Yesterday(sometime last week now, this draft almost fossilized on my machine), I officially finished my first short story. I hated it. All 2971 words of it. I still mostly do. The story came to me on a bus ride from Juja to town, J. K. Rowling vibes, except the story that it ended up becoming was nothing like the little draft I jotted down on Evernote on that bus ride home. This thing about a story taking on a life of its own, maybe that is what that was. I felt like every time I stopped and then came back after perhaps a day, things were different. Going in another direction. I wonder if I would have ended up with the same story had I sat down and pounded it out all in one go. I doubt it. One thing I know for sure, up until the moment when I ended the story, I really had no idea it would end that way.
Well, I still only mostly hate the story as opposed to completely hating it because I gave it to my friend Sally to read and she thought well of it. First, let me mention how after emailing it to her, I sent her a message on whatsapp and told her I had sent it. To which she replied that she would read it shortly. I heard from her about 24 hours later. In those 24 hours, I concluded that she was probably just trying to find a nice way to tell me that my story was kinda here, there, and a little everywhere which is what I think of it. She liked it. Whether it is because she is my friend and is thus being kind or whether it actually is any good is neither here nor there. Validation, yay! I will write a second because she thought well of it. Perhaps with the second I shall let two people read and comment.
All that was somewhat a side note.
Trust The Hours
I have been learning a new programming language and while at it getting a tad bit frustrated at how fast others seem to be picking it up in comparison to me. Comparison. The thief of all happiness. Fact!
Are we hard-coded to think like this? Always comparing? Here’s the thing, we all come from such diverse backgrounds with skills and experiences so different, it does not make any sense to be comparing ourselves to each other. Especially given the fact that in the bigger picture, we are all being prepared for different things. In the wake of comparing myself to the other learners of this programming language and being de-motivated by the fact that these things were just not settling into my mind as fast as I thought they should have, I started to slack on my process. My process is a chapter a day of a certain book plus a few exercises and blog posts online to accompany the concepts I have learnt. In an attempt to try keep up with the rest, my process went out the window and I found myself scattering my efforts here and there and everywhere and if there’s one thing I know for sure, the more distributed the efforts, the less the progress.
Trusting the hours. I need to just buckle down, do my daily process and grow at my own pace.
I wish the Kenyan education system took such things into consideration. Our different strengths and weaknesses and paces and varied future destinations. Perhaps at that stage things have to be a bit more standard for us to make progress. I don’t know. I am not an educator.
Back to comparison, have you ever thought about how often you compare yourself to other people? Does it ever do you any good? I was recently at a workshop, the set-up was largely interactive, and there was this one guy who constantly had his hand up and had questions. Now, I come from a place where, since participation is encouraged and valued and better desired in say, a classroom setting, than just silently sitting and taking it all in, I have always had to spur myself on to participate. Not because I do not want to or cannot but because I am just more inclined to not. But in a world that values and celebrates the opposite, the more outgoing and vocal, I have found myself aspiring to be that other personality. So I would sometimes set a baseline goal and promise myself that whenever I am in such a situation, I would raise my hand to ask a question or make a comment at least once. So this particular time, after fulfilling my quota of speaking once, this guy I was sitting next to was breaking all records and I found myself comparing myself to him, thinking how much more memorable he would be, wondering why I was not naturally as vocal. Perhaps because this topic of comparisons had been stewing in my mind, I caught myself at it. I caught myself comparing myself to this guy. I caught myself putting myself down for not being more like him and wondered how often I get up to this. How often do we generally think demeaning thoughts of ourselves? How do we feel about it? How do we take it?
In Pink’s song, ‘Perfect’, she says, ‘Change the voices in your head, make them like you instead.’ What reason really, would the voices in your head, your inner voice, have for not liking you? Comparison. The thief of all happiness.
Comparison does have its merits, for sure. Looking up to individuals who have achieved what we would like to achieve, possibly emulating their process and striving to be even better. I do not think there is anything wrong with that, but there is a somewhat thin line between these comparisons being a yard-stick and them becoming a standard that you berate yourself for not attaining.
Now this phrase, trust the hours, is something a friend of mine brought to my attention. Thank you Roy. Trusting the hours is making its way up towards being my life philosophy(one of). Trusting the hours just comes down to working towards whatever your goals are, one step at a time. That step may be half an hour a day, an hour a day, four hours a day, this is really just up to you but as long as you(I) am working towards it, that is enough. Where I am now and where I want to be one day may be quite a stretch but I am trusting the hours to get me there, with my writing, with the learning of this programming language and generally with life all around. If I want it, rather than looking to others and comparing where they are and where I am and possibly getting discouraged and losing momentum, I choose to buckle down and do my hours!
Trust the hours, they will take you there.
If you are like me, you’ve got to trust those 4 am mornings.
Trust those Saturday afternoons spent on piano practise.
Trust those lunch breaks spent watching YouTube videos that expand the breadth of your thoughts.
Whatever your process, trust the hours.
You want something, put aside time to work towards it and then trust the hours.
…wanted to end with a bang. Settled for that ‘BOOM’ instead.