Always being thankful for the little things in life. I start out my days with a little prayer, a little reading, a little bit of sport and a rewarding warm shower.
Every morning I wake up, I am always grateful for another opportunity to chase my dreams, for a new chance at life, for a purpose, for the fire that keeps on burning brighter as I grow older.
Every time I have something to complain about, I always remember that there are millions of people who would kill to be at my place. This keeps me humble, it makes me appreciate every little thing I have, it makes me acknowledge the fact that I did not get to where I am without the help of my father in heaven who keeps a close watch on me and all that pertains to me.
All these have been part of my way of life and my perspective until my feet started wobbling. This was during my early days in London. Everything was going on well at work, at home, but my head was not well seated on my neck.
I was surrounded by the loveliest people, but I was always feeling empty and lonely. I was missing home and my friends terribly. I don’t know why. Maybe because I was the only one in my newfound circle with an African background, experience and skin colour.
I was the only one in the group that would be missing if the light goes down.
Don’t get me wrong. I was in love with myself as much as I love myself now, but the inferiority complex was weighing me down. The more I tried to shake it off and enjoy the company of the new people around me, the more I felt out of place. I could not relate to most of the things they used to talk about. The then-new dishes were delicious, but they could not be compared with hot Amala and Gbegiri soup decorated with assorted meat.
Torn between two worlds. I can remember vividly how my uncle used to call to warn me about the people of our race in the UK. He used to end each phone call with, “Be careful of your brothers there o! I am talking from experience! Most of them are hustlers and can be very dangerous”.
This made me a bit scared and too cautious. You should not blame me. I was just trying to protect my feeble self. You should see me when I visit the Nigerian village in Peckham. You could almost see the fear written on my face as I nod at my “brothers” and “uncles” on the street. The nod that signifies respect and brotherhood at arm’s length. Some nods felt like, “I feel your struggle, brother. But come near me and you will be showered with my mouth odour and saliva as I scream at you”. The thrill mixed with the fear made me shrink into my shell and hold on tight to my new family.
“Be patient! With time you will meet the right people from your home country! You are so lucky to be surrounded with really nice and successful people”, said Victoria once on the phone as I discussed my dilemma with her. “I still do not understand why this is so important to you, Henry!”
I did not know how to explain to anyone about how I felt lost in the midst of the people that love me wholeheartedly. I never told anyone about how the way other people stare at me in the street, on the bus or on the train makes me feel lost and out of place.
Was it my way of dressing?
Was it the way I used to walk?
Was it because of my beautifully strong African accent?
Was it because of my melanin-popping, hot chocolate dripping skin?
Sometimes, I felt like an ugly duckling surrounded by gorgeous looking blonds with sparkling blue eyes. I felt like a black sheep in the midst of spotless white ones.
I kept on encouraging myself, “The Bible says that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am the apple of God’s eye. I was created in His image”. Those words from the Bible really helped me push through each day.
I had never felt looked down upon in my whole entire life.
So, each day till today, I motivate myself with the word, I listen to uplifting music and keep myself happy and productive.
No one was ever going to steal the little joy I had.
One day as I was seated in the underground train, minding my own business, reading a newspaper, a lady walked up to me and sat by my side. That was quite strange because people don’t usually sit beside me even when the bus or train is full to the brim and there happens to be a free seat next to me.
“Hello sir”, she said to me in her breath-taking polished British accent.
“Hey”, I replied not knowing what to expect from the lady.
Was I in trouble?
Was I disturbing the peace of the other passengers with my mere presence?
“How are you doing?”, she asked as she smiled at me. “I have been commuting with this train for some weeks now and cannot help but to notice the uniqueness in your style and physique”.
“Hmmm…I am fine, thank you. But please who are you?”
She did not answer my question. Instead, she signalled to a man in black. The man came over to where we were and gave me her business card.
I stared at it for a minute and my jaw dropped. “I know this designer! One of these designer’s shirts can buy two Gucci Supreme sneakers!”
She laughed and said, “Well, that’s true! It’s because we have the best quality in the world”, as she shrugged and smiled at me.
Then I remembered that I have seen her in the news or on a talk show before. I could not believe what was happening to me.
“I am personally inviting you to our London office. You have inspired my new collection called BLACK DIAMOND. Not because of your gorgeous skin, but because of some kind of grace and glory that you radiate!”
“Thank you” gently slipped out of my mouth as I was short of words.
“I would love you to be the face of this new collection”, as she used her hands to dramatically draw a face in the air. “I would also appreciate creative ideas from you”, she added as she stood up when the next train station was announced.
“I do not know what you do for a living, but please do not let this opportunity pass you by. I really want to work with you!”, she said as she put on her sunglasses. “The date and time for an appointment are written at the back of the card”, she added as she alighted from the train along with her bodyguards.
I could not move from where I was seated. I could not even change my position.
At that point in my life when I thought so little of myself, God surprisingly opened a great door for me. He blessed me with unmerited and unexplainable favour.
I almost forgot that I was going to work that morning. The next stop was announced and I got ready to alight.
I could still perceive her perfume.
“Henry and the black diamond” kept on singing in my head. I was almost dancing. Not because I needed the job. I mean I was already a medical doctor in a very reputable hospital, but this opportunity brought my self-confidence back to life.
That same day, while I was busy with my patients at work, I caught a fast glimpse of myself in the mirror as I was walking down a corridor.
I moonwalked back to the mirror and said, “Wait a minute! Who is this?!”. I was talking to myself. “Boy! You’re fine! You’re handsome! You’re gorgeous!”
POSE. POSE. POSE. PAUSE!
I was daydreaming about THE BLACK DIAMOND collection.
“Doctor! We need you immediately in room 508!”, shouted a nurse. “You are looking a little bit more excited today. Full of energy”, she quickly added as we rushed to the ward.
“Yes, I am”, I said to her as I got back to attending to my patients.
From that day onward, I started to see myself in a different light. A brighter light. I no longer saw myself as that black sheep, but a black diamond. A rare gem. A precious one that people cannot help but admire.
I am not awkward. I am unique.
That was the message I passed across while working on the BLACK DIAMOND collection for ten successful seasons. We designed everything from shirts, trousers, skirts, dresses, bags. I never knew that I had such a gift in me. I ended up working on other inspired collections with other top designers. Till this day, I meet once in a while with them to discuss creative ideas.
Never stop believing in yourself.
Thank you for reading! Kindly leave a comment at the end of this page 😉
- HENRY AND THE BLACK DIAMOND: http://valtoybob.com/henry-and-the-black-diamond/
- HENRY AND THE 1001 TATTOOS: http://valtoybob.com/henry-and-the-1001-tattoos/
- HENRY AND THE FALLING LINES: http://valtoybob.com/henry-and-the-falling-lines/
- HENRY, WHAT A MESS!: http://valtoybob.com/henry-what-a-mess/
- HENRY AND THE LAND FLOWING…: http://valtoybob.com/henry-in-the-land-flowing-with-milk-honey-sugar-and-garri/
- HENRY AND THE SEGMENTED LIFE: http://valtoybob.com/henry-and-the-segmented-life/
- LIGHT UP MY WORLD: http://valtoybob.com/light-up-my-world/
- SHOOT YOUR SHOT: http://valtoybob.com/shoot-your-shot/
- RONKE: http://valtoybob.com/ronke/
- RONKE II: http://valtoybob.com/ronke-ii-heart-over-head/
- EVERYONE versus RONKE: http://valtoybob.com/everyone-versus-ronke/
- RONKE: The Queen Of Ibadan: http://valtoybob.com/ronke-the-queen-of-ibadan/
- RONKE THE RUNAWAY BRIDE: http://valtoybob.com/ronke-runaway-bride/
- SATISFIED: TALE OF A JOHNNY JUST COME: http://valtoybob.com/satisfied-tale-johnny-just-come/
- NEVER ALONE: http://valtoybob.com/never-alone/
- LETTER TO LINDA: http://valtoybob.com/letter-to-linda/
- IF EVE LEAVES: http://valtoybob.com/if-eve-leaves/
- DREAM CHASERS: http://valtoybob.com/dreamchasers/
- RONKE: https://publish.okadabooks.com/book/about/ronke/17961
- LIGHT UP MY WORLD: https://publish.okadabooks.com/book/about/light_up_my_world/18086
- NEVER ALONE: https://publish.okadabooks.com/book/about/never_alone/18048
Check out our book on Amazon:
- HENRY AND HIS LIFE NOTES: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B07ND5BHLD/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_ZrfBCbTZBTJ37