Keep Your Head Up

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I was in Junior Secondary School the first time I watched the music video “Baby Don’t Cry” by Outlaws featuring then recently deceased Tupac Shakur. Tupac Shakur was one of the most influential hip hop artists and poets of all time. So many years later, the lyrics of that song Baby don’t cry, I hope you got your head up even when the road is hard, never give up have come to mean so much to me in this torrid journey of life.

The world is awesome when things are going to plan. We feel on top of the world, get comfortable and possibly criticise others. After all, it is easy to criticise others when you are comfortable. We assume nothing could ever bring us down.

But what do you do when the tables turn? When you try your best but you don’t succeed. When you lose something you can’t replace. When you love someone, but it goes to waste.

You feel so tired but you can’t sleep because you feel trapped by something or somebody. The tears come streaming down your face; you feel stuck in reverse, leaving your vision blurrier than it was before. You start questioning if you can take another step without falling on your face.

When faced with problems, take a deep breath and keep your head up. Believe in yourself and understand that failure prepares you for success. Without failure, we wouldn’t know how gleeful and exhilarating success is.

Failure is an important part of life – it is the rate-limiting step in life. Scientifically, rate-limiting steps are the slowest steps in a metabolic pathway or series of chemical reactions, which require the greatest activation energy. They determine the overall rate of the other reactions in the pathway.

29-year-old Kenyan marathon sprinter, Hyvon Ngetich exhibited this energy on Sunday 15th February 2015. Competiting at the Austin marathon, Ngetich raced into an early lead and seemed destined to win the race at a point. However, with two-tenths of a mile to go, disaster struck. She collapsed.

Unable to walk, not to talk of run, she was offered a wheelchair by the organisers to take some respite and/or throw in the towel but she refused. She crawled on all fours finishing third the race just three seconds shy of second place and ten minutes after the winner Cynthia Jerop (of Kenya) had crossed the line. When asked about the race afterwards, she said she doesn’t recall the final two kilometres of the marrathon or the crossing line. “Running, always, you have to keep going going,” she said.

Life is like a marathon with hurdles along the way. These hurdles can make or mar you depending on how the approach you adopt. You may choose to adopt the Ngetich approach – refuse to succumb to self-pity, apathy and depression – or wave the white flag.

Whatever you are going through that has made you question your existence, always remember there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The moment will definitely hurt but don’t give in to its pain. Focus on your dreams. Never give up and keep your head up!

Crowd Mentality

“If you follow the crowd, you might get lost in it”

Prior to the World Cup qualifier between Nigeria and Kenya few weeks back, there was a war between Nigerians and Kenyans on twitter. A lot of provocative, insulting yet funny words were exchanged between citizens of both countries.

The Kenyans took to twitter to complain and rant about the way their national team was treated by the Nigerian Football Federation on arrival in Lagos for a World Cup qualifier.

If they were truly treated unfairly and unprofessionally by NFF, they deserve to be livid and their anger justifiable but a lot of Nigerians, not knowing the genesis of the tirade, took it upon themselves and “fought back”, just to be part of a trending topic on twitter.

This is exactly what Crowd Mentality is all about. Crowd Mentality is when an individual or a group of individuals adopt a behaviour just to look or sound cool.

Most Nigerian youths don’t have a mind of their own, they are controlled by people around them or those they believe are superior to them and see these superiors as role models.

So many people form foreign accents, have twitter accounts, fake love for a particular genre of music, blog, drink heavily or smoke uncontrollably because they believe it makes them look cool and acceptable.

Inferiority complex has been associated with crowd mentality and it is believed people who have inferiority complex issues tend to do things, just be accepted by people.

These people have lost their own identity and imagination,letting it get diluted with the influence of people around them.

A lot of girls and guys are easily influenced by people around them so they lie whenever they are in the presence of such people. They lie about sex, relationship, money, etc as the case may be.

The issue of crowd mentality can be seen in career building. So many people lack direction and as a result follow the path chosen by their friends. Recently, I had a discussion with a guy and I realised he’s only studying for a Masters degree just because his friends are doing the same.

This young man isn’t alone in the world of people with this kind of screwed mentality. A lot of people have travelled out of the country to study but when you interact with them, you will realise that most didn’t travel because they really want to further their education but they did so because they want to be accepted by the “elite”, boast to people who still see travelling abroad as luxury, have sexual escapades with foreigners or just leave the country for “good”.

You don’t need a microscope to see the effect of crowd mentality on social media. I always say this “if only our lives were as awesome as we portray it on social media, the world would be a better place”. Most people are ready to do anything to be accepted by the crowd. They post nude pictures, fight to be the first to convey or report some information, share recharge vouchers, copy and paste quotes, use pictures of “correct” people or photo shop their pictures and use them as their profile picture.

Social media is all about mirage, majority of people are far from what they depict on these social networks. I believe people who struggle so hard to be “celebrities” on these social networking sites don’t really have an interestingly fun life in reality so they seek solace in social media.

My Dad once said “Unintelligent people move with the crowd, the intelligent ones move with the minority and the most intelligent ones are always thinking”

Letting go of toxic people in your life is a big step in loving yourself. People in your life may be acting a bit crazy now, but don’t let it get under your skin. Just because others are off in the deep end doesn’t mean you have to join them there. Stay in safe waters and do your thing.

I recommend finding yourself something to interest yourself away from other people, some hobby that you can learn and do on your own, that requires some reasoning and imagination so that you can practice thinking independently and not relying on your friends to think for you.

Better yet if it’s a hobby that few to none of your friends already do (although of course, make sure it’s something you enjoy doing yourself). It might also help to teach yourself to be more critical of what other people do, look at other people and their actions and just think about how you could have done it better, or in a way that would better suit you. You could even just try deliberately doing something different and unique, like wearing a different style of clothes from what your friends wear, or listening to different music, or eating different food, some sort of trigger to teach yourself that you don’t have to do the same things as other people and how thinking for yourself can work for you in your life.

“To Belong” syndrome is a chronic progressive syndrome that is very easy to contract but very hard to treat/manage/cure.

Ditch the crowd and have a mind of your own.