I like sports. I enjoy watching the celebrations when someone scores a goal, makes a basket, completes a try, hits a hole, races across the finish line.
I like the passion with which people lift their hands, thump chests, raise fists. I like seeing the hugs and kisses, the flying confetti and fireworks, the champagne. I like listening to the screams of success and watching the tears of winning for the winning team. I like watching people celebrate their achievements.
I’m excited when I see people posting pictures of their relationship anniversaries or their business progress. I’m happy when I see photos of people celebrating their children, celebrating a new car they’ve bought or moving to a new house. I live for those feel-good moments.
But I don’t celebrate much of the successes that have come my way. When mum organised a graduation party for me when I completed uni, I asked her why she was doing it. I told her she didn’t have to. It wasn’t necessary, I thought. I was okay going to Freedom Square at Makerere University on the day of graduation and heading back home for a meal with family. Simple. I didn’t think getting an undergrad was a big thing. Mum insisted it was worth celebrating. I shrugged and let her proceed. I enjoyed that day.
I didn’t celebrate when I got my first job at 19. Neither did I celebrate much when I got my other jobs after completing uni, including the one I currently have. I didn’t celebrate much when I was selected to the first cohort of the YALI Regional Leadership Centre East Africa. I felt an internal excitement but I didn’t pour it out.
When I made it to serve on the Millennial Board of the firm I worked for, working with a lovely group of fellow employees from across Africa on a project sponsored by the deputy CEO of the company, flying to Johannesburg every two or so months, I was elated but I didn’t think much of it. It felt normal.
When I made it to the Fellowship that brought me to Germany, my eyes let out some tears. My two workmates, both of whom are called Carol, celebrated that achievement more than I did. One Carol brought me grilled pork and cheered me on. The other Carol got me a scarf. I had a number of other friends who were happy for me but I didn’t think too deeply about it.
I always thank God and I’m grateful for the opportunities but I don’t feel the oomph to enjoy the moment beyond the surface. I don’t know if that’s a problem.
Oh yeah, the only time I remember celebrating something was on July 26, 2015. I was in Kasarani. President Obama was there. He jogged up the stage, waved to the audience, his trophy ears large and his smile setting a template for joy. The cheer of people in that stadium, the persona of Obama, the presence of the President, oh my God! That presence felt like a skyline beyond a mountainous horizon. I wanted that moment stuck in my mind.
When I told someone how lucky and blessed I felt because of that event, being in the presence of President Obama, he asked if that experience came with a job offer, or money or an opportunity bigger than just the joy I felt. He down played my excitement. He didn’t think it was a big deal. And so, I went back to default settings of keeping quiet about the things that happen in my life.
See, I’ve been looking for a new apartment. Almost two months of the search. I dug through an app for apartments. I wrote emails and sent messages to landlords. I got no’s, maybe’s, sorry’s and sometimes no response. I also said one no.
As I continued my search for a new place, everyday felt like a fight in a dream you can’t wake up from. The houses were either too expensive or didn’t match what I was looking for. If they matched what I wanted, I probably wasn’t the right fit for the landlord or someone beat me to paying their deposit and signing the rental contract.
This search felt like a struggle with falling rocks and a race against time. If I didn’t find a new place quickly, there would be two possibilities; remain in the apartment I had and pay rent that would leave a septic tank in my bank account or be homeless in a foreign country.
I found a place. When the keys to the house were handed to me yesterday – a moment worth celebrating – I went back to default mode. I said a silent prayer of gratitude and that was it. I wish I could celebrate it in a better way but I don’t know how.
Maybe it’s because you win some and lose some. You get some and miss some. Life continues.