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Pessimistic Me

So, this is going to be an attempt at trying to show why I’m extremely pessimistic, or as a therapist put it, why I seem to have a strong…
Pessimistic Me

So, this is going to be an attempt at trying to show why I’m extremely pessimistic, or as a therapist put it, why I seem to have a strong negative bias. I’d be walking you through some parts of my life that likely shaped what I am now. This would be different from what I normally write.

Primary School

This was probably one of the periods where I was at my most optimistic but doesn’t mean it was all sweets and roses . Grew up under the same conditions as most Nigerian kids, which translates to lots of physical abuse from your parents and uncles or aunts who happened to be spending time with us for a while.

We also lived a pretty sheltered life so we rarely went visiting friends except they were the children of our parents’ friends. Most of my socializing happened at school and was limited when I got home to just my siblings or other kids who stayed in the same compound as we did.

Staying with uncles and aunts way older than me taught me early on that my opinions or feelings didn’t matter, at least not while I was home with them. It was normal to want something or want to watch a special event on TV and have them override you because they wanted to watch football. My early hatred for the sport came from then. Not sure my parents helped with that either. Can imagine that it would have been hard to confront their siblings over what their kids wanted seeing as what we wanted wasn’t important but I don’t know.

1st lesson — my opinions/feelings don’t matter. This seems to play some role later on and I’d get across to it later.

Pre-secondary school

I’d taken exams to at least 3 schools at the end of primary school, one federal, one Air Force and one Command. Eventually came down to a federal school and an Air Force one in Ibadan. I’d gotten an admission to the one in Ibadan but turned it down because I had a classmate who was going to the federal one. Think this was the first major decision that I had to take and thought I’d made the right one. Ended up not getting admitted to the federal one and had to spend a few months at home while my parents tried to sort it out. Eventually got admitted into Kings’ College and tried to tell myself that it was an awesome school because of the name. Boy, was I wrong.

Secondary School

Going to attempt to break this down into multiple sections to cover various aspects of my life here.


This was rampant for most of my time here and was why I rarely looked forward to resumption days outside of my first time in the school. Constantly lived in fear of the senior students. I mean, when you’re being punished randomly, being made to walk on command so seniors can make fun of you and tell you that you walk like a robot or having to endure mass beatings by 5+ seniors, its hard to imagine why you’d like it there. If you’re going to ask why we didn’t report things like this, it’s either because we feared more retribution from them or the school didn’t really do anything to help. They tried introducing steeper punishments at some point but didn’t eradicate it fully.

Secondary school was also where I first started questioning the idea of religion. Didn’t make sense to me that people could do wicked acts, then go to a fellowship on Sunday and continue whatever they were doing after the services ended. Started skipping fellowships and would just hide out till they were done.

Sexual Abuse

The bullying aspect ties into a part of my life I don’t tell people about. Got abused by a senior while I was in JS1. Didn’t think it was abuse then and just chalked it up to the humiliating treatments we had to endure from them. Once heard some other seniors tease that this particular guy had HIV while I was walking past them later on and I probably panicked over it. Couldn’t tell if they were teasing because they knew he was gay or if he actually had the virus. Don’t think there was anyone I could talk to about it then. Didn’t know how I’d explain it to them so ended up suppressing the memory for years after and didn’t surface again when I got into university and started to grapple with it.

There’s usually literature discussing how abuse affects us later in life and all but couldn’t really tell how it exactly did for me. I know for one that I have less male friends and don’t particularly feel inclined to making friends with them. Couldn’t tell if this contributed to it or if it was because of the part where I went through an all-boys school. Also get turned off with some aspects of sex related to what I did that night.

Learning difficulties

Had issues academically for most of the time I spent in secondary school. Couldn’t focus on reading the way my classmates did and came close to repeating classes. Would sleep during night preps. Not like I felt lazy about reading but couldn’t really concentrate in the environment. Think I started feeling that I wouldn’t really amount to much academically. Didn’t help that my parents kept comparing me to my more intelligent classmates, asking why I couldn’t be like them. No one trying to actually understand why I wasn’t doing well in school.

I did summer school once at a private school and felt I fared better overall in the few months while I was there. Everything about the school was more relaxing. Maybe it was that way because the school wasn’t in session or that’s how they were to start with.

I did eventually start to get better shortly before we got to SS3 when I’d gotten past the bullying stage even though I had a few subjects I was good at.

Career Choices

Last sentence from the previous section connects with this. Right after JS3, I’d identified that I did better in classes that required more reading and fared worse in subjects requiring calculations. Decided I would focus on Arts by the time I got to SS1 and make better use of my brain there but my parents didn’t agree. To them, there were more opportunities in Science and had to shelve my dreams of becoming a judge since they were the ones paying my school fees. This didn’t work out as well from SS1 to SS2 as I ended up struggling in classes like Maths, Chemistry and Physics like I’d felt I would.

I did eventually end up on a path to becoming a software developer even though I wanted to become a pilot. But this was largely because I ended up relying on my own choices later in life than what my parents wanted. Think I used to wonder about what it would have been like had I gone into Arts like I wanted to.

Lesson 2: Your opinions don’t matter when your parents pay your school fees

I usually keep going back to the decision to choose a federal school over the Air Force one and how it kick-started some of what I consider to be the darkest years of my life and blame myself for it. Some other people would find it easier to move past it but I have a propensity to overthink things and it’s stuck with me for a while. It also put me on a path towards lots of self-blame and self-hatred later in life as I tended to hold myself responsible for the bad things that happened to me.


Had a better grasp on my life while I was here, away from all the bullying in secondary school and from comparisons from my parents. Found it a bit easier to read here too but this was also fraught with some negative experiences.

Putting others first ahead of myself

Think one of the things that you get taught when you’re elected to office in a fellowship is putting others before you. Safe to say that I went overboard with this. Started with me loaning out money for books to the fellowship during the first semester of my 2nd year, when they needed it with the expectation that I would get it back, then giving out money to someone a level under me when they needed it, while I went hungry. This happened in the same semester. The first case backfired on me since I didn’t get certain books that I wanted ahead of time. Added to the fact that I was more focused on the fellowship than my books, ended up failing a course in that semester. The second part acted in tandem with the fact that I wasn’t eating well then and I ended up with ulcer after the semester ended.

Was it a bad thing to put them first? Not really. The thing was that I overdid it. Overdid it with things like helping people pay their school fees, while losing some of my own money in the process.

This came into play much later in life as I prioritized other people’s happiness over mine. Again, was this a bad thing? No, but I think the issue was that I didn’t think I deserved whatever it was that I was giving up at times which was something that the last therapist I used brought up at different times. I guess I’d had a lot of stuff happen to me over the years that I didn’t always feel like I deserved to be happy or to be shown affection, going as far as to turn down gifts from people close to me if I felt that I out-earned them.

Onset of mental health issues

Failing a course and my general performance in second year seemed to trigger anxiety and depression for me by the time I got to third year. It’s possible that they’d I’d had run-ins with them earlier but they were brought to the forefront when I was in school. Started questioning if I’d be able to graduate with good grades by the time I left school and feeling bad about it. My classmates felt I was doing well enough but that did nothing to allay my fears. Neither did the fact that I held tutorials for other students or people coming to my room to have me explain stuff to them. That fear of failing stuck with me for my last two years in school and think it only dissipated when I saw my CGPA after leaving.

This didn’t mean that the mental health issues went with it. They started to solidify themselves when I started working with me questioning whether or not I was good enough and feeling bad about it.

So, at this point, I was an individual with self-hatred and self-doubt who blamed himself when things went wrong


1st Job

Started out my career as a software tester. Wasn’t a path I envisioned taking back in school and only found myself there because the company whose graduate trainee program I was in had placed me there based on my performance in their interviews. I thought it would be a good path to follow as I didn’t particularly like software development and was trying to explore something different. Started out the job with lots of enthusiasm that died out within a month of working there. Realized that the job wasn’t for me and stopped looking forward to going to the office. I tried at different points to make the best out of it but couldn’t sustain those periods.

Eventually picked up development again and started applying to jobs. Found it hard to find a job I wanted. I’d also started questioning my technical abilities as I was finding the path pretty hard. My self-doubt intensified then as I largely felt that I wasn’t good enough. This was around the time when I first started having suicidal thoughts.

2nd Job

Eventually found a development job that I felt was going to allow me improve on my skills and move there. My first few days were filled with lots of enthusiasm as my then CEO talked about all the projects he had in mind for me to work on, for which I think, none eventually materialized. Ended up working on something unrelated to what I was hired for. Didn’t mind though as I was meant to work on it for my first 3 months. I did do some work around what I was hired for but it wasn’t a lot.

I don’t think I hated myself for switching jobs as I felt my mental state might have been worse in the first place. But the fact that the office was pretty far, and I was having to spend a lot of my time in traffic to work at a job that I didn’t enjoy got to me and made me push to leave in under a year of working there.

3rd Job

This was where I felt the most at ease. They’d fit into what I was looking for in a company and knew I’d have a better chance at growing as a developer.

Got robbed a month after joining and blamed myself for it. Blamed myself because I’d followed a bus to a different bus stop to collect 50 naira change from the conductor. Blamed myself for being particular about the bus I wanted to enter since the one I met wasn’t a direct one to the bus stop closest to my house.

Also, started questioning my technical skills and didn’t quite feel I was good enough. Started out therapy courtesy of the job that seemed to help to an extent. I think I was partly to blame since I didn’t exercise as much like I was asked to or do some exercises that were requested of me.

My mental state oscillated up until I started having suicidal thoughts again towards the end of 2019. It got pretty bad that I didn’t really tell people about it and only mentioned it to my therapist when it had gone pretty far. I was able to get out of it with her help and mostly had to deal with anxiety towards the end of my stay there.

I felt that I’d started to get a more positive outlook on life towards the end of my stay there and therapy was largely to thank for it but the outlook didn’t last as long after I left.

Other bad decisions

I made a number of bad decisions around the period before leaving the 3rd job and following my departure from there. One involved turning down what would have been a job offer because they used a different stack than my primary one. I did not regret the decision when I made it. I had a major anxiety attack some months after that I felt I might not have had if I’d been working when it came. This blame was more of a thing of hindsight as I kept hating myself for being in a scenario where I wasn’t working and allowing the attack take a strong hold on my life. Felt if I had taken the earlier job, maybe I the attack wouldn’t have gotten as bad. Maybe if I’d gotten a different offer, I’d have come out of it better.

Had a separate one I won’t really talk about that contributed to the anxiety attack itself. Revolved around something that had happened in the last relationship I was in. Hated myself for putting myself in a bad spot during it and not holding on to my ideals.


Should have covered this under the Secondary School section but it kind of affected me more later in life. My first really bad compulsion happened in SS2. I’d kept making a clucking sound that I couldn’t bring myself to stop and hated that I couldn’t. Went to cry on a staircase one night because I couldn’t figure out how to control it.

Blamed myself for it and felt it was a punishment for not paying for a bus trip back home when I was sick because I didn’t have money for it and couldn’t ask the driver to let me ride for free. This brings me to another facet of me, the tendency to attribute bad things to something else I’d done in the past. It comes with another fear which is that I spend a lot of time going over what consequences could come from certain actions. One of my main compulsions is overthinking and I do it a lot when exploring consequences which might never come to be.

Health Issues

Since I tend to overthink things and feel that bad things could happen to me, I’ve had to deal with a lot of health anxiety in the past. Gets bad enough that sometimes, just seeing an illness and looking it up would trigger thoughts of me probably having it. This was responsible for some of the anxiety attacks I faced within the last two years. Stopped looking up medical info a lot online because I was just setting myself up for trouble.


Some other people would have gone through all that I did and come out peachy at the end. I am not other people. I sometimes wish that I wasn’t this way, didn’t overthink things like I do, just able to enjoy life like other people seem to be. Not having dreams about something I was already worried about in real life. Does this mean that I’ve given up and would rely on making excuses about not being able to move past it? No. If there was some surefire way to not overthink things, I would take it. Held off on doing drugs or going into drinking and continue to push forward. I exercise more, go on more walks and also have amazing friends who keep reminding me that I am a good person. The pessimism around me won’t go quietly but I’d keep pushing how I can till I come out better than I was before.

Till I get to a place where seeing a word triggers a bad compulsion, where I can read without worrying about my eyesight, where seeing a medical condition doesn’t trigger an anxiety attack. Till I get to a place where my mind is at peace. Till I get to a place where I feel confident in what I do and don’t hate myself for the decisions that I take, one where I acknowledge and learn from the bad ones and not dwell on them. Wonder if I’d be truly happy then.