I finally get it.
I get why the Blessing CEOs want to pose with something that is not theirs for the admiration of people they do not know.
I have to admit I probably have been a tad too judgemental in the past.
I keep saying: live within your means.
I dress too simply.
I wear no makeup and I keep saying this all the time as though it was some type of virtue.
I am not a car freak. I just need a car to move well and not take me to the mechanic all the time. This, I know, my husband finds infuriating because he is a car person. He knows exactly the type of cars he wants and what he will use them for. He is the sort that can differentiate between the shapes of headlamps, advantages of each model and can tell the year they came out.
I have always been comfortable with this simplicity but I am doing a rethink these days.
Over the week, I used a luxury car for a few days. Long story. It was not mine but the owner wasn’t around and had asked me to use it if I wanted to. I parked my faithful truck.
The transformation was instant. I immediately felt respected on the road. Cars did not chance me as much, because who wants to buy market. I drove to the airport and chanced using the VIP parking lot and this was not questioned. Security men smiled at me so wildly that they looked like caricatures.
That was just the outward transformation. I instantly felt good. I kept thinking of places to visit and hoping I would bump into people I knew but not well enough that they would know that wasn’t my car.
The height of it was that I even almost posted a picture of it on Instagram. You how it is now. I pose in front of a car and I say something really deep with a shallow purpose like:
“The journey of a man sometimes revs up when he has the courage to take the throttle all the way down to the floor.”
But I am a mature woman. I can resist that sort of temptation.
I didn’t do anything.
I used the car for two days and parked it, waiting for the owner.
This fake life is sweet but exhausting.
I mean do you know what it is like to drive from the mainland to the island so fearful that someone would do something mad like scratch the car you are driving? You saw what Onye Eze did to Blessing.
The risks of this fake life are huge.
I am not Blessing CEO.
I have a healthy dose of fear. I hate disgrace. When you live a fake life, disgrace is always waiting at your door for your unguarded moment.
I remember when I was in secondary school, a girl came one term with new clothes. She would walk practically bouncing and flip her head.
One day, a teacher, a fellow student and the student’s sister came to look for this girl. Apparently, the girl lived closed to the student’s big sister.
During the holidays, the sister sent clothes for her to give her baby sister (the student) in school. These were the clothes that the girl resumed to school with and was having the time of her life wearing them without telling the real owner.
Fake life is sweet but dangerous.
So why do people readily plunge into it?
There are two reasons why people pretend to have what they don’t.
1. ADMIRATION: There is something so sweet about people peering into your life and wishing they had what they think you have. The way their eyes gleam, they listen to you better and generally the regard you get is enormous. It is how people in Nigeria gravitate towards you more if you live abroad. Because living abroad is already a success story. It feels good to seem to have the life that people want.
2. SELF ESTEEM: When you look good and smell of money, you are not only aware of how people look at you and envy you but you also find yourself power-walking everywhere with your shoulders up. Just knowing that people see you in a particular light does wonders to how you feel about yourself. And when they think you are this beautiful and rich person, you are likely to attract rich and beautiful friends. Everyone will want to associate with you. This is such a boost all round.
We are all guilty of encouraging the fake life. We respond to materialism in a way that encourages materialism. If an ordinary person says something wise like: “Youth is ephemeral. Savour it.”
People will probably not give it much thought.
If someone rich and famous says the same thing, it will be breaking news everywhere.
This says that when you have a lot, the things you say matter more. And because we all want to matter, we do all we can to acquire more and to be famous. And when this doesn’t happen, we fake it and receive the same accolade till we are found out.
When we are found out, everyone pretends not to understand why we did it.
Our attention has a price. And some people will rent cars, pose in other people’s houses, borrow clothes and filter up their lives so that we think they are doing a lot better than they actually are doing.
It would be a good idea to stop being easily impressed. To give respect solely because human beings deserve respect and not just because someone is driving the latest Lexus SUV. It would be a good idea if we re-examined success stories and not just looked at the money as a sign of success.
But we won’t.
This is why there will always be fake people stunting all over. And guess what? We deserve them.