You will grow up and realise that you may have to try some things out before you decide that you do not like them. People would tell you there is nothing there. Don’t have frogs. There is no joy in it, I promise. But you won’t listen. So you will rescue an ungrateful frog in 2019 and father him throughout a tough year and a pandemic. You will name him Pepe and he will become popular. He will gather fans for himself. You will put up with this. You will also put up with his womanising acts. You will put up with him stealing your bananas because as hard as it is to believe, the stupid frog is a thief. You will also put up with his heartbreaks and become a therapist and an expert on frog romantic relationships.
So you will realise that they already told you not to try this, that you won’t enjoy it. Like drinking, like smoking, like sleeping around, like hoe phase-ing, like internet fraud, like being a yoruba demon, like dating three and a half girls at the same time, like calling everybody ‘baby’, like dating that boy just for the money, like being the girlfriend who stays with an abusive boyfriend because you do not want to be lonely, or with someone whose values you do not agree with because you cannot start all over again; like reaching out to every beautiful person on your TL to ask, ‘hey, what’s good?’, like being a bad bitch with capital letter B, like telling your parents to go kill themselves because you have found a new gospel – something about salvation, something about sorteria, and you share it with them and they claim they understand but the next family devotion, they ask you to pray and while praying, you burst forth in tongues and they sit there with eyes closing, willing you to stop but you do not stop until twenty minutes later, and your father will call you to ask if all is well but your mother will not bother, her concern would be that you did not ask for forgiveness of sins, why will you not ask for forgiveness of sins, do you want them to sleep and wake up in hades next to Julius Caesar?
You will grow up and realise that it is better to keep a loving relationship with your family than to lose them in the name of anything, that it is better to understand your parents than to expect them to understand you. (like how in Ogbomoso, my mother is worried about my hair and I am receiving treatment at the hospital where she works and I know that she is more worried about what people will say than about the actual hair. But then I am not in the business of explaining to aged men and women why they should not worry so much about what people will think about them. I am in the business of making my mother happy as much as I can and understanding that even though I would not do what she is doing, I am not her. We do not think the same or see things the same. It will be pointless to begin explaining to her why the hair on my head is fine. She will not get it. And she does not have to get it. So I say, ‘Mummy, I will not cut this hair. That isn’t happening. But I will wear a cap every time I am coming to the hospital so no one goes around gossiping about you and how your son is now a yahoo boy. I am going to save you that stress. – because in the end, it won’t matter which hair I have on at the hospital. It won’t matter to me. I am not looking to impress anyone with my hair. But to her, it matters. It matters what people say. I do not agree with her perspective but I understand her heart. So I wear a cap every time I visit the hospital because you will grow up and realise that some rebellions are useful and necessary (because you are not two years old and your parents cannot dictate your moves forever) but some rebellions are utterly useless and unnecessary. Just make peace and move on. al final la vida no tiene sentido
You will grow up and realise that you are not the definition of all things good. You are not what an ideal human being should look like. You are not a perfect role model. You are not always right. Maybe you are the best version of yourself but surely you are not the same template everyone should follow. If you, like me, grew up self-confident with your self-esteem intact, you may be disappointed in yourself. If you grew up with low self-esteem and self-doubt, you may sink further into depression. But you are not perfect. You are not the best human being in the world. This will help you see people differently. It will help you see things differently. It will help you be more emphatic and understanding. It will help you.
In Don Quixote – which I have not read – Miguel de Cervantes wrote: “When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!”
You will grow up and realise that faith can be a good thing. Faith is a good thing. Your pastor once said, ‘You must have a lot of nerve waking up and entering the streets of Lagos every morning without praying.’ I think the truth is, you must have a lot of nerve going through life as hectic as it is without faith, which is simply believing that you are weak, you are small, and you need God to hold you through because if you are to do this on your own, you’d definitely collapse. So you will keep believing because you badly want to have peace and joy and you also want paradise and heaven because something must make up for all this shit we are going through – it is either complete oblivion and non-existence in any form, shape, or particle. Or heaven. Hallelujah. Kumbaya. Heaven.
You will grow up and realise that you can love something and criticise it at the same time. Like how you love the church but cannot take your eyes off all the wrong things. So you will talk. You will write. You will send voice notes to your friends. You all will talk about all that is happening and ask, ‘Are people not seeing this?’ But you will also realise that it will never be one hundred percent whole. It was not meant to be. So make peace with what you have and join the good people trying to make things easier and better. You will realise that you can love a person and hate some things they teach. You can like some things they teach and hate some other things. You can agree with some and disagree with some. Everything is not always wholesome.
You will grow up to realise that some things can be both damaging and helpful at the same time. Your commitment and devotion to your campus fellowship can be the reason why you have a good spiritual relationship and also be the reason why your grades suffered. Your good voice can be the reason why you sing so well and people love you and it can also be the reason why you have low self-esteem and inferiority complex whenever you have a sore throat and cannot sing so well. Your school may be the reason why you have learned how to deal with hardships but it can also be the reason why you are forever traumatised. Your past relationships may be the reason you are why you are today – the product design guy you dated who taught you how to design, the content creator girl you dated who showed you how to think before posting – and may also be the reason why you are scarred forever, because these relationships did terrible things to your soul, things you never knew a human could do to another human, the stuff of horror movies, of serial killer documentaries.
You will grow up and realise that people are different to different people and in some people’s life, you are the bad person. Someone will post a picture of you saying all the good things you do and another will reply saying, ‘This useless girl?’ because in that other person’s story, you are the monster. In the Lestranges’ story, the boy with the scar was the villain. Suicide mission would be to try and be good in everyone’s story. You cannot. Just be good in your own story and in the story of those who matter.
You will grow up and realise you need to get a compass and binoculars.
You will grow up and realise that people will not stop being insensitive so sometimes just ignore them. They will ask how you are doing, you will tell them there is a tower between your lungs but they will still go ahead and say, “Sorry. I know this is bad timing but can I -” if you know this is bad timing, why not just shut up? But they do not actually care if you are dying, as long as you are replying to them. So it is your own job to care.
There is a powerful passage in the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller that reads: “Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!”
Such words: I have given you my soul; leave me my name, please.
You will grow up to realise that people will not stay forever. Friendships can last forever and they can last for three years and still be impactful. Some friendships decay with time. Some friendships age with grace. Determine the ones you want to last forever. Then know the ones that you will only last this week, this month, this year, this decade. And be truthful. Do not promise forever if you cannot give it or have no intention of giving it. Just promise today and show up tomorrow.
Also, that someone was important to you some years ago and now they are back to being a stranger does not necessarily mean they are a bad person or that they used you. Maybe you expected them to stay forever and they did not because they could not. Human beings are not superheroes. Sometimes they will walk away from something that wants to consume them whole and they will find peace in someone else. You also have people you once talked to every time and now you don’t even remember what you saved their name with. al final la vida no tiene sentido. Soldier go, soldier come, barrack remain.
You will grow up and realise that you cannot help everybody. You are not an ambulance. It is your responsibility to prioritise yourself.
Most of the people you are advising may actually be people in need of proper mental health care. You are not a therapist. You are not a psychologist. You do not actually know what you are doing. You are trying your best but all from a place of ignorance. It is sad, to see someone catch fire and be unable to save them because you do not know how to use a fire extinguisher. But then, you cannot know everything, can you?
You will grow up and you will change. You will shock yourself. This you? To those who knew you from the past, your evolution is obvious. To others, you are just being you.
You will grow up and sit in the kitchen one day going through excruciating pain. There is yam in front of you, yam and fried eggs but you cannot eat. Your friend will come in and say he has been nominated for an award but you will be numb. And when he leaves, you will go on your knees and cry and say, “Jesus, please I do not want to feel this pain right now. I am tired, please. I know I do not want to die now but please take this pain away. You see my heart. You know that I love you. Please, take this pain away. I don’t want to die.”
Then you will stand up, put the yam aside and go to sleep.
“Life is so uncertain: you never know what could happen. One way to deal with that is to keep your pajamas washed.”
― Haruki Murakami, 1Q84