𝑾𝑨𝑹𝑵𝑰𝑵𝑮: 𝑨 𝒍𝒐𝒏𝒈 𝒑𝒐𝒔𝒕. 𝑶𝒏𝒍𝒚 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒃𝒓𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒅 𝒕𝒐 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒆𝒏𝒅 𝒃𝒖𝒕 𝒔𝒊𝒏𝒄𝒆 𝒘𝒆 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒂𝒕 𝒉𝒐𝒎𝒆 𝒐𝒏 𝒍𝒐𝒄𝒌𝒅𝒐𝒘𝒏, 𝒘𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒅𝒐 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒍𝒐𝒔𝒆 𝒃𝒚 𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒅𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒕𝒐 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒆𝒏𝒅? 𝑬𝒗𝒆𝒏 𝒊𝒇 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒕𝒂𝒌𝒆 3𝒅𝒂𝒚𝒔, 𝒋𝒖𝒔𝒕 𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒅.
Jealousy is a strong word that gets used daily. I would argue that it is a household word. As it is with my other articles, I will not bore you in attempting to define the word but I try I communicate the significance of this topic experientially.
I had always had a dream and passion for development and although I graduated with an amazing result as a Microbiologist, it was clear to me that I did not want another degree in Microbiology. So immediately after graduation in 2012, I began plans to begin a career as a development worker. To do that, I felt I needed a Masters in Public Health. Among my close friends, one friend who shared this dream with me was the best man at my wedding- Barnabas Akyenyi Usman. In chasing this dream, in June/July 2014, we applied to the Masters of Public Health (MPH) program at the University of Illorin, Nigeria. Out of over 175 applicants who sat for the exams, about 45 of us were shortlisted for the interview. Among the myriad of questions I was asked, one question stood out. “WHO SCORED THE ONLY GOAL IN THE 2014 WORLD CUP FINALS BETWEEN GERMANY VS ARGENTINA?. Guess what guys! I failed it. I had always been unfootballic. But who asks about football in a Public Health Interview? It was at that moment I knew my village people went into that interview with me.
Unfortunately, we were not successful. Our long road trips to Illorin became futile.
We returned to Lafia, Nasarawa State, and in a bid to remain productive while thinking of our next steps, Barnabas and I convinced someone we knew to establish a Computer Institute. Although he was reluctant, we sold him a good proposal and he gave us the funds. The computer institute had the following departments: a training department where we enrolled students who wanted to undertake a diploma, a cyber cafe, and a business centre. Shortly after we began the institute, Barnabas secured a job with Voluntary Service Overseas – VSO Nigeria, an international Organisation and he was to relocate to Abuja (Nigeria’s capital). Although I was happy for him, I was also broken that someone with whom we were struggling together had left me to struggle alone. He had gotten his big break and I was left behind.
Do not get bored yet, come with me, I am almost at the juicy part of my story. A few months after he relocated to Abuja, Barnabas applied for the Commonwealth Distant Learning Scholarship, and to my amazement, he got awarded the scholarship to undertake a Masters of Public Health (MPH) at the University of Manchester, UK.
Now this was when it started for me:
Just when I was trying to manage my demotivated self without my struggling partner, he gave me another shocker, he had been awarded the Commonwealth Scholarship to study a course we both had dreams of studying together. I was devastated. I felt left-back. I felt like a failure. Literally guys! I felt JEALOUS.
I began to ask myself: “How is it that we were struggling with this guy and he had achieved all these leaving me behind?” I felt more pain. In those moments when you are asking “Why not me?” There is a tendency to slip into Jealousy mode. Like me, I became very sad and jealous of Barnabas but this was the trick, the more pain and hurt I felt, the more challenged and deliberate I became to achieve what he had achieved so instead of hating Barnabas or remaining negatively jealous, I flipped this around and asked him all he did to succeed in his applications. He shared his scholarship essays with me. I developed my own. He assisted me in reviewing them and in 2016 I was awarded the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship and a few other scholarships to study a Masters of Science in Public Health. My dream had come to pass too.
Fast forward to 2017, I completed my master’s degree in the UK and returned to Nigeria. At the time, Barnabas was still working with VSO. The day I returned to Nigeria, Barnabas was at the airport to receive me. In fact I did not have to rent a house, we began to live together in Abuja. Shortly after, I began volunteering with VSO again before I secured a job later.
In February 2019, I shared a scholarship opportunity in one of the WhatsApp groups Barnabas and I belonged to. It was about the Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarship. Barnabas saw it and asked me for some of my scholarship essays. He used this as a guide to applying. At this time I was already applying for PhD scholarships around the world and in March 2019, I was awarded the Queensland University of Technology Postgraduate Research Award (QUTPRA), a fully-funded scholarship to undertake a PhD in Australia. A few months later, precisely in May 2019, Barnabas was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarship to undertake an M.Sc in Public Policy & Management in one of the world’s best institutions in Kenya-The Strathmore Business School.
Did you notice how the table turned around? First, he helped me get a scholarship and now I did the same. Today we both enjoy fully funded scholarships and are both development workers.
All these would not have happened if I dwelled on the pain and negative jealousy of why he got a job and scholarship while I didn’t. Instead, I asked him how he did it and converted my negative jealousy to my dream maker instead of my dream breaker.
There are lots of learning to draw from this.
1. Surround yourself with people who can support your dream.
2. It is human and okay to be jealous but the problem escalates when u do not turn the tide to your advantage. Turn that negative pain and jealousy into positive jealousy. Maybe you have a better name for it other than Jealousy but that was my feeling at the time. I am Human and I am flawed.
3. Rejoice with your friends and family when they succeed and ask them to guide you toward your dream because life is simply a circle, we simply keep going around in circles, supporting or hurting each other. What’s your choice? Do you want to make your dream or break your dream? I think I know what the answer is, so see you in the dream world.