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September 22, 2017

Reflections: Shun image fuss and just do you

Recently I was at a restaurant for a small get-together. We were a group of close friends and we had met up in honour of one of our friends.

In the interest of half disclosure, I won’t say if it was a farewell party or a congratulatory dinner. The salient point is that someone had brought a cake, and on seeing the cake with her name on it, the lady who was the guest of honour was choked with emotion at the gesture.

I should point out that no one sitting at that table was under 40, so the fact that someone had gone to the trouble of zipping back and forth in Nairobi traffic to have a cake made, what with all the other things 40-year-olds have on their plate, was a big deal. In any case, the guest of honour was touched, both by our presence and by the cake.

Being the politely rowdy bunch that we are, calls for the lady to make a speech erupted soon after the cake arrived, and now on the verge of tears, the lady, with a self-conscious air, said she didn’t know what to say, or what the right words to fit such an occasion were. ‘Who cares,’ said a jolly voice at the table. ‘Do you?’

Do you. What an emphatic pair of words carrying such strong meaning.

We don’t get to do enough of it, do we? Be ourselves, I mean. We’re too busy living up to other people’s expectations, too afraid of how society will judge us if we show it the real us, that we are out of practice at being ourselves. That’s what ‘Do You’ means; not worrying about how to properly give a speech, or about what others expect you to do, or what’s proper. It’s a shout saying, just be you.

But as I said, we’re out of practice, so here are a few tips, reminders, on how one goes about ‘doing you’.


You start with discovering who you are. Take the time to reflect on your life. Think about the things you would or wouldn’t like to do. It’s a process of trial-and-error because finding yourself involves a search for who you are, to then know, understand and accept yourself. And once you’ve discovered the person you are, you can then define yourself in your own terms.

Don’t compare yourself with other people. Comparison is a waste of time, as it’s time lost admiring others when you should be looking at your own strengths and weakness. If you’re busy hankering to be like someone else, you’ll lose sight of you. Love your personality, embrace your flaws, look to your own characteristics in admiration.


Relax, stop worrying about the worst that could happen in social situations. So what if you’ve got sukuma wiki stuck in your front teeth, or you have a problem pronouncing ‘R’ or ‘L’. You should learn to laugh at yourself; it’s actually an admirable quality.

Develop and express your individuality. It could be your sense of style that strays from the norm or your manner of speaking. Point is it’s better to be a character than a type.

Do You and you’ll be happier, free from image-building stress, and confident as a unique human being, warts and all.

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