I had the privilege to attend a private university in Nigeria and I must confess that private schools generally are not good for those that do not have a mind of their own. I had a humble beginning and suddenly I was paired with rich kids (kids of ambassadors, bank owners, CEOs of multinationals to name a few) and so it was all about competition. Every summer, my classmates traveled abroad and they came back with fascinating stories but I never even neared the airport throughout my schooling not to even mention entering an airplane. At the end of every semester, my friends traveled back home in their luxurious cars while I had to go home on public transport. Worse still, as soon as we graduated, some went straight to the best universities in Europe for their Masters Programme because their parents could afford it. Some went to the best universities in North America. Some went to other notable universities in other parts of the world. Even with bad grades, many of my friends still got fixed in telecommunication firms, banks, oil companies, to name a few because their folks could pull some strings. But as for me, it has been me, my skills and my God. From my first job to the one I’m presently occupying, my parents did not have a hand in it (although I have a father that could pull some strings, but he won’t just do it; he’ll rather have you strike gold on your own). Though I’ve not arrived yet, but my ship will certainly berth – just give me time. Unfortunately, some of my classmates are still in the “Joneses” club even as I write this; some are still unemployed/not gainfully employed when some of their classmates are already managers. Curious about what happened to the “Joneses”? Life “happened” to them! (Laugh) Time has segregated each and every one of us into the stratum into which we truly belong. Imagine I was living a lie those days in school, you bet I would have been part of the “Joneses” now.
To have a place to stand in this world of reality, you must be qualified, sponsored or recommended, QED. If you know you don’t have anyone to recommend or sponsor you, you had better be qualified. Else, you might forever remain in the category of those that watch things happen.
Are you a student? If you know you don’t have anyone to back you, you better face your academics squarely so that you can finish in record time and get good grades. Without that, you might find it difficult securing that dream job of yours.
And besides, this is your last chance to be equal with your classmates. Don’t waste the golden hours of your youth.
Are you a worker? You don’t have to invest all you earn on colognes, suits, wrist watches, jewelry, cars, to name a few like your colleagues do all in the name of competition. Know thyself. Their family situation is different from yours. And besides, they are not going to lend you a hand during your retirement, so you had better start investing in your future.
Are you a family man that is fond of hanging out with friends every evening? That portion of your income that you spend on drinks and other irrelevant pursuits can be invested in your future or the future of your children. Be wise.
The worst thing you can do to yourself is to live a lie. Peer pressure ruins and lifts; your associations with others can either make you or mar your destiny. Many student union activists have been rusticated from school because they were causing trouble without having a backbone (while some would have been reinstated because their folks could pull some strings). Many men have lost their jobs because they were fighting for a cause. Many marriages have been broken because either or both of the partners imported some foreign ideas from their peers into their home. Many have lost their health to bad habits just because of peer pressure. Abortion might not hurt your friend, but it might dim your own hope of having children. The list is endless.
Verily, anyone that can’t stand out in the crowd might find it difficult succeeding in this world of ours. Your assignment in this world is different from that of others in your peer and so are your gifts. Your health - the strength of your organs (lungs, heart, kidney, liver to name a few) differs from that of your peers. Your dreams and aspirations differ from that of your peers. Your background differs from that of your peers. Your finances differ from that of your peers. Even your life span on this earth differs from that of your peers. So, why follow the crowd?
As the Yorubas will say, “20 friends cannot be friends for 20 years”. That friend you’re imitating might fade into oblivion someday and when he does, you will be left alone to tackle the mess you must have created. Be real. Don’t behave like others. Don’t be lost in the crowd because in the final analysis, it’s usually “all man for himself”. Don’t forget the son or daughter of whom you are. Don’t do more than your capability. Don’t spend more than your income. Don’t move in the same direction with drifters.
Be original. Be decisive. Be focused. Be successful.