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

​It’s OK To Not Be OK

We are living in a generation that is obsessed with finding happiness. The self-help industry is larger than ever, with people searching for more meaning and a better quality of life. Mindfulness, meditation, and gratitude journals are the new cool.

But it also appears that people are becoming lonelier, sadder, and more depressed. What’s worse is that depression gets such bad press and so much stigma surrounding it.

There is no doubt that sadness or grief can be extremely uncomfortable and intense, but perhaps the idea of sadness that society has created makes it more unbearable to welcome than what it actually is to feel. We have no skills to deal with challenging times other than what we learn over time by experiencing life and gaining wisdom. There is a difference between sadness and depression, but if sadness is not dealt with in a healthy way, it can lead to depression. If you want a healthy self, then you need to heal thyself.

Society has taught us to believe that showing “negative emotions” such as sadness is a sign of weakness. It’s crazy to think how much stigma exists around the idea of being sad or depressed. It drives you to wonder if we all live on the same planet or not. The truth is nobody is exempt from suffering and nobody, no matter how rich or successful, is above depression.

Our world is a hectic place filled with connections, possibilities, ideas, and theories. Our world is also energizing and inspiring, but a lot of times it can be exhausting and confusing. It is our duty to equip ourselves with survival skills and to program our mindsets to complement a healthy way of living, thinking, and acting in order to thrive. We must gain the ability to release our thoughts and embrace stillness and conquer calmness in times of turmoil. This involves learning to recognize self-destructive thoughts and ideas and mentally organize them as to what is true and what is false.

It’s time to accept that it’s OK to not be OK. Sadness serves a purpose. It brings excellent information about your life. It’s a natural response to an event or experience in your life. It’s nothing to fear.
The intention of sadness is to tell you something is not right and you need to make changes in your life or perhaps let someone you love go. The idea is to welcome the emotion like you would with any other feeling, invite it and ask it questions, like “what do I need to learn here” and “can I change something about this situation or not?” Breathe. Exhale. Let go.
Do not make the situation worse by torturing yourself with anger and shame for messing up or feeling not good enough. Under all your loud, crazy, false beliefs you are more than perfect.
We simply cannot control every event in the universe. We cannot control other people’s behavior, but we can control ourselves and how we respond to the situation, and the best way to respond is with compassion. Accept the feeling and forgive yourself for being a human being that feels too much and loves too much. Forgive yourself for not being a robot that can simply ignore undesirable moments and events. Being sad is part of life. Treat your feelings with respect and love yourself enough to not use alcohol, drugs, food, or people as therapy. This will make you feel worse. The yucky feelings will not magically disappear by burying them; they will only fester.
You can choose to share your thoughts and feelings with others but don’t expect others to totally understand, because people are all different and pain is incomparable, every situation is handled differently. The only person that truly understands the depths of your feelings is you, and for this reason you must express yourself as much as you like and don’t feel like you need to fight it, this will start a huge inner conflict.
The idea is to acknowledge sadness as a normal emotion just like happiness. Do the inner work and let it go. All of our emotions lead us to knowing understanding ourselves better.
Also, just like our emotions have a valuable purpose, crying also serves us. The emotional tears we shed help the body recover from stressful events by excreting excess hormones such as the old stress hormone and help you to detoxify emotionally. So crying makes you feel better. Now you have every reason to cry it out.

I hope this helped many of you.

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 . 

​Life Is Fleeting, But We Must Press On

“There is no normal life that is free of pain. It’s the very wrestling with our problems that can be the impetus for our growth.”
—Fred Rogers
It’s hard to believe that the year is already half over. We crossed the half-way point in June, and as we turn the corner into the later part of the year, I once again come to terms with the realization that the year is not new anymore, and that life continues on as it always has, hurried and unavoidable.
When the year seems new, the canvas of my life seems fresh and untainted. I am unburdened; blissfully oblivious of how quickly time flies. I set goals and intentions for how I’ll live and how I’ll grow. I resolve to be better. The weight of the last year lifts for a moment, and I feel as though I can do anything.
Then I realize I still  have responsibilities, and even baggage. Even my most low-key resolution – reaching  to the people I care about – is exhausting; I don’t want to keep sharing my worries with friends who seem to have it together. I tell myself I don’t have time to chart- I’m just too busy. In short, I am sick of “trying.”
Some of you may be valiantly keeping all the promises you secretly made to yourself at the beginning of this year. But others, like me, are losing the determination to stick to our guns as cold July days tick by in Nairobi, thick with lazy  vibes, and humidity. Our resolutions are quickly forgotten in the chaos of a monotonous days of the week, a bad case of strep throat, or the death of a loved one. Our best intentions are slowly getting beset by daily life.
To the people who feel like this year has already gotten out of control, who once again feel stagnant in their quest for a better self, who feel overwhelmed, who realize the brevity of the days, I’ve got a heavy but hopeful message: Mistakes and steps backward can be a necessary part of the journey, and change does not happen all at once.
In his book, Warrior of the Light, the author Paulo Coelho writes,
“He [the Warrior] often finds himself faced by the same problems and situations, and seeing these difficult situations return, he grows depressed, thinking he is incapable of making any progress in life.
‘I’ve been through all this before,’ he says to his heart.
‘Yes, you have been through all this before,’ replies his heart. ‘but you have never been beyond it.’

Then he [the Warrior] realizes that these repeated experiences have but one aim: to teach him what he does not want to learn.”
It makes sense that the majority of people don’t want to learn hard things through trial and error; it leads to disappointment and frustration. We desperately want for life to be normal or easy, for good things to magically happen to us. We are a reactionary species, and most recently a society which values instant gratification. Rare is the person who pursues gradual challenges or change.
To assume I will still have friends, if I never reach out and put in the effort to connect, is leaving a lot to chance. Most likely the results won’t be good. If I want to love my friends well, I better choose to be a more intentional friend by reaching out to them in tangible ways, every single day. Yet, because this change of self doesn’t happen overnight, I end up feeling like a garbage friend when I realize I haven’t touched base with certain people in over a month. Am I wasting my days? Why can’t I seem to get it together?
The “day-to-day” is messy, agonizing, and just down-right tiring. We are constantly faced with challenges and often don’t do what is ultimately best for us. We mess up. This is when those feelings of inadequacy start to creep in. We beat ourselves up for not being better than we are. But guys listen up: Personal growth has no timeline; there is no deadline to meet.
I believe that in the telling of my greater life story, misadventures lead to deeper self-awareness, clarity regarding our personal priorities, and give hopeful hints in answering some tough questions. What do I prioritize? What led to the failure I experienced? These rough times lead to the change I so desperately seek at the beginning of every year. The daily challenges are what make up a life that is consistently striving “for more.”
More purpose. More. Adventure. More growth.
In writing this, I hope to not only myself, but others too. While embarking on a mission towards a better self is risky, to never take the first steps because it will “take too much time or effort, would be denying ones’ self of the incredible opportunity to make the kind of change that instills itself in the soul and holds on forever. By wrestling with my tendency to give up making the effort to connect, I am building stronger will that can translate to other areas of my life. I may not always want to be vulnerable with people when connecting to them, and maybe I’ll chose happy hour over chatting, but at least I am trying. Only by trying, even if there is a possibility for failure, can we grow steadfast in our intentions.
Do not think of this year as a sprint towards a better you, think of it as one leg in the long marathon towards a more fulfilling story for your life.</h2?

We all learn at different paces and through different methods, so as we head into the latter part of this year, simply resolve to grow. Don’t give up this year as a lost cause. Set intentions and fail, knowing that one day you will not make the same mistakes and the goals, which once seem so unreachable, will come into view. I want to own and create a magical and empowered personal story for myself, one “letter to a friend” at a time, and so I will press on toward greater intimacy with those I most love, with the hope that this task that seems so challenging now, will one day be a concrete part of my ever evolving story.
“…we find ourselves trying to remember the good times and trying to forget the bad times, and we find ourselves thinking about the future. We start to worry, thinking “What am I gonna do?”, “Where am I gonna be in ten years?” ….. in the end none of us have very long on this earth – life is fleeting. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night, and when a shooting star streaks through the blackness turning night into day, make a wish…Make your life spectacular.”
–JACK (1996)

Where There’s A Will There’s A Way

“Where there is a will, there is a way. If there is a chance in a million that you can do something, anything, to keep what you want from ending, do it. Pry the door open or, if need be, wedge your foot in that door and keep it open.” – Pauline Kael

History reveals numerous people who overcame insurmountable obstacles and setbacks to succeed.

You might be surprised to discover many successful entrepreneurs diagnosed with a developmental reading disorder dyslexia, including well-known Virgin founder, Richard Branson.

Daniel Pink author of A Whole New Mind cites Sally Shaywitz, a Yale neuroscientist and specialist in dyslexia who says, “Dyslexics think differently. They are intuitive and excel at problem-solving, seeing the big picture and simplifying… They are poor rote reciters, but inspired visionaries.”

Dyslexics have to overcome enormous odds to succeed which indicates a strong will to thrive. It is estimated that several leading international CEO’s past and present are dyslexic.

The human will is undeniably powerful. Once a stern commitment is made to carry through with a project or goal, there’s little to stop a person. You may have heard it said that the human will can move any mountain.

As long as one’s will is resolute and fuelled with the right intentions, a person can overcome most obstacles on their road to victory. Will power becomes man’s greatest ally for success.

In Malay the title of this article translates to, “when you want to do something, you will find a thousand ways possible to achieve it; but when you don’t want to do it, you will have a thousand excuses not to do it.”

Will and intent become powerful factors required to realise one’s goal.

The other essential attribute is purpose and passion. Purpose is defined as understanding one’s role within the cosmos. It is the ability to harness your skills, talents and genius with direct focussed attention to a pursuit. A purposeful vision is an extension of this faculty since it coincides with a common goal that benefits humanity.

One might conclude that merging a strong will with purpose creates a purposeful vision, clothed with honourable intentions. Many pioneers have achieved enormous success in spite of prevailing external circumstances. It was Albert Einstein who stated, “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Vision is the foresight to envisage an outcome without external proof. It is the ability to venture into the unknown – an inner knowing beyond the call of reason. Irving Stone’s classical biographical novel, The Agony and The Ecstasy depicts Michelangelo having an undeniable vision to paint and sculpt masterpieces.

He overcame many impediments to include the political agendas of the papacy intrusted into power. A strong vision, matched with a sense of purpose opens many roads to achieve one’s goal.

Those with vision stop at nothing to see their project come to life. In an earlier article, I referred to visionary Tony Hseih’s commitment to build the largest and successful online footwear retailer Zappos. The company sold to Amazon for over one billion dollars in recent years. Tony’s executive team faced numerous obstacles and setbacks along the way to build a global business. The quote, “The bigger the goal, the harder the climb” rings true in this case.

Having established that purpose and will are vital ingredients toward success, the other component common to connecting purpose and will is to recognise your why? Your WHY? is the motivating force behind why you pursue your goal.

When the road ahead is challenging as it no doubt will, your why? is an inner reassurance reminding you why you embarked upon your pursuit. Without a why? your project lacks passion and the stamina to sustain you in the long run.

The final component necessary for achieving success is determination. This faculty matched with will and purpose is strong enough to overcome any obstacle life presents you.

Your determination when associated with your why? becomes the ignition which flames the fire toward lasting success. Nothing can stop a person aligned with the blueprint below. They align with their purpose and through determination, connect to their why? to achieve unthinkable success.

Wilful Purpose + Determination (WHY?) = Inspired Success

Those with a strong will and insurmountable purpose rise to reframe failure. They see it as an opportunity to draw closer to their goal. It becomes a signpost rather than a dead-end. The cause and effect model many people subscribe to dictates that if a venture does not work, one should abandon it.

Yet there’s something powerful about the person who labours on despite the obstacles life throws at them. I draw your attention once more to Thomas Edison, having failed one thousand times before creating the electric light bulb. A strong will corresponding with a powerful vision means failure takes a backseat toward greatness.

I leave you with the following question to ponder: How can you reframe a current goal to infuse it with purpose, will and determination?

This Is How To Figure Out If The Internet Is Turning You Into An Idiot

Or are you just an idiot who turns to the internet? The casual arrow, as always, is hard to define. Before the internet, we might have been more productive, filling our overwhelming sense of loneliness with hobbies and activities that take place in an actual physical environment. Then geniuses brought technology to the masses and now we are addicted, intuitively.

Just because something is fun and convenient though, doesn’t mean that we should exploit it without caution. The internet, as it is popularly used today, might be like sugar or carbs. If you work out a lot then you deserve to eat more of it.

Before publishing was widely available to everyone, public opinion was stifled, for better or worse. On one hand, people suffering from cyclical injustice and discrimination were without a voice. On the other hand, uneducated clowns with too many opinions also had no voice. It is a conundrum that our species has been toiling with since Gutenberg.

Why does going on the internet feel like cheaply masturbating in the daytime and filling your face with junk food immediately afterwards? Dopamine is a word that science journalists love to use because it explains everything apparently. The neurotransmitter is linked to reward circuitry, so it’s basically like built-in operant conditioning. Let’s use the analogy of a dog and a meat stick. The dog is your brain and the meat stick is dopamine. If you give a dog a meat stick every time it rolls around on the floor, it’s going to learn that rolling around on the floor is pretty awesome and it’s going to want to do it all the time.

How can we build more meaningful, constructive, and/or psychologically healthy internet experiences? Micro-blogging became popular because it was so digestible and time sensitive. Never has so much information been so readily available with such little effort. But what if we could build virtual environments that were nicer to our brains? Would we even want to part of them? It would have to be salient and sensational, just like everything good. But it would also have to have substance and elevate our experience with practical real-world events.

Because information is so readily available it would make sense that our brains would become less capable to hold information. Is a short attention span indicative of failure though? The psychological focus might be shifting toward the stuff that’s in between information.

Translating, making relationships, creativity, problem-solving… These are all things that humans could be getting better at, with the ubiquity of the internet, as it is. But what happens if the power goes out?

How would we respond to the physical environment, void of human linkages and constant communication? Would our inventiveness simply replace the old system? Maybe there are many many other ways that humans would like to communicate- whether they are aided by technology or not- but they just haven’t been explored or encountered

The Uncertainty Of Growing Up

When I was little, all I wanted was to be older. Older was a simile for freedom, maturity and above all, certainty. A type of certainty that came equipped with an innate answer for all of life’s questions. I used to think adults just knew and I wanted to have their conviction, but my understanding of adulthood was youthful naivety. Because the first thing I’m realizing as I get older is that there’s just more uncertainty than before. There is more choice sure, more will to do as you please, but the risks and costs are higher. When you’re a kid, you have endless elasticity to make mistakes, because you have the reassurance of a bright future to rectify your errors. Your decisions aren’t as defining or detrimental; you can screw up over and over, and get up each time. But now when you’re older. You aren’t just liable for yourself anymore and you don’t have the insurance of infinite time. The implications of your choices have more power now and you realize you aren’t as free as you thought you would be. You also never know when you become an adult. I don’t think there’s a particular age. Sometimes, I wake up and think to myself, is it today? But then I am reminded of the truth and all of the uncertainty that is my life right now, and I realize I’ve never felt more scared. Suddenly, I want to regress back to childhood nights, when the only fear I had were the perceived monsters under my bed. The monsters now don’t just hide in the dark, they stand in front of me in daylight. On my to class when I wonder if what I’m doing is right. If it’s growing up or if it’s giving in? Is it cowardice or brave? I can’t tell which path is the righteous one; I can’t even decide what the paths are really. Of course, you wouldn’t think I was this doubtful by looking at me. You would scoff me off as someone with
his life together, someone going places, someone with drive. But that’s the beauty of perception; it’s what’s seen but not what’s truly felt. I can wear nice suits ,I can list off “accomplishments” and I can make my CV lengthier with more “achievements” but does that mean anything really? Am I really going somewhere or just circling the safe path? I can’t tell so I decided even if I was unsure, I would go down this path, and go through the loops of achievements everyone justifies as “going places.” Because that way, at least external voices won’t doubt you, just the one in your head. I’m told continuously to fake it till I make it as if it’s universal advice for adulthood and it’s such a lie for everything I thought growing up would be. When do you make it? And where are you making to anyway? Do you ever wake up one day and just know? Know what you are doing is right, who you love is right, who you are or striving to be is right? Because each time I think I am nearing the right choice in anything, I just see more questions. And for those who answer me with the bullshit of fate and to just be, I will scoff off your naivety. Because those people just nibble on mediocrity and I cannot think of anything more painful than that. What I am doing right now is just being, and it’s more numbing than anything else. The days go by faster and suddenly I realize I’ve x’ed off a grand list of accomplishments, but I still feel empty, and I wonder why. I convince myself to list more loops to overcome and go about plans to do so, but in the back of my mind, I know it won’t fix anything. I am also told this doubt and misery is particularly unique to my 20’s. I am told it’s normal to be this scared. I am told to just bear with it and hold on because it will get better. I am told my 30’s or even 40’s will be better. But that’s what they told me when I was little, that’s the spoonful of lies they always feed; the only truth is that the future isn’t promising, it’s just unknown and uncertain.