So, it has been over a week since my book launch. I have finally let it sink in that I AM an author. When people meet me, they now automatically assume that they will end up being characters in my stories or poetry. I laugh and tell them maybe.I don’t set out to meet people and think that this could be a good story. She (yes, I refer myself in third person sometimes) is not setting out to be Carrie Bradshaw. In most cases it hardly crosses my mind, till I catch up with one of my friends then relate something mundane or funny. Then they may comment, that it was such a good story. Some stories that I relay may keep us laughing for days. I enjoy good laughs and spreading joy, even if it is at my expense-- my embarrassing escapades.
I appreciate meeting other natural storytellers, they too make life interesting. These past weeks have been hectic and when I am focused on something, I give it 100%, I have to put on a reminder to remind me to have fun. Thankfully, I have people to remind me. Often, I tend to work too hard and forget to play. Most of my work involves me having my hand in everything. When it is time to play, I play hard. Finding activities that allow me to relax. Between my dad’s illness, death and the aftermath-- it has been almost two and a half years since he left. Having fun made me feel guilty. So, I drowned myself in work. When one project was done, I was on to the next. Feeling out of balance, irritated, sleep deprived and all I could talk about was work. When I started to hear myself, I wondered who had I become? It affected my writing. My mood. Thus, there was no motivation to create. So, I made a conscious decision to do a lot of activities out of my comfort zone and try new experiences. Say yes, to experiences I wouldn’t have said yes to before.
Taking solo trips travelling to places I hadn’t been to before or knew of anyone. Joining networking groups, going to wine tastings on my own. Taking up Muay Thai, latin dancing, partying like I was 19 again. During my early and late teens, all I wanted to do at clubs was just dance. Drinking wasn’t the main goal, it was just listening to my favourite songs and letting the beats take over my body. Latin dancing especially salsa, bachata, meringue and afro-latin involved dancing with other people. That was definitely out of my comfort zone. I was used to dancing close with people I knew. This was another ball game. Learning to trust and having the other lead, sigh that was a foreign language. Choreography was something I enjoyed doing, so having someone communicate on what choreo they wanted me to perform by leading me with their hand. What?! That was new! Attending the Latin dance parties at first were unnerving because, I was just a beginner. Constantly got nervous about being asked to dance by people, who had been dancing forever. Soon after I got over my fear and realized that how was I supposed to practice if I lived in fear? The first time I probably danced with only 3 people and they could clearly see I was a beginner. It felt so awkward and I felt inadequate and frustrated. The more I went, the more comfortable I got. I stopped doing the counts in my head and learnt to enjoy, just, dancing. From dancing one to two hours in the beginning, I found myself dancing for 4 hours straight. Meeting new people and making new acquaintances.
There’s more to life than Latin dancing, very few of my friends are not into that. One time I went out during a long weekend with a friend who also loves dancing. I got home at about 6 am. I remember brushing my teeth then plopping on top of my bed and blacking out. Only to wake up to see myself fully clothed. I couldn’t remember the last time, I had done that. Probably when I was in university. It was a good feeling. I then took of my clothes and went under my covers. All, that dancing and meeting new people was actually making my work better and I was finding a balance between being a workaholic. Yes, yoga does relax me, going on walks and reading a good book relaxes me. Nothing beats just being in the moment, relishing in the fact that you are alive via these activities. These activities slowly increased my joy factor.
There’s one activity I had promised myself, that I had been skeptical about this year and that was joining a dating app. I was scared of meeting creeps and was very selective at what type of app I joined. We all know some are basically for hook-ups. I didn't want that. I finally found one that suited me and it has been an interesting experience. My strategy was to put a photo of me where I look demure, smiling and regular. Didn't want to be a slay queen or an instagram model, that's definitely not me. I dubbed it the good girl photo. Not that, I am not demure, my personality tends to attract and-or repel people. I have straight hair in that, minimum make-up, with that photo, I knew those that approach me would be hopefully normal and sane people. Having a marketing background helps in those situations. Plus, back in the day when I was a reality television junky, ANTM (America’s Next Top Model) made me understand the modelling world on another level. Many people have gotten free modelling classes from that show.
My encounters would have people skeptical expecting someone else from the photo. In my mind I kept thinking, is catfishing still a thing? One of my dates told me, his female friends photoshop their photos. Meeting me he had no expectations but, was pleasantly surprised. With my curly tresses on full display. I looked different from my photo but I was definitely real. Some assumed because of my background (Kenyan) I would enjoy running. Which I actually do not enjoy, in school we were forced to run during PE, so now I only run when I really have to. Each person had something different they were looking for. On the other hand, when I meet people, yes, I admit I do see colour because that’s what makes us all beautiful and unique. Dating in this part of the world, you have to be open minded. Growing up bi-cultural, I did not think it was strange that my parents looked different. That I spoke a language that no one understood. It was just part of who I was. So, I went dates with the hopes, that someone would just see me as a woman. Not as exotic, not as different…curiosity is definitely a natural phenomenon but at some point, it gets creepy. I wasn’t sure if my encounters were to fulfill a fantasy or a fetish. One thing that irked me was the assumption that African women were oppressed or that they were submissive. That they thought they had more information about the world I grew up in because they had read the news.
Not all is lost on these apps, there are nice people out there and sometimes, my impatience gets the best of me. I am used to being direct, if people actually heard my tone of voice when I wrote a message, I don’t speak in anger. If you listen to my podcasts, I have a soothing voice and I don’t shout. I may have written in irritation when I was asked if I was a catfish, forgetting that the online world is a cesspool of loads of crazies. When you are used to regular interactions it gets hard to translate messages online. On top of that, there’s the cultural cues to deal with. Whom approaches whom. Whether to meet up or not. Moving forward when someone cancels on a date. Ugh, it got exhausting. In my world, I believe in actions and not words. Silence can be unnerving, but, I also learnt to understand that not everyone sees my point of view. Dating should be fun. I learnt that sometimes setting the intention of what one is looking for if you end up on a second date is important. Some may look for a relationship, others fun or just someone to hang out with.
In my case, I hadn’t set any intention, I just wanted to see what was out there. Ask the universe to show me that there were some decent men out there. I guess my intention was basically not to meet eff boys. There were some I met that only made it to one date especially, when I noticed they were looking for something else especially, someone to run with. I kid you not!
One thing, I have to remember is that it should be fun and I am looking forward to meeting interesting people off-line as well.
For now, I am thankful for every beautiful experience I have had in 2018. As July comes, I still cannot believe 6 months are almost gone. For once in the past two years, I feel like I am living, loving and coming into my essence. I know that the next 6 months are going to be one hell of a ride. Bring it on universe!
These out of comfort zone activities have brought people in my life that I consider friends for life. Thanks for being part of my journey, everyone I met this year. As well as for the love, I have gotten from my 3 month old blog. Whatever you do, do it boldly! Step into the other side of fear. Do something at least once and let those bad experiences be water under the bridge. In the end, life is full of lessons, make it beautiful!
Work hard and play hard… or take time to play…