Toke Makinwa: It is never too late to start over (30 Days, 30 Voices)

We are born with no manual, we live with no apologies, and we somehow get by forgetting that one day we would expire.

I used to be a writer, I said ‘used to’ because I haven’t written anything in such a long time and when this opportunity came I went through quite a number of phases…

The first was the ‘what exactly am I going to write about’ phase, then came the ‘would it be good enough to be published’ phase, which was quickly replaced with  the ‘hmmmm, Toke, you haven’t written anything in a while are you sure you are up for this’ and lastly the ‘I’m just going to put my heart to words and pick up where I left off and I am sure this gift of mine will find its way’.

 So here I am and I believe these phases/stages discussed above can be likened to life. We are born with no manual, we live with no apologies, and we somehow get by forgetting that one day we would expire. Don’t panic. This is not about death. This is about me; my life, my experiences, my choices (good or bad) with one mission- to amuse some people, annoy some others, inspire a few and maybe just maybe educate someone.

I cast my mind back to when I got into university, the year 2002 was magical. The year I thought I knew it all and had discovered something called FREEDOM. Now I did not grow up in an environment where I felt caged, neither did I have Jehovah witness parents who didn’t let us do things we wanted to do, I was just so eager to explore the world and live by myself, make choices that I did think then were smart, but in retrospect I believe better choices could have been made. I am not one to live in regret because, to be honest, it is so exhausting to live on that street and looking at the woman who I am growing into each day, life did not turn out bad at all (without my past, my future wouldn’t be).

So I was rebellious at some point in my life. I lived life without thinking much of a future. Getting a degree was not the aim for me when I was at the university, it was the opportunity to party hard, meet boys, break all the rules and just exist. Attending lectures was not cool for a cool kid like me. Back then being cool simply meant being famous not for your academic achievements or participating in school activities, because that was BORING! If you had all the designer bags and shoes or dated the famous club guys, or was seen at every club party and if you were a girl who was a trend setter,  ‘I think city people magazine always published unilag big girls’ and I never missed that list.

Everyone wanted to be that girl even the people who did not match up hated her because back then, she seemed like she was *Winning* . I constantly looked with disdain at all the serious folks, the people who thought they were better than me just because they had their acts together, how wrong was I really? I made friends with my kind of people and we thought we had everything. Why worry about the future when if you could list the Top 5 Unilag babes, Toke Makinwa were one of them.

I was not nice to anyone including my lecturers, every day of the week was spent partying, smoking, drinking and it went on from my first year to my third year in university. Now the only sober time I got was when results came out, to be honest I wasn’t even sober, I failed constantly and I just brushed it off my shoulders. I was more concerned with getting my body pierced or going on holiday till my second semester 300 level. The results had come out again and I found myself strolling to the board to check what it had for me, notice I wrote ‘what it had for me’, like it was not giving back what I put in…lol.

 I arrived at the scene and as usual the ‘Efiko’s’ ,we usually called the serious students that back in the day, had arrived before we, the careless ones, and one by one they checked their results and left smiling. Just when I thought there was enough room to trace my matriculation number I checked and the words I saw sent me to hell and back.

 ‘ADW’, the sick feeling in my tummy weighed me down physically as I asked what it meant. I had been advised to withdraw. My lack of dedication to my academic work finally caught up with me and I realised then how much of a mess my life was. The thing with making friends is we forget one important factor; we all come from different backgrounds/homes. In some homes there might be a business to inherit and being a college dropout would not  matter much, in another situation, marriage might even be more important than being educated, but just then I knew what sort of home I came from and that reality hit me like I had been punched.

All my siblings younger and older than me had excelled. No one was kicked out of uni, where do I start from? How could I have gambled my life away? All this questions demanded answers, answers that I did not have and I was distraught, way too heartbroken to figure it out. I had let myself down but not just me, but my family also. I wept bitterly at the board because this time there was no escaping this one. Thing is if I apply myself to something I know I would succeed. I am not a dullard and to be honest with you I don’t believe anyone was born dull.

 My poor mother was woken up at 3am in the morning, a dear uncle of mine, who is still the Dean of Arts, had told my family and just then the true impact of being asked to leave uni hit me, I remember going out with my mum and by some act of faith or chance she ran into a school mate of hers who was not serious in school, this time after many years the difference between them was evident and how can I forget how she described the unfortunate Aunty who partied and had all the boyfriends, who at this time is struggling and she the ‘Saint Theresa’ who made all the A’s is successful. I was frightened and in fear I wrote a letter to the board in charge of dismissing miscreants, pleading for a second chance. An extra year to clean up my act, study extra and over time and somehow prove everyone wrong.

 The opportunity was given to me and in one year I turned my life around. I faced the pain of watching the people I got into university with graduate leaving me behind but that did not faze me, I was determined to at least  make a 2:2 (second class lower) if a 2:1 (second class upper) was a tall order and boy did I make it. It wasn’t easy, I became so familiar with eating my humble pie and had to befriend the students that in my other life I could never be caught dead talking to. I learnt it was cool to be famous but even cooler if you could mesh that fame with success.

 The hunger and the thirst I have inside of me to be successful can only be traced to that year when I turned my life around. Life is what you make of it and it is never too late to start over! It could be a job you feel you can give more than you are presently giving, a marriage on the brink of divorce, friendships, relationships, finances, whatever the case may be. Each new day is an opportunity to turn it all around.
About the author: Television and radio personality, Toke Makinwa, burst onto the scene in 2010 after the premiere of her late night radio show, “Rhythms of the Night,” hosted by Rhythm 93.7FM.

This year, she landed the role of lead anchor on Flytime Entertainment’s online show “3 Live Chicks” alongside popular radio presenters, Oreka Godis and Tosyn Bucknor. A graduate from the University of Lagos, Toke had always known that her charm and alluring countenance belonged in the spotlight. In 2011, she started to build her portfolio working as a co-host on ‘The Morning Drive,’ where she currently is.
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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Comments (11)

  1. A good piece, I hope you make out time to mentor younger women on life issues like this.

  2. your msg gave me courage dat I can stil make it.

  3. Nicely written. Reads honest and Very insipiring.

  4. Great write-up, we all need a second chance at one point in life.

  5. Waoh! inspiring! especially to we stil in tha race of chasing 'nothingness'..tnx Tokstarr.

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail