Before the first draft of every inspiring success story ever made it to ink, it was first written with sweat and tears. One of my favorite quotes as a teenager was, “Success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” My days at the University of Ibadan brought me many practical lessons on this quote which was more of a beautiful two-line rhymer to me when my magnetic mind first picked it up from one of the books I read.
The way circumstances molded the quote into something I could nearly touch was both amazing and painful. The things which were really easy for me suddenly became Herculean tasks. How would I have believed that I of all people would need an extra effort to attend lectures and take down notes? It made me begin to ask myself if it was not the same me who dreamt, night and day of months of attending lectures and wearing the undergraduate tag. It was something I looked forward to so much that when it was not forthcoming, I became depressed.
I look back now and I remember mornings when I stuck a note to my upper layer bunk bed as a freshman in Block C of Queen Idia Hall; “Please do not wake me up. I don’t want to attend lectures today.” I remember the noise my roommates made as they readied for classes. How they’d look up at me, come close enough to tap me before they see the note hanging from the bed. I guess they may have thought I was just plain lazy.
Half awake and half asleep, I would shut my eyes and pretend to be deeply asleep. When they leave, I cleaned, had a warm bath and returned to my bed to make up for my sleepless nights. I was battling insomnia at the time. For every hour I slept I was grateful because it was my only escape from my wild thoughts and never-resting mind. And no, I wasn’t suffering from the trauma of some sexual assault. It was one of those things, those small things that no one prepared us to face. Muhammed Ali was right, “it is not always the mountains that stop people from winning, for some, it is the pebbles in their shoes!”
A couple of months ago, when I entered my undergraduate coordinator’s office, greeted him and instead of responding to my greeting, he said “Congratulations!”. Softly but firm enough for me to know it was not some prank or the endless string of sarcasm which he shot at my indolent classmates at every lecture. I was excited.
I do not intend to paint a picture of a superhuman when I say I have driven on flat tires, tires punctured by a lack of interest and deflated of every ounce of enthusiasm. But I have learned what pain comes with cutting through a log of obstacles with a blunt saw. There is something about interest that sharpens the knife and makes you slice through just about any hurdle with a lot of ease. If you do not like what you are doing, you will be expending twice as much energy as is required for that task!