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It undoubtedly feels amazing to be ‘special’ or at least to have the perception of being special. Turning 29 on a 29th makes me feel indeed special. A feeling I only find grounded in my weird sense of humour. I guess for many special must be in the big things which by all means should confirm our uniqueness. I seek to tell you an interesting life tale with the intent to inspire you to believe in your uniqueness. I guess for me I have settle my ‘awesomeness’ in the facts of how young I turn today and the date on which I turn such number.
I know a little something about rejection and that makes me wonder if I have the moral right to talk about feeling special. But again who else to guide our fragile humanity to the sacred yearnings of loved but he who knows a little something about the search.
A short while before my 13th birthday in 2000 is a good place to begin. Unbelievably 16 years ago which makes me feel literally like a dinosaur. I was in junior secondary school, the day of the ‘selection’ of the school’s leadership. I grew in a small town in the Brong-Ahafo region. Our senior prefects for this local authority junior secondary school were revered and loved. For a small town as Duayaw Nkwanta was, been selected as the school prefect for L/A was a big deal. That was about all the honour one could bestow on his family. You may even get lucky with the most beautiful girls crushing on you.
Every year all the students looked forward to that day when the announcements will be made, the day the new Eagles are hatched. The news of who was selected to what position will usually spread in town and you are sure to get some attention if even you were as invincible as I was. The feeling of been ‘selected’ was I guess the best part of it all since it makes one feel special. I looked forward to this day with hopes to at least boost my self-image which had at best eroded under prior life experiences or at worst to find one for confidence which never was. I did believe I could make the school prefect because although I was not the best student (never have been in any class ever), I guess I just believed in hope.
The dread of the moment came in the slightly hilly grooves of our school. The foliage appeared more peaceful as though all the vegetation had settled to hear the call to greatness. The silence was deafening when the teacher finally appeared to make call. The announcement will always start with the most honourable and end with the least remarkable. All the people who had merited the call had been called out separately before the general assembly and everyone waited anxiously for the bell to summon us to witness such hallowed moments.
Of course, my hopes went even higher when I was called as part of the bigger group of nominees. To cut through the long story, the teacher started calling the leader. With my hand literally clutched in my mouth and my eyes closed, praying to the God of my hope that my name becomes the first person. The first name was mentioned and as you may have guessed by now, it wasn’t mine. Still hopeful for the assistant, that again wasn’t my name. The teacher went through all the ‘important’ leadership positions even through the session leaders which was for the average ones. All the session were gone and I had still not heard my name. At this point, I was not only confused but was cold sweating. Everybody in the big group was called but me. There was yet one position and I was the only one left but that definitely couldn’t be I said to myself. Perhaps this was the worst position and it was indeed the practice to give this post to a first year student because it was deemed demeaning. So I thought again maybe a new position had been created for me, yet dreaming of how special I was.
For the first time, recent history had been broken. The bell boy had to be named and ‘tadaa’, there my mine comes shining in lights. That right there, I was frozen in time overwhelmed with a feeling my 12 year old brain could not understand. I remember crying whiles everybody laughed at me, I had not only gotten my hopes crushed but the self-esteem I had sought to find had taunted and escaped me.
I was teased terribly on my way home, although that was not the first time I had suffered such mass ridicule, it is probably the worst. And it was because of broken dreams, a feeling of being special had been flushed out with the force of hurricane Matthew perhaps. I swore never to touch the bell but again I was only a joker who was beaten (literally) into conformity. For the early days, I will not ring the bell and I will be caned in front of everyone as a sign of my insubordination. I was fragile and young, however ambitious and strong willed. My will couldn’t last a week, I had been broken into a miserable helpless child who was at the whip of a teacher who sought to put me in my place for being ‘too-known’. I will pick the bell after several beating only to feel what I looser I was. I rang the bell for almost a year until the next year when a new bell boy was selected, and it indeed did go to a first year student. I did then feel special, but the looser kind of special.
I wonder why I tell this story on my birthday when I am sure most of my mates may have forgotten and this will be almost impossible for anyone who knows me now to believe. I share this because the just ended year was equally humbling. Exactly a year ago, I had the first robbery in three subsequent once. I spent my last birthday missing the few love I will usually get annually. Having been robbed three times in a year, with one at gunpoint, I most definitely must be tempted to fell special for all the wrong reasons again.
For some readers today, you may be beautiful, charming, intelligent, or any such thing that makes you a favourite and likable by many, if not all. By all means enjoy such graces and never be apologetic about it. This post however is for the one person who may have felt the sting of rejection and pain and seeming have nothing to make them feel such special.
The story will definitely not be complete if I fail to share the amazing gift these life realities turned to be. The circumstances were packages of a present, a gift I surely did have need for. I was but blessed with Grit and Gravitas. I learnt to pick the bells not knowing I was learning the value of time. I usually decided to end everybody’s break earlier getting all the backlash and remaining unperturbed about it. I learnt strength and focus from what my young mind had only interpreted as a failure. Grit and gravitas has been the two most helpful gifts I have ever have received judging with the benefit of hindsight. Like diamond these virtues did not come easily and I was privileged it was forged into my very essence before I could even get to be a teenager.
Let me conclude with reflection from Aya Stark from Game of Thrones (Yes, I am hooked too). She is my favourite character in the whole TV show and I am sure many love her too. I love her for her strength, maturity and resilience. Every stories of any hero/heroine that is ever told is a story of extraordinary strength. Do I pretend that the scares of some of these events doesn’t exist? Of course they do but the truth will remain that I have been made a better person because of these events and many other lessons learnt the hard way. To give perspective of how flourishing God has made me from these tough times, I am on my third amazing job in the same space of the last one year excelling at two different expansive and extremely important managerial positions in three banks. Strength I couldn’t have found but for grit and gravitas, lessons I have only have to learn in the corridors of great pain, rejection and discomfort. I share my birthday with you, urging you to hold on and refine you character. Let the diamond forge its might strength in you and discovery shall come. Sooner than you can believe if you did build grit and gravitas you cannot be withheld.