I introduced myself and stated the bible verse I was asked to recite. Guess what happened next? I froze! I looked up and saw the eager look on people’s faces and my tongue just refused to budge. I swear, I tried! I stood rooted there like a tree and I couldn’t help but notice how people’s expression changed from an expectant one to that of disappointment. The only thing I wished for, at that moment, was to magically disappear. That which I feared, befell me! I was escorted out and the other kids came in for their recitation. The wave of shame I felt when I got out is indescribable. How could I struggle with something so simple that even those younger than me could do effortlessly. I couldn’t even look at my mom straight in the eyes after service.
Imagine being so negatively self-aware at that age. I have no idea where I “picked it ” from. I just knew I never wanted to be referred to as a failure. I went ahead to excel at other activities in church but that bible recitation seemed to the yardstick for smart kids. Little me never just felt enough. At various points in my life, I have “lagged behind my peers” and I wallowed in self-pity. Success to me was determined by what others perceived as success. It seemed to have a universal definition and I didn’t think I came close. I had a recent experience that paralyzed me emotionally and I could perceive the familiar scent of fear. I felt like I was 6 again and about to disappoint a whole bunch of people who expected so much more, instead of facing the issue head-on and drown the voices that kept reminding me of my six year old self.
I remember watching a documentary sometime last year about a popular 20th century scientist. He was well known for his inventions and was often times referred to as a genius, however, his kids never saw him in that light. It turned out that he was a horrible father and even way worse as a husband. One of his kids attempted suicide severally and had mental issues that was traceable to his father’s poor parenting. The documentary made me wonder if it was fair to still refer to the genius as a successful person, knowing how much family meant to me.
Success has to be self-defined. Stop beating yourself up for struggling and messing up in another person’s lane when you ought to be shining in your own lane! Imagine how hilarious it would be to see John Legend getting beat up over his inability to run as fast as Usain Bolt, when he has such an amazing voice that has made him a household name. If you are on the comparison table, jump down from it!
This blogpost also speaks to me and I’ll make sure to read it as many times as necessary. Let me know your definition of success in the comment section. Can you boldly say you are currently on your own lane?