“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”
– Maya Angelou
I wake up every day knowing I am in a battle field. I am in a constant war, every single day of my life. My war began when I turned 27 years old.
I had just dropped out of college – after two attempts – and resolved to look at what I had as opposed to what I didn’t. It was then that I discovered I had grown up with a burning desire to become a writer.
As I stood before the PIMS – Pivot Institute of Management Studies, Machakos – director, I shook in fear. The director had come to the classroom and after reading names of fee defaulters, I followed him to his office. Because he was wearing dark glasses, I couldn’t see his eyes and could therefore not tell how he felt about the predicament I was in.
“What are you going to do now that none of your relatives has come to your rescue?” he asked. “Have you tried asking for help?”
“I’ve tried all avenues – even getting a job as a writer,” I replied.
“And?” he asked.
“I haven’t been successful,” I said, feeling a wedge of hot potato ram down my throat. I swallowed the pain the way, trying all I could mot to shed a tear.
“You know I’ve tried my best to accommodate you,” he continued. “However, I’m answerable to my bosses and I don’t have an avenue to support your quest for an education.”
“I understand,” I whispered.
“What next?” he asked. “What are your plans?”
“I am going to Nairobi to become a writer,” I replied.
“I wish there was a way I could be of further help,” he said.
How I go to war every day of my life
As I left his office and later packed my bags to leave Machakos, I recalled the words my mom had said, years before that day. Jesus is now my husband, she had said. That meant that Jesus was my dad. I knelt down and uttered a prayer, asking Jesus to take full control of my life. I knew there was no way I was going to make it alone.
With time, I found the following 3Cs that have been my guiding principles since then.
After arriving in Nairobi I joined Our Lady of Visitation Makadara where I met a group of wonderful young men and women. However, this Sunday meetings we had weren’t enough to sustain and justify my stay in Nairobi. I had come to Nairobi to become a writer. One day, while in church I had an announcement about free computer classes at Kumekucha Self Help Group.
I promptly signed up and soon started learning how to use computers. My classes ended the moment I learned how to type and use Microsoft Office! My focus shifted to mentoring the many school children that came to use the library at the centre. And as time went by, I began forming an idea for a mentoring program for boys through reading. That is how I found my cause.
Having identified a cause I was willing to die for, I focused my eyes on sticking my neck out. It wasn’t an easy thing to do. There were days I would go without food, clothes and shoes. There were many times I was thrown out of one house to the other as I kept looking for a place to stay. Most of the friends I had made in church couldn’t understand my motives and goals in life.
Standing before them, Sunday after Sunday, to tell them I wasn’t going back to Mombasa took courage. In 2008, I finally gathered enough courage to apply for a job. Two weeks later, I received a call from KBC TV. I borrowed a luminous green shirt from a friend, carried my shoe brush and arrived at KBC TV where my first stop was the urinal before the main door.
“Lord Jesus,” I prayed. “These are the toilets I am going to use as an employee at this place. I pray trusting and believing in Your Name. Amen!”
“Consistency is what matters the most in triggering something important to your life”
I had consistently worked with children and their families it soon became part and parcel of my lifestyle. My consistency shown through my application letters, the way I spoke and carried myself. After referring to life being a song, it was finally time for the same to manifest in my life. As I stood before the Programmes Manager so many things went through my mind.
“What gives you the courage to apply for this job when you know you’re not qualified for it?” she asked.
“I believe life is a song,” I replied. “When I wake up in the morning, I look at what happened the day before and use it to have a song for the new day. I use the lessons I learned to see what I can do so I don’t repeat the same mistakes. That’s how I find my life song.”
“Have you been watching children’s TV programs on Kenyan TV stations?” she asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“If I were to give you a job, what would you improve in the program?”
“I would add a book review,” I replied.
“Here is my card,” she said. “I am not promising anything. But let’s keep in touch.”
“Thanks for your time,” I replied and left, walking on cloud nine.
Having a cause, courage and consistently is how I go to war every day of my life. I no longer work as a TV producer. However, I use these principles every day. As a full time Lifesong Kenya volunteer, my work depends on my ability to earn an income as an online writer. That means working hard, constantly pitching and looking for clients. Sometimes, it doesn’t work. Most times, I am happy I have given it my best shot.
I already have a few clients and I am working towards getting more. I strongly believe that Jesus – my mom’s Husband and my Dad – is watching over me. And because He is My Dad, I surrender my needs, goals and cares to Him. I will continue trusting and believing in Him as I continue pursuing my goals in life. Win or lose, that is how I go to war every day of my life.
Running for My Life continues tomorrow…
This is an excerpt from Running for My Life, a book I am writing about my experiences after I quit my job as TV producer to focus on mentoring boys in juvenile prison. I will be including parts of it in my daily posts.