When Life Happens

As long as you hold on to your fictional self, you will never fully ascend to your highest potential and never be completely free from the tyranny of the ordinary life.

When Life Happens
Created by Olubunmi Nmerenu

Growing up, I remember being told '๐™ˆ๐™ฎ ๐™ค๐™ฌ๐™ฃ ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™จ ๐™ฉ๐™ค๐™ค ๐™ข๐™ช๐™˜๐™', that I was too principled, that '๐™„ ๐™˜๐™–๐™ง๐™ง๐™ž๐™š๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ๐™จ ๐™ค๐™ฃ ๐™ข๐™ฎ ๐™๐™š๐™–๐™™' (I was too passionate), and that people like me end up '๐™˜๐™–๐™ง๐™ง๐™ฎ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ก๐™–๐™จ๐™ฉ' (empty barrels).

I was in my first year at university when this was said to me, and I remember the righteous anger that arose within me. I remember telling them: โ€œ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ข๐™š ๐™ฌ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ก๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™š๐™ก๐™กโ€. From that moment on, I vowed to graduate with a first-class degree, even if I had to become a โ€œtriangular studentโ€ (class, cafeteria, hostel) and dedicate all my time to studying.

The good news is that I graduated with a first-class degree and ranked among the top 7 students in my department. I proved to them that being passionate and principled wasn't a flaw and that people like me can and will achieve great things. But I wish the story ended here.

The bad news is that this particular incident marked me. Something about my original design was altered at that moment. I started living my life to prove a point, striving to demonstrate my worth through perfect grades. Getting a 'B' in a course was taboo; I felt like a failure if I did. I also started to build a wall around myself so that no one would ever have that much access to me to tell me something so hurtful.

I developed a new persona - a no-nonsense, putting-you-in-your-place kind of persona. In those rare moments when I let down my guard around my friends, someone who is not in my circle wouldn't believe it was the same me.

My fictional self was in full control and, to be honest, it is so high maintenance! In order not to have to engage with it, I became extremely introverted.

My experience suggests that we sometimes create personas as a survival mechanism. To illustrate this point further, I have shared five additional examples in the carousel below.

As we wrap up this week, I want you to know that regardless of what life experiences have caused you to create a fictional persona as a survival mechanism, ๐—ถ๐˜'๐˜€ ๐˜๐—ถ๐—บ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—น๐—ฒ๐˜ ๐—ถ๐˜ ๐—ด๐—ผ.

Bunmi, let go? Yes, please let go. As long as you hold on to your fictional self, you will never fully ascend to your highest potential and never be completely free from the tyranny of the ordinary life.

๐“๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐ฐ๐ž๐ž๐ค๐ž๐ง๐, ๐ˆ ๐ž๐ง๐œ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ๐š๐ ๐ž ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ญ๐จ:

๐Ÿ“ List the personas you have created as survival mechanisms.

๐Ÿ“Ask yourself what life events triggered each one.

๐Ÿ“ Write down which aspects of your authentic self would be expressed if you let go of these fictional selves.

๐Ÿ“ Make it a daily habit to honour your authentic self. For example, instead of being hesitant to meet new people due to past betrayal, set a goal to make new connections at least once a week.

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You're a gem ๐Ÿ’Ž, remember that. Keep living your bedazzled life, one day at a time.