For many of us from humble backgrounds, life can appear so cruel and insensitive. And having a tough time growing up can so easily distort the real personalities originally housed within those wonderful frames. At the same time, you get angry and turn your anger on the society hinging it on different apparent justifications. And why not?
The justifying facts are quite innumerable. From life opportunities denied to life oppressions availed, you find yourself struggling to get a pinch of a few crumbs that come your way and parry the battalions of offensives you are so willingly granted. All these while the odds mercilessly imprison your hands and present you like the sacrificial lamb to be slaughtered to get the privileged their dreams.
But you can’t give up; you must learn to weather the storm. That is something I learnt, though the hard way.
Let me tell you a little about my background. I am from a very poor family. The kind of family that plead with one child to drop out of school so that the other’s school fees can be paid. The type where seven sleep in a stuffy bedroom on tattered mats. Saying growing up was very tough is an unforgivable understatement.
This doesn’t mean my parents were negligence or irresponsible because to say anything close to that, no matter how little, will be a big ingratitude to them for the many sacrifices they made for my siblings and me.
Well, despite their efforts, they could not equip me adequately for the complicated challenges of life that I would later encounter. Neither could they help me have a positive view of life.
When I started working, I have grown a rather insatiable taste for luxuries. This inordinate drive to possess the world has its root in the pervading luxuries I saw in the streets and on the television every day. I mean luxuries that were everywhere except in my own home.
You know, I could see the world moving around me, flashy, flamboyant, glistering, grand and what have you. And like many others like me, I couldn’t stop dreaming of possessing all these things. I was determined to get them even though I didn’t have the wherewithal.
This last fact was the cause of the frustration and anger I later fell into.
The first sign of trouble was that I got tired of my job barely months after getting it. Maybe I felt excited about the salary and the excitement was sustained for the first three months; that was all. I took off for yet another job. The cycle continued for a while then I realised that the salaries were the problem. They could not get me the life I wanted to live. The life of luxury.
That was where and when frustration set in. It started as a very strong aversion for the rich, probably because I unconsciously thought they denied me of my share of luxury, seizing every opportunity to condemn them, their money and the sources of their income.
When this tactic failed to get me any result, I resorted to blame shifting and expectedly my parents, especially my dad, were the first victims. I convinced myself to see them as the architects of my situations. Like thinking their being poor denied me of the opportunities of acquiring any money-making skills. But that too failed and I had to get yet another fall guy. This time, it was an attack on self. A self-destruction mission. Well, that was the peak of the catastrophe.
I lost confidence in myself and started losing my mind. It was terrible. I left my native town and went to the city, effectively cutting myself away from all family ties. Then I got a job as an apprentice butcher man in one of the local markets. It was while doing this that I picked up most of the social vices behaviours I ever involved in: drinking, night marauding, womanizing, cheating and others. Whether by hook or by crook, I was making some money, but at the same time I was so wretched. I was a spendthrift.
Then the turning point.
I got involved with a religious group that was concerned about rehabilitation of social misfits. It was on their programme that I coined for myself a philosophy of life: Work for humanity and live within your means.
This philosophy of life liberated me and brought joy into my life for the first time.
I later worked to sponsor my own education and currently I am working as a teacher. And from my own experience I try to help others navigate the entangling going of dreams and ambitions. Especially where money is involved.
I leant the pressing importance of living within your means. I learnt about debts, credits and the credit cards: the pros and the cons. And stick to this philosophy.
Live within your means, you’ll never be crippled by indebtedness.
Live for others and no one will ever be without support, including you.