Chiamaka Ezekwem: Finding yourself (30 Days, 30 Voices)

We spend too much time and energy trying to outrun ourselves, comparing our achievements with those of other people; feeling inferior sometimes and too proud at other times; turning our existence into a ‘rat-race’.

The beauty of life can be discovered and felt only from within. It could be how appreciative you choose to be, how hard you try to make others smile, how comfortable you are with what you do presently, or even how often you choose to sit in a quiet place and reflect on your life so far. The main thing is it all begins with YOU.

Often times, people make the terrible mistake of trying to gain fulfilment and joy from outward things; other people, lots of money, flashy cars, and the likes. These things on their own may make one happy temporarily, but lasting joy can only be gotten from ourselves by ourselves, and the secret to achieving it lies in our ability to appreciate whatever it is we already have and are, rather than believing that we will never be happy without the things we hope to have. It’s alright to aspire towards achieving the things we don’t have yet, but it’s always best to take out some time to ‘smell the flowers’ i.e. appreciate the simple things around us, which we often ignore.

As individuals, we have unlimited needs. We spend too much time and energy trying to outrun ourselves, comparing our achievements with those of other people; feeling inferior sometimes and too proud at other times; turning our existence into a ‘rat-race’. This brings to mind an existing trend I like to call ‘the end-of –the-year-desperation’, which is very often accompanied by the ‘New-Year-Phobia’. It isn’t so much about driving an SUV to the village come Christmas, as it is about gaining some level of satisfaction, obtaining a sense of fulfilment by the New Year; knowing that the past year wasn’t wasted. We go through the year, week by week, as if we have no idea that the year is running out. It only dawns on us when we begin to hear Christmas songs from distant radio sets, and see Christmas decorations on display everywhere. It is amazing, and pathetic; and terribly enough it happens to me.

In fact, I even felt it recently as a graduate still struggling to get a job and unconsciously doubling my efforts (especially when the Christmas bells started chiming). My heart thumps loudly in my chest as I calculate the months since my passing-out-parade, then I shake my head (and hiss occasionally) and browse endlessly for available vacancies – any job would be better than no job.

Slowly, though, I’m beginning to realize that getting a job will not necessarily lead to fulfilment (story!). No, really. I should presently try to ‘Find Myself’, discover my gifts and abilities, use them to help people and in the long run, solve my own problems. I try every day to convince myself that getting a job will not make me feel any better about myself or make me happier. Happiness and joy emanate from the inside; this means that while I struggle through all these, I must never forget to appreciate the things I already have.

I desperately hope now that my New-Year-phobia will lead me to FINDING MYSELF, rather than merely satisfying myself temporarily and looking good in the eyes of others; appreciating what I already possess, rather than treating them as unimportant. I have to discover what I want the most, if it’s best for me, and how beneficial it’ll be to others around me.

My advice? As the New Year has begun, rather than crowd your to-do list as always, I’d say you write all you’ve already achieved, work out ways to improve them and take out time to appreciate them.


Chiamaka Ezekwem is a graduate of Microbiology, with a keen interest in writing and creative art. She hopes to inspire people (including herself) towards achieving the best at all times. She is currently working on some short stories, and a novel.


30 Days 30 Voices series is an opportunity for young Nigerians to share their stories and experiences with other young Nigerians, within our borders and beyond, to inspire and motivate them.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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