By Josephine Karanja
When you mention the American dream, most people around the world especially my fellow Kenyans back at home get excited. They misinterpret it by thinking America is a land of milk and honey where things are readily available.
Life can hand you the wrong card. Its how we deal with what life brings our way, that define our destiny.
My name is Mary Kimani. I came to America almost 16 years ago. It could be more, but I stopped counting. Why?
Well people have this notion that America is somewhat another heaven on earth. No it is not. I wish they knew how wrong they are. In fact what they don’t know is that people around the world find it hard here.
As a matter of fact, most Kenyans here in the United States suffer and die from depression compared to those living in Kenya.
One of the most misleading tools in this life is social media. People take photos and post them on social media cites showing how they are enjoying life in America.
But you see, if you are in Kenya, do not let social media fool you. Every time I have post pictures on social media, I get an avalanche of messages in my inbox from several people especially young girls from Kenya.
In the messages, they express how they admire my life because they assume I am lucky to be in America. It really bothers me because by thinking life in America is a bed of roses. They think I am the luckiest human to be living in the small heaven on earth.
But then again, this is not true. I wish they knew how wrong they are. Granted, I am thankful to God and my parents for bringing me and my little sister Anji here. It was a good steppingstone.
The United States of America has a system where you literally must work for the rest of your life just so you can put a roof over your head and food on your dining table.
Here, if you don’t work hard, you’ll find yourself homeless and die of depression. You must work very hard.
Smetimes last year, I decided to take a break and go back to Kenya. I was there for 8 months. In those 8 months my anxiety reduced by half.
Here is my story in a nutshell;
I joined the United States Army in January 2010. I served the great American country for 4 years and even went to Iraq.
My life changed completely. Serving the US Army taught me one thing; you can have all the money in the world but if you are not in your right mind, you cannot even enjoy the money.
If I recall well, I never suffered any form of anxiety or depression when I was growing up in Kenya.
My depression came after serving the US. Good thing is that the Veterans here are taken care of. I went to college got my associates in Information Technology and yes, the Army paid for it.
But am still struggling with serious anxiety and depression. It is something I must live with for the rest of my life. That is the price I had to pay.
Everyone’s story is different. The circumstances are different. But, do I regret joining the army? Answer is no. Given a chance, I would do it again and again. Although it came with a price, it changed my life for good. The state of my mind is not the same as it used to be before I joined the army.
All the benefits I get came at a price. You want to make sure you always take care of your mind first and no matter where you are. One thing the army taught me was to have a very strong mindset.
It is okay if want to come to America. your only human, but by the end of the day, the choices you make regardless of where you are, will determine how your mind will interpret it.
If you have your mind right, you have everything. Start to appreciate everything even the smallest ones. Because when you land here after a while you forget to thank God for what you have.
It goes without saying, am an American and a proud Veteran and I have no shame in it at all.
Bottomline I would like to give a special mention to my lovely mother Tarsilla and my caring daddy Wilson kimani. I can take a bullet for them. The two made sure me and my little sister Anji went to the best private schools in Kenya by taking loans to educate us. Today I AM HERE TO SAY THIS, I plan to retire to Kenya in a few years or maybe tomorrow. Only God knows.