Mine is the only birth date that is a command in the Caesarian calendar: March Forth. The motto I hold dear, is this simple yet profound command that resonates as a directive not to falter, an order to persevere despite life’s capricious follies. It is a call to always keep moving forward, no matter the obstacles life tosses in my path.
Beauty and prestige, they undoubtedly hold their positions in our world. But I’ve long realized that these qualities alone cannot serve as the foundation of genuine self-esteem. Through my life’s journey, I’ve witnessed the most striking individuals grapple with their self-confidence, plagued by nagging doubts about whether their outward beauty truly aligns with the praise and admiration they receive.
“I’m I really pretty?” I’ve heard numerous pretty women ask me, their vulnerability belying the external facade of confidence.
Similarly, I’ve observed those born into privileged circumstances wrestle with profound questions about their intrinsic worth. They constantly contemplate whether the affection they receive from friends and loved ones is rooted in their actual selves or merely a by-product of their societal status. Through these poignant experiences, an insightful truth has crystallized within me – authentic self-worth emerges from a deep reservoir within us. It is born from an unwavering belief in our unique abilities and a steadfast conviction that each of us possesses the innate power to navigate the true course of our lives.
I must confess that my social circles are rather limited in size. In other words, I don’t have a wide circle of friends. Instead, my social sphere primarily comprises colleagues and relatives. Although my personal preferences naturally steer me away from seeking a prominent presence on social media, my professional role as a communication specialist obliges me to actively engage in the digital realm. In this modern age, establishing and maintaining a visible online presence is essential for garnering the respect and credibility required in my adopted field.
To be honest, the mere thought of posting anything online tends to trigger a sense of unease within me. I’m acutely aware of how, in an instant, the entire world can gain access to one’s personal affairs, a prospect that heightens my anxiety. This unease is, in many respects, a testament to my introverted nature.
Last week, a minor family drama unfolded within the confines of my home. It was a simple yet vivid tableau of childhood sibling rivalry. My 5-year-old son and his 10-year-old sister engaged in a playful but spirited bout of bickering. In one of these exchanges, I overheard my son’s not-so-kind taunt: “That’s why you don’t have many followers!” It struck a chord and had the intended effect, leaving my daughter in quite a state. But what came next revealed a layer of her I was previously unaware of – she had clandestinely ventured into the realm of social media, specifically creating a Snapchat account, and, to my surprise, she had used my credentials to do so. Naturally, I scolded her and embarked on the important task of educating her on the potential dangers of social media. After all, she is much too young to be exposed to the digital expanse.
However, upon reflection, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the situation. My daughter, it seems, is unequivocally the extrovert in our family. Born into an era deeply entwined with social media, I can’t escape a sense of trepidation about her upbringing within this digital landscape, which stands in stark contrast to my own experiences.
In contemporary Gambia, the prevailing norm appears to extol extroversion. However, I’ve discovered profound value in celebrating life’s moments in solitude, learning from my failures in the quiet recesses of my thoughts, and embracing a serene, unhurried pace of existence. This lifestyle, while seemingly incongruous with today’s surge in extroversion and digital connectivity, possesses its unique merits. And here’s why:
Irrespective of external judgments, whether in the form of praise or criticism, I remain nonplused in my commitment to self-improvement. Praise may uplift me momentarily, but it does not inflate my ego. Likewise, criticism, though it may momentarily sting, does not possess the power to plunge me into despair.
Born on the 4th of March, I hold the significance of these words, “March Forth,” close to my heart. They resonate with profound meaning for me, serving as a constant reminder that no obstacle, no matter how trivial, and no idiosyncrasy of even the most vexing individuals, can divert me from the course I’ve charted.
I persevere, navigating through the initial difficulties of disappointments and the eccentricities of individuals who, despite their closeness, may sometimes let us down. These elements, though they may attempt to obstruct my path, do not deter me from my unwavering march forward.
In the enduring wisdom of a profound Wolof adage, we find the abiding truth that “Judu bu raeye ndey ak bai, tarr Yallah, fulah ak faidah borom”, meaning “We gain prestige from our parents through the circumstances of our birth, we receive our beauty as a gift from God, but it is through our own deeds that we earn respect.” These words are more than mere aphorisms; they have been etched into the very core of my existence, molding my outlook on life.
Indeed, the notion of prestige often stems from the circumstances of our parentage, a facet of life beyond our control. Yet, allow me to take you through the mesmerizing tale of human creation, a story where life commences as a grand race. In this epic journey, millions of minuscule contenders, each a tiny hero, embark on an extraordinary quest – the pursuit of the elusive prize called existence.
Picture this breathtaking scene: an army of sperm cells surging forth with unwavering determination, each representing a unique possibility within the grand scheme of the human story. They engage in a grand race, a sprint for the ultimate prize – life itself.
Every participant in this remarkable race carries the genetic code of their forebears, an intricate blend of history and destiny. Astonishingly, this destiny has already been foretold, influencing whether one’s journey through life will be marked by happiness or sorrow.
The racetrack these courageous participants traverse is the intricate labyrinth of the female reproductive system, a path filled with challenges and uncertainties. As they press on, they encounter treacherous terrain and formidable obstacles, creating seemingly insurmountable odds.
From this multitude of competitors, only one, a lone champion, will ultimately reach the coveted finish line – out of this expansive sea of contenders, a single victor emerges. It finds its unique path, conquers adversity, and ultimately merges with the egg, heralding the dawn of a new life.
The story of human conception is a testament to the unwavering resilience and indomitable spirit of life itself. It vividly illustrates the incredible odds each of us overcomes to be born, to embark on the journey of existence, and to assume a unique role in the grand narrative of humanity.
When we ponder the circumstances of our birth, our birthplace, our gender, the color of our skin, or even the caste into which we are born, these are factors beyond our control, dear Marie. Undoubtedly, they may cast shadows upon our future journeys, but they must never be allowed to tarnish the essence of our character. For within every individual is a history of triumph, a testament to their victory in the extraordinary race to be born.
The profound wisdom of the Wolof adage mentioned earlier resonates deeply within me. It underscores the paramount importance of self-earned respect. Our actions, our choices, and our ethics are the foundational pillars not only of our character but also of the esteem in which we are held by others. This powerful truth serves as a constant reminder to compel us to be ever more conscious of our decisions and their far-reaching impact.
My life’s journey, much like yours, has been gracefully marked by the passage of time. These years have witnessed my transformation into a person who embraces both strengths and vulnerabilities. For it is in acknowledging our vulnerabilities that we truly discover our capacity for growth.
As time has inevitably stripped away my innocence, it has generously bestowed upon me a wealth of experiences. Each one of these experiences has become a testament to my ability to adapt, learn, and evolve. I stand before you now, no longer the teenager who first put pen to paper at The Independent Newspaper in 2000, yet within my forty-year-old self, that teenager’s spirit, that raw enthusiasm for life’s lessons, continues to reside.
The labyrinth of life, with its twists and turns, remains a constant source of surprise and wonder to me. It persistently teaches that, even as we age and gather wisdom, there is always more to learn, more to experience, and more to uncover. Our uncertainties, our naiveties, and our gullibilities are not to be seen as weaknesses but as stepping stones along our ever-evolving journey.
Regrets, too, have found their place in my life. They do not serve as anchors to weigh me down but rather as beacons guiding me towards better decisions in the future. Regrets are testaments to our capacity for growth and the wisdom that accompanies it.
As the years have rolled by, I’ve developed a profound appreciation for the intricate weave of human emotions, the delicate dance of complex relationships I have developed, maintained and lost, and the invaluable wisdom gained through life’s journey. Above all, I hold this truth to be self-evident that when you seek to broadcast your life to the world, the pain of falling in full view of all is excruciating.
Therefore, I encourage celebrating in the quiet moments, enduring failures with dignity, and aspiring to lead a long and healthy life in peace… all while being propelled by the enduring directive to “March Forth” through life’s myriad challenges. Let’s march on my dear Marie…
To be continued…