The French exchange student, I had just given career advice to in some little restaurant in Wuhan, China, asked me the meaning of my name. I said it was along the lines of saviour or being delivered. Then he asked, “Are you my saviour?” I said, maybe, who knows. But this got me thinking about E. The man, who saved me from ignorance, built my self-esteem and confidence. The man who changed my life without knowing he was doing so.
I will always be grateful God made sure my path crossed with E and he ended up mentoring me, teaching me, telling me off and educating me. An education, I can never get in any classroom.
Let me take you back a little bit. I was in my early 20s thinking I had life somewhat figured out in my own little shallow world. Everything, including opportunity was bright, fresh and colourful around me, but I was in an alley of darkness and couldn’t see at all.
I was just going through the motions and ticking boxes. Being a little above average.
And so on a fateful afternoon, I sat in an interview room waiting for questions from a panel who have had far more experience in an area I was only hoping to get in to. I had no idea my life was going to change forever, for better.
Thankfully, I got the job and it didn’t just become a job. It was the unorthodox stage for my confidence to be built, my mind to be opened and my feet to be strengthen to discover who I was destined to be. The job itself was varied and no single day was the same.
So, along came E. He was my Irish boss who had also lived in Ghana in the 70’s. From the word go, he set the tone for me to believe in myself.
I was anxious about life, but he was positive and still is. I have never heard him sound pessimistic. Never.
I had very little confidence. He is my definition of confidence, charisma and enthusiasm.
He had seen the world and at the time we met, I had seen nowhere, just Lagos and London.
He will walk out to people and make connections with them. He could make strangers laugh and fill their eye with happy tears. I was not keen on meeting strangers.
He had a library and a whole section dedicated to National Geographic magazines. I had a collection of books and magazines mainly on fashion, style and interiors, which was scattered everywhere.
E had other business investments and always told me to save up for the rainy day. At the time, I was like a kid in a toyshop and was busy buying shoes in every colour I could find.
I was anxious and full of doubts about many things, but E kept telling me to believe in myself and to know I was a superior being. That was a bold statement to make and it made me wonder. What kind of human being tells another they are a superior being? It must take one to know one. He always said, amongst other things, as a superior being you can live in the palace and the ghetto and I have.
E always told me not to take any nonsense from anyone or give any ignorant person the permission to make me feel inferior, because of the colour of my skin. He always emphasized that at the end of the day, when we are cut open, the colour of the blood is the same. E, encouraged me to know I more than belong, and will readily supply me with quotes and facts.
My colleagues at work at the time nicknamed E, “the rich man on the hill”, yes, he was wealthy and had several properties to his name, lived in a beautiful house and was always well dressed and groomed, but he was never attached to material things. He had a small car for daily errands and used public transport whenever he could. E focused and valued quality time with his family and helping people who had nothing. He never wanted anything back.
E impacted my written communications skills greatly. I will read emails he sent out and I could always tell, not only did he choose his words carefully, he addressed issues fully. He will intelligently tell you off and instead of getting upset; you end up admiring his mastery over the english language.
When I started my business, many “friends” and some family members didn’t believe in me, but E will just listened to my ideas and wished me well. He will always check up on my progress when he had the time.
E told me to behave in a way that I can always look people in the eye when I met them again.
My students are surprised when I tell them I was never this confident person, who is full of enthusiasm and has converted her garage into a library. But, I learnt from the best and that is my point. We can all learn and turn things around.
I was stubborn then and thought I had an answer for everything, but I had a learning spirit and enthusiasm most times. Something E and I have in common.
E, I thank God for your life and for believing in me when very few did and I was surrounded by negativity.
The God factor in my life is and will always be a constant, but you’ve made me the woman I have become and am becoming.
Thank you for your patience, time and every single opportunity you have given me. I hope I have made you proud and continue to make you proud.
The E’s of this world can see us, our potential and the greatness that lies within, even when we are clueless. E’s will push you till you become extraordinary. My question to you is, when you cross paths with an E, will you recognize him or her? I pray for your own sake you do.