I have heard people say you must learn to stay awake at night if you must succeed. Well, if this were completely true, I would not have recorded any success in life. Even when I am not sleeping at night, I can hardly be productive. Nothing works for you unless you work out who you are first. Principles govern the world but there is no principle without exception. You might be the norm and you might be the deviation. Knowing yourself and admitting it is a criterion for success and fulfilment.
This also extends to leveraging your strengths and managing your weaknesses. I am not a dull person, but I only came first twice from my primary to secondary school days and I only had three A’s throughout my studentship as an undergraduate. This was because I had and still have a bad writing and my restlessness will not let me patiently work on it. Thank God the Department of English, University of Ibadan, was magnanimous to accept the second class lower grade for a master’s degree. Of course I need not mention that I also graduated with an MPhil/PhD grade. That writing of mine cannot deliver anything excellent except I have to type in exam. But guess what? I had my strength. I may eventually explain what my mates had read in three hours to them after reading it in just an hour although they would still get the better grades. Instead of brooding over my weakness, I concentrated on my strength so I prioritised knowledge over grade. “I will not have to be graded by writing all the days of my life; this phase shall pass”. That I would say to myself. And the phase has largely passed now!
It might be the case of that person with a writing looking like a plate of delicious meal that he has to read anything at least three times to get the gist of it. Don’t brood. Don’t lament. Don’t seek pity. Read it three times and get it. Just know yourself and manage your situation. There alone lies your strength.
Again, I am not even sure I can comprehend a newspaper when there is light music in the background. But of course many other persons can digest technical books even when Portable is screaming “Zazoo; Okotua”. There are lucky people whose ideas come to them when they sit down to meditate. Some of us get our best thoughts when we are bathing and have to rush out with soap in our head to jot it down or having to park when driving on the expressway because that is when our ideas possess us like a demon. Many read in the library and some others get the clear picture of a material when sitting on the water closet in their toilet. Some are blessed with the gift of volume that they can expatiate the minutest concept in 10 pages while some of us will create that vivid picture in a page.
In summary, all other persons are taken. The only available person to be is who you are. Know yourself and begin to get it right.
(c) 2023 Ganiu Bamgbose writes from the Department of English, Lagos State University.