Christmas Eve/Mission Statement

It’s Christmas Eve. No matter what you celebrate (or don’t celebrate), I hope everyone’s warm and snuggly with family, and anxiously anticipating tomorrow.

On to something else that might be fitting for this particular time of year:

I wrote this for one of my television production classes, but my dad recommended that upon restarting my blog, I should post it here as sort of a way of letting people know more about who I am and where I’m trying to go. So here you go. It’s written in the form of NPR’s “This I Believe” segments.

I believe in late nights serenaded by the whirr of an aging desktop computer, basking in the glow of the monitor, and crying until my head throbs. Or I guess in other terms, I believe in writing.

In fact, words are probably the one thing I am surest of. I must be, if I can spend years staring at blank Word documents, depriving myself of sleep and overall satisfaction with myself until I feel like smashing my head through a plate glass window. But still, I return to the chair, knowing that somewhere amidst all the frustration and self-doubt will come those precious few hours when all of a sudden the prose spills forth from me almost as profusely as the swear words had just a few minutes earlier.

It wasn’t always this way. I knew that I wanted to write since I was eight years old. When you’re eight years old you can do anything, but time and teenage angst can beat the confidence out of you like some punk with a baseball bat. I would like to say that I’m beyond feeling that way, that at some point during my teen years my fear of being incapable was proven unfounded. Not really. I am in a state of perpetual uncertainty. A chapter that I think is excellent one night is crap the next morning. To be honest, there is only one very specific moment in time when I know that what I’m doing, what I love, is right for me. It’s at three am, when I can’t pull myself to bed not because I’ve spent the last several hours skimming blog posts on Oh No They Didn’t! whilst slowly damaging my hearing beneath the blare of my headphones. I can’t sleep because finally, I can’t bear to leave my protagonist hanging there in mid-action on the page, as if dangling off a cliff, waiting for me to rescue him. I go to bed that night feeling like I climbed—no, leapt over—Mount Everest. That’s when I know I can make something of this.

And so I guess I really believe in dreams. Which actually leads me to my father. I have an incredible mother and sister as well, but my relationship with my father is different, because I am more like him than I could describe to you. He’s a writer too. He also knows what it’s like to be on the receiving end of that bat. But on top of that, he knows what it’s like to aspire for big, big things. I’m a first generation American, one of two children of Nigerian immigrants who arrived in San Francisco on an uncharacteristically clear and sunny day in 1984. Dad had made a career of his words in Nigeria. He’d worked in both print journalism and radio as an entertainment critic and a playwright, respectively. When he got to the states, all this changed. Doctors and schoolteachers in one country find themselves holding jobs and not careers out here. His writing had no outlet, nowhere to go except into a folder on the family computer.

My mom recently helped me see this in a new way. She and I and my sister and niece were coming home from long trip to our native Nigeria. I have never been fond of the exhausting side of travel—the luggage hauling and the long layovers and the constant takeoffs and landings. At that particular moment in time, I was glued to the seat as the plane ascended at 500 miles per hour, one hand clutching the armrest and the other squeezing my mother’s. Mom looked down at me with a sympathetic smirk. “You don’t have to be scared,” she said with her usual calmness. The plane shuddered and trembled, and I practically cut off her circulation, but she just smiled at me, like Mom’s supposed to. “Nothing’s going to happen.” I tried to tell her that she had no way of knowing this, no real reason to believe that. She just looked at me and said, “You still have so much to do with yourself. Look at you. Do you really think you would even have the opportunity to go back and forth between Nigeria and California if you weren’t meant to do something with it?” That’s when I thought to myself, Now that’s believing in someone. I’ve always been ambivalent about the idea of fate, but who’s to say that one might not receive an occasional cosmic nudge in the right direction?

So because of this, I believe in dreams. I certainly believe in my own, but I hope that someday I can be selfless enough to be passionate about someone else’s. My parents’ primary interests have always been my sister’s and my dreams. They would never have left their careers, families, or home, if they weren’t. She and I were their big, big aspirations. In my father, I could not have asked for a more supportive, encouraging human being to share my ambitions with. He has always made me feel like nothing short a worthy protégée, and for that I am immensely grateful. I guess it’s because of Mom, Dad, and Sis that I believe in family as well.

I spent days and days agonizing about how to get all this onto paper. I didn’t know what I believe. Or how to translate what I believe. Or whether or not I really wanted anyone to know anything about what I might believe. But what do you know, it’s done. I guess I’m doing something right.


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