December 24, 2023

Dear friend,

As it is with my other articles, I will not attempt to define the term “societal expectation” but will aim to communicate with you through an experience.

In 2004 as a young kid in secondary school and as the Choir Director of the Young Catholic Students (YCS) in St. John Bosco Secondary School Doma, I never missed church and morning mass. Because of my closeness to the priest and religious, I was convinced that I wanted to become a Catholic Priest. My friends and even some family members gave me reasons why I had to become a priest. It sunk into me and I concluded I could not be anything else but a priest. I mentioned this to my late parents. Like most mothers, my late mother was excited about the news. My late dad was not so excited about the news but encouraged me to do anything I wanted. So, by 2005 I began to write application letters to different catholic congregations to become a priest. In fact, I was so serious that I protested that I was not going to write the Joint Admissions Matriculations Board (JAMB) exams which was the major medium at the time of getting into University. My dad was almost devastated but at the dying minute, I still cannot recall what happened, but I changed my mind abruptly after the closing date for JAMB registration. Fortunately, it was extended, and I registered late. I think I was the very last to register for the exams among my mates at the time. When I was asked by my friends, I jokingly told them that God un-called me from Priesthood and called me into the marriage vocation. But thinking of it now, if I had become a Catholic Priest, I would have not met Squeezim. OMG. lol

My dad was excited and began to implant the idea of me being a Medical Doctor. He thought I was so smart because of the termly results I produced even though I was very dedicated to failing mathematics. I still wonder why he thought I would have made a good medical doctor. Although I began to get ideas, part of me still felt I was gonna let my mum down if I didn’t become a priest. Even though she died in early 2006, I still wanted to please her. Isn’t that what every son wants to do?

AAP during his baptism

So, I was silently caught between 2 expectations, being a priest or being a medical doctor. Anyways fast forward to 2007/8, I wrote JAMB and since I didn’t think I would make a good medical doctor but wanted to please my dad, I decided to apply for a course closest to medicine in the University I wanted to attend ( Nasarawa State University, Keffi, North Central Nigeria). This course turned out to be Microbiology. That was how I went through university and graduated with B.Sc. (Hons) Microbiology.

Notice that even at that point I was still silently and unconsciously playing out the societal expectations from friends and family. It was as if I had no plans or knew what I wanted at the time. I was hinged on the expectations of my parents.

Anyways fast-forward to 2019, I had continued to directly or indirectly follow the route that society had laid out and somewhat expected of me.

Truth is, I think that all we do or plan to do is societally constructed. We are not independent or immune to the dictates of society. In my case and in my early days, it was dictated through my friends, family, and associations. Although I admit that it was not a smooth ride, it guided me and formed me into what I am today.

However, I am still dancing to the tune of societal expectations. I would argue that my being a development worker doing a PhD today is because society has placed a certain expectation on me that I want to meet. It never stops folks.

In your case, what does society expect of you?
The society expects you to marry at a certain age.
The society expects you to graduate at a certain age and time.
The society expects you to have gotten a job at a certain age.
The society expects you to have gotten kids at a certain age.
The society expects you to have a steady income at a certain age.

It is an endless list.

We are constantly put under pressure by these demands and expectations and be rest assured that this is what keeps us going but make no mistake, this has resulted in depression and even death for many.

We must be decisive in sieving all that society throws at us so that it does not become our tragedy but the premise for our growth.

In my case, it was the premise for my growth, how about you?

The trick is since you cannot avoid the pressures, if you are doing one thing that progresses your situation no matter how small, I would think you are on the right track. Keep at it.

Simply, it might be an error to say “Do not be pressured” because it is almost impossible to avoid societal pressures but JUST KEEP GROWING.

#AAPTalks #CommunityDevelopmentWorker #Aa2Zi

NOTE: The picture shows baby AAP being baptized into Christendom and Catholicism. I was a fine dude from birth o. Damn!!