Who Am I? - Reuben Itegboje

Growing up, figuring out who I was always an issue. I would lay down at night analyzing myself as a human being. I asked myself several questions. Are the things I say properly representing me? Am I going down the right path? Do I truly believe in what I am being taught? Am I here to make an impact? Then how? Am I here to make my parents or myself proud? Am I here to epitomize my religion or beliefs? Would I be castigated if I tried to explore places that I shouldn’t? These questions have been bothering me for as long as I can remember. 

Because of my dad’s job as a diplomat, my family relocated frequently. Having a cosmopolitan life, in the sense that I kept moving every three years to a new country, made my quest to finding who I really was even harder. I went through each day looking at other’s lives feeling like they’ve got everything figured out, like they know who they are and who they want to be and I was trying to catch up. 

I started education in Venezuela, where I attended grade school. I remember one day, a friend came up to me and asked me where I was from. I told him I was from Venezuela, not knowing how else to answer him. Being in an all-Venezuelan school, I felt like I was a part of them, just looked different. Teachers were a little biased because I was a foreigner but I never really noticed it. I believed that I lived in Venezuela as a Venezuelan. Then I moved to the United States. That move was a different ball game. I was a bit more mature, had a more vivid understanding of who I was. However, I was not at all close to figuring where I was going. People constantly asked me about what I wanted to be when I grew up. All I knew was that I wanted to be someone important that would help the world in any way possible. The trait I developed to be there for my friends, helping them through social and family problems shaped me in such a way. 

With the move to the Philippines, great confusion headed my way. There, I learnt most of the things I know today. They try to teach you as many things as possible and get you involved in several activities. I was in the debate club, piano club, table tennis club, computer club, soccer team, music club, the little scientists club, the basketball team and much more. Having all of this in my arsenal caused a conflict inside me. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with myself. My friends knew exactly what they liked and what they wanted to be in the future while I was there more clueless than ever. Whenever my teacher asked me what I wanted to be, I always gave more than ten answers. When she said I had to choose one, I’d end up toungue tied, having nothing to say. 

I was a very precocious child in a lot of ways, and having to constantly move to random places was not helping me define myself. I thought if I grew up in one country, it would have been much simpler. Most people say that they wished for a life like mine but really, I would have loved to stay in one place and figured out who I am. I dreaded those moments that I would cry by the end of my stay in countries. I had to uproot and leave behind what I had grown accustomed to and go to an entirely new place, a different setting, people… It was annoying to have to say goodbye everytime I started to feel at home. I was tired of learning new cultures and making new friends after leaving behind old ones, knowing that I won’t really stick around. But I got used to it. I had to. It affects me to this day because I still have problems opening up to new people because I fear that like always, I would have to leave them soon. I have a skill that allows me to get to know a person without really opening up about myself. Family was the only thing that was constant in my life.

Finally, high school came. I thought that by then I should know who I am and what my purpose is. I was in Ethiopia. When I heared that my dad was posted there, I remember not liking it. I felt like I would not be able to accomplish anything there. I was so wrong. High school there helped me funnel all my ideas into one. It helped improve on all my talents while figuring out who I was. I was also very comfortable there. I found others like me, kids who were skeptical about their futures. We were in a journey together, and so I felt a sense of belonging. My relationship with God strengthened during this period. Things started to be clearer. The way I saw things changed.  

I became really close to my dad in high school. I would go to his office every now and then to ask him several questions. He would still sit me down and tell me all about life; how it can be hard but also enjoyable at the same time. We talked a great deal about time and the need to used it wisely. I remember a conversation we had about where he stared from, how he came to be the person he is today. He told me that just like me, he also used to be very confused, and growing up in those days was not as easy as now. He told me about the hardships he went through; how he had to provide for himself after his father died at a young age. My dad said a lot of powerful words to me. One of which that summarizes it all is, “Boy! Life is beautiful. Just never tell yourself that something is too hard. Go through it with a positive attitude.” These words remind me to stay strong during during tough times. 

Now, I’m back in The States. I’m in college. I still have not fully defined what my future is but the difference is, I’ve realized that it’s okay. I know who I am. I am Reuben Iteboge, a Nigerian. I am a Christian, I play lots of instruments, I love all genres of music (except heavy metal), I love sports, I read not for fun but to benefit myself as a whole, I love culture, I uphold my beliefs, I love, I hate, I make mistakes, I try to be the best that I can be, I am a global citizen and I represent my family. This is who I am. And as to what my future is, as long as God is with me, I have no worries there. I trust that God has an amazing plan for my life and He will reveal that to me soon enough. Until then, I’ve learned to take each day, one at a time.