Published on May 14th, 2012 | by Olumide3
Youer than You
I had a conversational disagreement with my friends today. We had gathered to eat together –something I rarely do- and I did not match their pace (did not even try to). One of them said the words, “Olumide, you are too slow”.
I’ve heard those words all through my life. Fifteen-plus years ago, I would have been very hurt (because it often preceded “and you are just too dull/dumb”). I heard it everywhere then. My neighbours, friends, teachers… There was a day my mum felt so bad that she had to order a neighbor to “leave my son alone”. She also got rid of all my snails (I had snails for pets) and cast out the accompanying spirits that she believed must have come along with them…
With time, I overcame the “dull” part. But till now, I am slow. However, guess what? It is perhaps the greatest strength I have today. I have learnt to listen first and talk last. In more cases than not, I discover the hidden solution through listening so that when I talk, it carries weight. I have learnt that I don’t have enough of the push in me to learn absolutely everything I’m taught. So, I sift out the chaff and pay attention only to the grain. I have learnt that I will never have the ‘normal’ speed to go everywhere. So I use my imagination more, envisage and solve all the obstacles before even leaving my house. Does it always work? No. But I can accurately say that it almost always does.
The world confuses activity with results. People are often guilty of trying to stifle our God-given “uniqnesses” and substitute them for weaknesses because they are trying to define you by their own rhythm. Guess what? The average person lacks direction! The average person also rushes through life, makes a whole lot of mistakes and has far too many regrets at the end of the day. Besides, contrary to what many people think, we are not running the same race. Our purposes and goals are different. Like a Yoruba proverb states, we don’t run by the same clock.
I have learnt to be happy day-by-day. I don’t want a life of waking up early in the morning, rushing to work, spending the evening in traffic, getting back late in the night and sleeping for three hours. I would rather live at a pace that makes me feel fulfilled at the end of each day. I love to have water seep through my hair in the bathroom. I love to appreciate the beauty of the flowers as I am going out for the day. I prefer the idea of pondering at the wonder of the sky, enjoying the coolness of the night breeze and the dimness of the moon to spending that time tied in traffic on Third Mainland Bridge. Interestingly, I do get a lot of relevant work done in a day and it’s rarely shoddy.
It’s been over fifteen years since I have been called “dull” or “dumb”. With all humility, I make bold to say that by most of the rankings of the world today, I will qualify to be called the opposite of that. The uniqueness of my speed is my competitive advantage. If you are faster, then you are too fast! In fact, unknown to many, it takes a level of calmness and yes, slowness, to be able to deliver a very good “extemporaneous” speech or make a very good seemingly impulsive decision. God could have simply commanded me to come forth but He didn’t. He rather took His time to mould me and craft me. I’m unique! I have no apologies for who I am! While I do not deny the human ability to change, I would rather keep my rhythm. It’s the core of who I am.
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You- Dr. Seuss
“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” ? Mae West
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