« Hello Tchonté. Tell me, how did you get where you are today? Tell me a little bit about your sacrifices, everything you’ve endured. »
I laughed when I read that text, for two main reasons. First is, I can’t think of any big sacrifice yet, and secondly, I haven’t got anywhere yet.
That question reminded me of one of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s talks. She mentioned that people think so much that successful writers had to come from a dysfunctional family that she wondered whether she missed any particular drama that might have happened in her household.
There is that myth about people suffering a lot before succeeding. Yes you have to work hard, you might have to fail, before getting wherever you want, and even have people criticizing you and your work in the wrong way. But does it mean everybody else went through the same difficulties? Does it mean that at some point we should invent some very hardships to make our story looks more interesting, fairytales like?
The main issues I had through my journey and that I still have, are doubts. The doubts that tell me I might not have legitimacy for everything I want to achieve and all the recognition I already got. But those doubts are personal and ironically, I wouldn’t care that much if someone else tries to minimize what I’ve already done. I’m my own judge and I am very severe on myself. I don’t need and no longer let people affect my self-esteem. At least I have been great at managing that during the last years. Since I already have so many internal doubts, I try to improve my work to accept that I deserve everything I have.
I consider myself as a privileged. I can see my friends teasing me for telling that but yes I am, like most of them. This is exactly why I want to be useful to the world. I was born in a family with a decent income and even got the chance to travel places during my studies. So I can’t complain about that. I got personal issues. I once had my heart broken. I had periods where my self-confidence was impacted by the negative words around me. I converted to a new religion and had to be firm about it. I have painful menstruations. I have some past issues I don’t really want to think about. Yet, I don’t think any of those things can be compared to what many other people might have been or are still currently going through.
I wasn’t born in a war country, nor from a poor family where it was difficult to eat. I didn’t have abusive parents. I got a little teased when I was a child and a teenager but not so much that I seriously wanted to kill myself. We all got our kind of problems that we might feel like are enormous while we are handling them. But thinking about it months or years later, sometimes they don’t look as huge as we thought they were.
To get to wherever I am right now, I just tried to do what I enjoy. There were times when I wondered whether I should do them but during these periods, my solution was to do what I wanted as fast as I could to no longer have to worry about it. I don’t think that I’ve reached the top yet. I have much more climbing to do to achieve my goal. I want to change the education system in Côte d’Ivoire. There are times when I think it’s crazy, since I don’t have the roadmap to do so. But I’m going step by step to try to have an impact on few people around me. I will feel like I have succeeded when I will no longer have the conversation I had today with my surprised visitors. Conversations about kids who don’t know how to read despite being in last years of primary school or even secondary school. I will feel like I have succeeded when my actions will have a positive impact on how classes are taught in the whole country. When students will get out of school as problem-solvers, rather than job searchers. I might not be alive by the time, but I hope I will never give up on that dream and that I will let a great legacy to maintain the flame.
Maybe then (even from heaven hopefully), I will be able to talk about big sacrifices I might have made. But for now, I’m still climbing and every challenge fits well on the journey. I can’t pretend that I’m a hero that made huge sacrifices. I was just blessed to have people who heard about my work and decided to help me reach my goal through more visibility, advices and their personal time and money. I’m still a young woman with a big dream that she tries to realize with the support of others.