John ‘Dare Okafor
There has always been an unwritten plan; a plan clearly mapped out in the sanctuaries of your soul. All has been going according to plan. You feel like a grand plan master; you’ve always had the history of figuring things out even before they become a reality. Your first year in the University of Ibadan was spent in the Great Independence Hall. You enjoyed your stay; you made a decision never to stay off campus. In the situation of being unlucky to get accommodation, you will prefer squatting to going off-campus, chiefly due to the high cost of staying off the school campus.
In your second year, you still stayed on-campus, against all odds. How it happened, only you, God, and the rats in your rented room know. Katanga Republic has become a home second to home, regardless of the walls starved of emulsion paints, clogged bathrooms, uninspiring toilets, and beds ridden with bedbugs. You still pridefully call the republic your own. It’s now an identity, a consciousness of the green blood that runs through your veins.
It’s your third year, and the plan is still ongoing. You look forward to being a finalist, a stage where you don’t have to struggle to get accommodation. It is assured. You’ve suffered enough; it’s your turn to reap from past struggles of deprivation. But then came the news: “in adherence to the Covid-19 protocols, no student is expected to stay on campus, as physical activities are now restricted within the university.”
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Oops! You never saw that coming. It was never part of the plan; the plan was to use all your undergraduate years on campus and perhaps brag about how you maintained the record of never staying off campus.
Now you stay in Agbowo as a finalist; you rented a room for three times the amount you have ever got to pay for accommodation on campus. After paying for the room, you still had to spend on renovating the room to make it suitable for living. Coming from your window, you could hear the constant cries of your neighbours’ children being persuaded to go to school; you feel irritated. Now, you wake up as early as 5 a.m. in a search for water, because all the wells within your vicinity are dried up. Water has suddenly become gold; you now store it in twenty-five-liter gallons for the days of scarcity; as per dense crude oil. days. Your landlady comes to your room at every last day of the month to remind you of your electricity bills. You are being careful with your usage of gas; hotplates were never part of your tenant-landlady agreement. On campus when your foodstuff finishes, it was easier to go into the next room and solicit for support for your stomach infrastructure. That’s no longer possible, as the majority of the tenants living in the house are not students. You notice you are spending far more than you’ve ever spent as a University of Ibadan student.
The first semester is over; you realise it wasn’t as bad as it seemed after all. Look at you! You survived as you always have. You have now realised that staying off-campus comes with its own perks just as that of staying on campus.
You’ve come into full consciousness of the dynamism of change and how it comes in many forms in our lives. Some come forcefully like a tidal wave, or creep along incrementally like a glacier. Some might come in the form of devastating tragedy, difficult choices, broken relationships, or even new opportunities. You’ve realised that the main problem isn’t about change, but about how we adjust to it as individuals. As humans, our adaptation skills vary, some take a shorter time in processing the changes happening to them, while others may take longer time.
Adjustment to life circumstances shouldn’t be seen as a state, but a process because changes are bound to happen (either good or bad) except you are dead. Even though change can be difficult, it’s almost always for the best. Of course, dealing with uninvited changes in our lives is often difficult and painful.
As you reminisce on the nearly ended semester, think of what you’ve learnt (not academically now, we all know the semester has been a ride to cruiseland). Think of how you’ve become better at affronting your problems and seeking solutions. Is there a story you can tell? A story that paints you as a changed and better person? A story that can land you that job or big offer in the near future? Whatever kind of change you are dealing with, know that you will learn to cope, and such learning is what brings about growth. When change happens, growth happens.