Today marks ELEVEN years that I officially migrated to the United States, leaving every inch of familiarity behind in Nigeria. At 17, almost 18 years old I was plunged to a world I had only seen in the movies, and which I was to find out was not much like it was in those movies. At the time of departure, school systems in Nigeria were unstable, and I didn't perform up to par on our version of SAT called JAMB. Needless to say, I was yet to begin college like many of my peers and it was rubbed in very thoroughly at home and away from home. As a background, I am the only girl and my parents were extremely protective of me- going out of the state I grew up in wasn't an option, thus abroad was never even a thought. At least not until those 2 years of passing time while the world moved on. Aunts and uncles in the States began to convince my parents how great of an idea it was to send me here for a better opportunity at succeeding.
I remember that day like it was yesterday- my parents called me in their bedroom privately. They informed me of their plan to send me to the United States for a more stable educational system and a better chance for me. I was told my flight departed in a few days and I wasn't to tell any friends or family, because this wasn't a real move- just a summer over there to do SAT, etc and to see if I would get in a school. I also remember getting mixed messages about whether to pack all or some of my things on this mysterious journey. The last thing I recall from that conversation was when I was told "Don't forget the child of whose you are, all eyes are on you".
Can you say PRESSURE!
I entered U.S through Chicago, but settled down with my aunt and her family in Maryland. The first few months were extremely difficult, not because of my new home dynamics but because of what I deemed an improper separation from home. I was able to say goodbye to only a handful of my friends, at the time also the youth choir leader just left and placed me and another person as new heads; and off I was far away from the one thing at that time that kept my heart super happy. For the first few months all I did was study for all kinds of exams and placement tests. And I aced every single one of them. The fear of failure and the desire to please my parents were my drive. I didn't recognize it as that until I read chapter 3 of Rick Warren's "Purpose driven life".
That realization began my deep soul searching. I began journaling again & pouring out my soul onto paper. It was therapeutic and that was my entry point into genuinely seeking God. Not just going to church & having a blast with friends in the youth choir like I did growing up. The weight that I felt began to lift the more I drew closer to that all-consuming love of God that I had known of but not truly experienced. The church in Maryland was a breath of fresh air at the time, and my love relationship with worship and music began to soar as I joined the choir there.
To be continued....