Hello darkness my old friend. That’s what I say in greeting to the blinking cursor on my computer screen. The herald to all the stories I tell and don’t. The judgmental, sneering critic to every word I type out. It looks back at the trail of words it leaves behind like the slime behind a snail. Asking me silently, “You sure you want to send that out? You know I could just backspace you to the start where it was just us two. Don’t you love me anymore? Why don’t you want us to be alone by ourselves?”
I’m sorry, cursor 😦 . But I realized I had been quiet for far too long. It wasn’t doing me any good. So, I’m willing to put up with you. If only because you and I make such good words together.
That’s me. The insecure writer. A wroter, in fact. Because being a ‘writer’ implies constant output. Someone who does. Not someone who did, a has-been. When you’ve been away so long from updating your blog, you always wonder how to get back in the swing of things. You wonder, what should I tell my readers? (if there are even any left) What amazing story should I share that will knock their socks off? Should I tell them about my struggles in school and work? Should I maybe share tales about my romantic life, or lack of one? I know, I’ll tell them about this amazing thing I did and humble brag about it, making them feel bad about their lives like everyone does on Facebook.
Thankfully, I saw a way out. But I first had to learn. And the first lesson was a course in humility. I looked at what writers around me who I admired were doing. Enter Evans, Lee and James. Three amazing young men who God had led my way and me theirs. I looked critically at what they did, how they wrote. My goodness, they were amazing! Their words, and stories…Oh! They were beautiful. All their words rang with truth. Not just truth, Truth! I said to myself, “Self, I must have whatever those guys are having. I want to write like them.” But I hadn’t indulged long in that line of thought before I received a heavenly slap that quickly brought me to my senses.
I wasn’t meant to write like those guys. No matter how amazing I thought they were. Why not? I was meant to write like me. Simply because only I can write about myself from my view of things. I’m the only one I know who can bring to life the thoughts floating around my head. But still, that was not enough reason. The reason I came to be inspired by these men and their writings, and not drawn to envy or feelings of self doubt, is the reason why they write. They don’t write because they are intelligent, which they are, no doubt. They don’t write to impress people, which they tend to do. They don’t write to push an agenda.
What I came to see, what drew me so much to seek their example, is that they write by God – through his inspiration, for God – to seek his glory and because of God. Something I don’t believe I had been able to do in the past. And yet still, I saw something holding me back from expressing myself completely. I lacked honesty. It takes a brave person to pen down their insecurities and innermost feelings uncensored. To be in a sense like the books they write, open.
For instance, I shouldn’t fear to be honest with my experiences. Like how my debilitating procrastination seems to have taken own a life of its own and grown a desire to destroy me. I remember something that happened last year in the first semester of my fourth year in Uni. We were studying some pretty hardcore units and like all bad things, that semester didn’t seem to have an end in sight. Well, that end came at me like a sucker punch with exams season coming out of nowhere. It was almost as if I had forgotten that at the end of each semester, there exists a season of torturous persecution schools call ‘examinations’.
Anyway, it’s about two weeks to exams, and as usual I had only seen my notes as I wrote them down in class. The familiar exam dread began setting in, and all procrastinators everywhere rushed to fill the library like it had never been filled in its life. But those guys were pretend procrastinators. I had a Masters in this. If only I knew I was about to get my Doctorate in it, I would have panicked at that moment. But what did I do? I procrastinated the panicking. I did what a seasoned procrastinator like myself did – I made a timetable. We really like planning. It feels as if half the battle had been won. So I knew I had two weeks to the exam. Let’s see…hmm. Monday, I’ll study this unit..and Tuesday etc etc. That way by exam time, I’ll have studied each unit at least twice. Then I took a holiday, because I had a plan. Why should I be stressed about it?
Next thing I know, it’s a week to exams. I could smell the panic from a distance, but I wasn’t letting it get to me. Remember, I had a timetable, I only had to read twice as hard and I’d be ‘okay’. Well, wouldn’t you know it, ‘twas the weekend before exams. The only reading I would be able to put in was for the next day’s paper. Cue massive panic. I adjusted my plan. I’d study the material for the first time the morning of the exam and go sit the paper in the afternoon.
This went as well as it could till the day I was studying for a particularly difficult paper on Highways and Transportation. Since my formula for studying was quite…err…unique, I couldn’t engage in group discussion. This left me a lone wolf preparing by myself, and I was actually late for the paper by something like 5 minutes. So I took a seat and the invigilator handed me my answer booklet and question paper. I had crammed so much information I just couldn’t wait to download it onto the answer booklet. So I quickly filled in my personal information on the booklet and took a look at the question paper. It was as if someone was playing a prank on me. I almost looked around the class for the hidden cameras. That’s because the question paper on my desk was for a totally different unit – Photogrammetry.
I went through my entire catalog of emotions. I was at first just confused, and went to signal my professor that he’d given me the next day’s paper, but I caught myself. Then the realization sank in and I was for a moment lost. All I was thinking is that this couldn’t be happening to me. This only happens to other people. These are stories I read about, like you are doing now. This isn’t real. Then I became mad at myself, reprimanding myself for being a poor student and being disorganized. Finally I think I sank into insanity because I began laughing at myself. I actually did the whole paper laughing at myself under my breath…by ‘did’ I mean I wrote bits and pieces of what I could remember from class.
Could there possibly be anything to learn from that episode? Maybe. I know I wasn’t cured of my chronic procrastination. Not yet, that will be long battle I hope to win by God’s grace. What did I learn? That sometimes it takes a feeling of utter helplessness so that an omnipotent God may be able to truly reveal his power. Not my words – some guy named Paul, speaks of what God told him:
2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
I will not take pride in my weaknesses, but I won’t be put to shame by them either. Not as long as Jesus’ power rests upon me. God revealed himself to me by helping me not be made anxious by my circumstances in that exam room. I got a C in that particular paper. Nothing to hold a party about, but amazing considering the circumstances. I am however hoping I never go through what I went through that afternoon. Once is enough, I think, for a lifetime.
I wouldn’t want to bombard you with all the stories I should have shared in the year or so of my silence. So, let me stop there for now. But feel free to pass by in a week or so and see what I’ll have concocted. And please, feel more than welcome to demand your right to my embarrassing stories if you see me too quiet.
PAMOJA TUANGAMIZE UAHIRISHAJI