I probably belong to a negligible number of people who believe in keeping things close to their chest until there’s some form of desirable result. Many would call someone like me secretive, and maybe they are right. In a world where it’s now the order of the day to put every minute detail of one’s life out there, people like me are dinosaurs. We are going extinct because that’s just not the way the world works right now. If you are living well and life’s treating you with the level of care newly married couples show each other, then, by Jove, why wouldn’t you want to share it with others? And if you are on the side of the divide where each day is drab, uninspiring or even tortuous, you should also put it out there too. You never know who can help.
We are almost always in the next person’s business, whether we admit it or not; the internet and social media made sure of that. We feel close to people we have never met before because we see them online every day and can literarily tell how their day went or who and who constitutes their family and friends, thanks to the regular updates they share on Instagram or Facebook. There are no boundaries anymore, gone are the days where you had no inkling about a person’s activities except they personally let you in on it via conversation. We are light years away from that era now.
A consequence of this unrestricted wall of communication is the penchant for comparison. Daily, we are inundated with the “amazing” work others are doing. They seem to have it all together; combining family life, relationships and work in a manner that has us wondering why we are the only ones struggling to get even one aspect of our life on track. Everyone around us appears to be thriving—they look busy, they are recognisable figures in events and that matter, they are climbing up the ladder of relevance while we are stuck in a routine that isn’t doing much for our stock.
It takes a conscious effort to not internalise most of what we see on the internet. A good knowledge and sense of self is required to simply move on when we consume the colourful lives of our contacts in the virtual space. It’s the armour that will inure us from welling up in jealousy or self-pity as we watch others take the spotlight for their achievements or maybe just their ability to spin a glowing narrative around themselves.
Nollywood thespian, Genevieve Nnaji has been making global headlines recently because of her new film “Lion’s Heart”. For someone who has been in the background for some time now, it was a good time to stamp her authority on the big screens once again. At a time when celebrities are always in our faces either by virtue of featuring regularly in movies or working their PR machinery to keep them in the news, many fans welcomed Genevieve’s reemergence on the scene with gusto.
It didn’t come as a surprise. Here was someone who did her thing differently. She minds her business, never seeks undue attention, stays out of controversy and does the work underground. The end-product of that private life and hard work result is what audiences are praising today.
I firmly believe many of us will make more progress when we channel our energy inward and strive to be better individuals. The dynamics of this generation makes it difficult to mentally block out everyone else and what they are up to and just focus on ourselves, yet it is possible.
One time I was talking to a group of writers and one of the things I told them was to get a mental picture of the kind of writer they aspired to be. I gave an analogy of musicians in Nigeria and how the general public perceives them. The vast majority who churn out mediocre music all the time and whose music gains traction with only because of a good beat and a catchy, but nonsensical chorus, and the scanty few who take the time to compose songs that endure through decades because of the depth of their meaning. I mentioned a few names and asked them to decide who they wanted readers to see them as if we were swapping music for writing.
I am not sure anyone can be doing a lot and talking so much at the same time. It’s why internet trolls and people who appear on every social media post are hardly spectacular. There’s no way you can be focused on your life and development as an individual yet have enough time on your hands to argue and insult people you do not even know. Many times, the personalities we admire and aspire to emulate do not linger on social media, except it pays their bills. They are busy behind scenes, shutting out the noise from the world and doing the work. The result is what we see at the end of the day and conclude they got help or got lucky.
Rather than compare yourself with your peers, why don’t you pay more attention to your own life, your craft, your family, your business. The schoolmate who now has two houses and five cars is not any of your business. The neighbour who’s cheating on his wife does not determine your income. Celebrities who flaunt their wealth and bleached bodies aren’t the source of your problem.
Except you are holding a public office holder accountable for their responsibilities or doing something to better the lives of the underprivileged, a life of silent work, self-focus and zero comparisons are what you need to attain the full potential you have.