It is barely five years since I came here seeking my route to a better future. With the age-old prefab which served as my departmental building, right in front of us. And the early morning sun throwing its smiling gaze on our shiny faces – the joy of freedom. No more class attendance sheets to sign and no GP to calculate. The freshman with his dreams and ambitions is been waved goodbye.
Five years of life in the university, a life of friendship and experiences has just closed its doors.
This is where my journey started. This is where I delved into the very roots of experience and friendship, turning the pages of history, talking, thinking and learning the laws of life.
The crowd of graduation cap and gown, with a hood. The inspiring pageant of commencement in the great Margaret Ekpo Convoc arena. The accolade of the University degree. A steadily moving line of men and women ready to face the problems of life. All mark the termination of our admission letters. After today, we are no longer students but official alumni of the den. We have graduated from school life to real life.
I was so proud to make it to that day. Very excited and happy to get to the next phase – real life. Many never made it to this day but I (amongst others) made it. R.I.P comrades.
Though I was happy to make it to graduation day, I was confused. Several questions kept popping into my mind: What would you do after now? What is your standing legacy? Then I deceived myself into thinking of the present by concluding, ‘after NYSC I will figure out something.’ Nevertheless, the question followed me all along.
The truth is, every graduate have a share of these same questions: After now what next? Get a job or start a business – it is normal.
With me were also other conflicting speculations: Am I too soft, too angry? Do I behave like a kid, uncommitted, afraid? I was battling with whom and what I am.
Like no one else, I thought I was incompetent and undecided. Vision-less and naive. A kid who always worried about people and what they would say about him. Probably that was because I grew up in seclusion.
Growing up in a family where trial looks like an uphill task, I almost knew to do nothing. That though I now try to live at risks – calculated though – I can still feel the weight of a childhood of little experience, no risk and more of come-here-boi.
Along the line of growing up, I never knew there was anything like a supreme being until eventually something happened. I was motivated to always look up to God. To ignore the crowd and do what I have to do. To be true to myself. How that happened is still a mystery to me.
And throughout the journey, from that day till now, I have learnt to answer the question; Who am I? Only that I keep refining it. Fine-tuning it to ensure no bit of me is left behind. I know trying to find a suitable answer to the question ‘who am I?’ is a work-in-progress but the single attempt for that answer has made – and still making – an impact in my life.
Today, what I believed as a first year student in front of engineering annex ready to receive lectures 101 is not what I believe standing at that same spot putting on a convocation gown, cap and hood. I think I am better.
I now feel a deep sense of obligation to myself, to my family, my community and the world at large. Some obligations I took more personal to me: better education for the rich and poor, good food for all, jobs for all and more of God’s grace.
I might be looked at as an unserious being or one who is not bold enough to dream of all these. Like a friend would say, “It is good to dream dreams”. Still, they are mere fantasies I live to fulfil.
Seriously, to be a graduate is more than that coloured A4 paper presented to me by the University. Life has really brought its own lessons. To be brave and courageous, straight, honest (at least to myself), humorous, flexible and still never change the true me. I do not know how that will turn out but I still pray for it.
Now you have graduated, what do you think of the future? Who are you? In next 10 years, or so, what do you think of you? If you are to write about yourself in one sentence who will you say you are?
Think of these things.
[bctt tweet=”A friend only told me, “Congratulations! You have graduated from school life to real life”.” username=”opendiari”]
My dear, if you were like me then – confused, biased, unsure. Just know you have everything you need to succeed. It is like Peak; It’s in you. Because even if you are nervous or unsure about what to do in the nearest future, do not panic. Go for NYSC. I hope you know what that means: National Youth Service Corp.
NYSC, to me, is like a preparatory ground for all as graduates. I used to imagine what life would be if we graduated and jump straight into the labour force. The struggle would have been tougher for one. So, NYSC is a platform to teach you to behave. Yes! To behave. To live on a meagre amount and still been expected to save. In summary, NYSC is a simulation of real life to the brainwashed students.
And if after one year of service you are still unsure of what to do, tell your dad to take you to a therapist. You probably need one. But trust me, you won’t be needing a therapist. I strongly believe you have all it takes to make it. If I can make it, you too can. You only need to find a way to swim through those junks and garbage of life after school and you will surely find a place to stand.
I leave you with Maya Rudolf’s beautiful speech. Maybe she would help you find a path to survival.
While you think of these do not forget, ‘whether you lose or win is now yours to decide’.