By Wana Udobang
As a young person, ones life can be filled with so much angst, depression, loneliness, and pain that you are convinced that every second of your life is at a tethering edge. The moments where you want to leap of that ledge to end it may not be few and far in-between. In fact, your total existence sways on a pendulum that leans heavily towards breaking point.
I love reading books, and for me, the best stories aren’t necessarily about the plot but about the characters. Characters that propel the narrative, characters that experience things but more importantly characters that are human. In a really good story, one thing is sure; the characters never end up where they started.
Sometimes I liken much of my life to that of a novel, the twists, the turns, the banalities, the climaxes and even the anti-climaxes. I have come to view my life as a vignette of experiences and situations but always remain boggled at the character developments through these journeys.
I am much older now and feel like I have come of age, knowing whom and what I am, and strangely the sky is still staying intact. There are a few things I would tell my angst ridden, pains stricken and loathed younger self.
Though I bear no regrets, knowing some of these things would have made the process easier whilst forming the early draft of this narrative that became my life.
I have had the same best friends since I was ten years old and having people that understand you in all your splendour and the lack of can be a wonderful experience. At the same time, when it seems like they stop getting you, it can become equally as harrowing.
My friendships have always been an integral part of my evolving identity but I have come to understand that the dynamics of those friendships will not always remain the same. I have met more people in my adult life that I share similar values and quicker bonds with and they too have become a part of this growing identity.
I have also come to understand that we all are a sum of our experiences and we are sometimes limited by our own perceptions of the world. One of my biggest flaws was always projecting my own values on to other people. The truth is that you may not always agree with other people’s perspectives but you should make an attempt to understand it and the place it comes from.
I would tell my younger self that some friends will come, some will go, you will make new ones and you will find old ones again but always make sure you deposit something in their lives as they do to yours.
Becoming a parent has to be one of the most selfless and sacrificial roles that any one can opt for. What makes it worse is that even those that choose to become parents, never genuinely know how much selflessness is required until they get in. compounded with that, it comes with no instruction booklet.
I moved toEnglandand at sixteen was living with my older sister. We had a few ups and many more downs. When I think back, I was too engrossed in my own grief to think of what she must have been going through, being thrust the guardian of an adolescent teenage girl when she hadn’t even prepared for it. Sometimes we expect a little too much from parents, guardians and carers when they are just mare mortals like the rest of us.
I would tell my younger self to be more empathic, never assume and make a mental attempt to walk in the other person’s shoes
Broken relationships very easily evolve to broken confidence and self esteem. Like everyone else, you find yourself in a state of internal deliberation, pondering whether or not it was your entire fault or if you were or weren’t good enough. If I had known that failed relationships taught me more about myself than anything else, I reckon I would have saved myself all the anxiety and emotional turmoil.
So I was born chubby and I still am, I can’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t teased or taunted about my weight. But just over six months ago, a friend sat me down and told me that I needed to loose some weight. Not because I would look more attractive, or beautiful, or fit into nicer clothes, or even find a husband like everyone else before had insinuated, but because of my health.
It was the first time someone had told me something I had always known but never thought as significant as hoping to be slim.
If this sunk in at least ten years back, I would have saved myself from the horrible fad diets, the manic work out sessions that I would quit after six months due to disappointments and the unrealistic expectations. I would have saved some cash that I spent on buying dresses a size smaller hoping I would fit into them in estimated time, only to give them out a year or two later with their tags still in place.
I would have saved myself the imposed psychological and emotional torture.
Now I understand that getting healthy is a lifetime and lifestyle activity. It’s beyond cutting out carbs for six months, the Chinese herbal teas and the ‘How to loose 20kg in two weeks’ magazine covers and television shows.
I would tell my younger self to eat healthy, get used to a good thirty minutes of physical activity daily even if she doesn’t enjoy exercising and most of all she should be comfortable in the skin she is in because her self worth is not about what she looks like.
Sometimes, we want to control the outcome and the process and it can all be too much to handle. At other times, it can be damn near impossible. I class myself as spiritual but not religious and so believe that there is a higher source in control.
I would tell my younger self to worry less, have more faith, do my part and let the Source lead the way.
When it comes to our dreams and our passions, sometimes it seems as though there is nothing stopping us. We become so dogged and dogmatic about it all that we refuse to see the realistic aspects of those dreams in relation to the frame works that exist around us. Added to that, it can be heartbreaking when you actually get to your destination and discover it isn’t all you thought it would be.
I have learnt that it is alright to change my mind, and it is alright to want to do and be something else. I am still learning to be honest with myself enough to admit when it is time to move on rather than fighting the guilt that you wanted something so bad and all of a sudden, it isn’t as important anymore. I am also learning that as I evolve, my dreams and goals evolve with me. Some are left behind, some take on a different shade and new ones are taken up along the way.
I would tell my younger self to stay focused, but be open to the opportunities around her because some things are there for immediate gratification, some are short term, others are long term, and some are there to just give you a bit of a challenge and we all know everyone needs a few challenges to bring out the fighter in you.
I am my own worst critic, and I beat myself up for a lot of things, even when it isn’t necessary.
I have made mistakes, made bad judgment calls, done and said unimaginable things.
I would tell my younger self that you are human and life is a bundle of unending discoveries.
What would you tell your younger self?