I was afraid of success
My life has been a bit dramatic. I’m not too sure if the drama from my gesticulation crept into my life, or if the drama in my life makes me gesticulate, but I know there has been drama on both sides, in my hands and in my life.
I was 18 years, and settling in to a new environment. It wasn’t quite easy and I had a lot to learn. I thought I was doing ok, a growing confidence, determination to succeed and secretly nurturing a decision to be the best in my new school. While it is good to be the best, I wasn’t sure my reasons were great, but it spurred me on, and also gave me a chance to step out of the shadows.
I had amazing friends in my previous school. They are academically sound and driven. I wasn’t as good as them (my results showed that), so I learnt a thing or two from them (all grownups now and still trail-blazers in their respective fields). In this new school none of those friends were there, so I thought to myself, I can be the best here and I started working towards it.
Life did not care much about my decision to be good at school because life threw a lot at me at this point in time. Getting admitted into the school was hard work, and needed a miracle (something I have gotten used to now. I always need a miracle). I eventually started and I was on course to being a high achiever in the school. But there was a problem;
I became afraid of success.
Some other areas of my life were out of place, and it created fear in me. I remember, while I was battling with that, a lady friend compounded my misery by writing me a note never to look at her in class anymore or talk to her. If I break any of those rules, I will be reported to the school authorities and Police for stalking her (and that was the last thing I needed). For a teenager in college, simple things like that could mean you lose sleep. It was no problem for me, I was already losing sleep with bigger things to contend with.
At the end of my first year in college, I had straight A’s
That result saved my schooling career because after missing college for almost 1 month, the school had decided to expel me. Before the decision was finalised, the exams result came in, and the school authorities reconsidered their position. I was called back. I wasn’t just called back, I was also invited to do an interview with the local newspapers, do some photo shoot and promotional materials for the school.
As the day of the event drew near, the fear I had became unbearable. I’d worked hard to achieve good results, now I couldn’t bear to reap the rewards. It was frustrating.
Fear got the better of me, and on the day of the event, I did the unthinkable, I skipped school. I missed that opportunity.
2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
That bible verse eventually came, but the event has passed, and gradually over the next year, I was even more determined to succeed. Life seemed more determined too. A lot happened over the course of the year and as I was preparing for my final exams, things went from bad to worse. I remember having to spend some long weeks sleeping in the living room floor of a Senegalese family that took me in. I stayed with an elderly woman who does not understand English, and I had to quickly adapt to the food.
Academically, I had more complications too. My chosen subjects conflicted; the school couldn’t accommodate a radical subject choice like mine, so I was forced to drop some subjects because the lecture times clashed. I agreed to miss the lectures, but I did not agree to drop the subjects. In fact, on a Monday morning, a day to AQA Statistics exam (A subject I did not study or enrol or attend any class for throught the year), my maths teacher who believed in me gave me the text-book and asked
‘do you think you can do this exam tomorrow? This is easier than the Mechanics 3 (M3) you chose. People don’t really do well in M3’.
I already had 3 exams scheduled for the same day, but in a moment of madness and radical inspiration from Daniel 1:20 (which PE told us about on the Sunday), I agreed.
Daniel 1:20 – “And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.”
I read a whole AS Level subject in 1 night, plus 3 other subjects I was revising for. I was in the exam hall from 9am – 5pm (invigilators could not understand how their system allowed such exam combinations). When the results came out, I had A’s in both the ‘hard’ M3 and the AQA S1.
Please, if you want to ask me how I did it, the answer is I don’t know other than I believed God’s word, and I took on the impossible.
To cut the long story short, I and success became good friends. In the second year, on the back of my results I was asked again to give interviews to local newspapers and do promotional materials, and this time, no devil was going to stop me. I had an amazing time, paraded in front of new students and introduced in classes as a genius. The tag line the elderly white male Maths teacher used was something like:
“If you give Ibukun a new textbook for 5 minutes, he can write an exam from it and get an A”
It was an incredible experience.
The amazing thing about this experience is this:
The problems I had were not yet solved. In actual fact it was getting worse. But after much encouragement from family and mentors, I decided one thing:
‘Rather than be a mediocre, I will rather be put to shame because I am the best at what I do”
That last statement helped me, but it was a wrong statement. Now I know better, I cannot be put to shame because Isaiah 54:4 says:
“Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; For you will forget the shame of your youth, And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore” – Isaiah 54:4
The confidence I seem to have today came from a deep place of fear but against many odds, God pulled me through. He can do the same for you.
I hope you have been inspired and encouraged to break the walls that may be holding you back.
You can leave your comments or share your own inspiring experiences of how you overcame the fear of success.
PS: The free public speaking online course is still on, you can enroll here http://goo.gl/VwDln