Beyond the me
Knowing one’s identity is said to be a Sense of who one is, a revelation maybe or even acceptance after a long denial. The dictionary defines it as “The difference or character that marks off an individual from the rest of the same kind, self hood”.
The first time I took a step on a part of self identity was when I was seven going on eight in grade 2 at my local primary school, my teacher asked me and everyone of my class mates what we wanted to be if and when we grow up? My answer was ” I want to be a doctor” and so was majority of the response.
Apparently, the profession was one we all held in awe and had all fantasied about with us in white coats and the ever shiny stethoscope hanging on their necks courtesy of an excursion we all went for at a private hospital but my main reason then was different.
I wanted revenge on the nurse that had always injected me with big needles every time I fell sick. I had it all planned in my little scheming head—i would grow up all big and have her brought to my hospital when she is all old, feeble and sick and then, I would tell the nurses to give her a very painful injection. I laugh whenever I remember.
Moving on to secondary school up until junior secondary school 3, I still wanted to be a doctor without that childish reason of course. It was a stronger reason —all of my peers wanted to be doctors. I didn’t want to be the odd one or even the one looked down on by other people outside the peer group.
One time in my grade 4, I was picked along side some of my class mates by my teachers who were the organizers of the speech and prize giving day for the school that year; we were to be the presenters for various social activities.
I had never done something like that before, I had only watched presenters on television and so, it was a surprise when on the first trial, I wowed both the teachers and myself.
In their exact commenting words, “you are a material the world has not envisioned, this job is your definition” I stood out of the rest with how good I sounded and of course, expressions and gestures. On the main day after several practices, it was not so much a surprise when I was the most talked about student that day. My mum was so proud that she started calling me an OAP ( on air personality).
Years after when in a different junior school, I told her that I wanted to be a doctor and that i wanted to dress up as one on our career day, she was surprised. It was not a good surprise. I think she was angry, really angry cause her eyes lost its bright color at that moment and it was justified.
I was by then, my school’s junior press club president and a very active member of the debate club and so, what I was expected to say was that I was either going to be a journalist or a lawyer.
I expected a lash or speedy spurts of intricate questions from her immediately but instead, she walked out and later came back with a mock doctor costume. I collected it and I wore it to school the next day and as expected, my two best friends were on the same costume as I was.
It was perfect in everyone eyes. The three musketeers were as usual as they have come to know “one in everything” and we made sure not to disappoint. We were all smiles, looking so pretty and I presented well when it was time to talk about my future choice career, the future me. But deep down, I knew that that wasn’t me.
Everything I said about how passionately I wanted to give people the best of health medically and scientifically was like a monologue from a movie script. I was a living facade and I wasn’t my own person. I had lived the life of people, the life of two friends and also, i had lived up to the standard that was created by people who really didn’t matter—the inhabitants of my school world.
When I was to resume senior secondary, my mum sat me down and asked me what department I was going to. The departments were divided into three—science, art and commerce. I told her ” mum, I want to be a doctor. It is going to be science” and whilst I said that, I avoided her eyes. I knew she could see through me, through the image I was trying to keep up.
She knew very well that I struggled with calculations to the extent that I needed extra classes to pass it and yet, I wanted to go do physics and further math. She allowed me after giving me a long stare. She had always wanted me to make my own mistakes and learn from them and that was another opportunity for her.
I went with my big head to resume senior school as a science student with my friends and as usual, we were hyped. The three musketeers were still one.
I struggled on till our final year while they aced through it. It was really their thing. They could talk all through the class and still be among the ones topping the class. I was frustrated. I cried myself to sleep most nights when I couldn’t understand my notes and smiled like I had every thing in place when I was in school. The “friends” couldn’t even see through it.
It was finally time to write our finals and I couldn’t bring my self to register science courses. I dragged my feet to my mum’s office after getting an exit card from school feigning sick. I looked her in the eyes and said “mum, can I still be your On air personality?”.
She smiled, the exact one she had on her face when I was in grade 4 and then she said “you have a lot of reading to do baby girl“.
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