Yesterday I cried! I graduated six years ago, without being given a certificate – not even a Statement of Result – due to some issues I had in school and as such couldn’t embark on the one year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme. I dreaded facing my parents with such news after years of studying, so I decided to settle in Lagos upon graduation to be far away from their perceived wrath while finding a way to salvage the situation.

When the pandemic hit, I got home just before the lockdown. It was then I decided to take the bull by the horn; to tell my parents about my dilemma. I was expecting an earthquake and thunderstorm that day but got the shocker of my life, they just stared at me, no words. Then the silence was followed by words of encouragement and affirmation coupled with prayers. The positive attitude exuded by my parents gave me a sudden surge of strength, hope and resilience. Regardless, I constantly felt like a disappointment, like I had let them down for not being able to show proof of their investments in me.

During the wait, I persistently sought ways for self-improvement and personal growth. I took up online courses and trainings, became a language professional with a diploma in conversational French and Spanish, got Google certification in digital marketing, became an ALX virtual assistant with honours and finally a professionally trained Aesthetician. Yet, I could hardly feel the kind of fulfilment my heart longed for.

Long story short, last year I finally got my certificate from school, pheewww one down but getting cleared by NYSC became another hard nut to crack. With every passing batch or newly called-up corps members, I always had a sudden ripple in my stomach. I would literally feel a sharp pang of guilt, felt like a blade was thrust through my heart. So many times I wanted to give up on the whole pursuit. I’d ask myself what if I had started all over again wouldn’t it have been better? However, I channelled my energy into my aesthetic practice and went about it with delight and positivity.

Then yesterday, I woke from a brief nap, picked up my phone and saw an email from NYSC that read: “Dear Abasiono Hogan Ben Congratulations!!! You have finally been evaluated…” I screamed, yelled and cried. Not the tears of pain, nor of discomfort or disappointment. Rather, tears of overwhelming joy and fulfilment. I feel whole. Like a bird that has been flapping its wings for a long time and suddenly took its first flight. I hope this encourages someone.

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