Dede Drives the Discourse: Episode 11: Quietly Finding Our Unique Value


The car hummed softly as we navigated the familiar streets of Accra, the engine’s rhythmic purr serving as a backdrop to the heavy silence that hung between us.

My passenger, a young boy, and one of my favourite nephews, slouched in the back seat, stared out the window with a distant look in his eyes, his usually vibrant energy subdued by an unseen weight on his shoulders.

I glanced at him from the rearview mirror, noting the crease of worry that marred his brow and the downturn of his lips. Something was clearly troubling him, and as his Uber driver, it was my duty to unearth the source of his unrest.

Hey there, Jojo,” I began, breaking the silence that enveloped us like a suffocating blanket. “You seem a bit quiet today. Everything okay?

The boy sighed heavily, his shoulders sagging further under the weight of his emotions. “Yeah, I guess so,” he muttered, his voice barely above a whisper.

I shot him a warm smile, hoping to ease his discomfort. “You sure about that?” I prodded gently, my tone laced with concern. “You know you can talk to me about anything, right?

He hesitated for a moment, as if debating whether to open up or keep his feelings locked away. But then, with a hesitant nod, he finally relented. “It’s just… I don’t know, I feel like I’m always falling short, you know?

I nodded in understanding, silently urging him to continue.

It’s like… all the kids at school, they’re either super athletic or they can sing or dance like pros,” he explained, his voice tinged with a hint of bitterness. “And then there’s me, struggling to even catch a ball or carry a tune.

I listened intently as he poured out his frustrations, his words painting a vivid picture of the insecurities that plagued his young mind. It pained me to see him grappling with such feelings of inadequacy, especially knowing how bright and talented he truly was.

So, you’re feeling left out because you don’t fit into those particular moulds?” I ventured, seeking to better understand the root of his unhappiness.

He nodded solemnly, his gaze fixed on the floor mat. “Yeah, something like that. I just wish I could be like them, you know? Fit in, be popular.

I reached out a hand and gently squeezed his shoulder, offering what little comfort I could. “I understand, Jojo. It’s natural to want to be accepted by your peers, but let me ask you something: do you think being athletic or being able to sing or dance defines who you are as a person?

He paused to consider my question, his brow furrowing in deep concentration. “Well, I guess not, but…

But what?” I prodded gently, sensing that he was on the verge of a breakthrough.

He sighed, his frustration palpable. “But it seems like those are the things that really matter, you know? Like, if you’re good at sports or talented in some way, people notice you, they respect you.

I nodded in understanding, acknowledging the societal pressures that weighed heavily on his young shoulders. “I get where you’re coming from. It might seem that way in school, where certain skills or talents are more visible and celebrated. But let me tell you something important: life is much bigger than school. What seems important now might not matter much in the grand scheme of things.”

He looked at me, confusion etched on his face. “What do you mean?

What I mean is, while it’s fine to admire others’ talents and abilities, it’s even more important to discover your own strengths and passions,” I explained, my voice steady and reassuring. “What are the things that truly make you come alive, that you feel deeply passionate about?

He paused to ponder my words, his gaze drifting out the window as he searched for answers within himself. “I’m not sure… I mean, I like playing video games and messing around with computers, but that’s not exactly cool or anything.

I smiled warmly, a surge of pride swelling within me. “Who says it’s not cool? Just because something doesn’t fit into a traditional idea of coolness doesn’t mean it’s any less valuable or important. Look, Jojo, success in life isn’t about conforming to someone else’s idea of who you should be. It’s about finding your own path, your own purpose, and pursuing it relentlessly.

He listened intently, his expression shifting from one of uncertainty to one of cautious optimism. “But how do I even find that purpose? I feel so lost sometimes.

“Finding your purpose is a journey, Jojo, and it’s okay to feel lost along the way,” I assured him, my voice brimming with conviction. “It takes time, exploration, and self-reflection. Think about the things that truly make you happy, the activities that you lose track of time doing because you’re so engrossed in them. That’s often where your passion lies.

He nodded slowly, a flicker of hope igniting within his eyes. “I think I understand, but… what if I never find it? What if I spend my whole life searching and never discover what I’m meant to do?

You will find it, Jojo. Trust me,” I said firmly, reaching out to squeeze his hand in a gesture of reassurance. “Sometimes it takes longer for some people than others, but as long as you keep searching and stay true to yourself, you’ll find your purpose. And when you do, success will follow.

He smiled tentatively, a glimmer of newfound confidence shining through his doubts. “You really think so?

I know so,” I replied, returning his smile with one of my own. “And in the meantime, don’t worry too much about trying to impress others or fit into a certain mould. Be yourself, pursue your interests, and surround yourself with people who appreciate you for who you are.

Thanks, Auntie Dede. I needed to hear that,” he said gratefully, his voice filled with genuine gratitude.

Anytime, Jojo,” I said, my heart swelling with pride at the sight of this young boy finding his way in the world. “Remember, I’m always here for you, no matter what. And I believe in you, more than you’ll ever know.

Thanks, miss. I appreciate it,” he said, his words carrying the weight of a thousand unspoken emotions.

I appreciate you too, Jojo,” I replied, my voice thick with emotion. “Now, how about we continue our journey? I’d love to hear more about those computer projects you’ve been working on.

Jojo’s dilemma resonates far beyond the confines of his schoolyard struggles; it extends into the complex world of the business, where we can often find ourselves trapped in the suffocating cycle of comparison and conformity.

In our relentless pursuit to emulate the successes of others, we often fail to recognize and nurture our own unique talents and perspectives. As a result, we may unwittingly stifle our potential for greatness, settling instead for mediocrity in a sea of sameness.

Yet, within this struggle lies an invaluable lesson: true success is not measured by how well we replicate the achievements of others, but rather by how authentically we can embrace our own individuality, every single day.

Hello, my name is Dede Nyansapo. I am an entrepreneur who also participates in Accra’s burgeoning gig economy as a driver. My love for meeting fascinating people and my curiosity about how they think usually places me in the midst of some very entertaining conversations. Invariably, these conversations lead to some key learnings that may be useful to anyone on their business journey.

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