This I Believe

Ogechi - Rockville, Maryland
Entered on March 26, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: forgiveness, love

I believe in following your heart at all costs.

Growing up in a Nigerian household as a girl, very early on I was aware of the fact that someday I would become the wife of a ‘noble’ Nigerian man, preferably of my parents’ choosing. In parallel, I was encouraged to think and be financially independent. This seemingly juxtaposed training played out in one of the most memorable scenes of my life; the day I decided to marry a white man. This scene changed me forever.

I remember the heated phone conversations with my parents, who felt betrayed because I was not conforming to their wishes. The threats from uncles and aunts to disown me, and a promise to never acknowledge the existence of my husband. All of this unrest, because I befriended and fell in love with someone with a European ancestry! Sure, it all seems a bit melodramatic, but it is commonplace in many first-generation immigrant households living in western society.

It got me thinking about my many roles in life. I am the daughter of proud Nigerian parents, dependable sister to four siblings, and a good friend to many. I am also a strong, independent, and compassionate person who does not see color as a barrier to friendship, love, and commitment.

There were long days and nights when I felt alone and my spirit rustled by the unrest I had seemed to cause. Through it all, my husband was by my side never asking more of me, than an assuredness of my decision. I was deeply moved by the power of our love, which sustained us through this hard time in our lives. An experience we never dreamed would befall us, but one which illuminated the strength of our character and a renewed sense of self we shared as a couple.

Our willingness to overlook past judgment by my family and openness in accepting their apology long after, showed me that indeed following one’s heart may cause heartache, but in the end that heartache is well worth the pursuit.