Growing up in my old environment was quite an experience. There were many kinds of people with different lives entirely. Some good, others bad, there was really no in-between. My father tried his best to raise us right. He set boundaries for us when it came to interacting with the neighborhood kids. Of course, my siblings and I broke some of his rules and ended up getting punished.
It took us a while for us to understand what my father was trying to do. He wanted us to live better than he had lived. He wanted a better life for us, getting ourselves in trouble wouldn’t get us far but we didn’t know that. There were a few parents like my parents too but mine stood out. My old neighborhood was filled with too many loose children who could corrupt kids of parents who were not careful. My father knew this and he wanted to shield us from that.
Recently, I have been meeting a lot of people from my past. Some were high school friends, others were kids from my old neighborhood. Of course, it’s was a delight seeing people you knew doing well but then there were few exceptions to the case. I heard the story of one of my old friends and I nearly cried.
Mary was one of the girls I grew up with. She was smallish in stature and very quiet. Like my father, her parents were very strict too, they ensured that they could give her and her siblings the best they could offer. We all played around while we were younger but we lost contact when my family moved from the neighborhood
Apparently, after we left, Mary became uncontrollable, she would act quiet and polite for a while then go back to being notorious. As she grew older, she moved around with the bad kids in the neighborhood. Partying was the order of the day and drugs weren’t far behind. Her parents grew older than their actual ages because she had given them every cause to worry. No one could talk to Mary anymore.
Few years into senior secondary school, she started popping out babies and that was the end of her educational programs. She dropped out of school and eventually married one of the numerous men she moved with. It was devastating to know because she was a very bright young girl while growing up.
I also heard the story of Ife from the same neighborhood. Unlike Mary and I, her parents never really cared about her and her siblings. They would disappear for days and show up like nothing had happened. She and her siblings had to take responsibility for themselves while their parents were out of the house. By the time we moved, things were not really looking good for her because they were on the verge of dropping out of school.
Ife eventually dropped out of school for a number of years, she worked so hard in order to get back to school which she did after a few years. Even though they were never really supported by her parents, she and her siblings made the best use of their lives. They moved from the neighborhood after she got her degree. It was surprising to everyone because their family was one of the worst in the neighborhood.
There were a lot of other stories too, while some encouraged me, the others made me question a lot of things. I realized that sometimes you might have the best background, the perfect parents, loving family, good friends, and still turn out as a failure. It is very true that most of these people influence you but in the end, it still boils down to your decision as a person. No one would live your life for you.
Wallowing in self-pity or tears would not solve the problem, taking action is. Mary should have been the better one while Ife became a failure but the tables were turned simply because of their decisions. If you choose to do something or not do something, you are making a choice either way. It’s better to act or not to act for the right reasons.
Background, upbringing, family, and environment is very important to us as individuals but sometimes we have to adopt new ones if the old ones become limitations to our growth and success. In the end, is it our fault or someone else’s?
Writer: Empress_Writes (Esther Ayoola).