Not Worrying What People Think
A True Story
on Feb 16, 2020
One lovely night in 2008 when I was at the university in JKUAT, I struck a conversation with a pregnant lass I met at the university library. The lass was not only beautiful and attractive but also honest and friendly. For how else can you explain that she opened up to me about her life after only a few minutes of conversation?
Even though I didn't find it wise for the lass to get pregnant while still an undergraduate student at the university, I loved the advice she gave me as I escorted her to her room of residence. She advised me to do my own things without worrying what other people think about me.
To be honest, I have never spared a minute to reflect on that piece of advice I received from the lass. But today, I have decided to heed it after realizing that much of the guilt I have been feeling over the past two years has been as a result of worrying over what others think of me.
Yes, I have at times wallowed in guilt after getting concerned with what others think of me. At other times, I have found myself remembering some of the foolish deeds I did in the past or lies I told and then becoming worried that others could be talking about all those foolish deeds I did and the lies I told. Such kind of thinking has been robbing me of inner peace as well as happiness.
Coming to think of it, I see no reason why I should be bothered about what others think of me for two reasons. First, nobody is perfect. And because nobody is perfect, all other people have had their own share of mistakes which led them to do foolish things, just like I did. Secondly, many people out there are having problems that are troubling their minds. For that reason, they never have time to think about me, let alone talk about me.
In my readings, I have come across pieces of advice from several authors touching on the topic of worrying about what others think of us. Like in his internationally acclaimed book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey tells us that as we become more effective, we will get concerned not with what others think about us but with what people think about themselves. Such kind of change in thinking will bring us a sense of peace and exhilaration, says Covey.
Then in his best-seller How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, Jack Canfield informs us that others aren't thinking about us. I am not sure if that is accurately true but believing so can help us reclaim time wasted on worrying about other people's opinion of us.
And then another author enlightens us that "when you're 20, you care what everyone thinks. When you're 40, you stop caring what everyone thinks. When you're 60, you realize no one was ever thinking about you in the first place."
So as from today, I will strive not to worry about people's opinion of me. Instead, I will focus my energies on improving myself mentally, socially, physically, spiritually and financially. It's high time I shifted gears from getting concerned with what mere mortals think about me to what God thinks about me.
My dear reader, I also beseech you not to worry about what others think about you. You will never be completely free if are constantly bothered by people's opinion of you. Just be yourself, do your own thing and let God take care of the rest.
Well, I venture to predict that as we climb the ladder of success, we will attract harsh critics who will be jealous of our success. That is the price people pay for success. And it has been that way throughout the ages. Even the famous young Jewish rabbi named Jesus Christ had detractors who tried to tarnish his name in his days here on Earth.
In modern times, I have seen people hurl insults at my role models. A few years ago for instance, I came across an abusive comment on the internet about my hero Ben Carson who was then gunning for the United States presidency. The comment read, "This so called brain surgeon needs a brain."
Such are the kind of harsh criticism that we will receive as we climb the ladder of success. And if it ever happens to me, I will take to heart the following words of former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama:
One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals. And so when I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don't invest any energy in them because I know who I am.Pretty powerful words, aren't they? I urge you to also implement them in your thinking when someone says condescending remarks aimed at hurting you. After all, why should you be concerned with other people's opinion of you if you know who you truly are?
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on not worrying what people think, you might also enjoy another one I wrote sometimes back on "Not Fearing the Crowd". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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Home Sweet Home
A True Story
on Jan 25, 2020
Over the last six months or so during my regular walks to my hometown of Kiserian, I have been observing a homeless man who spends his days lying under a tree by the roadside. He leads a lonely life since I never see him talking to anyone. And I wonder where he gets his meals from and where he goes to relieve himself. His must be a pathetic life.
Seeing that homeless man has made me feel grateful that I have a place I can call home. As in, a place where I can relax, feel free to be myself and associate with people I love. And for those reasons, I often remember to thank God in my prayers that I have a home. It truly is a blessing that not many people enjoy. Even in America, the so-called land of opportunities, there are folks without a home.
To tell you the truth, there was a time when I didn't like the home where I currently live. I think I began hating home in December 2005 after I finished my high school career at Starehe Boys' Centre because I remember preferring to spend that December holiday at Starehe than at home. So on some days during that holiday, I would dash to Starehe where I whiled away my time sleeping and playing the piano.
And do you know why I hated home? Because my family would have me wake up in the morning to do such boring menial tasks as fetching firewood and cooking meals in a sooty kitchen. Imagine I came to hate my home in Kiserian so much that in 2008 when I went astray at the university in JKUAT, I resolved to never go back to Kiserian. I really didn't want to go home at all. And when my family and university authorities caught up with me and urged me to head home, I totally refused.
It was my refusal to go back home that forced my family and university authorities to take me to a psychiatrist at JKUAT hospital. After questioning me for a few minutes, the psychiatrist had me admitted at Thika Nursing Home, which is about twenty kilometres from JKUAT.
But not even my admission to the nursing home could make me change my mind because when I was discharged after about three weeks of stay, I declined to go home. I simply escaped back to JKUAT and continued hanging around the university as I had been doing before my family and university authorities caught up with me.
And guess what! When I escaped back to JKUAT, I became horribly sick probably as a result of discontinuing the medication I had been taking at Thika Nursing Home. That sickness compelled me to seek treatment at JKUAT hospital. And when the hospital staff went through my records, they found out I had been admitted at Thika Nursing Home less than a month before. This time, they admitted me to the hospital (not Thika Nursing Home) and informed my family about it.
During the two or three weeks I was admitted at JKUAT hospital, my family and the hospital psychiatrist coaxed me to go back home. I eventually relented and when I was discharged, I agreed to go home.
And guess what again! After I went home, two of my senior brothers criticized me for not helping my parents in duties at home. They asked me to assist Mum in cooking and looking after the cattle. Because I was emotionally too weak to speak up for myself, I gave in to my brothers' demands and began helping out in chores at home - the same boring menial tasks that had made me hate home.
I still remember the evening my senior brother Joe Kagigite reproached me for staying at home doing nothing. It was in early 2009. That evening, I had gone to visit him in his rented room in Nairobi. During the visit, I was envious of the kind of lifestyle he was living. He was staying in a self-contained room with painted walls, a ceiling, a shower and an indoor toilet; he had a microwave and a gas-cooker for preparing meals as well as a refrigerator for storing food. I envied that lifestyle for shizzle, and when I went back home, I felt like I was living in a backward world where I had to fetch firewood for cooking.
That envy I felt of the kind of lifestyle Joe was living must have contributed to my desire to also stay in Nairobi. So in the year 2011 after I dropped out of the University of Nairobi for lack of fees, I stayed in a students' hostel on the outskirts of Nairobi City. And when I realized I would be unable to continue staying in the hostel due to the high cost of living, I approached a few friends of mine in Nairobi and inquired from them if they could take me in. I can't recall what they said. All I remember is that I chose to head back to my home in Kiserian where I have been staying since then.
And wow! With time, I have come to love staying at home, especially after my senior brothers constructed a mansion with painted walls, a ceiling, a shower and an indoor toilet. We have in the mansion such modern accessories as a gas-cooker and a refrigerator. Thanks to those facilities, I am now living the kind of lifestyle that I once envied in my brother Joe. What's more, my family no longer subjects me to such boring menial tasks as fetching firewood.
I really have come to like staying at home where I have access to internet, a piano keyboard and numerous reading materials that make my days exciting. Also, I love the company of my parents who tolerate my foibles and never put me down. And because ours is a rural home, I enjoy watching and listening to the sounds of birds whistling in the air, of trees dancing to the rhythm of the winds and of the Sun setting in the Ngong Hills that form the western horizon of our home area.
The more than eight years I have stayed at home have not been a waste because I have come to earn my parents' respect and affection. As a result of that respect and affection, I know they will allocate me a piece of land where I will build an even better home with my future wife, hopefully before the next FIFA World Cup in 2022. I regularly visualize the kind of home I would like to build, how I will fence it and what kind of plants I will garden on its compound. So help me God.
RECOMMENDATION If you've enjoyed this story on my home, you might also enjoy another one I wrote last year on "Keeping Good Company". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.