by Tobiloba Adesokan
I was never at the top of my class in my high school, but I made up my mind that my time in university would be worth it. When I left, they would remember my name. Not only as the valedictorian of the class, but as the girl who had amazing leadership skills. I was going to leave my mark.
The jig is up. It’s the end of the road. What next? If I had asked myself this question a few years ago, my answer would have definitely been America. My lifelong dream had always been to study abroad. I knew that one day, I too would be among those drinking Starbucks every morning and shopping in grand malls.
I went to an American school and this made me want to get out of Nigeria even more! I was counting down the years and it was almost time. My parents were always in general support of the idea, but were now beginning to have a rethink. The result of this ‘rethink’ was a very disappointing “NO”.
I cried and pleaded for them to change their minds. But it just seemed like the more tears I shed, the deeper their roots sunk into the soil of their horrific decision. They tried to explain the reasons behind their actions; reasons like: “We want you to be nearer home for as long as possible”, “It’s too expensive”, and many more. All these made little sense to me. They tried to make me understand, but my mind refused to listen to anything that was said.
My heart bled for a while after. Why hadn’t they told me a long time ago so my hopes weren’t up? Why hadn’t they put me in a Nigerian school if they wanted me to study here? Why was I an American citizen if nothing was going to come out of it? Where was I going to stand beside all my friends who were England or American bred? I had so many unanswered questions that I was never bold enough to ask.
The thought of running away and finding my own ticket to The States seemed very tempting at the time. I would dream of all the opportunities I would be losing by staying back and the longing to go kept getting stronger.
While all this was going on in my head and at home, being in school did not tame this longing. My friends would boast about the schools they were going to and when it came to my turn, I would be too ashamed to talk. The words ‘I am going to a Nigerian university’ sounded so alien in my mouth. I would have never imagined in a million years that I, Tobi Adesokan, would spend the four most important years of my life in this country.
When I shared my thoughts with people, especially adults, they replied, “Are the people studying here not human beings? Are they not doctors? Are they not lawyers?” But that was not the point. Far from it. The point was that my lifelong dream had been shattered into pieces.
Why did I want to leave this country so bad? More than often, I had heard that quality of education outside Nigeria was very sound. I had also heard it created so many job opportunities and opened so many doors to success. So with all this I thought again… Did my parents not want me to be successful?
My thoughts kept on running, but my mouth was kept shut. This internal conflict I was experiencing had to stop or else I would go bonkers. Soon enough, it seemed like my wish was granted. You could say I had a slight change in the way I looked at things. A certain someone helped change my outlook on life.
She made me understand that it wasn’t the school you went to or where you were that made you who you are. Who you were was made up of a million other things. Things like what you fed your mind. Things like your relationship with God. Things like the kind of people you hung out with, and many more. She also made me see that there were some very good schools here in Nigeria which could also get me a solid job in the future.
I finally had to face reality. No matter how many tears I shed, or how many hours I begged, I was stuck here. And I decided that I might as well go with it. I decided that wherever I was going to be, I was going to be the best. I was never at the top of my class in my high school, but I made up my mind that my time in university would be worth it. When I left, they would remember my name. Not only as the valedictorian of the class, but as the girl who had amazing leadership skills. I was going to leave my mark.
Tobiloba Adesokan has just finished 10th grade at the American Christian Academy, Ibadan.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.