Be an Expert on Being You, and Do it Well

James Ouma
Posted February 10, 2016 from Kenya

Something happened today that made me feel like a deflated and discarded Christmas balloon. These are things I should have been used to by now. But, for some unknown reasons, I still find myself feeling disappointed, frustrated and clutching straws. Well, I don't know what clutching straws has to do with how I felt today, but I feel that it translates to how I felt.

Having worked and volunteered in government institutions for years now, I didn't know that being told to 'come back next week' without seeing and meeting the girls would deflate the confidence I had had arriving at the centre. This, after I had woken up at 3 am to prepare lessons and look for online writing jobs so I could be free to drive 17 kilometres in order to mentor later in the afternoon.

My work as a voluntary change maker is a strange one. Since I chose to focus on developing Lifesong Kenya and working as a full time volunteer, I have had to make drastic choices and adjustments to my life. That usually calls for late nights, early mornings and long days that stretch to 18 hours, most of the time.

That is why when I arrive at the centre and I am told I cannot see the girls, I feel frustrated, disappointed, short changed and well... I also feel like a deflated Christmas balloon and that I am clutching at straws. It turns out there was another group that was mentoring the girls and I had to leave without accomplishing today's goal and objective. As I left the centre, I remembered to speak positive things to myself.

Be an Expert on Being You; and Do it Well

  • Invest in growing your capacity and strength to bounce back from constant disappointments
  • Invest in a business card that bears your name and preferred job title and keep using it as a reminder of your ultimate destiny and use the bumps on the road as springboards towards the steps ahead
  • Invest in building healthy relationships with your family and friends who will encourage you when you hit rock bottom
  • Surround yourself with people who celebrate and empower you to continue growing and developing towards becoming a better you
  • Focus on your education and remember that no one can be at two places at the same time
  • Find out why you were born and why you are here
  • When you get a job, start down the ladder and do not look down upon people below you
  • Remember, the only way you climb a tree from the top is when you have dropped from a flying aeroplane and you have to come down!
  • Give back to the community and mentor others

In Conclusion

I wanted to encourage myself by telling you not to give up. But I am afraid I have ended up sharing more than that. Let me know if I have managed to blow air into your deflating balloon, okay? Oh, I was the one who started off with a deflated balloon...!

Comments 6

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  • Precious Nkeih
    Feb 10, 2016
    Feb 10, 2016

    Your title says it all. Staying true to yourself is very important. I especially love the part where you say, "Surround yourself with people who celebrate and empower you to continue growing and developing towards becoming a better you." The company you keep can make or mar you.

    Well written.


  • James Ouma
    Feb 10, 2016
    Feb 10, 2016

    Preciuos M, thanks. The company we keep or discard has a lot of influence on our journey towards excellence

  • Hikarlie
    Feb 11, 2016
    Feb 11, 2016

    Dear Hawi, Thank you for your journal. Your solutions for being an expert are great and useful! I hope more and more women will become a wonderful expert on the basis of the solutions.

    Thank you.  

  • James Ouma
    Feb 11, 2016
    Feb 11, 2016

    You are most welcome Hikarlie  

  • Tamarack Verrall
    Feb 13, 2016
    Feb 13, 2016

    Hello James,

    Thank you for writing so openly about an experience that so any of us have had when we volunteer our time. The same can happen when we are not the chosen applicant for a job that we know we are well prepared for, a job that is the one we have wanted to do our whole lives. But there is an extra layer of disappointment when an offer of volunteer work is refused and/or not recognised for the value of what is being offered from the heart. 

    You give some great advice for these moments. Yes, it is so important to continue to trust ourselves, surround ourselves with people who understand our commitment, continue to offer our heartfelt time and energy where it is needed. Perhaps the organisation has shifted or has another heartfelt volunteer. You, as a gentle man are in the valuable position of being able to offer much to boys as well, volunteer work that might be much needed and not at all happening yet. Whatever the path, I trust that you have been able to puff up again, trust your generous heart, and that your return to that organisation will result in all you have prepared been received by those young ones that you are committed to. Volunteering is the base of change, and despite how strong we all are, the support we give each other (and tons of it comes within this amazing Worldpulse!) is an important reminder that what we are each doing matters.

    Best wishes with your work,


  • James Ouma
    Feb 13, 2016
    Feb 13, 2016

    Hi Tam,

    Thanks for your observations and comments