The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

I made up my mind to write every day even if it’s of dubious quality. Alas, satan decided he was having none of it, so I haven’t published a post on medium for over a month.

Anyway, I’ve just woken up again so here goes.

I’ve grappled with a propensity for starting slow my entire life.

I don’t know how best to describe it. I suspect it has something to do with my upbringing, which was a very sheltered humble home affair.

What follows is a tendency to be too modest, too respectful, until one realizes one might be selling oneself short. It’s at this moment that you hit an internal panic button and begin to accelerate.

Every time.

It happens during business meetings. It happens at job interviews. You amass a chronicle of disappointing first impressions. This post is an attempt at diagnosing this ailment.

You see, some people might not relate but there’s a strain of Nigerian upbringing that punishes you for being too presumptuous, resulting in self harm sometimes.

Roughly, it says: Don’t go off the blocks too quickly ahead of your peers, even if you’re still within safe limits.

It’s a fear of being too far from normal. Simply put, you’re allowed to stand out so long as you don’t stray too close to outright rebellion against normal society.

Fast forward a few years and this fear of standing out has a profound effect on how individuals are moulded. We grow into hushed, child-like adults, accepting of maltreatment and general bad behaviour.

Driven by herd psychology, it becomes accepted wisdom that to appear a responsible member of society means to sensibly shrink oneself in public.

Don’t make too much eye contact.

Don’t make noise because life is like a banking hall.

Don’t challenge a man in his own office, even if that man is a public servant paid from your taxes.

I have a theory linking this meekness with the dilapidated state of our country; something about the dichotomy of harbouring concern for societal progress alongside a deep-seated apathy for selfless exertion.

But I digress. I’m talking about starting slow here.

There are other observations to be explored as well, the chief of which is a compulsion to respect order.

I have the greatest difficulty with overlooking sequence be it chronological, spatial, semantic, et cetera. The act of typing this post in itself is constrained by this compulsion (notice how I try not to mention the term OCD because I’m not sure what it means).

Consequently, what is actually a healthy (or unhealthy) respect for order and the sanctity of clarity is often misconstrued for a lack of understanding.

Most people have the natural ability to read a situation and discern a quick, effective way to communicate but it appears some of us are born without this skill. There’s probably a technical name for this out there.

Our society tends to overlook how broad the range of normal can be.

We frown at awkwardness. We demand too much of each other, too rigidly, failing to consider how far out at sea some people might have ventured to fit in.

As the age old nature vs. nurture debate rages on however, it’s hard not to chuckle at the recursive irony in taking entrenched positions on a subject, which are inherently influenced by the same subject.

Finally, as the adage goes, Every mallam with im kettle.

I’m learning on my own to deal with my shortcomings. Life is short. The rewards of self-improvement are never lost.