Dear World,

As a freelance journalist in Kenya, I am living my dream of using storytelling to humanize the world, near and far.


But my life as a foreign correspondent isn’t easy; in fact, pursuing a life abroad was my greatest fear.

The truth is, I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t sick. I was only four years old when I contracted a rare virus that damaged my eyesight and left searing, heart-shaped scars across my face. At ten, my joints began cracking and aching with so much pain, I had to wear braces on both knees. By 16, I was so exhausted I napped in bathroom stalls between classes. By graduation, I had spent almost as many days in school as out. Then came the hollowing depression.

What seemed to be a childhood illness anomaly, developed into a plethora of conditions caused by something much bigger.

I met with dozens of doctors, tried every treatment and took every drug; nothing helped. At 24, I was sleeping 22 hours a day. I wanted to die.

In a final attempt to find out what was wrong with me, I enrolled in a sleep study.
“You have a severe form of Narcolepsy,” my neurologist told me.

Narcolepsy is a lifelong, neurological disorder that causes fragmented sleep cycles, leaving me - and 3 million others around the globe - exhausted during the day and insomniacs at night.

With a daily cocktail of pills and close medical care, I would get better, he said. But it would be difficult and there is no cure.

Still, at 25 years old, I got a second chance at life. I vowed I wouldn’t waste it.

I wanted to work as a reporter abroad, but was terrified to leave my seasoned neurologist, skilled nursing staff and neighborhood pharmacy that reliably stocked all nine of my medications. Leaving my safety net felt insurmountably frightening.

On June 15, 2015, I pushed through my fear and boarded a plane to Nairobi, Kenya, carrying a suitcase full of pills and a head full of fears. I’ve been there ever since.

Some say I’m fearless for pursuing a big life in a world that isn’t made for bodies like mine. But I am not fearless; I am terrified.

But to me, bravery is not the absence of fear. Rather, it is acknowledging what haunts you, and twisting those knots of fear into strands of hope. It is forging an unknown path to show others it can be done, and above all, it is striving to be the bravest one amongst them all.


Be The Bravest One

Support this photographer: KAtie G Nelson ︎  @katiegracenelson ︎ Website     



Explore All Stories


contact us

learn more

Copyright © 2020 Dear World, Inc.