2012: Rites of Passage
“No price is too high to pay for the priviledge of owning yourself” – Nietzche
SUMMER: (JAN -MAR)
The year began on a promising note after a quirky and almost turbulent end of 2011. I had just braved some major family dispute on whether to come back to Lagos or not. While the parents felt I should stay back in my Father’s big house have an easy breezy life and probably or most likely get married off, I wanted to work, although there was no assurance of that as I just got thrown into the job market. I hopped off lying through my teeth that I had secured a job (by faith of course lool). The parents couldn’t stop me on that account as we had a place in Lagos and neither could they brazenly put their wishes out now that I had a cogent engagement. Suffice it to say that I got to Lagos and asked a friend I knew from a social network to ‘perch’ at his workplace by working as his PA or anything at all to fulfill my claims. By this time our popular #OcupyNigeria “civic duty” came up thankfully to buy me some time to negotiate something tangible for myself. Thankfully things worked out, I got a 3months probation and I was looking forward to a handsome pay even at the end of it, life was bubbly and fun. Then a different reality set in.
Now I have grown up comfortable and semi sheltered all my life, we were not super rich but my parents could afford the best for us all. Now at this time of the year I went into a downward spiral, to a life I had never experienced before. Two things happened, first the probation ended and the new phase I was expecting didn’t happen due to some extraneous circumstances at the place of work. This meant I had to hang on to my earlier stipend. Now the second happenstance was on already but I couldn’t care less about it before I had been looking up to the first scenario to work out. My parents who in their wisdom knew many ways to sniff out a rat (in this case me ) decided to remove me from my comfort zone, which should in turn have me scurrying back home to them in my right senses of course when I couldn’t cope otherwise. Now we had two cars here and certain things were taken care of to run the house in their absence. These things were all abruptly taken away under different excuses and circumstances.
Gradually I had nothing to live on and run a house on but my meager stipend. Have you ever run a home or house before? If you haven’t you need to practice it I tell ya, it’s no small feat. Suddenly you understand how difficult life is when you have no petrol for the Gen and no car to get to work (I started walking to my office sometimes to save cash too; it suddenly became not too far a walk but tiring). You suddenly start a 0-0-1 or 1-0-0 or something close to this diet daily to get by, on a good day you have someone take you out and you shout a big HALLELUYAH! (Quietly of course LOOL) As a female, you start appreciating guys that take you out but more importantly you start appreciating the gift called true FRIENDSHIP. It’s not that you haven’t been appreciating these things but your vision gets clearer to those who truly care and if you are a proud person that finds it difficult to ask people for things like me then you’re in for a real downtime.
Now things got worse, the meager stipend stopped rolling in consistently *PAUSE*.
At this time I should start thinking of packing my things and going back home, right? But I’m pretty stubborn and understand that that action means surrendering and never really ever having a voice of my own. The miracle of this period came in the form of a solid friend, lover and rock I rested my soul on (excuse me while I shed a tear or two). Have you ever been so low in your life that you have to question your competence and worth and have your self esteem at the lowest ebb? I must tell you brethren the greatest gift you can give someone is to make them feel more included and better about themselves! I’m a very sociable person but I retreated in my shell and was very angry at the time: angry at my folks for not being supportive of me and my goals, angry at my non-understanding siblings (what did they know anyway? The first child wins all the battles and they follow suit), angry at the world for how slowly things were panning out.
I stopped going out generally. Where’s the money to even if I wanted to sef? Besides you only get constant reminders of your ‘failure’. A few people or friends I expected the most to support me at the time because they knew part of my story failed me and it’s really hard to open up to people. I expect friends ideally to reach out without even being told. Friends should be connected to you spiritually, because there are moments you doubt yourself in that vulnerable state. Self doubt kills your will and you may even tell yourself you’re not good enough. So it’s not the material things friends who rally around you bring (although that is equally important) that matter as much as the silent encouragement of your journey that their help or support represents. They can rightfully sense when you are in need because they pay attention or are in sync with you. Being a very proud person who has never really lacked for a thing before it was difficult asking for help. The most I’d do was hint at my issues; your interest or lack thereof tells me all I need to know. I learnt that it’s important to reject the mindset that others need to treat you right or act right, in order for you to be happy. You need to take charge of your life, as you can’t spell what others should or shouldn’t do for them, their life, their choices.
I came to the realization that you don’t chase people. It took me time to let go of some persons that I had opened up to and expected more from because the way you treat yourself should set the standard for how others treat you. The best ones even show you a higher standard of loving yourself. When you just are you, do your own thing and work hard, the right people who belong in your life will come to you, and stay. As I let some people go in my heart, some ‘angels’ came to me without my invitation. I recall one time I had N332.30kobo in my account (A Whole Me!! lool) and someone who I was just casual friends with sensed my situation and without even asking me too many questions asked for my account number. You cannot believe how dazed I was, because I REALLY needed it at that point. God indeed works in mysterious ways. Anyway I trudged on and basically lived off my friend I mentioned earlier, while some new great friends made my life easier, of which I’ll be eternally grateful. Meanwhile most people who knew or know me are aware that I’m from a well to do family and could never understand my situation. Besides I was even embarrassed to let people know. I would rather bear things quietly. This meant very few people actually knew what was going on with me in detail. It was a funny period, lacking in the midst of plenty and also suffering and smiling because people just assumed that you were better off than them and should be okay.
I must mention that while I was in this state of limbo or in the winter of my life I was furiously applying to all sorts of jobs for another chance elsewhere, while rebuilding things at the original place I was working. Fate played a huge joke on me. I had reworked my CV and made it more interesting and all then logged it in on some jobsites for automatic dispatch on jobs I wished to apply for in my field. I had been going on with this then realized after many months that the copy I saved did not have my contact details. I sat down and had a long laugh when I discovered this and said to the heavens “You must have some awesome plan for me” and indeed it had. I also had some friends I had been discussing with on starting our own company but that had been on a lull for sometime but was a great desire of mine. We humans often go ahead making plans of what we want and dreaming about them while God fixes it as it should be, but you need to have your dreams first. How it’s going to work out you don’t know. It may not come at the time you want or in the way you want, all you know is that you need to work hard and perfect your craft. God will bless the work of your hands.
Internal restructuring was ongoing at my place of work due to a stream of opportunities that were incoming. It became necessary to incorporate a new company to take care of these particular opportunities. Since I had been around and working irrespective of the pay, I was involved in the scheme of things, teamed up with my friend and another partner to birth our new company in the month of September. It was exhilarating to say the least and highly unexpected. In fact none of us saw that coming at the beginning of the year, so much can happen in just a minute. I started feeling worthy again, a sense of achievement, purpose and that I could really make something out of all this. On the home front, since I wasn’t getting any support I kept most things to myself. It’s a sad reality but sometimes your family or friends or those close to you could pose a hindrance to progress or positive change without even realizing it. I couldn’t say what I was going through all the while because I had to put up an ‘I’m okay’ front the entire time to avoid mockery or an ‘I told you so’ episode.
After months of anger I started thawing out and letting go of my resentment – this process began in May – and I made peace with all that had happened. I became thankful for the situation because it added to the push I already had to be my own person and come into my own. Besides there’s an expiry date on how long you can blame your parents for the wrong decisions they’ve made on your behalf in your life. My Dad came around first as expected (we have a quiet but a very strong bond). He came to see me at my place of work and gradually started asking me questions about what I had been up to. Of course I brandished the story with extra seasoning (lool) and he was so proud. I still keep some stuff to myself now because not everybody will understand your vision. In fact the chances that someone might maybe are really slim. The one thing my dad did though to show support was to send one car for our use in Lagos and now he tells my younger ones to go find their feet without referring to me but I know this experience showed us all a lot. It’s still not the topnotch family ideally, I still feel isolated and misunderstood often by the rest of my family often, but I have a friend who more than makes up for all of that. That I’m a co-venturer in a company is the highlight of my year (I still pinch myself sometimes to be sure lool) even though the real work begins now, because running a startup in our beloved Naija is no mean feat. It’s a tough call but I’m ready to see it through however scared I get sometimes. I am so blessed and thankful for the opportunity and great purpose God has set me apart for because great things are about to happen for me and my country through that medium.
Finally, thank you for reading my long epistle. I’d like you to know that there are opportunities within the challenges you face today. Don’t give up, God will never let you go. Always remember in the words of Nieztche that “NO PRICE IS TOO HIGH TO PAY FOR THE PRIVILEDGE OF OWNING YOURSELF”.