Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Live Free, Live Fierce: An Evening with Muthoni Gathecha

Muthoni and I at the 'How She Does It' dinner
Those of you who know anything about Sewanee know that it has an abundance of empowering people to connect with, and networking events galore! I can't even begin to count the amount of times I sat down with a group of amazing men and women and had meaningful conversations about anything and everything. Since coming back to Kenya, I've definitely missed the ease of access to people I could have such conversations and connections with. This is why, when a friend of mine suggested I attend a dinner and a talk that was part of a monthly series hosted by a nonprofit organisation in the area, I jumped at the chance. Connecting with fantastic, motivating women AND a great guest speaker? Of course I went! (And took my sister with me too.) I had a wonderful time, and definitely plan on going back.

Luckily for me, I was seated right next to the guest of honour, Muthoni Gathecha (psychologist, motivational speaker, actress and presenter at The Vagina Monologues), and I'm very glad that I was! Right off the bat, her energy was absolutely captivating, and her talk was extremely inspirational. As a woman who strives to be fearless and be her very best, it was amazing for me to hear from someone who IS fearless and even better than her best.

There was no way I was keeping this inspiration and empowerment to myself, and so I wrote down as much from her talk as I could, and knew that I'd end up writing about it before the week was over. Here we are!

'I am Muthoni and I am a woman.' Captivating words, and a great introduction. Muthoni explained that that introduction fits her best, because everything else about her was either acquired or learnt. Her job, her children, her studies and other such attributes only complement who she is, and do not have the right to define her wholly. I think this is a great message for women to take away, and learn to proudly own their identity! She also introduced herself as a happily divorced woman, and said (rightly so) that she did not have space for anyone who was uncomfortable accepting that.

Muthoni led us to the beginning of the series of events that built her up to be the woman that she is today. As a twelve year old, she was very forward. She would always be compared to her siblings, academically too. When she got back the results of an important exam that she took at that age, she realised that she didn't do as well as she thought she had, but her father was up in arms. At that point he told her "The best you could be is a househelp or a prostitute." Those words stuck with her, and she swore to herself that never again would such words be spoken to her, and she would achieve great things on her own merit.

At a time where everyone was choosing to pursue degrees in fields like law or medicine, Muthoni decided to get a degree in teaching. "I love the sound of my own voice," she said laughingly, "and I find it positively orgasmic to speak in front of people, and the power that gives me!" After she graduated, she was posted to Mombasa, and just two years later, at the young age of 25, she became a deputy head teacher. She had command, and the people around her obviously realised this. Two more years later, she was again promoted, and became the principal of her school. After five years in this role, she decided to pursue a Masters in Education Administration. Muthoni loves working with youth; they have a lot of energy and a lot to give, and she thrives off of this.

After a few years in a senior administrative role and a second Masters in Psychology, at the age of 50, Muthoni realised that she was stuck in a rut. Life had become monotonous, and she needed a change. There was a lot of turmoil in her life at that point, and she asked herself if that was all she had to give. So, she took early retirement at 50, and had a dramatic change; she went into acting. It wasn't easy at first, but Muthoni persevered, never stopped believing in herself and her value, and gave it her absolute all. For her first audition, she was considered too young for the main role. She was offered one scene in one episode in a 250-episode series, and decided to say yes in the spirit of not being negative. It definitely paid off; the actress who was chosen for the main role initially could not keep up, and Muthoni got the role!

Today, Muthoni is at a place where the offers are actually lining up to such an extent that she has had to turn them down. She needed to go through all that she did before she could realise her potential and all that she had to offer. She managed to move from what she termed an 'area of mediocrity,' where she had the safety of a salary at the end of the month, to a place where she had to challenge herself for every paycheque. This may seem difficult to some, but Muthoni is thoroughly enjoying herself! She has a lot of creativity and energy, and uses a metaphor that I absolutely loved: "I am not a car; I do not have a reverse gear. I move forward!"

Muthoni's energy is evident, and I'm very glad that I was able to meet her and be inspired. Though there was no way I could capture even a fraction of her energy in my words, I hope that you all are inspired by her too!


3 comments:

Pineconeshelf said...

She has such a powerful positive attitude. The security of a salary is usually really hard to ignore.I hope to master the courage to do so someday.

Great post.No reverse gear here either :)

xx Wangu

Sush said...

Wow!!!!

Sush said...

Wow!!!!

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