“It is necessary … for a man to go away by himself … to sit on a rock … and ask, ‘Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?” – Carl Sandburg
I have always known I was different. Not special. Just different.
As a little girl, I was the child (and still am) who said what everyone was thinking and then wondered why everyone was shocked that I said it. After all, they were thinking it. I’d then carry on like nothing happened. Amongst my sisters, like a sore thumb, I stuck outs. They liked sitting pretty and I liked playing with the guys. I remember my dad’s friends would be in the parlor having a serious meeting and I would show up with a pack of WHOT cards and challenge them to a game. Funny enough, often enough, they would pause and indulge me at least once.
I remember on one occasion, we were visiting my grandfather’s palace in Awka and he was having a meeting with his elders. My grandfather, a king, was a very stern man. By his presence alone- tall, broad shoulders and very light skinned, he commanded attention. As strict as he was, he was a very loving man. After every visit, I was sure to leave with a packet of Digestive biscuits (which I loved) and N100 from him. I looked forward to every visit like it was Christmas. Even though all the grandkids knew to stay out of his way, we loved lurking around him. One day, I went one step further. While he was meeting with his elders, I walked in and sat on his lap. He balanced me on his lap and asked the elder who was talking to carry on. The elder, bewildered, asked in Igbo language, “a 5-year old child has no business in an elder meeting.” My grandfather paused and asked, “Okwuchirigi uzo?” meaning, “Does her presence block you?” The elder shrugged and continued. My grandfather never spoke about it with me. But I doubt he knows the impact he made on me. That day, he taught me that it was okay to be fearless.
Over the years, my fearlessness has taken me to heights caution won’t have taken me and has helped me accomplish things at a young age I would never have dreamed of if I had thought much into it. In the same way, it has cost me a few things and people because indeed, somethings and people in life require caution and time. With every set back, I have doubted myself and wondered why my thought process, expectations and tolerance were so different. But then, with every success I am reminded that the prints in my palm are special to my destiny and that it’s my uniqueness that I can find unique prosperity.
We are all made differently and understanding this about yourself and people around you is the first step to maintaining stronger relationships with not only family, friends and people we come across daily but yourself. Things that set me off may be your calming effect and vice versa. Sometimes, we are upset by someone’s actions but can’t figure out why. To know yourself, is to know your triggers, expectations and insecurities. What makes you happy and what makes your walls shoot up? How can someone else understand you if you don’t even understand yourself?
It’s not an easy task to take on and it doesn’t come easily. It takes effort. All through high school, we believed knowing ourselves meant knowing what color we loved, what kind of music we liked or what boy or girl we liked. This is deeper. Getting to know yourself as an adult is less about hobbies and more about understanding what experiences or lack thereof have molded your values, personality, habits, priorities, or moods. It is a process that involves stepping back from what you were taught as “normal” and finding where you fit on the scope. As prolific reading puts it,
I know more about myself every day. Every night, part of bed time for me is a conscious drifting that’s either drowsed or awakened by the events of the past 24 hours. As sleep begs to take over, my mind replays every single event of my day…my conversations, my interactions, and my work. You could call it self-reflection because it is indeed introspection into my motives, my actions and ultimately my character. I picture myself in a white wig sitting in polished wood above a heavily organized room spattle in hand, at the same time, another version of me behind a smooth polished wood only smeared by the sweat of my finger prints. In that moment, I am face-to-face with myself. I find peace in the “conscious-drifting” because I know the wigged- me is not judging..it is assessing based on what I know to be right, wrong and improve-able. In that serene time, I find myself seeing things in ways I never could ever have and often realize things I said that I shouldn’t have, actions I took that could’ve been misread and motives I never knew I had. In retrospect, the seemingly simple comments I made a few hours ago can make me shudder. Ulitmately, I try to take the mistakes of my Tuesday into lessons for Wednesday. To be better, not for others; But for myself because not only will self reflection continuously reveal purpose, it is being a better me that I can always ensure that my loved ones truly enjoy the value of loving me.
In your self-reflection, don’t be too hard on yourself. It is not about judging your weaknesses for self-pity, it is about knowing them, embracing them, and working them for your good.
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