Monday, March 14, 2016


This month, my book club chose to read Purple Hibiscus, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I knew nothing of the book, nor of the author, besides her name. The novel tells the story of Kambili and Jaja, two teenagers being raised in contemporary Nigeria by a dictatorial father and a traditional mother. But the story is more complicated than that. This coming-of-age novel is rooted both in the Nigerian culture and as well as the political dissonance at the time. In the end, I enjoyed the novel and I found myself, as I always do, highlighting passages that spoke to me.

One passage in particular stood out.
It was what Aunty Ifeoma did to my cousins, I realized then, setting higher and higher jumps for them in the way she talked to them, in what she expected of them. She did it all the time, believing they would scale the rod. And they did. It was different for Jaja and me. we did not scale the rod because we believed we could, we scaled it because we were terrified that we couldn't. (p.226)
We did not scale the rod because we believed we could, we scaled it because we were terrified that we couldn't.

You can find this photo here.
How many of us can attest to living our lives that way? Not doing something because we're confident in our abilities, but because we simply are too afraid to fail?

The outcome may be the same, yes, but the journey getting to that outcome will be completely different.

I plan on making sure that from now on, I scale every rod because I believe that I can.


Anonymous said...

Poignant words. They describe much of my young life. Not that I'm old, but the house I grew up in and my time in the military were shrouded by this mentality for me; success merely because the fear of failure was so strong. It left no time for sitting still, or ability to create. I think that is why it wasn't until long after the fact that I began to really know myself. When I stopped striving to scale the rod others had put before me I actually began to consider what rod I wanted to learn to scale myself.

Christina said...

I agree with you! I think I led my that way for much of the 25 years before I met my husband. So glad we can say we aren't doing that anymore.

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