|By Cookie (Cookie) on Tuesday, March 18, 2003 - 08:54 pm: Edit|
I put this story in my NYU porfolio. Tell me what you guys think.
“Ten Little Nigerians Sitting Pretty In A Row--And Then There Were None When Clock Struck One.”
I never thought that I would ever write about my heritage. Although, it is very important to me, and I do thank God for “placing” me in the family that I have come to revere and love deeply. But as I reflect on my family’s beliefs, I realize that success is far more vital than following one’s dream.
I love being Nigerian-American, really I do. Yet I feel as I don’t belong, like I don’t fit in. And I want to, so desperately-- but my ideals and perceptions of life are far too outlandish for my family to understand. I want to be a writer--and they can’t understand why. My mother still wants me to be a Pediatric Neurosurgeon just like Dr. Ben Carson, one of my former childhood heroes.
“Think Big, like Ben, and you’ll get somewhere in life,” she said to me once. I looked at her, still surprised that she hasn’t absorbed the fact that I want to write for a living.
“But if I write like Chinua Achebe, then would you accept me becoming a writer,” I retorted. Then she smiled. She loves Chinua Achebe. All Nigerians love Chinua Achebe.
“He is the greatest writer of all time, XXXXXX. Things Fall Apart is the greatest book of all time. He makes me proud to be an Igbo woman.” I soon begin to hate myself for bringing up Mr. Achebe and his wonderful novel in our tête-à-tête. My mother knows everything about him and his books. But she loves Things the best. All Nigerians love Things the best. She starts rattling off about the characters, the plot, the diction, the syntax, and the British. Then she begins speaking in Igbo, knowing damn well that I can barely understand a word of it. The sound of her shrill Igbo accent engulfs every little I have. Obviously, she appreciates good literature, but she still can’t accept the fact that I want to write some good literature myself. She wants me to become a doctor and live a nice, comfortable, upper-middle class, black yuppie life. She doesn’t want me to struggle like she has, trying to raise my siblings and me by herself. She also knows that writing has become a great passion of mine for the last couple of months. She only wants me to succeed in life by having a secure job.
Soon writing begins to consume my WHOLE life and it scares the living hell not only of my mother but my relatives as well. They can’t fathom why I, “Smart XXXXXX,” would choose such a “risky” occupation. Nigerians, especially the Igbo, aren’t risk-takers. They like to live the “good life” and are able to work very hard achieve their goals, but when it comes to taking a risk; they chicken out. All of my Igbo friends attend the best universities in the nation to become successful and please their parents. But I want to break from that circle, I want to prevail my own way.
As a young child, I was groomed to become either a doctor, lawyer, engineer or a business woman-- as “the risk” career. So when I told them I wanted to become a writer; it was like I gave them a swift kick in the arse. One night, My mother and I went to some party when we encountered a few of my uncles, the D.L.E’s, (Doctors, Lawyers, and Engineers) I affectionately call them. They weren’t really my blood uncles, but Nigerians are big on the theme, “respect your elders or else.” So one must call a person who is older Auntie or Uncle to show respect. But I care for the D.L.E.’s greatly and thought they would understand my “chosen” profession.
“I thought you wanted to become a doctor, XXXXXX,” my Uncle Amara, the engineer, said to me. His voice sounded oh-too reserved. I liked joking around with the D.L.E.’s, but it wasn’t the time.
“No, I want to be a writer now, besides if you saw my math and sciences grades; you’d understand why I changed my mind,” I spoke. I decided to pull in a last minute joke to warm them up to the idea, but they weren’t laughing, so I became really scared.
“But your mother is struggling to take care of you, and now, you want to become a writer. Don’t you know that they don’t make any money!” Uncle Emeka, the doctor, yelled.
“See, that’s not a problem. I want to become a screenwriter and they make a lot of money!” All of the sudden, all color from their wonderful faces disappeared. They became ashen-white even their lips. I never thought black people could become so pale; I was REALLY scared for my life.
“XXXXXX, I t-thought you w-were smart. Y-You can’t b-become a S-S-SCREENWRITER!!!!!” Roared my Uncle Uche, the lawyer. He was stuttering and when Nigerians, especially the Igbo, stutter, one knows the sun isn’t going to rise again.
“Uncles,” I appeased. “I suck in science and I really suck at math. I can’t become a doctor. Please don’t be angry at me.”
“Okay,” they said, becoming much more understanding. “But you are still going to Yale, right?” I sighed. I know they care about my future. Like my mother, they want me to succeed, but can’t accept the fact that I could still succeed as a screenwriter.
“Guys,” I whispered. “Please don’t be mad, but I really wanna go to NYU.” They were really steamed now. Their faces were red and large puffs of smoke were coming out from their ears, too.
“NYU is a horrible school. It’s dirty and the people look crazy. New York is dangerous altogether.” Uncle Uche stated. I was really irritated now. They were bad-mouthing “my school,” the place I knew I would be happiest after I graduated from high school.
“Well, if you guys can’t accept me becoming a writer or going to NYU, if I get accepted. Then the hell with you and Yale!” I got slapped in the face right then and there by all three of them. The other party guests didn’t seem to mind the ruckus, they were laughing the whole time. Even my mother slapped me in the face and in front of the guests too. She was embarrassed. Nigerians don’t like to be embarrassed.
See, Nigerians have big dreams for themselves. I also have big dreams for myself as well. But I am also a realist. I know I wouldn’t be accepted at Yale. I simply don’t have the grades or the board scores. Yet, I want to go to NYU and major in dramatic writing, a university just as competitive. It’s my dream-- a dream I must accomplish before I reach the ripe, old age of a hundred and two. It’s situations like these that bring me back to “Igboland.” Even though my passions of becoming a writer are a little too extreme for my relatives to understand; we all share a passion inside of us. We all want to attain that one special goal that will make us “somebody” in life. That is why success is so important in the Nigerian culture.
I want my mother to understand that I will be successful as a screenwriter. I don’t want her to worry, but she continues to. I wouldn’t be happy as a doctor or a lawyer; it’s not my calling. My calling is to write whether I attend NYU or not. I know in time my mother will accept my calling. Meanwhile, I only have my dreams and writing to comfort me before she does.
|By Mattymatt (Mattymatt) on Tuesday, March 18, 2003 - 09:42 pm: Edit|
lol omg your aren't you the one who posted the same exact story a month ago and had it ripped to shreds by 100 people, all casting their complete reassurance that you will not get into nyu?
Just trying to remember.. it's not too often poor writing sticks in my head
|By Cookie (Cookie) on Tuesday, March 18, 2003 - 10:46 pm: Edit|
That's why my teacher said it was one of the best essays she's ever read.
|By Kalitiha (Kalitiha) on Tuesday, March 18, 2003 - 11:14 pm: Edit|
You should learn to speak Igbo, it's really sad that all of the Nigerian ethnic groups are losing their native tongues in favor of English. Tell me: which group are you more comfortable with, the Hausa-Fulani or the Yoruba?
Ummmm.....the essay. Big risk with the semi-cussing, nice attempt to pitch to the school, bad job to put it below Yale.....makes it seem like NYU is substandard, like low grades and test scores will fly. I thought it was an interesting and unique essay, but the editing could have been more thorough, maybe cutting out some parts and extending on others.
|By Cookie (Cookie) on Tuesday, March 18, 2003 - 11:18 pm: Edit|
Yoruba, my mom has lots of Yoruba friends. She can speak it and Hausa too. Thanks anyway, it's not my college admissions essay though.
|By Dwaynehoover (Dwaynehoover) on Tuesday, March 18, 2003 - 11:30 pm: Edit|
your teacher must have very low standards...this essay is far from stunning...I found it rather annoying and poorly written.
|By Mattymatt (Mattymatt) on Wednesday, March 19, 2003 - 02:11 pm: Edit|
lol agreed dwayne... cookie just one more question what was your sat score again? 940 was it? And oh yeah 0 sat II's?
|By Mikus (Mikus) on Wednesday, March 19, 2003 - 02:31 pm: Edit|
Is there a reason everyone's harping on Cookie?
Try to keep the criticism to the essay, folks =P
|By Cookie (Cookie) on Wednesday, March 19, 2003 - 03:13 pm: Edit|
Mattymatt, I hope you get into S-T-E-R-N and have a wonderful time there.
|By Dwaynehoover (Dwaynehoover) on Wednesday, March 19, 2003 - 03:42 pm: Edit|
NYU definitely has a good reputation for screenwriting...my prep school film teacher used to go teach there and he is an Emmy winning screenwriter.
I wouldn't really say that they were dissing "your school" --makes it sound as if NYU can be belittled to something that you can obtain AND you make it sound like you know you are going to get in...some arrogance is OKAY on apps but not that extreme.
|By Mattymatt (Mattymatt) on Wednesday, March 19, 2003 - 11:10 pm: Edit|
"Is there a reason everyone's harping on Cookie?
Try to keep the criticism to the essay, folks =P"
Mikus apparently you weren't around when she started a 99 post of war of ridculous ignorance.. she refused to believe her essay was anything below stellar and still fails to grasp the fact that admission into nyu is not going to happen.
|By Sun (Sun) on Thursday, April 17, 2003 - 04:17 am: Edit|
How is everyone doing with screenwritng schools? Who's applying? Does anyone know if they actually care about grades, or is it truly the portfolio and samples?(NYU USC)? Eh?
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