The Star (Nairobi)

29 December 2012

Kenya: Reviving My Old Journal

Whew! Christ's birthday is over and so is the year. Most of us use this time of year to reflect and set goals for the new year.

Weight loss, making more money, going back to school, spending more time with your kids, finally buying that plot, spending more time with your aging parents, date night with the spouse among others.

These are some of the resolutions we make. But what about more personal goals? What about introspection, self-analysis and personal development?

Ours is a society that is focused externally. Perhaps this is because we aren't wealthy so the achievement of financial security is at the forefront of our minds?

For whatever reason, most of us do not spend a lot of time thinking about our psychological make-up... how we got to be who we are, believe what we believe and whether I we want to continue being the people we are.

Recently over a loud and Martini-fueled dinner with a few girlfriends, one of them said that she is taking some courses online that are allowing her to 'change her mind' about men and relationships.

We hear the phrase 'change your mind' all the time, in fact it is a cliché, but when my friend said it in this context, I thought "Wow!

What a great opportunity". Even basic fast food type psychology will tell you that we make decisions about the world and our place in it at various points in our childhood development, then we hang on to these beliefs and decisions like they are fact for the rest of our lives.

Decisions like 'I don't trust men', 'women judge', 'I am not wanted', 'I am defective', 'the world is dangerous' etc. These decisions then become the basis for all that we do and how we do it.

Young boys with overbearing mothers come to a conclusion about black women and only ever date mzungus, young girls who feel threatened by men become feminists trying to make the world safe for themselves and for other women etc.

The process is not so clear cut and obvious hence most of us never know or acknowledge what our driving forces are but trust me we all have them.

Perhaps you have been dating the same guy over and over again... he changes shape, colour, tribe but he is fundamentally a domineering banker; maybe he is a navel-gazing artist who can never buy you anything because he 'hasn't found his voice'; how about that 'hustler' who is always a deal away from stability so he can't commit fully but he is willing to move into your house and have you pay all the bills?

This article is not meant to make you judge yourself and feel like crap. No, I want to encourage you to do something I have rediscovered.

You see this column was created out of the diary or journal that I was writing six years ago. It became commercial and of course it was censored.

It was the beginning of my writing career, which now entails writing five pieces a week for this paper; but it was also the end of my journaling.

Recently, I have gone back to journaling. Just me and a pen letting my thoughts loose and I have been pleasantly surprised by what has come up.

Thoughts about my past, present, future... it is really cool. I don't analyse myself when I am writing, rather I read my entries a few days later and check how I feel about them.

I won't tell you too much because I don't want to influence your experience but I will say that I have laughed, cried and started to shed aspects of myself that I do not like and to wonder about what I want to keep.

I am starting to like myself in a whole new way. As you make all your other resolutions, please consider journaling if you haven't already. Consider it a gift to yourself for 2013. May your 2013 be filled with pleasant surprises and fruition of your dreams.

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