Reflections of a Young Man™ - True Stories by Thuita J. Maina

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Identifying Our Virtues

This is the renowned Stanford University, birthplace of gene-splicing and global positioning systems, where I applied for undergraduate admission thrice but was rejected. More on that in the story of mine below.


When I was applying to Stanford University for the second time ten years ago, the university asked me to list five adjectives that best described me. I came up with these ones:
  • Able
  • Polite
  • Simple
  • Social
  • Honest
Then Chris Walters, a helpful gentleman from England who was volunteering as a Music teacher at Starehe Boys' Centre, advised me to remove the adjective "simple" from the list. That was a wise advice because the Bible insinuates that simple people are easy to deceive and manipulate.

Today, I have decided to again come up with a list of adjectives that describe me which I will be reviewing often. Okay, let me begin.

First, the following are the adjectives that describe my physical appearance:
  • Handsome
  • Youthful
  • Smart
Then the following adjectives describe my character and personality:
  • Polite
  • Intelligent
  • Social
  • Punctual
  • Organized
  • Honest
  • Tactful
  • Insightful
  • Understanding
  • Prayerful
  • God-fearing
  • Friendly
  • Bright
  • Wise
  • Creative
  • Ambitious
  • Daring
  • Resilient

And then the following are the adjectives that I am striving to internalize into my day-to-day living:
  • Diligent
  • Assertive
  • Courageous
  • Grateful
  • Optimistic
  • Enthusiastic
  • Discerning
  • Charming
  • Forgiving
  • Funny
  • Early-riser
  • Avid-reader
  • Team-player
  • Quick-witted
  • Clear-thinker
  • Jogging-enthusiast
  • Self-reliant

There you have them: that is, the adjectives that describe me as well as those I am striving to possess. I recommend that you also give that kind of exercise a try. Over to you!

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Amazing Grace



As I write this story, I am listening to Amazing Grace hymn which I have played and recorded on my Yamaha piano keyboard. I have played the enlightening hymn with a harmony I was taught by my friend Francis Kariuki during our teenage days. Somehow, I have managed to remember the harmony over the years.

Now, Amazing Grace is an old hymn. It was composed in 1779 by John Newton. A very old hymn indeed. Very old. Yet ever new.

Let's look at its first verse which goes as follows:
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.
I used to sing that verse when I was a young man of 19 years. That was ten years ago. Back then, I thought I had found the right way of living after getting inspired to be reading the Bible at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi, a wonderful church I joined after I left Starehe Boys' Centre in 2007.

But imagine it is now dawning on me on how lost I have been for the last ten years! I have been timid on many occasions, made poor decisions, associated with the wrong people, offered free services while languishing in want and wasted time by idling and oversleeping.

And each successive day, I am realizing other ways in which I have been lost. Can you now see why I am saying Amazing Grace is an old hymn yet ever new?

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The Careers I Will Pursue



Malcolm Gladwell in his enlightening book - Outliers: The Story of Success - says that we only succeed at something we have practised for 10,000 hours. As to how Gladwell came up with that figure of 10,000 hours is something I don't understand. But I tend to believe him nonetheless.

Ask anyone who has genuinely succeeded in any career and he will confide in you that he did spend considerable amount of time honing his skills. You can't start playing football at age 21 and expect to play in a FIFA World Cup. That's next to impossibility as Chinua Achebe would put it. All successful footballers start playing the game at least when they are 8 - 12 years.

Actually, in addition to the two reasons I gave in my previous story in this website, Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule is another reason I have bowed out of politics. You see, I have never had any experience in politics since I was young at school.

After reflecting on my life so far, I have figured out that I have spent much of my time developing my talents in music, farming, writing and public-speaking. Let me narrate briefly how I have honed those talents.

As of music, I started playing the piano when I was nine under the tutelage of a brilliant and dedicated seminarian named Br. Peter Assenga. Then I continued honing my skills on the piano when I was Starehe Boys' Centre where I had my high school and college education. I still do play the piano.

As of farming, I grew up in a family in which I was expected to take part in such farming activities as weeding, planting and harvesting beans, maize and vegetables as well as grazing, feeding and milking cows. Now that I have fallen in love with nature, I am looking forward to doing some farming when I own a piece of land.

As of writing, I began penning articles for my father to read when I was eight. But it's only until recent years that I have taken up writing seriously as a tool of developing mental clarity. This lovely website of mine is a proof of that effort.

As of public-speaking, I first gave a speech when I was ten - not to a real audience but to columns of desk in an empty classroom. I enjoyed the experience nonetheless. Then I had the luck of speaking to a real audience at Starehe Boys' Centre where I gave speeches right from when I was in Form 1 to when I was in my final year in college at the school. I haven't had many opportunities to hone my public-speaking skills since I left Starehe but I am looking forward to becoming a renowned charismatic and eloquent speaker.

Yes, those are the talents I have developed over the years. I am therefore now firmly convinced that God intended me for the tranquil pursuit of a career in music, farming, writing and public-speaking by availing for me opportunities to develop those talents and by making them my supreme delight.

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