Monday, January 25, 2016

God is Nice, and He Likes Me

I was a terrible student in secondary school. I'm not sure if it was my choice of course (I'd wanted to be a medical doctor, specifically, a paediatric surgeon) or my laziness or a combination of both. Bottom line, when I wrote my final exam, I failed in some subjects and just passed (the last pass grade before a fail) others. Technically, I qualified for entry into any university in Ghana by the entry requirements at the time, but getting in would be tough. Right now, with the revision of entry requirements into universities in Ghana, I don't qualify for entry into any university in Ghana with those grades.

I applied to the University of Ghana. As per advice I received, I chose one of the not so popular courses to guarantee my selection, and then I waited. The admissions list was out, admission letters were distributed, and nothing for me. I understood that when you get dumb grades like mine, you don't get to enter university, but I couldn't understand why I couldn't make it into the university with my mates.

I gave up waiting and enrolled into a remedial school to rewrite the WAEC papers I'd performed that bad in. I started classes, I hid it from just about everyone (it was mighty embarrassing), and then a letter came in the mail addressed to me. It was my admission letter. I doubt I have jumped that high or been that excited in my life.

Turns out I was on the late admissions list. I was one of the few who were admitted after the admission process had been completed. I later (not illegally) found a copy of the original admissions list for my department. Majority of the names had been typed, mine was one of 4 names which had been handwritten.

A remedial student made it into the university without rewriting the WAEC exam, and then went on to be a very good student, after which she went on to be an exceptional student in a Masters programme. So, when I say God is nice, and He likes me, I know what I'm talking about. How I even transitioned from that terrible student to a very good student to an exceptional student is testimony of just how much God likes me.

Friday, January 22, 2016

When One Door Closes...

...another one opens, but often times we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.

After my first degree, I was just glad to be done with school, and for me, "why would I go back and do more school?" And then I see an advertisement for an educational reality show, prize package includes a postgraduate scholarship in the UK. Suddenly, I'm thinking about a second degree, and I'm thinking I could do this (enter the competition and win). I enter, I do not win, I am crushed.

I'm wondering why I feel so crushed. I wasn't really interested in a second degree, but then, the programme I wanted to study in the UK is offered right here in Ghana, and since I couldn't afford school in the UK, I figured I might as well enroll into the same programme right here in Ghana. You see, taking part in the reality show, I'd psyched myself up to do my Master's and now that's all I wanted to do.

Turns out, getting into this programme in Ghana was even more difficult than getting to be a part of the reality show (and that one was worse than difficult). Well, I make it into the programme, and I emerge the overall best student. Yay! And as the best student, I'm offered a scholarship to study in Canada as part of the Master's programme. I could not believe it. I made it through the rigorous selection process, all I wanted was to do my 1 year Master's and be gone, but here I was, the best student. Instead of 1 year, I get to do 2 years. The second year is fully paid for, and although I didn't get to do school in the UK, I got to do school in Canada. Wow!

Imagine if when I'd got evicted from the reality show, I'd let my being devastated hold me back from doing all I could to upgrade myself? The UK door got closed, but the Canada door was opened for me. A door I hadn't anticipated being opened for me.
So I ask, what are you letting hold you back? Which closed door are you staring so hard at wishing it would open? Wishing so hard you can't see the other door that has been opened?

Friday, January 15, 2016

Thoughts are Things

What a man thinketh, so shall he be.
Think nothing good can come out of you, well, you will be nothing more than a failure.
Think you can't be anything but successful, trust me, nothing can hold you down.

It wasn't easy being a chubby kid and then the fat girl growing up. I hated it. What did I do? I tried all the unconventional ways of losing the weight, and then the conventional, and when I saw nothing was happening in less than a week, I told myself, "this won't work". I told myself "let me just pretend all the teasing doesn't bother me and live my life". So I did. It wasn't until 8 years ago when I checked my Body Mass Index (BMI) and it showed I was obese (I honestly always thought I was just overweight or fat) that I knew I had to do something. So, I decided, even it takes years, I am going to do this (the conventional way) and I am not going to quit until I like what I see when I look in the mirror. And then I did do it. It's been 7 plus years of me looking fabulous, and I haven't felt better.

After my first degree, I entered an educational reality TV show. I did get that it was for very smart people, and I didn't particularly think I was overly smart, but I decided to try it out. I told myself, "what do you have to lose, but you do have a whole lot to gain should you win". From the thousands that first entered the competition, I was there when we were cut to a little over a hundred. I was still there when we were cut to 25, and then when we were cut to the final 12, I was there. "Yes, I may not be as smart as some of the other contestants, but me too I am smart". That's what I told myself. Week 1 eviction, I stayed. Week 2 eviction, I stayed. Week 3 eviction, I stayed. Ei! I kept staying eviction after eviction. And then we were down to 7 contestants. Then one of the other contestants came up to me and said, "Dentaa, you are the one to watch. A friend called me and said no one is paying attention to you because you don't seem like the one, but you really are. You will catch all of us unaware and win this competition." That was when I started really thinking about what I was doing. That was when I started questioning myself and asking what I was thinking competing with some of the smartest brains in Ghana. That was when I told myself there's no way I can win this. That was when I asked myself what I was thinking entering this competition. That was the week I got evicted.

Thoughts are things. Things don't seem to be going well for you, check your thoughts.
Things are going well for you, keep thinking positive.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Praying and then Solving

How does that even work?
How does one pray for a solution to a problem, and then at the same time work towards solving that same problem? You don't believe your prayer will be answered?

At the tail end of last year (which really translates to last week) I was driving behind this car with a bumper sticker that had me in stitches.

I should probably add, ...and then have an accident
Chances are, you are running late for an appointment (hopefully, through no fault of yours), you pray asking God to get you there on time, and then you step on it, and drive beyond the highest speed limit in the whole country. How won't you leave your guardian angel behind? And if you end up in an accident, who caused it?

Time and time again we face one challenge or another, we pray about it committing whatever challenge we are facing into the hands of the Lord, and then we still spend countless hours worrying about  this very same situation. Why then commit the situation into God's hands if we have a better solution we intend to arrive at by worrying about it?

Let's not forget Abraham and Sarah. They had a problem, no children and they were getting old. They commit the problem to God's hands, and they must have run out of patience waiting for the answer. Why? Because they took matters into their own hands and chose to solve the problem on their own, even after God had promised to them what seemed impossible. End result? Their solution seemed to work out at first, but it turned out not to be such a hot plan in the end. And then, God delivers. He solves the problem, but they had already created another problem with their solution.

Is anything too hard for the Lord?
When we commit a situation to the Lord, may we truly commit it to Him and refuse to worry about it.
Happy New Year!

I Am Because We Are - Ubuntu

The story is told of an anthropologist who proposed a game to some South African tribal children. He placed a basket of sweets near a tree...