What Keeps Me Up at Night

It’s 3.00am on a rather hot Wednesday night in Nairobi. Three hours ago, at exactly midnight, I flapped shut my laptop. This after two quick hours cracking my ribs watching The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (love the guy). For some reason, I thought a small dose of comedy would somehow ease my struggle with the z’s. It turns out I was gravely mistaken. Because I still can’t sleep.

There’s a little too much on my mind right now. Oh, wait a minute … I do that all the time, don’t I? It’s how I know inspiration has struck. Armed with the serenity to accept those things I cannot fight, I turn my laptop back on and begin to type away. Today, I am giving everyone a panoramic view of my inner self, I decide.

Here’s the deal. I’m a deep person, the kind that’s always thinking deep thoughts. I’m always asking myself such potent questions as: Why am I here? (Wait … Where am I again?) Why do humans reason the way we do? And do you know slavery has always existed in some form or the other throughout the history of humanity? But I also flood my mind with trivialities. You know, stuff like: Do I really need a date with a psychologist? Where are the good girls? Why do women wear layers of makeup? How could Nairobians elect Sonko governor? Why haven’t I made my first million yet? And why would A-list college alumni form WhatsApp groups just to share porn and pour scorn on discussions about pertinent issues affecting not just their country, but their very lives as well?

Well, those who’ve been privileged enough to know me through the years know that my demeanor borders dangerously on eccentricity. It starts with my aquiline-nose fetish (which explains my crush on Brooke Fraser) and ends with my dalliance with the idea of perfectionism. For one, I’m no stickler to the demands of the circadian cycle. I cherish my daily 6:00pm–8:00pm power naps the same way I treasure my health. (By the way, I highly recommend it on you who’s reading this! Trying to rediscover yourself? Who knows, it just might be your missing puzzle piece!) Aside from their incredible replenishing ability, these naps help me think well into my sleep.(Sounds crazy, I know!) But I do like to believe I don’t really dream. I’m told a great many people dream a great deal about some pretty incomprehensible stuff. Man, what I would give just to know how that feels like!

See, my dreams are almost always grounded in some semblance of reality. Surely, they can’t be dreams if you can remember everything after, or can they? (You may email atika@atikadominic.com if you need details on what I ‘dream’ about. But that would mean you have to subscribe to my newsletter, which, by the way, is just as satisfying as clicking ‘Skip Ad’!)

Anyway, sorry I had to deflect your attention a little. So, these nagging thoughts seem to weigh me down. And they have nothing to do with the identity crisis we all have to grapple with in our twenties. I guess they’re the reason I recently decided I needed to have my health checked. And that I did. The good news is, my fundamentals are robust. Which means I’m mentally, emotionally and physically stable. So, you’ve got absolutely nothing to worry about. You may read on.

But I’ll be the first to admit I do suffer from a condition often medically identified as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), but which I hereinafter choose to refer to as Perfectionism Disorder, if only to not scare you off. See, I’m obsessed with the idea that while humanity may not be perfect, excellence is there for the taking. And I want people to start believing we can have the kind of world we’ve always imagined. It was Napoleon Hill who said: “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” I verily believe that. I really do.

I hear you ask: So, who’s Atika? And what is he all about? Well, you’re here to find out. I’m someone who believes I’m here to make a difference. And while I don’t live to complain, I believe the state of the society my generation finds itself in means we’ve got our work cut out. We’ve got a situation where greed has replaced integrity, hatred has petered out our otherwise inherent capacity for love, emotion often overrides reason, and we all seem to agitate for freedoms and rights without the sense of responsibility with which those ought to come.

I know, society isn’t, and won’t ever, be perfect. But what’s dispiriting is the fact that young people don’t want to talk about issues that strike at the very core of our existence. Just think about it: Young people—educated, and who constitute at least 60% of Kenya’s population—don’t want to talk politics for instance, because to them, all politics does is sow division. I beg to differ. “Politics doesn’t sow division; bad politics does.” And that’s to say we’ve got a raging fire of bad politics whose embers we keep stoking. Tell you what? It’s our generation’s responsibility to redefine our politics. We’re millennials, we can get whatever we want. But we’ve got to start somewhere. And that’s why we must talk about politics. Let’s talk and disagree. That’s okay. I guarantee you, when it’s all said and done, we’ll all be better for it.

As a people, we’ve become precariously obsessed with the idea of ‘success’, so much so that integrity is no longer a worthy spanner in the works. The truth is, we need to practice integrity every day of our lives. Because integrity breeds meritocracy, which is humanity’s best bet against self-destruction.

In the end, all I want is to see people striving to be better every day, reading and learning a little more, and asking for more out of ourselves. Because most of us would be really surprised at the sheer enormity of our potentialities. Let’s be open to the idea of a better us, shall we?

That said, the last time I checked, I had 1,154 friends on Facebook and at least 600 followers on Twitter. If only half could subscribe to my blog … Come on, let’s build each other up! Hit that subscribe button. I promise you, you’ll be grateful for it! Especially because I’ve got pure delicacies lined up for your brain’s taste buds!

And oh, before I go, I need you to do me a favor. Please go through the whole of this piece all over again and check for any form of mistake – grammatical, syntactic, … whatever. I’ll be happy to hear from you in case you find any. That way, you’ll be helping me know if this OCD is as chronic as I sometimes think it might be! Adios!