WARNING: IF YOU’RE ALLERGIC TO CHEESY, FEEL FREE TO SKIP THIS ONE.
I’ve got a secret that has tugged at my conscience for many months. In my head, there’s been an epic battle: should I expose myself?
I knew that if I did, one of two things would happen: you’d either love me or despise me. But the more I’ve kept the truth about myself hidden, the worse I’ve felt about depriving friends and family the one thing I’ve done for many years to acquire the quality of life I’ve lived for at least 15 years.
As you contemplate my impending revelation, please remember this first: I was born into something– my father, young and driven, worked for the Ogun State government, I and my brother and our two sisters lived with our dad and mum in government-provided housing. People called the place The Quarters and we had a three-bedroom bungalow to ourselves.
We even had a poultry in the back and, though I wasn’t yet five years old at the time, I still recollect how buoyant life was: the food, the clothes, the large bed in my parents room that felt to me like a tennis court, leftovers we were able to share with others, the new car. It was a middle class life with potential for days. Until it all crashed and its shards slashed my family into scattered pieces.
My father was killed by the police.
On a nondescript Saturday, he was stopped at a checkpoint on Sagamu expressway. They had questions about his new car. He probably thought the questions were stupid questions. He dared to argue with the cops. They fired. He died.
What followed was 18 years of roving in an uncharted jungle. Yanked apart from my brother and sisters. Later, struggled with ends that wouldn’t ever meet with the slave wages the government paid teachers, of which my mother was one. Hawked bread. Hawked uncooked rice. Hawked soap. Hawked eggs. I was that ‘omo oni bread’ who spoke nice English.
However, at every milestone on this uncertain journey were people, absolute strangers, who took me by the hand and led me to the next junction. You’re probably one of them. Maybe you have me a job. Or you took me in your house. I’m sure I was never able to express my gratitude. I probably disappeared. But trust me I’m grateful, I just didn’t know for a long time how to act around people. It was a defect from my upbringing. Thank you.
Which is why when I review this life so far, all I see is grace. I couldn’t have imagined how far I was able to grow and how fast it happened. The risks I’ve taken with career, the times I bit more than I could chew, the curveballs life has thrown at me. And it’s all good. I’m still here and grateful. Every single day I’m grateful for the chance to see a future that’s better than my past.
The funny thing in all of this is that giving gratitude gives you more reasons to give gratitude. This is my secret.
I try to treat people well. From whatever I make I give out. Some have asked me questions such as: why did you tip her that much? The guy you just gave money, did you know him before? Are you that rich?
No. Not rich. Only grateful. Only keeping the secret to myself that giving to others literally makes you happy. Only investing in my future because EVERY TIME I GIVE, IT COMES BACK A HUNDRED FOLD. I promise you. Every. Single. Time.
I don’t give much to churches. I give to people. People who need it. It doesn’t matter to me what they do with what I give because who am I to judge people’s failures and punish their weaknesses? I don’t even have to give money; sometimes, I just take the phone call or chat on WhatsApp. That’s all.
There are still many things not “right” with my life but that I have people who speak for me, people who give me business—even people who lend me money—is a gift from God. And for a long time I’ve wondered, would my giving formula work for other people?
I bet it would.
What are you thankful for? Do you want random acts of kindness to happen to you? Or perhaps you just like to feel smug haha? Then take my secret. Try the challenge. Give to a random stranger today and see what happens.