While holidaying in Egypt, I had an interesting conversation with a friend. He mentioned a celebrity whose idea of sexual adventure was urinating and defecating on his partners. My immediate thought was, “How unoriginal. This is the stuff of stereotypical porn.”

If I ask 10 people to write down their bucket list – the things they’d like to do before they die – chances are most of them would have similar passions. And, the items on each list may not be more than 10 in number. They would probably reflect decades of watching Hollywood movies and reading novels. Isn’t it amazing how western media has shaped people’s dreams?

Much of humanity just isn’t original. It’s something you’ll soon learn as you journey through life. We rarely have unique thoughts or wants. That’s why the fight for authenticity is a brutal one.

I’ve gone scuba diving, parasailing and snorkeling. I’ve even hiked the Grand Canyon. But you know what? I don’t remember those activities with much joy. That’s because while they seem like the typical stuff of adventure, my idea of real fun is sitting in a busy city cafe gisting with a friend. I also like safaris in very remote locations. Watching a lion hunt is my idea of excitement. Viewing a movie with gratuitous violence is thrilling. Reading for hours makes me happy. That’s the authentic me. Not bungee jumping or skydiving. 

Yet, I still chase those things. Why? Maybe it’s to cross off an invisible checklist in my head. Perhaps it’s to prove a point that introverted intellectuals are not boring. Or it could be an excuse to just spend my money. Who knows?

During my recent trip to Egypt, I had another conversation. It centered on how people worry about living abroad because they believe getting good help is expensive. I remember pointing out that it’s only true if you can’t afford it. 

As Nigerians, we tend to think wealth is meant for other people, not us. That Beyoncé and the Queen of England have two heads. That luxury is only meant for celebrities not normal hardworking folks. So, even when we can afford certain things, we still cling to “sufferhead economics”. We hold on tightly to money, as we are not sure of when the next one will come. Spending more energy worrying, than investing & creating sustainable wealth. We believe in the fear handed down by our frugal parents. We’ve been programmed and so have no independent desires.

This phenomenon further reminds me of University. How I was told everyone must have at least one carryover from particular lecturers. I never did. Even Math 101 that terrified me was eventually conquered through sheer grace.

I also recall once swearing on my timeline. Afterwards, I had to ask myself where it came from. No part of my upbringing features swear words. None of my close friends swears. So I must have learnt it somewhere.

The purpose of this rambling post is to say, authenticity includes rejecting media stereotypes and coming up with stuff of your own. It involves holding on to what makes you happy even when it’s not popular or sexy. And, being bold enough to project your values.

It’s easy to fit into the norm; to do everything your culture expects you to. True courage is being yourself. 

For more, please read Consistency breeds Stamina.

It's easy to fit into the norm; to do everything your culture expects you to. True courage is being yourself.  Click To Tweet

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