By Blessing Alikeju
My elder sister and her 3-year old son were working on his nursery one assignment. I think he was meant to colour objects and connect lines with his pencil. Coaching him, my elder sister said, “Follow the lines”. Very simple instruction and a good innocent one.
But it got me thinking at a wider scale, looking at the picture.
The society we live in has moulded us into a box of sorts, restricted us even to the insides of that box; we aren’t allowed to step out. We are walking, breathing stereotypes of what society has limited us to.
From a tender age, we are goaded to believe that there’s a certain path one is meant to follow. Follow that path and you are a true son and daughter of the soil. Do not follow, and you are not your father’s child anymore.
Follow the lines.
Stay in the box.
Do not step out.
Follow this way.
Don’t go that way.
But what if I don’t? What if I want to follow the least travelled path or create a new path altogether? Well, no one wants to hear of that.
Spend 6 years in secondary school and 4, 5, or 6 years in the university.
Get a job.
Don’t make mistakes.
That is what is expected.
What if I don’t want to be in a box, but outside it? No one wants to see that.
What if I want to paint a different picture on my canvass? An abomination.
What if I want to go out in the world and travel, explore, learn new things, eat foods that may or may not upset my stomach?
What if I want to make mistakes so I can be ready for whatever lies ahead?
What if I don’t want a job, but want to start something tangible? For a woman, hell no!
Alessia Cara’s song, “My Song”, sheds more light to what I’m saying. I’ll extract a few words from the song:
“Don’t deviate”, they say.
But I will play what’s best for me,
I’ll press the keys and pull the strings,
Create a symphony that’s mine.
So I may never be what you assume,
Don’t want your hooks or auto-tune,
If I’m off-key then that’s alright with me.
Oh and maybe you will learn this when I’m gone,
My song will carry on.
I leave this with you:
Pen your song.
Don’t fit yourself to the box, you’re way bigger.
Don’t restrict yourself to the stereotype.
Paint your own canvass.
Pull your cords and play your strings.
Create a beautiful symphony that’s yours, and let your song carry on.
Be the weird one of the bunch.
Be the extraordinary one.
Do not follow the lines.
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