Believe it or not, 2019 is nearly over. And while this only means the end of another year, it will also be the end of an entire decade. What a great time to take stock of the last year and set razor sharp goals for the next one!
This week, three young individuals share their 2019 joys and agonies, and offer pithy opinions on why they consider themselves conquerors despite the fact that they failed to achieve most of their pre-2019 resolutions.
Bwari Ondima, 21
At the beginning of this year, I vowed to complete my degree in industrial chemistry at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, and also pursue my interests in modelling. I also planned to apply for scholarships, because I have a deep desire to further my studies abroad. It turns out that all these were just dreams.
Midway through January, a few days after I reported for the new semester, I got admitted at Kenyatta National Hospital for a disease that was difficult to diagnose, even for the doctors. My skin just started itching, and I thought it was chicken pox, so I went to a chemist and bought some over the counter drugs. However, the itching never stopped. Instead, I started noticing some pus-filled lumps all over my body.
After a week of agony, I was admitted in hospital. This was the first time in my life that I had been confined to a hospital bed. I was committed to a ward that held patients with communicable diseases, but I wasn’t receiving any treatment because the doctors didn’t know what I was suffering from, yet my condition worsened every day.
I dreaded night times at the facility because it was always so cold, and the leaking abscesses made things worse. My body wasn’t responding to pain killers. I was in pain all the time. I barely slept a wink during those days. Worse, seven patients in my ward passed away only three days after I had been admitted. That was so scary. I wondered whether I would make it out alive.
Before I was admitted, I had never seen anyone die. But during those days, I lost at least one ward mate every day.
A few weeks later, I was diagnosed with toxic epidermal necrolysis, which is an allergic reaction to medicine, and was put on medication.
The disease had damaged my skin and when I was discharged, I had ugly marks all over my body and people kept throwing curious glances at me. Additionally, I had to shave my hair because my scalp had also been affected. My skin looked burnt and I lost my self-esteem.
Despite all this, I vowed never to give up. The day I left hospital, I decided to live every day as though it were my last, and to seize every opportunity that came my way. I started applying for various scholarships with renewed ambition, and I recently got an opportunity to study in Indonesia, although I couldn’t take it because I was unable to raise the airfare. However, I still apply for such opportunities because I know that one day I will be successful.
My near death experience made me become proactive, and maybe a little aggressive in my pursuit for success. My friends started telling me that I had become a bookworm, and they may have been right because at around that time, I started getting recurrent migraines, and gastritis due to stress.
But I just couldn’t rest. When we closed school for the long holiday, I looked for a place to do my internship, and worked there for three months without pay. I also started my own blog where I post articles regularly. All these actions make me feel like I am using my time wisely.
When the year begun, I was only interested in excelling in my studies and growing as an individual. But after my ordeal, l felt a deep desire to do something for my community. Therefore, I applied for the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) program, and also took up a leadership position in Aiesec where I was involved in social projects in Mathare slums.
My academic interests also changed. I now want to major in pharmacy as opposed to chemical engineering so that I can create a drug can help doctors detect severe allergic reactions more easily.
This year, I learnt that I am strong, and can motivate myself even in the face of challenges. When I left the hospital, my parents didn’t think it would be a good idea to go back to school because my skin was so pale and I had conspicuous marks all over my body, but I did go back, and I passed my exams!
I haven’t achieved my pre-2019 plans, but I have experienced personal growth. My skin looks much better now, and my self-esteem is improving every day. This year has been painful and exciting all at once. It has been my year of self-discovery. And now that the festive season is here, I look forward to relaxing, and enjoy time with my friends and family.
Susan Nasimiyu, 20
Throughout my teenage years, I struggled with self-esteem. Being an introvert, I lacked self-confidence. As a result, I was often bullied at school, and some classmates took advantage of me because they thought I was weak.
At the beginning of the year, I resolved to change things. I have always admired the supermodels on Instagram, and so I decided to improve my appearance. I felt like I was too skinny and thought that by adding a little more weight, I would become more confident. I was also keen on getting into a romantic relationship, so I vowed to add a little weight before the end of the year.
I started working out at the gym and eating foods that would help me build muscles and gain weight faster. However, I was unable to sustain that lifestyle because I needed to pay my gym subscriptions and buy specific types of food. I sought validation from the public, and that caused me to get into a number of unhealthy relationships which left me depressed when they ended. My partners cheated on me several times, and I was severely heart broken. This also made me question my worth. I was convinced that I wasn’t beautiful, and whenever someone complemented me, I thought they were lying.
I spent a lot of time crying, but I couldn’t share my experiences with my parents because I didn’t want them to worry about me. Luckily, my brother came to my rescue and helped me get back on track. I changed my social media habits and stopped comparing myself with others. I also learnt through YouTube that there are several millennials who are enduring the same challenges I had faced, and I vowed to do everything to improve my situation. I repaired my relationship with God and made a conscious decision to focus only on the things that bring me joy.
After two years of procrastination, I finally started writing a script for a comic book I have always dreamed of writing, and I believe I will finish it by the end of this month.
I also revived my interests in fashion design and subscribed to various online courses. Now, I plan to establish my own cloth line that will distribute lingerie locally.
Despite all the challenges I have faced this year, I wouldn’t change a thing because through my experiences, I have realised my worth and become happier.
This December, I plan to improve my grammar by reading novels and watching shows that will help me advance on my communications skills.
On the last day of this year, I won’t make any resolutions because I never achieved any of my pre-year ambitions. Instead, I will aim to record steady achievements throughout the year. Also, I will never get into any relationship that doesn’t bring out the best in me.
I am a student of petroleum engineering at Kenyatta University, and I also own a start-up that deals with water technology.
On January 1, I made a number of resolutions to guide me, and I usually make every effort to stick to my plans and achieve my targets.
This year, I had a number of goals that I hoped to achieve. I planned to spend the first four months focusing on my studies and playing my role as Vice President of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, KU chapter. This involves organising conferences, talks and also attending oil and gas conferences within Nairobi. I also planned to test and launch one of my products through my start-up company.
I also intended to acquire new skills within my profession, and attain the Expert Level in Python Programming Language.
To help me achieve all this, I created an events list using Google Calendar, and wrote down all my goals alongside the efforts I would put into achieving them.
Although I haven’t managed to achieve all my goals, the plan helped me undertake a number of tasks, and I learnt new skills in the process. I have since gained remarkable proficiency in programming, and I am now pursuing a Cloud Computing Certification Program.
I didn’t achieve all my goals because of unforeseen eventualities which distracted me, and also because I spent more time than I had expected to complete certain tasks.
In June this year, my house was broken into and I lost almost all my personal effects, as well as the proposals I had spent so much time working on. I had to reduce my expenses so that I could buy some of the equipment I had lost.
I now realise that I may have been over ambitious. I wanted to do too many things at once. I even took up three leadership roles in various student’s clubs this year where I was required to attend meetings weekly. This turned out to be a burden on me because I had to balance all these roles with my engineering classes. I had to step down and this caused me great distress because I felt like I was failing.
But the highlight of my year has been getting the opportunity to share my knowledge with my colleagues in the university. Watching my novices grow under my wings has brought me great joy.
As the year draws to a close, I look forward to spending time with my family because I was too busy at the beginning of the year.
I plan to craft new New Year’s resolutions and avoid the pitfalls that held me back from achieving all my goals this year.