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Home / Achieving Woman

Wanjiru: Self-acceptance is work in progress

Achieving Woman
By Caroline Okello | 6 months ago | 4 min read

 Wanjiru calls herself a writer and a project manager (Photo: Courtesy)

I am usually up by 5am and spend the early morning hours meditating or reading, followed by physical exercise.

I typically focus on my creative projects in the morning, whether working on my next book or writing commissioned articles. From noon till six or seven in the evening, I focus on Book Bunk activities. I’m not always successful sticking with this routine, but this is how a good day is.

It’s always been vital for me to own my time and control where and how I work. It’s not surprising that I’ve always worked in the creative sector as a talent, festival and events manager, and writer.

But the thing that has surprised me most is the possibility of making a career out of writing. If I weren’t working on library restoration, I would be writing full-time.

The versatility of my skillset has surprised me. I keep saying I can do anything. I call myself a writer and a project manager. I apply my project management to library restoration.

Five years before, I was doing that in the journalism field, and before that, it was in the events space. I have surprised myself with how expandable my skills are and how quickly I learn.

Before the library restoration work, I was not good with money. But at Book Bunk, I am in charge of the organisation’s finances. It was a steep learning curve, three years of fast learning. I have since grown better at it.

Looking back at my life, I wish I was bolder about what I charged for my time. I wish I knew how good I was at what I do because I think that’s why people always ask me to do it.

On a personal front, I wish I had spent less time worrying about my body and trying to shrink it to fit the conventional images of beauty. It breaks my heart that I wasted a lot of time trying to make my body conform.

The journey to self-acceptance has taken a lot of work because it entails finding out the root of my body image issues. You have to do the work, and sometimes it is an excruciating excavation work; I have been doing a lot of that in the last two years. I am not fully where I want to be. It is a work in progress.

I’m learning to ask for what I am worth. I’m doing that by first of all being in spaces where I’ve been invited.

I only want to work with people who ask me to explore, understand and experiment with them and sometimes that invitation can take many forms.

It could be a straight-up email like you did to invite me to do this interview or, it could be someone paying me for my services.

I am much better at asking what I’m worth with my project management projects because I’ve been doing this for 17 years.

I don’t take on work that I don’t believe in, and I don’t take on work that doesn’t pay me because I don’t want to feel resentment towards my clients because I didn’t charge them what I am worth.

Another thing I have found helpful is talking to friends who are bold about their money life. I ask them to read my contracts to see if I’m getting a raw deal.

I put together a rate card for my speaking engagements because I may have 17 years of experience being a project manager, but I am a young writer, so I’ve been saying yes to everything for the last year because I am eager and grateful for things. Still, it takes a lot of time, energy and sometimes money to prepare for speaking engagements.

Self-care to me means taking time out to do the things I need to do to relax and connect with myself. It also means doing that with no guilt. I don’t know if it is a woman thing, but you can be on holiday and feeling guilty about taking time off.

I have a lot of guilt around taking time and doing the things that I need. And because I am an introvert, I need time on my own to recharge, and for a long time, I have been apologetic about that. I’m working on it.

I love reading African authors, so it might be surprising that the last great book I read was Untamed, a memoir by the American author Glennon Doyle.

And because I have wanted to connect with my grandfather, the late Mbiyu Koinange, I watched the Makers of a Nation on Showmax.

I didn’t know much about my grandfather. I never even heard his voice because he died 40 years ago; that was before I was born. It’s amazing that now when I am 35 years old, is when I listened to his voice for the first time from the documentary.

It was interesting to see a side of him I had never experienced before, because, at home, we talk about him as our grandfather and not who he was to the rest of the country.

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