My parents made it clear that I was going to Boarding School quite early. Each time I pondered on the idea of going away from home, I was gripped by the fear of the unknown. The thought of being all by myself in the midst of people I did not know, scared me. As the days grew closer, my mom gave me my last set of independence tips – ‘Choose your friends wisely’, ‘Read your books’ and ‘Do not collect anything from anyone’. The last one instilled the fear of God in me and made me wondered what kind of people I was going to meet on the other side of my new life.
September finally came and the long drive to school was upon me. Getting prepared was more fun than I expected. I showed up to school with a suitcase for my clothing and a huge metal trunk box for my provision aka box of goodies. I settled in quickly and life in the real world of boarding school began. I visited my box of goodies very often because it reminded me of home. As the weeks rolled by, I noticed an emerging trend. Each time, I paid a visit to my box of goodies, the box room filled up quickly. Everyone wanted something from my box and I kept giving. I was young and naive. I gave foolishly to every request and soon, my box became a supermarket and Oh boy! did they shop so freely, I did not mind, I kept giving.
It was a few days to the end of the term and my suitcase was now empty. I was so hungry, I wanted something to eat. I had never had any reason to ask anyone for anything because my mom’s warning rang in my head. But by the end of the term, I felt I knew them more, so I asked for a snack and everyone seem to have a reason to say No! Those last few days felt longer than the entire term and all of a sudden, in my starved state, my eyes of understanding were open and I felt used.
The holiday was a time of reflection for me. I saw a different side of life and came face to face with the reality that even in the the midst of teenagers, life is a jungle and only the fittest survive. I came up with my survival plan, I know now that what I did back then is called ‘Strategizing’. The new School term was going to be different, I had grown wiser. I recognized that my inability to say ‘No’ was still a weakness and while I worked on a nicer way to respond to requests that should clearly get a ‘No’, I moved my box of goodies out of sight.
It became clear to me that if I must have enough resources to last me for the school term, I must budget and put in place a system that allows me to spread my resources over an estimated period of time. I must also prepare for days that I may run out of everything by setting aside an emergency supply. I did this by locking up a portion of my supplies in my Guardian’s house as a last resort.
Being broke taught me a few early life lessons:
- You are generally at the mercy of others and may find yourself in a situation where you feel pressured to compromise your values.
- Everyone appears friendly when you have, but when you are broke, your relationships are tested and you realize that your true friends are few.
- You have to learn how to manage your resources in a way that allows you perform acts of kindness without jeopardizing your well being.
Those early days taught me to apportion my resources wisely, setting aside the right portion for saving, spending and sharing. Life, as you have come to find will have some years of surplus and years of famine. We can all learn a lesson from Joseph’s strategy in the book of Exodus. In Egypt’s years of plenty, he led a nationwide campaign to store up a fifth of what was harvested. When the world around them fell on hard times, Egypt became a lender to nations. I also noticed something from that story, the ‘broke’ will always bow to the ‘lender’. So choose the right side of life by becoming a better steward of the resources that God will entrust to you.
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