‘Fear, uncertainty, worry… God you know it’s so hard for me to believe that everything is going to be okay, promise me that even then you will still move heaven and earth for my sake…’ I think the beauty of life is that we never know how I lives will turn out. I will specifically talk about dreams, goals and ambitions. I’m the kind of person who never has New Year resolutions. However, the last two years or so have seen me dreading to log into any social media platforms during the Christmas and New Year season. Everybody seems so sure of what they want to achieve in the coming year. ‘Goals, see my business, see my dream, my boss is cooler than yours, my mentor are better than yours, my friends are better than yours, see me soar…’ we all know the words we come across. Everybody seems so sure except you. You are the only one who seems to have no job, no financial goals, no weight goals…well basically you are just out of place.
It’s not bad to celebrate your achievements for the year and its okay to set new resolutions. Always appreciate the baby steps. Well for me, 2017 was a tough year. I have said it many times I know but the truth is, it was tough. This was the year where I faced one of the greatest disappointments of my life. It’s a long story but to be honest, it broke me. Scars don’t have to be visible to prove that you have faced challenges. From February 2017, I saw the dreams I had written down erased one by one, like they were brought down by a bomb.
I had to pull myself together because I had just started this blog and truthfully I had no idea how to share my content, how to tell people about it and well, let’s just say that the promises of letting this platform soar never materialised. Every day I woke up, the first thing that came to my head was the memory of being let down. I battled it so hard. In the day I would be excited, confidently telling people how I want to build a brand and at night, I just wanted to sleep, oh how I wished that the nights were longer.
As an upcoming blogger, you face many challenges like sharing content or getting stories to write and sometimes people are just not interested in your work. To be honest, there were many times I was ashamed that I wasn’t moving as fast as I hoped. It’s not like my work was going viral anyway. Dear reader, this was the season that taught me to surrender my dreams to God. I honestly didn’t have the foundation that I felt I needed to build myself in 2017. I started listening to many spiritual and motivational songs. I picked up my dusty bible which I hadn’t used much after high school and started going through the verses I highlighted when I was in high school.
Don’t be fooled though, I didn’t think God had a plan. I used to tweet asking him whether he was there, whether he would allow me dream again, to soar. I started listening to Pastor T.D. Jakes almost every day. I kept telling God to give me opportunities because I was scared that if I had been let down, then no other door will ever open. Sometimes I wanted people to think that it had come easy, that way I wouldn’t have many people asking me questions. For example, I appeared in four national newspapers last year. None of the authors of my story ever approached to feature me. I just looked for their emails and contacts and kept pleading to be featured so that at least people could know that my blog existed. All in all, I had learnt to tell God to open doors and they said yes.
I always tell people to keep applying for opportunities because you never know which one is yours. All through 2017, I kept applying and got dozens of rejections. It got to a point I wanted to stop writing and networking because nothing made sense anyway. God kept me strong and I kept asking different people to allow me to feature them. The challenging part was the segment on influential people. Every C.E.O, ambassador or game changer I featured came through when so many had ignored me. I count them as testimonies of God’s presence. I remember the day Gina Din said yes to my request to feature her, I just cried. I was so happy. I have never forgotten what that yes meant for my blog. It really encouraged me to just keep talking about what I do no matter what I was going through. I remember when I was sharing my blog with Safaricom C.E.O. Bob Collymore. My legs were literally shaking. In my head I was thinking, what if he just ignores me. You know he just kept smiling at me. It was funny to be honest but yes I got the courage to share my work and for me it meant that I had a powerful voice, more than I imagined. This year I was able to host the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Kenya, Dr. Sid.
I could honestly say so many things but truthfully, a lot has happened and my hope is that anyone who reads this will know that God is watching you in your struggles. There was this night I had a dream that I flew to South Africa. Next morning I was telling my friend about it then she told me she had just seen an opportunity posted on Facebook about a fully sponsored workshop to Johannesburg. She encouraged me to apply and I did with a lot of doubt of course. Two months later, I was called for an interview and I got it.
This was my greatest testimony for 2017. That when doors had closed, God enabled me to run, to not grow weary and then he opened the sky. That opportunity by UNICEF Kenya showed me God’s faithfulness. It showed me what determination can do and I believed that my little thing mattered after all. There were many things that made feel like I didn’t matter. For example, one time someone promised me a T.V. interview. I was so excited that I saved up for a new dress and new shoes, only for the said interview to never happen and the person acted like they had never said anything. Was it because what I did was suddenly not good enough? These were the doubts I had, that maybe I just wasn’t enough.
Fast forward to 2018 which started in doubt but has brought me new experiences that have made me happy, those that have made me feel challenged and those that have reminded me that God is already there in my future. Please follow me on social media to see the updates of what I am talking about. In January, the UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, visited Kenya and she wanted to have a conversation with the youth. I was honoured to moderate this session. The night before, I googled various panel discussions just to get a feel of what it means to moderate. I was terrified but excited. God made me leap. I was already speaking to one of the most influential women in the United States of America.
March was also very exciting as I had the chance to work with inspiring women across Nairobi between the ages of 13-25. We conceptualized a matatu for Womens Day which was designed by the talented Tsarah Arts, the only female matatu designer in Nairobi. The day we launched it, I had the opportunity to address the media on how we came up with it and did an interview with Reuters. I was nominated for the Zuri Awards in the innovation category. I didn’t win but it also gave me a chance to reflect on the journey so far and how this blog is slowly evolving into a youth advocacy platform. Shortly after that, I was interviewed for another award in which the winner would travel to France. I didn’t get it though. However, I have been encouraged to write my dreams a new and to keep advocating. This was one of the motivating factors behind starting by books (text books and exercise books) donation drive where I would like to empower children in informal systems. As a Generation 2030 youth volunteer with UNICEF Kenya, I aim to empower African children and youth to move closer to the sustainable development goals and my blog is now aligning towards education.
I will be honest, the book donation drive hasn’t been an easy journey in the three weeks that it has been active. However, I have testimonies to share in between and which I hope to do soon once I get the foundation for the project in place. However, I am praying for it, I am praying for my brand and I am hopeful. All these experiences have taught me to rely on God alone because at the end of it all, he has us on the palm of his hands.
Life is challenging but everything is possible. Never be afraid to start small and its okay to not get the opportunities you want because they shape your thoughts. They teach you how to be articulate in the expression of your dreams. I say this because I know it’s true. One of the main events that contributed to the start of this blog was in 2016 when I participated in the World Bank Blog for development competition. I was shortlisted as top 10 and I thought it would be the moment that I had been waiting for. I really wanted to travel to Washington D.C. I didn’t win and the day I found out devastated me. I cried for weeks because I felt like I had let myself down. Worse, I felt that I had let one of my mentors down.
— Cynthia Nyongesa (@Cynthia_Oprah) June 28, 2017
You are never alone. In the midst of that confusion, I gained a mentor who encouraged me to start a brand. It’s a testimony I keep telling. The Country Director allowed me to participate in the Blog for development competition events that came up that year including having lunch with the World Bank President Dr Jim Yon Kim. I told myself that I was going to work really hard and make something out of myself. It’s been two years and I have come very far. I now appreciate myself more often. God is helping me to conquer and to always see opportunities even when they don’t come how I want them to. Months later, I took a plaque to her office. I wanted to say thank you and inform her of my progress. We ate chocolate as we looked at the busy Nairobi city from the view of her office. I felt like crying when I was talking to her but it’s because I was happy. I was now more focussed and calm. God is the same, all the time. He has never let my cup run dry, he has seen and he has heard.
A week ago, I was speaking to high school students at the Nairobi School who were attending the Jenesis summit. I shared a statement with them which I picked up from T.D. Jakes. It says:
‘Lord bring people into my life, that cause me to have new experiences, that show me how to put my foot on things that I would not have put my foot on. They are sponsors and mentors and tutors who bring my feet to new horizons and that help me to touch places I have never touched before and I feel what it feels like to conquer.’