I turn 28 this year.
That is how I should start the annual birthday post. Then we recap the past year, the nirvana of quiet moments. Soon to follow are details of good choices that make this year the ONE. Moving to a cheaper and better spot in the middle of the pandemic, with great hand me down furniture and a bedroom with space for a makeshift office. Looking for summer jobs since January and one ends up saving me. Daily devotion keeps me sane. Wearing a mask. Shopping in the wee hours of the morning to escape the hordes of anti-mask young blooded bobcats. Finally cutting my ex’s watch straps, crashing the crystal with a huge stone and setting that sucker on fire.
Resentment release valve.
There are good decisions that my mother is proud of. Surviving year one of graduate school. Wearing lipstick every day. Taking care of nails. My mother is a lady and her long dream has been to pass that on. My aunt on the other hand is a fashionista. Every IG Live outfit is probably her pick. Braiding my own hair. Cutting my own hair. Paying my bills on time. Reading time every morning. Dropping meat from my diet. Making IGTV content consistently. Meeting God afresh every morning. Sleeping for a solid seven hours on most days. Getting through a ruthless pedagogy class.
This blog could end here and suffice as a birthday blog, but I thought it beneficial to share what I have had to unlearn. Now that is worth your time.
Have you ever paid attention to how you sleep? I could see how that seems bizarre, but do you wake up splattered across the bed? Or maybe you are one of those who fold into a fetal position as though you could turn back time to the world of no worries. The ones I find fascinating are those who sleep on their back, arm supporting their neck and a knee fold angled at 90 degrees to the other knee.
I sleep like a TV movie star. Peaceful, in lacy lingerie with hyaluronic acid moisturizer for my skin. That is what I look like in my head. In real life, I sleep in kitten pajamas on most days. Arimis on my lips and hand moisturizer for my knuckles. That is where the normalcy ends. I am more attuned to who I really am, the thanks to solo quarantine. There is an awareness that only solace can gift you. You learn how your breathing changes. Bathroom runs you need with four quarts of water a day and how you sleep.
I sleep with folded fists like I am going to war. My body is tense and in the middle of the night I wake up to remind my brain to relax. Breathing exercises help a ton. I do not relax in my sleep. My body constricts, grows numb and by morning I am exhausted.
This year I am unlearning how to sleep without any anxiety. To let go and not run my life plan in my head all the time. Allow my brain to sleep because the next day is a string of Zoom meetings. To release my fists and let blood through my fingers.
We are on the road to Colorado under the guise of Spring break but really for Megan to visit her dad and for me to shoot a family documentary to honor her late mother. The trip has come at a bad time. I am broke, fatigued from being broke, tired of the winter and the piercing cold. Kenyan weather is elite.
Eventually, the tension catches on. Our friendship is slipping but we get through the trip. We barely make it through panic flights before life shuts down a week later. Radio silence for a month as life distracts us from the tension. I go through a spiritual renaissance and move houses. The sun finally settles in the sky. Humidity and coronavirus peak simultaneously but my conflict avoidance survives it.
I get a teaching assignment as part of my summer pedagogical training which I perform like an amateur and tank the whole experience. This is the best thing that happens to me. During a peer critique session, my colleague points out a weakness that I did not see in myself because nyani haoni kundule (A monkey does not see his/her own ass). Before you get your knickers in a knot, that is a Swahili saying that is taught in school and used in conversation depending on how close you are to the Indian Ocean.
“The thing with being an international student is that we feel the need to perform because we are already dealing with a lot. You don’t have to do that. Be yourself because yourself is enough.’
I am not sure if it is how they say it or who they are but a veil is torn from my face and I see myself for the first time. I remain in a trance after the class handling assignments on autopilot. In the evening, I sit at the kitchen table and the fatigue of years of performance comes crushing the glasshouse of my mind, heart and soul.
The sound that I make is that of a wounded animal. I cry like my soul wringing off the burden of proof and not my tear glands flexing their biological abilities. The wailing is from the shame, pain and weariness of walking around with a mask and finally feeling the sun in my face. It is grieving the stifled woman who has been desperate to break out but was previously caged by unfounded insecurities.
It is the cry of freedom.
There is a story told of a child who takes porridge every day until they have a taste of eggs and there is no going back. The free woman roams the world in confidence in her identity. Sees herself for the first time. This must be a glimpse of how God sees me, I think to myself as I pull the snort to the back of my throat.
A week later, I call Megan and we have a vulnerable conversation. It is difficult to talk and listen but necessary for healing. It takes another month to have brunch together. There is freedom in the air on both ends and most importantly, authenticity.
The third thing I am unlearning this year is to work past the resistance. I am about to admit something that TED global may not approve of for their future fellow, but again freedom. The reason why my time in the creative industry for ten years has not yielded a bountiful harvest has to do with a myriad of reasons many of which are catalogued on this space.
One that I rarely talk about is that I have been showing up as amateur for the better part of the ten years. To be clear, I can say it, you on the other hand can do so with your inner voice. Sure, I worked hard in all my ten years of service but when I showed up like a pro for my job as a broadcast host it showed in the quality of work.
I am unlearning the seduction of bare minimum, learning the language of resistance and relearning the strength of my mind, Marie Forleo’s interview with Steven Pressfield: Overcoming Resistance & Why Talent Doesn’t Matter helped me to have this honest conversation with myself. I have a great set of talents. Highly privileged to learn from even more talented creatives. Masterclasses, training, free webinars, IG Live interviews and any content that teaches additional skills is all I consume. It is no longer an issue of can I do it but rather will I do it?
27 has been a great year. I was hoping to have a car by now but with only three days until 28 moves in, the feasibility of that dream can only be miraculous. Navigating public transport may seem daunting but I have been too busy unlearning and relearning to be bothered by it.
28 is going to be amazing because God has said so and I am showing up like a pro. Put in the work, stay the course and keep a learner’s attitude.
Happy Birthday to all September babies. Your conception was festive so celebrate life.
I will be hosting author, speaker and creative confidence coach Koki Oyuke to learn on how to actualize a creative idea with the boldness of a child of God. It will be on Instagram Live @medrinenyambura, Sunday 6th September 2020 at 4 pm (East African Time) and 9 am (Eastern Time). Come and let us soak in from those who have opened doors for us.