FACE YOUR FEARS

I never drove a car in Nigeria.

We had one but I never sat behind the wheels.

Why?

I’ll tell you.

Fear.

I had enrolled in a driving school. I arrived on time for my first class and after a brief verbal introduction to the basics, I got on the road with the instructor sitting by my side. Soon after we left, he gave an instruction, I got confused and lost control. I swerved, almost hitting a lady who was crossing the street.
I got out of the car, returned the keys to the instructor and went home. I didn’t go back to complete the classes, neither did I ask for a refund. I just walked away.

I walked and unconsciously I decided I won’t bother learning to drive again, lest I kill someone! 😅😅😅 After-all, my husband and I worked in the same part of town so we can always ride to and from work together, with him driving of course! If I can’t ride with him, I’ll find a colleague going my way. If I can’t find one, I’ll call a taxi. No taxi? I’ll join the staff bus! Weekends? Taxi!

At some point, we hired a driver; then one day he took the car to the mechanic for repairs, left it there and disappeared! After that, I had an arrangement with one of my office drivers to drive me around on weekends if I had anywhere to go and he got paid in return. I did every other thing except learn how to drive. I was comfortable with my decision. Why should I kill myself or someone else when I have other options? 🤷🏽‍♀️🤷🏽‍♀️🤷🏽‍♀️

We relocated to Canada and after 2 weeks, I was left alone with three children below the age of 6. My husband had to go back to work. We landed when the weather was beautiful so walking was not stressful. Sometimes, we would take the bus or call for a taxi. I had also made connections with some wonderful people who were always willing to give us a ride whenever we needed one.

Then winter came! I had experienced winter before but it was nothing compared to what Canada had to offer! My goodness! The snow wasn’t cute either! Several times, I fell down while trying to navigate through the snow. On some days, David’s stroller will get stuck in the snow and I’ll have to pull and push to get it out. We wore layers of clothing to keep us warm whenever we went out.

One day, as the certified cry-baby that I am, I agreed wth myself that this was a perfect reason to cry so I waited until the kids had gone to bed, found a spot on the couch, sat on it and cried!!!

(Listen to me, my people! Don’t let the cute winter sweaters, jackets and boots you see in our social media photo shoots fool you! The cold in Canada is brutal!!!😂😂😂)

That was when I decided I have to face, feel and fight this fear of driving. As soon as my husband scheduled his next visit, I found a driving instructor. I was scared but every time the guy showed up for my lessons, I got behind the wheel, afraid.

I was afraid of the roads, afraid of other drivers, afraid of pedestrians, afraid of everything connected to driving; but anytime my instructor showed up, I took the driver’s seat, afraid.

Why?

Because something was at stake. Having a car and being able to drive it will not protect us completely from the cold during winter, but it will be a life-saver and If I didn’t learn before the next winter, my kids and I will have to go through it again, falling over heaps of snow and sliding off on black ice. We might also spend more money on taxi fares and bus tickets than we will on gas; plus the time. Besides, we will become a burden to those who gladly gave us rides for free.

I thought of all these and I decided it was time to divorce that fear.

You see, fear is normal.
It means you are human.
It means you are vulnerable.
However, we need to learn to face our fears and overcome them.

What are your fears?
What is holding you back?
What are you REALLY afraid of?
Failure?
Success?(yep! Some people have this fear; it’s unbelievable!)
Ridicule?
Rejection?
Being misunderstood?
Being misinterpreted?
Not having enough?

What do you stand to gain if you nurse the fear? What do you stand to lose if you nurse the fear? You will never know how far you can go until you face that fear.

So get up! Get your act together!

My husband taught me to always think of the best-case scenarios instead of only the worst-case scenarios, whenever I have to deal with a challenge.

So today, I challenge you, bearing in mind the best-case and worst-case scenarios,

Make that phone call.
Apply for that job.
Take that course.
Switch that career path.
Start that business.
Embark on that trip.
Accept that offer.
Decline that offer.
Say “no”.
Say “yes”.
Take a stand.

Someone wrote, “feel the fear. Have the doubts. Do it anyway.”

Another said, “Do it. Afraid.”

Paul the Apostle preached, “for God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind.”

They all say the same thing about fear. Recognize its presence but do not succumb to its pressure.

Face your fear.
Face it afraid.

THIS THING CALLED FEAR

“Babe, na where you de go?”

“I get aptitude test for Lagos.”

“Aptitude test? For Lagos? You well so?”

“Shuo?! Abeg carry your bad mouth waka. Time never reach make I begin arrange my destiny?”

They continued the banter, back and forth as Adeline packed her travel bag. She had received an invitation for an aptitude test for a job she had applied for.

Adeline and Belema were both serving in a local government office in one of the Northern states in Nigeria, under the National Youth Service Corps program. They met during the orientation drills and struck off a friendship immediately. They were both young, aspiring Language and Communications graduates, waiting patiently for the service year to be over so that they can get on with the life they desired. Adeline was the forceful, determined, go-getter while Belema preferred to take life easy, one step at a time.

“Just last week, I was looking through a copy of Guardian newspaper I borrowed from Mr. Adesina ……”,

Adeline started and just as she was about to narrate the story of how the aptitude test invite came through for her, Belema cut in.

“Na who be Mr Adesina again? Na only you de quick sabi all the people for this area.”

Adeline flung a pillow at her playfully.

“Abeg, allow me finish this my story o.”

“Sorry. Oya continue”, Belema winked at her.

‘Ehe, so Mr. Adesina gave me this newspaper and I saw an advert for an entry level position in Greenwich Foods. I applied but I did not think they will respond. Yesterday, I got an e-mail inviting me for an aptitude test. I have spoken to my parents and they have encouraged me to go. As you see me so, I don reach Lagos!”

She danced around the room, celebrating her first victory over the task of searching for jobs – an invitation to write an aptitude test. Belema watched her as she did her victory dance and then she spoke with some concern,

“Have you studied for this test? Are you aware that the flights from this town to Lagos are not direct? They are quite tricky, so you need to be sure you have your itinerary carefully planned. How much do you even know about the role you applied for? Have you done an aptitude test before? I hear it usually has small math and you know you and math are not best friends. Ehe!”

Adeline was quiet for a few seconds. She had not realized how serious and demanding this venture was going to be for her. She moved her clothes to a corner of the bed and sat down.

“I did not think of these things, honestly, but I do not want to go back on my decision now. I will reconfirm the flights and all other things you just mentioned. Meanwhile, I need to run down to Femi’s house to ask for his scientific calculator. That should help me tackle the math, abi?”

Belema laughed. “You de crase, I swear!”

“Na you sabi”, Adeline replied as she pushed her feet into her slippers and made a quick dash towards the door.

She arrived Lagos, got to the test center and met a good number of people, waiting for the same test. As she strolled past the little groups, she listened on their conversations as they discussed past aptitude test questions and their experiences with the previous tests they had written. For a moment, Adeline felt lost, discouraged, and defeated. She whispered to herself,

“At this rate, is a Pass guaranteed? This trip already looks like a waste of time, money and energy to me.” She sighed. “Anyway, I am here. I will do the test and leave. At least I tried. E for Effort.” She giggled.

Her humour was an escape route for her anytime she felt overwhelmed.

The invigilators walked in, interrupting her thoughts.

“Thank you all for your interest in working with our organization. We will start off immediately. The test is in 2 sections – Math and English. Please do your best to complete both sections. Your scripts will be marked, scored right after the test and those who passed will be asked to stay behind for the next interview level.”

Adeline shivered as she looked through the Math questions.

“This subject has caught up with me again. I thought I was done with it forever!”

As she starred at the sheet before her, she lifted her head slightly at intervals and noticed the other candidates had their calculators in their hand and were obviously putting them to good use. She looked at the math questions and wondered why everyone was fiercely tapping away on their calculators. She panicked.

“There must be something wrong somewhere.”

Quickly, she did what she could on both sections, submitted her sheets and began to pack her bag, ready to leave. She was certain that even if there was one candidate who failed, it would be her.

The invigilator came in about an hour later.

“Thank you all again. We understand it was a tough test, unfortunately, only one person made the required pass-mark and so we will call out the name of the successful candidate, while we wish the rest of you success in your future endeavours.”

Adeline sighed. “At least, we plenty wey fail the test. Where my bag jare? I de go. Belema go laugh me taya.”

She laughed at herself as she got up to leave.

“Adeline Ivie Osaro, congratulations! Please wait behind for further instructions regarding your next interview.”

She stopped! That was the invigilator’s voice! That was her full name! She had passed and she was the only candidate who passed! How did that happen? She quickly readjusted, composed herself and walked towards the invigilator, as he held the door for her to walk into the waiting room. Then it occurred to her that she did not remember the exact role she had applied for. She panicked again!

“I hope this won’t turn out to be something I cannot do. Besides, I am only interested in pursing my career in Communications o. I hope these people have a spot for me in that department. I hope they even have a Communications Department. Ah, Adeline Ivie Osaro! Why? This is how you set yourself up all the time! See your life!”

Her thoughts were interrupted again but this time, by one of the managers, a young lady.

Adeline made it through the interview with the manager and she was advised to expect another email, inviting her for the third interview level.

“Mom, this is like a dream. I did not think I would pass the test. I am excited but uncomfortable. I would have preferred if I were knocked out after that test. I cannot come this far and have my hopes dashed.”

“You will be alright”, was her mother’s reply.

Adeline was invited for the third interview and as she sat across the table, this manager, a foreigner, explained some details of the role to her.

“Please note that you will be working with numbers and so numeracy skills will be an asset in this role….”

Her heart stopped for a second.

“Math! Again? No, I cannot! I cannot do this one!”

She battled within herself. As soon as he was done, she spoke up.

“Thank you, sir, for taking your time to explain the details of this role to me. However, I have a concern and I feel I need to let you know upfront. I heard you mention something related to numbers. I must be honest with you. The job advert did not request for anything related to numeracy skills. I wish it did.”

“Yes, I know.” He replied. “It is an entry level position; however, we assume that anyone who is able to pass the test should have the capacity to work with numbers as much as is required on the role.”

“Okay, I would like to make this clear. Math is not one of my strengths. The last time I did anything related to math was in secondary school. I am not sure I can accept a position that would require numeracy skills.”

“Very well then. Thank you for letting me know. We will be in touch.”

They both exchanged pleasantries again, shook hands and she left.

She never heard from the management of Greenwich Foods again.

SOMETHING ABOUT A NAME

I had just confirmed my admission to study in this noble university. As I stood there, in front of the admissions notice-board, celebrating my success again and wondering what next to do, he walked up to me.

‘Hello, my name is Agaba. What’s yours?”

I looked at him. He had the strongest Eastern Nigerian accent I had ever heard.

He smiled and immediately, I noticed he had a reasonable height, he was baby-faced and had gorgeous dimples.

“Don’t be afraid o. I am just here to help you. I can see that you are new here and I think you want to register, o kwa ya?”

“Yes”, I responded quietly, with a naïve tone.

“Ok. I’ll show you where to go.”

Agaba became my self-appointed bodyguard for the two days I spent trying to complete my registration. I tried to send him away, but he would not budge. After several attempts, I gave up. Afterall, I had plans to travel back home for the weekend when I was done; all I wanted was to quickly secure a bed space in one of the hostels and then I will get on the next bus back to my family.

While I strategized in my head, Agaba had his plans too. He wanted me to stay in the room opposite his course mate’s room but thankfully, he miscalculated and the staff in charge of that hostel gave me the keys to another room, far away from Agaba’s choice. That was my first escape from this self-imposed helper of mine…or so I thought.

I quickly secured my bed-space, placed a sheet over the mattress and ensured I had enough evidence to prove to my soon-to-be roommates that someone has already paid for and occupied that space. Excitedly, I walked out of the room, hopped on the next bus to the motor-park, ready to spend the weekend with my family before I return to start my new life as an undergraduate.

A few minutes into my journey, I realized I did not have the keys to my new room with me! Agaba!!!! He took them without my knowledge! My goodness! I thought I had dealt with this fellow forever! Then it occurred to me that all I knew about him was his nickname, Agaba, and the course he was studying. Now, I must trace him when I get back to school. I was so angry with myself!

I returned to school the next week and my first mission, of course, was to find Agaba.

I got to the building where his department was located and started asking questions. I guess my innocent, naive face worked in my favor as I ran into a group of three friends who were willing to help me find Agaba. Those three boys became my good friends from that day and the friendship continued even after we graduated.

Anyway, I found Agaba, I got my keys from him and thanked him for ‘keeping them safe’. I walked away, thinking I was done with him but I was wrong!

Agaba would stop by every evening to check on me and to know how I was doing. One day, I got tired of his daily visits and so as soon as I heard his voice, I walked up to the door, barred it with my hands, hoping he would get the message.

‘Agaba, I am profoundly grateful for all your help but I can’t keep up with your daily visits anymore. I like my space and my privacy and I would prefer if you leave me alone now.”

He looked at me, like I had just thrown a bowl of dog poop on his face. Then he smiled. There was something creepy about his smile, even though it looked cute and charming.

“Okay, no skin-pain. So which day of the week do you want me to be visiting you na?’

“You don’t have to visit me at all. I am fine and I have settled in well. Thank you but please, I beg you, don’t visit me again.”

“Nna, babe na wa for you o but if that is what you say, no skin-pain.”

He smiled. That cute, creepy smile again. I wasn’t moved. You see, I had stayed at home for two years, waiting for this admission and now that I had it, I was determined to make the best out of it and graduate with an excellent result. Hanging out, socializing or keeping a relationship wasn’t an option for me at that time, at least not in my freshman year. My major priority was to find a balance for my life first. Besides, I was gradually getting upset with his frequent use of the expression, “no skin-pain”. What did that even mean?

A few weeks later, he tried his luck again. I was on my way to my hostel after buying some of the popular ‘scientific’ meal combo, made up of fried plantains, yams, sweet potatoes, fish – name it – for dinner, when I heard a voice behind me.

‘Nne, so when are you going to lift this embargo kwanu?’

I froze on the spot! It was Agaba’s voice! This fellow had become my stalker and I was determined to put an end to it that night. I turned around, looked at him sternly and spoke.

“Agaba, I was not joking when I told you to stop the frequent visits. Again, I appreciate all your help but you are pushing this too far. I don’t want to embarrass you so please, stay away from me.”

He never came to visit me again. I saw him hanging around lecture halls a few times but I never said a word to him.

Few months after I graduated from school, I ran into another school mate. As we talked, I shared this story with him and when I was done, he said,

“I knew Agaba. He was a member of one of the dangerous cults in school. It is strange that you behaved in that manner towards him, yet you escaped without paying dearly for it.”

For a few seconds, I felt shivers.

Cold shivers.

Was it sheer luck that I escaped Agaba’s wrath or did it have anything to do with the meaning of my first name, Chinazo?

I wonder…….

.

WELCOME TO MY WORLD!

Finally!

I am so excited to be here; even more excited that you are here to walk this path with me.

Life is a precious gift that God has given to us and one of the best ways to go through life is to build memories, keeping track of events and experiences that we have had; you know, all the ‘stuff’ we have been through and recognising their impact in our lives and the lessons we have learnt from them.

That’s what this site is about!

I will be sharing true life stories of experiences I have had as well as the experiences of a few people in my life (with their permission, of course!) These stories are hilarious, thought-provoking, crazy, ‘serious’, entertaining, silly….name it!

I hope that you will find them useful and that they will be a source of encouragement, hope and strength for you.

Happy reading!