Your life experiences matter and your stories are worth telling!
Story of a cryptic Twitter message and an intriguing response. The moral of the story.
Have you been in a situation where you had second thoughts about narrating a personal story or life experience because you felt your story was not good enough or not inspiring enough and that the stories of other people are much better? Yeah, I have had that feeling of self-doubt and uncertainty on several occasions, and I’m certain that other people too have felt the same way. First, let me narrate what brought me to this point of sober reflection and introspection.🤔
An interesting reply to a popular Tweet
I was going through my Twitter page several weeks ago when I came across some tweets that caught my attention. First, a popular Nigerian female football star, Asisat Oshoala, wrote a cryptic message on her Twitter page. In the now deleted tweet, she wrote, “Life is just unfair… tired of trying”. Asisat Oshoala is a well-known figure:
Asisat Lamina Oshoala MON (born 9 October 1994) is a Nigerian professional footballer who plays as a striker for Primera División club FC Barcelona Femení and … the Nigerian women’s national team. Widely regarded as one of the greatest African female footballers of all time and one of the best in the world, she is the most decorated African female footballer of all time, and a joint-record four-time African Women’s Footballer of the Year. …
Asisat Oshoala is popular in Nigeria, Africa, and around the world, so her tweet stating that she was tired of trying and that life was unfair understandably stirred a lot of responses and comments from people from all walks of life. Many were worried about her, wondering if she was having some overwhelming personal challenges or difficulties. Others were curious as to why the 27-year-old soccer star would complain considering the many successes she has achieved in her career. There was one particular response to that got my attention.👇
For proper context, this is the full image in the tweet:👇
From the above tweet and picture, @FemOladoyin made a case that rightly generated a lot of interests. He wrote that if someone of the stature of Asisat Oshoala would complain of been tired, what would someone like himself who was into petty trading by hawking bags do. The tweet was accompanied by a picture of the author of the tweet, in bathroom slippers with bags hug around his neck and shoulders, and some on a roadside shed. Some persons who saw his tweet were moved by the somewhat lowly condition portrayed in the picture, and some asked for his account details so that they could support his trade with financial contributions.
@FemOladoyin had and has a story to tell. It’s genuine, touching, and valid. I understand and applaud the support he got both online and possibly offline. @AsisatOshoala also has a story to tell. She has since deleted the message, nonetheless, she too deserves to be heard. Yes, she is a famous football star, and yes, she has won many titles and accolades playing for Nigeria and for various football clubs around the world, but she is still human and she has had her own share of struggles and challenges.
In recent months, Asisat Oshoala has had injuries that kept her out of the field of play for sometime:
- April, 2021. Asisat Oshoala had foot surgery for a recurrent pain on her right foot. Barcelona confirm successful Oshoala surgery | Goal.com
- May, 2021. She suffered an ankle injury. Oshoala suffers another injury blow — Score Nigeria.
- November, 2021. She had a knee injury. Oshoala gutted by injury, out for at least two months (premiumtimesng.com).
- February, 2022. About the time of the cryptic tweet she made, she suffered a serious thigh injury that would keep her out of play for weeks. Asisat Oshoala: Barcelona and Nigeria forward suffers thigh injury — BBC Sport.
The league’s top scorer, with 19 goals, subsequently picked up a devastating thigh injury in training with Nigeria, which is expected to rule her out of action for 10 weeks. Oshoala is now in a race against time to be fully fit for July’s AWCON in Morocco.
All of these injuries can be very challenging for a footballer at the prime of her career.
In a documentary series for UEFA #WePlayStrong’s #StrongIs campaign, Asisat narrated the personal challenges she had while growing up in Lagos, Nigeria.
She said that her parents were opposed to her playing football. Rather, they wanted her to focus on her schooling. Her Wikipedia page showed that she started playing for FC Robo Queens in Lagos from 2009 to 2013, and for Rivers Queens from 2013 to 2015. She did not get the approval of her parents to play football for years, not until she played in the 2014 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup where she came out as the best player and the highest goal scorer, did the parents come around to give her their full support and blessing. In 2015 she moved to Europe in a start to her European and Asian football career. In the documentary, she talked about the pressure of trying to live up to the parents’ expectations. It was her grandmother who supported her in her early days of pursuing the dream of playing football. The grandmother has passed away and she regrets the grandmother wasn’t alive to see all that she’s achieved.
You can watch the documentary featuring Asisat Oshoala on YouTube:👇
UEFA’s Together #WePlayStrong campaign has today released two new documentaries as part of its women’s football documentary series Strong Is… which follows the journey of some of the biggest names in women’s football to shine a light on the adversities they have faced in the hope of inspiring more young girls to play football.
In partnership with Esprit, the two-part episode features Barcelona and Nigeria forward Asisat Oshoala and the UK’s first female Muslim referee Jawahir Roble, who openly discuss the challenges they’ve had to overcome both on and off the pitch in their journey to success, and how football played a key role in their lives.
In January, 2021, Asisat who grew up in a polygamous household lost her step-mother whom she was fond of:
Super Falcons and Barcelona star, Asisat Oshoala, is presently grieving following the death of her step-mother at the weekend. Oshoala, in an Instagram post late Sunday night, said she still finds it difficult to accept her step-mother is dead.
“Sometimes, life just hit us hard in places we can’t respond,” the reigning Africa Women Footballer of the year wrote on her Instagram page.
In the video she also posted, Oshoala said: “I still find it difficult to accept but this is now my reality… Mummy, I am so short of words right now… I have heard a lot of it has happened, it has happened, there is nothing you can do to bring her back, you have to grow up overnight, you are a strong girl bla bla…”
While mourning the demise of her step-mother who she fondly loved, Oshoala promised to chase all the unfulfilled dreams her ‘second’ mother would have loved to achieve and also prayed for the repose of a gentle soul.
Asisat Oshoala came from a humble background in Ikorodu, Lagos State. She defied the odds of been a woman, of been Black, of parental opposition, of pressures to conform to certain societal norms, to rise to the apex of her football career and become a global icon. Yet, she still faces the struggles and pressures of living up to the expectations of those who love and support her, and to overcome the doubts and negativity of those who criticize her performances and the way she lives her life.
Asisat Oshoala certainly has a story to tell and the story is as valid and as important as that of @FemOladoyin. One does not supplant the other. Both deserves to be heard in their own rights.
The Moral of the Story
- We all have a story to tell. Every human being has a story to tell. Each one of us is peculiar, unique, and different. Even identical twins who grew up together may have different views and stories to tell. That is why identical twins music stars of the P-square fame, Peter and Paul Okoye, separated for several years before getting back together. It’s important that we allow people to talk about their feelings, their experiences, and their stories, no matter their socioeconomic status or perceived privileges.
- Do not belittle your own story in favour of others. There are times when we are faced with self-doubt and low self-esteem. At such times, we wonder whether or not our story is worth telling. ‘I have not done anything extraordinary’, you may wonder. However, in each one of our lives, we have stories and life experiences that are important and valid. Don’t look down on your own story, tell it.
- Do not undermine other people’s story in favour of yours. Your story is important and so are the stories of others. Don’t look down on others simply because you’ve overcome worse challenges and difficulties. Don’t besmirch the stories of others because you think they've had an easy life. Imagine going to your doctor to complain about something that was relatively minor, and instead of giving you due attention, the doctor said, ‘Is that it? Is that why you came to the hospital? Don’t you know that others have worse problems than yours? Grow up, already’! How would you feel if you were that patient? Sad, right?😔 In the same vein, allow others tell their stories as well, no matter how we feel about such individuals. We might learn a lot from listening to others without jumping the gun.
- Tell your story, no matter what. Even when your story is similar to that of other people, still tell it anyway. The story maybe dry, lacking excitement. It may be dull and uninspiring. It may be similar to that of others, ‘haven’t we heard that before, boring…’🥱 But tell it anyway. Telling your story comes with some benefits even when others don’t appreciate it at that moment. A problem shared is a problem halved, as the saying goes. There is a gain when you unburden yourself by talking about your life experiences.
- Do not be tempted to tweak your story to make it more catchy. Your story is good enough as it is. Some persons have tweaked their story, in order to create a seemingly better narrative. A best graduating student had a story to tell, but several years later, he claimed he graduated with First Class honours. Those are two different things. You can be best graduating student and still not have First Class honours, if nobody got a First Class in your Department at the year you graduated. You had best graduating status because of obtaining the highest GPA, albeit not up to the First Class range. A former Nigerian minister was accused of telling this lie. It undermined his credibility. Graduating as best graduating student was good enough, there was no need to tweak it. The lies have a way of catching up on us.
- We all process issues and difficulties differently. There was this story I read in my grammar school days. A shoe company sent 2 salespersons to a new community to assess whether they could make sales in that community. When they got back to the company, they presented different reports. One said that in that community, nobody wears shoes, they walk barefooted, and as much, the company won’t be able to make good sales in the community as the people there were not used to wearing shoes. The other salesperson said that ‘Good news! People don’t wear shoes in that community. So, we can teach them how to wear shoes and make good sales in the process’. Two persons saw the same scenario but processed it differently.
A doctor committed suicide by jumping into the Lagos Lagoon. It was reported he had some personal health challenges. Some would say that as a doctor, he should have been able to deal with his challenges. There are other people facing the same challenges as the doctor, but not all of them have jumped off a bridge. Why? Because, humans are different, we process things differently. Our backgrounds, sociocultural heritage, familial genetics, religious leanings, etc., are different and they contribute to how we process and react to stressful occurrences. You do not expect two individuals to respond to a challenge or difficulty in the same way. After the doctor’s unfortunate demise, some of his colleagues, or friends, or acquaintances, or loved ones, would look back and try to see if they missed something. Were there things he said or tried to say before the suicide? Haven’t we heard of highly successful artists, media personalities and famous figures committing suicide? Did their successes prevent them from going down that dark path of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicides? So, it’s important that we hear out people when they cry for help or when they insinuate that they need help. Don’t dismiss their concerns and worries, and expect them to just toughen up!
Your life experiences matter and your life stories are valid and they are worth talking about! The experiences and stories of others also matter too.
Finally, I would like to end with the words Asisat Oshoala used to encourage girls at the Asisat Oshoala Foundation (from her UEFA #WePlayStrong’s #StrongIs documentary):
Don’t give up. Go for your dream.
Be your own number 1 supporter.
Be your own number 1 motivation.
You don’t wait for others to give you credit. You have to credit yourself.
You just have to be your own best support system.