I had an interesting conversation yesterday with my best friend and an amazing new friend, Wawira. The meeting was a business discussion that soon evolved into a conversation about life and a new concept I am learning from the book Roadmap, called Self Construction.
Self construction is all about defining your life’s path your way, ideally what we should all do. But what we do find ourselves doing is living under the dictates of societal norms. It is so ingrained in our existence we don’t even realise it.
A common phrase we use a lot in Kenya to punctuate our thoughts is, “life’s a journey”. It is only within the past few weeks that I have really internalized what that means. I realise that I grew up very one track minded in a sense. It was always about find one thing and stick to it. If I am to switch I should leave everything else and focus solely on that thing because that is what makes people successful right? Not really.
In that conversation, Mwikali pointed out how guilty she felt wanting to try out all these different things that she was interested in. For very, and I mean very long, I judged her for “not being focused” but at the same time admired her for trying out all these different things. She’s taught English in High School, worked in media with me as a radio copywriter, she then went to Culinary school and practiced as a Chef, she worked in Church as a production manager and now she is a Chocolate maker and Chocolatier who is now planning a 4-5 month bike packing trip to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa (more details, on this, coming soon).
Recently, I had also started feeling a sense of shame for not being crystal clear on what I want in life. Mwikali aptly pointed out early in the year, that I too have changed my mind numerous times, which she said was OK. I didn’t believe her at the time because; I was hard wired to be one track about life.
But back to the phrase, “it is a journey”. A great journey is about soaking in your surroundings and discovering and taking detours, making mistakes, breaking down and fixing the problem and keeping at it.
Society has been configured in a way that is completely different from who we were meant to be; explorers of life, not slaves to an aspirational lifestyle.
Just like Mwikali, Wawira too shared her powerful experience traveling solo in India. She spoke of how powerful a personal experience it was. She learnt to trust herself and her abilities; she explored a foreign place, and also did get tired with the endless demand of selfies. Yes, Africans are a spectacle in India. The innocent curiosity of people can turn into an annoyance.
Wawira went to a zoo and was blown away seeing tigers and jaguars, while she was in awe of the wild. Other patrons of the zoo were more fascinated by this African woman traveling by herself. Aaaah! African women need to go out more! Hehehehe! Long story for another day, but the short version, the world needs to understand that a woman has a brain and doesn’t need a man by her side to guide her through life and self actualization. We are complete humans not half of one (shaking my head).
Moving on, I want to leave you with a quote that stuck with me, that has really got me on the path of self construction. This quote is from the professed “Buddha” of pro-skateboarders, Rodney Mullen, “Do I see a way to manifest not only what I’m good at, but also what I love? Because hopefully they won’t be opposed to one another.”