“If they hated me and were stubborn, it would have been so much easier. I know all this comes from a place of love. It makes it more painful”.
Where is the line between voluntary self-exposure on the web and the privacy of the other people in your life? How do you talk about your feelings without mentioning the people who strung the chain reaction that led to the said feelings?
I have gained an infinitesimal reputation ranting on my (small, poorly designed , highly disorganised and randomly updated) blog. In the short time I have written online, I have consciously avoided a topic which has permeated literally every single decision I have ever made in my life.
Simply put, after this article, my parents might either:
- Completely understand, love and allow me the mental freedom to pursue my goals or
- Disown me.
I feel very frustrated at this moment. I might regret this in the future. But, I will regret not trying more. Plus, I would love to get your opinion on how I should handle this.
My parents love me very much. I am convinced of that as I am convinced that God exists. Same as my siblings; my younger brother and the last two girls.
In my 26 years of existence, I have been able to complete a BSc. in Journalism and Mass Communication. After two failed degree attempts which left my parents uber worried and in pain. Like every normal parent should be.
However, in 2012, I came across James Altucher’s blog and my thoughts on decision making- especially concerning my life choices- changed.
For the first time, I owned my life.
Then I completed my degree. And my good old mistress “frustration” passed by again. (Listen to my podcast summarizing this journey here).
Summary : I didn’t want a job. My father thought I would learn the value of money and time and (the frustration of) working for somebody. We argued. Got pissed. My friend Rodrigue advised me to rethink. I listened. I looked for a job. Got an internship. Got super depressed after a month. Then quit. Argued with parents. Didn’t have a home for a while. Got a home. Started writing again. Started my podcast. And got really, really happy and positive.
Until recently. Which is why you’re reading this.
The first child is usually the hope of the family. Especially for an African family. For a long time, boys were even treated differently from girls as first born sons simply because they were boys. They would be the natural heirs and receive all the spoils from grandparents and the extended family. Of course, these spoilt shitheads would ruin the family as soon as they had the opportunity and the old, surprised parents would have to rely on the girls for everything else in the future.
This, of course, is not the case for every family.
Now, my parents invested a huge deal in our education. All of us. I spent seven years in a boarding school where the yearly expenses amounted to a ballpark 450,000 FCFA. Seven years.
Because I did so well in that school ( Yes, I am show-off), all my three siblings were sent to the same school. SEVEN YEARS EACH.
Here’s the thing I may not have mentioned. My father doesn’t own a plantation or a wealthy business. Neither does my mother. My father had a regular office job for a really long time while I was still in the University. They have sacrificed everything to give us quality education to the best of their financial abilities.
Mom,Dad, I will never be grateful enough.
Usually, the first born son is the one sent overseas to study abroad and make the family proud. He is the one who leads the rest of the flock. The one who gets the job first and takes care of the youngest sibling. He becomes the second father.
In that particular Nigerian movie, that would be me. Alas…this is the real world and last week I faced 2012 all over again.
I am a Vayniack. Through and through. And my journey to self-awareness has exposed my weaknesses. I am more proud of them now than I was before I came to understand that the key to success could be betting on your strengths and finding people who beat your weakness. The list of things I am not good at keeps growing:
- Executing step-by-step plans: I am a raging storm.
- Focusing on one project at a time: I have 20 tabs open right now
- Writing business plans: Greek to me
- Entertaining negative energy: I find it contagious. And draining.
- Mathematics: Duh.
- Coding: WHY?
Let’s end here. Basically, I am the guy who opens 20 tabs and responds to five messages at once while eating and looking for his glasses.
- Sales: Give me product I believe and and watch me sell it.
- Pitching ideas: I just can’t help it.
- Coming up with ideas: I thought it was a joke. I tried it. I am an idea machine.
Short list huh?
The thing about being able to audit yourself and accept that you’ll never be able to be great at certain things is very humbling.
I thought I was very smart because I could always come up with ideas on how to hack school work or learn faster. Now, I know I can’t write a project proposal. How about that for Karma?
Last week, I spent one day home. The plan was to work with my father on my business plan among other things. And the reason why you are reading this, is because I am frustrated at the reaction I got after my father found out I was not prepared for it.
We’d been talking about writing this for at least three months and I understand how unhappy he was. But here is what truly got me thinking about 2012 again:
I am at a point where I have my plan and my parents have their plan. Where my plan seems fake, virtual and useless. Where I seem to be on the same spot “ever since you graduated” and where “ I am not getting any younger”. A point where I am “ giving what kind of example?” and where “ I will end up frustrated if I continue without a plan”.
Oh, one more weakness I forgot on the list:
7. I cannot express my personal emotions well using speech.
So, my stay at home got my father pissed. And my mother worried.
And it got me very angry at all the times when I have been emotionally blackmailed into making a choice or following a path I did not want to.
Of course, I promised I was going to do the Business Plan. I know the value of a business plan. Of course, some would say it is not entirely useful given that it is a work in constant progress and others, that it would not survive contact with the market. But given the emphasis my father lays on it, I concur. It is primoridial.
Now, there’s what is primordial to me.
- Writing a three blog posts everyday establishing my thoughts on social media and technology entrepreneurship in Cameroon.
- Building a following on snapchat and other emerging social media as a social media influencer and thoughts leader.
- Running and maintaining a profitable podcast.
- Engaging with thoughts leaders and as many influencers and mentors as possible.
- Gaining graphic design and video editing skills to support my audio editing skills
- Et al.
Now, tell me, is it because these cannot be measured that it doesn't matter? It is because I prefer to do this in the calm of my room ( when I have made the conscious decision to be single) that I don’t like my parents’ home?
Is it because I don’t have a job or that I am not doing a Masters degree that I am a bad example for my siblings?
Oh…one more weakness…
8. I balk when I feel that I don’t have my parents’ approval.
Which means a lot of the momentum I gathered in the past months died last week. And this ( already super long post…I know…) is an attempt to expunge the dark thoughts I have so I can get back to being creative and sarcastic.
If they hated me and were stubborn, it would have been so much easier. I know all this comes from a place of love. It makes it more painful. Because when I quit Medical Laboratory Sciences to do Journalism, they were worried.
When I graduated Journalism, they were worried. When I didn’t have a home, they were worried. And when I don’t have a business plan now, they are worried.
And when they get worried, well, I get worried. And this sucks.
I don’t know if this is the kind of pressure all first born sons feel. To find a passion fast, work, get a home, get married, support the family.
I don’t even think I have half of the pressure some get for being the first child. And this already sends me in a dark spiral. One I don’t even want to call “depression”. But I know it could lead to darker thoughts if I don’t handle this properly.
How do I tell them that I want to do what I want to do and I know that I need to find a sustainable form of living?
How do I get them off my mental back?
Of all these thoughts and frustrations, my biggest is that I may become numb. That I might have to simply shut off the part of my mind that feels sad when they don’t approve my choices. Or when they threaten me with being guilty of their worsening health.
I can feel it slowly happening.
Because as much as I love them, and they love me…
As much as they have given me life and have dreams for me…
As much as I owe them everything I own on earth…
THIS is my life. This is MY path. My journey is unique and it is a choice I have to make.
Because all this mental turmoil stops my productivity and doesn’t allow me to use the only vessel I have- my brain. I cannot be worried and be productive at the same time.
I may just have choose myself again.