Room B6, Obasa Hall housed four girls who had been newly admitted into the university to pursue their chosen courses. Four young adults from different schools and different backgrounds thrown together into a common pool to navigate their future.

First in the room was Aliya, a pretty, quiet and well-brought-up girl of 18, from a strict Muslim background. Aliya, the last of four children in her family, exuded deep respect for anyone older than her and was very impressionable. She had been a day student throughout her primary and secondary education (High school) and her routine had always been – home-school and back home. She had very few friends as she was not allowed to visit or socialise outside of the family. She was indeed naïve.

Aliya was shortly joined by Chantal. Chantal, on the other hand, had lived all her life on the other side of the divide. A day student as well, she however had experienced unbridled freedom as both her parents spent their time furthering their thriving careers, barely having time for this only child. Instead, she was spoilt with gifts and excessive money. Chantal was therefore left to the whims and caprices of nannies and governesses as a child. A highly intelligent child, Chantal scaled exams and achieved required grades with minimal effort. She was a party freak, ardent clubber and frequent traveler both within the country and without, often without the knowledge of her parents. She was very popular with the opposite sex and could easily win a popularity contest on campus. She was 19 going on 20.

Taba, the third occupant, was 17 and an introvert who enjoyed her own company. She had zero interpersonal skills and could be described as antisocial. She was a nerd who enjoyed the company of her books and music. She saw no need to mix and would barely raise her head or say “Hello” if anyone came into the room. For her, it was the library – laboratory – class and room.

Gbubemi, the same age as Chantal, was the last to join the room. Gbubemi, displayed maturity in handling life issues. She never skipped classes and studied hard but also spent time on sports where she socialised, was a Rotaractor (junior Rotarian) and also attended a few social events like drama, movies and parties. She would often come back to the room to find Taba in her solitary confinement while Chantal and Aliya would be gone to return in the early hours of the morning or sometimes …days later. At the end of the first semester, as they prepared to go home the following conversation ensued.

Aliya: “My grades are so poor…what will I tell my parents? They will kill me! Ah…this has never happened in all my life. In fact, I am dead already” she moaned. “Chantal, you said your grades are OK, how did you manage it?

Chantal: “I don’t know. As you well know, I didn’t do anything differently from you. Maybe my course is just easier”. “Madam bookworm, how did you fare”? she asked, addressing Taba.

Gbubemi cut in: “Chantal please leave Taba alone. You know, I just think we should talk some sense into one another. You know Taba you can’t continue to bury your head in your books and shut yourself to the world outside of you. To be a rounded individual you must hone interpersonal skills and develop relationships. You can’t live as an island.  You must work with people in the future and must learn to interact and relate. It helps the career and even stabilises you. The proverb “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is so true. Snap out of it, it may even enhance your grades”. As Chantal and Aliyu chuckle at the lecture, Gbubemi turns her antenna on them: “You are the converse. “All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy”. When you live your life like it’s a circus, you get stuck in a rut like you just did Aliya. Don’t follow blindly, rather you must learn to be your own person. Establish your identity. Let people know what you stand for. Dare to be different. Remember that no two persons are the same, even identical twins, and Chantal’s lifestyle may not suit you.

I would also wish to sound a note of encouragement to us all. These are hard financial times for even the wealthiest of parents and we can’t afford to waste our parents’ resources. We must learn to balance our academics with social skills and begin to cultivate financial independence by identifying our strengths and putting them to use in generating income. Let us make room B6 the envy of all our Hall mates”.

Gbubemi noted with satisfaction the look on her roommates faces which signified an alignment with her advice. They each committed to a more balanced lifestyle and introspection as to how to improve their net worth going forward. The next semester saw a reformed B6 with improved cohesion and alignment, better grades and thriving small scale businesses.

A NOTE FROM HAVILAH – It is never too early to teach our children that success in life is predicated on hitting the right balance and financial independence is a fundamental to success.



2 thoughts on “THE ART OF BALANCING

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