One of the questions that keeps cropping up in my mind is whether I am the right man for the job. This often happens when a relationship with a young man I have met – usually through a referral – doesn’t work out.
I haven’t had many broken relationships but the ones that have happened have taken a piece of me away.
However, each broken relationship has made me wiser, stronger and more picky when it comes to choosing my battles. Above all else, I have ended up seeing my younger self in most of the boys and young men I am meeting through Lifesong Kenya and Standing With Boys.
While sharing the lessons I have learned, I often find myself sharing the things I would have wanted a father-figure to share with me when I was growing up. Having grown up with a widowed mom – and without a dad and no male figure – I grew up with a vacuum that needed to be filled by a father-figure.
The more I focused on finding him, the more I failed to appreciate my mom, siblings and what I had. Instead, I kept thinking I had nothing to offer the world.
With time, fresh regrets kept merging into older ones and I ended up having the lowest self-esteem you will ever witness in a capable young man. This is the same situation that most of our boys face. However, it is our hope that they will learn to embrace new attitudes.
Dear Younger Me (3 things I wish I knew growing up)
Here are the 3 things I wish I knew while growing up.
Wish #1: Knowing my full potential
When you are poor, you don’t think. All the common sense, inborn intelligence and your ability to get stuff done, escapes through the window.
You become dependent on other people for everything and believe you cannot survive without them. With time, you begin doing weird things in order to gain acceptance from people. You begin pretending so you can win sympathy. Instead, you become a slave who jumps without asking why.
I recently met a young man who needed resources and I told him how I regret buying business assets that have become liabilities because they aren’t adding as much business value as I thought they would.
Take for instance, a freezer that we bought to stock and sell chicken. Buying the freezer ate into our business seed capital and 6 months down the line, the amount of profits we make from selling chicken hasn’t amounted to the price of the freezer.
Instead of becoming an asset, the freezer has becoming a liability. I see many young men get into a life of debt because they are after owning assets without learning their full potential to gain from network, cooperation and sharing resources.
Wish #2: Learning to fish
I wish I had focused more on gaining knowledge much easier than I did as opposed to getting money from the people whose success I admired.
Because we were poor and money was scarce, I thought I needed lots of money. But along the way, everything changed.
I remember this old man in our village, who according to us, was mean and tight fissed. He seldom wanted to give us money or any freebies. Instead, he made us work for everything, including borrowing his bicycle!
Before I eventually left the village for the city, I had to weed a farm of coffee. The years I spent learning from him taught me how to focus on gaining knowledge and earning from work as opposed pooh and to depending on handouts.
Wish #3: Steady growth begets more
Growing up I thought my mom was old fashioned, uneducated and had no knowledge to share any valuable lessons with me. This being so, I would listen to her, without hearing what she was saying.
Every time she spoke, I simply went into my typical wait-for-the-end-of-her-blah-blah-blah mode and couldn’t glean from her wealth of wisdom.
My mom taught me how to appreciate small steps as opposed to making reckless decisions to take big leaps.
She taught us how to mame use of locally available resources to find solutions. We learned not to envy what people possessed but be content with what we had. She taught us to grow what we had to gain more.
Above all else, she taught us to look at the brighter side and always remin positive and thankful. Because changing the way you look at things changes the way those things appear.
Counting my blessings
9 boys gratuated from our Skills Empowerment Program in prison yesterday. 2 of them will be leaving prison tomorrow and our team will have the opportunity to provide bus fare for one of them and drive the other home.
As I go to bed tonight, I know all is not lost. I look forward to meeting his mom who owns a good kiosk and his younger siblings.
During the graduation ceremony yesterday, I encouraged the boys to be thankful, recognize their value, respect and honor their moms.
I encouraged this boy, especially, to accompany and provide security to his mom on her way to the market before the whole slum wakes up.
I also look forward to connecting him to local business men so he can continue learning computer and earning an allowance from it as he learns how to run a business in the near future.
As for the few young men whose relationships have failed to click, I count it as a blessing to have met them. I continue charging on knowing that each new day brings us closer to finding a rough diamond that God will enable us to turn into a rare gem. So, help me, God!!!