By Joey Efiong
Creation timeEvery child is born with innate desires, talents and dreams. However, society and cultural factors with very few exceptions determine the expression of these capabilities. To this effect, everyone becomes either a tailored fit to that particular system or an outcast. To become either of these, certain parts of our individuality or dreams must be locked away. This part that we keep locked away becomes a stranger to the world. A stranger we have carefully hidden beneath our beds. Everyone has that particular point in time when their stranger was created. Here is a practical example; Tunde, a child in primary three, was in school like every other child his age. The class teacher was teaching about professions. She had mentioned and explained the different professions but nothing about the one Tunde was growing to love. Tunde knew he did not want to be any of the ones she had mentioned. This is because at the time, he had already fallen in love with the pictures words created. The fairytale dreams and lands he had come to learn, reading children books. He wanted so desperately to learn about people who wrote those marvelous things and become one of them. Then the teacher began to ask what each child would like to be when they grew up:
“Me, I’ll be an Engineer ooh”The little voices echoed from different parts of the room. All the voices were raised except his. He did not know if the people who did what he wanted wereregarded in the world of “profession” which made hima little sad. This was because the teacher had made no mention of writers. “What would you want to be?” her voice sounding directly above his head, dragging him out of his shell.
“A writer” he responded clearly uneasy
“Writers don’t make enough money” she replied with a disappointed look on her face.
“You’ll be poor”
“You won’t have any money”Two voices rang out in unison, in a desperate need to support the teacher. The rest of the class laughed. That was the last time he ever mentioned to anybody what he truly wanted to be. When it was bed time that evening as he tucked himself in to sleep, he did the same for the writer personality. The only difference was that the stranger was “under his bed” hidden away from the world and never to be seen again. The story about little Tunde might be fiction but it is quite relatable. Society is hard on criticism that the average human shrinks to fit into the tiny bubble. The tiny bubble of what society sees as normal or standard. On careful analysis, it is a rather common thing for one to hide true intentionsor desires in a desperate need to fit in. In doing so, one’s core values become strangersto them. In most cases, one loses authenticity on the altar of acceptance. An acceptance that is chronically scrutinized every single minute you breathe. In the end one becomes an image built to fit into the society’s perfect standard. This builds up a tugging question, “what really is the perfect standard for society?’.