Is There Hope For This Generation?

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Everyday I see and hear people talk about embracing positive vibes and dropping people that exude negativity. I’d like to say that I belong to this school of optimism but that’s entirely not true.

I believe in reality and can’t fight it. From a realistic point of view, positivity is certainly not a bad thing. Realists pay heed to the words of Dalai Lama “See the positive side, the potential, and make an effort.”

Positivity helps keep one motivated to continue doing the things s/he needs to do instead of wallowing in self-pity, despair or negativity. However, dwelling on just the positives is a problem. Focusing on just the positives ALL the time can/will deter one from experiencing life in the present and assimilating the lessons embedded in these experiences.

I try to look at things from both sides; there are positive and negative aspects to most situations. In other words, everything that has an advantage has disadvantages and vice versa. It is left for one to weigh and study these consequences before taking action.

This approach helped me understand and process my emotions. And in the process, I became in charge of my life. I still make mistakes regardless – lots of them. Nothing is a given but hey, it is called being human.

Consequently, realism paves way for us to be liberal; willing to accept whatever life throws at us by accepting ourselves and allowing others to be themselves. So I implore you to be liberal about some shit I’m about to say because you may not like it. Excuse my french.

In the past one month, I’ve argued atleast on three different occasions why I am negative about my generation’s ability to change the course of this nation. Despite the overflow of educated, talented, smart, innovative and intelligent youths in Nigeria, I still believe that my generation will be a lot worse than our parents, who are believed to be the reason why our nation is deep in corruption.

I know it sounds harsh considering we are more educated and exposed than our parents but the fact remains there is no platform for the genuises among us to thrive so they scamper to leave the country for good. Meritocracy is abhored and mediocrity is celebrated; it is all about who you know.

Go to social media and complain how mediocre Naija music artistes sound and wait for the ensuing reply. I bet you someone will tell you how the artistes have enough money to feed you and your family. Money and titles are everything. No matter how you get them, just have them.

This is why many parents steal anything that looks like money they come in contact with just to make their children comfortable. Parents also try to sort their kids’ way through school – from primary to tertiary – thereby contributing to the depressing number of educated illiterates in our society. As a result, the kids become relaxed and a tad lazy. After all daddy & mummy will come to their rescue with money/connections and get them that job/contract etc.

A leopard cannot change its spots and a lion cannot give birth to a goat. It is the same blood that flows from the father to the son hence these kids will grow to continue this trend and do the same for their own children.

Our generation love to have fun – hang out, party, smoke weed and get drunk. Possibly, take after the Kardashians; ball all day and still rake in money. That’s how it is supposed to be, isn’t it? Living young, wild and free.

The worst of all, we compare ourselves – what we have or have achieved. With social media, comparison is easier. There’s pressure on many to have vacation in an exotic location with bae, own exotic cars, wear designer clothes, jewelleries and shoes so we can show off.

There’s also enormous pressure on the men to give their spouses the kind of wedding worthy to feature on Instagram & BellaNaija. All these encourage stealing because money is a prerequisite for these things. In the end, we become wannabes who are ready to do anything to fit into certain groups.

Those living abroad are not better; a lot will surprise you with their reasoning and mentality. They complain about Nigeria on social media and wish for things to get better. However, I have seen many in diaspora come back to loot more than the leaders they used to complain about.

Nevertheless I like surprises and I would love it if my generation could spring a surprise on me and prove me wrong.

Success

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What is success? What does it mean to you? Does it entail money/wealth, fame, academic and career achievements, titles and health? What about family? In all honesty, success means different things to different people. One’s definition of success gives an insight into his mind and perception about life.

Being born and raised in Nigeria, where everyone is crazy about titles and money is everything, it is quite easy to understand why many believe success is all about money – having lots and lots of it and academic titles/job promotions/political appointments. Dr Chris Kwakpovwe, the writer of the popular Bible reading guide Daily Manna once wrote, “Titles may enhance us but they aren’t our identity.” Indeed titles are not our identity. Think about this; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Microsoft, Apple and other products we consume today are owned and created by persons, such as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and late Steve Jobs who have/had no title. Would you say they are not successful because they lack titles? Don’t misconstrue my point, titles are awesome but they are useless if you don’t put them to great use.

I know a lot of people reading this are already asking themselves, what does a young man in his 20s know about success? What has he really achieved? I am still light years behind, both in age and achievements, but I have experienced joy and sadness, success and failure, and had it both good and bad. My success made me have a quasi-outlook on life; because things were quite easy for me, I struggled to comprehend when people complained about same things being difficult for them. However, nothing changes a man like failure and I am no different. Failure changes one’s outlook on things; it emboldens you and makes you hard-bitten.

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Let me paint a mental picture for you. Close your eyes and think about the best and worst relationships you’ve had. Which of them taught you more – the good or the bad one? Hear Robert Kiyosaki, “Inside every problem lies a gem of wisdom, a gem that makes us smarter, stronger and able to do better regardless of economic conditions.” Failure, in its own right, is success coated with indelible lessons, only if you learn from it. My failure and disappointments made me appreciate life and success more. John Maxwell once said, “The greatest lessons in life are from our losses. Everyone experiences loss but not everyone learns from it. Experience is not the best teacher, evaluated experience is.”

Each and every one of us have experienced (or will still experience) something that changed our lives and we have never been the same ever since. Jonas Guiterrez, a rich Argentine professional footballer, who is living the dream of many said after being diagnosed with testicular cancer, “I think the most important thing in life is health. Health and happiness. Sometimes we get into a lot of trouble for things that aren’t significant.” Sometimes we get caught up or engrossed with frivolities such as acceptance and fame on social media (virtual world), fashion trends etc. Thanks to satellite TV and social media, everyone is “close” to the fabulous lives of their favourite celebrities and yearn for their lives.

Numerous chats with people down the years made me realize most youths long for success but a few are prepared to put in the effort. Regardless of your definition of success, one thing is certain – it is a long continuous process. Even Kim Kardashian, who is often criticized for lacking talents apart from her beauty and good derriere, works hard to maintain her success. Success does not fall on one’s laps – like manna from heaven. It has to be earned through hard work, perseverance, persistence and determination.

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Michael Wardian, after becoming the World record holder for 50km on the treadmill said, “I think about my goal. Don’t give up because it gets hard or something gets wrong. It is the middle that’s tough. People cheer at the starting and finish line. The middle miles need mental toughness.” Oh Yes! Everybody likes to be associated with success; failure is an orphan. In other words, who no like to embrace the winner? Cast your minds back to when you got accepted into the University, everyone was ecstatic for you and you became an overnight celebrity at your matriculation ceremony. The same thing reoccurs when you finally graduate and everyone adds Dr, Barr, Engr, as the case may be, to your name. However, only a few understand what you had to go through to obtain that degree – the mental, emotional and psychological stress heightened by sleepless nights.

Every successful person you know today has had it rough but never gave up. If you aim at being excellent at what you do, you ought to be willing to sacrifice a certain part of your life. You have to do the work; dot the ‘i’s and cross the‘t’s. Tim Gower wrote in his book, RELENTLESS:  “There is no privilege greater than the pressure to excel and no greater reward than earning the respect and fear of others who are in awe of your results.” He further described three types of personalities in the book; the coolers who let others decide whether they are successful or not, the closers who feel they are successful once they get the job done e.g. African footballers in Europe and the cleaners who never feel as if they have achieved success because there is more to do.

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Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are the easiest examples of cleaners today. Debate about who is better than the other has divided the football world. Despite what these two football greats have achieved, they don’t rest on their laurels. Their hunger for success is what drives them and they have created a legacy for themselves.

Our environment determines our path; it is the most powerful teacher of all in our success quest. If you aim at being successful in your chosen field, it is pertinent to identify the right environment that allows you take advantage of your three brains – right, left and subconscious – to achieve your dream. Crowd mentality can’t get you to the sky, where we all believe is our starting point but by creating a niche for yourself in your field and proving everyday why that niche deserves to be yours.

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.