‘You are too uneducated to think of getting that far.’
‘Nobody from your country has ever clenched that position.’
‘You are just an inquisitive poor young man, such lofty dreams and aspirations are left to those whose purse can bear the weight thereof’
How hard it is to make the mind truly realize that there is no boundary anywhere but the very ones we had tangled ourselves with? How long before we begin to realize that the chains that tightly holds us bound are more psychological than they are physical?
How much courage and confidence does it take to disagree with everybody else when they threw pitches at your head, spit on you, or attempted to injure you at every opportunity, or threaten to kill you if you continued holding the fort? Are you torn between accepting the submissions of your own thoughts and narrow imagination or of hate-spewing voices telling of boundaries beyond which you can’t advance?
‘The society’ had told Jackie Robinson that he could not amount to anything beyond a useless good-for-nothing baseball player. He was told that he’d better remain satisfied playing in the relegated ‘good-for-nothing’ negro teams and have no business playing in the major leagues. Jackie had known before he decided to play professional baseball that he wasn’t who they said he was. He was an unbelieved hero, raw talent on whom external pressure was really hard. He was struggling to avoid being poured into the society’s mold of mediocrity. Everybody knew that this guy was exceptionally talented, but they still told him to his face that he was good for nothing.
The moment Jackie Robinson began playing professional baseball, he had consciously hit the limit. Agreed, he was an awesome player with nearly as much professionalism as some of the best of the white players around, but he wasn’t on the right track. He and the Army had just parted ways after he rebelled fiercely against deep-seated cruel discriminatory practices older than himself. Worst of all, he was black. Black people didn’t play in the big leagues. They had been relegated to where they rightly belonged- the backyard teams, but this guy wasn’t ready to stay there. He was called ‘Negro’ to his face, he was attacked, he was threatened but Jackie was not going to let anyone decide how far he’d go in life. Eventually he became the first black man to play in the major league in the 20th century, opening the door for countless others.
The Nigerian economy was anything but good, and Chief Aliko Dangote rode on that same very platform to become Africa’s richest black man. James Blunt’s voice does not particularly strike many people as ‘sweet’, but he rode on that same voice to stardom and wealth.
Agreed, our academic system is in a mess, but it is still that same system that prepared women like Chimamanda Adichie for the wider world.
Think of the many young people that have nearly given up on amounting to anything world-class at all, simply because they are Nigerian – because people of other climes have looked down on them as useless. Think about the millions of others that have allowed their tribes, jobs, income, friends and even enemies define them and determine how far they’ll ever get in life.
What and who have you allowed define your limit this far? Your job, your education (or maybe lack of it), your society, your poverty or what exactly. What pictures will your tales paint when others who scarcely had half the opportunities you have now but overlooked begin to tell theirs? Remember we live in a world where nobody wants to hear about how much or how long you tried, but wants to see the evidence of good success. How would it feel in a few years’ time, when you see the folly of your unwarranted admission of defeat and crave that time be rolled back in order for your blunder to be corrected?
Until you succeed, until you are associated with good success, until you are celebrated, until you leave a good mark in the land, don’t let anybody talk you out of the heights of success you’d have achieved – if you tried a bit harder.
Photo Credit: auditieforum.eu
Ifeanyi J. Igbokwe is a peak performance expert, motivational speaker, consultant and an action coach with special interest with personal and corporate growth and effectiveness. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org