Thursday, April 24, 2014

When Was The Last Time You Did Something For The First Time?

In the past few weeks, I've been having a bit of fun experimenting with a couple things for the first time, and I must admit they've made me feel more alive. For example, I decided to give the creaming method a try after years of using the rubbing-in method. The first banana cake I made employing the creaming method looked very promising that I resolved to bake cupcakes the following day. Needless to say, I was happy with the results as they came out looking, smelling and tasting heavenly.

What thrilled me about the newly tried baking method wasn't the outcome  of my baking, but the fact that I’d taken a risk, albeit an inconsequential one, by trying something different from my usual baking method. Stepping out of my comfort zone had brought a sliver of excitement with a sense of adventure.

This Easter holiday, I had the opportunity of travelling to Akwa-Ibom state for the first time for a traditional and white wedding. Even though I’m not a fan of weddings, I looked forward to the traditional one because, up until now, I’d only attended Igbo traditional weddings, so witnessing an Ibibio traditional wedding was of cultural interest to me. Attending the traditional wedding required my wearing the aso-ebi – which meant donning a yellow blouse and a grey wrapper.

Now, tying a wrapper is an undertaking that should be approached with a certain level of dexterity, otherwise one could quickly become a victim of a wardrobe malfunction. For someone who’d never tied one before, I was impressed I kept it in place like pro, despite my mom’s warning of the imminent wardrobe malfunction that would befall me for refusing to knot my wrapper twice behind.
I must admit though that prior to the wedding day, I didn't think I would be comfortable walking around with a wrapper tied round my waist, but I guess you’ll never know, until you've tried it, right?

Another thing I recently did for the first time was being a Maid of Honor and proposing a toast before 300 people. The former didn't faze me one bit, but the latter certainly made my heart skip a few beats. I had a hard time envisioning making the speech especially since the bride only mentioned it to me the night before her wedding.

As an introvert, I don’t like surprises; I don’t particularly care for spontaneity and I hate to be apprised of activities at the eleventh hour because I love being prepared. I’m terrible at adlibbing and certainly wouldn't have agreed to propose a toast if I’d been informed the morning of the wedding, or worse, at the reception.

Although speaking before an audience wasn't foreign to me as I had done so during class presentations and as a lay reader in church, this thing of a toast was a different kettle of fish since the audience I’d addressed in the past was never more than a hundred people. Moreover, there was always a lectern or some other piece of furniture to stand behind. But with this toast, I knew there wasn't going to be a prop - it was going to be just me and the mic.  

At the reception hall, I took my seat on stage next to the bride and groom, and tried not to look flustered. In a bid to distract myself, I desperately avoided looking at the wedding program, but that was futile since I already knew that the cutting of the cake was my cue to toast. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I was wishing it would never come to pass, but that wish never came true because a few minutes later I arose to make my speech.

Now, the MC wanted me to get off the dais, but much to my amazement, I told him I preferred to propose my toast on stage. I don’t know if I was having an Oprah moment, or if it was the fear of buckling under my wobbly knees that made me maintain my position; either way, I took the mic from the MC and began my toast

Surprisingly, what I realized during and after my speech is that I enjoyed feeding off the energy of the audience. If someone had told me I’d enjoy interacting with the audience before this event, I’d have told them they couldn't be more wrong. I suppose this goes to show that you should never underestimate yourself.

I’m of the opinion that the best way to experience life and to know oneself is to constantly take on risks. Taking a risk doesn't necessarily have to involve a rush of adrenalin or an illegal activity, but could simply mean being enterprising enough to try something new - like food. For instance, I’m seldom gung-ho about food and only salivate when the opportunity to eat something new arises. For me, eating food that’s foreign to my digestive tract is tantamount to embarking on an adventure – albeit a gastronomical one.

Life seems more interesting when we break the cocoons we've constructed for ourselves, or society has constructed for us, and dare ourselves with tiny doses of adventure every chance that we get - because to not do so is to punitively resign ourselves to Sisyphus’ fate.