Evans Gikunda: What I’ve Learnt.
The last eighteen months have allowed me to reflect on many things. I’ve learnt that life’s most painful lessons are learnt at the worst times. I have learnt how to pick myself back up, how to mend my own heart and reconcile my mind and heart differences. It has taught me that no one is really down for you, that you’ve got to do shit yourself; nobody is going to put you back on your own two feet other than yourself. It has taught me how to cope without people I thought would be in my life for the long haul. I’ve learnt what it means to have and to lose and that some walks are meant to be taken alone.
I know how hard it is to build a reputation for a decade and have it go up in smoke in a minute, how fast the trust you’ve earned over years vanishes. A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. No one cares for the truth if the lie is more entertaining. No one cares to give you a minute to explain yourself when it doesn’t benefit them. Sometimes people are too busy in their own battles or too busy running away from their own struggles to care for yours. You owe no one an explanation, they won’t understand. Just take note of the few who go hard for you, this is a generation of selfishness. After all, no one owes you anything.
I know how easy it is for people who don’t know you to say so much about you. I’ve learnt how to live with the unfair judgment. To have undeserving labels and titles. I know how easy it is to get hurt or betrayed by people who once were or are closest to you. Because sometimes you trust too much, you give too much or love too much. You can give someone the world and in return not have a place in it. Expect less from people and in the same capacity, learn not to make excuses for horrible, malicious and mean people.
I’ve learnt to grow through what I’ve gone through. I know how it feels to be broken and at the same time misunderstood. I know what pain does to someone; there’s pain that hurts you and there’s pain that changes you. There is the sickness of heart and there is the pain of mind. The pain of mind changes you. It teaches you that time doesn’t heal anything, it just teaches you how to live with it. I’ve learnt that pain is a gift. Instead of avoiding it, learn to embrace it because without pain there’s no growth. I have learnt that I am strong enough to handle pain but that doesn’t mean I deserve it. What I deserve is my peace of mind, self-respect and self-worth. I have learnt to walk away from people and situations that threaten that. I have learnt that the greatest grace is rising and overcoming what was meant to destroy you.
“When a toxic person can no longer control you, they will try to control how others see you.” They’ll be focussed on burying you. They’ll try to make you doubt yourself, to give up. They want other peoples opinion to define you. Sometimes we are just collateral damage in someone else’s war against themselves. Don’t give them the satisfaction of watching you suffer and never put the key to your happiness in somebody else’s pocket. The best revenge is just moving on and getting over it. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Remember, sometimes it’s better to react with no reaction.
I was never afraid of my truth, and I will not keep it buried to save someone else’s spurious image. Everyone you meet has something to teach you. I regret some choices I’ve made but I hope to make better mistakes tomorrow. We are taught to own up, apologise and learn when we mess up but no one teaches us what do when you haven’t done anything wrong. I have learnt that apologising doesn’t mean you’re right or wrong, whether you messed up or not, it just means you value other people’s feelings and relationships more than your ego.
Spend more time with friends, self and family, more than you spend in your workplace. Cultivate better relationships outside your career and work. When anything happens, your work won’t be there for you. Your family and friends will. You can give your employer over six thousand work hours but they won’t afford to give you half an hour to explain yourself. Success comes at a cost. Let that cost not be your closest friends and family.
Put effort in checking up on your friends no matter how busy you are. You don’t lose friends, you only learn who the true ones are. Try and understand what someone else might be going through, smiles mask a lot. You will be amazed at the pain and tears a single smile hides. Watch out for the small changes in their life. The highest form of knowledge is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world. It requires a profound purpose, larger than the self-kind of understanding.
“I have dug my way out the ground with palm and fist many times.
My whole life has been one burial after another. I will find my way out of you just fine.” — Rupi Kaur