If there’s a category of people who know a thing or two about rejection, self-doubt and uncertainty, it is writers. One time a police officer asked what I did what for a living and when I simply said “Writer”, I could see the quizzical look on his face. A look that asked, “Is that even a job?”. Toeing a path where you are never sure of the outcome of your efforts can be mind-crippling. For the creative, there’s the constant pressure to create; and not just create, but surpass the success of previous work.
And even for people who do not necessarily wear the creative toga, there’s almost always something that has the potential to intimidate. Everybody is under some kind of pressure. The ones that are blatantly thrown in our faces and the ones that are subtle, yet produce the same effect.
We must accept the reality—we are in an era where people are brash and bold— and insensitive of others’ feelings. A feature of our times is the flaunting of achievements, pseudo-achievements and material possessions. We will never be able to avoid this development.
Social media is the platform that has enabled this trend to thrive and gain traction. We know these things, we are aware that many of our friends do not exactly live the perfect lives they project in the online world, but we are intimidated all the same.
People share their lofty accomplishments, cute little families, vacations to exotic places around the world and expensive acquisitions and our hearts are troubled because we think we are lagging behind.
The physical world is only a tad better. Even if one were to jettison the streets of the online community in a bid to distance themselves from the counterfeit living that flourishes there, they would discover that things aren’t much different in actual living.
There’s a lot going on around us. So much so that it’s almost impossible to keep up with the news, trends, controversies and wars and rumours of wars. Sometimes, one can’t help but wonder what their place is in the universe. We are so small…almost infinite and the world is so big…almost incomprehensible that it’s normal to feel lost from time to time.
The things we learnt are becoming obsolete, our values are being eroded, our yardstick for what a decent human should represent is being questioned on a daily basis. When we think we have attained a new height, society tells us we are still nowhere near successful. Evil is on the increase; those who display contempt for the values we once held sacred—respect, kindness, honour, integrity—are celebrated. On the flip side, those who are embodiments of goodness, gentility and empathy are derided and bullied to no end.
These are sort of scenarios that do our heads in and if we do not get a grip of our emotions, we will find ourselves floating on the incessant tide of uncertainty.
The answer lies within.
It is in ourselves that we find the peace and strength to stand up to the challenges of our environment. Every day, we must reach into our core to ask ourselves what we still believe and if we are living out our own truth. We must shut down the cacophony of voices that seek to impose their opinions on us with a view to affirming our own convictions and treading the path that resonates with these beliefs.
Many waver in their beliefs because they are paying more than passing attention to people they have no business validating. So, a rejection letter comes through the mailbox and you are downcast because you think your work is not good enough. While that is a possibility, it could also be that the publishing house just isn’t looking for something in your genre at the moment.
An inexplicable retrenchment from your workplace can be the aftermath of your insistence to not participate in office politics. Ostracisation on social media could be the revenge of people who are miffed that you have a habit of standing up for victims of trolls.
A bad marriage is not a reflection of your essence or ideals.
Everything is an inside job because we can only have control over ourselves. Not our siblings. Not our friends. Not even our spouses (if only couples understood this, our marriages would last longer).
If someone chooses to malign you for no just cause, treat it like water off a duck’s back. Resist the temptation to get into Tweet fights or Facebook mob actions. Be the one who’s constantly attuned with their feelings.
What other people think of you of is none of your business; just keep working on yourself and commit to being better.
Frustrated about Nigeria? Look within.
Seeking to be better? Look within.
Desire improved relationships? Look within.
Everything is an inside job.