How are y’all doing??? I know you’re Gucci.
Now remember when I made the blog open?? So someone reached out to me, A friend of mine and we have our very first post
Grab a seat and enjoy.
I’ve written this a couple of times before. Sometimes on paper, sometimes in my head and all these times, one thing has remained constant; the emotions that surface. Like the tears I can already feel brimming as I write now.
In the novel, “the fault in our stars” was the first place I encountered this phrase; “Pain demands to be felt” and this is something that I will come to realize in the 3 years I’m about to write about.
I was never described by my acquaintances as an emotional person except when they wanted to talk about my anger and I don’t blame them because even then, I thought I was capable of expressing only two emotions; Happiness and of course, anger.
But I digress, Let me tell you my story in the best way I can but before I share this story, you should know that I had initially planned to tell it after my convocation and I had seen my transcript because then I’d be shedding tears of joy- not the ones I have become all too familiar with, that come from a place of pain so deep seated within me, it demands every time my mind wanders to be felt.
I decided to study engineering for two reasons. First, and most important to me, being that it was a course I could graduate with a first class honours and second being that my mother had sung it severally to the hearing of I and my sisters that “science and technology rule the world”. Before this, I wanted to be a lawyer and I imagined a future as a civil and human rights lawyer, setting off several marches against discrimination and inhumane treatment of human beings and maybe someday working with government and implementing useful policies. I imagined myself married too. Married to someone with a career in finance- I was especially drawn to insurance.
I won’t bore you with details of how I was super bright as a kid.
My first result as an engineering student, I was right on track! And I was elated, well not just me but my entire family was elated as well. I became for a time, the apple of my parents’ eye. The living proof that sacrifices yielded great returns. Something, I would discover soon enough, wasn’t always true.
But this elation was short lived because my next result was horrible. I had somehow gotten distracted by my initial success and forgot to put in the work to replicate it. For this, I blamed myself entirely and resolved to do better.
Before I continue, I want you to know that I trained myself. What I mean is, my parents of course embodied some very core values to us as their children but I took these values, embraced them and ran with it. Chief among these values are integrity and hard work. We were hard workers, no room for slacking if you were a child born of my parents. There were examples everywhere. I had cousins in ivy league colleges, my elder sister was in the top 10% of her university class, and my mom graduated top 10% of all the degrees she bagged after giving birth to 4 children while still saddled with the responsibility of tending to them and a husband without any external help.
All my sisters still in secondary school were doing remarkably well and were described as “Brainiac” by their classmates.
Armed with this knowledge and several pep talks from people my mother enlisted to speak with me, I resolved to work everything I had in me off. Because, asides from the legacy my parents had begun to create for us, I was ashamed of myself- I was angry that I let myself fall. And with tears, I vowed never to let that happen again.
I wish this is where the story ends but no, it happened again. I did beneath my expectations and far beneath all my hard work and efforts, making it difficult to convince my parents that I had put in any.
At this point, I became paranoid. My parents had managed to sell me the idea that it was spiritual, I needed deliverance (which I never did) and I had to watch my back and be wary of my friends. This was the time I began to distance myself from my friends and spend time alone. No one really suspected anything was up because I hadn’t been very sociable before all this so…I was mad at my friends sometimes and mad at myself some other times. Mad at my friends for not guessing anything was up and mad at myself for not telling them anything was up.
I was confused. I didn’t know whether to continue with my hard work and diligence or just let everything go while I move along. This was about the time when it began to feel like I was having an out of body experience in university, I began to dread school breaks because it meant prolonged periods with my parents who made it a point of duty to register their disappointment in me and my failing grades at every opportunity they got. I began to see everything they gave me- including my school fees and allowance as a gift I didn’t deserve and I stopped making demands or requests from them. My provisions to school began to reduce and I never requested for more because I reasoned that I probably didn’t even deserve the little I was getting.
One time, my allowance was cut down and I just collected it in shock and didn’t complain until school life became too difficult for me to manage it.
I was in a bad place and now that I think about it, everything was brewing for so long, it’s a wonder I never had a mental breakdown. This was new territory for me, a place where I couldn’t predict my end from my beginning.
It was around this time too that I began to feel fear. Deep seated, crippling fear that whatever I do wouldn’t be enough, that there would always be someone better, who will sweep the rug from beneath my feet making me topple over like a pack of cards, subject entirely to the laws of gravity and without any substance to keep me grounded, I’d fall head first into the hole of defeat. Something I feared had already begun to happen.
I feared my degree would ultimately become useless and I began to explore other options…In retrospect, I realize it was at this point that I gave up anything for the first time in my life, A trend that will become all too familiar in the year following.
Again, my result wasn’t up to standard by any measure. And for semesters, I could not utter my Cumulative Grade Point out loud- even to my hearing. I was still ashamed of myself and I convinced myself on more than one occasion that maybe I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was. I couldn’t bring myself to call myself stupid or dumb and mean it- I was trained differently and so it annoyed me whenever people made allusions to my grades being perfect and I always tried to set such people straight but they always thought I was being modest- I have no idea why.
Did I give up again after the last result? I don’t know. All I remember is working extra hard the next semester; reading like I hadn’t before, keeping late nights, cramming and memorising my notes. Reminding myself, it wasn’t over until it was over. If I had known, I wouldn’t have done all of that because my GP stayed static, sitting in its allocated column as a direct mockery of all the hard work I put in and the sacrifices I made. My parents, tired as they were just viewed it and said a few words before dismissing me.
I couldn’t cry for long this time, I questioned myself of what use the tears will be and decided against it- In retrospect, I realize that this too, was a mistake. Pain demands to be felt and if you put off its demands it will turn on you.
I was paranoid before but now, I was openly doubting myself. Making derisive comments about myself, suspicious of everyone, relating on a personal level with very few people. Sometimes allowing a tear or two leak out of the high fortress I had built around it.
And now it makes sense that this was the first time I ever had a panic attack. A funny but weird experience I must say.
I was unwell- this was something I knew but something I could not talk about partly because I had still not admitted it to myself.
Not once during this period did I consider taking my life but twice. The first time, it seemed like the best thing to do under the weight of my parents’ disapproval and disappointment.
I reasoned- like I always do, that they’ll mourn me for 1 year, my father maybe for 2 months and go back to the irregular routine of their lives, saving up for my 3 other sisters all the money they would have channelled into funding my education, ultimately forgetting they had another daughter and live a better quality of life with the extra money at their disposal. I had already chosen a day
My mother got wind of this and one morning she came to me trying to encourage me and remind me that suicide will take me to eternal damnation.
In the end, she wasn’t the one that convinced me otherwise- my friend from secondary school and my doggedness to prove to myself that indeed graduating with that first class was not beyond reach for me were what convinced me.
I’m tempted to tell you to ask my roommates how much time I spent reading and how much I invested into my school work.
This thing is getting long. Let me round up.
Very few people noticed anything was wrong- or maybe, were bold enough to reach out. Some others noticed but just laughed it off to my face. How insensitive? you might think but before you judge them too harshly. Go back and read my description of myself. I absolutely never stayed on the ground. I always picked myself up. So you can’t entirely blame them for not reading too much meaning into it.
And I’m going to draw a lot of inferences from my experience.
People always say; “check on your friends- especially the strong ones” I’ll add; “Pray for them- especially the strong ones”.
I’m still taking lessons from this experience but my Dad said I should share now. I don’t know why, maybe someone needs an arm of fellowship, needs to talk someone who understands what they’re going through without ultimately placing judgement. I think I will understand so you can talk to me.
This is where I’ll stop this week. Check back sometime next week to see the Conclusion.