Growing up as a child, I was always encouraged to live my life without letting the past define me, a past that quite literally shook my very existence to its core.
It is a common dream for parents to see their child grow up healthy and succeed in whatever they choose to do in life. About 23 years ago, I was too young to remember but the sheer sadness when my mother talked about the fateful day that culminated with a two inch scar on the top left side of my head proving difficult to hold back at times.
When I was less than a month into this world, I developed a complication called hydrocephalus which is basically born with a watery head that required surgery immediately. My mother told me later on that it was one of the toughest moments of her life due to the gripping uncertainty associated with that condition. I was rushed to the emergency room for a delicate surgery that would eventually patch me up.
Yes my life was saved but there was still another mountain to climb. I struggled in nursery school as a side effect when it came to grasping basic concepts. The learning curve proved to be a torrid nightmare for me and my teachers alike. I barely made the cut into primary school and my family’s solid support system saw me through.
Due to the sensitive nature of my condition and potential side effects, in high school, I was advised by a doctor not to indulge in physically draining sports. Regardless, I was an ardent football fan and talented so I could not just keep away. Eventually I joined the school football team and became a key member of the squad. I was able to help my teammates finish third at the national championships in my final two years on top a few other achievements.
Moreover, it is also at that same stage that I developed a passion for writing, a move that has proven to be a game changer for me to up to date. In Kenya, there are many talented writers so opportunities to stand out have always been far-fetched. A nagging knee injury forced me to quit my goal of playing football professionally so I had to adapt quick in an unforgiving society.
I enrolled for a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Media Studies in 2012, a field that I knew could help me hone my writing skills. As I stated earlier, standing out as a writer was difficult and only working for one of the top media houses (Nation and Standard Media Group) would suffice. I knew then that the golden ticket was to set a course for myself to work for either of those dominant media houses.
At the time, Standard Media Group through its representatives turned my application away as was the case with many young professionals seeking opportunities. When that door closed, another one opened for me. I managed to secure an internship in 2015 at Nation Media’s editorial department as a sports intern.
I found it to be a daunting task in the first few weeks having never had any prior experience at such a top level organization. Perseverance had been instilled in my veins so I took each day at a time and eventually learnt tools of the trade.
Shortly thereafter, my first article was published and it unshackled me from the jaws of my own insecurities. I was fired up and ready to prove myself to my supervisors. My rate of articles published increased with each passing day as I received more workflow. In the end, my contract was extended from three to six months thus giving me more time to show the world what I could do through my writing.
At the conclusion of my internship, I had a light moment where I joked to myself that the boy who could not read and write well was then informing the whole nation. I continued writing sports news articles for an online organization where I even covered an event beyond my country’s borders which was a plus for my portfolio. My work did not go unnoticed as I was honored with a media appreciation medal for exemplary coverage of martial arts by the International Tong-Il-Moo-Do Federation in 2016.
People face adversity everyday but it is the will to fight that will enable one to rise above it. Additionally, when your back is against the wall, it is possible to work towards prospering and creating those moments that takes one’s breath away. In conclusion, the scar is still a constant reminder of the close shave I had in the past but I will not and shall not let it shape who I aspire to be tomorrow.
Featured Photo Credit: Writing by OuadiO of Flickr