Okay, since I seem to be on a trend of being very personal with my entries, here’s one that might be pushing the edge a bit. In recent times I find myself opposing or rejecting just about everything I thought I knew about myself, life, and so on. It’s literally getting out of control because I’m encountering new ways of thinking about things, about doing things, and about reacting to things that happen, and while it is all very scary to me, at the same time it is so refreshing and exhilarating. So once again, I encounter this question: “Who are you?”
Just a mere couple of months ago, I wrote an entry about having fulfilled a whole bunch of dreams, and even going beyond those of my wildest imagination. Now, I am at a point where I have a foggy notion of my goals…but nothing so elaborate. I’m graduating in May inshallah, and I haven’t an inkling of what my next step is going to be immediately after. But come to think about it, I’m not that worried cos I happened upon a similar stage with my now fulfilled dreams.
As a child, and even as an adolescent I have always opted for harmony. Meaning, I wasn’t your typical rebel. Sure, I had my rebel days when I was really young (not that I remember, but from what my parents tell me, I could have passed for one.lol) but once I got a general notion of right and wrong down, I tried my best to not thwart what harmony I thought there should be. So even if there was something I really wanted to do or say, just in order to maintain the peace, I would remain silent. There are numerous times that come to mind, now that I think about it. And thank God, none of those situations were necessarily life or death situations, but they had their impact either way. And that’s what scares me the most about many of our societies: That we do not allow young people or children to express themselves. And by express themselves I don’t mean about the ‘socially accepted topics’. I mean express themselves about issues like politics, sexuality, religion, the government, the value system etc. You’re probably thinking that you’ve heard all this before. And maybe you have. So why does it come up again? Because it is important. The way I see it, if we as humans are only using 10% of our brains, and even then, most of that 10% is used processing what other people tell us we should believe, or accept, or do, then really, are we making the most of the exceptional tools God has given each and every one of us? The silence does have an impact, and that impact is probably much worse than any outrageous outcry could ever be.
There are some very controversial things I would love to discuss, but I find myself limiting those discussions to shoulds and should nots with myself. Why? Because I am yet to completely let go of other people’s notions about who I am, what I should be doing, saying, thinking. Even right now, I realize as I am typing this, that some people might think I’m pushing it – and when I say this is not directed to anyone in particular, please accept that as my genuine truth. So, I will bide my time a bit more. But inchallah, I will free write my heart out on all those things considered ‘taboo’. Because if someone somewhere is living through that domestic violence, that intense discrimination, and that mere indifference, then maybe that thing is not as ‘taboo’ as it is made out to be.
I have come to this conclusion: Nobody has the right answer for everybody. Nobody. Not our governments, not our institutions, not our family, not our friends. Not even ourselves. What we do have, is our respective truths in specific moments. History has shown that what was considered acceptable at one point in time was abominable in another. What was unheard of in one place was rampant in another. So once again I ask this question: “Who am I to judge?”
For those of you who are thinking “Here we go again, Jemi going all philosophical on us”. You are not obliged to read any of this, really. Ok, so to the heart of the matter. Why this entry? Well, when I was younger (I can’t believe I even have to type that. I am only 22!) I used to imagine myself growing up to be an advisor or counselor of some sorts. A couple of weeks ago, an email got sent to the Ghana Youth Leadership Alliance board (http://www.ghanaunite.com ) about mentoring young Ghanaian students. I opted to partake in it, and later got an email with a message from my mentee (just typing that gives me shivers. The effect that message had on me is probably not an iota worth of how parents feel when they see their baby for the first time. I felt like this young girl was depending on me to guide her and help her navigate what must be a confusing life. Immediately afterwards, I felt inadequate. Who am I to give someone answers to questions I am still pondering about myself? And then afterwards, I felt a surge of determination. I will do whatever I can to assist this young girl in whatever she may choose to do, even if it runs counter to the very framework of my experience and way of thinking. Talk about a tough position to be in.
And so, I applaud my parents. And parents all over. By parents I don’t only mean biological parents, but also guardians, and those supportive ‘adults’ who affect us so much we don’t even know how much. Because, even as they go through their own personal trials and confused moments, they remain the heroes and heroines they are, for us. It’s so easy to regard our parents as just parents and not individuals in their own right. And I did for a long time. Ok, this is getting pretty long-winded. Basically, all I’m saying is ‘thank you’ to my parents. You are both really amazing, and I am blessed to have you in my life.
Yesterday, I cut my finger while sharpening a pencil. And my finger bled for a while. And I realized I hadn’t cut my finger in a while. I felt alive. What has this got to do with anything? Basically the fact that life is like your finger. Until you get cut and you bleed, you might not realize something’s wrong. Most of us live very sheltered lives (albeit all our complaints) and at some point in our lives, we cease to take chances and live on the spur of things. I have been reading about that kind of stuff in Paulo Coelho’s book The Zahir (which you should check out if you have a chance. Exceptional!) and I know that I don’t want to be a robot in this life. There is still so much to learn, to do, to explore. Our earth is almost insignificant when you look at the magnificence of the entire Universe, and when I think about how little I know about even my fellow Africans, its startling to try to imagine the immensity of knowedge out there waiting to be taken in, word by word, moment by moment, truth by truth.
Jemila Abdulai is the creative director, editor and founder of the award-winning website Circumspecte.com. A media and international development professional and economist by training, she combines her business, communications and project management expertise with her strong passion for Africa. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys travel, global cuisine, movies, and good design.