Author: Samuel Ogechukwu

A writer, a reader, a hopeless romantic, a lover, a dreamer, a doer. A firm believer of the saying "home is where the heart is."

Of Dreams, Crumbling Walls And The Irony Of Self-doubt

Behind every successful man is a crumbling wall of self-doubt. Although sometimes, the crumbling is not complete, and some parts of this debilitating wall are left standing—a reminder of man’s imperfections.

This wall is there before every leap at the moon, it is there to snag at ankles, to trip shaky legs and send you rolling down the part of the forlorn underachiever. Sometimes, it’s buried so deep that only events dig it out. In my case, looking for a job dug it out from deep down where I had buried it. I knew it wasn’t finished and done with when I buried it, but when it was thrown into my face like a freezing cold water on a harmattan morning that I had no degree certificate for the thankless job of teaching which I sought, it all came roaring back. I knew I was smart and all, I knew I did the job better than most of those with their certificates, still I couldn’t help but wonder if I could get into the University, get that certificate they couldn’t stop talking about and leave their jaws hanging low after I did it. After the interviews, I never did get the job; I started on the wrong foot, I had no certificate.

The fact that I didn’t get the job opened up old sores where doubt seeped from. Hell, I can’t even get a job, what am I doing with all these dreams of mine? How am I going to achieve dreams bigger than the country, bigger than the state, the town where I couldn’t better other job seekers? I felt bad, and naturally so. I thought maybe I came either before or after my time.

Self-doubt cannot be entirely knocked down. It may be knocked out or buried, but after sometime it stands, triggered by one event of the other. So, how did they do it? Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Chimamanda Adichie. I know a guy who’s doing it, Hymar David. Did they take drinks to forget the doubts gnawing at their hearts, threatening to rip it out before they disgrace themselves? Or are they not human like all of us? One phrase that keeps recurring on the timeline of this Hymar David on Facebook is his favorite hashtag ‘#TeamNeverBackDown. Maybe we can begin from there, not backing down, even when we see the self-doubt literally rolling on the ground, imploring on us to cut down the size of our dreams least we disgrace ourselves and be disappointed.

I have a friend who does the opposite of what his friends advise, just to show them he’s under no one’s control. We are to be that type of friend to self-doubt. When it advises that we look down, we should look up; when it dusts a chair for us to sit, we should keep standing, we should walk and run; when it presents the problems like a nagging pessimist, we should present the advantages, the gains, then think of the solutions and take the leap. It’s better to take the leap with the moon as your aim and fall among the stars than not to leap at all.

Since self-doubt is a demon that cannot be killed, let’s make it our motivator; let the nagging discouragement of what we cannot do be a timely reminder of what we have not done.

Home Is Where The Heart Is

Depression is a thick heavy cloud that gathers in place of your heart; it doesn’t gather so rain can fall, no. It’s just there to weigh you down. Its purpose is to be heavy. When it comes, the heart travels far away and we feel heavy stones in place of our hearts. A kind of nagging, heavy pain that promises not to go away. It remains there, pulling us down.

It is everywhere: the weak smile of the struggling worker; the strained laughter of a good leader gone bad; the circles around mama’s eyes; the over exhibition of happiness at a friend’s good fortune; the pretense at being easy-going; trailing off in the middle of a conversation; insomnia, the many sleepless nights; the desire to get hurt and sink into self-pity; the will to have it all end, to go away from it all. It’s everywhere, a chain that binds us, many of us.

It is only because we’re far from home that we feel this. And that brings to mind the saying “home is where the heart is.” Our hearts can be anywhere. It can be in seeing mum and dad smile, in seeing them reap the good harvest for which they’ve toiled so hard. It can be in the smile of that child, your baby, the one that has the world in his eyes. Home can be the look and feeling of gratitude you squeeze out from a place where hope abhors, with your good deeds. The gratitude of a beggar, a brother lost. Home can be where the myth called true love resides. It can be in his arms or in my case her arms. Home can be that smile that disarms you and leaves you flowing lightly about like you have no weight. In our homes, depression crumbles.

It’s a feeling I’ve been battling even before I knew the word for it. A feeling that I don’t belong, that I’m worthless and as low as the soles of my feet. This feeling pulls me back from making acquaintances (they’re all my betters, why bother?) and keeps me locked onto myself. This feeling takes the blackness out of the night sky and pastes it on my heart. It’s a feeling I would wish only for my enemies and still pity them when they have it. It makes you sad and angry at everything. Makes you lick your wounds and pray subconsciously for more hurt so you can keep being miserable. It’s a world where the sun has been abolished, where there’s no hope and home is faraway.

I have never been able to pinpoint what brought on this terrible feeling that encompasses all manner of self-loathing, inferiority complex, and low self-esteem. I used to think it was perhaps my upbringing. The way we(I and my two brothers) were kept away from other children before we ‘got spoiled’. Perhaps it’s in my genes, maybe I was just wired that way and I don’t get to ask any questions. I’m a melancholic, one of the four purposed temperaments by the early Greek physicians and philosophers, notably Hippocrates.

So, I’ve been wandering, looking for a way around the darkness, waiting for morning which seems like eternity. No matter how long I wait, morning doesn’t come. It’s as if it moves farther and farther away from my sight like I was on a ship pulling away from shore, seeing the horizon drift away. Bottomline: morning never comes. Home is far away.

Being lost is one thing, not knowing you even have a home is another (remember, home is where the heart is). Something happened to me. Fortunate or unfortunate? I can’t fathom. This event left me vulnerable and at the same time showed me I have a home, showed the whole world I have a home. Maybe it was meant to happen or I just made it happen. Maybe I had wandered too much and I decided to build a home. To run away from the fetters, the clasps, the chains of depression. I fell in love. A totally mushy thing to say and a fairy tale – not a great combination – but it is what it is. I believe in fairy tales and I get mushy at times. It is home. Depression is afraid of these walls.

Last three days, I ran from my house to see her, away from depression. I ran from my house to my home, breaking my chains off on the way, letting them litter the ground as I ran. I ran from the dark end of the tunnel with the certainty that there was light at the other end, since Nneoma was there. My home was there. And when I ran up to her, I felt there was no truer freedom than true love. No purer form of freedom existed. Just being with her made me see the moon smiling. I forgot I was inadequate, forgot I was supposed to be in my shell, forgot I was not supposed to measure up to others, forgot that the world was not supposed to make sense as I was literally reading the meaning from the stars. I saw my home and the heart I had been missing. I exchanged the heavy stones for my heart, and I heard the night hum a certain freedom tune in my ears. I was free.

I’m back home. And it’s been two nights, she’s not picking my calls. I don’t know why. But I’ve decided I won’t let this freedom go away. I’ll run after my home and my heart. I’ll live with them both no matter what it takes. Home is freedom, where you’re accepted for what you are, home is where the heart is and I’ve found mine. To let go is to fall back into bondage, and that in itself is bondage.