How do you measure success? It may depend on how you were brought up or the environment in which you grew as a child. Which were applauded the most? Achievements or participation. Effort or result. It could have been a healthy combination. I am privileged and blessed to have been raised by parents who I like to describe as open-minded optimists but strict perfectionists in their own way. They supported and push my brothers and myself to hold high standards and work hard to uphold them. Growing up in primary (grade) school, we would strive to be top of the class. For me, it offered a sense of accomplishment and confidence in my ability to retain and apply what I was taught and what I learned.

I don’t remember being coaxed or coerced into studying or being promised material rewards for academic achievements. I don’t know, maybe as a toddler I may have been cajoled into learning some basic life skills as all parents do with the tiny ones. My parents gave me the tools to think for myself and rate my own successes. I am not sure how they did it, but they were able to wean us from being dependent on them for endorsements and approval at a very early age. We were able to define what success meant to us very early and we took ownership of our journeys. We learned how to set precise goals, such as the schools we wanted to get into, and how to work tirelessly for the good grades. It was not that serious or that big of a deal. Excellence was just a matter of fact. I make it sound easy, but it was not. I am truly grateful for my parent’s sacrifices and support.

However, there is one problem with being programmed to aim high and dream big and think for yourself. It is more painful when your efforts are not enough to get you where you envision. It is easy to beat yourself up and label your attempts as mediocre. You blame no one else but yourself for your shortcomings and in your low moments, disappointments hit hardest. Everything becomes a big deal. Serious business. There are so many variables and determinants of success especially with matters like growing in the career of your choice or pursuing a dream. For a good percentage of these moving parts, you have limited control over. Most of the time I look around at my circumstances and I don’t even try to put my best foot forward. I overthink everything.

Perhaps I need a little more of that child-like mindset of endless possibilities and positive expectations. Less of that adult pessimism and skepticism. I think I lost most of my childhood wonder and glee. Well, in these reflections, I hope to revive my childhood zest for limitless growth and simply believing in the impossible.


It was darkest at the time. He was not asleep. He never sleeps—a fact that I am still yet to accept and appreciate. I love to read. Especially when it was time to care for and protect the jar. Oh, the jar of pure joy and happiness! I read my favourite stories of ancient conquests and enigmatic tales aloud during my watch hour. I would not always read. I danced and sang in my hushed husky voice. I was always shy when I remembered that He was still watching. Regardless, there was something magical about every night’s watch. They were never the same.

Bittle was always there too. But asleep virtually all the time. I was not shy of Bittle. Today, she perched on the top of the monolithic glass pillar beside the jar. Lazuli peacefully rested there, as it basked in the direct moonlight, reflecting calming rays of blue around the room and on Bittle’s white fur. Today, Bittle sleepily stole glances at me with one eye, intermittently, and then went back to her comfortable routine, as I tried to dance my worries of the day away. I guess she noticed how much I was still recovering from today’s bout with the baker.

Being a homeless orphan in the village of Zova has its ruthless perks. It was pure elation, however, 36 moons ago, when I met the Wise Keeper of the Glass temple. I would not forget. With warm, kind eyes he gave me an offer to steward the Glass Temple which only reveals itself to the pure in heart and spirit. I did not understand all his many instructions. For some reason, he kept stressing that more important than any precious thing in the temple was to discover who the Creator was and to discover his immanence. I did not understand his words nor was I ready to trade my excitement for deep thought or understanding. And now, standing and contemplating the value of the magnificent jar, His knowledge or existence was the last thing my senses would consider.

Could the jar be the permanent end of the daily woes? Yes, there are other rooms and elements not fully explored but Lazuli is what I know. Lazuli would trade for a fortune. Bittle was wide awake and glaring at me, confused, with her wide eyes which glittered in the soft light, as I made my way up the glass pillar. It was strangely sturdy. She glided down from her spot on the translucent monolith, floating gracefully like the white flying cat that she was. Bittle, having landed soundlessly on my shoulder, started pawing my eyelids close and desperately reminding me that He wouldn’t be pleased. I was determined, and she gave up, softly disappearing into thin air like she always did when she knew she would not win.

I was now a foot’s reach from Lazuli. The slippery climb up the pillar was close to an end. I flung my hand to reach for the base. A split second after the fourth try, I was in awe of the momentary burst of myriad tints and shades of bright green and blue, as the jar of joy and happiness fell to my face. There it was again, elation at its peak. I let go and spread my arms to receive the precious jar. It connected with my forehead. I saw blue, bright red and painful blackness.

I jolted awake, immediately realizing the gravity of my transgression. My eyes were already tear-filled and a bit bloody. I broke down into uncontrollable tears and deep sorrow, cradling the five pieces of the jar in my lap and arms. I had done the unthinkable. He would not forgive. Between my sobs, I could faintly hear Bittle and a familiar voice. I could not place a finger on it yet, but it was there. He lifted me up and promised to fix Lazuli if I would only promise to know Him. Lazuli would never be perfect, and I accepted this fate. Many promises were made that day. The other rooms and precious things seem to appear more clearly now. They seem equally exciting. He said not to get overly attached. I understood.

Lazuli carries the scars of the repair. I carry the scar and the pain. Though I still steward the Glass temple, I do not walk alone—Bittle is always good company but His presence makes the difference. Wise Keeper, I understand His immanence.

The 2015 change

I haven’t made a post in ages and now writing here feels weird—like stripping in public. Well, what better way to revive the blog in a coma than to reflect on one of the most impactful years of my life. 2015 was the year I graduated from college. It was the year I gave into severe habits that come with senioritis. I disappointed myself with horrible grades in my final semester of college. I intentionally became the recluse that most people already assumed I am. I embraced the warmth of my blanket almost 24/7 rather than the company of friends and family. I satisfied the barest minimum of performances required of me by my part-time jobs/projects and college classes and was satisfied with it. 2015 was the year that I was jogged out of the reverie of 20 years of continuous schooling into the realities of being 100% responsible for my controllable future.
Essentially, it was the year I chose to be least bothered by any circumstance or person. And as much as I developed bad habits and still entertained some detestable, yet sweet and sour addictions, I also got so absorbed in my failures over the past years (a hint of depression can be perceived here). I am the best actor I know and I got away with believable lies when concerned loved ones were kind enough to try to meddle.
I tend to be the purposeful realist and cynic. I exaggerate truths especially if they are negative and have to do with me. It is only natural that I would fail to see the little victories and progress that should have made me a happier person. Interestingly, I never really lost sight of God and His mercies, even though I hardly ever acknowledged Him as much as He deserves. I am glad, however, that I was able to see through the gloom to become a better person. Failure taught me a few shareable things!
Only dwell on the past when it has higher stakes in determining the future
Memories that don’t make you happy suck. Yes, and they steal from you. They steal your momentum, your smile, your ability to bounce back. I applied to several jobs and reached out to as many career opportunities but never succeeded at most. I beat myself up about the frustrations of not putting enough effort into scoring better grades, into preparing more adequately for job interviews, into studying harder. On the flip and positive side, none of these self-sabotaging actions helped me get a great three-month internship working from home or a job as a faculty intern at Ashesi University College this year. I wasted precious emotional energy and time wallowing in misery and self-doubt. Time and energy that could have been invested in bouncing back even harder and higher!
Pick yourself up and don’t fight others who are willing to help
It was hard getting my head in order. It was hard telling myself to STFU every time I got lost in debilitating thoughts but I did anyways. At least, I was willing to try. I tried but failed several times and God was still watching. So what did He do? He placed helpers in my way. It was only left for me to accept the help. I was stubborn but, fortunately, Vanessa, one of the helpers, was obstinate. We formed the best personal growth enforcement team I’ve ever known. We are not perfect, but at the very least, we are largely effective. I was now on my feet. What next?
Be proactive and fight yourself
I had to fight. You are your greatest enemy. If you haven’t come to that realization yet, then you don’t know yourself that well. Edwin, one of my brothers, visited home during the last weeks of 2014. He had grown a lot. He had learnt a lot. He didn’t understand why I was (mentally) stagnant, of sorts, career-wise. He said to explore more, try different things—new things, experiment! I was slacking, he said. I had to fight for what I wanted. Every day in 2015 was a battle against my lethargic self to be more proactive. The hustle was real. I wanted to write more, read more, take online courses and search for or create career development opportunities but my blanket, Japanese anime and my pillow were not in agreement. I had to confront and fight my greatest enemy. I started fighting my inertia only after graduation—sleeping only when necessary and being more mindful about decisions and plans. I decided to be less lazy. Though it was too late for my final grades, I believe my spirit is still alive so there is hope. That’s what matters.
Don’t lose sight of the good things and people
Vanessa once mentioned that what I considered success was so ideal that I had lost sight of the little victories I had which filled my bucket of successes, though seemingly infinitesimal. I hated to agree, but it was true whether I chose to see it that way or not. I had helped people understand concepts better in school and aided some friends in overcoming certain difficulties. I successfully completed daily tasks at work. I went out of my way sometimes to offer help when the need arose as a student and even now as a worker. To acknowledge this was to accept that patience, along with consistent baby steps towards better, productive habits was essential. She was not the only positive influence. I had good friends who helped in many other ways. I was a part of the Navigators Bible Study in school; everyone in the study helped me make sense out of my life as it were.

So yeah … 2015, no matter how small, was a success! For that I am grateful to God and the great people He placed in my life to reinforce the successes I took for granted over the year.
I don’t know what lies ahead. No one ever does. So I’ll do what I know is best; to believe that there is hope and in the only one who actually knows, God. I can and will form an even perfect personal growth enforcement duo with Him.
I think I still have the heart to leap over more troops and attempt to destroy more battlements. I’m too young to slack!
*STFU: – (abbrev.) Save The Freaking Unicorns