Another trip around the sun and just so many feelings! Pandemic birthdays really hit different as you reflect on what survival has meant but also, hello existential crisis?
Gratitude has (thankfully) taken the lead amongst all of the emotions.
My reflections led me to a few things that have worked for me along the way, some I wish to see/do more of and just questions that I ponder from time to time.
Most of them are based on my interactions with people and how I see (wish to see?) the world.
Perhaps some of it will resonate with you, dear reader?
Disclaimer: Context is key.
Let’s get right into it, shall we?
- If you are going to have a meal, feed everyone in your ‘space.’ The driver who got you to that destination, the security guard who is watching over your home, the guy who is fixing curtains for most of the day. All of them.
- Before any interaction. Start with a greeting. If you walk into a building, room, say hello to the person guard, front desk manager, patient ahead of you at the hospital.
It seems obvious but half of the clients I encounter will start their first ever communication with a text that reads “I want sunglasses” and I have never gotten used to this.
I have encountered countless boda boda riders who ask me the following questions, in no particular order “Where were you born?” “Who raised you?” “What is your tribe?” “How old are you?” The first few times it was odd, and then I just began to laugh because I could now see it coming. These questions always have the same direction. They are shocked that I have greeted them first instead of just saying “Wandegeya nkumi satu”
My fun boda tales exist because of a simple hello.
- Make lists. I might be obsessive in this regard but I recommend it, especially if you deal with anxiety. For example, I have a standard packing list. It will need modification when I finally get to have that Maldives trip but, in the meantime, it has all the essentials. I stress less before going anywhere and usually have extras of things in case my travel buddy has no sandals or the person next door needs a painkiller.
A wish list also comes in handy, to avoid impulse purchases and just plan better when the ka money drops.
- Tell people you love them and that they are important, often. Show them, all the time.
- Over communicate. Ask for clarity. Repeat yourself if yu have to. So many of our problems can be significantly reduced with good communication and comprehension.
- Lateness is not cute and neither is it an incurable disease. Respect others’ time, no matter who they are.
- Do you exude the qualities you demand of others?
- When you think/dream of someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, check on them in ‘real time,’ even if it is just a line, “I am thinking of you.”
- Telling people to relax or calm down is rarely helpful and they’ll most likely not be relaxed or calm just because you said it.
- Don’t be the person who heightens already bad situations. Starting the blame game, issuing an “I told you so” or reminding someone of something similar they did on March 31st 2002 does not help anyone
- When it comes to physical appearances, any changes you wish to address have been noticed a million times over. It’s their body.
Don’t give unsolicited opinions/advice on people’s weight, skin, hair etc.,
I often joke that even if a woman looks like her water is about to break, if she doesn’t bring it up, we’re talking about the weather baby.
- Write letters and cards; give your loved ones gifts for their special says or just because. People will open their book, drawer of mementos, take a sip of their favourite beverage and remember they’re cared for. Also, on bad days, those little pick me ups could be just what they need.
- Closely related. Acknowledge birthdays with song, words, gifts and time. Do this for jobs, anniversaries, promotions and everything in between, Many times the celebration makes sense because of who we spent it with.
- Share opportunities with people, even if they’re not close to you.
Whether it is an internship, job or grant, if you know someone who fits the bill or could benefit from it, share away.
- Share knowledge. If there is a chance someone can learn from your, your wins and losses; if you can do for another what no one did for you when you needed it, grab the opportunity and run with it.
- Praise publicly. Ridicule in private
- Write, especially if you are forgetful. Set all the reminders. My friends ask me to remind them about birth dates of people who are even closer to them.
My memory isn’t superior. I have just been intentional about it for a long time.
- Volunteer your time, give to causes, especially now when times are extra hard for most.
- If you easily say yes, check yourself for the things you’re agreeing to which steal your joy, peace or leave you with regret.
If you easily say no, study how much of it is a result of anxiety, fear, imposter syndrome, trauma, among other things. Balance is tricky but following your gut while also challenging yourself might help.
- Ask ‘how are you’ only if you are willing to be present for the good, bad and ugly of an honest response. Otherwise, there are several greetings/pleasantries to choose from.
- You do not have the monopoly on pain. It is quite possible that you are falling apart at the same time as your person and you both don’t know because you are each waiting for the other to ‘be there for you.’
- When people are dealing with pain, grief or depression, it isn’t their responsibility to also cater to your discomfort. Also, don’t make it about you. I’ve heard people ask “How come I was the last to know?” when they find out about a patient or death and I-
- Don’t rush the process to others’ wellness. Sometimes we do it in subtle ways.
We ask “Are you still sick/in pain?” “When we can instead ask How are you feeling?”
- People struggle to ask for/accept help. If you notice this about someone you care about, learn to ask questions whose answers will give you an idea of how to support.
You may also need to concentrate your efforts on doing rather than asking.
- If you feel someone’s mood, (body) language, tone (etc) could be off, speak up. So many things get lost in translation even between the closest of friends. Someone is mad about a message you sent, kumbe it was one wrong emoji that started the problems.
Also if people continue to do things that annoy/frustrate/trigger you but you continue to communicate through telepathy, you are setting yourself up for endless stress
- Tell people that they look nice, that they have done a good job, that you are proud of them. Do this even if you think they know, do this even if you have done it often.
I’ve had several encounters where people have said “I know you hear this a lot” only to tell me something that I have in fact, not heard a lot or needed in that moment.
- Always say thank you even if someone is ‘just’ doing their job.
Asked for a contact and received it? Got a compliment from a stranger? Driver let you join the road? Acknowledge receipt and show gratitude.
- When people express their fear, anxiety, phobias, any version of “Get over it” is not helpful, neither is forcing them into that which they are trying to avoid.
- Stop constantly expecting you in other people and getting disappointed by the outcome
Study your loved ones, what they like, don’t like, their triggers, values and everything in between. Someone who is selfish might learn to give more but in the event that they don’t, is it a deal breaker for you? Either accept people for who they are as work through the gaps/learn to co-exist or leave. That in between breeds resentment.
- Plant trees (metaphor) even if you will not get to enjoy their shade.
- Tip, if you can. Ask your server for their name, and use it. Recognise and celebrate excellent service. Let the Manager know about the awesome waitress, let the small business know about their efficient delivery person. Whenever you can lift another person, do it.
- Waste no time in pursuing the things/people/spaces which bring you joy and fulfilment
- Be kind.
I thought this list would be shorter but here we are. *Hides face*
Is it me if I have no kalango even after the 8,974,211 words? Nope. Gotta be true to self.
I have a request for my birthday this year, that you contribute to my gift, from anywhere in the world. What gift? Well, one that is dear to me, for my baby .
Please consider donating to the first Angaza learning centre here. We need it now more than ever for the children we support to learn, even outside of the classrooms which they have missed for almost two years.
Global giving will match every donation of up to $50 will be matched by 50% between now and 17th September, 2021
Use your debit/credit card or PayPal to donate online.
In Uganda, you can also use the merchant code 315934 or create a temporary card via MTN *165*70# then select Create MoMo card or Airtel *185*7# then select option 9 for AirtelMoney Mastercard
Thank you so much, in advance.
May the rest of September be awesome.