I was thinking about the life cycle of the average person and how many times they give up themselves to make way for someone else;  hence their ambitions and level of self-fulfillment remain average. You might think, well, who am I to decide that a person and their personal fulfillment is average? I’d answer by telling you that I’ve always been a keen observer and better yet, an intuitive listener. I say let a person talk and they’ll paint you the colours of their anxieties, their ambitions, their inhibitions and the guilt of their regrets.

In Africa, the most popular song that is sung by a parent is one about giving up their dreams in order to provide for their children. It is considered a most noble gesture and also commonly praised as maturing –  showing signs of growth into real  “woman/manhood”. I say it’s the biggest dream killing crutch that Africa has ever leaned on. Who taught us that? Every generation sprouts out millions of young parents who nip their ambitions in the bud by telling themselves that as soon as someone else enters their lives, they must now totally compromise on their dreams. It is a cycle and I’ll break it down for you. This cycle has poisoned innovation amongst us as Africans, because we won’t push ourselves to see a dream through. We rely on the popular acceptance that it is very romantic and therefore justifiable to give up yourself in the name of love (because of parenthood, marriage and even legacy). Nonsense.

Firstly, I have to make clear that my point of view on this is primarily centered around people who have grown up in post colonial Africa and face themselves today as their own biggest limitation. For some reason, I still watch young parents today fall into the cycle of raising children by expectation and not by inspiration. The cycle begins when children are born into the debt of the sacrifices made by their parents in order to provide for their future. Throughout their lives, their are reminded about who their parents wanted to be and where they wanted to go, and so they are inevitably burdened by the expectation that as the investment they are, they will redeem all that was lost because they have to do better, right? Later on in life, when formal education is over and done with, the self-unfulfilled parent who gave up themselves earlier in life now wants rejuvenate their young dreams by drawing from their investment. This is commonly known as “Black Tax” amongst Black Africans. It’s a trap set even before a child is born, all because we are easily convinced that it is irresponsible to pursue your ambitions while another person is in your life.

What if we lead a generation by inspiration instead? We are most innovative, most driven, most loving and most fulfilled when we are inspired. And, we are most inspired when we have found something that is really us. The radiance of our energy seeps into our relationships with our families, our friends, our children and our spouses for the better. When you sacrifice yourself in any situation, you create traps for those people instead; you push them away by piling expectations on them for sacrifices you made on yourself under the lie that you gave it all up for them. You gave up because of fear. A fear of failure. But you can’t totally respect yourself until you become who you always thought you were, and the world can see that so it can’t totally respect you either. Strive to reach your full potential! That way you will not burden your relationships with disproportionate expectations. Instead, show them how to live. Build yourself, before you can build for someone else. You will love freely.