THE GREATEST GIFT

THE GREATEST GIFT

Life is very painful, isn’t it? I ask how you are doing, you smile and give me the typical Nigerian answer. “I’m fine”, in between large gulps of Lagos lagoon water as you drown. Oh don’t, worry. I’m “fine”, too. Lol! Anyway, guess what?

It is okay not to be fine.

Let your hair down. Cry your eyes out. It is alright.

Now take a breath, wipe your tears and pull yourself together, so we can tell ourselves the truth for a minute.

We go through our entire lives playing ostrich, hiding from unpleasant aspects of ourselves and the world, sometimes outrightly denying the reality that stares us in the face. You may think I’m about to say this makes you an insincere person, who is not in touch with their real self and the real world. I could be mean and declare that you are, as an import of your disconnectedness with reality. But I’d rather tell you that your reaction to all the unpleasantness of life is not only understood but also perhaps necessary for your wellbeing.

Your psyche is as weird as it is wonderful, and will resort to whatever methods to shield itself from pain. It would instead be unusual if you chose not to protect your sense of wellbeing from disruption. Strange as it may sound, this makes you a normal human being – this lying to yourself. But today, we will take a holiday from that most helpful shield of self-deception.

The painful truth is that it matters to you what the world thinks of your sexuality. In spite of your denial, it matters that instead of love and warm acceptance, you get the unkind condemnations which occasionally turn violent. It matters that you are not free to declare boldly who you are, even to those who are closest to your heart. And if you have, it matters if or when they are really not at home with it. You see through their pretenses, don’t you? When a sensible few accept you and love you for who you are, it matters that the world at large still thinks you are an outlier, even in those climes where your normality is entrenched by statutes.

If it does not matter, why does it hurt? Why does it hurt what they say? Why does homophobia make us upset, afraid or angry? Why do we avoid homophobic people like the plague? Cut off ties and block them on social media? Why do we hide who we are? And for the more courageous among us who do not, why do they still upset or infuriate us with their words and actions?

Let’s face it, rejection hurts like hell. It is fulfilling and emotionally rewarding to be accepted or even better, celebrated by one’s society. We generally treat validation-seeking behavior in others with scorn, pointing out that these are signs of low esteem or at minimum a deficiency of emotional independence. Today, let us admit that in this, we are all largely the same.

I’ll say this to most emotionally-independent among us. If you do not seek validation from everyone, there would still be a small set of significant others whose opinion of you matter, maybe a little too much. This is the source of their power to hurt you so.

I do not mean to say we should not be angered by homophobia. Anger, sometimes, is the only fitting and most efficient response to certain experiences, because, not only does it make self-expression more likely, it often serves as a catalyst that forces and galvanizes the action that is needed to tilt the balance in one’s favour. It is necessary to feel anger, to use it and not be used by it. To live and live well in spite of it.

But I digress.

Seeking validation is not a weakness, no. Like water, a healthy amount helps personal wellbeing. The danger lies in seeking too much of it, and having one’s entire self-worth hinged on it or pining for it when it clearly cannot be had. It is not wrong to want to connect with people. In fact, research has demonstrated that it is an important determinant of human happiness. This is all good but consider this: You cannot force any human being to love or accept you.

Let that sink in.

You can educate them, restrain their behavior using legal means, but you cannot change their minds. Only they can do that after weighing what you offer. You can censor their homophobic utterances, but you cannot remove the hate that smolders in their hearts. I believe a day will come when people will truly place the LGBT person and the heterosexual on the same pedestal, side by side, in terms of valuation. Such a day shines bright, only in our far future. Live to a hundred and not see it. You are therefore doomed to be barely happy all your life.

Or not.

This precisely is the challenge before you: to be happy without validation. I think this is the hardest thing but I see no other way out.

This is the only thing that is more important than the validation of other – the validation of self, for self and by self, and how successful you are in connecting with your own self. It is a terrible thing that you are condemned by human society, but it is 10 times the sin if you add your voice to the mad crowd that screams for your crucifixion, 10 times the sin if you judge your self-worth by their ignorant standards, 10 times the sin and against your own self if you make the absence of hate for your sexuality a criterion for your personal happiness. If you are made to hate yourself, then they would have achieved a double victory at your expense and with your help.

You are rejected, therefore you must accept yourself. I do not think you have a choice. The extent of their hate must be counterbalanced and negated by the excess of love that you give yourself. Self-loathing is a “luxury” you simply cannot afford.

The only source of love and validation which is totally within your control and accessible all day, every day, is that which you give yourself. You can feel whole and complete in spite of the hate. This is how you win the victory within while you fight the wars without.

You can feel whole and complete because you are. The first step is to purge yourself of all the lies you have been fed all your life. Just in case you have never been told, know this. There is absolutely nothing wrong with your sexuality. There is absolutely nothing wrong with your gender identity. You are beautiful, just as you are. Your uniqueness harms no one, and is in fact a necessary variation that makes the beauty of this universe, in all its glorious multiplicity, possible. You have to say this out loud to yourself: “My sexuality is normal and beautiful”.

You have to say it. And you have to know this. Because it is true.

As we flip the year into a brand-new page, let self-love and self-validation be your New Year resolution. Feed fat on it. This is the greatest gift you can give yourself.

Written by Dark Side

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6 Comments

  1. Eddie
    December 31, 14:02 Reply

    Bless your heart…. This was written just for me…

  2. Patrick
    December 31, 17:27 Reply

    How fitting was this to cap 2018!

  3. Peace
    January 01, 15:49 Reply

    I swear, this is speaking directly to me!!

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