A True Story
on Jan 27, 2023
During my primary school years, I used to read a lot - something my siblings can attest to. I would basically study the same stuff over and over in an effort to excel in the exams we had at school. But even with all that reading, I was never considered a bright boy, both at home and in school.
Recently, as I was mulling over my past, I realized that primary school education was very easy. Which makes me wonder why I had to read a lot. All I did by studying intensively was complicating life.
The intensive reading I did in primary school must have been the cause of the confusion that people saw in me when I proceeded to Starehe Boys' Centre in 2002 for my high school and college education. Believe me, I would be bombarded with one remark after another about how confused I was. I just wasn't as bright as I would have wanted to believe.
At Starehe, I continued with the habit of complicating life. I immersed myself wholly in schoolwork, hardly sparing time for reading storybooks and for developing my social skills. Not surprisingly, I never had throughout my Starehe years a girlfriend with whom I could exchange letters.
Due to my habit of complicating life, I left Starehe in April 2007 as an over-ambitious teen. I wanted to start a business, become a music teacher, entertain people on the piano in 5-star hotels and apply to four top American colleges while I was a first-year student at JKUAT, a local university where I had been admitted to pursue an engineering degree.
At one time in April 2007 as I was preparing to matriculate at JKUAT, I came across a newspaper advert of a certain church in Nairobi that was looking for a choir-master. I thought of applying for the position. Mark you, I was just a 19-year old teen wanting to teach a group of grown-ups how to sing. How ambitious!
With such lofty ambitions, it's small wonder that my confusion never cleared up when I was at JKUAT. Some people at the university did accuse me of being as mentally mixed-up as a Form One student.
Because old habits die hard, I continued complicating life well into my adulthood. I would set very high goals that would leave me depressed when they failed to materialize. In 2010 for instance, I came up with numerous goals that I wanted to achieve in my life. They were:
- to write great books and articles
- to produce beautiful songs
- to start a business or an organization
- to advance my web-development skills
- to be a compelling speaker
- to have a successful political career
- to be an inspirational teacher
To tell you the truth, I haven't become a roaring success in any of the fields I wanted to excel at. And it has dawned on me that my lack of success has been due to my habit of complicating life by chasing many big goals.
In recent years, I have simplified my life. How? By whittling down my goals to only writing inspiring stories and composing scintillating hymns, and then share them on this blog which I constructed using the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid!).
I believe that I can own a sleek car, build a magnificent home, have a colorful wedding, travel overseas and give my future children a decent education just from the earnings generated by the adverts on this blog. What I need to work on is growing my blog audience to hundreds of visitors each day.
My beloved reader, I urge you to simplify your life as well. Don't complicate it by chasing too many big goals like I did earlier on in my life. If you are a student, don't over-read the way I foolishly did in primary school; spare some time for exercise and socializing. That's all I am saying.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed the above story on simplifying life, you might also enjoy another one on "Setting Goals" that I wrote about three years ago. Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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A True Story
on Jan 22, 2023
As I have narrated again and again on this lovely blog of mine, I aimed at getting into a top American college during the two years I was at JKUAT, a local university where I had enrolled in 2007 to pursue an engineering degree. I eventually dropped out of JKUAT in 2009 due to my preoccupation with wanting to study in an elite American college.
Those who have read my account of what happened to me at the university may have thought it foolish of me to focus on flying to America when I had a golden opportunity to acquire a lucrative degree at JKUAT. One lass, with whom I briefly shared my JKUAT story on one sunny afternoon in 2014 as we walked home, told me that she would have caned me if I was her son.
Even Dr. Kitili, the psychiatrist who handled me when I went off the rails at JKUAT in 2008, used to remind me of the English proverb "a bird in hand is worth two in the bush" whenever I shared with her my dream of studying in a top-flight college in America. Her point was that I should have made use of the chance I had at JKUAT instead of chasing other opportunities that I wasn't guaranteed to get.
What most of my friends don't know is that wanting to study in a top American college during my JKUAT days wasn't the first time I had trained my sights on a great achievement. I have always aimed high ever since I was a boy in primary school. And it is that aiming high that took me to JKUAT in the first place.
During my high school years at Starehe Boys' Centre, I aspired to top the national secondary school examinations known as KCSE. Even though I didn't realize that aspiration, at least I scored an 'A' in the KCSE exams, a grade that earned me a spot at JKUAT to pursue a degree in Electronics & Computer Engineering.
It is also my habit of aiming high that took me to Starehe Boys' Centre, one of the best high schools in Kenya during my time there. When I was preparing for KCPE exams in 2001, I set my mind on emerging top nationally in the exams. Such high aspirations made me get excellent KCPE marks that had me admitted at Starehe.
We can therefore conclude that aiming high worked for me in primary and secondary school but when it came to university education, aiming high worked against me since I didn't get into any of the top American colleges I applied for admission in three application rounds. Worse still, I dropped out of JKUAT because applying to several top American colleges kept me from giving the engineering degree I was pursuing at JKUAT the attention it deserved.
Come to think of it though, aiming to get into an elite American college made me a better thinker and writer through the essays I had to write about myself. And revising for the SAT exams, whose results were required by American colleges, moulded me into an avid reaader. So, aiming high kinda helped me during my JKUAT days.
I have come to discover that not everyone has a habit of aiming high. Back in 2006, I phoned a former high school classmate named Douglas on one night to inform him that I was intending to apply to MIT, Cornell, Stanford and Dartmouth. Douglas discouraged me from applying to the colleges, citing that only students who topped in KCSE exams got admitted to such top-flight colleges.
Although Douglas was brighter and more clear-headed than me throughout our high school career, he didn't consider himself worthy of applying to MIT. I know of one guy called Beneah Kombe who ranked behind him in KCSE results and got accepted at MIT. If only Douglas had believed in himself some more!
By thinking himself unworthy of MIT, Douglas deprived himself of an opportunity to test his potential and learn something in the process. William Shakespeare had it right when he quipped:
Our doubts are traitors,That quote by Shakespeare has inspired me to keep on aiming high. These days, my dream is to become an internationally acclaimed blogger and get mentioned in such high-brow newspapers as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Should I fail to achieve that dream, I will at least come out a better person.
And make us lose the good we oft might win,
By fearing to attempt.
My beloved reader, I challenge you to also aim high in whatever career you have chosen to pursue. Believe in yourself, work hard, work smart and passionately present your best self to the world. And always remember the words of the late Norman Vincent Peale who said, "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." Ciao!
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed the story above on aiming high, you might also enjoy another one on "Inspiring Mottoes" that I wrote about six years ago. Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.