An Open Letter to My Son
Words I Wish My Father Told Me
This newsletter features weekly musings about life, career, identity, and behaviour by a questioning African centennial. To get it in your inbox every week, subscribe here ⬇️
A little over four years ago, I wrote an 800-word piece in 20 minutes while sitting down at my desk in my university dorm room. That’s the fastest I’ve ever written anything to date. The words just kept pouring out of me and all over my keyboard through my fingers.
When I finished writing and sat down to read the piece, my jaw dropped.
I couldn’t explain how those words left me. Till today, I still can’t. I’d never planned to write that. It just came to me and then out of me just as quickly. It’s almost like it was written by my subconscious directly to me. I know this is starting to sound weird, but that’s only because that experience was weird.
Tomorrow, I turn 23. Those words I wrote when I was 18 have never been more pertinent. I go back to them often for guidance on life, love, friendship, and everything in between.
In this week’s newsletter, it only makes sense for me to share with you the words that will be close to my mind and heart all day tomorrow as I mark my 23rd.
I hope you find something that speaks to you.
An Open Letter to My Son
My dear son,
I’d like to begin by apologizing for bringing you into this wicked world. A world so driven by the pursuit of power, validation, sex, fame and fortune that the mere act of giving pure love, even to a complete stranger, now seems something worth global acclaim. I’m sorry for letting you come into this world to experience the wrath of the worst of all God’s creation—mankind. I’m sorry. But since your coming cannot be undone, here are a few words to guide you through this sojourn.
Be slow to make friends, but once you do, strive to keep them. Friends could be your greatest investment or your gravest undoing; choose them wisely. Do not buy into the social construct which measures achievement by the quantity of friends one has. Focus on quality. One good friend is better than two bad brothers. Also, don’t measure the value of your friends by the length of your association. It’s not how long you’ve known each other that matters, but how deeply. A ‘friend’ who does not build, support, teach, and defend you is only a mirage.
Sex is sacred. It is invented anew with the synchronizing of the souls of two lovers set on fire by passion, desire, and mutual vulnerability. But the world has cheapened sex to a worthless commodity purchased from thirsty vendors for the sole purpose of evanescent gratification. Sex is more of a spiritual activity than it is physical. It should be one of the most expensive jewels in the market of humanity. Who you choose to have sex with should not define you. You must never feel, or be made to feel, less or more of a person because of who you choose to have sex with. The only requirement for sex is love.
As you may have noticed, the world is trying so hard to tell you what love should and shouldn’t be; what kind of love is acceptable and what kind is not. But please don’t listen to that. Love all, love truly, and love deeply. There is already so much hate in this world, and your little acts of love to the people around you will only make the world a better place. As you seek that ONE person with whom you’d share an eternal love, follow your heart, not the dictates of society. Society tries to put love into boxes: acceptable, and forbidden. But, son, there is already too little love in the world to be picky about who to receive it from. Wherever you find it in its truest and purest form, regardless of who you find it with, don’t let it go; hold on to it and fight for it. Oh, and you’d know when it’s love. Love reveals itself to the lovers and not the other way around.
Experience the world of formal education with your mind, but don’t let it steal your soul. Do not let it rob you of your childish spirit that is eager to learn by trial and error, unafraid of failing, and yearning to create for the sole aim of expression, not perfection or validation. Guard your heart with all your might. Learn to differentiate your education from your learning. Education may earn you a living, but consistent learning rewards you with a life with meaning.
Commit yourself to mastery in all your endeavours. You have been born with springs of varied talents and skills, but do not be like the jellyfish which only swims in the direction of the current. Identify the reason for your existence through deep self-discovery and introspection. Once you have found your purpose, develop those talents that’ll aid you in fulfilling your destiny, just like a knight sharpens his weapons to go to war. Do not stop building and transforming yourself until you become a Master in your craft. For if our Father is a Master, so are we.
Son, you have been born with privileges. Some you may know, some you are yet to discover, and some you have created for yourself. That is a good thing. Want to know what’s an even greater thing? Sharing them with the less privileged. As you begin to accumulate wealth of all kinds and forms, do not forget that it is valueless if it is not adding value to the life of someone who can never repay you. Give, not to receive, but to simply…give.
Do not fear death; embrace her. See her each morning as you rise and speak to her each night for she is your only pathway to return to the Divine. An awareness of her builds a force powerful enough to give meaning to all your endeavours. For she is not an enemy, but a jealous lover who takes with her the souls of those she has long missed. Fear her not.
I will always be watching over you my son, but from a distance. Not too far to be deaf to your call, but also not too near to oversee your every step. Life cannot be taught, it can only be learnt. The purpose of life is not to understand it, but to simply live it. I have loved you, I still love you, and I will always love you, my son.
Share this with someone you think would find this valuable. 🙏🏾
See you next week!
- Arinze ❤️
🙋🏽♂️ Ask Arinze
This section features questions from readers of Arinze's Weekly
Hello, Arinze. I would love you to work me/us through your process for preparing for your interviews that have worked for you.
Hey there! Thanks for this question. I think it’s one that requires a separate post, which I’ll get to. But the short answer here is that I treat my interviews like I would a job. When I have an interview, I set out a few hours each day to study for the interview.
Yup, I study for my interviews.
For every interview I’ve had since 2018, I’ve created a notebook that each contains over 5000 words of notes, mock questions, mock responses, tips, and everything in between. So basically, my interview prep process begins with studying, then I practice alone or with people who help me with mock interviews. I do a lot of those, then I study some more and then do no sort of preparation from 24 hours to the interview.
That allows me time to relax and get over my interview anxiety.
It’s also worth mentioning that I spend an incredible amount of time preparing the questions I plan to ask the interviewer at the end of the interview. For me, that’s the most important part of the interview because it allows you to actually connect with the interviewer while demonstrating how much homework you’ve done on the company and how interested you are in the work they’re hiring you to do.
I’ll write more about this in a longer post, but I hope this helps.
I think every son who has lost a father or wanted one more present in their lives will appreciate this. I can't tell you how much it made me feel, Arinze. Thank you for sharing.
And a happy birthday to you. I wish you unbridled happiness that finds you in the dark. I wish you the energy to keep pursuing you. Love and light, x.
Wow is all I have to say. I think your experience with this missive from the subconscious is what is meant by 'God-breathed' in reference to scripture. I think it is so wonderful that you have this clarity of purpose at your still very young age. Thank you so much for sharing so generously. I wish you the Happiest of Birthday's Arinze! xoxo