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Material success and the arrival syndrome

Material success and the arrival syndrome

Material success and the arrival syndrome

I often hear the term ‘the guy has arrived!’, he has hammered, his money has come etc. The code word for he has made it or succeeded financially. That happens when you buy a car, move into your house, upgrade your wardrobe or gadgets, start travelling or grow a pot belly (aka a sign of good living).

These are all external indicators that your economy is booming, and your business is doing well, or the job is paying well.

We love to hear that and enjoy keeping that narrative going. You have not bought a car until you have taken it to the village to show your parents and neighbours that you are not doing badly in the city – you did not come to Lagos to admire flyovers. Those that don’t exhibit conspicuous consumption are looked on with pity and concern. I remember years back, some concerned friends cornered me once and asked if my neighbour and I worked in the same office. A national conference was held behind my back to profer solutions to my apparent lack of financial progress. They have not heard of any building project I was handling nor saw me with any car, unlike my colleagues in the same office. Was everything okay? Perhaps I needed deliverance from enemies from the village.

The journey begins

With this relentless pressure to show signs that you have arrived, saving and investing is often the last thing on your mind when money gets into your hands. If you have a job and are putting up with friends, you want to get your own flat even if all you can afford is a self-contained one-room apartment. After paying for the flat, the next goal is to buy a car, so that you can utilise your parking spot in the compound. You have started to arrive.

If you are engaged, the next thing is to save up for a wedding that is bigger than that of your last colleague that wedded. You have to improve on that. Next item on the agenda, buy a piece of land, anywhere so far as it is land. You have become a landlord. It does not matter if the land is 4 hours away from your office; you now own a piece of land. I know folks who built houses but could not move in, or moved in but were chased away by robbers; the place was not yet fully developed enough to be safe. So they own a house but live in a rented apartment.

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Some built in a village far away from civilisation; those type of villages goats take a nap and children play football on the main road. A car comes by once in a while. They leave the outside of the house unpainted so as not to stand out. Cartons for electronics and household items acquired are disposed of in the night, so as not to attract thieves. In this case, they have also arrived, but it is not safe to allow neighbours to know.

Arrive where?

The question arises, where have you arrived? Nobody seems to know. All they know is that everyone is going, but nobody knows where. Reminds me of the days I lived on Lagos mainland and worked on the Island. Going home was a journey by itself. To beat traffic, I decided to take side roads in Ikoyi, and since I was not very familiar with the area, I usually followed other cars that I assumed knew where they were going.

In many instances, I followed a car home inside Ikoyi, pleased with myself that I am making progress – until the car stops in front of a building and the gateman opens the gate. I thought I was going, but I had no clue where I was going. I had to find my way back to the main road.

If you are at the departure lounge of an airport or bus terminal, you have ears only for your flight boarding call. You don’t jump up every time there is a boarding call. You only listen for yours, even if the flights are with the same airline or heading to your destination. You wait for your flight.

We are not all heading to the same destination. We are not all on the same flight. Departure times differ, so does destination. If you don’t know your destination, you may land where you never expected.

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All that glitters.

What does it mean to arrive?

Do you have a clue what those you admire so much are going through?

Why would someone who seems to have everything divorce his wife or commit suicide?

Is that part of the plan? What does success mean to you?

What if all you ever wanted is not enough?

What is all the hullabaloo all arriving? I’ve achieved most of the dreams  I had some decades back when I graduated from University. I look back and ask myself what the fuss was all about. It is fun to have material things, but you get used to it in less than a year. It becomes your new normal, part of the background noise. The excitement you felt when you first entered your dream car or dream house is not the excitement you feel a year later. If you were unhappy before you got it, you would be happy for a while, and then go back to where you came from – your unhappy state. You now look for something new. The chase begins all over again. When will it ever end? When is enough, enough?

Where you are going has nothing to do with material accumulation. It has to do with destination – destiny. You do not arrive when you acquire some material things. You arrive when you accomplish your destiny.

For questions or comments email; to order the book PSFFI, call or SMS to 0808 275 0980. Visit Follow me on twitter @usiere


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