Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Do not Let People Define You by Your Failures

I sat perplexed as I heard his story. His songs re-echoed in my head. I could imagine him playing the guitar. Every touch on the string brought out melodious music, so inspiring; touching me deep down in my soul. Yes, I could say that even my bone marrows were shaken. He sang those songs that have become favourites in church choirs in Nigeria.

"I ran away from school. It was so unbearable. I had got an extra year in the university and so I returned to school to face it. It was necessary that my extra semester courses had to be up to fifteen credit units... "

He kept quiet again. He was still staring into space. Then he took a deep breath, turned his head and stared right into my eyes. 

"But I failed again, seven credit units in all."

What he said, hit me. My heart was racing. I had thought my own story was the worse.

"That was when I ran away."

I thought about his running away. I could imagine his strides as he raced to nowhere in particular. But that was not what he meant. This was a young man born with a silver spoon who was privileged to be an undergraduate of one of the best private universities in the country.

"I was frustrated. I saw myself as a failure. If it were even a third class degree or pass, at least I would have something to show for my years in the higher institution."

I readjusted on my seat. I brought my arms closer to my chest. My heart was racing fast. As I folded my arms, I was able to calm my anxiety.

"Home was hell. Nobody saw anything good in me. I got no single encouragement. My father saw me as cursed . "

He paused. Then he looked at me again.

"I will never forget the day my father took me to a white garment church for prayers. Oh! that day..."  he shook his head, "they beat the hell out of me."

I thought about who he was today. He had performed in major concerts. He had links with the best music producers and entertainment bigwigs in the country. I could remember seeing his pictures with Cobhams Asuquo and Wale Adenuga. These are great minds he had worked with.

"Those songs you so much love were written when I was at the deepest pit in life. There were what I used to encourage myself when I felt the world had rejected me."

I was not alone, I could remember how I often felt like an outcast back home because my parents were looking down on me. I had an extra year to contend with in a public university at a time when my younger ones who had attended private universities had both graduated. Now, I had seen someone who had a worse story to tell. 

"In all of these things, God has been so kind to me." He said, as he patted his hands on my back.
Yes, he was right. I beamed with smiles, I was lifted.

 We were two of a kind. Though we were both undergraduates of Mathematics in our various schools, it was my love for music that got me to know him. While I was going to face my extra year courses, as soon as the lecturers in Nigerian universities call off their strike action, he had given up on his own. Then I thought about my church choir. I was going to lead the worship session on Sunday. I knew his story was going to reverberate all over me when I sing. The world needs to hear his story.

This is not a time to give up on your dreams. Even if the people closest to you have written you off. It is time to tell yourself that you have what it takes to excel. There are people out there that you are better than. Follow your passions and do not let people define you by your failures. That you failed does not mean you are a failure. Brace yourself up and believe. The forces of nature will work in your favour when you persistently determine and work to succeed. 

And do not forget, just as my good friend said in his story, 'in all of these things, God will be kind to you.'

Thanks to my friend Mercy, for telling me his story.