Of marriages based on dishonesty

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Her name? It doesn’t matter. Her story? She got married under the impression that the man was single. But it turned out he had a wife. And a child. While the ease of travel has opened up opportunities for people to go and work in other countries, it has also given young men an excuse to fill up their four-wife quota as they claim; “You don’t expect me to be alone when I’m there…”

And because the second and third wives are from a country different than the guy’s headquarters, such women enter marriages completely oblivious to the existence of the first family.

I’ve heard this story so many times in our Kemeni community, and at some point, I thought it was one of those stories that would die in the post-Facebook generation (since people’s personal lives are everywhere). But the latest victim I know of is five years younger than me, and it seems guys are getting smarter and deactivating their facebook accounts when they’re planning to extend their families. Which makes me wonder one thing.

Is honesty dead?

The fact that guys can actually do this without being held accountable for their actions infuriates me. Where is society to make this behavior stop? Unfortunately mothers of men like this end up taking his side, in the worse case scenario, aiding and abetting, and in the best case scenario saying with a resigned sigh, “What can we do? Boys will be boys.”

The least the mother can do is tell the family of the second wife-to-be that her son is already married but then again we can’t always blame the mother because it’s . When did honesty become so hard? But no. Because boys fear rejection, they keep that hidden until it’s too late for the girl to run, and then they go,
“Oh, by the way, meet my wife. And kid.”

Honesty is not a virtue that needs to be celebrated and applauded because it is a virtue that needs to be the norm so it’s quite a shame when people go around building entire households on dishonesty. If the guy can’t think of his wives’ feelings once they discover the truth, the least he could think about is what he’s teaching his children….

quote for blog

You are worthy

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Dear Friend,
You know that place in one’s heart that normal people feel love? You feel pain. Red, throbbing pain mixed with anxiety because you still remember the last conversation you two had. It was short…formal…cold. And then he stepped out and the door closed with a heavy finality.
You never saw it coming. When you were accepting the marriage proposal in your teens, you never thought that you’d be divorced in your twenties. But it’s not your fault that he chose her and you were left to pick up the pieces of your life at a time when most people have reached their plateau.
The voice in your head keeps on asking, “Am I worthy of love? Am I worthy of happiness…” But you need to remember the adage, “your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.” You are worthy of kindness, of compassion, of joy, of pleasure, of truth, of love…you are worthy simply because as the saying goes, “worthiness doesn’t have any prerequisites.”
You are worthy simply because you are you.
So wear it on a bracelet or write it on a post-it and stick it in front of you as you go through life, “I am worthy because I am me.”

As strong as your weakest point

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Dear Friend,
The day started out well. I could tell by the smile playing on your lips. Even though it was small, the spark in your eyes showed that it was genuine. You’ve been busy, engaged with life enough to forget your pain. But then you met someone who said something, and whatever dam that has been keeping the sadness at bay broke and your feelings gushed back to overwhelm you.
You need to remember that you are as strong as your weakest point. And your weakest point is that you want everybody to like you. But we live on planet Earth with human beings who have on average a hundred billion neurons in their brains. How these neurons connect with each other depends on a person’s individual experience in life, and that results in people having traits spanning the entire spectrum. So start from the position of knowing that not everybody will like you and not everybody will agree with you in everything and not everybody has your good interests at heart, but that’s okay.
And because there will be different people in your life, some of them would be toxic and they would say things out of ignorance and insensitivity that would cause you immense sorrow. It’s easy to say that you will avoid them, but avoiding them is not always feasible because sometimes relationships are more complicated than they seem. So the easiest thing to do is put up boundaries. Define rules pertaining to every relationship; how vulnerable you’ll allow yourself to be around them, how much time you will spend with them, what areas of your life you will allow them to advice you about, and what areas are off-limit, what topics to discuss with them and what are your expectations of them.
The thing is, no one – absolutely no one – has the right to take your happiness away, especially when you don’t have much of it to start with.
So never give someone that kind of power.

Tips on Building Self-Confidence

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I know I haven’t been blogging much lately, but it’s just that I’ve been trying to live offline more than online this year, adding new experiences to my list, and opting to meet people face-to-face instead of hiding behind usernames and passwords. But it’s quite interesting how during my visit to Kenya this year, I met a lot of people who brought up my blog over and over again discussing possible topics I could write about.

So today I’m going to address one of those topics. One of my closest friends told me that her problem in life was with self-confidence. She said she didn’t even have the self-confidence to talk to customer service people on the phone, and the topic made me laugh because if I had enough self-confidence in my life, I’m not so sure I would have ever become a writer. It was because I found it difficult to connect with people and express myself that actually made me pick up a pen as a child.  So how was I to teach her on self-confidence, when I obviously needed a few lessons in that area myself?

But I’ll try.

My advice to her was to take risks and expose yourself to an experience over and over again regardless of how you feel about it. For instance, I personally have an issue talking to customer service myself, and until recently, I used to delegate that task every chance I got. But picking up the phone to talk to them, I realized that we avoid tasks like that because we dread we’d sound so stupid in front of these people, or we’re scared they’re going to judge us. And I suppose many people in my community would relate to that, because we grew up listening to people being judged all the time. Dialogues got dissected, behaviors got misinterpreted, lifestyles got judged…it was no wonder we were always scared of making a wrong move lest we step on a verbal land mine.

But it gets easier when you tell yourself to accept that feeling as normal, whether it is the fear of being judged or being seen as stupid, or deaf (which sometimes happens when you can’t understand what that customer service woman is actually saying). Accept that feeling uncomfortable is normal, and accept that you’re not perfect, so there’s no point in pretending to be perfect all the time.

Accept that you will make mistakes and you will be judged so be prepared for it and don’t sweat it. Whatever it is, you don’t have to lose sleep over it. People make mistakes. People learn from their mistakes. People move on. Again, taking into consideration our society, unfortunately, the communal memory of our people can astound you. You’ll hear people recalling someone else’s mistakes decades after they’ve made them.Why? In the decades you’ve been holding on to a grudge on whoever it was, Pluto got demoted so it’s no longer a planet, Japan’s coast moved 8 feet after the 2011 earthquake and over 30 new countries came into being (since 1990 at least). My point is, the world changes, and so do people. So cut others some slack.

 Empower yourself with knowledge and be more competent. The main thing that makes us lose self-confidence is when we don’t know. In some scenarios we don’t know what to say, how to behave, how the other person will perceive what we say. Not knowing makes us think, “Oh God, they’re going to think I’m so stupid.” So in order to negate this, learn. Sometimes learning is simply done by spending time with a self-confident person and seeing how they do it, how they deal with different scenarios.

Practice in low-risk scenarios. This is very useful advice for people who struggle with public speaking. To some, speaking in public can be quite a terrifying experience, especially when the audience consists of high-calibre people in your field. Just the idea of presenting something can make you sick to the stomach. So step number one is to know your stuff (previous point), and step number two is practice in front of your friends and family; people who won’t judge you so much and exist in your life to be supportive. Of course, shifting from a low-risk environment to a high-risk one is not going to be easy, but at least with practice you manage certain aspects like your nerves, or how you present the material…

Fake it until you make it. This deals with your body language. I personally struggle with this because I tend to act small, disappear into the wall every chance I get. But people who fake self-confidence feel that self-doubt rise inside them and yet they never fail to stride through the room, walk tall and speak loudly even if they knew that they’re not so sure about what they’re saying and even if they knew you knew they’re not sure about what they’re saying.

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