Him: Mafor, I really admire your resilience.
Me: (confused) What resilience?
Him: You’re able to withstand pressure from your parents and make them support your dreams and that’s huge…
Me: (very goofy smile)
That was my friend, Brian.
First of all, I really wish his version was true. I also wish he knew the full story.
I didn’t “withstand” pressure from my parents.
I disobeyed and rebelled.
And even if it got me where I wanted, it doesn’t change what it was; disobedience and rebellion.
Before high school, my parents said I would register in Lower Sixth Science and I said yes. I traveled to Bamenda and of course, I did register… in Lower Sixth Arts.
When my dad found out as he was about to pay my fees a few weeks later, he called me. I said “I changed my mind. Live with it.”
Okay, I didn’t exactly say “Live with it”, but it was something along those lines.
In the university, we agreed again that I would study Law. I was admitted as a Law student in the University of Buea. By mid first semester, I applied for transfer to study Journalism. When I went back home during the Christmas break, I told them I was no longer a law student, sorry.
I have a long track record of rebelling and there are a lot of other examples I’d rather not say. But the point is, I just rebelled and disobeyed. And I believe it was wrong. No matter that it was for my future.
Let me say this. My parents are proud of me and they’ve told me so. They’re proud that I’m a bright student, I have a bachelor’s degree and I’m studying for future degrees.
In short, they’re proud of the person I am growing into.
But I know that I broke their trust and it might be hard to get it back.
Now, they still think of me as the rebellious child who will go ahead and do her thing without their counsel. And instead, now is the time I need their counsel most. I need them to say a few words that can guide me in some decisions I’m making. But when I ask for these words, my father says things like “Why am I talking when you’ll still end up doing what you want?” He says this laughing and wants me to know he’s joking, but I hear undertones of disappointment and resignation.
I still wish I had sat down with them and talked, explaining why I wanted to do what I wanted.
Even if they hadn’t understood and had adamantly stuck on their point, at least we’d have spoken. They’d have known that I wasn’t in agreement with their plans and they might have reconsidered.
Let me stop the time travelling already.
I have learnt that when dealing with parental pressure, disobedience and rebellion are not the key. I don’t have the key yet either.
I’m just trying to make our relationship better. Even if I cringe when I think of calling my dad because I know what he’ll say, I’ll call anyway. And I’ll listen. Especially when they tell me their opinions about how I should live my life. And if I don’t agree, I’ll try to explain assertively. I’ll try to help them understand my choices instead of being passive and compliant and then getting bitter about it later.
That’s all I can do. Try.
And hope they meet me halfway.