Throughout primary school, teachers always felt it necessary for us to write our news and occasionally read it to the whole classroom. Now, that would have been all well and fine if I actually had a life. You don’t really do much as a kid besides go to school, go home, play, eat, sleep. And somehow, everyday what we write in our news is supposed to be different.
It was especially irritating when those white kids who did all sorts of fun things with their holidays came and reported this to the class. The average black kid came and said “I played soccer with my friends. The end”. That worked for me. The average white kid came and said “we went 4×4 racing, then went bungee jumping, then I jumped out of a plane, and then I learnt how to do the moonwalk, and then I played soccer with my friends”. WHAT!? In Grade 4, there was a mild tornado in the town where I grew up. From my home window, it just seemed like a hailstorm, but it was actually more than that. I realised this after this one guy came back and said “My dad was at the gate, and I went to open the gate for him. Then the tornado took him away in the car and it took the cow across the road too. I watched him spinning around and then 5 minutes later, the car landed on all 4 wheels in-front of the gate, and he walked out”. I missed the part about what happened with the cow (the funny thing is that this was the actual story he told us… and we believed it).
As you can see, I generally had a challenge. In Sub A (Grade 1 to all you kids who were born after Mandela was free), I decided to write “My mother got a baby this weekend”. As you can guess, the teacher gave me extra special attention that day. The fact that my mother didn’t have a baby that weekend was irrelevant. What was relevant was that I was a bawse. Two months later, I ran out of stories so I wrote again “My mother had another baby this weekend”. For some reason, it didn’t work this time. But another teacher in the school heard that my mother got a baby, and one day saw my mother on the street and said “Hey, congratulations on your new child!”. Awkward.
Problem is, so so many years later, nothing has really changed. Why does one feel the need to tell a story slightly different from the truth to look good? For example, I’m into photography. So when I meet other photographers, and they ask what work I’ve done, I sometimes say “I’ve done a bit of work in the fashion industry”. What I want him to take from this is “He has taken pictures for top-end glossy magazines and done shoots at some of the best fashion shows”. What I actually mean is that someone I knew in varsity wanted me to take picture of some outfit she designed, so she could enter it into a competition. Not really a lie. Just creative truth-telling.
We as humans (I’m generalising here so that I don’t feel like the only idiot in the room) tend to do things and say things because we feel that we aren’t enough, and need to match up. But God made us unique, and I personally think that God’s creativity is enough. So whether I’m an amateur photographer talking to a guy with 3000 years experience, or can’t dance to save my life but tell people I’m standing on the sidelines because my leg is injured, or I failed my test, and I’m talking to someone whose vocabulary’s anti-virus automatically finds and deletes the word “fail”, I am enough. And so are you.