Inspired Series: If Only I Knew ...

Admitted, I was first and foremost a student of the literary school. The signs of brilliance in that respect were there in those formative years of my life.

I regularly win prizes in literature when I was in junior high school especially. And it has a competitive twist as well. Nobody beats me to it in two academic terms in a row. It was really fun.

But when it was time to transit to the senior high school, I made what could be described as the most regrettable decision of my academic career so to say.

Instead of following in that unarguably familiar path, I veered off.

Now imagine the fact that my dad was a headmaster and class-teacher who practically taught me in the foundation class.

I still didn't consult him, probably out of naivety, neither did he or anybody for that matter asked me what my passion was with a view to guiding or influencing what my subjects’ combination should be at that critical juncture. Maybe things like that weren't in vogue then. Or so I thought.

But I knew some of my classmates then who I could say were ways ahead of me in this regard. They already had a clear picture in their heads what they wanted to do or become in the future.  And that reflected not only in their attitudes but also in the class they would eventually progress to.

My humble self.

So, unsure of what I really want, I fell for the bandwagon effect. I elected to go with the innermost of my inner circle of my friends.

No. They were neither charlatans nor truants. Indeed, they were those who you could call the modern pioneers. What they do I want to do and where they belong I want to belong. This explains how I found myself in the science class.

Obviously, I had taken a wrong boarding pass. It is no wonder I’d arrived in an academic no man’s land years later. And so for three years, I was a creepy scientific nondescript.

And my overall academic performance hits rock bottom. It was indeed a struggle starting with mathematics class. It didn't start there though; the symptomatic shreds of evidence were there right from my early post-primary school years.

To say the least, my math’s teachers then were high-handed, fearsome I should say. They were nowhere near the expected end of being innovative in their approach to teaching the subject.

Or what do you make of teachers who had pegs handy instead of the normal cane as a correctional tool when coming to the class?

The culprits include but not limited to the Principal of my first secondary school. Perhaps it might interest you as to how many high schools I did attend? In all, I attended three.

The Principal, as I was saying, was a frightful disciplinary presence in all the school activities including handling his mathematics class.

It was so bad that the generality of students strongly believed the dreads he evokes was down to black magic.

Now in retrospect, I think he must have meant well and wished to see us turned out as excellent and worthy ambassadors of not only the school but also of our various families and responsible members of society.

Maybe it was the approach that was wrong. It is an understatement, however, to say a lot of students feared rather than loved him.

Therefore, like many students, I tried as much as possible to avoid his mathematics class. But it was always very difficult because he was a friend of the family.

As such, I was always in the spotlight and tensed up. I didn’t only have torrid time concentrating; I also get flogged whenever I answer a question and I missed.

The only times I did well in my mathematics studies was when a Youth Corper (fresh graduate) handled the class and also when a Ghanaian was my school math’s teacher. Those were the glorious days of my mathematics education. They will not repeat themselves. Never!

I managed to go through the high school and my first school leaving examination performance was nothing but scandalous. I even failed, of all, Christian Religious Knowledge taught interestingly by a blood relation who sharply scolded me afterward on knowing what my grade was in that subject.

But I would retrace my steps a few years later upon the realization I had missed my way into something akin to the academic woods. I returned to my childhood's love, the art.

Now let’s go to the meat of this narrative. Having managed to wriggle myself out of the choking-hands of mathematical and scientific demons threatening to eat me up, and back in the sweet embraces of the literary genres, I had thought I would never have anything to do with them again. But how wrong I was!

Few years after high school, I received a surprise visit from someone in my innermost of the inner circle of high school mates and friends. His name is Durojaiye Shoyemi. May God’s blessings and mercies be upon him wherever he is.

He came particularly to alert and woo me into the computer revolution that was then just making an inroad into Nigeria educational cum professional spaces but with potentials to conquer all the spaces of human endeavors in no distant future.

He told me categorically that a time will come when everything will submit to the ubiquitous onslaught of artificial intelligence. But his advocacy, timely as it was, was like a fulsomely sour song in my ears. It was dead on arrival and had no appeal whatsoever.

The harder he pushed, the more uncooperative I became. In the end, he left disappointed.
I was then home and dry where I thought I should be in the art. However, unknown to myself, I've only just underestimated my learning capacity. I've also just contained myself.

As if that was not bad enough, I also failed to fully atone those missed sitters of opportunities from way back even when I properly enrolled and paid the required fees for a computer-related course. 

Now, let’s fast-track to 2016, the year my journey as a blogger actually began. I would found out later it’s a field where you're required to know one or two things about the HyperText Mark-up Language ((HTML).

Or else you’ll have to contract out everything to the tech geeks out there. Not totally a bad idea, though, after all, they are professionals and they deserve their pay. In all modesty, however, looking back now, I think I've exceeded all set expectations because I've coped.

Wait a minute. There were parts I’ve forgotten to mention. For instance, my admission into the University of Benin also ran into an irredeemable hitch. I was also unable to come to a marital full-circle as early as I would’ve wanted. 

These experiences, painful as they were, but they haven’t defined me yet and I had pulled through and became better like steel through a test of fire.
This then means if only I knew back then all I needed were attitudinal change, focus, perseverance, being daring, self-belief, and adaptation to succeed at whatever goals I set myself. If I want and had tried I could've conquered my doubts and creepy fears and go on to excel even in computer studies.

And it would've been an icing on the cake of the excellence of my rediscovered literary passion instead of telling myself outrightly that 'I cannot'.

Now imagine the milestone it would've amounted to if I'd believed and shared some percentage of my friend's vision and passion, though, they appeared not to align with mine at that point in time.

But who says because I'm a candidate for the art that I cannot go some mileage if not the whole hog in other disciplines, that I cannot become a multitalented professional.

Now I ruefully remembered I'd given my life too cheaply to the false notion that I can't do anything other than the literary. In essence, I've lived my life almost totally containerized. I’ve literally underachieved.

Today, I’m not only being haunted by the ghosts of things I didn’t do that I should’ve done. I’m so sure they are staring down on me with their piercing eyes ruing my culpable inability to bring them to life.

Despite that friends, I haven’t stopped telling myself it’s never too late to seek the lost worlds, to perform the miracle of giving life to those dry bones of repeatedly passed over opportunities. Now I’m fighting really hard to recompense for all the wasteful years and opportunities. And I know I can because there is a WILL.

What about you?

Perhaps you’re reading me and you’ve derailed at some points in your life like I did when I was a teenager. Maybe you’ve even retraced your steps like I did too. I say congratulations!

Or you’re somewhere and somehow forcefully or subtly resisting all the appeals of change or the correctional efforts of teachers, parents, guardians, friends, and family that's necessary to take you to the next level.

Maybe you’ve even failed to atone the missed glorious opportunities.  

Or you didn’t even build a career when it was the wisest and the most economically viable thing to do. Have you lost your honor or failed the test of loyalty?

Are you lacking in self-belief? Are you low on morale? Are you struggling to gain adjustment? Are you having attitudinal problems? Are you finding it difficult to adapt to a new reality?

Above all, are you lost to the false notion that you cannot excel again or unwilling to face the shame just because you’ve failed at something even if repeatedly?

You’re not alone. Many like you are also walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Besides, those shouldn’t and cannot be the perpetual themes of your life. I urge you to be fearless. I urge you to shrug off all suicidal thoughts. It is an escapist option.  Fight for your life and your destiny.

You’re a star waiting to brightly whizz through the darkest firmament. And your maker who gifted you hasn’t forgotten or given-up on you if only you won’t forget or give up on yourself because of your moment of sad temporary defeats or setbacks.

I think it is high time you boldly step out of the self-imposed limiting, dark, and glooming containers of doubts and creepy fears of what you were told or have been through growing up and into the world of boundless opportunities waiting to be explored.

Don't be a doubting Thomas waiting until you get to heaven to know the truth. Now is your salvation. Now is your victory. Go and get it. 

I may not have listed your case above, yet, like a phoenix, you can re-emerge from the ashes of whatever failures you have been through or going through no matter how many they were. Yes, you can!

To your success!
Deji Olaluwe.

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