“When the stallion of loneliness rides over you
And the scream of despair swallows hope
Take the armour of humility in your left hand
And sword of tears in your right hand
And be wary of your ego
And careful of the hidden revenge
And when you migrate in darkness
Take shelter under the torch of purity.
Tell the Beloved: You see my broken state,
Forgive me before our destined meeting.
O my Love, be not separate from me,
Do not abandon me before fruition.”
I am really interested in other people’s stories. When I meet anyone, I love listening to them speak because I feel there is so much wisdom to be gained from genuine, uninterrupted listening to absorb and not simply to react or draw the conversation back to yourself (as evidenced here). Lately I’ve been thinking about my story and its many plot twists.
For a long period of time, I felt like I was failing. Admittedly I still feel like I’m not quite where I should be at this juncture but I’m working on that. Luckily for me, my loved ones are usually on hand to give me an injection of perspective and healthy dose of reality when my optimistic pulse is flat-lining.
Lesson 1: Surround yourself with the right [supportive] people. If they aren’t naturally around, seek them
There was a time I was at such odds with myself internally that it quite literally put me in therapy – or rather my parents did. If you know anything about African families, you will know what a colossal act of support and love this was because of how atypical the mental health conversation is within the black community.
Lesson 2: When people who love and want the best for you offer help, be smart enough to take it
Outwardly, everyone thought I was okay (including my closest friends), because I always look and act like I am. But my parents knew better – thank God. Seeing my psychologist was surreal and also the first time I’d been to Harley Street. Going there initially made me feel like my life a massive cliché.
I remember the day my psychologist said – after I stopped evading questions, finally began opening up and had a comparative life rant – that, I’m “doing better than average”. Those four words irked and slightly offended me as I’m not comparing myself to the average person. I know I shouldn’t have been comparing myself to anyone at all but it is what it is. Mediocrity has never been a goal for me.
Lesson 3: When you listen to wise counsel, remember there is wisdom in imperfection and everyone is fallible
As I said above, I know I shouldn’t have been comparing myself to anyone else, everyone has their own path, their own life to lead etc etc… I know. But knowledge and action are two different things. When your parents stay winning, heck when your whole nuclear and immediate family are extraordinarily successful, it is easy to feel like you’re losing.
For context, in addition to my parents’ philanthropy, mentoring and general do-gooding, my father is a well-respected medical doctor, my mother is [the first and] the number 1 National Sales Director in Mary Kay UK (a position she has maintained for 11 years) and my brother is a stock broker.
I… am a dreamer.
Lesson 4: If you do not know yourself, you leave room for other people to define you
I wasn’t bad at school. I got good grades and was great at sports too. Teachers and pupils generally liked me. I was deputy Head Girl in my high school; I went to University and got a Law degree then got a job. I studied some more and got a masters. I got another job, started a business then got yet another job. I [almost] always did what I was supposed to do.
But this didn’t abate the feeling that I was always one step behind them – probably because I wasn’t fully walking in my purpose but more about that another day.
On one hand, my family’s success inspires me to do more because I know what’s possible. On the other, it occasionally makes me want to crawl into a small, dark space and hide until the second coming. Who wants to be the runt of the litter?
Lesson 5: Comparison is the thief of joy. Why judge yourself harshly against other unfinished articles?
I have heard numerous people lament at their lack of positive, tangible role models who aren’t solely available on a TV or computer screen. No one ever really talks about the flip side and how it can feel when you are awash with them. It’s positively overwhelming.
Gripes aside, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I understand that I am in a position of privilege. Despite how it used to make me feel, there are far more benefits than negatives to come from a family that stay winning which can be summarised in two points:
1) People often have a predetermined, positive assertion of me because I am my parents daughter or my brother’s sister
2) They know what it takes to be successful, therefore they are invaluable and readily accessible points of references
So, the next time you look at my Instagram / Facebook / blog and think that I’m lucky. I’m not. I’m blessed. Every blessing has a burden.