Someone once lost his job but couldn’t tell his wife. He kept lying about unpaid salaries, hoping to fix himself up as bills piled up at home. His reason: she would no longer respect him if she knew the pump was dry.
Many depend on falsehood for respect. Poor couples borrow for weddings to perform wealth. On social media, many need to project wealth to be able to feel they have value.
Young men grow up with the notion that without money, they are nothing. For many rich people, without money no one will respect them because that is all they project and that is all they have.
I was lucky growing up with books—philosophy books—through which I learnt many things that bother people don’t matter. For instance, I had no suit, no native clothes, no jewelry—only quality denim and shirts. For the most part I appeared in casual wear, and no one chased me out of an event.
My depression was worst in the period I had the most flux of money. I have lived both in poverty and a bit of comfort, but anyone who knows me can attest you can tell only a little difference.
When I go to the village, I travel with a backpack: land at the airport and take okada home a few minutes away—except there’s a car to pick me. The point is that I give zero care that people will think me poor. I’m not better than those who live otherwise, only that I grew up knowing I lose nothing being exactly myself.
Rather than exaggerate my little comfort, I under-declared it as a bachelor, yet I had my full share of the familiar sin.
Now young men are growing up to live for others. Reading saved me, otherwise. Sadly that kind of reading is now old-fashioned, so we are going to have more youth in fraud. It does not help that social media mocks those living honestly without gloss, and insists those challenging rich fraudsters are poor and jealous.
I recall a conversation among married men who worried their wives could get richer if they didn’t push harder. My life needs are small, I told them: a decent abode in my village, another in the city, a good car, a career, and some money for charity. With God I have no doubt my livelihood will fix these needs in due time, so wetin concern me if my wife become billionaire? How will that hurt my happiness?
I’m not a good example for younger men, but I think a kind of learning will help fill the void driving many to fraud. And here’s the better part: being indifferent to materialism does not affect your drive for success. It only helps to give you balance, and tailor your needs to things that really matter. You may end up quite rich even. I believe I will too.
Written By: Immanuel James Ibe-Anyanwu