Following Our Passions
A True Story
on Dec 23, 2022
During school holidays, I usually see teens play soccer on the playground of an Anglican church near my home. The playground is small and has turned dusty due to overuse but the teens always seem to enjoy their soccer games nonetheless. They energetically dribble the ball past one another and celebrate whenever they score, something that keeps them fit and occupied.
I sometimes wonder, when I see the teens enjoy playing soccer on the small and dusty playground, how Lionel Messi feels when he plays the same game in world-class stadiums as thousands of people watch him. It must be a fulfilling experience for him. What's more, he gets paid oodles of money for the soccer games he plays.
Unless you have been living in a cave in Afghanistan, you have definitely heard of Lionel Messi. He is one of the greatest soccer players of all time. An age-mate of mine, Messi has won La Liga and Champions League with FC Barcelona as well as Copa America and FIFA World Cup with Argentina. His prowess in soccer is what has led him to be voted as the best soccer player on the planet for a couple of years.
Messi is indeed one of the greatest soccer players that the planet has produced so far. To the best of my knowledge, only Zidane, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo (of Brazil) can rival him in their range of soccer achievements. I stand to be corrected.
I personally don't adore Lionel Messi the way I adored Ronaldinho in my teenage years. But I have to confess that I envy Messi not only because he earns top dollar for doing something he loves but also because he probably never worries about gaining weight given the lots of physical exercises he does.
It seems I am not the only one who envies soccer players who grow wealthy doing what they love. In 2004 when we were in high school at Starehe Boys' Centre, my deskmate Martin Wamoni once joked that he didn't see the point of staying in school while our agemates Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo were making millions of money per week for playing professional soccer.
Because envy is unhealthy (it's one of the seven deadly sins), I have resolved to turn my envy for Messi into a motivation to also pursue my passion. And my passion is blogging. I always feel elated whenever I post on this blog a story or a video that I think is inspiring. What elates me even more is when blog visitors send me feedback messages telling me how they have enjoyed my stories and videos.
To be honest, there was a time I wasn't confident of being known as a blogger. One Sunday in 2014 for instance, I had a chat with church friends with whom I used to share my blog stories. In the course of our interaction, I was suddenly seized by a fear that the friends might reproach me for spending my days writing stories for my blog. My fear made me melt away from them.
With time, I have come to develop the self-confidence of being called a blogger. I have added on all my social media profiles a link to this blog. And last year when I went for a COVID-19 vaccine at a certain classy hospital in Nairobi, I happily wrote that I am a blogger by profession in a questionnaire given to me.
Now that I am confident of being known as a blogger, I have been asking God to help me convert writing and composing hymns from tasks I have to do to tasks I love to do so that I continue churning out the sort of inspiring stories and beautiful hymns that will keep people flocking to this blog. God is answering my prayers since I am slowly developing a love for penning stories and composing hymns.
Much as I am developing a love for blogging, I sometimes get frustrated by the low income I am earning from the adverts on this blog. But I am still clinging to the belief that I will succeed as a blogger, because, as someone eloquently put it, where there is love and inspiration, we can never go wrong.
My beloved reader, I exhort you to also identify your passion - it could be drawing cartoons, making people laugh or tinkering with machines - and then pursue it with the zeal of a he-goat on heat. And who knows? You could also leave a mark on this generation the way Lionel Messi did when he captained his team to a World Cup victory last Sunday. Compliments of the season!
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on pursuing our passions, you might also enjoy another one on "Doing What We Were Born To Do" that I wrote last year. Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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Part 2: Handling Criticism
A True Story
on Dec 18, 2022
I love blogging so much that I have converted it into my profession. One of the most rewarding blogging experiences, besides earning money from the adverts on this blog, is receiving positive feedback on the stories I post on the blog. Feedback messages such as "a great read" and "you're a talented writer" rejoice my heart.
Blogging is not all fun, though. It can be a bit discouraging when I go for a few days without earning a single shilling from blog adverts. Even more discouraging is getting a nasty feedback from a blog visitor, as I occasionally do.
Last Tuesday, for instance, a Christian friend, whom we know each other on first-name terms, sent me a message asking me to avoid using the pronoun 'I' in the stories I post on this blog. Though his feedback was more of a suggestion than a criticism, it hurt me - a proof that I am not yet thick-skinned enough to handle criticism with grace.
That was not the first time I had been criticized for writing my stories in the first person. Since I took up writing as a hobby in 2010, a few other friends have put me to task over my use of the pronoun 'I' in my stories. I don't know what wrong the friends found in the use of the pronoun 'I'. They probably didn't understand that a healthy self-love is crucial to enjoying life.
Foolishly, I caved in to the criticism from friends and tried omitting the pronoun 'I' in some of the stories I penned in 2016. And yikes! The stories sounded dull to my mind. And they lacked the magic touch that used to lift my spirits.
Since 2016, I have come across writers who have narrated their stories in the first person. Just yesterday, I finished reading Peter Robinson's How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life, an engrossing book about what the author learnt from the 40th President of the United States. Peter Robinson used the word "my" in his book title and proceeded to use the pronoun 'I' throughout the book, just like I do in my blog stories.
Reading such engrossing books written in the first person makes me regret why I caved in to my friends' suggestion that I avoid using the pronoun 'I' in my writings. Truly, the great American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson was spot on when he quipped, "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."
I have long since resumed using the pronoun 'I' in my stories. And when I have faced criticism for doing so, like I did last Tuesday, I have sought solace from an observation by Donald Trump, the controversial 45th President of the United States. Donald Trump observed that people wouldn't be criticizing you if they don't find you interesting enough.
The Aesop fable about critics who criticized a man riding a donkey with his son has also comforted me when I have received my share of criticism. You have most likely come across that fable on social media in a cartoon format. It's so insightful it's unforgettable.
As the Aesop fable goes, a man and his son were walking beside their donkey when they met some people who criticized them saying, "You fools, what is a donkey for but to ride on?"
Hurt by the criticism, the man put his son on the donkey and went on their way. Soon they passed by some other people who remarked, "See that lazy youngster - he lets his father walk while he rides."
The man then ordered his son to get off and got on the donkey himself. But they weren't gone far before they encountered another group of people who mocked the man saying, "Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along."
Wounded by the mockery, the man asked his son to ride with him on the donkey. Sooner than later, they met another group of people who questioned them, "Aren't you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey of yours - you and your hulking son?"
At a loss what to do, the man and his son got off the donkey and then carried it using poles mounted on their shoulders. They weren't gone far before they passed by another group of people who burst out laughing and said, "The man and his son must be crazy for them to carry a donkey!"
The moral of that Aesop fable is that you can't please everybody and that whatever you do, there will still be people who will criticize you. I am therefore thinking that if I omitted the pronoun 'I' from my stories as my Christian friend suggested to me last Tuesday, another person will find something else to criticize me about.
My beloved reader, I beseech you to do whatever you feel is right regardless of what others say. Don't let critics talk you out of who you are. Bravely cultivate that rare thing you possess; the thing that makes you unique. And learn to handle criticism graciously; let it not darken your spirits. That's all I am saying.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this part 2 story on handling criticism, you might also enjoy part 1 of the story that I wrote more than four years ago. Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.