She is a seasoned writer and pens down very insightful pieces. She is light in itself” – Waruguru
“Inspirational, influential and informative. She is very helpful to all individuals especially when you have hit rock bottom” – Cindy
Wambui Bobo is the sensational writer of the very popular Bobo diaries page which is home to the rawest, unique and thought-provoking content you will find. The special thing about Bobo is her selfless commitment towards helping her readers resolve their self-esteem issues, childhood traumas and most importantly, teaching them to address and improve their mental health.
With over 20,000 followers on Facebook, her voice and aura are undeniable. She says that her readers are the real influencers and she is just an entity through which they express themselves. We talked to her about her journey and what drives her to care so much about the people she interacts with.
Who is Bobo?
My official name is Beatrice Wambui Mbugua most people probably know me as Wambui Bobo and Bobo diaries on Facebook. I have always liked the idea of writing a diary, so it made sense to call my page Bobo diaries because most of the content on the page is about myself and the real-life experiences that I go through every day. I am also a proud mum to my son, and I live in Nairobi.
What do you do for a living?
I work as a writer. Depending on the task at hand, I can do content writing, academic writing, creative writing. You can say I am a jack of all trades when it comes to the art of writing. Besides writing, I have a strong conviction to help people, therefore I advocate for mental health while also speaking against gender based violence. I am actively involved in encouraging people to tell their stories, confront childhood traumas and find healthy ways to heal from them. Above all, I am a humanist, I love all people and I value the gift of being able to help them stay positive and change the narratives of their lives.
Have you always loved to write?
All through primary, I enjoyed writing compositions and poems. Writing was one of my favourite things about school, and I excelled at it. I would say my interest in creative writing came from my ability to tell stories with ease. Since I was young, my parents would always encourage us to talk about our dreams and the vision we had for our lives. When it was time for me to talk about my dreams, I would come up with a lengthy, creative story and I would always make my parents laugh because each story was more extra than the previous one. I have always had an imaginative mind and I believe that this has really helped me become a better writer over the years.
At what point did you start journaling your thoughts and perspective towards life?
When I was in Form Two, I used to have an A4 book that was filled with poems about the struggles I was going through, the people I was crushing on and life back at home. My time in high school was quite stressful and writing about how I was feeling became a very therapeutic exercise. All my poems were metaphors, there was always a deeper, more personal meaning to everything that I wrote. Writing with such symbolism made me feel safe because I could express my fears and innermost feelings in a way that didn’t expose me.
To anyone reading my poems, they just thought they were deep and well written but in the real sense, I was writing about myself, my mother and the troubles back home. Being able to confront my feelings through pen and paper was pretty much how I survived my dark days since then it has become easier for me to self-reflect and come up with proper solutions to the things I deal with.
Were you journaling on social media as well?
I got on social media much later in 2014. When I first joined Facebook I was very different from who I am now. Though I was still putting out creative content, most of my posts were the savage kind, the kind of posts that are there for the readers to have a good laugh and engage about hot topics. It was nothing serious at the time, just for fun.
It was in 2017 that I realized my audience needed more from me, honestly, I also needed more for myself. I changed my entire style of writing and started putting out more relatable and thought-provoking posts that would not only enlighten my readers but also heal them. I realized that social media is an escape for many people, an escape from their emotional pain and trauma. The more purposeful and intentional my posts got, the more feedback I received from people who related to my content on a very deep level. Knowing that someone somewhere has gone through something similar to you eases your burden somehow and reassures you that you are not alone.
Why do you think people relate so much with what you write?
Almost everything I put out is inspired by something I have gone through. There is a unique energy about the truth that is undeniable. Readers feel the emotion from something genuine and they use that emotion to interrogate their own feelings.
I remember in 2017 I was going through a very difficult time in my life. I was starting life on my own (I had moved out of my mother’s house) and I was broke. I had tonnes of responsibilities and they weighed hard on me. So much so that I ended up slipping into depression. My only escape was writing and so I wrote about the hard times I was going through and painted a picture of my pain. People felt what I was saying, and they resonated with these feelings.
Not all people are bold enough to say that they are not okay so when you give these people a voice, you free them from the emotional trauma that they might not have acknowledged otherwise. In 2018 my following grew significantly after my posts were shared extensively on Facebook. I guess people felt like what I was talking about needed to be heard and as a writer, there is no greater compliment than that.
How much have you changed as a person because of your posts?
As I said, 2017 was a rough year because of all the stuff I was dealing with but it was also the time I embarked on my journey to healing. In the process of healing myself, I realized that there were more people out there who needed healing as well, so we have moved together since. I feel like by being honest and vulnerable about my story, I have been able to understand myself, even more, allowed healing to take its course and become more conscious about my feelings and how they affect other people.
I have learnt that even though I have been given this gift of teaching people and helping them find their healing, our lives will always be different, and no single solution can be a perfect fit for everyone. Though I journal about my personal experiences, I am keen to acknowledge that our paths are different and each needs to find their own way. My job is to guide and encourage them.
Since you tell your personal stories, do you ever feel like you are posting too much about your life on social media?
When I started writing about serious issues, some people felt like I was oversharing my personal life on social media. There is something powerful about owning your story and being brave enough to write it however you want. Owning all your experiences guarantees that no one will ever use that story against you. There hasn’t been a point where I have felt like I am over sharing because my page has always been a diary where I am free to express my story however way I see it fit.
I don’t bare all of my life on social media, I believe there should always be that part of your life that you keep to yourself. This is what should keep you grounded and aware that there is life beyond the posts. There are parts of myself that people do not know because being the author of own story means that I only share what I feel is relevant to the reader and things that I have already healed and moved on from.
How different is the Bobo we see online and the real life Bobo?
There is no significant difference between the town. I think I am pretty much the same in both cases if I had to point out a difference it would probably be the fact that my online persona is somewhat serious and less playful than the person I am off social media.
Off social media, I am more tolerant and find it easy to blend into different crowds. If it’s time to play we will have the best time, if the situation demands seriousness, I will play the part perfectly. I have a child like sense of wonder and excitement in real life, but I have to be careful not to show that part of myself on social media because you often have no control over who is getting into your circle.
Once your post is shared everyone can get to you and it is important to put specific boundaries because not everyone will mean well. Each persona fits well with the environment so I wouldn’t say I am different; I just adapt to the situation.
What do your readers mean to you?
My readers are everything to me. They simply mean the world. Lots of people have labelled me an “influencer” but I can’t own that title because if it wasn’t for my readers sharing and engaging with my posts, no one would ever know about my content. In many ways, they are the ones who influence, I am just the platform on which they express themselves.
It is amazing how fast my page has grown, and it has all been through my readers trusting my content and sharing it far and wide. My circle is ever growing, I make new friends every day and I am humbled by their love and dedication. I have 20,000 people following my work and you can feel their commitment every time I put up a new post. They comment and do so freely, and respectfully, I have so much love for my people and even though our friendship is virtual, they are like family to me. I give myself to them wholeheartedly, I try to be present when they need me and most importantly, I listen, and I understand them because that is what family does.
You are just one person and 20,000 people are sharing their issues with you, does it ever get too much to handle?
I am an empath by nature, and this means that I will take each case to heart and treat it like was my own. The downside of all this is that most times I bite much more than I can handle and end up getting emotionally drained because I invest deeply in the issues my readers write to me about. I must admit that when I opened the page, I wasn’t emotionally prepared for the aftermath of the messages I was receiving.
Within the first few days of reading all the messages and interacting with my readers, I was emotionally spent, and my energy was on such a low. The problem was that I hadn’t set up boundaries and this led to me being too emotionally invested in all the issues that were being brought to my attention. We are all human; we all have limits and I was really pushing my limits then.
Most of these messages are extremely personal stories of abusive relationships and deep emotional scars. People have a lot of pain, resentment and guilt out here and all they need is someone to listen and reassure them that it will always get better.
I anonymously post the messages on my page where my followers can objectively dissect the issue and give their thoughts. The idea is to give the suffering individual a safe platform to vent and receive some kind of healing. A problem shared is a problem half solved.
How do you deal with this kind of stress?
In the past, I thought that to really support someone, I had to carry their burdens as my own. This meant that I took every issue to heart and most times, the load would get too heavy to carry. Now, however, I have learnt that though I need to be present for my people, I can do so while still taking care of my mental health and energy.
I am also lucky to have a very good support system, the people around me who know about what I deal with every day are keen to make sure that I do not neglect myself too much. They have helped me realize that I cannot resolve all the problems in the world at a go and sometimes it is okay to take a break and focus on my life as well. I have a son, a partner, a job, a family; I have all these other aspects to put into consideration as well.
Lately, I have also engaged a therapist who has been helping me make sense of my thoughts and feelings. I would highly recommend people to see a therapist once in a while, it will be beneficial to you to understand what you are feeling and why you are feeling that way. Besides therapy I am going back to personal journaling, taking walks in nature and basically just enjoying all of life’s gifts.
From your experience, how would you describe our mental state as a society?
From what I have encountered, we are so wounded as a society, worse still, we refuse to acknowledge our pain and issues. We end up projecting our trauma to the next person. It becomes a vicious cycle that could have possibly been averted if only we got the help we needed. Most of the cases I have seen are relationship related. A man will be abusive to the wife because growing up, that was what he saw the father doing to the mother. Knowingly or unknowingly, he carries on this destructive practice to yet another generation.
There was a case about a guy who had found the perfect woman who they got along with, genuinely loved each other and had plans of starting a family with, but he couldn’t. He didn’t want a woman who wasn’t troublesome, he wanted someone who would throw utensils at him and bring some “excitement” to his life. When you trade a peaceful, loving relationship for a toxic one, that speaks volumes about your state of mind.
What can we do to make ourselves better?
I believe that most of the issues we have adults have roots from our childhood. To heal from these issues, we must resolve to work on ourselves and unlearn all the negative things we have picked up along the way. We must take responsibility for our actions and stop blaming the other people for what we feel is wrong with us. The first step towards recovery is acceptance so you need to first accept that you have a problem before you can find a solution to it.
When it comes to relationships, I feel like people get into relationships for all the wrong reasons. Your boyfriend or girlfriend shouldn’t be the one that is supposed to resolve all the problems you have in life. It is not the duty of your partner to complete you, going into a relationship, you should be a complete entity that contributes positively to the union. Self awareness means that you will know and understand your worth. That way, no one can take advantage of you.
What can your readers expect from you this year?
Good vibrations all through. This is what I have always wanted my readers to feel every time they read my content and hopefully, more good vibes will be coming in 2020. This is the year where we take back control of our lives. I want us to be aware of the immense power our minds have. How we perceive ourselves matters, the value we place on ourselves matters we have to be more conscious about ourselves and what we need to do to be better in all aspects.
This is the year of holding ourselves accountable for the choices we make while also expecting other people to be accountable for their deeds. If we can’t implement all these things, I believe we will be unstoppable.
You can check out Wambui Bobo’s Facebook page here.