Someone said, there are only two months in a year; January and the other 11 months. With January almost at its end and 29 of the 365 days of the year gone, we have the remaining 336 days to bring to life our dreams and hopes for 2018.
I am no photo freak by any standard, but I have learned that memorable moments, which are transient most times, can only be captured in photos and videos. Our minds forget, all too often.
Time was when I bothered about not looking good in photos; not being photogenic. This made me appear in fewer photos. But as time went by, I learned that “perfect” moments are worth reliving. You need these memories to remember those moments.
I did not recognize it for what it was. I was letting my confidence be determined by what I wore. When I thought I dressed good, I would expect the world to prostrate at my feet. When I did not feel so great in what I was wearing, I would be the one at their mercy; seeking some sort of validation.
When you find yourself living like this, then there is something fundamentally wrong with your sense of worth.
Your sense of worth should not be based on your qualifications, possession, appearance, family name, nationality, tribe… No, none of these define you — your real worth.
You know, as a Christian, couple of times in church we have been taught that our identity should be sought in Christ, and who Christ says we are. I would admit that this knowledge was yet to sink in, deeply.
I have known this. Turned it over in my heart. And that is only how far I have gone with the thought.
As I sat in a bus conveying me to church, I thought about two Sunday experiences. Both Sundays I was excited about going to church. Genuine excitement. The type that is borne from memories of a wonderful fellowship experience.
On the first Sunday, I was wearing one of my best dresses. My hair was *on fleek. My makeup double-checked. And my fragrance, alluring. As I walked out of my home and even into the church, I could sense myself giving off the I’m-sexy-and-I-know-it vibe.
Needless to say, these encumbrances made it difficult to concentrate during the worship, as I constantly found myself checking out other people’s attire. And you know what happens when you troll such a lane. And did I add that people were not gawking at me as expected? But this was not where I struggled with low self esteem or almost died from it.
On the second of the two Sundays, I almost backed out of going to church because I did not feel confident in what I was wearing. I could barely get past the front door of the house, with only my dad, my uncle and two other persons putting stuff in place for a house party scheduled to hold later in the day. I was not poorly dressed. I lacked the required confidence to rock my dress choice, after picking it out the day before.
After two attempts of walking to the door and back to the room, I almost talked myself out of going to church – a service I had looked forward to attending. I eventually mustered confidence, talked myself back into going to church and walked myself out of the front door and to church.
It was while in the bus en route church that illumination hit me: My self esteem should emanate from some place deeper. It should be hinged on a firm substance, not passing shadows.
Whether or not I am dressed well, can speak eloquently, turn heads, calculate the most difficult algebra on my feet, make knees bow at my presence, the knowledge of who I am in Christ and whose I am should be foremost.
In Christ and from Christ, ought every believer’s confidence to stem. Neologists term it Godfidence. This is a state where a believer absolves herself of all credit to self, man or man-made things and turns it all over to God, establishing Him her source. It is an act of worship, and where God is worshipped, He is pleased and comes into full stature.
As I stepped into church on the second Sunday, with the knowledge of my identity in Christ sunk in deeply, I cared less about what I was wearing and how I looked. I was secured in God’s love for me. As you might guess, I picked up some stares. But this time, I did not need it.
Hi, everyone. I hope y’all had a great holiday; time to relax, refresh and reconnect with loved ones. I had quite a full one myself.
In the course of the holiday, I was able to visit both my paternal and maternal homes. It was beautiful reconnecting with some family members I had not seen in a while.
On the trip to our maternal home, my aunt (my mum’s last sister) kept going on and about how much grander their village is in comparison with our paternal home, which we were traveling from. My mum joined in. When it seemed as though she was trying too hard to convince us, she concluded with what shuts any Thomas, “seeing is believing.”
It was not our first time visiting. We visited about five years ago. I do not recall visiting earlier than that.
You see, my mum comes from a large home. Her father had two wives and 16 children. Of the 16, about 11 are based abroad, mostly in the United States of America. As such, most of the family can be said to be doing well.
Having recently graduated from medical school with a promising future, and in the face of the dwindling health system (and every other system) of the Nigerian state, talks of relocating me to the United States of America after youth service majored in conversations.
In the current state of the nation, anyone singing the song of patriotism or not talking about leaving the country would be considered a madman or woman, as the case may be. Especially when the table is almost set for you.
I came across a tweet and could not agree more.
“It’s a valid choice to leave this country and go somewhere to flourish. It’s also a valid choice to stay and build. Just ensure that your choice aligns with your purpose. You won’t find satisfaction anywhere if it doesn’t.” – @supersanusi.
You see, I found purpose or a sense of it some years back. So far as is clear to me, my purpose is tied to Nigeria. One of my major prayer points this year is clarity of purpose; what to do and how to go about it.
I am not yet sure how God deems it best for me to fulfill mine. This I hope to unravel this year, by God’s grace.
I attended the annual Global Leadership Summit organized by the Willow Creek Association last year, in keeping with one of my personal goals of becoming a better leader.
In the session pioneered by Bryan Stevenson Leading Through The Uncomfortable, I learned some things about leadership which I could apply to leading in Nigeria.
He categorized his talk in four sub-headings:
1. Get proximate
“Leadership requires that we do not run away from the problems, however painful and difficult, but we get close to them.”
2. Change the narratives that birth the problem.
“We have to understand the narratives that sustain these problems.”
3. Stay hopeful.
“Hopelessness is the enemy of effective leadership. You are either hopeful or part of the problem.”
4. We’ve got to be willing to do uncomfortable things.
“Effective leadership only happens when leaders decide to do uncomfortable things.”
Prior to this time, the plan had always been simple: Graduate. Go to a place with a better system. Learn. Come back and effect change.
After listening to him, I began reevaluating my plan. I had, however, before this time, told myself that I would leave Nigeria if I had genuine reasons to do so, and not merely because everyone thinks that is the figurative “Noah’s ark” to get on.
As I write this, I fondly remember an uncle who is also a medical doctor and had to go to the United States of America for a heart surgery and refused to come back afterward. He stayed back, is currently practicing there and has had his entire family relocate to be with him.
I also hear you telling me matter-of-factly that if I go over, like my uncle, for a year, a month or even a day, my language will change.
Again, it boils down to purpose. Why we do what we do. I hope each of us finds our purpose. I hope we lead our purpose. Much more, I hope we give ourselves the liberty to live out our purpose without fear or favour.
I was walking along the street when a young girl I didn’t notice was walking beside me said, “Auntie, your bag –“
I didn’t hear her completely. Looking down in confusion to check if I had mistakenly left my purse open, she repeats, “Auntie, your bag is beautiful.”
“Oh. Thank you,” I say, taken aback by the compliment.
Crosschecking that I hadn’t been pickpocketed, I look at her hands, she is holding a single ATM card. The girl is eight or nine years old, I estimate. Too young in my judgment to be sent on an errand to assist with withdrawal. I dismiss the thoughts.
I cross over to the other side of the road. I am supposed to turn into another street on that side of the road.
I glance back briefly at my little friend as I cross over while making sure there are no oncoming vehicles. I sense my little friend’s emotion is slightly bruised. Why choose to cross at this time, not earlier or later?
I reply the thought. Mere coincidence.
A minute or two later, my little friend crosses over. She is entering the same street. But this time, says nothing as she walks past me happy-go-luckily.
I am left wondering. Why did she have to say the compliment to my hearing? She could have merely admired from her safe distance. Moreover, we are not familiar.
I marvel at the sheer innocence of her heart and wonder how long till the harsh reality of life – or adulthood snatches that from her.
I arrive at my destination. I am there a while. Say two hours. After the visit, I am set to go and I leave. My aunt, whose family I visited, sees me off and parts pushing a 200 naira note in my hand as she whispers, “Use this for transport. I am very rich now. I will send you some money later.” I smile at the gesture. She does not have to feel obligated, I think, but thank her as I get unto the tricycle to convey me to my next bus stop.
A few minutes into the trip, I have to truncate my journey to meet a friend. I open my wallet to pay and I am dazzled by its emptiness.
Wait, I think.
I have money in this wallet. Avoiding spending too much time searching for money that is missing, I pay with the 200 naira note I was given a few minutes ago.
Was I pickpocketed that time? I try to wrap my mind around the possibility. It is hurting and depressing to think about. I am joined by the friend for whom I truncated my journey. I relay the incidence and state without mincing words how pained I feel.
“What could she need the money she stole for? Biscuits? Sweets?” My mind could not reach a favourable response.
“How could she have so smoothly pickpocketed me?” I wonder.
As we climb unto the bus to take me home, I still struggle with reaching a favourable response.
A few minutes to arriving at my bus stop, I find my money littered in my purse. Not my wallet.
My emotions are ruffled. I am dumbfounded.
Wait. I accused her falsely? My thoughts were correct the first time? Oh, sweet Jesus. She truly was an innocent child.
This happened in Surulere, Lagos. I was on a holiday and decided to pay my aunt a visit. I remember my cousin cautioning me about safety in Lagos. Even though this incident ended on a good note, it raised my awareness about safety in the street.
And since it ended on a good note, it reminded me of Matthew 18: 3-5
“And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”
And had me praying, “Oh, Lord, make me a child at heart.”
If you are reading this, it means you made it safely into 2018. And I feel blessed and honoured having you read Annie Ejiofor on the first day of a beautiful new year.
I love that 2018 kick starts on a Monday. Has such a kick-ass feel to it – even though a holiday. This is our year like I said in the last post because we will make it so. And I hope, like me, you are set to achieve your goals.
First, let me wish you a wonderful new year. I pray that the new year brings us all of our heart’s desires.
With no intention of keeping you long on here, I will move further to say that this year, any year, will deliver what you demand from it.
There are two kinds of people: the people who let things happen, and the people who make things happen.
The first is content with their life, not knowing and consequently not harnessing the maximum potential of life available to them.
The second is the people who enjoy life, are happy, and live a life they are proud of; they step out, more than expect good things to happen to them, most importantly, take the necessary first steps to put those things in gear. Even when they fail, by that I mean don’t succeed immediately, they know failure is a rehearsal for a bigger success. And whoever said they’ll fail?
I will like to urge us all (myself inclusive) to lead our lives this year and every year. To be intentional in our thoughts, words, actions (more to come on this later.) To live every day achieving our dreams.
The Best Of The Year.