Before We All Change By David Oluwasegun Ogundipe
If there is something that every man must avoid in life, unhealthy comparison should come to mind. That thing is killing- a slow killer- victims are mostly unaware of this slow poison. It eats deep into the psychology of people who are vulnerable to every and any remarks made about them. When anything negative takes control of your psychology, it morphs into your orientation and then, your entire existence is in soup. You see it haunting you, it dines and wines with you. Right there at your study, it sits winking at you for a session. At work, it is your only client- coming in different attires, genders and for different purpose. Then in its characteristic nature, it makes you run- not for a medal- but like a mad man chasing nothing. That race is what I seek to prevent with this piece.
Whatever you find yourself doing today is not by accident- it is a result of a stridency of factors- heredity, environment, experience, people, age etc etc. Whoever or whatever you become today is no mistake, it sure shares the same evolutionary process with the already mentioned factors. If any scientist thinks I am wrong, he is probably comparing himself with me in the understanding of the basic tenets of life- that in itself is what I stand against- stop the comparison.
While you may not have taken a pause to examine yourself in the two key elements that make you, I have set forth to set the ball of this puzzling discourse rolling. There is a war- the one that calls for neither gun nor sword. Albeit, the war that requires no weapon is actually the most important one- it calls for deft planning, accurate execution and clinical finishing. Is it now strange that even the war that warrants weapon has its foundation in proper planning? So, I am about to provoke a war within you- when I say you, I mean every single reader of this rant. The war of striking a balance between who you are and what you are. In a way, if my message is well gotten, you may find yourself parting ways with some friends, relationships, goals, ideas or attitudes or even possessions. But get me right, because while I am responsible for what you read, I incur no scintilla of liability for what you believe from what you read.
Then the first begging question calls- who are you? You are that person born into a poor, average or rich Nigerian family. You were born dark, fair or perhaps an albino. In the process of growing, some factors come to play- hormonal factors leave you as a dwarf, average in height or perhaps, the very tall. It is not all, who you are is that boy or girl. As you grow, your left hand becomes your dominant hand, making the right hemisphere of the brain function and vice versa. On rare occasions, one can be ambidextrous. One thing is salient in this ‘who’ you are question- all characteristics identified are natural. Note that.
What are you? You are that quiet individual. You are the lady who prefers trousers to skirts. You are that person who enjoys swimming while your friend enjoys volleyball. Under the what question comes the man who prefers to invest in gold and another who prefers to invest farming. It is here that we see a die hard supporter of Arsenal and her unrepenting partner who is a fan of Chelsea. For this question of ‘what’ you are, choice comes to play. You choose what you are, but you can’t choose who you are. You can’t choose your family, and it is who you are.
My worry? To an unbearable extent, I have observed that too much energy and resources are expended in a bid to change who we are. To me, that struggle is lost even before its commencement. Which sane man goes on a chase of becoming a dark person when he is born an albino? Who goes about with the ambition of being 5 fts? when he is already 6 fts? To one’s consternation, this chase for lunacy is mostly embarked on to suit someone or a person. My friend, why cry over a girl who dumped you because you are an albino and she wanted a dark man? If you don’t know, you will short of one human liability if she leaves. Don’t regret the exit of people who do not appreciate who you are- you cannot change that. Why do you go home everyday to cry behind closed door because your boyfriend thinks your boobs are too small? That is who you are, you cannot change it. Your small boobs are as natural as his unequal fingers. If he can’t embrace you, dump him! If people complains that your nose is too big, don’t change the route to work just to avoid them, tell them their sights are too poor to see things in the right light. For God sake, why would you go about with butt pads to invite suitors? You are inviting wolves to guide a hen house dear. You don’t need that butt pad to get someone who loves you for who you are. Remove that damn foam now!
See, the truth is that you don’t have to let anybody make you look short of human just because you want to be with them or some reasons. In a relationship, who you are is key and there must be no sense of insecurity with that. If it is happening- run! If anyone compares you to another and wishes that you were like him or her, the first question is ‘on what ground?’ If it is on the ground of good attitude, you can make efforts to change, please do. If you address people without courtesy and your partner feels you can be like Jane who treats people with outmost courtesy, don’t run, change- lacking courtesy is no man’s nature. It is what you are, not who you are. If your lips are dark- not as a result of unrepentant smoking, and your boyfriend keeps wishing you had pink or red lips, avoid that guy- he is no potential father of your unborn children.
If you have tribal facial marks and she keeps telling you how much she is into guys without tribal marks, get a quality headsets and listen to some rap music. Don’t listen to blues or country music at that moment- your blood pressure may rise. Don’t fall for the scam of what everybody do, you are not everybody. Ignore that prophet of doom, don’t bow to the purpose of her comparison. It is wrong to be with people who make you feel like a weed, you would be wasting your investment- time, energy and other resources. Eventually, you may lose sight of your most cherished and important goal in life. Guess what, you would never please them.
There is a difference between WHO you are and WHAT you are: while you have virtually no power to decide on one or change it, the other is exclusively within your control. So, why worry when cynics complain about your tribe, family, sex, height, voice, skin colour etc etc? Change is constant, life itself is not stagnant, but before you change, what do you want to change?
David Oluwasegun Ogundipe
A poet, social critic, political satirist, public analyst and Nigerian lawyer