The best decision I ever made
I quit my law career to pursue writing and left an abusive relationship
Joan Thatiah, Author of Things I Will Tell My Daughter
There are two decisions I have made that I could call life changing. The first was stopping to listen to what everyone else thought was best for me. I quit my law career to pursue my writing. I don’t think I can be any more fulfilled than this. But it was terrifying. I was afraid to let people down, especially my parents. But I thought about what would happen if I didn’t. Wouldn’t I spend the rest of my life wondering? So I wrote my first feature story which was published in a local newspaper. Choosing to pursue my writing led me to my life’s purpose which is women empowerment. Exploring this talent has given me platforms to write about and for women and in the process inspiring many of them.
The second was to walk out of an abusive relationship. I just got tired of getting hit. Choosing to walk out made me a better, stronger woman. I now know that what I allow stays, so my standards with regards to relationships are higher. Also, having seen what abuse looks like enabled me to appreciate a good man when he came along. His name is Roy. We just wedded three months ago. Walking out of that relationship taught me that it’s okay to choose myself, that I can’t be a good mother if I’m not happy, that I can’t pour from an empty cup.
I stopped singing in Church
Dan Aceda, Singer-Songwriter
Although I still go to church, the best decision I ever made was to stop singing in church as part of the worship team. It wasn’t easy. I had been a church boy since I was nine-years-old. Burnout and not getting enough actual care from leadership made me decide to leave. At first it was hard, but it allowed me to grow my career in a different direction. I felt like I had more freedom to write and sing songs, and felt less pressure to conform to things. It taught me that there’s more than one say on to live this life and definitely more than one say to live your religion. It taught me to be free, to be as intensely religious as I can but also to be human and to love freely without prejudice.
I followed my dream and it saved me
Wahu Kagwi, Musician.
I’ve made several good decisions, but one of my best remains following my dreams. I suffered from undiagnosed teenage depression, and as a result, I wanted nothing more than to be happy as a young girl. I desired happiness and fulfilment above achieving wealth and status because I had tasted sadness. When I was 18, I came across a DVD, by Dr. Myles Munroe, that inspired me. In it he said that we were all born to perform very specific functions, and one of the ways to identify your purpose on earth is to begin to engage in the things that make you happy. This is how I found myself in music. I wasn’t great, but it truly made me happy; and the more I practiced, the better I became. I live a rich and fulfilling life. It’s not perfect, but rewarding. I now find myself handling a lovely basket of engagements that bring me so much satisfaction and fulfilment, and through these different opportunities that I have, I find myself impacting others in a positive way. You never know how many people you inspire just by living out your dream!
I accepted myself as I am
Adelle Onyango, Media Personality and Founder of Adelle Onyango Initiative
The conscious decision to accept myself as I am and not try to be anyone else or cover up what society may believe to be a flaw, was the best decision. It’s a decision I continuously make just so I maintain my self-awareness and self-love. I’ve never really fitted in, but luckily, I grew up in an environment that respected and celebrated the individual and that helped. I’m extremely self-aware and okay with what makes me different. That’s a major key in unlocking your full potential and really living life to its fullest. The decision helped me learn that it’s important to define certain key things for yourself. You’ve got to define success, happiness, beauty, etc., for yourself or else society will do that for you and you’ll start living for them and not for you.
I refused to conform
Muthoni Drummer Queen, Artist, Founder of Festivals and 2019 TED Fellow
I followed my heart and decided to do music. For many years I tried to get into the music business and the recurring concern was that I was not Kenyan enough, so I wasn’t able to record at the studios. The consistent proposal from producers was that I needed to create something that conformed to the popular kapuka style of the time. I didn’t feel like that was a useful thing to do because I thought I had found a great musical style that I wanted to explore. Because I couldn’t exist that way I had to exist as a live performer and in doing so I discovered the problems with the live setup in Kenya. And in trying to figure out how to stay alive, all the things I have ever done in the music space manifested – the festivals, the music incubator, and the artist collaborative projects.
I chose sports marketing
Martin Keino, CEO Keino Sports Marketing
I was working as a young designer at Nike Inc. out of university and had lots of interactions with the sports marketing division. I liked it and decided that would be my career path for the future. The decision has impacted my life tremendously! There are programs in the sports community that are reaching people in ways that many organisations cannot. There’s power in play, in activity, in participation. I’ve had people tell me that without sports they would be dead, literally. It’s hard to argue there isn’t impact when you can simply say that a ball, a pitch, a racquet, or a track saved a life. The other aspect is the diversity and creativity that exists in this space. There are many ways sports is used to address social issues. Every sport is different. Every social issue is as well. The ways the two can be combined is truly limitless. It has also given a me a wonderful community to be associated with and work with. Sports creates a truly universal culture and a vibrant community. Nothing else – other than music, possibly – brings together such a vastly diverse audience. It doesn’t matter where you live, what age you are, your religious beliefs, your income, your ethnic background, sport fosters unity.
I tried out a career in radio
Sheila Mwanyigha, Media Personality
When I chose to try out a radio career, I had no expectations of what it would be and literally learned on the job. I worked with extremely talented personalities and I remember the boss saying his station was only as big as the personalities on air. It was up to everyone to “make their names hot in the streets.” You had to claim your space. It took hours of work and preparation just to go on air and then painful snoop sessions listening to what I did and how to make it better the next day. I still continue to feel the impact of that radio career every single day. I get messages on my social media channels from listeners who tuned in and supported me through the years as I grew.
I also have those who followed my TV career, and it reminds me to keep churning out content on my social media that is positive and relevant, that reflects who I am and where I am heading. Being on air is not like being an architect who can show you the wondrous designs they are responsible for. But in time, you begin to see the following of people you are responsible for influencing and shaping. Every word, every moment, every emotion is just like a brick in a building and one day you see what you created in the people you meet, in the conversations that surround you and the love that you feel.
I’ve learnt that nobody gets great on their own. Everyone has someone who sharpens them. I also learnt that talent alone is not enough. Some of the brightest stars who burned out didn’t lose it because they weren’t talented anymore, but simply because they stopped pushing like it was the first time. Without discipline, talent won’t work, and there’s nothing as sad as wasted talent. Never believe the hype and always keep pushing yourself, there’s always more that you can do and be!
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Joan ThatiahDan AcedaWahu KagwiAdelle Onyango