Today’s column is a deeply personal reflection which do in the form of a letter to my twenty-year-old self
Congratulations on landing that interview. Congratulations also for recently turning twenty. You think and feel all grown up now, old enough to announce to your parents that you will be getting a job because you think you are mature enough to be “independent”.
Dressed in your brown skirt suit and purple kitten heels, you can barely contain your fright, seated in that reception along with tens of other hopefuls. Each of you is hoping to get picked to work with the newspaper.
Relax, and will you stop worrying so much?
You will ace this interview — even though you will fumble through your answers. In fact, your determination will earn you a couple of more years at the newspaper.
You are at the cusp of your journalism career. You are wondering what your career will be like. You want to be a “writer” — even though at this point you cannot quite fathom exactly what that means.
More importantly, you direly want to prove your worth to the world. You are also worried how you will manage school and work, but you will soon realise that with careful planning and the occasional boda boda ride, you will almost always make it to class on time.
Your career will unfold like nothing you ever imagined or planned. In your relentless quest to prove yourself, you will be suddenly thrust into a strange position in which your work will speak for you. It will not be easy.
Let me put it to you this way, you will need insurmountable levels of fortitude and courage to take on the challenges that will come with your unique job. This will be an incredibly lonely phase for you and there will be days when you will be tempted to quit.
However, you will need to soon realise that these formative years of your career, tough as they seem, are important in building your resilience and proving your mettle.
Of course, you will encounter some unforeseen occupational hazards. You will be grossly misunderstood. You will also from time to time read about yourself in the blogs and wonder if there could another Njoki somewhere using your face.
You will spend sleepless nights, worrying about the future, and if all this is worth it, but don’t worry, you’ll soon figure things out.
At some point you will experience a shift in your thinking. You will not know when it starts, but you will wake up one day and you will realise that you do not have to prove a point to anybody anymore. I have to warn you, you will go through some career-altering situations which will prompt you to rethink your ambitions.
What at first might have looked like an unfair act of malice, you will soon realise, was just God’s way of taking you to the right path.
You will begin to see the world in a different way and you will rethink you ambitions of becoming a “writer”. You will learn that dreams and plans change — and that is OK.
Your greatest life lessons, though, will be about the power of patience and grit. You are famously impatient. You will learn that good things take time and you will begin to appreciate the process of becoming.
You will learn that anger is a most unfruitful emotion when expressed in the wrong way but you will also learn to forgive more, and especially you will learn to forgive yourself. You will also learn to appreciate progress over perfection, that “done is better than perfect” and you will stop chasing after a “perfect” life.
You will rekindle your love for books, reading and studying new concepts — which, I must say, will be your saving grace.
One of your most liberating moments in your twenties will be the day you finally understand your potential and when you understand how much you could accomplish — if only you believed in yourself a little more.
Sitting here as I write this letter to you nine years later, I cannot help but say that I am immensely proud of the woman you have become; you are more confident in your abilities, your thinking is grounded and the path before you has never seemed so clear.
Wish you well and I hope you reach your ambitions.