You will understand the true meaning of resilience, courage, and perseverance when you meet Brian Muchiri Waihenya. He is an aspiring author, blogger and outright awesome person. He is also a paraplegic.
During the wee hours on the morning of February 8, 2014, as he was going back home after a night out with 4 friends in Nakuru, a trailer veered off a climbing lane and hit the car they were traveling in head-on. The terrifying accident left 3 of his friends dead, 1 walking away with minor injuries and Brian paralyzed due to severe spinal injury. That would see his life literally turned upside down.
The healing process was a tough journey. He now had to be totally dependent on his family from a life of independence and full of promise. He had to learn how to do the basics all over again. The journey was traumatic, depressive and definitely difficult. Life proved hard to move on; with pain and feelings of despair becoming his friend. Acceptance was a tough affair for him to come to terms with; from being able to walk and living a normal life to being a paraplegic at just 19 years old was not a walk in the park.
But despite the odds, Brian was able to push through the hard reality that was now his life and continued to fight and played the cards life had dealt him. Through his journey to recovery, he found solace through writing. It helped him heal, release the tough burden and enabled him to forge forward with life.
His zeal to write has seen him start his own blog, My Story, where he shares his stories and also writes about those who have gone through tough traumatic times. He also contributes to award-winning lifestyle blog Potentash, where he writes a series, From stairs to Ramps and writes articles from the eye of a paraplegic. I got a chance to interact with Brian and got to learn what drives and motivates him to blog.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
For as long as I can remember, I have always loved writing, whether it was a simple composition about my family in class seven or writing a love letter in form two. I can be quite reserved sometimes and I do not thrive in noisy environments. I have always preferred expressing my thoughts on paper rather than debating them through word of mouth. It wouldn’t come as a surprise then that I am a texter more than I am a caller.
After the accident 6 years ago, I had a lot of feelings to confront; feelings that I couldn’t verbally express. My outlet was through writing. Words became my confidant and therapy. Being in bed the entire day gave me enough time to sieve through my emotions and put them into writing. That is how I slowly got into blogging, by writing about my innermost feeling; the struggles of paralysis, the pain, the fears, and the crippling uncertainties. As soon as I started writing I noticed that with every article I wrote, a significant load was lifted.
What is your inspiration?
My inspiration can be classified into two parts. The first part of why I write is for selfish reasons. I do it for me, for my own personal therapy and wellbeing. I am at my happiest when I am writing about issues that I really care about. I am drawn to deep topics of mental health and self-improvement. I always leave an imprint of my aura in every story I write. Each article is a personal one and being personal is how I interrogate my own issues.
The second part about why I write is for the sake of reliability. I am well aware that my audience needs something real and candid to provoke them into embarking on a healing journey similar to mine. I want people to read what I write and get inspired to be better and to challenge themselves in ways they know they should challenge themselves but are not able to. A simple overview of why I write is that I do it for selfish and selfless reasons.
What challenges do you have in your writing/blogging journey?
The greatest challenge I have faced as a writer is my lack of versatility. My forte all along has been deep, thought-provoking and personal stories. I relate with this type of writing the most because I like to get emotionally invested in the work I do, it is easier and more fun that way. To become an accomplished writer, you have to become well versed in various types of styles. You need to put out factual articles, informative pieces and sometimes I struggle to come out of my inspiration cocoon.
Another struggle is that I feel that my kind of writing is not as complex as it should be. Compared to other writers, I wonder if I am using enough vocabulary, applying the right amount of humor or even simply making enough sense. Self-criticism can be a good thing but it can also be the thing that ties you down.
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now in your blogging journey?
In the next five years, I will be in my early 30s and I hope to have started writing my book by then. It has always been a dream of mine to write a book based on my life. I feel like my story keeps getting richer with time and every story needs to be told. I intend to read more and expose myself to accomplished writers whose journeys will hopefully push me out of my comfort zone.
I would also like to get more involved in the blog where I currently work and participate more in content creation and the success of the blog.
Apart from writing and blogging, what do you do to unwind or have fun?
A big part of my free time is spent listening to music. I also feel like I spend too much time on my phone being unconstructive. This year I want to reduce my screen time and concentrate more on improving the human connections that I have. On the rare occasions that I go out, I enjoy getting to know new people and just having conversations with them. My idea of fun is sitting under my tree, sipping beer and enjoying the evening breeze. It’s simple but it works.
What advice would you give upcoming bloggers?
Just create your own identity as a writer and don’t be too intimidated by the more accomplished bloggers you come across. Learn what you can from them but do not be too invested in becoming them or sounding like them. If you write honestly and passionately, your work will resonate with the people it is meant to resonate with.
Also, try as much as you can to keep your content as fresh as possible. Allow your audience to get into your mind and look at things from your own perspective. Do not be afraid to venture into uncharted waters, even if you are a slow learner like me; just keep on challenging yourself.
Brian keeps on challenging us to do better with our lives, follow our dreams, never give up and just write!
Picture credits, Brian.