The hard days we would rather not talk about…

About a month ago, 4040 was invited to participate in an event. It seemed like a great place to learn, network and spread the message. When D-day arrived, I wasn’t in the mood (to be fair I’m never in the mood for anything in the morning) and I started weighing my cancellation options. I decided against that and dragged myself out of bed instead; packed a bunch of items for sale/display and set off for the venue.

It was slow at the start but we expected that. I was lucky enough to be distracted by other members of the team. We chatted, snacked and laughed. Eventually, the last one had to leave. I encouraged her to go because completing her work tasks at the office was more productive than manning our stall. I walked around talking to some people but it was still the same response we’d generally received all day. Nothing to write home about.

See there are some events where attendees have come with one focus in mind. It can be anything from sports, the music, drinking, catching up with friends but whatever it is; they know what they want to do and prefer not to be disturbed/derailed. I mean, I totally understand that but it can suck if you are trying to promote/sell anything. If you’re lucky they’ll entertain your ‘be the change stories’ for half a minute but mostly they want to quickly move on. Most will not give you the opportunity to even begin; avoiding eye contact, walking faster and ignoring apparent signaling/calling out.

I had been thinking hard about all this and decided to leave slightly earlier than planned. I packed up our merchandise before it was dark and waited for an uber. After exchanging pleasantries with the driver, I leaned back in the chair and turned to the side so that he wouldn’t attempt any small talk. I just needed silence.

I looked back at the event and felt we had barely succeeded in raising awareness or funds, then I consoled myself that we were only participants and as such, expectations should be lower BUT I looked back at the first few months of the year and saw that even our own fundraising events have been average at best. I mean, I am grateful they are not flopping and I am aware of our strong points is what it is. That very weekend we had sent proposal number 20 (an average of 5 a month)and well, we’ve not announced a new partnership so you can guess how those are going

Now, I am very aware of our wins and this post is not one where I am looking to hear “It’s going to be alright” or “You are doing amazing work.” In fact, I never write/share my frustrations with that outcome in mind.


This post is about recognizing that no matter how much you love what you do, you will not always like it. It is about acknowledging that it is really hard when you step out and pursue a dream of any kind It is a reminder that no matter how much support you have, you will get really lonely and find yourself over-analyzing every move/outcome.

This post is about publicly talking about my bad days because we don’t speak about those often enough It is about admitting when you are failing and getting out of your bubble to find out why, to return to the drawing board, to innovate, to do better. It is about not settling for less because you know how much more you are capable of. But also, it is about sharing my process because everyday milestones are not a reality for anyone in whatever business or institutions they are a part of. And sometimes the milestones the ‘world’ sees and appreciates are not the ones you were looking to achieve. On this very day, someone I haven’t spoken to in ages came over and was excitedly applauding my ‘grand life’ of media appearances and awards. If only he knew what I could trade it all of that for!

That day, I felt sorry for myself for a while, talked about it for a bit and got into bed by 9:30 pm. Today, we start on a ‘clean slate’ and try again.

I hope that you will be kind to yourself this week and allow yourself to feel the things you would rather ignore. I hope that the people in your life will understand.

You are not superhuman and it is okay.

May your pain be meaningful and your wins after the battle that much more gratifying.

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Written by Esther Kalenzi (0)

Celebrating life and humour; attempting to make a difference in deed and through my first love, writing.

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