Just like yesterday it was January 1 2020 and we all were curious and excited about what the year held. And now it’s November, just like that. Like the snap of a finger, the events that swirled in this year alone, is enough to write a best-selling novel or book. But what hit me the hardest, no doubt, was what happened on the 29th of August 2020 – The death of Chadwick Boseman. And the massacre that happened on the 20th of October.
I didn’t see both events coming. At all.
But this piece is centered on the August 29th event that brought into light a lot of thoughts to the very center of my being, Critical thoughts that have urged me to pen this down. The shocking news shook me to the very core but it heavily prompted me to go back to the drawing boards of my goals, dreams and visions.
If I were to give this year a name or two, it would be the year of recognition and reconnaissance. Irrespective of the initiative scare, deaths and discomfort – the narrative is less strange and better managed by now. Many of us have found ways to adapt and continue with life however we seem fit.
And amidst all that, I made one interesting discovery. All thanks to the many unveilings of the year 2020, I discovered the undaunting strength locked into our beings – the peculiar inner strength that emerges from nowhere in dire moments of danger, disruption and calamities. The strength we all claim not to have but makes a rare appearance in the face of never experienced hardships.
This strength has ironically shown us that it’s supposed to be used as a major tool in our everyday living, and not only during a major pandemic that shut down normalcy as it were for months.
The truth is, strength and bravery have been in us all along. We just had to recognize that it’s in us for the taking every single day and channel it into whatever area it begs of our lives. Before the unforgettable year 2020 runs its course to the last there are important things we ought to discover and revisit in order to figure out this thing called life.
Yes, nobody has it all figured out. But the problem is that most people assume that a certain faction has it all figured out – because it looks like they have. However, the earlier we discover that we are all in one way or the other a student in the educational institution of life – the better it is for the good of humanity.
Only recently did I truly understand the truth behind the statement: “A single picture can tell a thousand stories.” The very discovery I made is that, we all seem to recognize only two sides. What if there were at least three sides or even more to it:
A single picture can tell a thousand stories: the first series of stories would be by the very person in the picture who perhaps in that moment might be wearing a smile but conflicted with the myriads of complex emotions, ideas and visions running around in his or her head.
The second set of stories would be by the photographer, who perhaps feels like the smile donned by the character in question isn’t bright enough or won’t fit the background. The third set of stories is by others who coincidentally come across the picture and has one or two things, even three to say about the person or the picture itself. But guess what?
The stories by the photographer and the ones who stumbled across the picture are mere assumptions. The one who holds the real key and the utmost plot of the story is the person in the picture.
I can’t think of a better scenario that perfectly portrays one of the major problems of this generation and past generations…
There are a lot of things we have assumed about people (known and unknown). And what I have discovered is, we find it easier to point fingers at others “assumed flaws.” But we find it hard to point those same accusing fingers towards ourselves simply because we know the truth about ourselves yet won’t even allow ourselves think about it, let alone accept it. So the next best thrill is to point fingers towards others which is usually detrimental.
Last year, I was called in for an interview to take on an executive position in my final year of college and a very important question, which caught me off guard and struck me hard, was asked.
“What are your strengths?”
I found myself at loss for words not because I didn’t know what my strengths were but because I couldn’t properly articulate them. And honestly, I didn’t foresee such deep question coming.
So I ask you this same question today – “Ladies and gentlemen, what are your strengths?” It is pertinent to figure out certain deep aspects of ourselves like “strengths” and even “weaknesses”. So that when life comes knocking, we won’t be unprepared.
The word ‘strength’ goes beyond the generic and pretentious answers many might give such as honesty and the likes.
Ask yourself if you are really what you claim. Are you truly honest? You might say easy-peesy for me. Personally, I know what my strengths are but the truth is that I still can’t properly express any of the said strengths.
Majority claim to be living their lives or better still “their best lives”. However they still can’t fathom what they are living for or fighting to stay alive for. Are you truly living your best life or you are feeding off of the life and path of another person and claiming a part of it as yours? Being alive and breathing today is a great gift; a fight for survival amidst the new normal and – discovery that almost everything these days is a present or future danger to our health.
So what are you fighting to stay alive for? Like I said it usually seems like others has it all figured out, if only you knew what the voices in their heads are saying and how hard it feels from within, however graceful it might seem on the outside.
So what path is yours? The one you are on, or perhaps you feel you should go ahead and carve out yours? Go on ahead. There’s no certain handbook or road map to purpose, fulfillment, goals and dreams. Nobody should dictate whether or not a path is for you, because on your journey through that path, you would know if it’s yours or not.
Remember, this is where honesty and frankness with yourself comes in. You need to answer all those important questions to discover your paths early on.
Our very presence in history at this particular point in time has its significance – which is to be a voice. So what are you using your voice for? Have you found your voice yet?
The human voice differs in texture- so is our very existence. Our voices differ, so don’t be scared about yours being too loud, voracious and different from others. What have you sowed in the sands of time, in the little years you have existed on planet earth? What do you plan to sow and water – as you move on?
Another important question bubbling on the surface of my mind is the simple question: Who are you? Do you even know who you are truly are yet? Please let’s not deceive ourselves with the regular bull of “I’m short, chocolate in complexion and all the other junks we tell ourselves.” Who are you truly? Unfortunately I can’t answer that question for you. It’s left for you to truly figure out and grow into.
In conclusion, in this present moment, what’s your story? In about 10 years from now, what are the modifications and additions you hope to realize and see in your story? As the dusk season of our individual lives gradually beckons, what would our narratives turn out to be? Would it be transformative or regressive? You decide.
Someone somewhere said “With great power comes great responsibility” – probably Iron man’s wife or Aqua man. We all are powerful – but what’s your power and how are you seizing control of the power you have got? Are you truly living or merely existing with a concise routine of mediocracy that has no hope of spontaneity? Have you even taken a stride yet towards your path?
We all claim for lack of better words to want to be better. But, what are you doing to shift the conversation and change the narrative from a personal angle? What are you doing to change and reconstruct the status quo? More importantly, who are you joining hands with to be a part of the potpourri of change and discovery?
Most importantly, nothing and nobody can stop you besides yourself.
Melody Tobi-Makinde ‘20©