How I Became My Own Man
A True Story
on Sep 7, 2021
As I have narrated before on this lovely blog of mine, my immediate elder brother Paddy is such a brilliant person. He was a top performer throughout his schooling life, right from kindergarten all the way to university where he graduated with three degrees in a span of six years. And in church, he picked up a musical talent that led him to compose tuneful songs for our church choir.
When I was growing up, I was sometimes compared with Paddy, both at home and at school. Some would comment on how I wasn't as brilliant as Paddy. I remember one time in 1998 after Paddy was transferred to a private primary school called Kunoni, a senior brother of mine asked my parents why I wasn't taken to Kunoni as well, and the answer he got was that it was because I wasn't as bright as Paddy.
Well, my parents did eventually transfer me to Kunoni in late 2000, about a year after Paddy had finished his primary school studies there. And when I was in Kunoni, I found myself being compared to Paddy by those who had known him. One evening, for instance, a classmate of mine named Calvin Morekwa remarked to me as we were leaving school that Paddy used to radiate some brilliance. I could tell by the tone of his voice that he thought I was no match for Paddy.
Despite those discouraging comparisons, I beat the odds and excelled in the national primary school exams known here in Kenya as KCPE. I scored in the exam marks good enough to be admitted at Starehe Boys' Centre, a prestigious institution in Nairobi where Paddy was a high school student.
At Starehe, I again became a victim of comparison between Paddy and I by some of the students who knew we were brothers. Like on one afternoon in 2003, just before we headed to the dining hall for lunch, a housemate of mine named Karanja pointed out to me that Paddy was a focussed genius while I was a confused genius. I didn't know what to make of that comment.
Then during a Music lesson we had one afternoon in 2004, a piano teacher named Levi Wataka gave us a talk in which he talked highly of Paddy. He told us of how Paddy's musical talent was opening doors for him. A classmate of mine called John must have been impressed by Levi's talk because he afterwards asked me, "Are you really [Paddy's] brother?" He asked me that question in a mocking manner that suggested he thought I wasn't as gifted as Paddy.
Even after I left Starehe, people still continued comparing me to Paddy. A couple of years ago, for instance, I shared on a Facebook group of Starehe old boys a post about how I thought it was unwise of me to go back to university. And wa! A number of old boys reacted negatively to the post, with some contrasting my academic achievements with those of Paddy. One old boy in particular, while comparing me to my brother, described Paddy as a level-headed person who had won a beautiful girlfriend.
Come to think of it, I may not have been as brilliant and outgoing as Paddy during our schooling years but I possessed some traits that made me different from Paddy. When we were in Starehe, for example, I loved giving speeches during evening assemblies, something Paddy never did. I also joined the Starehe Boys' volleyball team and learnt how to play volleyball, a skill that Paddy never acquired.
Later on after we left Starehe, I came to realize that Paddy and I are as different as day and night. Paddy once told me that he doesn't like reading quotes by prominent people while I am an avid collector of quotes. Paddy also once told me he has a phobia of big books while I love reading tomes, provided they are entertaining, enlightening or inspiring. And I have noted Paddy prefers leading a quiet, private life while I enjoy sharing my thoughts with the world through blogging.
Given those differences between Paddy and me, I wonder why people often compared me to Paddy as if I was a nobody. Maybe it's because Paddy was more of an early-bloomer while I am more of a late-bloomer. And there is nothing wrong with being a late-bloomer because to ever bloom at all is very lucky.
In recent years, I have capitalized on developing the traits and skills that make me different from Paddy. I have taken to reading, writing, exercising and composing songs like a duck to water. Pursuing those hobbies has not only given me a sense of achievement, it has also made me feel like I am my own man. And that, my dear reader, is the story of how I became my own man.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on how I became my own man, you might also enjoy another one I wrote about two years on "My Noru-Moru Days". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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Rising Above Negativity
A True Story
on Sep 2, 2021
I have come to love writing. There is an emotional high I feel whenever I craft a story that I think is interesting. I especially love it when I consult my dictionary or thesaurus and find the word, idiom or phrasal verb that aptly expresses what I have in mind; I do love writing for shizzle. Writing is to me what soccer was to Ronaldinho: fun, engaging and deeply fulfilling.
What makes writing even more fun to me is when I share my stories with the world and readers comment on how they have been touched by what I have written. Some readers have told me they find my stories captivating; others have remarked to me that I have a talent for writing. Recently, I received a feedback message from a reader abroad who described the stories in this blog as unique and interesting. Such is the kind of feedback that make writing a deeply fulfilling hobby for me.
However, not all people with whom I have shared my stories have been positive and encouraging. Some, I am ashamed to say, have sent me negative feedback that has depressed me. And what I find ironic is that the negative feedback has come from "educated" people who I naturally expected to find something meaningful in what I write.
Like on one memorable evening in December 2015, I wrote a story about how I struggled with my social life when I was growing up. Having liked the way the story came out, I joyfully shared it with my circle of friends via email in the firm belief that I was entertaining and enlightening them. I can still remember how elated I felt after emailing the story to those friends.
Guess what! One of the "friends", a former Social Ethics teacher at Starehe Boys' Centre where I had my high school as well as college education, took the joy out of me when she emailed back to me, commanding me to stop bothering her. She instructed me to find someone else to confide in, not her.
That "friend" had completely misunderstood me. I had shared my story with her, not to unburden my problems on her but to entertain and enlighten her. And there she was, commanding me to desist emailing her. She so depressed me with her caustic reply that I was beside myself with gloom for a day or two.
Then on another memorable evening in January 2020, I penned a story titled "Abuse of Power" in which I narrated how some of my schoolmates at Starehe Institute were expelled from school over trivial matters. I thoroughly enjoyed penning the story, and after I shared it in a Facebook group of Starehe old boys, I could hardly wait to hear what the old boys had to say.
But alas! A character I don't know named Smith Mwangi, who was in the Facebook group of Starehe old boys, spoilt my fun by posting a scathing comment designed to hurt me. He curtly called me an underachiever, then went on to tell me that I was stuck in my past and that I had nothing to show for the 'A's I scored in my final high school exams.
That character Smith Mwangi so depressed me with his scathing comment that I was unable to carry on with life for a number of hours. Imagine I didn't even take a shower on the morning of that day I read his comment. His comment was a real downer for me. Fortunately, some other old boys lifted my moods when they came to my defence.
Well, I still love sharing my writings with the world. And if there is anything I have learnt from that hobby, it is that there are so many insensitive and insulting people out there. I am therefore careful these days when selecting those with whom I share my stories. Also, I have learnt to protect my enthusiasm from the negativity of others.
My reader, this world is full of negative people for shizzle. I am sure you encounter them as you go about your daily life. My advice to you is to not let anyone's ignorance, hate, drama or negativity stop you from being the best person you can be. Be yourself, pursue your dreams passionately while keeping away from small-minded people who try to belittle your ambitions. Adieu!
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on rising above negativity, you might also enjoy another one I wrote about three years ago on "Handling Criticism". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.