Family

The Thing About Growing Up

Or what happens when you get a little bit mindful about your choices

I know you don’t read a lot of my stuff and…
I read your stuff- she cut in.
Pause.
Huh. Really?
Yeah.
So…you read about
the time when I got my heart broken and I cried for a day?, I said, half hoping she’d say no.
Yes, my Mum replied, I read that.

So, I had a Whatsapp Call with a special someone today. We’re a typical Cameroonian family: we talk about plans for the future without trying to express our personal, usually differing, ideals; we spend christmas together — the first few days blissful, except for when the undying skeletons creep; we love each other but, when anyone says “I love you”, there is this, slight, very, uncomfortable, pause. *clears throat*

Ergo, the idea of a conversation in which we’d talk about my career, plans for the future, my dissatisfaction with my role as the first child, my opinion about her career, my relationships, and my take on responsibility, goes further to cement a singular thought I’ve been having:

I may actually be growing up. Dammit.

You see, this year: I had the best birthday gift, I gained more gratitude for the people in my life, I loved, I destroyed ( single handedly, and I am not being self-deprecating here) one of the strongest bonds I had ever forged with a friend- a brother. I’m still reeling from that loss. I’ll be okay. Thanks for asking.

I’m still incredibly amazed by how much I have been able to handle these situations.

Disclaimer: I had help from colleagues, friends and family. I just like to think that I am a hero. Meh.

Anyway, my mother and I talked. Remember the part where I said we were a typical Cameroonian family? Well, I lied. What can I say? I love me some drama. *wink*

We’re atypical. My siblings definitely have their own narrative about this, but, from my vantage point, having parents who actually make an argument for their decisions in your life, isn’t exactly “ Cameroonian”.

Normally, if you’re smart, you become a medical doctor. No questions asked. If you don’t make it through entrance exam- you do biochemistry, ace it, get a scholarship and leave the country. And oh, if you’re the first child, don’t forget to reel in your siblings when you get “established”. Whatever established means.

I have a tendency to replay important conversations in my head- text messages, meaningful encounters- like that time in the restaurant. I seem almost out of my body listening to myself — fragmenting my thought process. Of course, in time, these recollections become flawed. I try as much possible to milk them before I can’t trust the details.

If the one with Mum today is fresh, then I can rely on my conclusions:

1. You’re never too old to be a kid

I have come to terms with the fact that my mother will always worry. Same for my father. It was a pain the size of a hard drive at some point in my life( read: until very recently). Now, it feels more like a piece of fish in my spacious teeth- it’s annoying, but I can take it out when I want to. Plus, it feels sort of nice, you know. *smiles*

I feel really old at 27. Well… sometimes. But, the people I hangout with make me feel like a kid. All the time. I love the balance. It keeps me in check. And I know I can always count on my mother — she’ll worry, complain, try to make me get a ‘safe’ career path — because that is her job.

2. Sometimes, you need to stop being a kid

I’m currently working with a team that suits and stretches my skills. I don’t get time to “relax”. The work is challenging. For a lazy, stubborn writer like me, I looove ditching projects half-way. Once I don’t like an idea- meh. Dead.

With work ( and with life), I can’t do that. The team counts on me. The mission must be completed! (Did someone say Metal Slug?) I cannot run to my mother and say: sorry. I know my parents will always (want to) be there for me. And I get it- I won the parent lottery. I am certain that when I my own child, it will be the exact same feeling. However, in gratitude for what they’ve done for me , I need to get my life together. For them. For me.

3. “Sometimes, you need to leave your family, so that you can be stable enough to help your family” — hK:

A friend said that to me months ago. I was worried about how best to get to my siblings on ze search of a career. Isn’t it ironic how good I am at proffering advice I have a hard time heeding?

Today, I told my mother about how much she had no choice when it came to worrying about me and my siblings. And how I did. I have a choice. I cannot let my first born son incontinence ( is that even a thing?) stop me from living “my life”. I have goals, dreams, and plans. Lists of books to publish. Podcast conversations to have. Scripts to finish. Ideas to test. Places to see. If I get hung up on solving family problems ( I don’t have that many, trust me. I just take them a tad too seriously), when do I get the time to make my dent? I need to chill.

Inner self: yeah dude, chill ( I just watched Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” *grins* * does 3 second air guitar solo*

4. You always have a choice about how you feel

Like when I said “ I love you” at the end of the conversation. We’re not living ze dream. Our bank accounts aren’t sputtering passive income. My job isn’t “fun”. My parents are not “the world’s best parents”. Heck, I don’t even have a couch! ( I’m working on the couch part though. Thanks Q. 🙂 ).

After my recent break-up, I internalized my pain. It was a lot of pain for me. I justified it with messages, texts, contexts. I even went back to work with more vigor. Then, I had a one day crash — and a one week crash. Then I wrote this.

With my return from ze dark side, I started mindfulness: I label my thoughts — useful, useless — depending on what they are at the time.

I don’t need to “delete” the thoughts. I just need to know — is this useful? Is this useless? That’s it. It takes practice. And I am pretty bad at it ( getting there…). But I know this keeps me from replaying unnecessary conversations. I may not be the happiest person on earth, but I know I am responsible for how I feel about whatever happens to me.

I still have a lot of things to figure out. I still want to travel and write. I still want to have epic conversations (even though my LGG4 gave up on me and I lost months of conversations and pictures that I will never recover * takes deep breath to calm himself down*). I have a lot of things I need to work on. And, I have someone who will die for me if she needed to.

I know she won’t read this ( she actually hardly reads my work. I mean…come on…why are you reading this self-deprecating renegade ramble?), just know that I love you Mum.

And I love you too for reading this far. Thank you.

This is not to all the Mums. This is not to all the friends who make our lives worth it. This is not to hard workers and sweet colleagues. This is not to adorable siblings and best friends.

This is to you who finds a reason to be grateful and to keep being better at growing up.


Tchassa Kamga lives in Buea, Cameroon. This part of the country just got its internet reinstated! Previously, he’s had to travel a long distance to post. However, this was written in his pyjamas. At home. Under myopic influence.

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 ( he has a not-so secret crush on her) 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.

Easily get him on Twitter.

 

What Happens When ‘They’ Have Faith in You


Click to Check out my Station on Anchor!!

After spending over three months without access to the internet, I can comfortably tell you that my life went on normally — sort of. I found out — among other things — the following:

1. My fear of failure easily leads me through a cycle : despair, then mild depression, then the search for the easiest exit.

In secondary school ( and even during my undergraduate years), I could do “mini-quits” — where I’d disappear from school from a couple of weeks, totally immerse myself in whatever new interest I’d had, then return for exams or catch-up with notes from my classmates.

Eh, good times.

Because I was smart enough to pass tests and major exams, no one noticed the momentary world I’d need to swathe myself through my moments of resistance.

This had always worked for me. Then I became productively accountable to another human — I got a job. What I found out with an employer ( who actually cares about you) is that you can’t climb into a self pity and stay home without showing up for work. You can’t carry a sad mane around the office and expect smiles and pats on the back. You can’t deliver sub-par work and expect cakes. Accountability demands and upgrade in dealing with self-inflicted despair. Which leads me to…

2. When you have people who expect much from you, you tend to do much.

“No expectations, no disappointment”– the popular maxim goes( I hope it’s not as popular as my brain thinks it is). This holds true for expectations in others — if you don’t expect much from anyone, you hardly get disappointed with anything that happens. You know, because you didn’t exactly root for or against his/her ability to achieve anything. This, my friend, is safe.

Too safe.

My boss expects a tonne from me. So do the members of my new family aka colleagues. I was navel gazing and licking my broken heart ( yep, doing it for the nth time), forgetting to see how much they’d invested in me. I almost irreversibly let them down.

The fact that you’re reading this means I didn’t. And that I have learnt more important things about love, life, work, family and friendships. Things like…

Real friends get worried when you quit too easily. They’re not afraid to tell you in your face.

Real friends don’t sugarcoat your laziness. They don’t make it a mean joke either.

Real mentors don’t babysit you. They show you the way. You have to walk it.

Weak ties are powerful. They could pay for your airplane ticket. But you’ll never know if you stay depressed in your room.

Business plans are important. Learn how to write one. It could save your life. Or fund it.

Same for life plans. “If you don’t know where goal post is, where do you shoot?” ( Somebody said that. I don’t remember who. 🙂 )

Resistance is real. Acknowledge it. Respect it. But do what you must.

You are responsible for how you handle your emotions. 

I now practice mindful meditation- I label my thoughts: “useless”, “useful”. I’ve stopped draining with replays of “useless” conversations in my mind.

If you think you don’t have friends, maybe you’re right. But maybe you aren’t a friend either.

 We all have 24 hours. You get to pick your family, gain weak ties and garner identity capital. It’s important to learn how to let go, how to be honest with ourselves.

Guilty as charged. 80% of previous paragraph comes from Dr. Meg Jay.

I have always rushed over my issues by writing every itty bitty tiny things that happens to me. Now I know better: everything takes time. Heartbreaks. Disappointment. Loss. 

Because we see our neighbours smiles and carry on doesn’t mean all is well. 

It’s better to stay on the road to recovery than to rush (with the mind) to the end. The whiplash may be lethal.

And love yourself. You’re worthy.


Tchassa Kamga lives in Buea, Cameroon. This part of the country just got its internet reinstated! Previously, he’s had to travel a long distance to post. However, this was written in his pyjamas. At home. Under myopic influence.

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.

Easily get him on Twitter.

If I had to be honest with myself.

If I had to be honest with myself, I’d tell you about the time when you broke my heart and made me miserable. I would tell you how much you scarred me and how I have searched for you in every woman ever since.

If I had to be honest with myself, I’d tell you about my greatest regret which is: not starting on my path early enough. That I should have taken the reins of my circumstances firmly.

If I had to be honest with myself, I would tell you about the friends I have now. The ones who believe in me and who make me more scared of failing them than of failing me. They are my family now.

If I had to be honest with myself, I would tell you that I miss the time when I used to play video games with my brother. When we had no care in the world except the sound of mother’s vehicle.

If I had to be honest with myself, I would tell you that I am not ready for any emotional engagement. That the scarring was just a way to the truth which is this: I am not ready.

If I had to be honest with myself, I would tell you how much I love my family now. How important it is to me that they are happy.

If I had to be honest with myself, I would tell you how restless I really am. Naturally. And how I struggled to get my degree even though I could very easily have aced it.

If I had to be honest with you, I’d tell you that I hate school. That I cannot sit for long and that I easily get bored.

If I had to be honest with you, I would tell you that writing is the only thing that keeps me sane. That it is an addiction I am proud of. And ,as well, the most difficult thing for me.

If I had to be honest with you, I’d tell you that I’d either end-up marrying a writer, programmer or a psychologist. And that the latter makes more sense in foresight.

If I had to be honest with you, I would tell you that I find it hard to keep a conversation with anyone who is not cultured and well read. Not someone who reads the news. No. But someone who has a vast knowledge of the kind of stuff your lecturer considers distractions.

If I had to be honest with you, I’d tell you all these and much more.

But then, I don’t have to be honest with you.

Why?

No reason. I just choose not to. Yeah, I be da kine man.

My Soul Mate, You Are.

A man once sought a friend, he found a brother.
He once sought company, he found a family.
When he needed a patient ear, he found a shoulder.
And when he needed a smile, he found a laugh.

Blood may be thicker than water, time may heal all wounds, and the future may remain unknown.
But some bonds go better with time and make every second of the journey of life marvelous.

You’re not my friend. You are my soul mate.

P.S: Yesterday was my birthday. I once wrote a post on the…”event”.

Currently working on one right now. Have a great day ahead.

Of Mentors, Workshops and Aunties

In 1995 I had my first surgery. I have had two more ever since. I don’t like hospitals very much. Maybe it is because of my condition. Meh.

Surgeries and Bus Trips

I was 5 at the time of my first procedure. I had to travel with my Mom from Bafoussam to Douala where my Auntie, my mother’s elder sister, lives.  I remember it as my first longest journey.I am horrible with maps and locations but I have done that journey for the past 7 years now and the average time is 4 and a half hours.

Imagine that with a 5 year old’s notion of time; that must have been months.

I also remember that before going to Douala, as the unwritten custom demanded, I needed to have a haircut. Something very funny happened at the barber’s . Sadly, this is not the day you find out.

It is only a few weeks ago that I came to discover that 1995 had more significance to me that I had held. That same year, I met someone who I will only come to meet again after 2013 (online through her blog), chat with (via Facebook), and respect (through various workshops including the one I will barely mention here).

My Auntie in Douala has four children. So does my mom. Actually, almost all my mom’s sisters have four children.

#Interesting

Anyway, when I was in Douala, my Auntie’s daughters were in college at the time.

I treasure the memories of my stay  there.The first song I learnt at home from the Cameroon Hymnal with Auntie Tina, and how Auntie Ju sneered at my day long hunger bouts.

I love those women.

I call them ‘Auntie’ because…well…they are really older than I am and I can’t afford to comfortably call them by first name.

Plus, they are more like mothers to me than cousins. In every way.

Now, in 1995, Aunty Ju and Auntie Tina were High School students at Our Lady Of Lourdes Secondary School; a respectable single sex boarding institution in the Northwest region of the Country.

Dear reader, we both know my stance on boarding schools.

Well, what I later came to find out was that my cousins were school mates with the person whose name just joined my list of mentors. And that she and I met during my stay in Douala.

 

Dear mentor, I don’t need your permission to take you as a mentor.

In 2012, I stopped my four years of Medical Laboratory Science studies and returned home. Sources say I was not motivated.

My reason is totally different. That, again, is another story.

My first week  in Bafoussam after my decision to quit school was a painful one. This is a euphemism: my parents were extremely displeased with my decision.

I started reading James Altucher’s blog that week. I have never stopped since. James became my mentor and taught me how to choose myself.

My father spares no effort at making his children comfortable.  If I am half the man he is, I would have a very proud family of my own. My father was my mentor before I even started walking.

That is probably why I swam the fastest.

Don’t smile.

Too late. 

Since 2007 I have been in Buea. I have watched the town grow as a tech hub and I have talked with a good number of entrepreneurs. Nara Lawrence of Wasamundi stands as my best bet for a future boss. He is one of the most inspiring minds I have met in my short life. Nara is my mentor.

Last year, I wrote a blog post pointing out the similarity between Stanley Enow’s hit single and a song by Chris Brown. At the time I was totally ignorant about music. I still am. It is thanks to people like Muriel Wondja and her blog that I have come to understand what Stanley Enow is actually selling. I love her blog and her drive. She blogs by night and probably works or studies by day. Find her on twitter #IamTeamMessyDawnForever #MyMentor

Richard Branson built Virgin Galactic from a school magazine. He IS a kick ass mentor…mine!

William Takor is one of the best designers I know. Maybe the only thing we have in common is a distaste for phonies (not unlike J.D. Salinger’s Holden C.). However, his designs and occasional articles inspire me.

I have a huge list of mentors. Probably one for every field of life.  This blog won’t be enough. But I will try to put them all down.

Just…not today.

Yefon Kathleen Mainsah went to school with my cousins .  She is the founder and editor of irepcamer.wordpress.blogspot.com. A chemical engineer turned social media pundit. 

No idea how that happened. 

She amazes me with her energy. I found out about our mutual family a few weeks back.

Ever since, I call her Aunty Yefon.  She deserves it.

Me and my Aunty Yef!

Me and my Aunty Yef!

 

 

Yesterday, she held a workshop for my department (Journalism and Mass Communication) at the University of Buea. It was themed: “Branding, Social Media and Blogging”.

You will not get a report about the workshop from me. Sorry, but as much as I have been trained in news writing, I do not enjoy the activity. I find it too factual and boring.

I prefer this: Yefon Mainsah would make an awesome mentor. I know because she is mine.

(Shhh…She doesn’t know)

 

Workshops and Other Light Mares.

At Amphi 150 E at the University of Buea

At Amphi 150 E at the University of Buea

While Aunty Yefon spent some time resting, the electricity was cut off. We were still setting up the hall because of some red tape induced misunderstanding.

No lights! A nightmare for any speaker right?

Well, not for Aunty Yef.

In her slightly hoarse voice she said:” It’s Okay. Let’s start with a discussion”.

In the heat of the discussions.

In the heat of the discussions.

Energetic, optimistic, loud (in an endearing way), cultured, bold and…wait for it…pretty short!

Yep. For all what she has accomplished, and plans to, Aunty Yefon just confirms the rule:

Do not mess with the short people. They are deadly when set to accomplish a goal.

Did someone say Napoleon? Or Stalin?

I feed on positive energy. And the whole of yesterday, I was euphoric. The hall too seemed to be. The students were strangely interested in finding out a lot of stuff. One question even had a clause:

“Are you married? If yes then…”

I guess the curious cat resurrected in Amphitheater 150 E.

Oh…and did I say she was generous? Yeah…always walking around with gift bags for ‘the proactive ones’.

When I talk to an entrepreneur, I feel lights in my brain… I feel like I am high.

Yep. I know because I have been high before and it is awesome. You just don’t want to be all the time. Life sort of passes you by.

Plus, it is supposed to be an experiment, not a lifestyle.

LSDs? Steve Jobs anyone?

I was high yesterday. Not because of the workshop.

Ok. Fine. It was because of it. I…hum…stole the presentation. I was too happy enjoying the hall I barely paid attention. What would you have me do?! Skip on the opportunity?

You Pharisee…!

Checkout the poster I did:

My Non-designer's design

My Non-designer’s design

 

I hope we will have more of these. I think the English speaking Cameroonians need a larger online presence in the form of blogs. Especially younger and more passionate bloggers.                                  Auntie Yefon agrees: 

“Don’t tell them to start blogging, just say ‘write online’. The term ‘blogging’ seems to scare them”.

Thank you for reading. I would be glad if I could get your comments.     And oh…if you’re on Facebook or Twitter, let’s chat.

See you around.

T.  Kamga.

Friendship 101 ( or solving depression)

From http://www.digitaltrends.com/music/best-songs-friendship/

I love you too!

I am lazy. I admit. I wrote this post a few weeks ago and I think this is the right time to post it. I just heard some disturbing news. Still reeling from it. We’ll talk about that later. For now…
I don’t feel too well today. It’s not malaria. I hope. I just wish I could talk to someone. I have one person in mind actually. He’s just pretty far and a phone call won’t do. It is during these kinds of times that my desire( or is it stubborn lust?) for a girlfriend exacerbates. I want my friend. In fact, I want him to buy me food and bring home because for the whole damn day I have been sitting on the same spot and watching movies.

I think I am depressed. Well, I have had bipolar symptoms for a while but some days, it gets worse. Some days I wake, and I feel this wonderful energy. Like I can do anything I set my mind to. The world is so bright. Full of potential.
And, some days, like today, I just want a hug and a friend.
A hug from a friend. A hug and an ear, someone who gets that I am not mad with the world. That I am just scared of the future and that I just need to listen to my soul.
No man is an island. I have a nasty temperament sometimes. I get rude, impolite and even harsh. It is as though I am constantly in puberty. I think I have been this way for a while.
Then again I am usually wrong about many things.
My parents love me. I am extremely lucky to have parents who would literally do anything for me.
Truly.
They would kill themselves if that would make me happy.
It is invigorating and sometimes saddening because they would go to the ends of the earth to do what they deem best for me and my future.
But, who knows the future? Who knows one’s true calling?
No one.  Only God I presume.
So, it is quite scary when I think of the they fact that they would spend all their savings to make sure I get a good education with the underlying hope that the education would secure a future for me and my family.
Shit.
I am scared. What if they are wrong? What if this degree is not the right one?
But…worse…what if I am wrong??
What if they are totally correct , endowed with the wisdom and foresight of age and me with my puny 25 years of existence jeopardizes all their sacrifice because ‘what I am doing doesn’t feel right’?
I am scared. Everyday.
I run. Hide. Laugh and make jokes just to ease the fear but every once in a while, when the effects wear off, the question marks pop right in.
And, in these quiet retreats when I retract from human interactions, I need a mirror.
A friend.
Someone to help me figure things out. Who isn’t scared I would be angry at the truth. Who would ask the right questions because he or she knows they would help me figure shit out.
I miss my buddy. He is the only friend who gets me.
As much as I want to have a best friend I could kiss( a.k.a girlfriend), I am very deeply grateful to have my buddy.
Sometimes, I don’t even think I deserve him. He is the smartest human I know.
Apart from me of course.  🙂
He’s funny, cool, outstanding, totally gets my jokes and I could call him at 3 a.m. knowing he would pick even though I know he spent the whole day treating patients at the hospital.
Maybe these thoughts are a reminder. That to earn such a friend, I need to be a friend myself. That I owe humanity the sum of the people I have met in my life.
My mom, dad, and my friend.
I  won’t die for any of them.
Yet.
But I definitely know they have my back.
So while I return to my solitude and binge watching, I would like you to think of your family, friends or anyone who cares about you deeply.
Give them a call. Tell them they mean the world to you.
Mean it.
It helps sometimes.
It helped me today.
Thanks for being my friend Tsi.
And to all of you who know how much you mean to me. I am grateful.
Thank you for being you.