The health facility in the University of Lagos was always bustling with activity. Students would usually come in droves, lecturers too. What do you expect? It’s free. Except that they never actually have the recommended drugs. Anyway, on this particular day, I sat on the bench, with tons of other people, waiting my turn to see the doctor. I was oblivious to the idle chatter of students, who in my opinion, came in for all sort of reasons; one of which is an excuse to avoid lectures or get a test rewritten.
Back to me; I was crying as I held my test results in my hands. Remember, I had not seen the doctor. I had barely done some blood and urine tests and the lab technician handed me the test sheet for further medical interpretation and diagnosis.
So, why was I crying?
Erm, I thought I had cancer. No, I was sure I had cancer. I don’t even remember how the thought got into my mind. Maybe through a dream, or a documentary-all I know is that I stared as my test sheet, trying to make out the scribbles on it, and I was crying, literally sobbing, numbed by thoughts of saying goodbye to my family and almost growing mad at the thought of not ever being called to the Nigerian Bar. Trust Unilag Students, no one even bothered to offer me a shoulder of comfort. They simply shot me glances that read “what’s wrong with this weirdo”. I eventually saw the doctor whose diagnosis stated that I simply needed some antibiotics.
This other time, I sat in a lounge, awaiting my HIV test result. Again, certain it would be positive. Do you even know how many people get infected by silly nurses who would not change the syringe, or the throng of people who get infected from their saloon visits? Well, neither do I, but I’m sure they are a lot. So, as I waited for the result, I was so petrified; I almost peed in my pants. I have all these scenes that play in my head on how I would likely handle a major disaster. And trust me, being HIV positive would have qualified hands down. Sometimes I wonder, would I run across the street in a fit of rage, screaming and throwing questions at the sky? Or would I simply walk numbly in disbelief until I come to terms with whatever has happened. Till date, I haven’t found out.
You see, I have a penchant for paranoia. I tend to be a worry induced drama queen. For me ehn, faith or calm is a learned behavior. What comes first is panic. The funny thing is that all the schooling in the world won’t teach you how to calm your heart when it starts racing, when your knees get jittery and your mind goes all out to paint scenarios that will never play out. Life is like that. The biggest lessons are learnt by practice, out on the field, and I believe I have had my fair share of paranoia.
So, from my experience, which we have established is PLENTY, the first thing I want to say to you, whether or not you are given to worry is this; Relax! Like seriously, take a chill pill and wash it down with some rest juice (I saw this phrase on a poster and have been waiting to use it ever since J ).
My point is this; learn to breathe. You may not be able to stop the thoughts that dance around your mind, but you don’t have to give them access, you don’t have to open yourself and grant them residence. I learnt this the very hard way. Hopefully, you won’t go my route.
I want you to resolve to face your fears, to see life for what it truly is and to understand that you may not have a role in determining what happens to you, but you always have a choice in the way you handle your business. Nothing, in this fast paced, internet driven mass of habitation called earth, is important enough to make your heart race faster than usual. Unless of course; the love of your life appears to you with a bouquet of flowers, dressed in nothing but swim wear.
Because at the end of the day, all the troubles of life, from natural disasters to farting in public can be categorized into two:
- Those you can change
- Those you cannot
So, worry just enough to help your situation or change your circumstance, and where you can do neither, relax, wait for time to serve her worse; eventually, that worst will be over!
Tochi Eze ©