“…It is my life; it doesn’t concern you.” You might have heard someone tell you this or said it to someone, but don’t worry, just read on.

It is a truism that societal influences can make or mar the personality of an individual. Among the forces that exert so much influence on every individual in society, is peer group pressure and the kind of friends/company we keep. More often than not, people are misled or led aright by their peers or friends. To have good friends and mentors is a blessing unto any person because they help us to discern the discordant voices of truth and falsity that daily compel us to make choices. They also help us to become better persons. Life is a mystery and at the same time experience-driven. Every individual goes through happy and sad experiences in life. Some have had experiences that could be best described as “nightmares” that they wouldn’t want to live to see those they care about experience. As such, they strongly advise them to avoid treading on the path to such experiences. Others, on the other hand, have had pleasant experiences which could be a process that worked for them or a risk they took that yielded positive outcomes. Granted that every individual’s experience is subjective; yet there is some level of objectivity in the collective experiences of people, such that if two or more persons strongly advised against something, there is a higher probability that they might be right. This is often true in a situation where the outcome of research shows the negative effect of a drug has been replicated. It is, therefore, necessary that if one decides to go contrary to such advice, he or she has to take extra caution, weighing the potential risks and putting in place necessary mitigation strategies. I have never seen or heard that a person succeeds who has ignored the advice of mentors, people well experienced in a field, nor good friends. So count your teeth with your tongue. While you are free to pursue an alternative course of action, you must not fail to acknowledge that certain actions have to be done in a certain way, maybe as you are advised or instructed to do it. This is not ” living in bad faith” as Sartre puts it.

It an unarguable fact that we positively or negatively shape the lives of others. So why are many acting with total negligence to the advice or instruction of their elders, mentors, good friends, and experienced individuals? Is this the definition of freedom in our age? I have often wondered why some people would blatantly throwback your candid advice into your face claiming that it is their life and not yours and therefore you should mind your own business. Sadly enough, this idea of “it is my life” is one of the most self-deceptive and arrogant statements I have heard in a decade. The question is: Is your life truly yours? Are you really free to do whatever pleases you with your life.? I am here to debunk this idea. Principally I would say our life belongs to God and we are accountable to Him for what we do with it. God gives life and will someday take it back.

Secondly, we all come from a cultural background. We have a family. We are citizens of a country. We owe our life to others. As an illustration, when an athlete performs well in a competition like the Olympic games, the country he or she represents takes the glory, likewise the family and friends at the grassroots. On the contrary, when something evil happens, say somebody is arrested for committing murder or smuggling drugs, the headline news and all the media outlets will usually caption it stating the place of origin of the culprit. For example, a 21-year-old Nigerian was arrested… When we are faced with situations like this, it becomes obvious that my life is not really mine, that I am also accountable to many for what I do with my life. If you decide to get drunk and slide behind the wheel you are risking the lives of many on the road. What you do with your life, in this case, has a serious implication on the lives of others, especially and therefore you aren’t free to live your life as you wish. We live in society and our lifestyle affects others. If for instance, you decide to turn on your home theatre to the maximum volume because you paid for the room, do remember that the person in the other room, might need some rest or the other roommate, a student, might be studying for exams. If you are such an inconsiderate person who flaunts the advice of others or who thinks that you are free to do whatever you deem fit with your life, remember someday you will pay the price for your carelessness or recklessness with that life of yours. We have the choice to take action to become who we want to be and lead the life we want to live. According to Jean-Paul Sartre, each choice we make defines us. So, we have to be very careful about the choices we make in life.

As a child, I was taught that we have a name to protect and in whatever we do and however we choose to live, we must always bear that in mind. That name may be your name as a person (your reputation), your family name (whose child is he or she?), your country, your school and, etc. Always be conscious of what you do with your life because when you ruin it, many who invested or advised to get you on the right track will really feel the pain of your doom. That’s why they are crying out loud now to save your future. Simply say thanks at a piece of advice given to you no matter how offensive you think it is. Don’t ignore the experiences of those who have seen the bright and dark side of life, you have a lot to learn from them. “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” –Albert Einstein

In conclusion, your life is truly yours, but at the same time, you are accountable for what you do with it.

© Clem C. Aladi

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