On that sunny Friday in July, we gathered on our football field decked in white and blue. The girls wore headgears (gèlé) and the boys donned caps (fìlà). We had come to the end of the road in our secondary education. This was probably the last time ninety-seven of us would be together in one place. Shutters clicked, eyes twinkled, and the rays of the sun bounced off our white clothes.
My mother was resplendent in a blue blouse and pink wrappers, a typical outfit for an Igbò woman. My father who had been tied down all day in a meeting, walked in just in time for the awards section of the program. I was finally done, six years had breezed by and it was time to take on the world.
Four years later, I scroll through my Instagram page and it is awash with photos of my old classmates’ valedictory ceremonies. Hoods, hats, degrees, and graduation gowns. The whole works. While I am delighted at their achievements, I can’t shake the feeling that I have been left behind.
You see, although we graduated together, I did not leave for my university until about a year after due to circumstances I could not control. This is both the blessing and the curse of social media. In that, while it allows for us to connect with those in distant places, it can quickly become the pedestal to which we hold up our lives. All of it. We are left comparing our behind-the-scenes with the highlight reel of others.
As I itched to move on to my next big adventure, everything stood still. In hindsight, that one year at home did me a world of good. I got to know my father and mother not just as parents but as people. And what do I know? I haven’t been home since I moved a few years ago.
Truth be told, I am pleased and content with where I currently am. Yet every now and again, the feeling of not being quite “there yet” creeps in. For you, it might seem like things are falling in line for everyone but the person who stares at you when you look in the mirror.
Well, I am here to remind you that comparison is the thief of joy. Be content, not complacent. Keep your eyes on the prize and give thanks every day because although you are not where you want to be, you are not where you were.
Here’s a beautiful piece of advice I once heard. Kenya is two hours ahead of Nigeria, but it does not mean that Nigeria is slow, and it does not mean that Kenya is faster than Nigeria. Both countries are simply working based on their own time zone.
So should you. No matter how many times you hear it, please remember that this thing we call life is a journey, not a race to the finish line. You have lots to look forward to.
Everything good will come.