Growing up is the journey of a lifetime. Every day and every year, you learn something new about yourself and your world–and with that, you mature a little more. Growing up is also the dramatic transition of a moment. You are now an adult, not any less wild or boring or wrinkled than the second before, but a little more confident and a little more realistic.

Growing up these days is like a colorless palette of darkness. No one realizes this at the time until you become depressed, yet there’ll be no one to talk it over with.

I once saw a parent accompany her child to the clinic, I can see the disappointment in her. From the looks on her face, if she can locate what her daughter’s problem is, I bet there’s every chance she’d shred it to pieces never to return.

Our parents have too many inner struggles of their own to focus on and the Nigerian standard of life to uphold instead of figuring out how to deal with a problem child. No one knows how to deal with their kids anymore, so they leave us to our fate.

I can’t remember my dad ever trying to help me figure out what challenges I’m facing. I bet he doesn’t care about such. He’s more interested in me paying homage to him for the food and shelter he provides. And not nag over the resources I need to build a career. Maybe I should excuse him for himself. That he just isn’t in sync with the growing tides of young adult these days.

And that was how I started sleeping on the internet, all in an attempt to help me figure out my problems and stretch my challenges thin.
At first it was fun. Until I was overwhelmed with information. The internet came and left people like me with more to deal with. I went there with the hope to find solutions to my worries. Somehow, it did. Yet, it left me with more confusion. It drilled lots of fear and concerns into me.

I can’t remember the last time I found a simple solution to a complex problem of mine. It’s always a complex solution to a complex situation. That’s one of the debris I have been dragging along sleeping online.

I found a lot of fears. The first was the fear of growing up. Would I ever wake up one morning and speak to me “you have arrived” Will I?
The fear of ever being as good as I want to be. The fear of ever figuring out who I am or who I want to be. Everyday I’m afraid of something but there’s this constant fear which keeps creeping into me — the fear of failing. Ya, I just said it.

You know, when you are a kid, your idea of self-worth and ability largely depends on how much hope your parents have in you. I had none, and so unknowingly, I did not have the confidence in myself to achieve great things.

For long I lived a carefree life. A life of not expecting much from life. Not wanting to do more. I engaged in activities just to appease the tiny mind in me. Just to be free and not be too involved in anything. I read a lot in order to avoid talking to people. I browse to make sure I’m onto something. And so, each time I drop words in the midst of friends, back then, it often sounds like an off key conversation.

I learnt not to expect much from people — friends and the likes. Yet I learnt to put in my best in whatever it is I do.

Over the course of growing up alone, learning only from books and secret role models, I discovered something. The fact that to survive in this ugly world of ours, you can’t allow yourself to be soft. You have to be as tough as iron. I have to not be soft on myself. I had to start pushing myself harder and harder.

Graduating from the university was another part of my life. It made me realize how a traveler, researcher and genius I can be. The most important of it all was my decision to become a stranger in Lagos. It has allowed me explore some parts of me I never knew existed. It has made me realize that I like positions of power and wealth. It taught me how to manage poverty. It helped me discover my passion for competition, beating other people and becoming “good.” It exposed me to the dangerous effects of [wanting but] not having. Since I entered the city, it has been trying to prove several points to me. Yet disapproving some of the ideologies I held dear to my heart.

Haven been exposed to some facts I never knew existed I became grievous and more ambitious. With more desire to be the better version of myself. I then asked myself why I was never this ambitious or competitive earlier. There are many reasons of course – my age and background being obvious barriers. But the biggest of all barrier was the perfect nature of the internet. I can stay up all day perusing article upon article, learning one thing or the other. Yet when it comes to practice, I lose the confidence and all I need.

I was afraid to fail. So I never tried.

My entire life has ignored the real brutality of the greater world. Back home, people often told me I was perfect, but in reality, I still have a very long way to go, and many areas I need to improve upon. I think most people in the world will never leave the bubble they were born into, yet they can still have a happy family and stable career. But I cannot knowingly live in a bubble when what is outside of it is so much more.

Only the weak need a crutch to lean on. And the weak cannot survive if they want to roam this world. So once I realized this truth, I became determined to become stronger than that. I have also realized that the prerequisite to the carefree life I so desire, is to be financially independent. I do not want my freedom to be carried on the back of another. Because at that point, the weight of my debt would eradicate all my hopes of being carefree and as loving as ever to my life mate.

I believe that I have the right to say and pursue anything, so long as that “happiness” is “bought” with my own labor. Only then will I be able to hold my head high as I rejoice in my accomplishments.

So, to you my dear friend I’d repeat some things I keep telling myself all day:

  • Don’t keep waiting on fate, you have the power to change your story.
  • Luck is nothing but a bunch of opportunities falling into the hands of the prepared.
  • Learn the rules but, most importantly, learn to break them.

There are lots of untapped potential in you. And it’s mostly due to human constraints, don’t panic. Be resilient and more determined to break that glass ceiling holding you down. Swallow sheer will like pills and let patience only come when you need it.

Till we meet.

Yes, till then.

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