Knotty by Nature

Knotty by Nature

Two significant things happened on the 28th of December, 2005. That was the day my dad sat a few seats away from me while I was making a presentation in my village, having been invited by the National Association of Igbara-Oke Students (NAIS). It was such an emotional moment when he walked into the hall, and was invited to take his seat with the special guests. At the end of my presentation, he notified the chairperson of his intention to “ask our lecturer a question”. Now, that was funny… but trust my dad, he satisfied his curiousity about the Nigerian satellite program (especially considering the plan to launch a Communication Satellite in 2007). I can still remember making a joke about the day he was driving us (myself and my elder sister) home after school — let me not bore you with the details… 🙂

The second event of the day was one eMail message that arrived my inbox (but I didn’t get to see it until the next day because Igbara-Oke is yet to have a cyber-cafe). The edited version (same content, but names deleted) follows:

merry xmas and a prosperous new yr in adv.
i’m a member of … and i’m one of the freshers dat was present at the
three day limit seminar.
i just want to ask u a question on the plan u told us to make.
i’m a bit confused and i just want u 2 give me an
example of what the plan can look like.
i’ll be so grateful if i can get a descriptive sketch
of a 5-year plan.

That was from a young man who had listened to my passionate plea for freshmen to have a detailed plan that could guide their stay (or sojourn, as it usually is) in the University. And he’s not alone… others (professionals, etc) with whom I’ve shared the thought say similar things. I would easily argue that Perceived Luck = Preparation + Opportunity (which in English means that those we usually perceive to be lucky are those who learnt to plan ahead, and thus were able to recognize opportunities), but the usual questions is, “how do I prepare”? That is the exact reason why I refer to this thought-line as Knotty by Nature. The task of setting the pace of one’s life is not linear, its a complex matrix coming from background, experiences, decisions, exposure, education, relationships, discoveries, etc… though knotty, the task is not impossible.

In the past few months that I have caught myself placing more emphasis on the need to plan ahead, I have come to learn the following (some of which I’d lived out without thought before now):

  • Your past may not determine how far you will go in life, but it usually is a pointer to some issues you will need to address — overcoming the weaknesses it throws up and sharpening the strengths that appear;
  • There are no two people that have had the same growing-up experiences in the finest details (not even siamese twins), hence the need to learn not to run your life’s race on another person’s track — you need to discover what works best for you (while still enjoying the spirit of “healthy rivalry”);
  • If you are honest with yourself in admitting what you can not do, the confusion on where you’re headed in life will be less. I only sing well in the shower (a more polite way of saying that I can’t sing), so, I have no plans for a singing career;
  • If you deliberately watch out for the skills that you enjoy, the happenings that naturally get you to the edge of the seat, and the success stories that make you shed a tear of joy, then you have an idea of strengths that will aid you on the way;
  • The fact that you’re not comfortable with just waking up every other day (with no specific plans) is a sure sign that you are alive and well. Pain is a friend (as it tells you that you’re alive and can still feel); so is the feeling you have when you just want to know what’s next;
  • Watch out for the people who share similar passion with you — especially those who will not tell you that your hair looks great when you know that the stylist messed up — and they’ll keep you on your toes;
  • Celebrate your little successes and document the process of discovering your pathway. If nothing else, it helps you know where you’re coming from;
  • “In case of doubt, ask questions”, remains a wise saying!

The task of deciding your pathway from you (now, e.g. January 11, 2005) to You (in the future, e.g. December 31, 2015) may not be linear. It is indeed knotty by nature, but it is an enjoyable experience that keeps you learning and improving yourself with every step that you take — and every move that you make.

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