with their Masters and a third is just starting. Which takes me back to the beginning.
You are not alone.
You will sometimes find yourself spending your time at a job you feel is only good for the paychecks. Or dealing with writer’s block for the third time in the last quarter of a year that has seen your peers put out brilliant work and get published. You will struggle to get out of bed for a while and then stop trying to get to work at all when you realize that your input is not as valued by the top management as it was in your first year at the company you work for. Even the Ted Talks will cease to help. You might stop exercising and still lose weight and feel down-in-the-dumps a lot and oscillate between overeating junk and coffee and not eating at all.
You are not alone.
Things will start to fall into place. Your close friends will start looking out for you. Or family lunches will force you to leave your bed. The house will start to get cold so you will step out for some sun and wind up buying some fruit to have with the pancakes you have been craving. You’ll be okay.
And honey, you are not alone.