20 Lessons

Adulting for a short while has taught me that no matter how much a person looks put together, no one really has life figured out and everyone’s just trying to act like they do. In light of my recently turning 20, I put together a few things I’ve learnt so far that I think get me a little closer.

  1. Stop worrying so much, all it accomplishes is fine lines around your eyes and forehead.
  2. Stop and smell the roses, you’ll find that the scent is actually sweet. Life can be very fast paced and if you don’t consciously stop to enjoy simple moments, it’ll pass you by.
  3. Stop riding yourself about impulse buys, money comes and goes.
  4. People are fickle.
  5. No one construct of beauty is the golden standard, beauty is 100% subjective. So, stop saying that you need a flatter stomach, smaller waist, bigger booty, bigger boobs, smaller feet, lighter skin, smaller nose, longer legs, clearer skin, longer hair, curly hair or any other standard of beauty constructed by society to feel beautiful.
  6. Don’t be in a hurry to find love, it will find you.
  7. Listen to your gut.
  8. Do NOT put in any more effort and time into any kind of relationship than the other person is willing to put forth. You’ll quickly realize who values you and who doesn’t.
  9. You do NOT owe anyone your time, love or attention.
  10. No situation is permanent. These hard times? These too shall pass.
  11. Don’t be so rigid. Open your mind to new ideas, experiences, beliefs and people.
  12. Your life cannot be governed by fear. Stop making decisions based on fear– fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of non-conformity, fear of standing out.
  13. Do not apologize for who you are — you cannot accommodate everyone’s construct of who you ought to be.
  14. Read more books, you’ll find that knowledge is power.
  15. Life is not a race. Stop comparing your progress to anyone else’s and stop listening to other people compare you to others or themselves. They barely have any context on where you are coming from and where you’re headed.
  16. Learn to enjoy your own company.
  17. “You don’t own the things that you love.” -Trevor Noah
  18. We’re all going to die so stop overthinking it.
  19. Happiness is a result of intentional living.
  20. The older you get, the more you learn, the more you realize that you know nothing.

High

Trying to bring back the buzz I felt with your arms around my waist, your chin rested on my shoulder, your hot breath on my neck. and and the night ahead of us. Could I bottle the feeling and get high off it once you’re gone?

Curious if I really loved you or was addicted to the feeling of being loved and held. 

SADNESS OF HUMANITY.

Adrenaline pumping. Heart racing. Elevated breathing.

At least that’s how I imagine it went down. He must have had a great controversy within him about whether to pull over or keep going. I mean, on one hand, he helps out and maybe no one blames him. But then again, the crowd could turn on him and this would be his last day. He never imagined that the crackle of an unhealthy fire from tires would be the accompaniment to his death. So he tells himself that it’s more logical to keep going. He presses on the gas pedal even harder almost as if he’s trying to find the conviction to keep going. On the other hand, he could have been completely calm as he drove away commenting, “Oh well,” as “Mungu Pekee” kept playing in the background.

What goes on inside the head of a human being as he decides to commit these crimes against humanity? Did this man wake up intending to run over a poor market vendor trying to make it home for lunch? Or did he simply not mind that it was now on his list of things completed? Do we even stop and think about the sins we commit?

A young black girl stands on the corner holding a huge sign that says, “She must be avenged.” Passers-by give her dirty looks and men with balls, or so they think, call her an angry black girl. Have we come to this point in life when simple wrongdoings cannot even be recognized anymore?

The Truth

2018. I’ve always been told that I am strong so I’ve been living life with that assumption and trying to manifest it. But this year showed me different. In all honesty this was the year that broke me. 

Having to move away from family, friends and all familiarity seemed easy peasy as a notion. But the first 6 months were so rough for me. I lost my self esteem and confidence shying away from social situations because the acne attacks I went through stripped me of what I thought made me beautiful. Making friends seemed like a chore and I honestly spent 50 percent of my first college semester in my room watching Netflix.

Then as the year progressed I started to feel like myself again but shit didn’t get easier. I’ve been through some experiences that I can’t even bring myself to talk to anyone about because it would be an admission that I’m not strong. It would be embarrassing to confess that I let the very situations I protest happen to me. So I’ve been keeping in a lot of emotional trauma to keep up the illusion that I’m still Yvonne; strong, assertive, ambitious and aggressive.

I’ve been through episodes of depression but when the phone rings I’ve had to put on my best smile and insist that everything is Gucci. 

My car has honestly seen the most of my rawest moments because sometimes on the drive home from work or school I’d just breakdown because the weight on my shoulders would feel unbearable. And I can’t count how many times I’ve logged onto my bank account to check if I have enough money for a one way ticket home.

But I’ve stayed. At first because I felt that I had to, because people depended on me. But now I think I’m supposed to be here. I honestly can’t tell you why but I feel that my purpose lies at the end of this rough path. It’s not going to get easier I know for sure. But I’m finding healthier outlets for how I’m feeling. 

Having to get up every single day, take a shower and feed myself to stay alive has felt overwhelmingly difficult at times. I can’t even imagine how my brother has been living me with my constant mood swings and lashing out for the smallest things that have nothing to do with him but because I just don’t know to process or outlet my unhappiness, depression and pain. 

I’ve had to look at pictures of myself smiling from before to remember the sensation of happiness. 

Avoided mirrors that were a constant reminder that I wasn’t beautiful. Relished in the attention of men because it felt good to be told that I’m beautiful and almost got addicted to the feeling of being wanted. 

Became really exposed to the sad reality of my Kenya and the chances of being successful there. I feel trapped because I never intended to live here, in the US but I feel like I can’t go back home. 

This year has been made even harder by the fact that I’ve never been further from God. I’ve felt undeserving to even pray to him for the things I’ve done and think. 

I lapsed from gyming because my work and school schedule were all over the place and it was easier to give up on myself. So I turned to other things to numb the pain and I can’t believe I’d drink on a week night just to feel a little happier but only for the night and be up at 6am to go to work. 

In brief moments of insanity while driving I’ve felt that it wouldn’t be too bad if I just veered off the highway, went over the barrier and into the cold river below. But I’ve been afraid that I’d survive. Survive and be left with hospital bills and having to replace my car. 

About two months ago I crashed my car and totaled it. Afterwards I really just wanted to break down because that was a breaking point for me but I fought tears through the police report and watching it get towed. I actually put my blood, sweat and tears into paying for it. That day had been monumental for me, I was at the genesis of a milestone ,before the accident, an exciting new chapter. And it felt like a slap in the face. I felt like I couldn’t progress because the minute I was in the brink some shit would just happen. Special thanks to my friend who held me tight while I cried unusually much for losing a car afterward. 

But I had to snap back in about two days because I’ve learnt that life never stops swinging and as soon as you’re down you’ve gotta get up and stay ready. 

But I’m thankful for the lessons I’ve learnt this year. It’s : 

Taught me to love myself and believe that I am enough. It’s a dangerous time to depend on the validations of man to feel whole. 

Taught me to remove myself from situations and people who steal my joy. 

Taught me to use my writing to work through what haunts me. I’ve written some emotional pieces I don’t think I’ll ever share but it’s helping to heal. I honestly pray for healing for everyone who 2018 brought hurt. 

Taught me that human beings can actually be trash, not just men but particularly them. Watched how strategically a person will hurt you then comfort you to create the illusion that  it was unintentional or create a dependancy situation. 

Taught me to be myself and appreciate my own company. 

However more than anything, I’ve learnt to operate on pure faith at times. I’ve been down to my last dollar more times than I can remember and my car had 5 miles of gas left yet I’m 30 miles away from home and God pulls through every single time, even when I’ve doubted him. One time, I actually had to gas up my car with all the coins I could gather in purse. I think it only amounted to 3 miles which I stretched the hell out of. But God can never fail you or forsake you no matter how your relationship is. 

I’m not sharing this so that I can get any sympathy but it’s to let other people going through the same shit know that they’re not alone.That they’re not crazy for being insanely unhappy or when everyone else expects happiness of them. 

2019? Come at me.

And— its doesnt get easier, you get stronger.

Yellow Pencils

Ku dum Ku dum Ku dum. 

I stood frozen to the spot right across the street from where his small body lay. For a second I wondered about the split second stress response mechanism the body supposedly had. And it was then that I found myself kneeling beside his bloody body, picking it up and getting ready to run towards help. Then the voices began to register and it dawned on me that onlookers were trying to get me to pause and realize that he was already gone. 

Elias Matthews was only four and a half-years-old when he had the promise of a bright future snuffed out way too soon and brutally too. So I knelt over his still warm body looking into his disturbed deep blue eyes trying to imagine the life he would have lived. 

An artist. Little Matthews had held an affinity for coloring books and colored pencils. He would rush out the door without breakfast as long as he made it to Mrs. Hallows art class first. 

But then again my little boy even at the tender age of four had possessed a way with words. Onlookers must have thought me stricken with madness as a smile struck across my face as I called into memory the one time he talked his way out of a time out after a shouting match with me and persuaded me to grant him  an extra slice of dessert for him that very night. 

My sweet little Matthews was the very breath I depended on to live. I know it sounds like another cliche declaration of love. However, I need you to understand that from the moment I felt his father’s seed find its way into my womb I knew he had been conceived and I loved him from that very moment. 

I wish that I had been more watchful. I knew Matthews was inquisitive and loved to run ahead of me slipping his little pale hands out of mine. But I just had to be distracted by the day’s paper. And now after it was all done, I could not recall what had caught my attention in the first place.

Chuckling to myself I said, “Oh how he loves the color yellow.” 
“Loved.” I’m not sure who said it but it broke me. It can’t be that I now have to use past tense to refer to my baby.

Loves,” I screamed looking behind me. 
Loves!” Repeatedly and angered.                                                                Rocking back and forth, a river flowing my blood stained cheeks and now in a red-drenched sundress. 

“He loves the color yellow.” I rocked my baby to sleep. Everything would be O.K just as long as he loves the color yellow. 

I felt an arm on my shoulder and opened my eyes and looked up.              “It’s time for your pills Mrs. Matthews,” says a sweet voice.                                 “She’s in pretty good shape for a 97-year-old but sometimes she never really sleeps and appears to have nightmares.” I hear her whisper. 

She must think I can’t hear her. But as long as he loves the color yellow, everything is O.K.

This short story is  part of my writing prompts series. 

Sometimes I lay awake at night, listen to sad music and slide over to your side of the bed; put my head on the pillow where you usually lay and I can hear your heartbeat, slow and steady. Only trouble is I have to silence my own in order to hear yours. I wonder if that’s how our love is. Me keeping my spirit quiet so that yours can shine bright enough. I ask myself if I am being vain wanting things to be about me or I’m acting out on my emotional claustrophobia but really maybe for once my vision is 20/20 and my judgement is anything but clouded. I sincerely wish I’d be making these realizations in hindsight but it’s in the here and now. Your text is in my notifications and truth is I don’t want to reply because somehow it ends up being about you and never me. Selfish? Maybe. But I don’t think a relationship should be the same as one being nothing but a human diary. Don’t know about you. 

I stare at a picture of us trying to force back the memory of being crazy about you. I’m sorry. I just can’t. Maybe it never existed at all? Maybe my feelings got stuck in the first time I fell for you and just never recovered. I guess when you’ve idealized something enough it’s impossible for it to ever measure up. Unfortunately, that’s us.