Why exactly am I feeling the need to explain myself?

8 Feb

Disclaimer: Long blog coming up. And FYI the way this post has ended, actually the direction it has taken is not what I intended it to be when I started writing this article. I am really surprised that it took a direction of its own. Nonetheless, I am grateful to have the space to speak my heart.

I am told that I have a very tough, don’t-mess exterior. No, not the kind that scares young children away or the kind of look you don’t want to see when you are alone in a dark alley after the moon and stars have bid the sun kwaheri. Not that kind of tough. The kind of no-nonsense, tough, independent almost snobby kind. I honestly do not see myself as a snob but I can see why people would think that.

First I have to admit, I am blunt, sometimes too blunt it scares insecure people off. Not everyone loves to hear the naked, unadorned truth unfortunately. With time I am learning TACT (gospel according to Peanut). I fail more often than I succeed, but lately I find myself masking the truth about how I see things more and more and feeling like a spineless hypocrite for it. It doesn’t help that I moved out of home at 18, did odd jobs for my grandma, did college, partied my ass off, drank like a fish, had all my firsts (don’t let your imagination wander) and lived, like literally lived more that people who were years older than me. By the time I was getting to campus, little could shock. Had been there, done that and bought the t-shirt.
I meet people easily, let the small talk flow but nowadays I take a tad longer to let them in because most of my friends have been let-downs time and time again. I am a “closet loner”, I have my moments when the only company I want is mine (and maybe McDreamy on the fool-box). I can be loud and the life of the party but I hardly let anyone really know me, like really know me. As such I have a thousand acquintances, sadly only a handful of friends. I wont name them, I don’t want to hurt your feelings (yes YOU).

In my assessment, I think I shouldered a lot of responsibility on my shoulders when I was way too young. I think this by far has contributed a lot to the person I am today. I wanted to make my mum proud of me, I wanted to give her a better life, better than the one she had sacrificed to see me through school. I wanted to be rich too, very rich and successful by age 30, retired by 35. The weight of this responsibility, self-imposed as it may be, has always weighed heavily on my young shoulders and influenced my choices in life. I am determined to excel, to provide the best for my mum and my family in future. I am driven by the need for financial independence at an age where I can actually enjoy the fruits of my labour as it were. 35 is when I stop being involved in the day to day running of my business empire (ahem!) and start travelling the world. At some point in my young life, it stopped being about living in the present and more about securing the future I wanted. Some measure of success and some money has come at the expense of my early 20s. I am in no way complaining. No, I have come way too far too fast to do that, I feel blessed and humbled to have what I have now and a career that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Nonetheless, I sometimes wish nature had taken its course, you know like I had followed the natural growth pattern in life. The responsibility might not feel as heavy as it sometimes does…..

I feel I was made to age beyond my years by the roles that life threw my way. I found myself thrown into the deep end of an extremely challenging telecommunications industry away from home at 23, fresh off grad school with minimal experience; left to swim the murky corporate waters with older, wiser people who had the benefit of having been hardened by many years of experience. Again I am not complaining. It hardened me and shaped my career like I had never imagined. At 23 I moved to Dar es Salaam to set up and head a Business Development and Marketing department in a telecommunications company after just two interviews, once a conference call and the other a face-to-face interview in hot, humid, Dar. I was as surprised as everyone else when they told me to fly in for the interviews and even more shocked when they picked me and started talking moving, remuneration, work permits, etc. I do not for the life of me know how they zoned in on me. I was green. Wah! Thats the understatement of the month. I was green kabisa and totally naive! My only experience before that was an year of selling second hand ex-Japan cars while going through campus and 7months of selling computer hardware. Hardly any experience to set up a fresh department let alone head it.

I had to think fast and act faster. The computers job in Kenya was sucking the joy right out of me, my self confidence was at an all-time low, I was not dating anyone and who was I kidding, this was a dead-end job that would never buy me that BMW X5 I desired even if I worked till I was old and grey. There were no chances of growth especially since the MD was a 5foot short, old, unmarried-no-boyfriend-in-sight Taiwanese beeyatch who hated anything female. Other than the poor company leadership, I hated being at the mercy of dead-beat, horny and obnoxious stockists to meet my target. Dammit that job! Anywho, I was ready for a change and I grabbed that opportunity with both hands and held of for dear life. Did I mention that the good news came on my birthday which happens to be on March the 13th? Whoever said that 13 is an unlucky number, SUCK ON THAT! I have been more blessed than most…. I moved to Dar swiftly before they could realize the folly of their decision πŸ˜‰

Once I settled into the biggest house I had ever lived in complete with houseboy and all, learnt to drive my small, company issue Rav-4 around the town and gotten over the humidity and terrible English, I enthusiastically jumped into my new position with the little experience I had. Learning a lot, messing up quite a bit, bull-shitting my way out of sticky situations, reading and listening a whole, googling and generally trying to do a job I was ill equipped for without making a fool of myself. I re-read the Philip Kotler that I had conveniently ignored through campus and found great lessons therein. I recommend this book for any marketer by the way. Mostly I followed my gut, repeated stuff my boss had just said to sound informed πŸ™‚ and basically prayed a whole load not to get my ass shipped back to Nairobi. For about 8 months I did nothing but throw myself into that job with all I had, working late and passing by the Portuguese restaurant at the Engen Petrol station at odd hours to grab take away meals. In that first year I never really made solid friendships aside from my brother from another mother Sy. Telecoms agreed with me and I love it to bits despite not having an engineering background. I loved the high power deals, the dynamic nature of the business and the fact that it accorded me a chance to travel all over Africa.

Close to 3years down the line, I was head-hunted by a competitor to head Business Development for their Uganda and Tanzania operations which is what necessitated the move to Uganda last October. My former boss whom I greatly respect and admire still calls me to this day and in the hopes of keeping me on board a little longer promised me heaven and earth to stay on. I needed the challenge so I left amicably and provided him with a replacement. I must have done something right. I know I did and am proud of myself for that. By the time I was leaving our market share had increased from 35% to a solid 85% and I could see tangible evidence of my contribution.
I made great strides in my personal goals too and in my family. Nothing felt as good as mum telling me how proud I have made her when she finally came to help me pack up and move from Dar es Salaam. Even before that I knew she was proud of me, and I in turn continue to work harder.

There is no denying that all this has come at a great personal expense. Neither am I greatly successful or rich. Not by a long shot. But I know I am on the right path and my dreams are within my grasp. I missed being with my mum, my family and friends so much, I missed on dating and having a regular social life, I lost so many friends, I lost my naivety and innocence from exposure to high level deals and corruption sometimes. I regret this the most. At times I get thoroughly bored in the company of people my own age especially boys. I am just not able to handle some regular mid-twenties conversations, they feel so childish and boring non-issues. I find myself quite comfortable in the company of people who are much older than myself discussing work and business. Infact I act and sound much older than I am and they are none the wiser. We are equals, discussing important matters (sic)

At times I wish I wasn’t as hardened and mature as I am. But when it is all said and done, I know it is the path that God destined for me to bring me closer to my destiny and I feel blessed that I am one of the few people who actually get to live their dreams. I wouldn’t change a thing about myself, not really.

p/s: If I am too tough for you, don’t let the door hit you on your way out. I don’t need to make apologies to anyone for being who I am, not really.


14 Responses to “Why exactly am I feeling the need to explain myself?”

  1. braintattoo February 11, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

    I enjoyed reading your story and getting exposed to the real you. We all are destined to travel on different paths and accepting ours makes life a whole lot easier to live.

    There is no need to be apologetic, whoever doesn’t get you… loses out on a genuine diamond.

    Keep writing… you are a blessing to many who may feel oh so alone.

    • not-so-little Miss Random! February 11, 2011 at 3:38 pm #


      Kwanza karibu sana to my world and thanks for your very kind sentiments, I needed to hear that

      Secondly I’ve always wanted to ask you, why braintattoo? It sounds very interesting

      • braintattoo February 11, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

        Thanks… sometimes we hear, read or are told something that is so profound that we would literally want to tattoo it on our brains in constant reminder. That is what I aspire to do… in sharing my self and my life, perhaps tattoo something of great value to a willing brain.

  2. mrembo February 11, 2011 at 12:31 am #

    I enjoyed reading of your accomplishments. I do not think you need to explain yourself to others. Keep doing what you are doing. You have been given the chance to realise your dreams.. enjoy it.

    • not-so-little Miss Random! February 11, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

      Mrembo, ahsante sana. I will do me……. am finding blogging and reading other people’s experiences very therapeutic πŸ™‚

  3. Dark Angel February 9, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    I am reading this and all the comments and thinking, we all seem to have something in common! Maybe why we blog? Finished school too early, worked early, forced to grow up too. I’m 1 yr older than you. I quit law school after a month to purse film. Everybody thought i was insane.Told myself at 25 I should be owning my own company. I did. Wasn’t gonna happen if i did law. I did a press interview recently and the first thing the journo asked was what was challenging for me, being a younger than all the people I hire or being a woman in a potition of power in Kenya. The one thing i discovered is that if you are forced to grow up, you do have problems fitting, and even harder making lasting friends. You are too mature to hang out with people your age, but too young to hang out with those you work with. Tricky. I would talk to people on phone, do business and when we finally met, I could see it in their eyes. Oh, and I am 5 foot flat (or 5 foot nothing as my friends say).

    People who know me from work and those who know me from my days in college know two very different people. I partied hard, lived life like there was no kesho. Then I started working and midnight found (finds– it’s 1.30am now) on my laptop.

    But in the end, its about following your dreams, and loving what you do. I love film-making, would do it over and over again a thousand times. It has taken me all over the world. It has given me a chance to give back to the community through our non-profit org. Its my hobby, my passion, my career. But it has come at the expense of my social life. Move around continents too much to make lasting friends. hardly had any childhood friends coz my parents moved every 2 years. Those who love me, love me the way I am, an absentee friend who checks in on Skype. Those who can’t get used to that can meza wembe, ama?

    • Dark Angel February 9, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

      Gee, that was like a whole blog post.

      Trust me to steal the thunder. Shame on you Dark Angel!

      **hides in shame**

      • not-so-little Miss Random! February 9, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

        Wow! First of all, congratulations on all these feats at such a young age, and for having the audacity to follow your dreams. We need more women like you. That you are giving back to the community makes you even more awesome. Kudos mamii!
        2. I think you need to do a similar post. Just my humble opinion lakini it would inspire a lot of people. And maybe help people to understand you a little more.

        I find that people like us are often misunderstood. We do not fit into groups that society would expect us to, it can be a lonely but fulfilling world.

        I wish people could understand that it is ok to be different, we cant all be the same.

        I like you am happy to have found a few people who “get” me or I’d have gone kukuz by now

        p/s: I will get back to you for stealing my thunder lol

  4. olivemootai February 9, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    Oh wow!! That is a great story. Quite admirable, you are Miss. To be exposed to all that and still be grounded. You have a great future ahead of you. And at your age, you have achieved quite a lot. Keep forging ahead. A bright future awaits.

    • not-so-little Miss Random! February 9, 2011 at 10:37 am #

      Olive, I know you feel me, thank you. This was actually meant to be a whine because people misunderstand me and judge what they do not know. I am not that accomplished, not by far, but I have had many great and tough lessons in life that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

      Look at you, am sure some people don’t get you too coz of what you’ve achieved and continue to juggle everyday.


  5. hardened mama February 8, 2011 at 10:35 pm #

    I so feel you – left home at 13, have lived away since then. I’m soo independent and hardened I scare men off! Don’t apologise…..

    • not-so-little Miss Random! February 9, 2011 at 10:23 am #

      Hardened Mama,

      You just scare off the insecure, unaccomplished ones who you don’t need in the first place. Keep doing big things my girl

  6. Mrsmwiti February 8, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

    Interesting story. You go girl! My story is like urs in a way. Getting kids so early forced me to grow up.Plus, I got my first ‘real’ job at 23 too. I wouldn’t change anything in my life too.:)

    • not-so-little Miss Random! February 9, 2011 at 10:33 am #

      Madam, I can understand you. You are the sum of these experiences and you wouldn’t be as awesome if you hadn’t gone through that. Thanks too, sometimes I need the reassurance

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