I was 25 when I went back to the university. I left the University of Port Harcourt for the University of Nigeria.
All I wanted to do with my life was planned to have taken form, from age 25 but at 25 I was dreaming a stranger dream, one that would have me bound for 4 years and if the Nigerian system succeeded with an industrial action then that 4 years may grow and have offspring and I could leave the university older, tired and disillusioned.
Many friends did not bother to make the move and others who did stopped on the way and chased other interesting things. I tried to motivate myself and did not allow much room for self-doubt
I call ‘self-doubt’ the first demon because it is first, internal and closer to a dreamer than an external enemy. It is the usage of your own mind against you. It is also the usage of practical personal experiences, recorded data and it goes a step further to use processed information such as discussions with friends, world reports, health status, size of the economy, presence of support and a lot more to convince you that a proposed step may not be worth it. And it is dangerous.
Few years down the line, I finished from the university, wrote two books while there, had fun, created events on campus, made friends and had a broader mind without an extra year added by the system or the institution. I did not let the obvious fears hold me back. I did not let what fine thoughts I had about failure or the possibility of less success keep me down. I found a way around ignoring the first demon and hoping that my failure would not be the first and it would come as an experience, not necessarily as ‘failure’.
Self-doubt is sneaky. It seems like it is a fun thing, you are cynical, and nothing amuses like the thought of your own intelligence, of predicting things, activities, how they would not likely be cool and thereby saving you some heartache. But that’s so dangerous too. It is dangerous to not want to lose. It is dangerous to want to play so safe. It is dangerous to not want to have an experience, to not want to see how great things could turn out if you tried it a bit differently.
To conquer this first demon, there is a need for a mind-shift. It is your mind. You own it. You try to correct it when it comes equipped with facts about how if you hugged the couch you could have the cozy sleep of your life and the world’s troubles could just go by and you would be better. You could also decide to act the opposite of whatever doubt you have. If it says: hey, don’t love. Say: hey, what if I tried loving? I could be heartbroken but I won’t be known as the guy who never attempted to show love – the safe guy, the one whose territories are so protected he knows nothing about anything.
Read through history texts and see how your favourite people made it through winning doubt. And the sad side of doubt is that though it is tiny, it weighs so much. But you can win. You can come out great. You can do whatever you wish to do. You can excel beyond your imaginations. Cheers!
Bura-Bari Nwilo lives in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. A Tiny Place Called Happiness is his first collection of short stories.