Optimism Essay
11th August, 2015

"Optimism should be a priority"

Webster's dictionary defines optimism as "a feeling or belief that good things will happen in the future," however my uncle's definition is a little different and appeals more to me. I was born in Nigeria and I lived there for most of my life; I was surrounded by love from family and friends, however, things changed in 2009 when my parents told me that we were moving to the United Satates in order to attain more educational and economic opportunies. I was very fascinated about the idea because I had heard so much about America, the land of dreams and opportunities where only the rich and priviledged people in Nigeria would go to vacation but I was not too ecstatic about leaving my family and friends behind, especially my aunty. The last scene I remember happening in Nigeria was at the airport when I saw my favorite aunt, Jamie, and for the last time; I cannot explain why but the memories of her delicious jollof rice or spaghetti, her fancy shoes and clothes, and me eavesdropping on her phone conversations every night will never leave my mind. After we left Nigeria, she relocated to a state in the North with her husband and about a year later, she called us that she was having twins; she was also calling to tell us of a terrorist group in the northern part of Nigeria, Boko Haram, who was raiding neighboring states. We kept her in our prayers and a couple of years after, around Christmas time in 2013, she called again that she was pregnat with her third child; we were excited. In March of 2014, she called again; she was eighteen weeks pregnat but she did not sound optimistic. There was worry and angst in her voice; she was calling to tell us that the terrorists had burned a neighboring church, even killing some of her friends and they had also pillaged a nearby village and she had to take in some of the refugees that escaped. In July, we got another call saying that the Boko Haram terrorists were just a few days away from her village and she would be relocating to our old house in Lagos, however, she would not be allowed on an airplane until she had her baby. Her baby was due in a week. We stood by the phone waiting for a call from her to tell us of a story we prayed would happen, that she, her baby and the rest of her family safely made it out alive. About two weeks latter, on a Wednesday night, the phone finally rang but it was her husband; he was hysterical and told us of the gory details of the horrible incident in between frantic sobs. He had lost his family, every last one of them, his wife, his two boys, his unborn child, and his parents, to the terrorists; I was agitated and distraught, however I noticed through every bit of what he was saying, he kept repeating, "I thank God... I thank God." I was confused and I asked him, "What are you thanking God for, you lost everything, Aunt Jamie, your home, your family?" All he said was, "I have hope for the future." Optimism becomes really difficult for people in adverse situations who wait on a call for weeks only to discover the news of their loved ones dying, pray and anticipate an aunt's response to make sure she is still alive and safe from terrorists, at least for that night, who lose their property, family, everthing. However to me, optimism should be a priority because through my uncle's positive attitude, in spite of his circumstances, I learned that it gives one a reason to live and the encourage to keep persevering despite unfavorable outcomes. Like my uncle says, "Optimism gives you hope to stop crying for the dead and to start smiling for the living, to stop chasing after what is gone and begin to appreciate what you are given, to stop totaling your losses and start counting your blessings so my life is not defined by all the bad experiences I have overcome but by all the good things I am looking forward to in my future."

Sharon Balogun

 

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  • I entered this essay for a contest. It's for my aunt who fell victim to a Boko Haram raid.

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