The inspiration to write this article was drawn out of a bitter, but necessary experience I had as a high school student. I was a rookie, probably innocent to a reasonable extent, bright in school, a lover of God, a drama unit member, you name it….
I was suffering from inferiority complex, trying so hard to come to terms with who I truly was: I was a boy, born with no silver spoon, spent my first thirteen years in the countryside, no exposure whatsoever. I never had a thirst for what city life was like, until my elder brother took me to Kano in September 2006; that was the genesis of my whole story.
People will definitely throw a lot trash at you on your way to greatness, but how you handle what is thrown at you determines how far you can ever climb the ladder to greatness. It can come in different shades and colors: insults, abusive language, discouraging words, mockery, jests, physical confrontation, gossip, hatred, character assassination, words of calumny, etc. The truth is that most of these hateful acts might be born out of others’ insecurities, or due to the fact that ‘your spirit irritates their demons’ (Denzel Washington).
One fateful day, something transpired between me and an anonymous person. One thing leading to another, the person looked me straight in the eyes and said: ‘I have heard many things about you, your exploits in school, your popularity in church, and so on and so forth, but until I encountered you, I never knew you were chaff.’ That was the most demoralizing statement anyone ever made toward me. It was like a dagger that pierced deep into my heart. I literally died for a second. It was also the beginning of my academic woes towards the last lap of my high school days (although I recovered). I asked myself a lot of rhetorical questions: am I truly chaff? What was my offence? What do I do next? Because I could not really provide an answer to any of my own questions, I went to God in tears. These were my exact words while crying to God: ‘Lord I accept the fact that I am chaff, but please make something valuable out of this chaff’.
The stone that was thrown at me to destroy me eventually spurred me to pursue my dreams with maximum determination. Never allow people’s words or actions get at you, if not they will control your life (John L. Mason). Determine to make a difference in this world against all odds. You cannot afford to just exist in your lifetime, you have to live a worthwhile life. Everybody dies, but not everyone has lived (John L. Mason).
Taking a critical look at the statement unveils the hidden truth in Foucault’s statment, which initially appears to be a controversial one. It took a while for me to realize that this quote captures the reality of everyone who has ever been born, those who made impact, and the ones who died fulfilled. Our world is one that is evolving, ways of doing things changing almost every day. For one to move at the same pace at which the world is moving, there must be room for learning, unlearning, and relearning.
All men can be placed in three categories: the privileged, the average, and the poor. Everyone born into any of these categories has a peculiar disposition as a result of training, orientation, or environment. It becomes interesting to wonder how we can coexist and work together with others. We must learn to blend – that is the answer. Blending provides an avenue to learn what you don’t know from the one who know; to interact with people on a neutral ground, irrespective of social strata; to relate favorably with the society without either a superiority or inferiority complex. Those born less privileged should never deem it necessary to think upon their lowly estate when relating with the privileged, because that way he finds it interesting to live, to learning new things, to improve on the past, acquire new knowledge, new skills. Gradually, he rises from the lowest to the top rung of the ladder. He has become someone else that he was not at the beginning.
If you were born in a particular way, rich or poor, that is not who you will permanently be; it is a temporary status. Who you can become is what matters. You can add value to the world through your ingenuity, it does not matter how you started but how far you are willing to go. You see, one thing will always remain constant; change. Life itself is a change process, full of irony. The fashion of yester-years has gradually phased out and is now called old school; the powerful nations and people of years gone by are now shadows of their former selves, no longer reckoned with; the weak are becoming strong, and the small are becoming great. Such is the game of life. Adaptation will help to progressively bring you from who you are presently into a new character that you were not at the beginning, and that character is that of self-improvement, self-actualization, success, and fulfilment. Yes, the new you might feel strange initially, because that is not who you have always been. But over time, you grow to forget the former you which has no place in the new you, because the new you are the real you.
Wishes are no horses, just more reasons the beggar cannot ride on it. Don’t always just wish to be something while you sit and fold your hands. If you wish to be anything stand up and take action in the right direction. The more you take active steps towards the wish, the closer you are to actualizing your wish, the less proactive you are, the more you continue to wish. Don’t wish to be rich without starting a business, or earning a qualification that can fetch you a good paying job, that is how to start right. Desiring to be great cannot make you become great without paying the price for greatness. Doing the things great people do will move you one step to greatness. Realistic thinkers never dwell in the realm of fantasy. Life is deliberate, you either choose to be great or you choose not to. It’s a thought process complimented with action, risks, sacrifice and self-denial. Self-consciousness kills positive mentality; whether you feel inferior or superior, it will only hunt and hurt you at the end when you realize how backward you have been, and how much you could have achieved if only you had subdued your sense of worthiness, or worthlessness, as the case may be. Forget who you are now, focus on who you can become in order to influence your world.
Moreover, one must be able to answer the ‘WH’ questions in the bid to become a better person. What do I want? This is a crucial question that will define your line of action, you must know what exactly you want. Do you want to improve on your personality, get a degree, learn a skill, become a professional? The goal must be defined. Afterwards, determine what role you have to play in getting what you want. Establish the approach you want to employ to achieve the goal. Then, how long will it take before you hit your target? Define the time limit. What are the resources needed i.e. financial and human resources? This is a quick evaluation that is required before taking any step. Also, the goal must be ‘SMART’: Specific – it must be specific to your need at that instance. Measureable – it must not be outrageous or beyond your foreseeable capacity. Achievable – it must be achievable within set limits. Realistic – it must not be virtual imagination or fantasy; it must be a real time goal. Time – it must be a time-bound goal.
Finally, metamorphosis is essential in everyone’s odyssey. Biology will define it as a change in state; from one form to another. But I will define this term in this context as the process of moving from who you are now to who you want to become. It involves a lot of refining. You must move from being raw material to a finished product. Upgrade in thought, action, value, ideology, reasoning, disposition, etc. is inevitable. Most of the times, what people say to us at the height of their anger is the real fact about us, only if we can accept it. That is why there is room for improvement. Think upon it not for mischief or revenge, but for improvement and change. If only you consider the bitter truth people tell you and fix it, you can become better. Your journey in this world will only be meaningful when you successfully change from what you are to someone else that you were not at the beginning (in the positive sense of it).