I was recently surprised by the variety of emotions that came flooding back as I remembered my student days, while walking with a friend. It is nice to make new friends, but the true value of old friendships is appreciated when we look back at all we have been through with good old friends. I have managed to keep in touch with a few friends from university, and feel so blessed to have been friends with my husband as well since our undergraduate days.
Today, I remember what a great friend he was to me at university, as we celebrate our wedding anniversary this week. I know people have different ideas about friendship and dating, but I cannot deny that being friends before dating worked well to strengthen my relationship with my husband, who understands me better than anyone else.
Men usually get awards and recognition for climbing mountains, inventing technology and breaking records, but I believe the men who choose to love and cherish their wife everyday deserve more than mere medals. No one knows how hard it really is for him to apologise when he is not sure what he has done wrong, or how hard it can sometimes be to come home to the same imperfect woman everyday, or how hard it is to put her happiness first when making decisions. We expect husbands to be there and love faithfully, but there is no award to win when they do so. This applies also to many other roles in life.
There will not always be awards and recognition for the things we do well. We need to learn to celebrate ourselves and appreciate that we are doing well, if we are – even when no one says so. I remember how sad I felt when I was unable to attend my university graduation ceremony after completing my first degree. My excellent grades and hard work seemed to mean nothing without a cap and gown. I had no money to register for the graduation ceremony and my supportive parents could not afford to travel there, after struggling to pay my steep international student tuition fees.
I comforted myself with the hope of being able to graduate again as a doctor some day, if I ever got to do the course I really wanted to do. My friends were all very sensitive and supportive, but there was nothing anyone could say to take away the seeming unfairness of the fact that I had done better than many of the celebrated graduands, without a chance to celebrate with them. I had to learn to be happy for others and celebrate my own success privately, without a formal graduation photo.
Thankfully, I was able to attend the graduation ceremony after my second degree, and enjoyed celebrating with my family and friends. It was the end of a long journey many would never understand. If I had allowed myself to have a bad attitude because I felt demoralised and unrecognised after my earlier achievements, there would be nothing more to celebrate today.
Sometimes life can seem unfair and all our hard work can seem to go unnoticed, but if we carry on and find motivation in the fact that the best reward is the personal satisfaction of a job well done, we would eventually get the recognition we deserve. We can choose to continue to be good, honest, faithful, hardworking and kind. You can choose to celebrate and motivate yourself, even when the world does not care, because what really matters is what you think of yourself.
Writer – Dr Afiniki Akanet is the Author of Life Without Coffee (Choosing Happiness Over Stress) and Director of Evasitters UK. Read more of her work at www.afiniki.co.uk