Life Lessons

I Must Pick Myself Up

Because…

  1. We all have problems.
  2. My solution works for me and yours would work for you.
  3. I cannot live your life and you cannot live mine.
  4. My destiny is dictated by the choices I make (or don’t make).
  5. Because life isn’t fair.
  6. And life, she owes me nothing.
  7. Complaining is draining.
  8. We all have 24 hours in a day. Many have created value with theirs.
  9. My heart will be broken.
  10. I define my version of success.
  11. No matter what I do, I will disappoint some people.
  12. No matter what I do, some people will be disappointed by what I do.
  13. Negativity is self-fulfilling.
  14. So is positivity.
  15. I cannot have a conversation with you if you don’t want to have one with me.
  16. I am responsible for what I do with my emotions.
  17. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
  18. My success is predicated on how much I work for it.
  19. Luck doesn’t exist- only opportunities that meet with a prepared recipient.
  20. Overnight success takes time.
  21. Love is both urgent and patient.
  22. Gratitude is a muscle. It can be exercised.
  23. Miracles happen only when you believe.
  24. Depression is real.
  25. Depression can be overcome.
  26. I am unique. So are you.
  27. I cannot change the past.
  28. I cannot see the future.
  29. Love is a choice.
  30. Death is certain.
  31. What I do between now and then is up to me.
  32. I can.
  33. You can too.

Hi. I’m Tchassa Kamga and I write. I currently live in Buea, Cameroon. I also host a podcast and I freeze stuff on Instagram. You can find me on Twitter,Snapchat, and Facebook.
Together with my good friend
C. Befoune, we started Self-ish where we share personal essays on Self Improvement, Content Creation and Human Relationships. This post was originally published there.

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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.

Episode 2 of The #Podcast is out!!! #Friendship chat and why I block people on #socialmedia

I just finished recording another episode of ze podcastThe Tchassa Kamga Show (yeah…really generic name…don’t judge me).

My heartfelt gratitude to all who listened to the first episode. It was an almost unanimous observation that the pilot was way too long and that I may need to structure my thoughts for the subsequent episodes. In light of that, I have bad news for you.

Well, good and bad news.

First, the bad news. This episode is not particularly structured. There is a central theme, and I experimented with a guest in the second part of the show. The role of friendship did not pop up as I had intended, but I still think you’re going to enjoy the discussion between my special guest and I.

Now, the good news is: this episode is shorter!! And, there is a real sponsor this time. Yeaup. 2545 Business Consulting sponsored this edition of the podcast and I will be attending the Business Networking Soiree where there will be business and other professionals. As guest, the very talented Max Lyonga. I am sure I’ll be in for a great evening!

Other good news: this may be my podcast and an avenue for me to share my thoughts with the world, but what I care most about is having a great laugh. That is why in the second part of the podcast, my best friend and I talk about other friends. Basically, we spend the evening laughing at each other.

In the end, I think I failed the point of the podcast. Which brings us to the end of the updates and the reason for this post.


I have blocked at least 10 people on Facebook. Two on WhatsApp, two on Instagram and for one person, I blocked on every single social media platform. Including Snapchat

It may seem pretty pointless given that these people could still be reading this post. Here, is my attempt to justify my actions. Not that you can change my mind or anything.

1. I take life very seriously.

I don’t have time to waste on people who think I am not worth their time. If you’re my friend, I am willing to go the ends of the earth for you. In fact, when I say I have few friends, I mean this with pride. There are many people I work with, and will work with, but my close circle is made of a limited number of individuals. My parents, my siblings and a few other humans. I don’t want to see, hear or talk to anyone who does not see me to be as important as they are.

2. I’m okay with being lonely.

Yeup. I have chosen to stay single for as long as it is required for me to build the kind of environment I would want to live in. This is a choice I made after years of suffering and hurting many amazing women. Mind you, this doesn’t mean I enjoy being lonely. I am okay with it. I need it to think, to write. Heck to make the podcasts. My ideas flow when I am in my zone, alone . And until I find someone who gets that, I will not put someone’s daughter in torment again. Plus, I’m tired of drama. I’m too old for this shit.

3. Friendships are born. And they can die.

I speak enthusiastically about my friends and the people who mean so much to me. I’d like to emphasize that I also know that sometimes, some relationships just…you know…die. People outgrow each other. Interests change. People travel. Responsibilities, obligations, goals change. And that, again, is okay. C’est la vie. I love my family and I love my friends. I will do everything for us the stay happy. Except kill myself. I love myself more.

4. Honesty is the best policy.

It is just recently that I am making the choice to be honest with who I am and what I want. And it is still difficult. Usually, when I meet people for the first time, I try to ‘comport’ myself. I try to fit in. I change my laugh. I talk less. I become very… cosmetic. What happens is, I give off this serious vibe (throw in my geeky glasses and the mix is complete), and many people think I am this super smart, super serious dude who never laughs. Well, guess what? You’re…almost right. I love fun! But my kind of fun is geeky. Watching Marvel movies, reading comics, and listening to podcasts. That is fun to me! And when I meet other … humans, I get uber curious. That last part may be my Kryptonite. I ask way too many questions. I’d prefer you think I’m awkward the first day we meet.

I’m okay with that too.

5. Negativity is the worst thing you can let around you if you’re looking to make your life better in any way.

Therefore, I shamelessly cut-off anyone who makes me feel horrible about myself or about my projects. That said, there is a difference between constructive critique and a hater. And when a comment is made from a place of love, you can feel it. Some people, however, are damaged (possessed?) and would not mind bringing others down the pit of depression, self-hate and endless remorse. Nope. I’m outty. I only talk to the people who respect me and who care about me. Of course this is the world and some people cannot be avoided. I do what I can. And when that doesn’t work…

6. This life is but a journey.

I know that in a couple of years, I may have figured myself out. Or not. I am not the same person I was yesterday, I won’t be the same tomorrow. And that is the same for everyone. I believe in heaven and in hell. And I believe that Jesus Christ came to save mankind. I have no intention to suffer eternal damnation. That, from the sound of it, should suck. Terribly. Therefore, I prefer to live my life as though Jesus did die for me. Because if in the end, He didn’t, well I don’t mind. And if ( and I believe) He did, that would be totally awesome. I don’t know about you, but, given that this journey is short, I’ll prefer to be happy in this world and the next.

Soundcloud.

…And I am Culturally Incorrect.

I’ve been thinking about the responsibility that comes with being at the receiving end of a gift, a favor or a service. One that doesn’t require an exchange of any sort other than the traditional “ Thank you” or “ I am grateful”.

How far do the impacts of such acts of kindness go? For example, someone buys you a birthday present, do you have to in return, purchase the said friend a gift as well?
Now, if you do, is it because you received a present as well, or is it because you actually wish her well?

Or siblings, when you do something for your brother- that white lie( we both know lies aren’t ever white), does she have to lie for you back?

How far does this “reciprocation” reach? How long does it take to eventually pay a debt?

Actually, my question is more of: is there a debt?

Does a child owe the parents his/her life?

Because you are on this earth only because two people made it possible by the heavenly guided meeting of a sperm and an egg( never thought I would ever use a variant of “heaven” and “sperm” in the same sentence in my lifetime), does this mean all your actions, your dreams, your desires, your goals must be approved by your parents.

Is that it?

I have a feeling that I will be called out as trying to copy the West. You know what? Spare no expense. I am copying the West. But keep in mind that I am very mindful of my context. I know where I come from- a Christian family, with catholic married parents. I went to boarding school for seven years and I have a degree from one of the best Universities in the country. So far, I haven’t been convicted and I am not a father. I neither drink nor smoke for sport.

If that doesn’t establish my “uprightedness”, I don’t know what will.

( Then again, worse crimes have been committed by people with a “saner” profile. But…just bear with me)

There is a term I have been fascinated with recently-“Cultural correctness”. I define it as :

“ deliberately avoiding cultural offense;relating to or supporting the use of language or conduct that deliberately avoids giving offense when it comes to what is acceptable by a community.

Yes, you’re right, I stole the term from political correctness.

Now, my “special” definition limits to the behaviors governing those of children towards elders. In the Cameroonian African environment.

Case in point: You’re 16. You love biology. You watch discovery channel in the morning afternoon and evening. When asked why you don’t watch cartoons, you don’t even get the point of the question.
Duh!
Now, you pass the GCE advanced level. You have 5 papers. Awesome grades. You’re going to the Uni.
Yay!
Not so fast.

Mom thinks you’ll make a great doctor. Dad agrees. One of your Aunts is a medical practioner. Both parents call her name with so much respect.

You would love to study biology. Probably get a Phd. Even have your TV show. You try to argue.
Mom isn’t happy. Dad broods. You consider their option.
“It’s not so bad..” you tell yourself.
You’re smart. So you write the the entrance exam. You make it. Every one is ecstatic! The new family doctor is born!

The family biologist just died. You just became a victim of what I call: emotional blackmail ( note to self: write blog post on this. You’ve been a victim way too many times).

How often do we not stand up for what we really want?

How many times do we sit silent and just do what we are told even when we know that we don’t want to. When we can feel our stomach and every nerve in your body telling you this is a bad idea.

Here are some of the verbal cues of emotional blackmail:
This is Cameroon. Not Europe.
You need experience.
You’re in the virtual world. Reality doesn’t work like that.
Who will pay for this??
Where do you think you are?
You’re going to give me a heart attack.
What about your brothers?
What kind of example are you showing.

OR my favourite…

You’ve changed. I don’t recognize you anymore.

You see, I know all too well all (or a lot) about emotional blackmail and cultural correctness. I have suffered from it for a while. But, recently, I have fought my biggest battle ever.

The battle against the voice in my head. I haven’t won the war. But this post, is part of the battle. The war never ends.

And here are ways to recognize people like me- us- who wage this battle everyday.
We are labelled: stubborn, reckless, selfish, rebels, inconsiderate, bad examples, {Insert other derogatory term to describe someone who does what he or she knows to be what is true to his or her DNA.

( Ok, there is a fine line between someone who knows exactly what he or she wants, and someone who is plain confused. Both seem as confident, only time will tell the difference.)

There are others who can stay culturally correct and live a truly decent and happy life. Many who follow what their parents and elders tell them and find true happiness. I have a friend who wrote the entrance exam even though he didn’t want to be a medical doctor. Today, he’s one of the happiest people I know.

There is no harm in listening to counsel and doing as you’re told.

But if you’re not one of those people, if you’re not built to follow orders, if your heart knows what you’re good at, if your DNA tells you the path to follow…if you’re like me…

Then by all means, I urge you to be culturally incorrect! Please!

Learn the rules, break them- but don’t break the law. Give the world an authentic, true, original version of yourself.

By all means- do not listen to me , your parents or anyone. Find yourself. Shine your light.

Am I asking you to be disobedient? To leave home and be stranded because some idiot on the internet said so?
Nah. I won’t take responsibility for what you do. That’s the whole point of being culturally incorrect.

You make your choices. And you deal with the consequences. No pain, no gain.

But, before you chicken out , let me give you a list:

Steve Jobs, The Beatles, Ev William, Bongajum Leslie, Spielberg, Cameron, Bekolo, Francoise Elong.

These may all be artists. But I want to believe that if these people (and many like them) who have changed the face of music, movies, the internet – if they had listened to those who loved them and wanted them to be safe, we would not be benefiting from their true art.

My name is Tchassa Kamga. And I am culturally incorrect.

What about you?

Five lessons I learnt from my selfishness

For a large part of my life, I have been lonely. I have been selfish. I still am as I write this. But it is a battle I have had to engage full throttle because at some point, the difference between loneliness and being alone becomes clear.

And I don’t like any.

Which means that I have to redefine a lot of my interactions with friends and family. Below are five lessons I learnt just today. Each might stand independently. I know. But I don’t think I am the only one who has had to learn these. Please, share your lessons ( on selfishness) in the comments.

1. Give everything time:
Especially when you request something. No matter how small or big the favour may be. The receiver needs to process the deal and react within his/her psychic time frame. Assuming that because YOU thought it through means the other person should take as much ( or maybe less) time,is a recipe for strained relationships.
Ask. Then wait. We all have our issues we deal with differently.


2. Selfishness is the cause of every wrong thing in the world:

That sounds overly pompous doesn’t it? But if you look back to every time something went wrong either with a friend, family, colleague, etc, someone was doing something solely to satisfy his/personal desires. The sad part is not recognizing this selfishness. You need to accept that primal need to save everything for yourself and remember ( consciously) that no man is an island. No matter how strong you are, you can’t wash your right hand properly without your left hand. Don’t think so much about what YOU stand to gain. Sometimes, losing is winning.3. Minds can be changed:
Just like walls can be broken down. It may take either time, tact or (hopefully not) a bulldozer. No matter the cause you stand for or the product you are selling, persuasion takes many forms. And just paying attention to the questions (verbal or non) could be the key to selling that product or idea. Never give up on the first try. Sometimes, you just have to insist politely ( within the humanly/legally/morally acceptable bounds) in order to convince your interlocutor.
However, this may not apply in arguments. Many arguments are just plain pointless.

4. Every explanation is better than SILENCE
I have had to deal with this way too many times. And I still try to make this part of me. No matter how much you feel you have disappointed anyone, make sure you keep him/her updated. Nothing feels more horrible than a phone that rings forever or messages not replied. You may postpone the reprimand but every moment heightens the impending distrust and disdain.

5. Be honest with the small things.
Because the devil is in the details.

If you liked these, please “Like” and leave a comment. I reply to all my comments. Your attention is priceless.
Thank you for your time.