You’ll be fine if you didn’t want too much.

It is your ambitions that are hurting you

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“If to say you dey dream small small like everyone else, nothing for dey haunt you for night wey eye no fit sleep. But you no gree, you swear say na global impact you wan make. Na him dey make you see shege.”

“Be realistic.”

“Guy, you no fit change the whole world. Even Jesus didn’t transform humanity in his lifetime na you wan over do, Oshey. Busy body. Come off it abeg.”

“ Small small oh, Nigeria will eventually happen to you”

“You’re a girl, no dey overdo abeg, na man go still dey provide for you las las”

“You can’t have it all.”

“You need to manage your expectations.”

I know! This is not something a normal person should say to someone else — except if you’re a scared or insecure person. I love to ask the Why question. A question many are not comfortable with. But truly, nine out of ten times, people do not do things for no reason. Humans are driven by motives and causes. All the great humanitarian acts, the wars, the genocides, the inventions — all driven by motives, desires, passions, visions, and causes. I believe it’s both a blessing and a curse.

Our usual reaction to hurtful words and behaviour is withdrawal. A totally understandable and instinctive response — just like its counterpart Defense. Whichever side of the coin you stand on, I respect your response.

My mind works in a curious way. After feeling my feelings when people hurt me, I am more haunted by why the person who said/did what they did, did it than by the action itself. This obsession with justifying people has helped me let go of so many things. For this I am grateful.

But sometimes, there is no known reason for the act and it drives me crazy. It keeps me up at night. It is probably another log burning into the fireplace of ‘why I write’. With my characters, I know, or at least discover while writing, their motives. But with those ‘one out of ten’ cases where the reason for the hurtful act is not evident, I feel like going insane. This is sha not about that.

I have been thinking about the comments we hear over our lifetime. As young people, as young people in Nigeria, as women, as dreamers, as creatives — whatever your category. The most intriguing part is that these comments come from people who are stakeholders, as much as they do from inconsequential folks (for lack of a better term). Regardless, hearing these things sear deep wounds in us. I mean, what should a young artist do when a parent who ‘should’ be the number one cheerleader tells them to “dump those childish fantasies and face life?

I realized that these kinds of comments stem from a variety of reasons, the most common being fear of failure on your behalf and/or their shame by proxy, or the insecurity that you may actually dare to chase those dreams and make them real. And then they (your advisers) will have to deal with the apparent ‘settling’ they did in their life. So the bottom line is, it is mostly not about you. It is also rarely hate-induced. It is just a stifling kind of love that is overbearing and personality killing.

I think my parents are tired of how many times I remind them of individuality and it’s relevance to me. Address me as a person, don’t give me blanket punishment/advice. Unfortunately, many of your counsellors do not have your individuality in view. Where was I going with this? Yes. Two things. One: every time you encounter one of these unsolicited but painful-to-hear words of advice, remember that it is NOT really about you. Don’t take it to heart. The advisers are also not your enemies. They are only saying what they believe is true. — e no mean say make you hear them sha. Secondly, please do not settle. Do not dim your light because the people around don’t understand why you have to shine so ‘loudly.’ From my book I quote:

“You’re incredible. Believe it. Own it.”

I didn’t think I’ll get to put this out. You’ll notice that my thoughts are quite disjointed but I hope you got something to hold on to. I started a new lunar calendar year on Wednesday. I hope you ride with me through the next 365 days✨✨✨🤍

Love, Ballie 💖



And He said unto me, Write. Author of Growing, Up North.

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