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Founder’s Week Blog Winners: Why Fit in When you were Born to Stand Out?

Ashley Namachanja, a third year Communications student, won first place in the 2020 Founder's Week blog competition.

This article won first place in the 2020 Founder’s Week students’ blog competition. Students were required to submit a 350 – 1000 words article on their experience of the pandemic based on this year’s Founder’s Week theme: Don’t Just Survive, Thrive

My! Oh my memory! One thing about me is my memory. I seem to have that sentimental detailed type of memory which allows me to recall almost every single thing, including my One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish Dr. Seuss storybook which was given to my then 9-year-old self by a beautiful, warm-grinned flight attendant on an Emirates plane.

I recently found it among my hoarded pile of old personal storybooks and, yes, I keep them all and, no, I do not intend to give them out either despite my darling mother ever urging me to ‘declutter my room.’ As I dusted the book while seated on my cold bedroom floor legs crossed, I flipped through the pages and relived my childhood. The awkward thing is, as a child I usually read that storybook in ‘a voice.’ I created a voice for Dr. Seuss so that each time I read his rhyme; I would feel as if Dr. Seuss were only addressing me. There is something extremely exciting about nurturing the skill of reading from a young age. You develop an intimate attachment to the lovely characters, get enticed by the colourful pages, and intrigued by the simple yet meaningful story. In the midst of my nostalgic mood I binge googled Dr. Seuss’ quotes and stumbled upon one that caught my eye. I actually put it as my wallpaper, I admit. He says and I quote, ‘why fit in when you were born to stand out?’

That stood out for me. It got me thinking just how many times we have fitted in, to not stand out. We either go about life, just to get by or settle for what is available, hoping and waiting for that one time to shine. Why do we subconsciously do that? I always wonder, because sometimes I do so myself. Maybe we do that because risks are better avoided than failed, or maybe our comfort zones are way too comfortable to part with. Surely, there must be more to life than just existence and survival. Right? The ambiguity, complexity, brevity, yet thrilling mystery of life could be a source of inspiration to us to often do our best to rise above mere existence. That is exactly what outstanding people do: change ‘simple’ to ‘outstanding’. This ranges from Whitney Houston’s passionate ballads like my all-time favourite I Will Always Love You, to Nelson Mandela’s resilience in prison to fight for South Africa’s liberation, to St. Josemaria’s religious initiatives during confinement in the Spanish Civil War. Indeed, there are numerous individuals both then and now who are doing the most in all they do with what they have, so why not we?

My contemplation in quarantine has emphasised this to me. Sporadic situations are inevitable, and the end of each one’s journey inescapable. The time to do what livens your soul is now. The reassurance you need to pursue your heart’s desires is now. The creation of a holistic being who can handle adversity starts now. We owe ourselves this courteous reward of thriving, for then we can proudly look back at our prosperity and glimmer in bliss. Out of the numerous billion footprints that have ever touched the earth, I would like for mine to be a special one. To be one that was impactful not only to me but everyone around me as well. I can almost see Dr. Seuss flattered by my dedication to his quote. I also think St. Josemaria captured this encouraging life philosophy brilliantly when he said we should embrace the ordinary, extraordinarily.

This article was written by Ashley Namachanja, a 3rd Year Communication Student.


Would you like to share your experience of living through the circumstances brought by the Covid-19 pandemic? Kindly email: communications@strathmore.edu