For many of us, there’s that one incidence that shapes the rest of our lives. Based on this incidence and other peculiar issues that we’ve witnessed, we make a decision, build a value or reform our thoughts. I’ve told a few persons this story but I’m going to tell it again. The scene is faint in my memory but the message of the incidence was clear. “You have to pass and do well in school before I can buy the things you want.” That was the message from my parent. After she said these words, the next minutes was of me crying and thinking of what to do to get the things I need in life if peradventure, I am unable to make the best grades in school. I got an idea quickly. I told myself I would not ask my parents for so much that they’d have to consider my grades. Since I am not confident of having excellent grades, I would take only whatever they have to offer and on my own, figure out how to secure the other things that I need or want. For instance, instead of asking for new set of under-wears, if mama offers some, I will take them. If she does not, I will take some of my pocket money to buy these for myself.
Moreso, just to prove their idea wrong and to gain the respect that I desire, I would study and make these good grades. I would become a girl that makes good grades and does not ask for help. An absolutely independent woman. I would pay little or no attention to the things that would derail my study plan. This includes fashion or non-academic friendships. I would take on whatever cumbersome challenges I am faced with and do it regardless of how much it saps from me. I would be smart and good at everything.
Over the years, this became my mantra and I lived my years being independent, not asking for help and always trying to prove to everyone that I do not need them. Exception would be boys who provide emotional attention and sexual pleasure. My brain became the most treasured part of me. The way I solved problems, the way I became the poise lady on the street, one of the smart students and the one that hardly asks for help. All of these are attributed to my brain and so I love it and I love to challenge it. But recently, my brain betrayed me. About 720hrs of study and all I could make was a medium satisfactory grade.
I had received the grade from my 3rd compulsory master’s degree module. I got a C+ and the second C that I’ve received within this first semester. Upon seeing this grade, I became utterly broken. This is not the goal. Smart girls don’t make C grades. Not even the ones who teach other people the same modules. A C means average and there is no way I would gladly accept that all my struggles and provings since the age of 13 is to be among the group of people with regular average level of intelligence. Sheer arrogance and pain was all that I felt. I wrote my narrative poem to express the anger of all that I had gone through that week. I hated myself and felt betrayed by my brain. I cried and locked myself out for the day.
Few hours into the evening with my worthless thoughts, I remembered how I began this pursuit for excellent grades and validations. I also remembered how in the previous week I was befundled by the realization that I was clueless about the things I really want to do. It had become obvious that some of my engagements are indeed challenging, demanding and the only satisfaction I derived from them was the satisfaction of taking up challenging tasks even when they hurt my health.
So, now, I’m thinking, maybe it time.
Maybe it’s time to actually live. To credit myself for living till age 25 with these high expectations and actually achieving a good deal of them. Maybe it’s time to drop the standards of my parents’ validation, to forget the words of all those who thought it fair to tell me that someone else is more intelligent than I am as well as those who thought my bachelor’s was a shitty programme. Maybe it’s time to cave in and stop taking challenges that are far above me just to prove that I can do anything. Maybe it’s time to accept some help and stop trying to do it all on my own. Maybe it’s time to stop judging myself so badly, to stop thinking that I’m responsible for so much. Maybe it’s really time to do all the things that don’t bring validation or accolade from anyone else but give me peace and happiness. Maybe it’s time to stop doing everything just because they sound great and challenging, to choose the things I love and I am really capable of. Maybe it’s time to heal, to not know, to have fun, to cut the standards, to be able to say no because saying yes would only hurt me and to stop wanting to be a hero for others.
Short letter to an ex-boyfriend and to you
Dear ex-boyfriend who studied accounting but was passionately working hard as a footballer,
The truth is that I never understood why you would focus on a passion-led career with no predictable Nigerian market instead of one with a predictable path and income structure. Today, I indeed hope that someday those football dreams came true for you.
To you reading this doing that thing you’re passionate about, not for validation or to prove to others but, because you found passion in it. You chose it without a clearly predictable future. I hope you’re doing okay and are indeed happy.
To you in a situation just like me,
You’re working, setting goals and doing everything,
Not because you really love it but because you’ve spent all your life this particular way and you can’t think of way out. You started with a reason that seemed so valid and right but you’ve discovered that life has more to offer and that your goals are just like the wind that blows heavy, gets the attention of everyone around but later turns void. I hope that one way or another, you find your way to fulfillment and that someday, the road be made easy for you.