The Kenyan Nomad

The Kenyan Nomad

Saturday, October 4, 2014


Change is a good thing, but it's also a scary thing sometimes. Often times, change happens to us, we go along with it, and make the best of it.  Sometimes though, we initiate change in some ways, and use this change as a vessel to change other things. For me, this second type of change took the form of a new haircut last week. Sure, this doesn't seem like a big thing to most of you, but it was kind of symbolic of all the other things that are changing in my life right now. Being in a new town, in a new role, and undergoing some lifestyle changes, I thought it might be useful to change something that I could actually see (and somehow control I guess).

 I've had long locks for about 9 years now, and so chopping off about 8 inches (which I did use to donate to cancer patients, hurrah), was kind of terrifying at first. But with the support of my wonderful hairdresser (Modern Strands) and awesome sister, I went ahead and did it.

Whoa! I know! Whole different person (almost), right? 

Change is really the best word to sum up these past few months for me. At this point, I figured that I would be working full time for a firm in Nashville, living in a flat of my own and able to see most of my friends pretty often. Reality has found me working as an independent marketing consultant near Des Moines, Iowa, living with my sister, and growing in ways I'd never imagined. More than ever, this period has prepared me for the inevitability of the change that is yet to come my way, and that despite our best efforts at planning, sometimes life has a way of throwing surprises our way. 
And these surprises aren't always bad. Change might often be something I can't control, but I'm learning to ride the wave and make the best of it. This month marks the longest time I've spent with family in about four years. Despite being physically far from many of my friends, I'm finding that most of my friendships are actually growing and evolving in beautiful ways. 

I reached out to some people about changes they made or encountered within the past year, and these are some of the stories I heard:

For the first time outside of a semi-academic setting, I've experienced what it's like to be a regular somewhere, as well as everything that comes with that territory--the good and the not-so good. My new role has brought me friends, mainly in those behind the counter--Renee, Willie, Allie, Lulu. What this means is that I feel a following of excitement when I consider the thought of adopting a dog, but also more humiliation when I do something silly in front of them. A non-regular would be excused without a thought, but a regular gets the full embarrassment treatment. There really is value in the support that you get, far beyond the food perks and for that, I'm thankful. Routines aren't all bad.

It is strange, though expected, that my self conception could become so dependent on another. Almost five years spent laughing, eating, sleeping with one young woman. Such formative years too. Entering a relationship as an overgrown boy and leaving now as a young, forlorn, half-empty man. I do not quite know who I am without her. What is my driving love, my constant reference? Now I must know myself completely because there is no longer someone to know me for me, to understand who I am for me. I don’t find the answers in comfort. Comfort only eases the sharpness of not knowing. To redefine I must reengage, challenge, and explore. I need to top out on a huge crag, or, better yet, take a huge fall right at the last bolt. I need to deepen my relationships with friends; find depth through vulnerability. No longer can I look to someone as an intimate anchor to define me and hold me. Such things are beautiful and wholesome, but I have lost that now, and must grasp and shape who I am as I am: alone. 

After a period of traveling around the world to work and to write, I've finally come home to be with friends and family again. It's jolting to realize just how much of an effect a routine can have, how comforting it can be to see the same people everyday. I thought that I was meant to travel a lot, that I was a free spirit who couldn't be in just one placed. But after coming back home, and reconnecting with someone important in my life, I'm beginning to realize that change has a way of working out for the best regardless of what I think.

I recently moved to San Francisco from Alabama. I left college in the south and the easy security of living with my parents to experience for the first time a life of (mostly) financial independence in a new city across the continent, working . Change has been the definition of my last month, and honestly every moment there is a quiet anxiety buzzing in the back of my head. Everything for this first month has been tinged in uncertainty, from how to get to work or home, to how to manage work, or even how go out and find new friends in a foreign place. This level of uncertainty can create anxiety, fear, and possibly even paralysis if we let it. What I have learned from this phase in my life, and am still learning every day, is that although change may create challenges and anxiety, it also presents us with opportunities to develop through new experiences. Change is an opportunity for us to learn how to adapt, and to improve ourselves by surmounting the obstacles we are presented with. Throughout these times of change, it is important to constantly re-frame our anxieties in a positive way, and remind ourselves that we can only improve as human beings by being consistently challenged. Change can be scary, but if we let that fear paralyze us, then we can never develop to our full potential. 
The great and beautiful thing is that change will always be present in our life--there will always be uncomfortable moments of uncertainty, and there will always be adjustments to be made and challenges to overcome. Although that may sound less than amazing, with that change comes a guarantee that we will be constantly forced to be stronger, more adaptable, and happier overall as we experience a life that is full of new excitements, surprises, and possible horizons to explore. 
Wesley White

The most blatant change I’ve faced in the past year would be a sort of combination of events occurring in tandem. After graduating in may from a tight-knit undergraduate university in rural Tennessee, I packed up and moved. Many people move after graduation, for me this was a radical change and a giant adventure. My move took me to Dublin, Ireland with my boyfriend of four years. This is our first time living together, my first apartment, and the biggest distance from my home I’ve ever lived. Dublin has been home for a bit over a month; long enough to know what some of the following Irish slang phrases mean…(“that’ll be grand,” “that was gas,” “it’s good craic,” “let’s have a chat over a pint at the pub”). At this point, my graduate classes have been on for two weeks and I feel like I’m in the right place. So how have I dealt with this change? Planning as much as I can, and knowing that no matter what, every problem can be solved and if it can’t, it can be understood and learned from. The support from my family and friends has lifted me to feel confident facing this adventure with little to no fear. In addition, the brevity of a year really makes the experience one to enjoy whole-heartedly for this is an opportunity that is worth embracing and making the most of, really one year is a blip in the grand scheme of life.

Here is a change I initiated this past year: I backpacked around the world for six months...with my two teenagers. Why? Because traveling is CONSTANT change, and change can be strengthening, pattern-bashing, and educational. The best education that Larry and I could give them was to learn from the world, see its diversity, experience its complexity, comforts, and discomforts (physically, mentally, and spiritually)...and to learn to embrace change gracefully and skillfully. The good news is that we all got really good at change; the bad news is that it was hard to return to our lives that were more change-less. Yet, because of miraculous human adaptability, we have settled into this new pattern of being after a few months. BUT, I hope that we will be ever-ready to accept, embrace, and instigate change at a moment's notice, now that we have practice...
Elizabeth W.

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