“Thriving is a condition beyond mere survival, implying growth and positive development.”
I have always been fascinated with the idea of “thriving” even before I knew what it meant. You see, I grew up in a home where it was hard to imagine anything could grow, let alone thrive. But, I was determined (and could imagine) what was possible for my life if I had the chance to live the life I believed I was capable of living.
That life was not filled with bloody wounds that would later cake into scars. That life was not spent with people who screamed all the time. That life did not involve joining every school club to avoid going home at the end of the day. That life actually involved surrounding myself with people who were interested and invested in all that I could become.
Luckily for me, I slowly found those people. When I was 12 years old, my mother took me to see Nelson Mandela speak. He had recently been released from prison and was touring the United States. As a Nigerian I was very proud. As an African, I was also very proud. As a human being, I felt something foreign within me. It was not just pride. It was actually awe.
I knew his story well. I knew about the South African prison he had endured. I knew about his fight for civil rights in his homeland.
He had not yet become President of the country where he had been incarcerated for so long, but he eventually would. All I knew was that if this man who looked like me, had a nose that fanned out like mine and smiled easily despite the odds could stand before me in celebration of his life, then I could too.
Couldn’t I? That day I learned that despite challenging circumstances, so much is still possible. I stopped wanting to just survive or even live, I wanted to thrive. I wanted to be someone who could use my experiences and help other people. I wanted to be someone who could proudly say that I was living my best life.
Everyday week I will be sharing ideas that inspire me. If something speaks to you, drop me a note, ask me anything or simply take the journey with me.
Uchechi Kalu is a Nigerian American writer, poet, author and tech entrepreneur. She is also the Co-Founder at wedocracy, the collaborative social network for wedding planning. Her new book of poetry, Resembling the Sea, will be published in 2014. She’d love to hear from you @uchechi_writes.