This afternoon, I had a mild anxiety attack.

Usually, what triggers these mild attacks is me forgetting something important at home, forgetting to send an important email or forgetting to send a message to someone about something important.

This attack was triggered by the fact that I discovered that the left strap of my backpack had come loose and this meant that I could carry my backpack with only the right strap. This made me panic because now there would be more pressure on my right shoulder and this could have effects on my back in the near future.

This may all seem mundane for me to be having a small anxiety attack but there’s a backstory:

I bought this backpack TWO weeks ago. I have another backpack of the same brand at home with the same left strap torn off after two years of heavy use.

Basically, I had just spent money on a new accessory only a couple of weeks ago for it to go bad.

Thankfully, I was able to calm myself down, stop thinking negatively and look at more positives. All is not lost but I was going down that road that most anxiety sufferers go through called “This Is The End Of The World”.

It’s no accident that I had a mild anxiety attack. This week, I’ve been having a crisis of confidence. I’m burnout, exhausted, and my sleep patterns have been abysmal.

But I made it to the end of the week still standing. On Friday, I had a scheduled meeting with someone in the technology industry. We scheduled a time and place to meet up and discuss a couple of things in the Ghana Tech environment as well as get her opinions on other personal projects I wanted to embark on.

The meeting lasted about 2 hours.

It was 2 hours of personal validation.

I’m Surrounded By Mad People And That’s OK

It’s 2019 and that hope that I had has diminished.

On the outside looking in, it doesn’t look that way. International media has a lot of positive things to say about Ghana.

But within, things aren’t that great. Fuel prices are high, our local currency sucks and had the worst performing half year since 2015, everything in the city is EXPENSIVE, it’s boring (for me at least), there’s always traffic, and Ghanaians are….Ghanaians. Let me explain:

Last week, our national football team was kicked out of the round of 16 at African Cup of Nations by Tunisia. We lost on penalties after giving up a goal and then later, getting a lucky goal when a Tunisian defender headed the ball back into his own net at the 90th minute.

Thanks Tunisian Defender

There is a love-hate relationship with our football team and the Ghana Football Federation.

Last year, an investigative journalist premiered a documentary exposing match-fixing and bribery of referees in some football games. In one video, the (former) head of the Ghana Football Federation was shown taking bribes.

FIFA investigated the matter and has since banned him for life in all FIFA related matters.

But Ghanaians current frustration with the national football team comes from the 2016 World Cup in Brazil. The story goes like this:

The football team threatened to not practice and play their next match with Germany because they hadn’t been paid their bonus. This led the government at the time to strap $ 2 million on a plane and fly it to Brazil to appease the players.

Tough group. Tougher exit

The team received their money and went on to draw their next game with Germany 2–2. It was an international embarrassment to say the list.

I could go into a whole diatribe about how Ghanaians are not as educated in knowing that they have the collective power to make big changes, not actually liking change and being scared of alternatives but that’s a whole other blog post.

Since then, it’s been a rollercoaster ride.

Some Ghanaians swore that they would boycott the team. Some said they would never watch them play again. But during the Tunisia match, a majority of Ghanaians were glued to their TV screens, watching as Ghana fell flat in the penalty shootout.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is a perfect analogy to how we do things in Ghana: We complain about things not working right but then get temporary memory loss and go back to doing the thing we said we wouldn’t do. This applies to politics. We threaten to vote for the alternative party in the next election when things aren’t going right.

When the alternative party wins and comes into power and does a similarly bad job of government, Ghanaians once again, forget about what the previous political party did and vote them back into power in the next elections.

It’s like a game of “Whack a Mole”.

Doing the same thing over and over again. I believe this is what Einstein called “Madness”.

Now I find something surrounded by millennials and young people who sometimes obsess over their Twitter feed and are knee down in Snapchat conversations.

I could go into a whole diatribe about Ghanaians are not as educated in knowing that they have the collective power to make big changes, not actually liking change and being scared of alternatives but that’s a whole other blog post.

Conversations

We sometimes went off on tangents away from the topic discussions but it was those tangents that I got more information from.

At one point she said something that I hooked on to.

“I just realized that I didn’t really fit in so I’m just going to do me now”.

It’s been 7 years since I’ve been back in Ghana. I have struggled to find a “clan”. The friends who I knew in high school had moved on with their lives. Some got married, some got married and had kids and some had moved to other countries.

Now I find something surrounded by millennials and young people who sometimes obsess over their Twitter feed and are knee down in Snapchat conversations.

They’re always looking for the next buzz, trying to catch “vibes” (whatever the fuck that means) and looking for the next cool restaurant or food joint where they can Instagram their next meals.

As for me, I’m not really into all that. As an introvert, I get exhausted from the extra stimulation from nightlife and events. And the worst part is that nobody seems to understand why I can’t be out all the time. Honestly, I find myself feeling like an outsider most of the time.

In my 2 hour conversation, I got some good insight and also came out with a couple of things that firmed some things I was feeling:

  • I don’t think I’m ever going to fit back into this society and I need to accept that
  • I need to firm my beliefs including my convictions and my new view of religion

I’ll go more into the first point. (The second one is another blog post I’ll write. If I write it. Maybe I won’t 🤷🏽‍♂️)

My therapist once told me something during a session and it’s starting to make more sense. She says that I’m a standout. I am on alone on a higher level than a lot of people but I’m constantly looking at everyone below and wanting to join them. But when I do lower myself to that level, I don’t stand in. I try to fit in and just end up feeling bad.

Maybe Ghana is not for me. Maybe living outside the country was a major turning point. Sometimes it feels like I’m constantly trying to get attention locally but I'm worn out to the point of frustration.

Even people here don’t think I’m Ghanaian. You would think it’s my accent but even how I look throws them off.

So again, why am I trying to help my local people when I don’t seem to fit? Why have all my major projects and successful working relationships been from people outside the country? Why do I constantly get emails from other countries telling me that they appreciate the research work I do on my tech news platform?

“Ghana doesn’t love its people.”

I Didn’t Know What To Call This Section

But traffic in the city wouldn’t let me be great. A drive of 30 mins to my home took about an hour and a half. During this drive, I saw the same problems I keep seeing every day. Bad trotro drivers blocking routes to pick up passengers, bad roads with potholes which make you think mini landmines had exploded in them.

You would think by now someone (See: government/member of parliament) would have figured out a public transportation system or put together a maintenance plan to repair roads when they go bad.

Everybody standing in line to squeeze themselves into small vans (trotros) to head home. Where’s the better transportation system….

But seems to be wishful thinking. Instead I trudged along, driving slowly in traffic, watching as my fuel dropped closer to the “E” marker, dodging potholes and resisting imaginations of me decapitating trotro drivers for driving like imbeciles.

Tired, worn out and sleepy, I finally made it home. And then I opened my laptop and wrote all this.

In two weeks, I’m taking a break. I wish the days would go faster. I’m going on a break and flying to two separate countries. This will be my first break in 3 years.

A part of me wants to stay in the first country I land and never come back.

Come back for what? Back to mediocrity? Back to the place where I feel like I don’t belong?

But I will come back. Hopefully refreshed and return to take whatever shit my homeland throws at me.

So as I type this long post, occasionally looking at my phone, I realize that no one has texted me and called me today. I also try not to think about my close friend who hasn’t checked on me in a week because she’s dealing with her own shit. I realize that I’m going through the same routine of scrolling through my Netflix queue, trying to figure out what to watch.

I’m also trying to keep away the dark clouds that want to come in.

But in the back of my mind, I know it’s temporary.

So I have to make due that I have to keep sitting on this higher level and stop looking down at what everyone else is doing.

Then another question comes into my head out of nowhere: “If I had the chance to leave and never come back, would I do it?”

If you reading and you made it this far, you already know what the answer is.

My personal writing space. (UX Designer | Blogger | Social Introvert) UX Design writing: josephkuuire.com