A Letter to my Younger Self (Why I do what I do and why I am who I am)


Hey, former Carl,
You are in your final year at high school. Your mum insists, ‘son, this is the most critical stage of your life.’ And when she asks what you’ll read at ‘versity’, you’re kinda lost. However, there’s some magical – almost fascinating – thing about medicine production, so you tell her, ‘I’ll choose Pharmaceutical engineering.’
It’s June 2010. The fever that takes you is no disease. It’s exam fever, precisely GCE A-levels fever. Chai! Man, you were terrible at those exams. You drank some acids while pipetting during chemistry practical. The formulas of Pure Math Paper 1 bashed you so hard that you gave up. And even Abeng Martins’ sweet words didn’t succeed to convince you to keep hoping during those exams.
Exams are over, boleh. Don’t you have a career in pharmaceutical industry to make? Oya, you start preparing for the concours to join the prestigious Faculty of Medicine and Pharmaceutical Sciences of University of Douala. Because you’re taught by such a st*pid dummy, you learn that the responsibility for your success, academically and generally, lies not on your teacher, but on you. 
It’s a sunny day in Douala when the GCE results are released. You’re at Sister Ngoin’s boutique when Dad calls to give you the results, ‘You made it, with 5 Papers on 5… and you had 8 points.’ His voice cracks, as it’s always when he is disappointed. You sit in front of the boutique and cold tears flood your cheeks. You cry because you know you could have done better. You cry because your entry into the pharmacy school might be jeopardized by these results.
Frank gives you one of those sorry calls, ‘Don’t worry about the results, Carl. Just prepare hard, you’re going to write entrance exams into the prestigious (and almighty) CUSS Yaoundé.’ With newfound determination, you read your eye balls out. You are so ready that you even start preparing for the orals before you take the written exams. Oops. Against all expectations, you fail the exams. And again you cry. You weep for not making it. You weep for your poor GCE results. You journey from the political to the economic capital, and immediately go and take the exams at University of Douala. Given the recent haunting failure at Yaoundé, you take nothing for granted.
And what did you expect? Of course, you’ve failed in Douala again. This time around you’re too weak and confused to let even a single wail out. Mama and Papa suggest you repeat Upper Sixth, because deep down inside you, you knew you gave up and not because you never mastered the material. As luck or destiny would have it, there's a department of pharmacy at the newly created (and prestigious) Catholic University of Cameroon, Bamenda. Surprisingly, you write the entrance exams and you are selected as the last student (probably because they needed the students, quantity over quality). Now your dreams are rekindled.
At medical school, you’re passive. Your prayer lines are like, Lord I don’t want only A’s, Just a 50% would do. Your competitive hunger is awakened when you hear Bonu Innocent and Lecy Nickson talk about mistakes on their result slips depriving them of having 3.9 GPA while you are holding a result slip of 2.5 in your hand. Your brain tries to be like them, but it doesn’t work. You end up frustrated, as you’ve always been. You are unhappy, right?
Oh. I almost forgot. That mid-second semester, you went – against your will, of course – to write the medical entry exams at the newly created faculty of Health Science in the University of Bamaneda. Why? Because the cost of being at a Catholic University was too burdensome for the family. You would be unsuccessful for this nth time but at least, you are already at university. Your parents are shocked. Watching their looks and moods sink, you decide to step up your game, to make up for their sacrifice. Win you must.
Year two in medical school. You forget about being like Bonu and Lecy and focus on being you. Your grades rise. So does your confidence. Men, you even start playing football, and some people even claim you’ll be a good pick for Man U. This second year is a true turning point: for the first time in your life, you start believing in yourself. 
With great anticipation for year 3 in medical school, you planned to murder your studies so as to end up being the one to deliver the graduation speech (valedictorian), since you emerged top of your class. But your dreams are murdered because your department has been suspended by government. You switch to read Biochemistry at the Catholic University. And though you are relegated back to year two, you fight, do double course work and finally graduate with the year three students, one year before your own mates. Your life is beginning to veer critically. You’re beginning to acknowledge and appreciate the inestimable value of determination and self-belief.
As an average Cameroonian, you have dreams of ‘bush’, expatriation. When your plans to go to South Africa fail, you wish had been more active in year one because you graduated with a GPA of 2.98 and the minimum required GPA for admission was 3.00. Then only do you realize the importance of 0.10. You’ll be downcast and dejected. You would curse the world and curse yourself. But you had recently embarked on a journey of personal development, and that’s what is going to make you survive through these hard times. You’re awed by the success of people in your network like Cyril and Momo. They defy limits. This inspires you. You throw off your shades of victimization.  Once again, you approach life with confidence.
And then illness comes, you’re made slim and frail, hospitalized for several days. Yet, you decide to leave the hospital to go organize AND EXECUTE Project Ignition. The hundreds of students you inspire fire you and your team with thanks yous. It was almost supernatural, that zeal which kicked you out of the sick bed. But the illness was still there lingering silently, almost causing you to faint while you gave closing remarks at Acha Baptist College. Was it too much a load for determination alone to bear?
Along the line, you get admission for a Masters in Pharmaceutics in China! Your dreams of medicine production spark off once more. Everyone beams at the news, some of them, pagans, even pray for you. However, challenges you encountered while trying to get your travel papers could be compared to Jesus' journey to the cross. You finally lose your admission because of delays. But this experience leaves you with two priceless traits, patience and resilience; two beacons of light that will guide you through life’s darker phases ahead.
So, Carl, that’s your life so far. I trust you’ve learned the following lessons from your time on earth so far:
You should never give up no matter what. Your giving up in the GCE Advance Levels is what has haunted you for the pass years. 
You shouldn't settle for less, don't be comfortable with being just average strive for the sun though it might burn you. You settled for less and a difference of 0.10 prevents you from getting admission into the school of your choice. 
Believe in yourself and approach life more confidently and boldly. For when you believe in yourself, only then shall you out do your former self. Let no body tell you what you can't do. 
All these are in the past and there's nothing you can do about this. Rather than looking at failures of the past, take them as valuable lessons learned. You are going to apply those lessons to the present moment so as to secure that future we have always dreamt of making the whole world smile and laugh by all that we do. 
You are designed and built for GREATNESS, you have the Passion for GREATNESS. You are the one.
Sincerely Yours,
Present Carl.

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