I probably met Naomi Lucas around the period I was passionate about making movies. I had just finished from a film training organized by Del York International with the New York Film Academy tutors in Abuja, Nigeria. I must have searched for her when someone mentioned her name as part of the Africa Movies Academy Awards crew. I added her up on Facebook and followed her with and seriousness. One day, I sent her a direct message. I did that over a couple of years and then our friendship earned me occasional mentorship.She would speak to me when I needed someone to talk and share strategies on how to get my ideas off the ground. It could have been uneasy listening to a novice and his many ideas and his lack of funds and clear-cut direction. I am grateful that she did not find me worrisome and ignore my chats and calls. And for every advise and her attention to my complaints even when they were incoherent, I am grateful.
One day in Lagos, in her office, she asked me to list all that were distracting me and draw a line connecting them. She made it easier to see that all I was passionate about were within a certain circle and that I was not crazy, that with one step at a time, I could achieve them. And during one of our phone conversations, she mentioned that it was too easy to feel inadequate after putting in so much with little results. She said that I was enough and it was a truth I needed to hold on to. That if I saw that all I needed were inside of me and that I could explore the talents I already had and not seek validation by piling diplomas and certificates that may not mean much, that I could be fulfilled. I don’t know if I am fulfilled now but I am grateful because the piece of advice took me from the ground and kept at a place where I saw things quite differently. I had carried out certain projects in the past to prove to people who care little about my wellbeing how useful I could become. I had not done those things because they were necessary and needed and gave me joy. They were done to disprove – a terrible mistake.
A lot of us spend many years going over a statement that someone had made about our inadequacies. And though it isn’t a bad thing to do, the problem is that we spend these great years enduring through proving to people who should not even be given our time and attention. We break our backs and bones and sweat and come out, not to contribute to this beautiful life but to combat the words of some insignificant elements. We could do better. We might have fared a bit better if we had done it out of conviction and inner drive instead of revenge.
I believe that the feeling of inadequacy makes us run to places for more validation, through papers and acceptance. We keep abusive relationships and entertain rude and inconsiderate people because we feel that one day we may be alone, in our aloneness, and we may die that way. But if only we had enough confidence to demand what we are worth and try to understand the world around us and make our baby steps and ignore side-talks, maybe the real people who we were meant to be with would walk through our door and give us that warm hug. I believe that I am enough and if I am going to add whatever diploma or friendship to what I have, it should be because it is needed. It should not be because I want to fit into a circle where I was rejected. It should not be because I want to have a changed accent only or just to take photos and show to ‘haters’ that I, too, am capable of the good life.
One of the few things that would determine how I grow and stay happy after clocking thirty years on earth would be how much confidence I have and how things done by people who have little ideas of my seemingly tiny victories determine how I react to the world. And even when they succeed with tormenting me, how I rise out of dust and fly colourfully like the peacock would be the faith in the truth that I am enough. And if I hold onto that truth, I would be empowering a world, a generation to stand and understand that they too matter and are enough. And are needed.
- Bura-Bari Nwilo’s new book, On Becoming Thirty and the Gift of a Blue Sky is available for purchase on Okadabooks.