Dear African, Dare to be GREAT

 It’s a dare, not a comment in passing. It’s a dare, not a gentle nudge. I dare you to wake up and decide to be awesome, I dare you to be great and embrace it with all you’ve got. 

I was sitting in my living room over the weekend, staring at the TV but not really watching- a habit I’m beginning to develop without even trying. There are too many thoughts, and too many fleeting moments that hold important lessons if only I’d just pay attention to what’s happening in my head. For some reason, I started to wonder about Africans and how our lives pan out according to a pre-determined routine.

We are born, we start school early to get a headstart, we go on to high school where we feel the pressure to work hard and go on to the university. We study a degree we are sure will bring in the big bucks, we graduate, we get employed after searching endlessly for months, we do well at our jobs, we get promoted and acknowledged, we don’t have to worry about bills or the basics of a comfortable life. We retire at 60 or 65, depending on our location and profession, we get bored sitting at home so we nudge our children to get married so we can have grandchildren to play with, and one day, we take our last breath. Our family members will remember us because we were part of their lives whether they liked it or not. Our colleagues will be sad for a day or two, our children will be sad for years and we will return to the earth as dust, just as we were formed, but buried with our dreams and potential.

The African society is a harsh one; we hardly get anywhere without education, we don’t get far by dreaming, except we are dreaming of  a fancy job we can only get by studying a complicated degree. We don’t dream of things we are passionate about because we are considered unserious by our society. Huh? You want to be a writer? You want to be a poet? Are you crazy? Oprah was lucky, what makes you think you can be that lucky? No one will watch your show, we are all too busy. Interior decorator? Why would anyone contact you when we can just imitate the arrangement on the catalogue cover?…

And so with all of these criticisms come the death of our passion and the birth of our eternal unfulfilment. We wake up in the mornings to go to jobs we don’t like, in companies that are the best in the world, yet when we leave every evening, we leave empty, void of any feeling of achievement. At least we have that ridiculously expensive car that breaks the necks of passersby and earns us the respect of our peers who are struggling to climb their way up the food chain. We can retire to that fancy penthouse apartment with three walk-in closets and a trophy partner that looks good even if dressed in mud…. we are mostly alive, yet not truly living. That is why we end up unhappy and burnt out for no reason. We get dissatisfied and believe buying something new and fancy will assuage our feelings of incomplete-ness. Isn’t it time we choose to live for what we are truly passionate about?

Today, I dare you to be awesome! I dare you to be great! What is that one thing you wish you could do simply because you enjoy it more than anything else? Start doing it! That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have your well-paying job, or accrue fancy materials that don’t add any substance to your personal life. Go ahead, accrue all you want, achieve your degrees and everything else society has lined up for you but don’t betray yourself by completely ignoring your passion. The world is in chaos and your passion is your release. Just giving an hour or two to your passion each day can make you a happier and more fulfilled person. And believe it or not, when happiness and dedication meet, greatness is not far off. You can be great, you can be in the hall of fame, the world can know your name! Instead of wasting time burning yourself out over pursuits that you may eventually forget, why not dedicate all that time to your passion?