Seven Months into College

I set my Google chrome window to its maximum size when I engage in YouTube escapism, because that way the clock widget is hidden and I successfully avoid the guilt of watching my study time melt away. Until it’s too late, that is. Does that make sense? I hope it does.

 

My friends and I laugh derisively at our August, 2015 selves as we remember how regularly we updated each other on all stuff we would do once we shipped out of Kenya and got to College(each of us trying to outdo the other, of course). Manze, we thought we were superheroes who could handle triple majors and double-digit minors. Not to say we are not intelligent, it’s just that higher education has its (very effective) way of humbling you.

 

In seven months I have learnt more about myself than I have in the last five years. For example, that I can get really bad at coping with high stress environments, and often opt to sleep my troubles away(it never works by the way, since I always wake up bleary-eyed, with the same amount of work to do and half the time). I learnt that I get easily discouraged by failure, especially academic failure, and that thinking about one bad thing that is happening in my life leads to a chain reaction of self blame and then, stress sleeping.

If I don’t make a timetable for myself, I will waste my time spectacularly. My ability to travel forward in time by channeling the  power of denial is awe-inspiring.

When I arrange the clothes in my wardrobe, make my bed do my laundry and get my unread email inbox count down to 1000, I feel the most peaceful joy. I can get through a moderately long conversation about Game of Thrones and Scandal and insert-popular-series by relying on the many random YouTube short episode clips and trailers I find during my online adventures. My mind can get so thoroughly content with its own creative renditions of situations that will never happen, that I forget to live outside my thoughts. Daydreaming is a big comfort zone.

 

These past few months I realized that I care more about people’s opinions than I thought I did. I crave being alone, but I am afraid of loneliness. I fear it may make me come off as ‘weak’. I’m afraid of coming off to anyone as weak, and afraid of coming off as too sure of myself. I make bad decisions with full knowledge of their potential to screw me over, and proceed to shift blame and feel sorry for myself when they do. I am a walking contradiction.

 

Thinking about your future is a scary process. These past few months, those thoughts have been my most exciting and dreaded pastime.  Thinking about the world, and those who lead it also can be depressing. Realizing how small I am in the grand scheme of things is scary. The responsibility towards my community and towards the society is a sobering weight.

 

I find humor in the blandest and most unlikely of situations, and often stare(subtly I hope) at people, trying to guess their life stories. I vividly remember things I see on Facebook, and if you are reading this, I probably remember specific details of that road trip you posted about four months ago, or that semi-philosophical post you made about how your  first week of school fundamentally changed you. I Facebook-stalk shamelessly. Shamelessly. I have stalked you.

 

I really want to change the world. Stanford’s vibrant academic and entrepreneurial atmosphere inspires me. Its students and faculty motivate me to become a better person. Learning new things, especially how to code and the art of problem solving, has brought out the final-form nerd in me.  I am excited by the potential that technology has to better lives, and wonder if I’ll live to see the age of AI. Thoughts of my mortality keep me grounded, and thoughts of other’s mortality, especially me being thirteen thousand kilometers away from home, remind me to reply to Whatsapp messages and skype calls.

 

Coming to College has made me realize I’ll have to work harder than I ever have to get the kind of opportunities I want, and that discipline is an inescapable part of life. I have also had to face the fact that I really am a morning person, despite being in denial of the fact my whole life.

 

I have been going to the gym for the past two weeks(so naturally I feel the need to give this wise analogy). Each time I get on that elliptical, I spend the first ten minutes with my chest on fire, willing myself not to reduce the gradient, and not to pedal slower. I tell myself I’ll rest when I’m halfway through, but once I get to that stage, the disgusting amount of sweat I have shed is enough to motivate me to finish the whole round. And when I get off, boy oh boy do I feel good. But I know I have to do it all over again the next day. And the day after that. And that my soft little(big) tummy won’t morph into rock solid abs on my walk back to the dorm(still hoping though). I will probably have 2 servings of ice cream at the dining hall that will set me back a few days. However, that doesn’t stop me from taking pleasure in the exercise and its aftermath. And such is life. It’s all in the journey.

 

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6 comments

  1. Zena Talai Kipkenda · March 20, 2016

    Norah you make being stressed sound like fun 😀

  2. waltthepoet · March 20, 2016

    Relatable!!! 💯💯💯

  3. iwaisgeorge · March 21, 2016

    Hehe…thank God I didn’t take any road trips then,ey? Can’t have you stalking me. That would make it a two way street.
    As is often the case,Norah, I find your piece fun, funny and relatable. Reading this of gives me the strange feeling of experiencing catharsis vicariously through you. (College in America has also made me accept my narcissism. Very much like LITERALLY EVERYONE who reads Buzzfeed articles, I feel like this post is about me.)
    Except for that gym part. Fuck gyms. 🙂

    Keep writing. I’ll keep reading.

  4. J_i_m_m_i_e · March 21, 2016

    Looking at people and trying to guess their life stories. Story of my life, no shame! 😂 awe-inspiring piece as always! Your writing gives me so much life ❤

  5. lifeoftongi · March 21, 2016

    Interesting read… Keep up the good work

  6. David K. Ng'etich · March 21, 2016

    Guess am the next in this crucible…awesome piece, Norah…

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