I’m scared of the direction my life has been headed in the past couple of months. I dropped out from my graduate programme. I took my first real job working with a small (but impressive) team where we’re singlehandedly sculpting the cultural landscape of the country — the potential is huge.
My poetry collection sits in this same computer unpublished. I haven’t posted anything on the internet in weeks.
Oh, and I got dumped. I could tell you about how painful it was. Or what I wish I hadn’t said or done. Or the lessons I learned or how much I would miss her. Truth is, up until recently, I thought I had ‘survived’ this. I hadn’t. I may not. In fact, given my propensity towards extreme emotional engagement without building the initial required foundation upon which most long term relationships are built, I woke up a few mornings later and sobbed.
I cry when I watch emotive movies or read texts with similar properties. I cried when I received a surprise birthday cake for the first time with my name on it.
I still consider myself cold and unemotional. I’ve trained myself to not express surprise, fear or elation unexpectedly. Dealing with subtle forms of rejection in secondary school and during my first years in the Uni gave me that skill.
That morning, I sat up and prepared to head to work, I don’t remember the exact sequence of events that led to my sobs, but I felt a deep sense of loss, like my reason for existing had been stolen. I could not find words to describe what my mind didn’t comprehend. As I struggled to make sense of it, I muttered to myself in hope that words would soothe the excruciating feeling that boiled in my abdomen. It made no sense. Yet, the tears flowed. They were hot. Enough to make me stop. Enough to let off a little of the pressure from within. I’d never cried over a breakup before.
Great. One more item off my bucket list.
I washed my face and wore the adequate thespian features. Then I left home.
Because that wasn’t the day I couldn’t talk to anyone.
Last month, someone on twitter interviewed me for her dissertation. She said she’d come across my writing on the web and her work focused on black writers living on the continent. Another amazing writer said I was quite a talent. I felt important. This is not to say that I have a bad case of low self-esteem.
Because I do have a mild case of it.
I don’t think I am particularly handsome. It is for this reason that I feel very nervous in front of anyone’s camera.
I don’t think I am a good writer. I sometimes fear that I may die and never accomplish my dreams. Of course, you will tell me it is probably a legitimate fear that everyone has. Honey, I get you, but I am not everyone.
I am me. I’m scared.
I feel like a fraud. I try hard to hide it behind jokes, and smart talk ( boy, do I steal from books). Which is why it takes me a long time to trust anyone to open up and really get them to enter my world.
(Fun fact, you ( yes you reading this) probably know more about me from reading me on the internet that most people in my immediate surroundings. That’s how much of me I am able to hide from everyone around me)
On the other side of this deep fear of disappointing my inner self, I also have a sense of things I can do that no one else could. I play with words in ways that never seizes to amaze people around me. I speak two languages and I ( sort of sing). I am also sort of funny — when I’m not depressed.
As you can see.
I am very much in touch with the things I don’t like: I find it hard to do work that is algorithmic. I thrive with creative tasks. However, I have recently observed that even heuristic tasks if given constraints, offset my juices and literally- believe me when I tell you- render me totally incapable of making coherent sentences.
Yesterday, during a workshop, I had to create a story from a theme I absolutely hated. I think my brain died for the next half of the session. My ideas mortified instantaneously.
But, it wasn’t because I was scared of dying alone, unfulfilled and without dreams that I decided not to talk to anyone. I was because I had had enough and I was exhausted. For the first time in months, I’d reached the trough of my mild depression and I decided I didn’t want to do anything. Except this.
When I woke up that morning, everything was the same; the car horns through my window, the sun’s sly smile pouring through. My eyelids were heavy, but my stomach too.
“I could read a few pages before I go up there”, I thought to myself as I grabbed the Samsung tablet on the table.
A journey to the loo wiped the thoughts of another dive at the warm covers. It was my special moment with myself. While I did my business, I flipped to my ebook app, ‘Born Standing Up’ was open.
As much as I’d never paid attention to Steve Martin’s work as an entertainer, I noticed that his writing gave me insights into his life that would never leave me. I quietly continued my not so challenging multitasking ordeal.
I knew because my phone alarm started ringing as soon as I got into the room. Steve was saying something about Nina Lawrence and her change of name. But I knew I couldn’t afford another sluggish read.
Fifteen minutes couldn’t have gone this fast. I knew something wasn’t right that morning the moment I started freezing during my workout. I wasn’t unlike the rushing antelopes away from forest fire deep in the country. Or the birds leaving the island before the volcano.
Even when I took the cab, my head moved with difficulty. My smile felt plastic. I could hear my voice. Even I didn’t believe my destination when I told the driver.
In a sudden rush, I wrote an email to my best friend in over 11 years. The network was shitty but I was grateful for Gmail’s HTML version . I told her what I was going to do. I know what I wrote in the email, but I couldn’t believe I was going to do it. When my phone rang and I saw my superior calling, I silenced the device and turned the screen face down.
I wasn’t in control anymore. That was when he told me what we were going to do that afternoon.
End of part one.
Tchassa Kamga lives in Buea, Cameroon. This part of the country hasn’t had internet in over two months. So, he’s had to travel a long distance to post this. He’s learning the intricacies of curating events and documenting them at the fine dining restaurant and cultural hub- IYA Buea. He has three episodes on his podcast . He also takes blatant pictures on Instagram.
He co-writes with C. Befoune on this publication — Self-ish . Their goal is to share the lessons they’ve learnt from multiple sources in the domains of Self-improvement, Content Creation and Human Relationships.