Am Changing My Story

​I’m trying to change my story. I’m trying to change my narrative. I’m trying to change the voices in my head.
I’m trying to tell the world another story about myself. I’m trying to make it a story of hope, faith and success rather than a story of struggle, despair and failure.
I’m trying not to paint myself as a victim anymore. I’m done blaming my parents, my school, my friends or my culture for all my setbacks. I’m working with what I’ve got. I’m finally figuring out the right path for me. I’m finally driving in the right direction. I’m finally learning that it doesn’t have to be a sad story with no destination. I’m finally learning that I can still change the ending. I can still make it a happy one.
I’m trying not to associate my age with everything.Why I’m not rich or why I haven’t traveled to all the places I wanted to visit. I’m changing my hopeless questions to one simple answer: faith. I’m changing my story from being hopeless to being faithful. I no longer think everything in my life was ‘delayed,’ everything was right on time, everything came exactly when it should have arrived — not sooner or later because now I have the wisdom to appreciate them, the strength to endure the obstacles on the way, the stamina to fight harder for what I believe in and the gratitude to be thankful for the whole journey.
I’m changing my story from loneliness and darkness to self-love and light. I’m changing the tone of negative self-talk, of feeling inadequate, of being afraid of missing out, of being too attached to the minor things in life, of being too concerned about what people think to simply letting go of perfection, of deadlines, of expiration dates and expectations.
I’m human. I’m still finding myself. I’m still trying to understand life. I’m still trying to define what happiness is. I’m still trying to understand what kind of love I’m looking for and I’m tired of feeling sorry for myself just because I don’t have all the answers.
I’m done trying to make my story all about answers, I just want to enjoy reading it, I just want to enjoy living it. I just want to try to make it a good one. Even if it means having more questions than answers, even if it means not getting everything I want.
I’m not going to change the essence of the story, I’m changing everything around it. I’m changing the way I tell it. I’m changing the way I write it. I’m changing my voice, my tone and my speech.
I’m taking my pain and heartbreak and turning them into something beautiful. I’m editing my story, sometimes we forget that it’s still a draft, not the final manuscript and we can always go back and change it. It’s not over yet

A Love Letter To The Non-Believer

Dear You,
I know what you’re thinking. I know you already have your guard up, your metaphorical blanket wrapped tight around your shoulders, your eyes a little squinted at the screen. I know you’re wondering who the hell I think I am writing to you—as if I know your life or what you’re going through, as if could even begin to understand the depths of your trials, or the aches in your heart.

I don’t. I’ll fully admit that.

But see, I’m not writing to you from a place of perfection. I’m not writing to you from a high horse, from a chair of confidence, from this all-knowing stance, or from any ground other than the one you’re standing on.

I’m not writing to you because I think I know who you are or where you’ve been, or because I think I could ‘fix you’ or that you’re even in need of fixing.

I’m writing to you in my brokenness, in my failure, in my fear and insecurity and sin and mistakes. I’m writing to you because I am you, in so many ways. I’m writing to you because I want you to know you’re not alone. You’re heard. You’re noticed. You’re loved.

See, there’s a big misconception about my faith—that we’re people who think we’re better, that we’re trying to ‘save’ people that need saving, as if you aren’t capable of helping yourselves. But that’s not what Christianity is about. It’s not about telling people that they’re damned and sinful. It’s not about trying to act like we’re better, just because we believe in the unseen.

I’m writing to you, not because I think you need help, or because I think I’m in a much better place, or because it’s some moral duty of mine—I’m writing to you because I care. I’m writing to you because I used to be you. The person who was fine on their own, or broken and alone, or just swimming through life, attempting to find my own direction.

And I want you to know you don’t have to be lost.

I want you to know that life is all ups and downs. Sometimes you’ll feel incredible. Sometimes you’ll wake up and know that you do this on your own. And sometimes you’ll be totally able to.

But then other mornings you’ll wakeup and stub your toe on the cabinet. You’ll be out of milk for the cereal you just poured. You’ll be late to work and have your new car rear-ended at the stoplight. You’ll strain your back lifting groceries from the trunk. Your significant other will break up with you. The list goes on—you know what I mean, don’t you?

Sometimes life just gets out of our control. One minute we’re fine, the next we’re flat on our faces on the concrete, wondering what the heck we slipped on. And that’s where faith comes in.

Faith is trusting in the unseen and knowing that there is a God, a God who loves you all the time. Not just when you’re ‘perfect’ or ‘good.’ But not just when you’re broken either.

Faith is knowing that this God gave His son, His everything for you. For me. For us. So that we don’t have to face this craziness alone. So that when we’re up, we can celebrate. So that when we’re down, we can hold onto Him to guide us through.

See, this is why I’m writing to you—because I want you to know that love, to feel that love soak into your pores, to understand that no matter what happens or where you wander or how many times you fall short, you are forgiven and loved.

I want you to know that even though you don’t believe in Him, God is here. He’s waiting for you, and He’s guiding your life. He’s sending you miracles and signs. He’s blessing you. He’s calling you to Him when nothing else in life is going according to your plan.

I hope you listen.

And I hope you understand that I’m writing this because I care, not because I want to shove my beliefs down your throat, not because I have biased intentions, not because I think you and your way of living is ‘wrong.’

But because I know my God is a good God, a wonderful God, an incredible God—and I want you to know Him.

So please, know that you are loved. Know that you are strong. Know that you are beautiful and wonderful and complex and made by a God who will never leave or forsake you, no matter how much you push Him away.

Know that you don’t have to face this world alone.

Know that someone is fighting for you.

Know that my God cares, and I care.

Know that it’s okay to be skeptical, it’s okay to be scared, it’s okay to wonder and ask questions and be angry. But know that the anger you feel in your chest can be released. Know that the pain pulled into a tight knot around your heart can be untied. Know that the bitterness can be let go of.

Know you can begin again in His love.

So I hope you let your guard down, just a little. I hope you read these words, and then re-read them, just to know His heart a bit more.

I hope you know my door is open to talk, as is any Christian’s. And I hope that if and when you’re ready, you’ll reach out—to us, to Him—and know that you’ll be welcomed with open arms.

All my love,

Cliff Ochomo . 

To love is to suffer

To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering, one must not love. But then, one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer; not to love is to suffer; to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be happy, one must love or love to suffer or suffer from too much happiness.

I’m going to write you out of me, but the wound, the wound I’ll keep. I’ve been searching for closure, for a reason, for the answers to all the questions my aching heart still sings, and I’ve come to discover something in my pursuit: we should not pine for closure.

Do you see these scars? They tell stories, they carry memories, and they are my whole life. Without the heartbreaks, the mistakes, and the misgivings… I would not be who I am.

Instead of walking slowly to my fate, I am able to swim in the ocean created by all of the tears I have shed. Instead of searching for words out of empty lungs, mine are filled with endless amounts of love I wasn’t able to give. Instead of carrying pain into the unknown future, I am armed with thicker skin from these marks. Instead of fearing love, my heart is dripping of hope for the dreams it has not yet reached.

I have been searching for a way to stitch these open wounds from my last love, but there’s a certain beauty to them now. They are raw and they are real. They are proof of how hopelessly a hopeless romantic can feel. They are the evidence to emotions that pulse through our veins. They are the love stories that are not yet over.

I’ve realized that I don’t need you to heal me. There’s a certain beauty in being broken. It means that I am not invincible. It means that I am not afraid to fall. It means that I am willing to give up my heart for yours. It means that someone else’s broken pieces may eventually compliment mine imperfectly.

I’ve realized that I don’t need someone to save me. There’s something gorgeous about someone whose eyes admit they can be weak. It means that not only see the world, but also really feel it. It means we don’t fear it because it’s already broken us. We are resilient simply because we’ve learned to function in our brokenness. We’ve found happiness in the empty crevices of our puzzled hearts.

I don’t need you to tell me why you left me, if you’ll ever find me again, where it went wrong, when you thought it was right, or any other 2am thought at night. I need those memories, the epic fights, the moment I fell for you, the moment I first hated you – I need them all as a reminder of the women I have become.

But I am not perfect. I am scarred and I am bruised. I am damaged in the best way. I have lived life enough to get hurt. I have hurt enough to grow. I have grown enough to find beauty in the remnants of a storm that tormented my heart. Now there is no symmetry to my heart, but is there truly ever any symmetry in art?

I will write you out of me – I promise you, but this wound I will keep. I will continue to carry my heart on my sleeve. It’s a badge of honor that I will carry with a plastic smile. It shows that I am not afraid to love. It shows that I am not afraid to fail. It shows that I stronger in pieces than I am whole – because I know what it’s like to put myself back together.

So keep your answers to yourself when you wake up with regret. My search for closure has ceased. Instead I’m looking for adventure to fill in the empty spaces. Instead I’m searching for the pieces of me I have not yet found. I go on this journey wounded – but do not get this confused with pained. I am proud of my sensitive heart. It is my biggest weakness and my biggest strength.

I am as fragile as paper, but alas, all the best love stories are written on them.

“How does it feel to be finished with school?”

Immediately following college graduation, this is the question that I  always count on to be tossed around during conversation. It is rhetorical, mostly — no one really expect any sort of genuine, reflective answer. And this is a relief, because I have no reflective answer to give. I know that being an “adult” (used very loosely when describing the early 20’s) normally involves rent, work, and an early bedtime. When that question is directed toward me, all that really comes  to mind are logistics. Losing school meant gaining a calendar.

A little more than  6 months has passed since I sat for my last paper. Surprisingly, during the time since, the most striking transition has not been  waking up before the sun. Instead, it has been losing the reliability of upcoming change.

Leading up to this moment, school had segmented life into scheduled chapters. I’m sure you remember. Each year would bring in a new set of people, experiences, and lessons. Like clockwork, I could count on the expected turnover to provide new challenges. If I was feeling stagnant, I could simply number the days remaining until the next adventure would begin.

I never understood how much I relied on the predictability of transition until it was gone.

I can no longer depend on school’s scheduled rhythm of newness. One option now is to cross my fingers and wait for change to happen to me — unexpected life shifts are bound to strike at one point or another. But I have found that there is a certain dissatisfaction with waiting on fate to bring you something new. Slowly but surely, I have begun to understand that if I want to ensure continual growth, I need to start actively writing chapters for myself.

When I first realized this, I panicked at the ambiguity of it all. When is the right time to shake things up? How do you decide to try out a new job, city, graduate program, or stage of a relationship when nothing is forcing you to do so? How do you discern complacency from contentment?

I must confess, I have yet to answer these questions. However, I have eased my panic by finding a useful framework in considering them — a framework that you might find useful as well.

1) I first (try to) graciously take stock of what I already have

The practice of gratitude for my current situation helps to focus thoughts of change on striving forward towards the horizon, rather than running away from what’s behind.

This Forbes article entitled “7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude” describes one asset that I find particularly useful when considering change:

#7. Gratitude increases mental strength.

Consistently giving thanks has been proven to increase resilience — a crucial tool to have in your arsenal throughout this process.

 I define what I want to learn

This helps narrow down which type of change I am seeking. I try to dig for an answer that presses further than just “to learn more about myself”. What specific part of my life or my identity do I want to push?

 

I accept my limited perspective

There is no way to know what exactly a change will lead to, or what a lack of change would have resulted in. But as Steve Jobs reminds us in his Steve Jobs’ Famous Speech at Stanford University,

“You cannot connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.”

I just recently made a huge move to Nairobi city. After after all that  years in Nakuru, I left the sources of comfort that I had relied on my entire life — friends… family… consistent weather… My first thought , “What have I done?” Yet, slowly but surely, I have started to realize that this move might just be one of the best things to ever happen to me. More than anything, it has shown me that I am stronger than I once thought I was.

That being said, I still do not know how this new chapter will fit into the grand book of my life. But recognizing this limitation is liberating as much as it is uneasy. With its embrace, I can become one step closer to relinquishing my desire for control long enough to continue to take the risk.

Grounded by gratitude and armed with a strategy to chart my own life toward my own goals, I am ready to appreciate –even amidst my uncertainty– just how many chapters of my life remain unwritten.

Time to keep writing.

.

Its my birthday today.

If I am honest, if I am willing to stand in my own truths and claim the sharp corners of my flaws, I must admit I expected this milestone to deliver a certain knowing. There was an unspoken expectation.
It is a beautiful day, a harmonious balance of humid and moderate temperatures. It is a quiet day with simple pleasures and good company. Still, if I tell the story of my gratitude I am conveniently excluding the complicated pieces of my truth that undermine the complexity of an internal uncertainty.

The day when we remembers our birth. A day special to every one. I am not saying my birthday a Happy Birthday, and there’s reason for it. So, whats a day in my Life, today is only different from normal day. Remembering the Almighty, the supreme power above all, a new day starts.The day itself dawned painfully unexceptional for the unfortunate happenstance of Youth Nature’s folly. Still my friends honored our morning traditions in a way that tethered me to the simplest of joys and was a happy foreshadowing of countless thoughtful gestures of appreciation. In the morning, we exchange the wishes within the family, then the immediate family comes with their wishes, no fancy or high gifts, no show-off to anyone, plain wishes, the traditional ways.

Still those closest to me loved me stubbornly and generously, thoughtfully and gently. It is perhaps the most extravagant gift of all, to be so unconditionally loved for out best in spite of our worst.I couldn’t control my tears. This  was full of Love. I felt little and shallow. This is a such day, will never ever forget, when I close my eyes, first thing comes to me is that I am so PRIVILEGED and in the mean time so poor too. I call that I have a Life, I have facilities that are world-class, I have a status quo, I have proficiency over things, my hands and mind is working fine, but whats the use of such Life, if it’s of no use if it does not uplift the others. It’s like you have a pen and paper, but your words…. Many a times it happens that something happens to us and we try to avoid it, but never try to think from another way around. We follow routine and we miss beauty. I have a plan for this. A dream Plan. A Life that celebrates itself.

I’m still thinking on what I might wish for as I count my blessings, grateful for the love of those who let me stumble.

Select a path,
follow by Heart,
Dream and Conquer,
A life is less for one,
Spark the Lamps of Smile,
A dream that world rejoices;
Shaped by Love,
A messenger of Hope.I

The Sadness That Lingers

I am lying in bed, contemplating my options or my excuses it is cold and raining in Nairobi. I could call in sick which would seem the most plausible to justify. I don’t look sick, not in the physical sense of the word.My sickness can’t be seen as cuts or wounds. It can’t be measured by a thermometer or felt by a hand to the forehead. My sickness lingers in my head or my heart or maybe even my soul. I don’t really know where but it lingers like a heavy overcast in the sky.

My alarm goes off again and I let it.I am too tired to shut it off. I  am unfathomed by its perpetual shrieks. It rings as background noise in comparison to my running thoughts. Thoughts of school, of work, of people and of life run rampant in my head, weighing me down into defeat.I just want to lay in bed, in the predictable warmth of sheets and blankets.

I will get up though, eventually because today is some irrelevant midweek day, not the weekend. I once knew the days of the week, when they were significant enough to be distinct from each other. Now, they just mesh into a single blur of existing and surviving. Life isn’t hard though, not in the ways the news tells you it could be about NYS ,Health scandals and many corruption scandals hashtags. I don’t have it that bad, I tell myself as I slowly get out of bed.My morning pep talks are more guilt driven than motivation.

I should be okay; I might even have everything whatever everything is. An objective outsider could analyze my life and conclude there is nothing wrong, but my feelings are in direct conflict and I loathe that.I agree with the objective outsider. I am well aware of how lucky I am.I am  have things that most of the world doesn’t. I should be happy, but  ain’t I.

My sickness is my sadness. There is no substantive reason for my sadness though, unlike others. I have never experienced anything traumatic, lost anyone significant or faced some other life-altering event. I am  just as average as they come with enough fortune to deem an acceptable good life.

I try to fight it.I count my blessings as the cliché dictates. I even start a gratitude journal and write listicles of my good life. But gratitude isn’t the antidote to sadness. People like me are immune to any of its remedying effects. I read the lists of blessings and only see more reasons to feel guilty, immersing back into the trap.
I might see a doctor and he’ll ask for my symptoms but I don’t really have any that match his list. I linger in bed sure, but I eventually get up.My thoughts are weighting but nothing equating to harm.I might be a bit reserved but I still have friends and family I see regularly. I ain’t the poster child of sadness and the doctor sees this. He’ll dismiss me in ignorance; tell me it’s nothing abnormal from the norm. If I insist, he might appease me with some prescriptions. I might try them initially but eventually throw them out too.

Maybe their side effects were too strong or my illness really wasn’t that severe medically. Regardless, I give up and my attempts to fix myself cease.

My sadness remains unexplained and that’s what makes me feel worse. It’s the morning dread that extends into an all day affair. It’s how my feet drag, how my head lays low and how my eyes avoid contact or stare into abyss. It’s listening to people talk but not understanding a word because my thoughts are louder. It’s the façade of being a yes person, accepting social invitations which I  always regret when I would rather be in bed. It’s the tiresome effort to keep up with life’s charade that eats at me slowly. It’s seeing irrelevancy in everything and everyone and never knowing emotions of the contrary.

Save sex for later, guys.

Girls risk judgement if they indulge in casual sex. But boys don’t run that risk: they’re expected to run around. Boys just risk the outcome of their own.TrueLovWaits

Double standards 

The world is a strange place. It is perfectly alright, even encouraged, for a young lady to save herself for marriage. Sex before a committed relationship for her could lead to all sorts of judgement and name calling.

But a quick shift over to the guys… and you draw a blank. It has never been stated or expected that men should stay chaste as they await a committed relationship with a woman. A few of you have just read that statement and laughed in your heads, right? Thing is, why shouldn’t guys wait?

Who to turn to?

First we need to understand that when it comes to sex, there’s little to no guidance for young men. Everyone assumes that because you’re a guy, you know what to do. Wrong! Now couple this with the fact that because sex is such a sensitive topic, guys don’t know who to turn to. Your parents? They’re too scared to talk about it. Your relatives? They probably run and tell your parents that you’re having sex.

And your friends? Ha! They’ll just laugh that you’re not having sex in the first place, loser.

Quicksand

So without much to go on, and so much external pressure, guys start having sex. They risk exposing themselves to all manner of diseases because they don’t know how to be safe. Now factor in that if women have sex outside of a relationship, they are frowned upon from here to land’s end.

So you get into a relationship with a girl you don’t really like because of sex. One month turns into one year, one year into five. You swear that you’ll end it with her, and then boom! She’s pregnant. You marry her because you feel obliged to. You’ve let yourself slip so far into a messy situation, all because of sex, that you can’t get out.

Habits die hard

Again, consider this. You’ve been sexually active from when you were 21 (don’t laugh! Just roll with me here). When you turn 30, you’ll probably think “Hey! You know what? I want to find a nice girl and settle down.” Good for you! So you do just that, and you’re out of the game right?

Not exactly… Nine years of your life have consisted of chasing women, getting them to sleep with you, ignoring their calls and messages once you’ve slept with them, and breaking it off when they confront you about why you don’t like them back. You formed a habit. By the time you want to settle down, your mind will be so attuned to this process that even though you want to stay faithful to your wife/fiancée, force of habit will have you chasing and sleeping with other women.

Pumping the breaks

We live in a time where sex has become one of the easiest things to have. While women have struggled with it forever, I’ll wager that men are struggling even more. This is because inasmuch as we are clueless, pride keeps us from seeking help. It’s time, gents, to pump your brakes and drive slow.

This article was originally published on our sister site Love Matters.

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