I recently turned 21 on November 27th. I am officially an adult according to most world standards. Oddly enough, I am not overly excited about turning 21. It’s just another day. However, I am grateful to have made it this far. In good health and perhaps happier than I was a year ago?

This post is dedicated to the few things that I have learnt this past year. In 12 months a lot can change.

1. The way you do one task is the way you do everything else

There’s this thing called the unity of life. How I do my work in school is directly correlated to how I work out in the gym and work at home. My dedication to various tasks in my life is not fragmented. I have tried my best this year to put 100% in everything. However, I have failed a couple of times. That does not mean that I don’t try again. One of my achievements in 2017 includes improving my public speaking skills. This comes at a cost. I had to prepare for the event in advance and show up early enough for practice. Putting myself at the forefront of every opportunity to speak up has been a challenge. Nonetheless, an exciting one.

2. You’re probably not friends with your high school pals and that’s ok

You spent 7 hours a day every day for four years with these people. Obviously a bond would grow. You joined university and maintained these cute little cliques (I think they’re a bit cultish but that’s just me). After a while the ‘friendship’ just died out. You wondered why for a bit but you moved on and made new friends. The budding diplomat in me believes in maintain cordial relations with everyone. You pass each other and say “Hey girl” and move on with your everyday lives. You still get excited about their wins and will definitely show up if things go bad. It’s OK if you’re not best buds with your high school gang. I haven’t died yet.

3.New friends will come

I made new friends at the oddest of places. My most pleasant friendship memory is with Jules. I tell everybody I meet this story. I met her in the library reading Americanah by Chimamanda. At that instance I knew I liked her. I met another friend of mine in the cafeteria and we sat talking about art and movies. Later she taught me about the history of classical music. We went out on breakfast dates and I even met her mom. Her mom guys! Maintaining these new friendships is hard. My friends and I work on completely different schedules. Meeting up requires constant effort. Sometimes a simple text like “I’m alive, don’t worry” is enough.

4. You really don’t need social media

After reading Hamlet’s BlackBerry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age by William Powers I came to the realization that social media is a waste of my time and mental energy. I know it’s a bit ironic that I am propagating this via social media. However, I need my fix of validation from the internet community. I took a couple of weeks off social media and learnt that social media only drains you rather than make you relax. We’re currently in the age of information overload. As a certified Know it all I’ve learnt that I don’t need to know everything. It’s a constant struggle living in the moment.

5. I’m here for a good time not a long time

This is the most dangerous maxim there is out there. I quote it almost every day. Don’t be fooled I don’t live by it. Nevertheless, there are times when one ought to let go and live. Like Miles Teller in the Spectacular Now we’ve got seize the day when it comes. Live our lives each day as if it’s our last. “This life is for L.I.V.I.N” – Dazed and Confused.

6. Every season of your life should have a soundtrack

Being the super movie buff and self-proclaimed queen of all things pop culture. I find it essential to have a certain theme song underlying each stage of your life.

  • Imperial March – When you’re going out on a date
  • A night to remember, Shalamar – Preparing for a night out with the girls
  • I’m every woman, Whitney Houston – When you need a confidence boost
  • Massu, Franco – When you’re feeling Afrocentric
  • Lose yourself, Eminem – Ultimate workout jam

7. Go out for concerts, It’s healthy

I’ve gone for jazz, classical, hip hop and afro beat themed concerts this year. It was one of my resolutions of 2017. Fortunately, my phone always dies at these events. I get to scream my head off and dance like never before. Obviously not at the classical music concerts. These concerts have been an opportunity to bond with my family and friends. For example, Nairobi orchestra concerts are a thing with my dad.

8. Relationships have their time

I’ve learnt to be patient with myself. I’ve learnt that I have so much to learn. I am not ready to be attached to some poor young lad out there. I need to grow out of my self-centered-ness before I jump into that ship. I’m yet to let go of my ever persisting cynicism about relationships.

9. Books, books and more books

I love to read. I’ve read about 40 books this past year. If you’re reading this do yourself a favor and pick up a good book. I have had the privilege of sharing my love for reading amongst my social circle. If you want to get me a gift, a book is probably a good idea.

10. Nerd is the new cool

I’ve learnt to embrace my inner nerd and quirkiness that comes with it. Nerds have always been cool. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is definitely a must watch. I might just start reading comics. I spent an entire afternoon discussing how batman and the joker are two sides of the same card. The conversation went on to discuss the various types of jokers: The mafia boss, the manic and the clown. (Hint: Heath Ledger is the manic fill in the rest)

11. The world owes you nothing

…and expectations lead to disappointment.

12. My number one cheerleaders

My parents continue being my number one support system. They are always available especially when I need them most. Learning to appreciate them and treasure them each day.

13. My best friends are my siblings

I have two older sisters and one brother. We’re this super cool clique that nobody is invited to. Proud owners of the signature “Toro” nickname we’re all known by. Despite the outrageous age gap, approximately 10 years, we are best friends. Sometimes, they had to fill the role of deputy parent but most of the times they’re cool peeps.

14. Health is truly wealth

Sometimes many of us forget to take care of ourselves. This past year has taught me that my health is my most important asset. My body is a temple and I ought to treat it like one. This means getting rid of unhealthy habits and filling them with good ones. Dialing down on the sugar is one of my biggest wins at 21.

15. Actively seeking a mentor

The logic is simple. You can’t do this life thing alone. You need someone older and wiser to guide you through it. I’m grateful that I have mentors in various aspects of my life.

16. A year in Pixels

I have a chart where I rate my days every day. It’s a form of journaling which reminds me that my bad days are not that bad when you look at it in retrospect. This chart enables me to reflect after a day. This in turn helps me plan for tomorrow and hope for a better outcome.

17. Look your very best each day

…for your damn self.

18. Christianity, the only thing that gives me hope

… Because human beings are selfish. We all need to be saved from ourselves and live for virtue.

19. I’m a Muay Thai drop out

And I miss it every day with every fiber of my being.

20. Highlight of November 2017

Unfortunately most people won’t remember that it was my birthday on 27th November 2017. They’ll probably remember Mugabe resigning from office. Last year Fidel Castro died. I wonder what’s so special about this month.

21. I’m 21

I can drink anywhere in the world. Probably, not in the Middle East.

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— Cheptum Toroitich