First off I am sorry that the rest of the world labels you lazy and entitled. Generations tend to do that to those coming after them. They ignore the prevailing challenges and justify their misgivings through your mistakes. You are expected to adult responsibly and without any fault, I genuinely apologize for the society. Ignore them!
Before I break down the reason for this letter, allow me to share something that happened today. Fuel has gone up and subsequently bus fares. I was wearing pair of smashing hot chunk heels from @rikawardrobe on Instagram. Please remember that name as we go along.
I am on thicker side of life and tall so a few inches have me towering over the rest of the human race at least on this side of the world. For fear of blisters, I decided to take a connecting bus to the main bus stop. While alighting, I gave the conductor a ten shillings coin and started to walk off. He yanked me towards him and asked for more money. I can be a tad bit dramatic but I assure you the distance was/is a walking distance. After a tussle and my revelation of the extra seven shillings I had, I walked away. Not in a huff but in resignation.
I have been aware of the spirit of anger that hangs in the air. Nairobians are angry, from how they talk, walk, hit you on the streets and even address you. With this is mind, I am now more tolerant and pray every morning, that I will be someone’s shining light even for a minute. While I walked away, he shouted profanities in his mother tongue, which happens to be mine too, but I don’t look it and in this case works against me. I understood all he said but by grace it did not move me. Peace. Pin that on the wall.
It started out with rumours at the office. You had seen other companies going down but you hoped yours would be further down the line. And it was, but the crumbling was happening faster than expected. The email that you dreaded crept up in your inbox.
‘Meeting at 11am in regards to your future in the company.’
There are only two ways this could go; an induced resignation so as to get meager benefits or a merging of roles disguised as a promotion with a promise of a future salary review. While you are dying for a leave, the latter is the best option for your family.
The whole process takes about 30mins and the package is fair but you cannot help but feel your life waste away. You will miss the lunch time chats and the family at the office. So now you head to your real family. Two weeks in you buy a car, Toyota, sign it up with Uber and now the county council you heard about and posted on twitter about it, become your worst nightmare. After drunk clients of course.
Parents give their children what they never had. Many will say that the best gift they could give you was an education because the world may take everything else but never what is in your brain. You go to school taking in all the pressure from your privileged peers. You have a sense of humour and that allows you to navigate the different social circles with ease. Beyond the social success, you keep your grades up and even have a good girlfriend.
After graduation, the pictures and the tossing of the hats, it’s reality time. A few months are not so bad but it has now been five years of bouncing emails, unreturned calls and a gazillion, ‘I will let you know when something pops up’. The sad face on your mother’s look breaks your heart and while doing the dishes makes you feel more useful, after a while you get tired. You doubt if your father acknowledges your existence. I mean you see him and he you without really seeing you.
Instagram will be the death of your esteem. From personal experience, I had to unfollow a few people who made me feel less than. There will be many users who will use the word wanderlust in their bio. Images of islands and boats will appear once you refresh your feed. Others will talk of their jobs and how good God has been to them. You will wonder whether it is the same God that your pastor talks about.
You will slack with your fashion. Dressing up will feel like a chore. There will be good days when you wear deo and dress up but because the devil is a liar, he will remind you that you have nowhere to go. Bad days will come and your pyjamas will get stuck to your skin. There will be head wraps days as you keep the money just in case you are called for an interview. Even in those moments, remember who you are in God.
I could give a million scenarios but it may not aptly describe how you feel right now. The thin line between insanity and depression may not be made clear by any word right now. The feeling of your brain slowing down is not absurd. When you lift your hand in the morning to reach out for your phone that is now also slowing down is a testament to how your heart feels. I want you to know your world slowing down is a normal feeling that needs no apology.
How do we get out of it?
Detox of any bitterness you may feel. In any case of unemployment and retrenchment there is the person that is the villain casted for that role by us. It could be the allegedly corrupt official who has money to dish out but none to fix the system. It could the president you hoped will do it but every news report on him feels like a punch in the face. It could the boss who despite seeing the signs still lived like a king while the rest of you wallowed in debt. You need to admit you are bitter first and then make an intentional decision to forgive them.
Tap into who you are. What makes your heart beat? Read, listen to music and rest. Find out what your soul yearns for. Please understand that this cannot last long unless your financial situation allows it. Afterwards get something to do, this is the hardest part. Chip into the family business. Help where you can. I know working with your family is not ideal but it is better than sitting on the couch. It will also help your social health. Seeing other people will assure you of the dynamics of human beings which is necessary for your wellness. I know that you never thought with a degree you would be packing stock and running errands but I promise your character is being shaped.
What you thought might be six months might be years. There will be the temptation to let go of what you have always wanted to do. Please hold on, a generation depends on it. No matter how tired you are at the end of the day, make time to update yourself of what is happening in your field. Read the newspaper, watch content from your industry. Dig up what you must to improve on your skill. That way when the opportunity comes you will be ready.
I was once watching the Turning Point and there was a story of a young man who a few days before trials for college football scholarships hurt his foot and could not play. In despondence he resorted to sitting and watching TV as he felt that there was nothing left for him. His mother, God bless all of them, urged him to train as the agents would be back the next year. Needless to say, at the time when they aired the show, he was playing major league.
This is why you cannot give up.
If there is no family business, find something to do. Take that job that you feel is beneath you. On your off day reach out to people who you look up to in our industry. Text a hundred of them, I promise one will reach out. Something will give. I know it looks like the world is working against but I promise you the world is under your feet. You have dominion over everything on this earth.
See this thing called technology? Use it to show the world what you can do. @rikawardrobe is run by an amazing lady who loves boots. She started putting them online and now she has a store along Ngong Road. A shoe posted up for sale takes approximately and I am stretching this, fifteen minutes to sell. A pair goes for Kes.600/- only. She works with volumes not ridiculous profit margins. @summer.oddity.ke is run by a law student with a day job. Her clothes malximum Kes.500/-. I am asking to please get creative with social media do what you can. Let the world know what you can do.
This brings me to the last point.
Keep God close to you. His love might be the only reassurance you have and need. Burry yourself in the word and ask Him what He wants to do with you. Seek him and you will find yourself. Listen in silence because God will speak. This is an important season that will require your upmost attention. Cry to him on the days you cannot move. On the good days, take a walk and listen to him. It may get away from you but I promise you the sun will shine. Keep those who love you close and naysayers at bay.