By Omoya Yinka Simult
Quite often, as humans, we have the inordinate desire to be recognised, applauded or commended. We want others to see we are doing great. We want them to congratulate us on our successes and perhaps felicitate with us, whether out of a sincere heart, an envious one or a perfunctory one. This is natural. If you didn’t know, that is why you got that beautiful pair of smart shoes. Yeah, you got them, hoping that lady would identify with your troubles and call you aside someday, saying, “Hey, I love these shoes of yours. You must have gotten them from Italy.” Admit it; you would smile satisfyingly like a conceited fool before mouthing your thanks.
I know these feelings, too– both from the perspectives of a giver and that of a recipient of these compliments. I have attended conferences where ladies came with painted faces, the type that made one wonder whether a face had become a colour board on which scary paintings could be made. Maybe they had nobler ulterior motives for those spectacular works of art being exhibited on their faces– I wouldn’t know– but, somehow, I attributed them to a call for attention. So, after the conference ended, I walked up to as many of them who had taken pains to partake in the superfluous ritual that had unassailably transformed their looks. God forbid that one’s efforts should go unnoticed! If only to show they had been ‘seen’, I approached them and complimented their efforts one after the other, saying one or two nice things, having looked hard to find something worthy of praise. They smiled and proffered their hands for warm handshakes. Others were even so pleased they threw their arms open for hugs. Ah, my dear, this is how you know that you will make Heaven.
Now that I’ve been able to give practical instances of this human crave for validation, commendation and, most importantly, attention, as well as the sense of pleasure and satisfaction that stem from it, can we examine this inherent character more critically? You would agree with me that, as much as it may seem contemptible, this character– when met with the desired and anticipated response– has the potential of lifting the spirit of the recipient, and improving their self-esteem. For example, a creative youth, who shares his poem, story, painting or video on social media, feels elated when he gets positive remarks from family and friends. Never mind that he bombards your timeline with tags and mentions that you mostly find annoying. If you have the tolerance and equanimity, oblige him; ‘like’ his post or comment on it. If you find it irritating, ignore altogether or even remove yourself from the tags. By Jove, you have the damn right!
A lady on my friend list can upload a hundred pictures of herself a day, tagging as many people as the spirit leads her. Here, she is pouting with her hands in the sky. There, her tongue is out, with her backside well captured. Often, I scroll away, ‘kabashing’ against every form of temptation. But, sometimes, I stop by and ‘dash’ her a like, too. It is her way of saying: “Hey, guys, come and see me!”, and that’s my way of saying: “Hi, cutie, we have seen you!”
Let’s face it. Whether we admit it or not, we are programmed to seek attention, and many of us have been culprits of this at a time or the other. We care so much about what others think of us. We depend so much on others to tell us how good we have become, how beautiful we look, and how talented we are. This is insidious, because it is tantamount to placing your joy in the hands of others. We must learn to first of all accept and validate ourselves the way we are, before we throw ourselves open to the world for her opinions. For, in the long run, whatever remarks people give or fail to give, positive or negative, still remain what they are: frigging opinions! And opinions don’t define you; you define who you are.
I am Omoya Yinka Simult, and I define who I am.
Good morning, if you please.
Omoya is a budding writer and a medical student at University of Ibadan.
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