Suffering and smiling

18 Sep

I have a good job with amazing benefits.  I like my co-workers. I enjoy my social life.  I just went back to school to get my masters.  Everything is working just fine for me.  However, when I do catch up with my Nigerian or other African brethren, I have this distinct feeling that they feel I am not doing enough.  Do I have a big house?  No.  Do I drive a new car?  No.  Am I building a house in Nigeria?  No.  I mean, what is the use of coming to America only to settle into mediocrity, right?  You should hear what they say to me when I tell them I am a citizen::

“Haaa!  Citizen ke?  And you have not brought anyone over?! Why?”

My people see me see trouble oh.  I did not know it was a requirement that I bring over some relative or the other.  I mean my siblings have talked about coming over, but they are very established in Nigeria and I discourage them because I know how hard I suffered to get myself situated in a foreign country.  Alone.  Without family or friends. 

In fact, my story is quite typical of most of you out there.  We are hard workers, us Nigerians. To show how industrious we are, we tend to overdo everything.  We work harder than anyone and party harder than anyone.  I remember back then you were nobody unless you were working at 80 hours a week and going to school fulltime.  Ogini?  That was cake walk.  We were Nigerians.  It was expected.  It was what determined whether or not you would be successful in the future.  And you not only had to go to school fulltime, you had to be doing one of those difficult majors; nursing, pre-med, engineering, computer science and so on and so forth. 

Right now, I like working just 40 hours a week and enjoying my weekends off.  My friend who makes $85 an hour (I kid you not) never lets me forget how hard he is working and how much he is smell-rosesaccomplishing.  I mean, he works even on weekends.  His intention is to retire at 40 and move back home.  I ask him what about now?  Why are you not stopping to smell the roses?  Why are you not enjoying life now?  Where is this race we are engaged in heading to?  What if you died today, would you take that $85 an hour job with you? Look at our American counterparts.  Yes.  Those dudes that live in nice houses and own nice cars.  They don’t work too hard, yet they have time to go on vacations, buy boats and second homes by the lake.  I observe them carefully and notice the difference between them and us.  They work smart, not hard.  They don’t focus on how much overtime they make per week and how much money they send back home.  They make career plans and stick with it, investing in their future along the way – not sending all our earnings back home so that your family can throw one big ‘owambe’ party for your father’s 60th birthday celebration or bury an obscure relative or another.

Turtle said something to me on our third date almost a year ago.  He said if he died today, he would not have any regrets what so ever because he works very hard at enjoying life.  I kinda hate him for that because I have wasted time doing the exact opposite.  So right now, I have made semi-finished list of all the things I want to do before I die:

  • Be a semi-professional ballroom dancer
  • Be an expert in horseback riding
  • Finally figure out how to thread water
  • Learn ice-skating
  • Spend a summer touring Asia
  • Write one book.  Just one.  I am never gonna be Dan Brown.

I will keep adding to the list each year.


8 Responses to “Suffering and smiling”

  1. Emeka September 19, 2009 at 3:04 am #

    lol… good one… no worries… with naija there is no doing well/enough/feeling accomplished… ….if you check on the rest of them folks… …even the folks that run that awesome business of “zero capital, max profit” a.k.a. dipping into govt/public funds are also not doing well cos they don’t seem to stop… apparently there is no max level and there is no there to get to!

    I may have discovered THE path and i’ve kept those words orbiting my brain cells … …”no one knows what happened to the captain, some say he died of his wounds, while others say he went back to his home country, but I like to think that at last he found a small measure of peace which we all seek but only few ever find..” ..lines from the Last of the Samurai

    ..yup.. a small measure of peace…

  2. funms-the rebirth September 19, 2009 at 9:51 am #

    ur so right……… we need to stop and smell the roses….. whats the point of working so hard if u dont take time to actually relax and enjoy. im going to make a list too…..:)

  3. ceecee September 21, 2009 at 11:01 am #

    I always feel oppressed by the efizzy of my nigerian peoples. but i console myself with all fingers are not created equal and do what i can to get by.

  4. Good Naija Girl September 21, 2009 at 1:17 pm #

    I’m with you on working smart. If you really want to you can work yourself to the bone today so that you can enjoy tomorrow, but at the same time we don’t know how many years we have on earth. I guess that’s why balance in these sorts of things is key.

    I think I would already be dead if I tried to keep up with the Joneses (lol what would the Nigerian equivalent be? The Cokers? The Okafors?) 🙂

  5. Original Mgbeke September 21, 2009 at 10:02 pm #

    Rosie, seriously…you are like officially one of my new favorite bloggers. Totally feeling this entire post! As in…speak on it! Like you, I’m always running into Nigerians who do this pissing contest. You meet them and within 5 minutes they wanna know what you do and if you work with any of the fortune 500 firms. What are you driving? Do you have a house?
    I’m perfectly fine with my 9-5, 40 hour a week j-o-b, my weekends off and my simple life style.
    People really need to stop and smell the roses. Oyinbo people sure as heck do work smart…notice how the top managers and directors drive regular cars like Hondas and they can afford to take family vacays on an annual basis, but we have to drive the extra fancy cars and what not. it’s always interesting sha.

    Sha sha, I’m content with the simpler things in life…a job that I like doing, family and friends, simple fun etc etc and I totally need to create a ‘life’ list too. 🙂

  6. Rosie September 22, 2009 at 8:43 am #

    Emeka: Preach brother, preach. That is all I aspire to, a small measure or peace.

    Funms: please oh please blog and tell us what’s on your list.

    Ceecee: Don’t feel oppressed. You never know. They may be jealous of your simple lifestyle.

    GoodNaijaGirl: LOL at the Okafors!

    Mgbeke: nne daluuuu o! You are making me shy. Like I told Funms, abeg gist me of your list when you are done.

  7. shonavixen September 22, 2009 at 3:27 pm #

    You speak the truth Rosie!! We – Africans that is need to stop and enjoy those roses, appreciate life as it is. I have my list that I need to check what I have done so far and need to update with new things!
    Loved this post.

    • Rosie September 29, 2009 at 4:35 pm #

      Shona, I finally visited your blog and girl …lol at the whole Southern African bit. Paul Rusesabagina came to speak at the college I work at. My co-worker who picked him up at the airport came to ask me what language he spoke cus he was talking on the phone during the drive. I was irritated. Paul is Rwandan, how the heck am I supposed to know this? I gave my coworker my best “what is it because I am African” look.

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