Kelvinson Muriithi Mwangi shares his thoughts after arriving from Kenya for the Kenyatta University/University of Cincinnati Exchange.
“Close your eyes and tell me what you see.”
You see excitement in their eyes when they meet you. You hear joy in their voices when they speak to you. You perceive concern when they hold your hand and ask to lead you. This is their home and they need you to feel welcome, to feel safe; to belong.
They open their hearts to you and let you in, unafraid to let you stare at monster posters of imperfection held in shattered frames, lying in walls knocked into rubble to create space where souls connect.
You want to shout at the top of your voice. This is against expectation. You spent days in front of mirrors fixing masks and that labor is going to waste. You sat on a platform of stereotypes and scripted your stay in this foreign land, caged yourself in perceptions and locked all doors that could lead relationships into your heart. Their open arms are fighting and winning against your clenched fists.
This is the first time you get to spend a day with them. You pause as you are about to enter the room where they are on their feet awaiting you, elated as lambs in rich pastures. You are trembling. Nervous energy creeps through your spine and finds your feet, momentarily rooting you onto the spot where you are standing. A desperate wind hits your body and you feel your hands go cold with sweat, and your heart starts beating faster, as if running from you, and you want to go after it.
Your hand reaches for the door. You pull and get in; shouts, screams, hugs and warmth. You don’t know why you were afraid of meeting these beautiful souls, or maybe you do.
Insecurity is your companion. You feel that you have been given too much praise, too much reverence, too much awe and too much interest. You quantify what not even the greatest number of hearts can hold and question who you are, wondering whether you are enough. You are residing in a shell of condemnation (of self) where you feel that you must do to become and that you must be interesting to relate.
Close your eyes and listen to the joy in the voices of lives that have been eager to meet you. Shut your mouth and let your heart speak. What does it say? Allow yourself to feel lost so that others may find you, and in a moment of discomfort, let comfort find you. You are enough, and you do not need to do anything to prove that. Drop the act and open up your heart; people are knocking.
– Guest contributor: Kelvinson Muriithi Mwangi, Kenyatta University, Class of 2016