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The Daily Vulnerable by Chude Jideonwo: Did you Amount to Anything?



Are you one of those people whom someone told when they were young, in school, powerless or needing the help of some sort that ‘you wouldn’t amount to anything’?

If you are, are you now one of those who spend your whole life trying to prove them wrong, to show that you amount to something, to ‘show them’ that they were wrong, to prove that in fact, you are better than them?

Have you noticed that when you eventually meet some of those people, even after you have ‘amounted to something’ they don’t care, they still treat you as badly – they still think you are defined by being ‘a bastard’, ‘having no pedigree’, ‘having a bush accent’, ‘coming from the backwaters’, ‘not going to good schools’?

And, when that happens, what do you think of yourself? After all your hustling to achieve their approval or awe, after all you have ‘achieved’, do you really feel like you have amounted to anything?

I suspect this is what you missed from the start; because of the wrong message they sent you:

Fellow traveler, you don’t need to do anything to ‘amount’ to someone.

You are already a human being, deserving of all the love and respect and validation that life has to give, just as you are, however you are.

They didn’t know this. Even about themselves. And so they transferred that poison to you – that they already had an abundance of in themselves.

Well, it’s time for you to spit it out, and get out of that hole.

You don’t need any achievement before you can ‘amount to anything’.

You already matter, just as you are. All the rest is extra.

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Jideonwo is a storyteller, using the research and evidence on human flourishing to inspire new narratives about politics, markets, faith, identity and society in Africa. He is a co-founder of RED, which he ran for 13 years before stepping down in December 2017. One of its companies, StateCraft Inc. handled communication for the Muhammadu Buhari campaign in 2015 and has worked in elections in Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.


  1. Eve

    September 21, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    Thanks Chude. I needed this

  2. Ms_Sylveeah

    September 21, 2018 at 3:58 pm

    Wise words!

  3. BNO

    September 21, 2018 at 9:50 pm

    Saw the question on the title, not going to read chude, just going to answer. Why? i dont know, got tears in my eyes. Hope noone sees this.

    Feel broken. Feel alone. Feel defeated.

    Masters degree holder. Terrible, non-fulfilling job. Equally terrible pay (LESS THAN 80K P/M).

    No side hustle (too much self doubt), no plan to get a phd. No plan for anything.

    No house/car/savings to my name. Never supported or encouraged get anything. “Horseband” will handle it they said. Don’t scare men away they said.

    Wanted to get my phd at 21, said i was over reaching. STOP! WORK! LIVE! BREATH! LOVE! LAUGH! and the rest of that nonsense. Papa said “get married” THEN further your education as much as you want. Applied for phd studentships, got none. Cant afford the fees. Dream dead.

    At 22 was too scared to defy my parents…. Love them to bit. Wanted to make them proud. Found a decent job, they got me a “better” one. x years later, i feel brain dead. Can’t afford to develop academically, technically, anycally! Everything costs money, to afford na quench, to save na die.

    At 23 wanted to move out, “responsible females don’t live by themselves”. Are you not happy here? are you not safe? protected? supported??? Don’t you have a car? Why do you want to go? The world is a dangerous place!!

    Wanted to start a business at 23- 24. Nothing was ever good enough. All i needed were words of encouragement. Learnt i have a fickle mind, i reflect what i receive. I got doubt, gave doubt in return. Nothing came of everything.

    Now 30, husband has come, wedding is over. reality has set-in. He’s a good fella. Try’s his best. Cant fault him. But i’m still broken, still empty. still lost. Fake smiles all night, going mad in my head!

    Don’t feel like i’ve accomplished much in life. Masking my pain with contentment. I need to fix this. I need to fix me. I just don’t know how. Don’t know where to start from.

    Maternal clock is ticking. Its been six month tho, now the prayers have started pouring in. I never really thought about having kids. wasn’t even sure i wanted one. Now i don’t even know what i want.

    Life has become a routine. Cook, work, sex, wait. Cook, work, sex, wait. Cook, work, sex, wait. Not sure what i’m waiting for. Baby? Better job? Opportunity to run????????? Just go and never be found. Just leave it all behind.

    But still i’m grateful. As they say, las las, i go dey alright.

    • Amaa

      September 24, 2018 at 10:03 pm

      I am sending the Holy Spirit your way . This a classic case of depression it slowly progressing. Trust me every one goes through it ones in a while. don’t get pregnant in this state because it will get worse . Discuss with your husband about waiting a bit to have kids .

      You need to speak to some one professionally someone that understands the power of God and has a professional psychology degree not a pastor please . Unburden your self take time off work if you can. Change scenery .do outdoor stuff anything close to nature water, beach trees Nature has healing effect .
      I pray for you today that God heals you and makes you whole IJ N

    • ogeAdiro

      September 30, 2018 at 10:22 am

      BNO, whenever I’m feeling low, working out helps. Strength training and/or cardio does me good. Learning a new skill also helps. Not just a random skill but something that I’ve always wanted.
      In my experience, lack of knowledge fuels doubt. Wanting to do something is not always enough; but knowing exactly why you want to do whatever is key. I have family members who will naturally spar with me when I have an idea that they didn’t see coming. But I’m usually ready to address their concerns by dropping knowledge. Next thing you know, they’re on your side. It’s okay for those who love us to question our decisions sometimes. But it’s our job to assure them that we’ve thought things through, and we know what we are doing.
      30 is young. It’s okay to be socially awkward. People call me weird all the time (actually love it). You need to define what success means to you (remember what had you gingered back then), draw up a plan, and just do it. Las las, you’ll be living your best life.

  4. BNO

    September 21, 2018 at 9:59 pm

    BTW, X years later, i’m still earning less than i was at the job i successfully got for myself. Even with two promotions. Le sign. Le anger, Le resentment building up.

    Even remembering me from then. TOTALLY DIFFERENT HUMAN BEING!

    Was so gingered, out-going, out-spoken.

    Now i’m always hiding, social awkward, always running away, “weird”. Been called that many, MANY times.

    • Elle

      September 23, 2018 at 5:16 pm

      BNO, you have the power to define who you want to be, rather than let others define you. No one can make you feel inferior without your permission, same way no one can make you feel weird without your permission, it’s ALL up to you. What you feed yourself, your spirit, your mind, is all you.

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