On ‘On Becoming’

So last Thursday I read the book of the moment – Toke Makinwa’s On Becoming. If you’ve not heard of this book, dude, you’re sleeping on a moving train mehn! I went through so many feels reading this, I tell you – from disbelief to sadness to the dramatic ‘Heyyyy God oooooh! Come and see something!’ For me the book is actually a must-read, and no, not just because enough tea was spilled in it. Haha, sike! OK, I kid, I kid. It’s actually quite an interesting and captivating read. However, before you read the book, I want to mention two things:

1. Whatever thoughts or preconceived notions you have about ANY of the parties involved, put them aside and read the book objectively and with a very open mind.
2. It is important to realise that we only know Toke’s side of the story so it’s best not to draw final conclusions after hearing only one side.

I know, I know…The topic of her book has become slightly over-flogged but hear me out. I’m not here to talk about who did what and how wrong or right somebody was. There was a recurring phenomenon in the book that is the reality of a lot of people, young, old, male and female – that desperate desire to be loved and accepted by another that makes you behave out of character. You start doing things you never imagined you would ever do, just so another human being can finally deem you worthy. You condone things you have never been OK with, things that go against your morals, values and ideals just because you want to capture/keep the affection and attention of another. I’m not just talking about romantic dalliances. Have you ever badly wanted to be friends with someone so you completely change who you really are? In secondary school did you ever want to fit in with the ‘cool kids’ so you began doing things mummy and daddy warned you not to do? Yeah, exactly.

On Becoming brought to light something I’ve always been scared of. A fear my mind couldn’t really articulate until after reading the book. I’ve always been afraid of loving someone to the point of near insanity. I’m afraid of wanting someone so much that I feel the need to change all I am just to be with him. In her book, Toke mentions bleaching her skin because her husband’s mistress was light-skinned. I’m afraid of being so needy of a man’s attention, of my world revolving around another person that I just live for his approval. If he says I’m beautiful, then I must be beautiful. When he doesn’t compliment me, I go about my day feeling like I look like Gragra from Star Wars.

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This is Gragra, you guys…I knowwwwwww!!!! *wails*

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I’m afraid of living only for someone else’s happiness that I continuously put my own happiness aside, practically living for this person. I’m afraid of making a human being my idol and then being resentful when it becomes clear that the person is flesh, flawed…just like me. I’m afraid of being so emotionally attached to somebody that I become very delusional and so blind to the OBVIOUS fact that this person will be the death of everything that I am. Mostly, I’m afraid of being with someone whose heart is with another. I’m afraid of never being enough for him. No matter what I do, I will always pale in comparison to the one who has his heart. There was a point in the book where Toke mentioned that she begged her husband to tell her what his mistress did that she couldn’t do? She went as far as asking her husband to teach her how his mistress made love to him so she could satisfy him sexually. His reply?

“You will never understand. I care deeply for her, and the answer to all these questions will always hurt you.”

*sigh* Is that what love is? Was it obsession for another or the fear of public humiliation that brought her to the point of asking those questions? I don’t know, but I know that I never want to find myself in that position. When it comes to this type of love, I always refer to the story of Leah in the Bible (Genesis 29-30). No matter what she did, she always took second place in Jacob’s heart, after her sister, Rachel. She was never Jacob’s first choice and he made it so obvious that he was ready to die on top Rachel’s matter. Unfortunately, Leah’s world clearly revolved around capturing her husband’s affection. She had seven children (six boys and a girl) and when her husband STILL didn’t love her as she wanted, she had her maid bear two sons for him. To show how bad it was, she named each son according to her need for her husband’s love and attention. Then, when Rachel gave birth naturally to ONLY ONE CHILD, JACOB LOVED THAT CHILD WITH EVERYTHING HE HAD! Apologies for the shouty alphabets but heyyyyyy!! What kind of life is that nah?! Hah! Abeg oh!

Again, Toke Makinwa’s book is a must-read. Whether the occurrences are true or false, there are still lessons to be learned from the story. I want to also say that if you’ve never found yourself in a certain kind of situation, especially an unpleasant one, you can’t really understand what it’s like and so it’s easy to have harsh opinions on the matter and about the person/persons involved. Sometimes things are actually not black or white and until you’ve walked a yard, not even a mile, in someone else’s shoes, don’t be so quick to throw stones and castigate. Emotions can be such a messed up thing to have.

Oma, xx.

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