When I was thirteen, I sat among my friends as they were way more invested in my love life than our upcoming exams. “It’s harmless fun!” they said. “There are many boys in school, after all.” They teased and prodded, listing the masculine, physical and social attributes they expected me to be impressed by.

They finally settled on a new student in SS1, just a year ahead of me. Khalifa Muhammad, a tall lanky boy, skin like golden sand and quiet as a bee. I remember the day they led me to an empty class, so we’d have our first “date.” Did I mention that this was all against my will? It may not seem that way, but that’s my point. Why did I go along with something I was never interested in?

Surprise surprise, the relationship was short-lived. He found me boring, only capable of reanimating quotes from books with thousands of pages I much rather preferred to be lost in.

Their next mission was for me to find someone myself. They’d heard through the grapevine about how the boys from the graduating set had been talking about me—and my changing physique.
They offered to set up some meetings through the same clandestine that operate after prep when our jailers are the most distracted. I’m telling you, even CIA dey learn work from these girls.

We wasted away our study period picking a young man. And when the bell rang, guess who was in the bathroom waiting for everyone to leave, so she could escape? Yeah, that’s right. Me.
At that very moment, I’d realized not only did I not want a boyfriend, but I was far too young to be playing games with the many hearts of people’s sons. If only I’d just been vocal about it.
My first week in uni and the girls in our dorm had heard of a party off campus. Excited and giggling all over the hostel, they got ready and dragged me with them.

The noise from the speakers was like the keening of a dementor or the noisome cacophony of a talentless teenage garage band. Within forty minutes, I had ensured the distraction of my roommates and was on my way stealthily out the door.
Not sure if you can tell by now that I am, in fact, antisocial. It is also at this point that I inform you of my rights and liberties to not be seen as an anomaly. Or a human hating hermit.

For someone like me, hanging out in heavily populated places is akin to dragging a lamb to slaughter. Just because my hide is fine and fleshy does not mean I want to enter the communal pepper soup pot, or spice the corners.

It took over two decades of existence to find people who loved the same peace that I did. The more I saw and experienced, the more I questioned everything I’d been taught to believe. Are humans wholly conformists, or is there something else we’re missing by trying to enforce that ideology?

It is statistically improbable to achieve complete conformity of almost eight billion people, and yet to this day, we have failed to recognize the nuances of individuality. No matter how much you have in common with the people closest to you, you’ll still find the barest distinctions.

We must seek our individuality whenever possible, so we don’t lose sight of who we are while chasing our dreams and finding comfortable egusi pots to lay in. If there’s one thing I’m apologetic for, it’s that it took me almost losing my eardrums to figure it out.