''Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself'',
George Bernard Shaw

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May 16, 2019

4 Reasons Why Alicante, Spain Should Be Your Next Destination


Located on the Costa Blanca (White Coastline), the port city of Alicante is renowned for many things including its clean beaches, castle, festivals, and bustling nightlife. And it is no secret that I travelled there earlier this year. To simply put it, it was a much-needed solo trip that enriched my curiosity and desire to explore and travel.  

But if I am being quite truthful, I did not know much about Alicante. Other than the fact that it was a popular Norwegian Airline destination. After coming across the name on the site, I did a quick Google search to learn more. And from then onwards my heart was set on stepping foot in Alicante.  When I realized that I had acquired enough off days for a four-day getaway, I jumped at the chance to do so. And off I went! 

And so it happened, it exceeded my already high expectations. I had an amazing time strolling, wining, and dining in typical Mediterranean fashion. So much so, that I am convinced that this destination on Spain's White Coastline should be on your radar. Below I expand on 4 reasons why you should visit Alicante, Spain. Here they are:


View of the Old Town. 


An Epicure's Paradise 


Do you take pleasure in wining and dining? Are you a self-confessed foodie? Are you keen on trying the local cuisine? If so, this is the destination for you. An unmissable detail about this port city is the fact that restaurants, cafes, and bars are of abundance. There is so much to choose from to a point it gets overwhelming. And If I am being quite honest, I took full advantage of that by eating out on a daily basis.

On one occasion, my Irish friend, who I met at a free tour, and I had dinner. We both ordered three course meals, which compromised of starters, mains, and desserts. Everything was absolutely exquisite especially the Paella. On top of it all, it cost us less than 20 Euros for both meals, which brings me to my next point.


Photo by Kaitlin Dowis on Unsplash

Budget Friendly 


Generally speaking, the cost of living in Spain is nowhere near as high as it is in Finland. So, for someone like myself who is used to the hiking prices here in the Nordics, I was pleasantly surprised at how cheap everything is. That is why I was able to get away with eating out every single day for every meal. Do not take my word for it! With 2.50 Euros, I was able to buy a huge serving of English breakfast at a café in the old town. Yes, you read that right!


The El Barrio at night


It's Off The Beaten Path 


Although Alicante attracts its fair share of tourists especially during the summer months of April, May, June, and July. It is not as crowded as Barcelona or Madrid. I recall having a conversation with an older couple who happened to be on holiday as well. They were quick to recount how frustratingly crowded Barcelona and Madrid are. According to them, when it comes to tourist attractions where you need to wait in line, one can wait over 30 minutes. Oh not I! I am too impatient for that. I would much rather be in place that is somewhat inconspicuous with the masses, but just as rich in culture and heritage.

The El Barrio during the day.

Solo Travel Friendly 


As much as I am new to solo travelling, I am well aware that not all destinations are solo travel friendly. But thankfully that was not my experience. The locals were quite kind, and eager to help. When in restaurants or bars, I did not feel dismissed, overlooked like I did in Berlin because I was on my own. I had my reservations and concerns about being out and about on my own as a Black woman. But not once did I feel threatened or in danger. 

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO SPAIN? IF SO, WHERE? WHAT IS YOUR NEXT DESTINATION? LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENT SECTION BELOW.

April 30, 2019

Beginner's Guide: How To Plan a Solo Trip in 5 Simple Steps

I kicked off my 2019 by travelling to not one, but two countries on my own. Yes, you heard me right. I solo travelled to both Spain and Germany. But if I am being honest, it had never occurred to me, how big of a deal it was until I began to share the details with my family, friends, and co-workers. As a matter of fact, there was one conversation I had with an ex co-worker, which continues to weigh on my mind. 

It was early Sunday morning. Probably 4 am. The sun was nowhere in sight, which was typical here in Finland, especially during the winter month of January. After a long night of working tirelessly, my co-workers and I were finishing up, and ready to call it a morning. There was only less than two hours left of my shift, and I was looking forward to my coffee break. Furthermore, I was looking forward to going home, collecting my belongings, and heading to the airport. 

As if he could read my mind, my manager allowed me take a ten minute, coffee break. I made my way to the common room, and I found one of my co-workers there as well. She was also on break. We began to engage in small talk, and we both agreed on how trying night shifts can be. But even though I was tired, I could not contain my excitement. And as result, I began to go on about my travel plans.

"You are so brave", she exclaimed.

"How so?", I asked her.

She went on to explain how she has never been able to gather the courage to travel outside Finland on her own. Yet there I was, a few years younger than her, and preparing myself to do the very thing that daunted her. 

As flattered as I was, I could not allow myself to put down bravery as the sole reason to why I managed to plan and, later succeed in solo travelling to two countries. Sure, deciding to solo travel to any destination demands an ounce of courage. But that is not all! A lot of careful planning goes into it as well. And the good news is, I have broken down how to plan a solo trip into 5 simple steps. Here they are:


El Postiguet Beach 

Choose A Destination 


Before you decide where to next, there are three main factors to take into account:

1). Visa requirements
2). Safety
3). Affordability


Does your passport grant you visa-free access? Is there any political unrest? What is the average cost of living? These are questions you should ask yourself before your heart is set on any place. 

As a Kenyan passport holder who resides permanently in Finland, I knew I wanted to go somewhere relatively warm, within Europe, easy on the pockets, and most importantly somewhere that did not require applying for a visa. So, I began to explore my options by going through the list of Schengen countries. And I chose Spain.

En route Alicante, Spain from Helsinki, Finland 

Settle On A Mode of Transportation 


How do you plan on getting to your chosen destination? By plane? By cruise? When you have come to a decision, proceed to book, and buy your ticket. If flying to your destination, which is the most likely option, I highly suggest taking your time to compare fare prices. Flight fares can be quite pricey. However, when you take the time to peruse the internet in search of a cheap flight, there is a higher chance of landing a great deal.

For my trip to Alicante, Spain, there was no other way of getting there other than by plane. So, I booked my ticket with one of Europe's most renowned budget airlines, Norwegian Airlines. And lucky for me they had an ongoing sale. Hence why I paid 75 Euros for a return ticket, when a one way ticket usually costs at least 50 Euros from Helsinki, Finland. 


The Wallyard Concept Hostel, where I stayed during my Berlin, Germany solo trip.  


Book Accommodation


Now that it is certain where you want to go, and how you will get there. Where will you stay? Typically, the are three options to choose from, which are hotels, hostels, and Airbnb. Personally speaking, I am not one to splurge when it comes to accommodation. Due to the fact that I spend majority of my time out and about. So, as long as the place is clean, accessible, and inexpensive, then I am sold.  That could explain why I prefer hostels. Not only are they affordable, but there are the perfect hub for meeting and interacting with fellow travellers. 

For majority of my trips, I book my hostels through Booking, which is a one stop site for all your accommodation needs. It has quickly become my go-to travel site because it lists a wide range of properties to choose from including hotels, hostels, and rental apartments. 

All you have to do is sign up, enter your travel details, and you are good to go!

The Basilica Santa Maria in Alicante, Spain, which was one of my favourite sights to see.

Plan Your Itinerary


This is the fun part! The reason being, you get to plan out things you would like to do, places you would like to visit, and all that jazz. It is even more fun when travelling solo. Guess why! You do not have to consult anyone. Neither will you feel inclined to compromise in the name of taking other people's desires into consideration. 

Therefore take this as an opportunity to tailor your itinerary with no one else's desires in mind, but your own. If you are an epicure and history nerd like myself, then it only makes sense to look up all the cafes, restaurants, and museums. So, feel free to peruse sites the likes of Wikitravel, Wikivoyage, and other travel blogs to familiarize with your chosen destination. 

But is planning out an itinerary really necessary? Whether or not you have a more spontaneous, laid back approach to travelling, I am of the opinion that having a rough idea or an expectation of what you would like to do, see, visit, and more, is better off than having no plan at all.

Photo by Ian Dooley on Unsplash

Tend To The Smaller But Crucial Details 


Although the bigger details have been taken care of, you are still not off the hook. At least not just yet! It is time to move on to the smaller details that most people tend to overlook. First and foremost, find out how to commute from the airport to the place of accommodation. With the help of Google Maps, you can find out whether it is a walking distance. If not, then inquire about the public transport system, taxis etc. Sometimes, Google can be of little to no help. And if that is the case, I suggest looking into the Hotel's or Hostel's website to see if the commute information is readily available. 


I vividly recall trying to find out how to get from Alicante Airport to my Hostel, and unfortunately for me Google was sending me into a state of panic. Because it seemed as though I would be forced to take a taxi. And the mere idea was not sitting well with me. Luckily, I came to learn of the airport bus through the Hostel's website. 


Photo by Nicole Harrington on Unsplash

Secondly, take copies of important documents the likes of your passport, bank cards etc. Save them digitally. Keep one copy for yourself, and give another copy to a responsible family member or friend. That way you have backups in case of any emergency such as theft or misplacement. 

Thirdly, due to safety measures; be sure to share your itinerary as well. So, in case of anything there is at least one trusted person with information regarding your whereabouts. In my case, I sent my mum my itinerary including my flight details before I left to Spain. 

Last but not least, check the weather forecast, and pack accordingly. You wouldn't want to be the person that packs a winter jacket when going to a tropical destination. 

DO YOU HAVE AN URGE TO TRAVEL AND EXPLORE THE WORLD? LET US KNOW BY LEAVING A COMMENT BELOW. BETTER YET, WHY DON'T YOU GIVE IT A TRY BY PLANNING A SOLO TRIP IN THE FOLLOWING 5 STEPS.
April 05, 2019

All About Tea Rinsing For Combatting Excessive Hair Shedding

Since I began taking proper care of my hair, I have done a lot of research which in turn has led to a lot of experiments. Being exposed to all the information the world wide web has to offer has certainly debunked a few myths and shed new light on hair practices I never thought existed. For instance, the use of tea on hair. Seriously, it was unbeknownst to me that I would have a reason to actually stock up on tea since I do not drink it.

Photo by Miti on Unsplash


WHAT IS IT? WHY DO IT? WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS? WHAT IS THE SCIENCE BEHIND IT?


As we all know, tea is a beverage drunk by many. It so happens that the caffeine in tea aids with reducing the shedding of hair by blocking DHT, a by-product of the male hormone testosterone responsible for hair loss. Keep in mind, shedding is perfectly normal. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the daily amount is between 50 to 100 hairs per day.

What's not normal is excessive shedding or breakage of any kind, which can be due to multiple factors the likes of stress, a nutrient deficiency etc . And by excessive I am referring to the times when handfuls of hairs are falling off. Yes, handfuls. If that is the case, I suggest paying your doctor a visit because that could be a symptom of an underlying issue.

Although, people do argue it combats breakage, there is little to no research to prove it actually does so. Personally, I can’t attest to that either since I have suffered from slight breakage in the past, and it did nothing for me.

WHAT TYPES OF TEAS CAN BE USED?


I may not be an avid tea drinker, but thanks to my mum, I know the different types of tea like Black, Green, Ceylon etc. I strongly suggest the use of Black, Green, or Rooibos tea. The following teas are known to treat hair related ailments, but Green tea is the most effective since it has the most caffeine.

Personally, I like to use Black tea since it darkens hair.  Other people opt for coffee which has quite similar benefits. I have never been one yearn for a cuppa, but as soon as I saw it’s effectiveness on my hair, I officially became #TeamTea.

HOW TO MAKE IT?


Make it as you would normal tea. So, steep a couple of tea bags in hot water. Let it cool because you certainly do not want to burn your scalp. Do not be like me, I have been unfortunate enough to make that painful mistake. 

HOW TO PREPARE FOR IT? IS THERE ANY HARM IN SKIPPING THIS STEP?


Start off by washing your hair with a cleanser of choice. Then proceed to rinsing your hair with tea. You either spray it onto your hair with the help of a spray bottle. Or you do it as I do it, by pouring it onto the strands. Follow up with a conditioner especially a deep conditioner because this process can be drying to one's hair. Be sure to give it a go, if you do not take my word for it

Honestly, you do not have to do this. It is a precautionary step. Not a mandatory one. Do a tea rinse whenever you please especially when you want to lessen the likelihood of grey and/or excessive hair shedding.

ARE THERE STORE-BOUGHT ALTERNATIVES?


Well, if you are not up for buying tea bags and DIY-ing this, then you can purchase a herbal rinse. Herbal rinses usually include tea as an ingredient. However, I have yet to bu,y and try one out, so I cannot recommend any. 

THE ALL ABOUT SERIES ANSWERS ALL THE WHATS , HOWS, WHEN, AND WHYS REGARDING BEAUTY PRACTICES. DO YOU RINSE YOUR HAIR WITH TEA? IF SO, HAVE YOU NOTICED ANY CHANGES? DO YOU HAVE ANY ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS THAT WERE NOT ANSWERED? FEEL FREE TO LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW. 

March 05, 2019

All About Pre-Shampooing (Pre-Pooing) For Maximum Hair Health


When I first started taking proper care of my jet black, kinky hair by creating a suitable regimen, I had no clue about pre-shampooing. Or as it is commonly known as pre-pooing. Weird? I know! It was such a foreign hair practice to me. Almost as foreign as learning a new language. I felt inclined to read blogs and watch YouTube videos in hopes of answering all the questions that were running through my brain. But thankfully, I found the answers to my question, and I am more than glad to share them with you all.

Photo Credit: Daria Shevtsova



WHAT IS IT? WHY DO IT? WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?


A pre-shampoo, or a pre-cleanse treatment prevents the hair strands from being stripped of the natural oil, sebum, produced by the scalp. It nourishes the roots, and makes hair less prone to breakage, and generally easier to work with. Another reason to pre-poo is to avoid hygral fatigue. This happens when the hair strands absorbs water which leads to excessive swelling, and contracting, and as a result the hair strands weakens, and stretches beyond normal which leads to breakage.

WHAT INGREDIENTS OR SUBSTANCES ARE USED FOR PRE-POOING?


Regular conditioner can be used, but I highly recommend using penetrating oils. Why? Because penetrating oils such as olive, coconut, and avocado are lighter and less likely to weigh down your strands. I have used all the aforementioned oils, but as of late, my hair has been really loving avocado oil. One more thing, If you want a subtle yet effective scent, fragrance in your penetrating oil of choice, I suggest adding a drop of an essential oil like lavender, rosemary, peppermint etc. It does wonders!

WHEN TO DO IT? OR AT WHAT PART OF A REGIMEN? AND FOR HOW LONG?


It is usually the first fundamental step in any regimen. One must first pre-shampoo for at least half an hour then proceed to cleanse, and condition the hair. Personally, I prefer to do it overnight. That way my whole hair is saturated in oil.

HOW TO PREPARE FOR IT? IS THERE ANY HARM IN SKIPPING THIS STEP?


Start off with dry hair. Water repels oil, so dampening, wetting the hair prevents the oils from being penetrated into the hair shaft.

Before, I would have answered with a triple no. But I have come to realize that it depends on one's hair. And I can only speak for myself. Pre-pooing does wonders to my hair because it makes it softer and easier to manage. But there are people who feel that it is an extra step that does nothing for their hair. I would advice anyone who is uncertain to first give it a shot. See how your hair reacts to it. From there you can have an idea on whether to do it, or not.

ARE THERE STORE-BOUGHT ALTERNATIVES?


Based on my research, there are not too many in the market, but here are the few that I know of the likes of Auromere Pre-Shampoo Hair Conditioning Oil, which I have personally used. But to be quite honest, it makes a lot more sense to buy a unrefined, cold pressed oil for the same price. 

THE ALL ABOUT SERIES ANSWERS ALL THE WHATS , HOWS, WHEN, AND WHYS REGARDING BEAUTY PRACTICES. HAVE YOU EVER TRIED TO PRE-SHAMPOO YOUR HAIR? FEEL FREE TO LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW. 


February 13, 2019

3 Mundane Yet Essential Things To Consider Doing As Soon As You Turn Eighteen


On the eve of my eighteenth birthday, which was two and a half years ago, my then best friend and I checked ourselves in one of Helsinki's renowned luxury hotels, Hotel Haven. The plan was to  commence with the celebrations of my official coming-of-age by painting the town red along with another friend.

Typical of Western Culture, I was already thinking of way to exercise my new-found freedom and power as an adult. I could not wait to go out to a club. Neither could I wait to vote, solo travel, or sign my own contracts without needing a guardian to co-sign. 

But here is the thing, that is not all there is to turning eighteen. Sure, there are exhilarating, extraordinary moments ahead. But then there the is typical, mundane every-day life, which we should take into account, yet often gets overlooked. And although it happens to be the not-so-glamorous side of things, it is still worth paying attention to. So, without further ado, here are the three mundane, yet essential things to consider doing as soon as you turn eighteen:

Photo Credit: Bernard Hermant 

Acquire Another Form Of ID

What I mean by this is, acquire another document, other than your passport. I had to learn this the hard way when my passport renewal process was getting more complicated than I could have ever anticipated. Leaving me with no other way to verify my identity. So please, learn from my mistake by applying for your ID card as soon as possible . 

In some parts of the world, a driver's license  is recognized as a form of ID. However, not everyone drives as soon as they are of age to do so. And not everyone is eager to. Hence why it makes more sense to get an identity card.  

Take Charge of Your Finances

The act itself has the potential of sounding more daunting than it should be. How so? Well, because taking controlling of one's finances does not have to be as grandiose as we make it out to be. My advice is to start small. How about opening up a savings account? Or finding out what percentage of your salary goes to taxes. Or you can already begin to inquire about your pension. 

Seek Therapy or Counselling

Just to make it clear, you can never be too young or too old to seek any form of therapy or counselling. However, the transition from teenage to young adulthood can be quite intense, and it has the potential on taking a severe toll on anyone's mental and emotional health. And that is why I am of the opinion booking a session with a licenced therapist or clinical psychologist will serve you with opportunity to talk to a professional, who will equip you with the tools of dealing with day-to-day demands and challenges.  

DO YOU FEEL LIKE  WE LEFT ANYTHING OUT? IF SO, PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW. 

November 08, 2018

3 Huge Mistakes I Made My in Teens That I Will Avoid Making in My Twenties And So Should You

The seventeenth day of July of this year marked the day I bid my teenage years goodbye. I know, I cannot believe it either that I am finally a twenty year old. Although, deep down I do feel like a 16-year-old.


Turning twenty has come with its fair share of nostalgia, which has prompted me to reflect on the past. Sure, there is plenty to miss about being a teenager. Like the volatility, intensity, and innocence of it all. But in the same breath, there is plenty I could do without. Like the profuse mistakes I made along the way. But this is not to say I would have it any other way. As a matter of fact, I would do it all over again. Because were it not for the three following mistakes, I would not be walking into my twenties with the wisdom I currently possess. 

Photo Credit: Halima Abokor Sheikh 


So, without further ado, here are the three mistakes I made in teens that I will avoid making in my twenties: 

Trying To Conform 


To be quite fair, I suspect that we have all tried to fit in our teens, one way or another.  In retrospect, it sounds inevitable. After all, this is the time where one is coming to learn who he/she/they are, and how the world perceives him/her/them. Personally, it came as a shock when I came off age. Because I was  robbed of my childhood oblivion. And as a consequence, I began to notice what set me apart from the rest of the crowd including my physical features, quirks etc. And instead of embracing them, I was eager to do anything in my power to alter them in order to fit in.



Chasing Pavements 

Not literally. But as Adele can be heard contemplating in her hit song of the same name, whether to continue pursue something that could prove to be completely hopeless or purposeless. Or to just give it all up. This is something that definitely rings true to who I am, innately. I am so slow to change; to the point I do not know when to walk away from anything that no longer serves me. Be it my personal relationships, or any career endeavours. Nevertheless, I am learning to loosen my grip. I am gradually learning to let go. 


Not Holding Myself Accountable For My Actions 

There was a time in my early teens where I was extremely toxic. And instead of acknowledging my wrongdoings and trying to make up for my hurtful behaviour; I would make a habit of placing the blame onto others by victimizing myself.  It is not until I began to love myself that I began to grasp the significance of owning up to my actions especially when other parties are involved. Now, when I do find myself in any situation where I am in the wrong, I do not hold back with admitting and apologizing for all my wrongs. 

ARE THERE ANY MISTAKES YOU MADE IN YOUR TEENS THAT YOU WISH TO STEER CLEAR OF IN YOUR TWENTIES? IF SO, PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW. 
October 22, 2018

A Sensual Playlist To Walk You Through The Stages Of An Intimate Relationship

According to bestselling author and psychologist, Doctor Susan M. Campbell, each intimate relationship goes through the following five stages. The romance stage, the power struggle stage, the stability stage, the commitment stage, and the co-creation or bliss stage. She based the aforementioned theory on numerous interview of couples that she had conducted. Which she later compiled into the bestselling book, The Couple’s Journey: Intimacy as a Path To Wholeness.


Photo by Serrah Galos

The more I delved into Campbell’s theory, the more I could not help to feel as though each stage could be easily paired up with a complimentary song. If anything, I was quite convinced there are plenty of love songs for me to curate into a playlist. After going back and forth with the endless possibilities, I settled on the following choices. Here they are:

The Attraction Stage 


The first stage of love, the attraction stage, is where that deep, burning desire or interest in someone begins to manifest. Feelings are fresh, so lovers begin to experience what is known as a ‘magnetic pull’ towards the subject of their affection. Valerie Kimani’s Ngunga Ii is an embodiment of the desire to be close to someone. The songstress who sings in Kikuyu, a Bantu language spoken in Kenya, kick-starts the tune by asking the name of her potential lover. She continues to dote on him. And she further expresses that she is ready to say yes to love in spite of her fear. When translated into English, the title of the song becomes, I Will Say Yes.

The Infatuation Stage



”I don’t want nobody else
Baby, all I need is you
You’re the one I want
And I don’t want nobody else
Baby, all I need is you
You’re the one I want”

Lovers get to know each other in the stage of infatuation. And the more they do, the more it feels like pure bliss. And understandably so, because this is the point where they overly-romanticize every single detail about whomever they are falling in love with. Since reality has not really kicked in. At least not yet. Hence why it is often called the honeymoon phase. Where euphoria is at an all-time high, and everything is oh-so-pleasant. And no one describes it better than Tamar Braxton in her The One single from Love & War album. She starts off the song with the following lines; You know very well who you are. You’re the only one, you got my heart. She later goes on to express how she desires no one else.

The Power Struggle Stage


Lizz Wright sings of this post-honeymoon phase in her jazz/blues ballad, Speak Your Heart. The song is about a conflict ensuing between lovers because of their fight for control. She wants to know where they stand because of her lover’s refusal to open up. She later gives him an ultimatum; either he lets her in or lets her go.

Disillusionment 


In the previous stage, lovers had just begun to become more unstable and prone to disagreements. But at this point, it worsens to a greater magnitude because masks are peeled off. And those in love begin to see each other for who they really are. Not for who they thought they were. And this devastating discovery can lead to pondering on what happened to the good old times. And most of all, what happened to the person one fell in love with. This stage is perfectly articulated by Toni Braxton and Babyface in their duet tune, Take It Back.

The Stability Stage 


Commonly known to be the calm after a storm phase. In this stage, lovers are known to liberate each other. Because a sense of security and comfort exists. Validation is no longer needed. This is when people are more certain of what they feel and how they go about making it known. And with that in mind, have a listen to Mariah Carey’s Always Be My Baby. Because it perfectly encapsulates the emotions that come with this stage.

The Commitment Stage


This soulful Grammy-nominated hit, By Your Side, is a perfect example of a lover’s relentless loyalty and devotion to his/her subject of affection. Sade sings of a lover who vows to be there through the thick and thin. And through the highs and lows. As it should be between lovers who have weathered the storm and triumphed. Only for their love to remain strong.
Disclaimer || This article was originally published in Face2Face Africa





OUR

To embark on this quest is to know that it is continuous. And as multifaceted beings, we will always be in pursuit of ourselves because of our many layers. And as long as we are aware of that, there will always be something to uncover.



THREE

To embark on this quest is to embrace evolution. So we should not be afraid of either change or transformation. Nor should we get overly attached to a specific version of ourselves, or even our circumstances. Because it is through those moments of change and transformation, that we get acquainted with our most truest selves.

PHILOSOPHIES

To embark on this quest is to understand that as much as it has to do with the opportunities we are given, our personal effort and conscious choices have something to do with it as well.

The possibilities are endless...


Zadie Smith

Stop worrying about your identity and concern yourself with people you care about, ideas that matter to you, beliefs you can run on. Intelligent humans make those choices with their brain and hearts and the make them alone. The world does not deliver meaning to you. You have to make it meaningful, and decide what you want and need and must do. It's a tough, unimaginably lonely and complicated way to be in the world. But that's the deal: you have to live; you can't live by slogans, dead idea, clichés, or national flags. Finding an identity is easy. It's the easy way out.

MY STORY

I was only thirteen when I created my first blog. And to be quite honest, I do not remember what exactly it was about. But all I recall is I enjoyed the mere act of it; jotting down my ramblings and thoughts. I did so sporadically until 2014.

During the first half of 2014, I graduated from junior high school, and the plan was to proceed to senior high school. At fifteen, I thought I had everything figured out. From who I was to where I was headed. But it came as a shock to me when things did not go quite to plan. The truth is, I did not get accepted to my first choices. And when things do not go to plan, we as human tend to question our capabilities, worth and purpose. Especially when we are deeply invested in someone, or something . At least I do. As a result, I took a unintended gap year of some sort to figure things out.

At first, I felt like my world was crumbling. Looking back it sounds overly dramatic, but I have always had a flare for the theatrics. I felt miserable because I had put so much of my self worth, self purpose and self identity into this one arbitrary thing. But what had felt like punishment, later turned to be one of my most insightful, and eye-opening experience.

During that whole year, I began to dive into activities that I enjoyed. For instance, I took to singing. I have always been know to sing. But not in a way, where I had the freedom to explore my identity as a songstress. Reminiscing with my love for music led me to join a band, which in itself was unexpected.

Also, I would make a habit of stimulating my mind and satisfying my hunger for knowledge, by taking creative writing classes, perusing museums etc. But most importantly, I began to blog more frequently. I took it as an opportunity to pass time and it served as a great medium to express the whirlwind of emotions I was experiencing. And as fate would have it, the more time I dedicated my time to blogging, the more I fell in love with it. I never blogged about a specific niche per se. My then blog leaned towards the more personal side of blogging. Because I would blog about my daily life. But during its later days, it was more lifestyle focused.

However, in 2015, I made the decision to shut it down for several reasons. Firstly, my gap year days were soon coming to an end. And I was about to begin senior high school in the fall of 2015. And to simply put it, there was no way I was going to have as much time to spend on blogging as I did before. And for the record, I am painfully meticulous with my work. So it should not come as a surprise that writing and editing alone can take me up to 6 hours, or even more. And it later proved to be impossible, when I tried to add tasking school work, and blogging to the same equation.

Secondly, I wanted to refine my craft. And as I have mentioned before, I am a perfectionist at heart. In addition, my then blog did not feel like it was a reflection of who I was gradually becoming.

Shortly after beginning senior high school in the fall of 2015, I deleted my former blog permanently. By then I had just turned seventeen, and as much as I was excited about what lay ahead, I could not help feeling apprehensive. Apprehensive about who I was becoming, where I would end up in a few years time, what career field I would end up choosing etc.

As if the stress of school was not bad enough, this feeling of apprehension began to weigh me down through my academic year. As soon as I turned eighteen that feeling completely heightened. I began to suspect that the cause of it all was the fact that my teenage years were drawing to an end, which meant that adulthood was approaching. (And also due the fact that worrying is in my nature).

Instead of preoccupying my mind with anything else, other than such weighty thoughts, I began to learn how to care for my afro-textured hair. With time, I became so consumed with the world of afro-textured haircare. How eager I was to read every blog post, and watch every YouTube out there. Through learning to nurture a part of my identity that I had disliked for way too long, enabled me to not only accept myself, but to love myself as well.
Additionally, I took it upon myself to participate in creative courses such as music, and drama that were being offered at school. And as fate would have it, it was in those moments that I became acquainted with a side of myself I didn't think existed. This determined and creative self, although unsure and fearful, she kept at it. Even if that meant getting in front of a whole class to act out a skit in a language that she is not fluent in. What was meant to be used as a means to bring me peace of mind happened to teach me a great life lesson.

I learnt the power and the gift that is the present time. Or as Eckhart Tolle describes It, The Power Of Now. Before, I was too focused on what tomorrow brings, yet I had not done anything to prove myself worthy of that tomorrow. Also, I learnt about actualization. What is it that I am doing today that will bring me closer to where I need to be, by tomorrow? Or a month, year from now. Were it not for learning how to take care of my kinky hair, I doubt I would have been able to pen down my viral celebratory poem.Were it not for me taking those courses, I would not be graduating from senior high school with not only an academic diploma, but two from the performance arts. One in music, and another in drama.

My overdue epiphany led me to figure out why the mere thought of being an adult was sending me into a state of constant worrying. Because unbeknownst to me, I was going through what some may call an existential crisis. So, instead of consciously living and actualizing my future into existence. I was just wasting away my days brooding about my identity and the future. Because I did not have the slightest idea of who I was, my purpose and importance; outside of people's definition of who they thought I was, or who I should have been.

Luckily, I broke free from that. After tirelessly immersing myself in all that life had to offer, I began to receive the answers to my daunting questions. Which in turn enabled me to stop dreading adulthood, and to actually begin to embrace it. If I must say so myself, I have really come a long way. As I bid farewell to my years of being a teenager, I can gladly say that I am walking into my twenties knowing a few things to be true:

1. I have a say in who I am, who I become, and what I do.
2. It is necessary to shift my energy from worrying about the future to actualizing it.
3. This is my journey, and how I choose to go about it, is for nobody else's comprehension but my own .

But on the few occasions when the feeling of apprehension kicks in, I make a habit of going back to a passage taken from the bestselling novel, White Teeth, by British author, Zadie Smith. As seen above!

WHY CURLFRIEND SUOMI?

Curl...

Because through the realm of afro-textured haircare, I became acquainted with a part of myself that has always been dormant. In turn, it solidified my sense of self.

Friend...

Because I am a great believer in friendship. The mutual connection, and sense of community amongst individuals. As much as there is something to be said about being a friend to others, and having a friend in them. There is nothing quite like being a friend to oneself. But that is not to say we have to go about this alone. For me, being on this continuous quest has taught me to not only share myself with others, but myself as well.

Suomi...

Because a huge part of self-discovery is being aware of where one is coming from, which gives one a sense or an idea of where one is headed to. And for me that has been Finland. As much as I am Kenyan, and as much as I spent most of my childhood in Kenya; I also identify as Finnish. Because I grew up as a pre-teen and teenager in Finland. And consequently that has influenced me, and how I relate to and perceive the world, my worldview.

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Regardless of your answer, thank you for your time. All the best in your journey,

Acquelline

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