There is a certain kind of shame that comes with having attended one of the best schools in Nigeria and not looking anything like it. That shame is the reason why when filing out a form I’d tick student, better to have people think of me as a student, and that, without me ever mentioning what school I graduated from.
While still a student there was almost a kingliness in my gait. I knew I’d have to work for the success I craved but it was enough to know that I deserved that success, was being prepared for it. Fast forward to post graduation and I’m not even sure I remember who I was been prepared to be. That is why I would take a job that reinforces my inadequacy every time I report for duty, why my attendance at seminars and church programs are never ending because I am searching for that lost self, the self that was misplaced somewhere in between all that kingliness and reality.
Being human is scary, adulting, the whole works, even scarier is deciding what – better still, who – I want to become. Twenty-three and still very clueless, all that plus the added pressure of fighting off the stereotype attached to being female in Nigeria, but that is not my fight, it’s for people who have come fully into their own, not me, certainly not me.
The year was 2009 and my father in all generosity decided to send me to what in his judgment was, still is, one of the best educational institution in Nigeria. I was surprised that he would even consider it. Did he really have that kind of money? Civil servant that he was, how did he intend to pay?
Slowly, it sunk in that my father could indeed afford it, having held this dream close to his heart, diligently putting aside a percentage of his salary to that effect. Superman that he is, I never once worried about how to pay my school fees. But the next and very mind-boggling question, was I good enough to be a student of such esteemed institution?
There was a standard mode of conduct in my school, you had to tame whatever demons you had if you were truly keen on remaining a student, so on equal footing we were groomed for greatness, taught how to contribute our quota to the world and before my eyes I blossomed, grew into a gradual belief in self because like a factory equipment I was finding out that the manual would come along with the product, I would know how whenever I needed to find a way. This realization excited me.
Travelling through life with anxiousness and insecurity wouldn’t stop me. So I would console myself day-dreaming, dreaming of L-I-F-E, contentment, a centered version of myself, even dream of insulting people I don’t have the courage to stand up to. But fear, doubt, and the burdensome feeling of inadequacy.
I don’t look anything like my father’s investments, occasionally, feeling the need to defend my bruised ego I would sound like it but nothing could be farther. This is my shame, that while colleagues have well-paying jobs in companies with international repute, I sit behind a desk wasting away, not sure what exactly I’m doing, not sure how I got there, wasting. For all the investment’s worth I too can provide awe-inspiring solutions, but routine, fear, and more fear.
Having discovered their geniuses, colleagues are doing things commendable, starting successful companies. They are the fearless ones, sure, confident, picture perfect representations of their parents investments, but here I am, hiding like I always do, behind the computer screen, hoping that someone will call out my genius.
This entry was submitted as part of the Nigerian Voices competition organized by YNaija.com.
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Kehinde is a self-proclaimed wordsmith who admittedly is still learning. I search and try to give a deeper meaning to my life’s experiences through words.