Sometime ago, a very famous – probably the most famous – of all Nigerian bloggers got in some issue for posting a picture of a quite expensive hand bag online. As the story goes, some of her “fans” contacted the makers of the bag and they said it was fake. In the following backlash, a lawyer wrote a piece in which he suggested that the blogger is suffering from “ poverty mentality ” which is why she feels a need to constantly show off her purchases online.
This is the crux of our conversation today in episode 2 of the poverty series.
Yes, there is such a thing as poverty mentality. I loosely define it as the mindstate of a poor person, the way a consistently poor person thinks, and the limits poverty place on the thinking of a person.
That’s my definition. What’s yours?
In the last episode I asked a question:
Does poverty mentality exist?
Going by the above definition, my answer is “yes”.
It is often said that if you were born poor there’s nothing you can do about it, but if you die poor that’s your responsibility. I agree.
It’s not the easiest thing to even think in a society like ours. For example, as I type this we haven’t had power in my neighbourhood for four days. Everybody knows fuel is scarce. How easy is it to get things done under these circumstances?
But there’s no choice, no other options but to get things done. There’s nothing else to be but productive – and even that has its own issues.
If you keep making excuses for why you won’t make it, if you blame everyone but yourself for your problems, trust me, you have a poverty mentality. There’s absolutely no way you will rise above your circumstances if you don’t take responsibility for them.
For example, there is the environmental sanitation that takes place every last Saturday of every month. Residents of every neighbourhood in Lagos State are supposed to get to work cleaning out their compounds and environs.
But some areas are still swimming in dirt. And when you ask the residents of such places why, they blame the government.
Really? How can the government have more control over your life than you do? Is the government supposed to do everything for you?
Don’t get me wrong; the government has responsibilities towards the citizens and ours have failed us. But here is the point – the government has failed us. Get over it and get something doing for yourself.
I have a friend who constantly tells me that his one goal in life is to rise about the obstacles Nigeria puts in the way of her citizens. He has so many things to do, so he says that he cannot afford petty distractions. I adopted that mind state from him.
You see, inasmuch as there are people making a success of themselves under the same circumstances, the problem is not Nigeria any longer. The issue is with the individual. One thing a lot of people who come around Nigeria admire Nigerians for is the fighting spirit; that spirit of surviving in spite of the odds.
But I’m afraid there’s a huge difference between surviving and succeeding.
Too many people just want to get by. Too many are content with just having enough to eat for a day, enough to drink beer with, and enough that can send their kids to school, enough to take care of their parents with – and so on.
Not that there’s anything wrong with feeling that way, but the difference between being average and being exceptional is the comfort zones. What are you comfortable with?
Don’t mistake complacence for comfort. If you’re stuck in a place and all you do is complain about the government and government policies, you may never achieve success.
You might actually have poverty mentality.