I always laugh when younger people tell me in an urgent voice, the voice you use when you have something deeply important to discuss with someone else; something that hasn’t happened before, that’s momentous, that’s out of this world.
“Chude, I really need to see you; I really need to talk to you about something in my life.”
And, sometimes, I like to tease them when they come, because their concerns almost always center around these questions (outside of health, and life traumas):
1. Am I going to be happy?
2. Am I going to succeed?
Or the mother of them all for most West Africans: “I feel like this is not where I am supposed to be in life.”
I do this to make them smile, to make them realise that this is not a new or big problem that will swallow or consume them. That it is absolutely normal and very common at this stage of their lives.
Your fears, I tell them, are absolutely boring. They are the same fears people have had since human beings gained cognition. You have almost the same fear as everybody else at its base: Will I be happy? Will I be wealthy? Will I find love? Will I always be healthy?
We already know you can answer those questions and almost whatever life throws at you. Why? Because many other people have answered them in the now, and long before you arrived.
So, stop creating drama around all that boring stuff. Get to work becoming your best possible self.
What is more exciting about you are not your complains and worries and moaning, but your possibilities; how you choose to respond to whatever life throws at you.
Your courage, your resilience, your creativity, your innovation, your unique contribution to the world, the new things you have the capacity of bringing into our mental and physical universes. Now, that’s exciting.
Your fears are valid, no doubt. And you should always get the help you need to conquer them. But don’t let them steal your magic. Your fears are not the most important thing about your life.
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Chude Jideonwo is host of the TV and radio network #WithChude, which is creating safe spaces for conversations about mental, emotional and spiritual health across Africa. He is also co-founder of human flourishing company, Joy, Inc.