When I decided I must go on this journey, I admit I did not know what I was getting myself into. It felt like the next thing to do. I guess I fancied myself an ‘intelligent’ girl…lol. I also liked to think of myself as an ‘academic scion’, so this must be the natural path to follow and my late father, a distinguished Professor of law, would be proud. Perhaps, I thought, it may even be appealing to mention I am on this journey. Basically, I had no road map, no plans and no strategies, nothing, I was just going…. All I knew was that I was ‘traveling’ that route.
It was a slow journey……Looking back and being utterly truthful to myself, , it never even started until later on in the 10 years I was on this ‘journey’. But in my head, I was traveling….a great deception..lol. I had other things going so I could conveniently forget or pretend I was on this ‘journey’. I always had excuses for the pace of my travel…distance, other commitments, work, life….. Shamefully, I never admitted a lack of discipline and direction.
As time went by, I slowly but unwilling began to tell myself the truth that I had done nothing, that I was even not equipped for this journey. Was it because I did not have what it takes, or because I failed to equip myself? I knew at that point I lacked the discipline it took to finish the journey and I had no sense of direction. This realization instead of bringing me into focus, drove me to more self denial….ironic eh? . In my contorted head, I thought I “sort of” knew what I was doing but then, I was never really confident of my ‘plan’….Truth is, I still had none.
As time went by, this journey became a burden…… a weight around my neck. I did not like to be asked about this journey….they were honest and concerned enquiries. Even though I was polite with my answers, they were filled with excuses, mostly absolving myself from the pace of the journey. And all the while inside, I am begging to be left alone.
By this time, it was estimated I should be nearing the end of this journey,…..what a laugh! (In Nigeria, we would say, for where?????), real fear and depression began to set in. That was when I began to ask myself….Who sent you on this journey? Meaning…did anyone push you or talk you into this? Why are you doing this? Is it even worth it? Are you sure you can do this? No answers? At that point, I looked back but there was no way I could go back, it was just not in my books, I had spent too much time doing ‘nothing’, too much of my resources had gone into doing ‘nothing’, it did not seem right to me to go back, No, I said to myself, I am not a quitter!!!. And would what will my poor father think of me? Along the way, I had made a promise to him, not only to finish but to finish well. What of my family, my friends, my colleagues, everyone that was routing for me and being supportive. How could I let them down? After all these years? Most importantly, I couldn’t bear to let myself down. It was time to really do something so retraced my steps and I had to answer some hard questions.
After much introspection, I knew I could do this, I was determined to finish this journey. Part of the finishing plan was to understand why I undertook this journey in the first place…I finally did. As soon as I got it, I knew doubt and excuses had no place here. I pulled myself together, started moving and was for the first time, seeing an end to this journey. I worked hard, but lost steam again. I stumbled to the end, hoping I will be let through the finish line. I called out to the umpires at the finish line but they sent me back almost half way! Darn, was I disappointed? Yes, but that turned out to be the best thing that happened to me on this journey.
With that decision to go back half way, I became even more challenged, I was resilient, I was full of resolve, I had an even better plan, I had a solid strategy, I had a vision of how I wanted to finish this journey, and I set to work. I worked tirelessly, with everything in me. I swear my father was in my head sometimes as I navigated this new path. For the first time, I was really enjoying this trip. As I made progress, I was marveled at the commitment, intensity and quality of my efforts. If I must say so myself, I was extremely proud of myself! All these precious years, I had underestimated and short changed myself…Shame!
In the final phases of this very long journey, after I became aware of myself, I tapped into the available energy, gas and steam, whatever I needed to keep going. These had always been there, just that with self-awareness, one is better able to utilize available resources. These came in form of words of encouragement, actual time commitments set aside to run and walk alongside me, time taken to wipe my brows, and to tell me which hurdles and valleys lay ahead. By then, I had no fear of the umpires at the finish line. I knew I had mastered their language enough for them to welcome me into their “conclave”, reserved only for the “intellectually discerned”.
I was right, they did! Finally, my journey for a Doctoral degree in International Law ended!!!!, and another journey started. I don’t even know where I am going yet. But the relief that this burdened journey that spanned 10 years has come to an end and that the weight I had around my neck is no more diminishes any fear of the future.