Life lessons we learn and forget along the way
Yesterday was a funny day.
But that’s not the point here.
Yesterday, Tchonté P.M. Silué binged on my posts here on Medium. As she was reading, she was sharing content on Twitter. She went back to when I started my Self-Ish journey, my first posts as an “authentic” blogger.
She shared a post mentioned here not long ago. A post entitled Working hard to succeed: behind the scenes. The text is in French, it is about me sacrificing social life and sometimes even family life because I was too busy working to get to the top personally and professionally.
Partager mon expérience d’ « humaine » est pour moi la plus belle des aventures. Comme je l’ai dit dans le billet Blogs…medium.com
A young man came across the tweet shared by Tchonte, read the text and it resonated with him. He mentioned me on Twitter, asking me if he could ask me some questions. It was past midnight, thank God I am not on a tight “life schedule” anymore, so I sent him a DM.
The guy had only one question for me.
“Is it necessary to sacrifice social life to succeed?”
I answered without hesitating a millisecond:
It is not necessary. It was only my way of doing things. Because I have no shade of grey in my life. It is all white or all black. Then we started chatting, and the questions he asked me during the discussion made me realise something: I forgot how difficult it was for me to give up social life, to sacrifice firends, outings, distractions like watching movies, keeping myself updated with who did what around me and beyond, reading books not teaching me anything…
It was difficult, but only in the beginning. I don’t regret what I did (I never regret anything anyway). I am still reaping the good fruits of these sacrifices which quickly became part of my daily life.
Talking to him made me recall of the very first clash I had, the first person I had to let go, the first heartache caused by the need to be better, to be smarter, to know more, to do more, to achieve meaningful things, to go further.
Don’t worry, I know I vowed never to unveil parts of people lives here, so I won’t. The story will be about me, only me.
I was starting my internship after leaving my job at 29 to explore new things, to learn by doing in a field I knew nothing about. I was the oldest in the team and the less qualified one in that domain despite years of experience in translation and the degrees accumulated. I did not know anything about civic participation. I did not even know what a National Assembly was for. Imagine!
I had to work thrice harder than the others because I was lacking so much. And I had clients I could not afford to lose, clients sill sending documents for me to translate from time to time. I did not leave the office before 9/10 pm and I had to go home to start working again or read to catch up. I was still looking for balance and my new bestie had the most delightful name ever: “sleepless night”.
That’s when my cousin came from wherever she was coming from to spend some time in the city where I live. She was actually around to attend a wedding and she was planing to do a little bit of tourism and party. She reached out to me and we decided to meet.
I cannot tell you the number of things I had to postpone just for two hours with her. Another sleepless night planed. She came late. All I wanted to do was cry. I wouldn’t be able to do all I had to do for the next morning. Finally she came, we hang out, then I left. But before that I took the time to tell her where I was with my life, how hard it was and how tight was my schedule.
We did not meet again. And I forgot the date of her going back to wherever she was coming from. She went maaaaaaaaad my people! Mad to the point that she called her mother and both of them clearly stated that I was taking them for fools, pretending to be too busy just to avoid seeing my cousin.
“So you are trying to say that you did not have a day for my daughter? Only a day? She travelled, came to your city after years without seeing you and all you could do was telling her you did not have time for her to the point that you forgot about the day she was supposed to go back though she sent you a text message to remind you?”
I felt bad.
I felt guilty.
I prayed, asking God what was happening with my life, how was it that everyone around me was complaining about me abandoning them. It was so hard. Excrutiating hard. I was so sad of being too busy. I tried to explain to the both of them but they shut me down. “Since you are too busy, carry on.”
You know every time major change is about to happen in your life, your entire world seem to crumble. Mine didn’t seem to. It actually did. They were not the only ones to shut me down.
Then I asked myself one question.
What was I even doing not to meet her?
I was making something valuable out of myself. I was starting my life from scratch. I downgraded to the lowest point to be able to reach the top. I was working my ass off, D.A.M.N.! She was on vacation. I wasn’t. She had time to hang around, take selfies and party. I would have lost my internship if I did. She enjoyed her vacation, her FREE TIME then calmly went back to work. And I was supposed to lose mine just to entertain her.
Yes my people. I was entertainment. I should have found time to chat, gossip, hang around, take selfies. I should have found time to give up on the person I was working hard to become at every level to go to the beach with people who were already content with their lives. I should have found time to allow people to disrespect my desires (and struggles) just to fulfill theirs. Who was really the selfish one at the end of the day?
After realizing what just happened, I literally stopped caring. I was planing to tell you guys how my sister taught me how to adopt the I DON’T GIVE A DAMN FUCKING FUCK state of mind tonight but… this story was more inspiring to me.
So I adopted the I DON’T GIVE A DAMN FUCKING FUCK state of mind and it stick with me almost two years after. It is so sad I almost forgot how it all happened right? Let me tell you one thing about that state of mind. It has only one goal. Not one and a half, not two. One: me reaching my goals in life either when it comes to work or personal life. It is the hardcore version of the Self-Ish state of mind. The most important thing about the IDGDFF state of mind is time.
I am the master of my own time and I decide what I do with it. Always.
If I consider chatting as a waste of time because I have something better to do, then fuck you, I am out.
If I think reading a book will be more fulfilling than attending your birthday party, then fuck you, I won’t come.
(I told you people right from the beginning I am not here to be nice so…)
If I think you are a waste of time in my life, then fuck you, you are out.
If I spend time with you, it is not because you are more important than anyone or anything else (except for family members), it is because I decided to do so. Oh and fuck you too!!
The guy I was chatting with yesterday shared something with me.
I am afraid to end up alone.
I thought so too. That I would end up alone, that I was going too hardcore, but I just couldn’t stop. Thank God I didn’t.
Yes I lost many of my friends. I closed my Facebook account and opened a brand new one, more in tune with the person I was becoming. I had my friend Cyrille on the phone on that day telling me “I know it is hard, but you have to do it, you have to let go of the past to mold the present and build the future, you have to push that button”. Cyrille was way ahaed of me at that time when it comes to self-growth and professional growth. I have to say that I was among those who stopped being friend with him because we thought he was not fun anymore. Yes my people, I have been on the other side too!
I almost cried when I pushed that button on Facebook. I had my family there, childhood friends, friends from the Advanced school of translation I graduated from… but also a timeline full of gossip, beefs, useless complains, arguments and more. Everything I did not want to be part of anymore.
I ended up alone, abandonned by some of the people I used to hang out with, abandoning some too. But making new friends in the process, people I still learn from, people pulling me up, challenging me to always do better. After some months, some of the people who let me go or that I let go reached out again. We started talking again but on a new basis. Nothing useless. No gossip. No beef. No argument over stupid stuff. No “I have some free time, let’s chat”. Your free time is not mine to comply with. My relationship with them is healthier, more interesting. More fulfilling. More in tune with my Self-Ish life. I told you I come first right? Always.
After writing this text I realise I totally forgot what I went through at the beginning of this journey. Changing completely for the better is not easy to do. But it is fulfilling in every aspect.
There is no empty space. Those who leave your life at some point go for a good reason, either to make some space for the new people you will let in, or to make space for something bigger than that relationship. What I learned in the process is if we are bound to be friends, no matter how many life changing experiences we go through, we will go back together at some point. And I will learn from you just as you will learn from me.
It happened to me. It will happen to anyone fearing to end up alone because the time to let go of the past has come.