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Aderonke Ogunyemi – “The Lies I Told Myself”

A while ago, Lolade, my friend came to me teary-eyed, clutching unto her dream of becoming a world-renowned poet. And although she’s such an amazing writer, my friend told me a million reasons why she wasn’t sure her dream would come true. I started by scolding her. “How dare you?” I said, “You are such a brilliant writer, what makes you think you can’t do this?” I sprang to my feet, shook her vigorously and cheered her on. Then I peered deeply into her eyes and reassured her. I went on and on, pointing out reasons why she would see her dream of reaching international recognition come to fruition. I don’t remember the exact words I said that sparked something in Lolade, but her lips suddenly broke into a wide smile. 

Lolade left my presence fuelled with determination, ready to conquer the world! 

That same trend had happened with Oyinda, Jessica, Amina, Segun and a handful of other friends. But that day, as soon as Lolade left, a series of flashbacks interrupted my thoughts and gradually, my vision became blurry with incipient tears. I felt one drop on the back of my palm. I was a liar! 

Minutes before, considering my own dreams, I had scoffed aloud! “You’ll never be able to do even half of those,” I told myself. “Remember you are just not good enough” I continued. “You’ll remain in this state of mediocrity”. Then I heard myself laughing. The lies increased in momentum. They were more now, and louder, almost driving me crazy. Slowly, I succumbed. “I believe, I believe” I screamed. I was familiar with these lies. I had heard them all my life – in my own words, in my own voice. And even though I don’t quite remember when these lies started to control me, I remember some of the lies I told myself. 

Once, I told myself that if I ever took to the stage, the audience would shudder with roaring laughters of contempt. Trembling and with slouched shoulders, I left the stage. I did not try. At 22, I told myself it was already too late. I had missed a number of golden opportunities and well, don’t opportunities come only once in a lifetime? My mistakes were irredeemable. I stopped making an effort. 

Love? I jeered at the thought of it. You’ll never find it, I told myself. You don’t even love yourself enough and look at what’s worse- you’re not smart, sexy or pretty. Nobody is going to love you. Losers like you don’t deserve the tiniest bit of love. I did not open my heart to love. Constantly I barked at myself for not being good enough. The comparisons were endless. I told myself that in this world – a sea of amazing people – my voice would be drowned into oblivion. I slumped into my couch and wept. 

I told myself that I would never get my dream job. Who is going to hire a blockhead like you? You are not smart. A dummy like you has nothing to offer. Although qualified, I did not apply for the job. 

Damn! There were hundreds of these lies. They gnawed at all my dreams. They held me back from fulfilling my potential. They stopped me from living my life. They kept me in perpetual bondage and constantly made me settle for less. 

Slowly, I began to unlearn these lies, but it was not an easy road, and I can’t deny that taking repeated action was the only way I could prove these lies wrong. I did the opposite of what my limiting beliefs wanted me to do. The other day, determined to fight my fright, I took to the stage, and although I forgot a few of my lines and stuttered, the audience did not reek with roaring laughters of contempt. With their eyes, they only reassured me. 

The thought of me believing it was too late for me at 22 still makes me laugh. I’m 24 now, and I know I still have a whole life ahead of me. I’ve decided that I’ll make each day count. 

And about not being good enough, I have stopped comparing myself. Each baby step I take makes me more confident in myself and my abilities. And is the journey not about me being better than I was yesterday instead of comparing myself to everyone? 

The lies gradually loosened their grip on me. But I must confess, I had to fight. I had to believe in myself too. 

These lies still come in many forms, and they try to pull me down. But I have learnt that they are just lies and only when I believe will their powers be activated to control me. Yes, I know what these lies have cost me. They stopped me from being me and almost robbed me of my entire life. I am not willing to walk down that path again. Never. 

Today, looking at reflection in the mirror, I chuckled. “You know you were such a liar,” I said. In the same breath, I told myself that I loved the woman I was becoming. I hugged myself tightly, and amidst tears, I forgave myself for being too hard on my inner man and for believing in everyone but myself. Deep within, I’ve found the peace that would feed me with all the courage I need to look these lies in the face and scoff, for I’m done scoffing at my dreams.

 

Photo by shayne carpenter on Unsplash

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