Going Beyond the One, Single Story

Recently, I watched Chimamanda Adichie's Ted Talk on The Dangers of a Single Story. And while I was struck once again by her carriage and diction, I was drawn to that topic of how we often make of a people's one story, the only story and how that dehumanises the people . I found myself identifying with that principle again and again.

As a young girl, growing up in Nigeria, I was always amazed by the pressure we put on those kids who  'know book'. If you were very good at school and your grades were relatively high, your life becomes a constant cycle of beating your own record. While this was not a particularly bad thing, for it helped you to grow, it was sometimes too much pressure. Failure became impossible and failing even one subject could lead to severe depression. You find kids who are too afraid to fail. We make their one story of success the only story about them forgetting to teach them that it is okay to fail as long as you do not stay down. We see them as successes rather than human beings with frailties and weaknesses. No one is really just one thing. We are a combination of so many other stories.

You ever wonder why the average kids end up succeeding at life when they grow up, it is because they have learnt to see failure as a stepping stone rather than an ultimate end. They are no longer afraid of it for it has helped shaped them. The kids we had such high hopes for become the ones lagging behind. We need to develop a culture of listening, seeing and more importantly understanding. Pressure can be good but too much pressure is bad.

As someone who has experienced this on a personal level, I wish I was understood a bit more. I have a very lazy approach to life and I think that saved me but for some of my friends, I wonder how they cope with that very intense, very acute pressure to always be at the top. It has brought some into depression, it has cost some their childhood, their friends and so much more. Until we realise that as parents, as nurturers, we have a responsibility to raise balanced adults rather than adults who expect too much of themselves, we will always be in the wrong. It is a culture I gradually want to see abolished.



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