I remember November 2012 when I joined Moi University. We knew it would be a long process of admission and so we woke up very early to start the journey from home. My dad drove me all the way to school and walked with me through every step of the admission process. My mother who as usual had forced me to carry stuff I deemed unnecessary, kept phoning to inquire about our progress. I remember how happy she was when we called to tell her we were done, and that I had even settled in my new room in Hostel L.
Thus, began my transformation into adulthood. I had just turned 18 a few days’ prior and I felt very much like an adult. The fear of joining university, which I had documented in a blog post titled “Why I fear joining University” some months earlier was long forgotten. I was ready to face life in campus with no ID and no idea as to what I wanted to achieve.
Back in 2011, while in Form 4, after I decided to take high school education seriously, I chose Moi University to be the place I’d join for my Bachelor’s degree. I knew it was remote. I knew it was rainy and muddy. And I wanted that.
My first week in campus was spent walking around familiarising myself with everything. I didn’t expect much, so nothing about the state of the hostels and the infrastructure shocked me. I discovered Grace Chapel. I discovered Wi-Fi spots. And I also met former schoolmates.
I remember I had no concrete goals in life back then. I didn’t have things I felt I needed to accomplish. I didn’t have things I looked up to. I didn’t have friends I really needed to please or hang out with. I was just a leaf on the Nile headed to the Mediterranean Sea. So, I followed the current: Went to class. Refused to join the party crowds. Remained indoors. Went to church. Had my type of fun. And continued being a kid.
Pointing out exactly when things took a turn and I started having goals and things I wanted to accomplish is difficult. I attribute many of my successes in campus to different people. People who were in this campus. And to my now late mother who constantly told me to focus. She would say Focus when I was reading. Focus when I was explaining something to her. Focus when I was driving her. Focus when I was doing literally anything. “Nothing comes on a silver platter, my son.” I miss her.
I would like to name names of people who inspired so much in me. But the fear of leaving out other names makes me rather not. In first year, I met a “coffee shop” mom who forced me to dream big. Who forced me to not settle for less. I then met people who would sit up through the night in the cold (Wi-Fi manenos) reading articles online, writing stuff and seeking knowledge on science, art, and the outside world. Debaters who talked about serious topics. I met boneless dancers, incredible actors, saintly singers, and many other talented individuals who use their talents for the service of the Almighty. I met people who want to really change Kenya, and the world; ambassadors, bloggers, novelists, photographers, coders, realists, market analysts, journalists, creatives, speakers, MCs, psychologists, community devs, engineers and many more.
Since primary, I have had the belief that everyone you meet has something you don’t know, something you can learn from. And everyone I met (whether they know it or not) in university inspired something in me. Everyone I interacted with, helped make me the person I am today.
I remember the times when love was for sure, the heartbreaks, the disappointments, the desires, the long silences, the arguments, the holding of hands, the laughter, the prayers, the games, and the nights of art, dance, and drama.
In University, I started OtienoDickson.com and Tech-ish.com. In university, I travelled the world and made international friends. I discovered that if you want something, you try your best to get it. And if you don’t get it, you try again, or you get something better.
In a few hours’ time, I will be transporting all the luggage I have accumulated over time. I’ll be going back home. I will no longer have classes and assignments. I will no longer have meetups with campus friends. No longer will I identify as a university student nor blend in with them. Even if I take up another degree. I will surely miss everyone. I will miss this room.
One would expect me to be very happy that I am done. Of course, I am. But it is a happiness that is full of fear and caution. Fear of will I now make it in life? Is this it? Now I must tackle everything that comes my way alone? Caution because so much of the guaranteed security in university is over. It is finally time to grow up.
Who knew that at 22 I’d still feel this young?
I am ready to tackle whatever comes my way. My mother’s passing mid this year taught me it isn’t a given that everything will be okay forever. Sometimes disaster will strike. And one should be ready. One ought to lift themselves up, gather courage and energy and live. The finish line is near.
For the next few days I’ll read my books, write my pieces, apply for internships and plan for the coming year. I will dream more. And work harder.
I remember back in 2013 watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy and noting down: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”