Posted in State of Mind

I Have A Heart Too

I found a poem I love, by a poet I find his work both amusing and beautiful. I thought I should share.

I wake up in the middle of the night
With your thoughts in my head
I dream with open eyes
Lying in my bed
It’s strange what love can make you do
I never knew I had a heart too
Food does not interest me anymore
Your thoughts just fill my mind
I stare into the empty distance
I leave my lunch behind
It’s strange what love can make you do
I never knew I had a heart too
I can’t concentrate on work like before
I am supposed to be reading books
The only thing I can read now
Are your eyes and looks
It’s strange what love can make you do
I never knew I had a heart too
My depression days are far and gone
My insomnia days have come
I am not myself anymore
What have I become?
It’s strange what love can make you do
I never knew I had a heart too
Has my head stopped functioning?
I cannot really tell right now
I can feel my heart beating
I think I’m lost somehow
It’s strange what love can make you do
I never knew I had a heart too

I wake up in the middle of the night
With your thoughts in my head
I dream with open eyes
Lying in my bed
It’s strange what love can make you do
I never knew I had a heart too
Food does not interest me anymore
Your thoughts just fill my mind
I stare into the empty distance
I leave my lunch behind
It’s strange what love can make you do
I never knew I had a heart too
I can’t concentrate on work like before
I am supposed to be reading books
The only thing I can read now
Are your eyes and looks
It’s strange what love can make you do
I never knew I had a heart too
My depression days are far and gone
My insomnia days have come
I am not myself anymore
What have I become?
It’s strange what love can make you do
I never knew I had a heart too
Has my head stopped functioning?
I cannot really tell right now
I can feel my heart beating
I think I’m lost somehow
It’s strange what love can make you do
I never knew I had a heart too”

https://franksolanki.wordpress.com/2018/02/04/i-have-a-heart-too/

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Posted in State of Mind

Re-Union?

I recently reconnected with a friend I hadn’t seen for nearly nine years. For the last two months, she had always come to visit me. Almost weekly until she went on Christmas holiday (I thank God for Christmas). I do not want to say I’m tired of hosting her, I really like her but Saturdays and Sundays are my only moments for solitude in the entire week. She isn’t someone to just stay in a room and not talk for hours, she always needs constant attention.

I have put off her coming to visit me since the beginning of the year stating financial problems as the cause. She invited me over to her house, I couldn’t come up with an excuse. I am on my way now to see her and I am already regretting why I sent her that message on Facebook. For the past 48 hours, I have had only 8 hours of sleep, 40 hours of work, 6 shots of gin, one shot of whisky, a body pain and a hell of a headache. In addition to the fact that I am hungry. I haven’t had any thing tangible to eat for the past two days.

The journey to her place is bothersome and ruggedy. I was in a 7 seater Sienna carrying 11 people. I got down at the excuse of a bus park and had to enter another taxi (30 minutes long) to her house. I don’t mind the length of the journey as much as I mind the body of the sweaty passengers on both sides touching me. This time around, it is a five-seater cab carrying eight. In my head, I’m wondering if I just left planet Earth and I’ve been transported somewhere. Again, I’m regretting the Facebook message I sent.

Okay… let’s see if this stress is worth the memorable moments I’m supposedly going to be making.

Posted in Musings

Reflection

Within two days, I have nearly been involved in what could have been a fatal bike accident twice.

First day, I was on my way to work, at a busy junction, the traffic light showed red, the bike man decided this is the perfect opportunity to ignore traffic signs and run over some pedestrians who were crossing at the time. We got lucky. I was holding the back rest of the bike at the time so the application of sharp brakes didn’t throw me over. The pedestrians just barely managed to escape and the others held us hostage for a few minutes exchanging curses and abuses with the bike man.

The next day, I was also on my way to work… same junction. I’m beginning to think there’s something about bike riders and that junction. The bike rider ran a traffic light, was about to turn left, saw the traffic warden a bit too late and in a bid to avoid paying fines, swerved the bike straight ahead and in the process, another bike hit us from the back. I got lucky again. This time around I wasn’t holding the back rest of the bike so my hands were safe from being broken. It was just a small bump of the other bike’s front to my leg.

I would like to say that these two isolated incidents helped me reflect on life, but nah, that is a lie. I just thought it will be a great intro to this write-up.

Some great friendships I have had in this twenty-first century have more or less ended. Well, I can’t say that for all of them… Some of them we are still struggling to keep up.

NAJ – 2010 till 2012

Ours was like a hit and run friendship. I don’t remember exactly how it started but I remember exactly how it ended. Now that I think about if, you strung me on all through the duration of our friendship. I was emotionally detached from everyone, you pretended to be emotionally aware of my feelings and as soon as I fell for you, you got away.

I don’t regret our times together. You were the first human I told I love you. I remember our calls, we always did the “always and forever thing”. We were naughty. You always seemed to be in some kind of trouble and I was always there to hand out good advice. We confided in each other although now I know some of the things you told me in confidence are lies. I started noticing some cracks when you went away to university before me. Naive little me thought we would remain the same, always and forever right. I went away to university too and we still kept up the pretence, until the day I heard you say I was just an old piece of rag that has refused to been thrown away; not exactly in those words but it has same meaning. I forgive you though. I forgave you a long time ago. I do not know if the strength you gave me to deal with what was going on at home was false, but either way, thank you.

NIL – 2010 till struggling 2016

Now how did we become friends.

Call me twisted dear readers but we met after he did something to me that will be classed as sexual harassment in 2018. Now, back then I didn’t know what it was but all I did know was that I felt like dog poop afterwards that I went ahead and told him off. Well, one thing led to another and he became my confidant. We had long hours of calls, countless letters, several used note pads in class and what not.

How did it end?

There was never really a clean cut end. We just drifted. Our chats became monotonous, he was always trying to chat me up with the same conversational starters the boys of his age used I guess, I was having none of it. With time it became a yearly happy birthday friendship. Dear NIL, I definitely thought we were fated when I realised your birthday was 23 hours after mine. You were my first crush. Scratch that, I think I loved you back then with my small teenage brain. I remember crying myself to sleep when you started dating someone else. That was how I knew the words of the song “If you’re not the One” by Daniel Bedingfield. I think I wondered a lot why you didn’t pick me. Now I realise years later after we talked about it that I was the cause. You know back then, if you liked someone you had to pretend you didn’t like them so you wouldn’t appear pathetic. Teenage crap I guess. You would be pleased to know that I have changed since then, now if I like you, I will tell you straight up.

JUN- 2012 to struggling 2018

In the summer of 2012, when I met you, you looked dashing. Now I had known about you obviously prior to this meeting and vice versa but the last we saw each other was when I was well far from puberty. Having

learnt from past experiences not to hide feelings, I took your number and we began to talk. You were an introverted thing. I wanted to know you more. The chats became long calls, the long voice calls became long video calls. We were in different continents at the time but somehow we made it work.

You were a joy to behold. I started liking you the day I told you a story and I waited for you to judge me like others…you didn’t.

You might not know this but I met you during a bad phase of my life, you gave me strength and helped eased the loneliness and lack of self-confidence I felt. For the last three years when life hit you square in the face, you stopped listening to me. You started hiding and I, the award winner for the most persistent human gave up on you.

I am sorry. I gave up on you because I couldn’t handle your flaws. I forgot that every human is flawed. I understand better now, your flaws weren’t your fault. Our recent conversations has rekindled the spark and are almost like old times. It is as if nothing happened.

Our friendship hasn’t ended. I hope it doesn’t. But life has taken us to different paths. Perhaps we will see.

LPO- 2013 to struggling 2018

Hello there LPO, I also cannot remember the exact moment we began interaction. But just like your friend JUN, we had known about each other from the napkin years but had never spoken as at 2013 when we were well into adulthood.

Truthfully, I disliked a lot of things about you. You always thought you were right. Your mindset never quite fit in with mine. I think that is why we drifted. I couldn’t handle your thinking. It is true we had a lot of similarities, but our glaring differences made the similarity look like chicken shit. You are quite the conversationalist and I could keep up but I knew it wasn’t going to last long. On some issues that mattered most to me you stood against it vis-a-vis.

So why am I thanking you? Because you made my evenings fun. Coming back home to speak was and always will be a pleasure.

Dr.EC- 2012 to struggling 2018

Our meeting was per chance. The very first social media friend I have ever made. I remember that we often joked a lot about how difficult I was at the beginning. I think you were the very first brother in my friendzone.

You were helpful, kind, understanding amongst other things.

I remember worrying a lot about your safety when you were still in medical school. Till date, I really don’t know what made you slide into the DM and remain there. I do not know what the future holds for us. I wonder what will happen when we actually meet physically. This online chat has gone on too long. I hope you will not be disappointed.

OEK – 2000 to 2016

Ours was a very long friendship. Perhaps the longest I have ever had without a break in communication but my thoughts on you on this blog is going to be the shortest. We were sisters, partners-in-crime at one point even but you broke that trust. I forgive you, I still love you and wish you nothing but happiness, but we cannot be the same again. I cannot deal with betrayal when I have gotten to that level of bonding with anyone.

Back to the present day, I put up a picture of me in a headwrap. I wonder if I’ll lose another friend over my apparent “conversion”.

To those friends that we’ve parted ways, In the words of the Jackson 5;

“Don’tcha know

I sit around

With my head hangin’ down

And I wonder

Who’s lovin’ you”

Posted in Memoirs

In the Year Of Our Lord, 2018 A.D.

I still remember exactly how this previous year started. It was 3am on the first of January, two thousand and seventeen. I was sitting outside with a couple of childhood friends I hadn’t seen in over six years for some, cracking jokes, catching up, pranking each other. I remembered thinking, what a way to start the year. Maybe this year will be good for something after all. You see I had just returned home and everything felt strange to me. There was a certain sense of alienation mostly stemming from the fact that my ideology had changed a lot from those I used to know before.

Fast forward 6:30am that morning, I finally tried to catch some sleep after being up all night. By 8am I was woken up. My parents were taking an unprecedented road trip to a city about three to four hours away and I was hereby in charge of kitchen duty. Everyone needed to be fed in time for church that morning. We were six that were at home minus the two drivers, two escorts and my parents who also needed food. The house was scattered (courtesy of the previous night), my head was consistently being hammered by some little devils I’m sure driving little nails in. Well, everyone got fed, house got cleaned and voila! We were in time for church only to get there and be told that church was delayed for another two hours. By then, I think I already knew that 2017 was going to be a whirlwind. I was right. I lost a lot of things, gained a lot of things as well, travelled to new places, got new scars, experienced new things…

Now it is 2018, and I have a feeling that I’m also going to remember exactly how this year started at the end of it. For this year, I have decided to live my life without a plan. A couple of you who know me will be wondering about now how I plan to pull it off. To be sincere, I do not know. I have always lived my life by the book; well in this case, by my phone notes and diary. I almost cannot do anything, even something as simple as having a conversation with someone without planning. My mother is sitting by her phone right now waiting for me to send her my plan as usual. She will be disappointed.

Here’s an excerpt of a post a dear somebody wrote. I learned from it… I hope you do too.

“If I would imprint anything on you this year, I’ll beg that you love yourself.

No, not the superficial poor excuse for love we are used to. That inkling subconscious feeling that makes you remember you need an extra shirt or a new pair of shoes, or the one that makes you give yourself a treat, because well, you think you deserve it.

But that’s not love, that’s being nice to yourself. Niceties isn’t love.

And no, I’m not talking of the half baked oratory that comes from the lips of a thirsty lover in ecstasy who takes the next window out after the high of a drunk filled love.

I’m talking of the kind of love that is intense, that is consciously nerve cracking intense.

And maybe if you loved yourself a fraction of what love should be, you’ll understand that you are your longest commitment. You always will be.

You’ll know that you have to pick your fights.

Not everyone/everything deserves the unsheathing of your sword.

Keep your strength, the right battles always comes along.

If you loved yourself, you will realize toxicity from far and keep it away from you.

Everyone isn’t a keeper. People take the next door out if storm comes, for they only know how to dance in the sun.

We are defined by the love we give and the love we take away.

We are influenced by the people we choose to love and choose not to.

There are people who can’t help but be toxic.

And toxicity is like a perfume, you tend to pick some, when someone close to you keeps wearing it.

And darling, if you loved yourself with a fraction of what love means, you’ll keep toxicity away from you.

And maybe if you love yourself, you’ll know what it is to have peace of mind.

And you’ll never let anyone/ anything threaten it.

You’ll know your worth and realized you have paid every ounce for it.

Not everything deserves your time. Don’t let them lie to you, that the violence takes it by force.

Perseverance isn’t always cute. Sometimes it shows stupidity more than bravery.

There are doors that would never open no matter how much you knock, know when to cut losses and let go.

Know when to accept something isn’t meant for you.

Until you love yourself, you’ll never be able to give out love.

And any love you receive, you’ll suck it dry and exhaust it.

I’ll tell you to pursue your passion and what tugs at your heartstrings at 1am.

But if you love yourself, you’d know that already.

Because only in passion do we find absolute fulfillment.

And if the love you have for yourself transcends the subconscious to the conscious, you’ll begin to make good health and lifestyle choices.

Begin to cut down on some excesses.

Maybe you’ll realize being called a “chimney” or a “brewery” isn’t titles the dialysis room remembers.

And you’ll stop being in situationship that masks as relationships.

One sided events that brings you as the sole pillar without which the whole relationship falls like a pack of cards.

The day you don’t make a move, the same day the relationship dies a death.

If you loved yourself with a fraction of how intense love is, you’ll realize you deserve better than that.

Maybe if you loved yourself you’ll realize 2018 didn’t come with a reset manual that automatically makes every thing go away.

It’s still a Monday, like any other Monday.

And the difference lies in the choices you make.

So, if I’ll tell you anything this year, I’ll tell you to love yourself.”

Happy New Year… Let’s see what 2018 has to offer us.

Posted in State of Mind

Take Me Home

Today is different. Today, Matt will be coming home. It’s been a long time since I last saw him.

I am confused and worried about what I would wear. It’s been a while you see. I am not sure if his preferences are still the same. I am not sure he will like the “dirty” things we usually talk about anymore. And also, I want to give him something he’ll remember. There are two problems though.

Firstly, I feel inept and gauche when it comes to intimacy. My height and stature doesn’t help matters. I always feel like there’s a lot more effort to put in. So I started working out. Increasing my flexibility. I hope he will not find me wanting.

Secondly, I got new pairs of lingerie in addition to other sexual materials that Ann Summers had to offer me. I wear the red. One of his favourite colours.

He comes in at 3:06pm.

Hey!

Hey!! His lips curved into that smile I love so much as his gazed appreciatingly at my body.

I-I just got it newly, I stuttered, and I hope you like it.

Get a grip on yourself!

I decided I would not let nerves take the better of me.

I walked provocatively to him. My small hips swinging from side to side. I have missed you all this while I murmur in his ears. Gently nipping at his ear lobes

Follow me.

He did.

Small victory for me. Yasss!!

I’ve been thinking long and hard about what I’m going to do to you tonight, I said. As I gently pushed him down to the bed.

Oh yeah? He cocked his eyebrow.

Yeah. And I’ve decided on Sexploration.

I straddle him. He stared fixedly at my middle and starts to rub my thighs in that sensual way only him could.

I moan softly. God I missed his touch.

Alia. Get a grip. Don’t let him make you lose focus now.

I shifted my body to feel his hardening shaft, linked our fingers together and lean down as if going for a kiss; stopping just at the corner of his lips.

Don’t worry I whispered. You’ll get your turn.

I could tell he was momentarily distracted. He always loved the fullness of my lips. I swooped in then, held his hands to the bedpost, I pulled out my satin scarf from underneath the pillow and tied him up.

He didn’t say anything but his expression went from shock to excitement in a few seconds.

He smiled lazily. So now you have me bound mistress, what are you going to do to me.

Another look at his inviting mouth made me want to change my mind and have him right there.

I slowly and deliberately went about stripping him of his clothing.

I want you to lay completely limp and let me just explore your body, feel every angle, stoke every hole. Can you do that for me?

He nods gruffly.

Tell me all the dirty little things you do when you masturbate, Tell me everything, baby. Tell me how you play with yourself.

I tentatively reach for his nipples. I could spend hours on your nipples; licking, sucking, and tasting you.

Dear gawd, he moaned out of pure ecstasy.

Shhh… Don’t make a sound until I tell you to… and if you do, I’m going to pause and wait until you can be quiet again, like a good boy that you are.

He nods.

I wet my index finger, swoop in on the right nipple. Drawing circles, stroking back and forth. I could feel him hardening.

I continue to whisper sweet nothings into his ears. Slowly increasing the strokes on his nipple

I love how hard you get when I stroke you.

I want you to whisper in my ears about how this feels.

I work my other hand lazily to his arousal. Teasing the tip, feeling each vein on his bulge, back and forth, back and forth.

His breathing became more audible, his heart rate sped up.

Shhh… Don’t cum until I want you to.

Before you cum, I want you to imagine fingering me with my clothes mostly on…

That wetness on my silky red underwear just like this… I press my middle to the base of his shaft. He moves almost greedily to re-position my entrance where it should rightly be.

Uh Uh.. no.. I said I want you to be completely limp. Now you get punished.

He gritted his teeth and watched me as I climbed off him. I took off my panties and left my bra on with my fish-net thights. I grabbed the chair and positioned myself in front of him so he can have a clear view.

I slant my hips down and raise my legs to the chair. Showing him my wetness.

I took my finger to my lips and sensually licked it. Moaning as I did so. He loved it when I moaned.

I rubbed my clit in deliberate slow circles even as I stared at his arousal grow even bigger.

Matt… your punishment is this. I am going to press my mound against your thigh, drag my lips across your body, tracing every edge and then I am going to find you with my tongue. Taking every inch of you in my mouth….

Dear readers, this is my imagination….. Excusez-moi!

Posted in Musings

A High Calling?

Verse 1

Train delayed arriving into London Euston. Busy London as per usual. Nothing new.

Forgot what taking the bus was like since I couldn’t bring myself to call dad.

Finally got home.

Alicia jumps on me, Mathieu takes my luggage downstairs to my room.

“Good evening mummy”

“Ehen Nnọọ, how are you”

“Fine ma”

“I’m stealing this coat before you leave” Alicia shouted. “Go straight to the room” she added with a whisper.

The aura at home had changed, the usual gists between me and mum didn’t happen and the house was disturbingly quiet.

“Dad is in his room” Alicia said, “it’s like he knew you were coming in”.

“I really didn’t ask, busybody! Can I take a nap and wake up in 2 days?”

Alicia laid my luggage down and started going through every single item.

I jumped into my bed to force sleep on me and all I could hear was “I’m taking this, and this and that as well” as Alicia went through my belongings with intent to steal.

————-

I felt tapping on my left leg. At first I thought it was in my dreams, but it didn’t stop and it became annoying.

“Louise, bilie”- Mum said

“Ooohhh i want to sleep” I complained.

“Your father wants to talk to you”. Mum insisted.

As soon as I heard ‘father’ I cleared my eyes, jumped out of my bed and headed to my parents room. I tried to lighten my face although my entire body screamed fear. This fear was not a show of respect or reverence. This was the kind of fear I used to have when 6 year old me would go to someone’s house and my mother would warn me not to eat or eat too much but I’d go there and do the total opposite and she’d give me that look that said nothing but “When we get home your father will hear” and I’d want to die before we got home. I didn’t know what to expect because to be honest we had talked about this matter for the past 5 weeks and it seemed to me like all the points were exhausted and well emphasised. I was sick of hearing the same thing again.

“Do you know why I’ve called you here?” Dad said.

I remained quiet. I observed the redness of his eyes and the crookedness of his voice.

“Well if you don’t know it is because of the matter at hand” mum quickly rushed. I glanced at the wall clock in their bed without making it obvious to them. It was 2.13am. 2 in the morning?!?! Whatever they had to say had to interrupt my beauty sleep, which I do not play with. My parents chose to discuss this this early. The last time I had such midnight discussions with my parents was when i was in junior secondary or was it primary school, when my behaviour was disgustingly rude and disrespectful towards my teachers and fellow pupils. The teachers would send several notes home through me to arrange meetings with my parents but they never even came home with me because I was afraid of telling my parents. Can we deep this used to be 10 years ago. Okay, deeped yeah? Alright.

I really expected one of these just before going to university but even that one happened in the day time and did not interfere with my sleep.

“You have brought me shame, Louise, the leaders have heard of your change and they are all disappointed. Now they think I don’t train my kids and didn’t lead my family well”

We talked for a long time. I pretty much repeated what I now believe in and what my decision was. They pretty much said the same thing they had said before, nothing new.

“You have no power whilst under my roof and unmarried to make decisions for your life, therefore you will refrain from attending that church with immediate effect. You will find a higher standard church if our church does not do it for you. I cannot watch you go from being on top to losing all the morals we have put in you.”

I looked up to him. Looked at my mum and then looked down again.

“I really believe this is the church for me and…”

“No! No way. It can’t be. As your father I cannot see evil come your way and not warn you from it, obey you parents in the Lord, unless you don’t also believe we are in the Lord.”

“Charles being forceful will not help matters” my mum managed to say.

“Exactly dad, you can force me to do this but it won’t be from my heart and won’t shift my belief.

“Janet. Janet. Janet. Ugboro ole ka m kpọrọ gị? You are the one that stopped me from training this kids the way I was going by saying the night vigils at home shouldn’t hold all in the name of going to school or them being tired.”

They went on arguing. It hurt to see them argue over this matter and me being the reason.

“Louise, please try and go to church this Sunday…” mum said after they quieted down.

“Mum I can’t promise you that. I’d lie if I told you I was and I hate to lie”

“Why?”

“I don’t want to mummy, i don’t”

Boom. My dad slapped me on the right cheek and then continually hit me without stopping. My body was in shock. It didn’t know what being beaten felt like any longer. Its been 9 years since it last happened, it stopped when I gave my life to Christ in 2009.

I put my head in between my thighs as to protect myself and patiently waited for him to stop or get tired. A single tear dropped down to my chin. I looked at mother with a look she will never forget, I got up and went to my bed.

I couldn’t get back to sleep but I however turned my body to face the wall so that if they went past my room they wouldn’t see me awake.

I loved that I did not retaliate, verbally of course, cos i cannot raise my hand over my parents. You see, the old me would have packed my bags and left home with the first train. Instead i stayed until my time to go was come. I did the dishes and cleaned everywhere. I served my family leaving my siblings to wonder what had come over me.

I was sad not because father hit me but because of the reason behind his anger. Father didn’t fear losing his daughter because he knew well that this would only bring us closer. He wasn’t angry because what I was doing was not matching his belief. Father was afraid of what the ‘elders’ where going to say. He feared the persecution he was about to receive and the effect my change will have on his ministry. Father would probably have to take a back seat. Father would have to attend to 100s of calls from the pastors that faked to love him or have interest in the matter only for them to carry the news around.

Father cared about being a pastor more than he care about first being a father, a dad to his children…

Verse 2

I was scared of father for a long time. All the way from my childhood and well into my teenage years. Eventually that fear became submission and something else. I had trained that fear to become useful to me. I had perfected the art of mind games. While father dominated me, I “submitted” and only just used him to achieve what I wanted. I was very ambitious you see. Whenever I wanted something I always had. I became his beloved child. Always at his beck and call. I have a natural “maternal” instinct and that father liked a great deal. I could sell the clothes on my back if it meant that the starving person next to me will eat. Father always said I was like him. Beauty, brains, persona. Father was wrong.

While we share some similar characteristic traits, we are very different. Father likes indoor activities and I am adventurous. Father is a man of few words and me, I can talk Africa out of a recession if given the opportunity. Father trusts outsiders easily, I am wary of both insiders and outsiders. Father is afraid of the dark… in the darkness, I come alive.

Father likes the vision and I do not.

That brings me to the beginning of a short diatribe.

Father happens to be at the helm of an organisation that is over three decades old. The organisation is run almost like a parliamentary system of government with Father being the head of government….

To be continued….

Posted in State of Mind

–Ember Month

It is the end of the year. To some it signifies the coming of a “new” year, to others it signifies yet another time on earth passed, to me it only brings pain and memories I would rather leave forgotten. What is worse is that I go on Facebook and almost everyday those memories pop up on my notifications. I have been in a nasty mood since the beginning of this month November. I have pretty much thrown myself into work to forget about everything but it hasn’t worked. I threw a birthday party for my sister amidst all the philosophical gouging of the eyeballs my work place gives me. The party didn’t go as I “planned” but she was happy and I learned one lesson that day, “you cannot control everything, try as you may.”

This week started and I could feel something ominous lurking around. You see it’s November. I almost can never be happy in this particular month every year. My friends graduated this week and while I am happy for them, I am tired of the bragging. I went through this last year and it was tough on me. I am tired of seeing “the first class degrees”. I am sick of seeing “the jobs on LinkedIn” that they are picking up as soon as graduation is over. I do not think they are better than me and I know the saying it’s now how swift the race is run but how well…

But I’m human and it really is hurtful seeing their success when I am still trying to find my feet. You see, November was when I received the shocking news that I had to leave my first love. I thought I was over that but I received a text message this week from my love asking me what I wanted to do with my crap that I left behind. I was shocked at first, then I became furious. Here I was thinking about my first love all the time and I was ultimately just getting ditched. You see by leaving my crap behind, I was grasping for straws. I made a decision then to move on with my life, without love or getting attached.

I had to start by ending my second love. It was getting irritating. I hated myself for how I felt with my second love. I hated not being in control of my feelings. I hated how I even feel now that I’ve ended it. I had been making my plans since Wednesday. But seeing him that day made it so much harder on me. I at first was making up excuses to not see him but I decided to go anyway, to also remove his stuff from my place. Well so I thought right.

I know. I am just a wimp. I am simply ending our friendship because I am afraid of what the future holds. Because I am afraid that maybe yet again, I will be snatched away. Because I am afraid that fate who hates me so much you would almost think I stole her man, will play some evil trick on me as she has done in the past.

By Friday midday I had made up my mind to say goodbye. I was in a stink of a mood all that morning. Not because I wanted to be but because I thought my heart was going to be ripped out of my chest. Yeah, I guess I loved that much.

Dear readers, do you know what this wimp did? First of all, she sends an email. Secondly, she gave crappy excuses as the reason for ending things.

By evening, I was beginning to run a temperature. I took permission and left work an hour earlier because I thought I was going to faint. You see I was already growing dizzy. My mind was working as a clock. I was wondering how and when I was going to do it. Fate handed me a card I guess, and I, the wimp took that as an opportunity.

It’s hard. It really is hard. I have slept six hours straight this afternoon to get my mind off things and I still feel like a dumpster truck. I guess it’s my punishment. Maybe I should have adhered to the lesson I learned with my sister’s party.

I did mean some of the excuses I made up. But it is not enough for me to abandon this friendship. They are things that could be worked around and they are also things that have been settled. I guess I am just tormenting myself now by continuing to blather on.

Posted in State of Mind

The Woman and the Kid

It’s been a long time since I visited this space; sixteen days actually. A lot of things have happened since then, some weird and unexplainable, others surprising. I’ve had a writer’s bloc for a long time now. Funny how that sounds seeing as I am not a writer. What brought me to this space today is what I would call a work of fate and/or coincidence.

At a little over 5pm, I got called by my neighbour. I initially planned to ignore her because I really didn’t have the strength to leave my room and go down the stairs. I grabbed my keys anyway and went to talk to her. As I came out, over the fence, I saw a ragged looking lady with something on her back that I later discovered was a baby and a malnourished frightened child carrying a worn out bag by her side. I noticed her mouth moving and to my greatest surprise, I realised she was talking to me. I went closer and still couldn’t make out her words. I went further to the fence almost touching it to figure out her words.

“Please, I am looking for work, can you help me?”

“What kind of work? What can you do?”

“I can do anything, wash clothes, clean the house…”

I looked her over properly and realised that the thing on her back was human and it was a baby. Her features amazed me. She looked like a woman who was constantly abused. She was shrivelled and dried up but she couldn’t be more than thirty years of age. Her voice wave length was tiny and wavered. I don’t know if it is a result of a destroyed vocal chord or terror. I hoped I was wrong about either. I opened the gate and ushered her in. Now here’s the problem, I didn’t have any work for her. I cook, clean and wash myself but I could not for the life of me send her away. She was not really my problem, her kid who carried the bag was.

What first struck me about the child was that he was frightened of adults. At least that is what I deduced. He stood a good eight feet away, shifting uncomfortably anytime we got closer. Now kids are kids. When they come to a new place, they hold on tighter to their parents. So I wondered why he was staying away. I wanted to test my theory further and moved forward with his mother and he moved back until there was no more room between him and the fence. He kept sipping the water in his hand even though it wasn’t hot.

It almost felt as if his mum was about to sell him into slavery and he was at that distance ready to bolt.

I called another neighbour over to see if she needed someone to do a few odd jobs for her. To my greatest happiness, she did and to my greatest surprise, she knew the lady. We talked then. And from what I could make out from her inaudible voice, she was given money to set up a business by a Christian charity and my neighbour happened to be the volunteer who went with her to look for viable options. Well, to cut the long story short, her husband didn’t let her. He took the money from her and doesn’t give her money for feeding. I was sad. I had heard and read of stories like hers but I had never been up close and personal with one. I looked at her again and noticed how dry her chest was and how the baby sling was barely holding up. I looked over at the malnourished child again who eyed me warily. They were the victims of constant abuse of which I do not know the nature. Nigeria doesn’t have a shelter for the abused. My sadness became rage.

She was sick. And needed money for treatment. She has been going around looking for a job so that she can foot her hospital bill. We were about to send her away because it’s already evening and my neighbor needed the job done tomorrow but she insisted on doing it today. I knew then that she did not have any money for feeding or for transport. That is if she even took transport here. I am almost positive that they had been trekking for a long time.

She said in every suffering she gives thanks to God that she is alive. I admired her faith and tenacity. But I wondered why she will want to live on in her current circumstance. Isn’t death a more welcome alternative?

She said any money she gets from her hustling she wouldn’t give her husband again. I knew then that it was a lie. It always is.

I gave her money to go and see the pharmacist so that some kind of reprieve can be offered after she blurted out her symptoms. I wish I was a doctor, I would have given her a free consultation there and then. Going to the hospital will be too expensive for her. I also knew that the money I just gave her would not be used at the pharmacy. Her health is very important to her yes, but at the moment, she needs food. Well, she is coming tomorrow, I will take her to the pharmacist myself if I have to.

I plan to cook something for them tomorrow. I do not like to see hungry people. There was a time I did not have food to eat for long periods at a time. It wasn’t nice.

It is a full moon tonight. Maybe something positive will happen for that woman and the kid soon.

Posted in Pinches of Salt

Untitled (continued)

Bring out your dictionaries ladies and gentlemen. The time has come for them to be used.

Inspiration has come again, so I am trying to answer the next segment of the untitled series.

Part B

Misogyny, Chauvinism, Feminism and Misandry

So, today at work, I spoke up about sexual harassment I have been receiving at work as well as females getting looked down on by their male counterparts.

Quite coincidentally I saw a post by another blogger. It was about an african female musician who had a massive wardrobe malfunction while performing and she had no undergarment on. The blogger attributed it to the lengths at which “women” will go for fame. He also added, women please respect yourself so that you can be respected.

I’m thinking to myself, why must it be women though? If you look at almost all the streets in Nigeria, there is always a man with his penis out peeing on the road. If you look at almost all the streets in Nigeria, there is always a shirtless man with his boxers just on the ridge of his buttocks. Why doesn’t these count as a disrespectful situation for a man? Or are they trying to say that me as a lady will not get sexually attracted by a man’s firm bum or seeing a beautiful penis and looking away? Hell no. The good Lord gave me eyes to see and as such I will take my time to appreciate any male specimen he has put on this earth without feeling shy.

Personally, except in really distressful situations like long journeys and no convenience, I find it distasteful when I see men peeing on the road, in broad daylight, in a busy city with toilets around. But no one will say anything about it because it is “normal”. It can never be counted as being disrespectful of a man. He can never lose his respect because he has done it.

Think about it this way, if two african adults, male and female decide to go fully nude for the cover of a magazine for example, who is the one they will say is without home training? Who is the one they will say the person has brought disgrace on their children? Who is the one they will say “I am sorry for whoever marries you”?

And there’s this one in movies that I do not get. They will show full nude frontal of a lady and just show the bum of a man. Are you seriously kidding me! I want to see the man in all his glory. So women deserve to be shown naked and men don’t?

That brings me to the end of one of my points; Feminism. A feminist as defined by a woman I look up to, Chimamanda Adichie is “a person who believes in the social, economic and political equality of the sexes”.

I have just talked about one of the aspects of social. But believe me, they are a lot. Almost innumerable. We all know the major economic (lower wages for women), and the major political (lower official positions for women).

So I came to work and was told I was to serve staff meal. I don’t bother too much about what is beneath my status or what not. I usually just do whatever I am told to do if my spirit accepts it. But believe me when I say it is the most degrading job I have ever done. First of, the staff population are largely uncultured and uncouth. Secondly, you have to clean up after them; wash the dishes, clean the trash, clear the food warmers. So I’m there, strutting away in my shoes and beautiful clothing, carrying a large and heavy pan of food which is supposedly supposed to be a man’s job. But as the guys appointed with me were dragging their feet about it and I had a lot of work to do back at the office, I carried all the heavy pans. No biggie right.

Food service started, I did it, the other guy had still done nothing. I was beginning to fume but I kept quiet waiting for his end game. Food service ended. The dishes were not cleared from the tables majorly from the uncultured staff and the cleared ones were sitting in the sink unwashed. Mr. A still hadn’t lifted a finger. He was just sitting and smiling. I cleared the service table and picked up my things and started walking out. I got called back by the other lady.

Lady: “Alia, where are you going?”

Me: “I am going back to my work, I am done here.”

Lady: “We haven’t finished, we have to wash these plates”

Me: “For what? That is Mr A’s duty”

Lady: “Na man go wash the plates? It is a woman’s job to wash the plates.”

I turned to look and Mr. A was smiling sheepishly like he just won. I just walked out on them. By this time, I had enough rage in me to cause a premature volcanic eruption.

You best believe that Mr. A washed up all the dishes.

It is exactly this attitude of men that makes feminists inadvertently become misandrists.

Remember I said I spoke up about sexual harassment at work today.

After speaking, one of the men said, “well if you don’t want anyone to sexually harass you, wear rags to work, smell and come to work.” Another one said, “welcome to Nigeria”, “toasting is allowed”. Another one said, “every man that is not gay must look at you and appreciate you no matter how uncomfortable it makes you feel”. And I am thinking to myself, that kind of “toasting” in the work place. And this is how hating men begins. I’m thinking to myself, this are the people in leadership who should have some sort of sympathy for my case. Because now if not that I have better sense, they have put it in my head that all men are the same.

I have had my fair share of toasters all through my short life. Even when I was still a kid with an excuse of a chest. But let me explain what Nigerian toasting is.

1. In Nigeria, toasting is a slang used in place of wooing a lady.

2. In Nigerian toasting, you’re allowed to hold her hands or any part of her body without permission and accost her at whatever time possible to make sure she agrees.

3. Nigerian toasting involves using lines from wise King Solomon in the bible. (Read Songs of Solomon from any bible version)

4. In Nigerian toasting, you are allowed to be sexually suggestive as you like.

5. At the end of the toasting exercise, if the lady refuses, some men accept it and let it go. Others, go round the neighbourhood and spoil your name due to their crushed ego.

Now I do not support misandry at all. I just believe there should be a balance to everything. Do not go around being an extremist for the sake of feminism, religion and the likes of these.

Now here’s a thread an honest writer friend of mine wrote.

We grew up in a deeply patriarchal society. We didn’t ask for it, we just saw that patriarchy was the normal way of life.

The men did it, the women enabled it. It was normal.

It was thrown at our faces everywhere.

In primary school, we saw how a boy was given head boy not because he was the most intelligent but because he had a penis.

In our churches, we saw how a male was made the head of choir not because he had the best leadership skills or the best voice, but because he was male.

In our compounds, we saw how men talked down on their wives and abused them consistently.

We noticed how during meetings, a young son is called to represent the family in the absence of the Dad instead of the mother because well, he was male.

In our villages, we saw the depravity women passed through because they were women.

We saw women sacrificed a lot, not because they were supposed to but solely because they were females and hence were expected to let go of personal dreams for others.

And unconsciously we believed that was normal.

It was normal as eating rice and stew every Sunday.

As we grew up, we started to learn and relearn things. We started thinking and realizing that if the only reason as males we were seen better than a woman was because of our genitalia, then maybe we weren’t better than them at all.

The only problem was, these things wouldn’t go away without conscious efforts.

Even though we knew, we still saw ourselves doing stuffs that screamed out inequality.

So we started putting conscious effort into our daily lives into treating people equally despite their gender.

This is a work in progress.

And we will be delusional and unrealistic to think everybody would buy into this.

Some dogs don’t learn new tricks at old age.

Some people are far deep into a patriarchal way of life that they would rather die than see life any differently.

Some are misogynist even without knowing they are.

Go to the parks, go to the slums, go to the villages and see that there is still a long way to go.

But we will get there, at least a majority of people would come to understand that everybody should be treated equally irrespective of gender.

In our society we grew up to see patriarchy as a way of life.

And good thing, we are all relearning.

On the other hand, it’s a very sad sight to see some women take the feminism to unprecedented heights void of any logical reasoning.

It’s like some extremists have hijacked feminism and have taken every thing out of context.

Feminism have caused a high level of paranoia that what comes to your mind first is feminism instead of common sense.

It would be an irony if ten years from now, a lot of men have dropped their misogynistic tendencies only for you to wake up and realise you have become that one thing that you hated – a misandrist.

Wouldn’t it be an irony to come to that point and realise due to your unchecked struggles you have crossed that thin line and ended up hating men.

And maybe then, the wave wouldn’t be feminism again. It would now be menism.

Feminism shouldn’t replace common sense.

Personally whenever I’m out with a female friend, I hold the door for them. It was something I did effortlessly.

At a time I stopped because I felt since we should all be treated equally, then why should I open a door for a lady?

She should open her damn door herself.

Then I realised later that equality shouldn’t replace chivalry. Chivalry shouldn’t be dead because we want to treat everyone equally.

Those little things that put a smile on someone’s face shouldn’t go away.

It’s the same thing a lot of people are struggling with.

There are soemthings that shows your lack of common sense instead of feminism.

Like Aunty Bumni said, how would you say you are married and won’t discuss a business plan with your spouse before venturing into it.

Isn’t that lack of common sense?

Are you people married or are you both roommates?

Or were both of you specially called by God just to populate the earth.

If tomorrow you get married and a situation happens that one spouse needs to stay home for a short while because of the kids and as a lady it has to be you, not because you are a female but because, maybe you earn lesser or your work happens to be much more flexible than your husband’s or the situation at hand makes you the best fit at that point without gender issues coming to play.

Would you rather allow your kids suffer because you are trying to prove a feminist point?

Or would you allow common sense Prevail?

In your homes, would you rather allow a little issue escalate into a mountain of warfare because you are trying to prove a point.

It takes Wisdom to know how to choose your fight.

If you have an understanding with your spouse, you can allow somethings slide for the greater good.

A lot of people are losing common sense because of all this.

Every issue isn’t a call to bring out our arsenals and fight.

Wisdom is profitable to direct.

Don’t become what you are fighting against.

You’ll despise yourself at the end.”

Laa Pulga Prince

Enough said.

Posted in Memoirs

Family Matters and others

It’s 6:35am, 13/10/2017. I paid a visit to my cousins since I am in transit to the city of my birth. And my cousins are already dressed and ready to go to school. I am extremely baffled. Why in God’s name are they up at this awful hour and dressed too. Do schools resume this early?

I coil in shock as the memories come flooding back. I remember leaving my house at 6:15am latest to be able to get to school in time. That means…. Oh no!! I actually woke up at 5am everyday. No chance. It is not possible.

If you wake me by 5am now…

Just prepare a few words you’ll like to be said at your funeral.

Anyway back to the point of this post. I haven’t been to the place of my birth in five months. One would think I would miss it. But all I feel is dread. Unfortunately, it is a compulsory family function taking me back this time, and I have to attend. I’m beginning to feel the first wave of sickness and it is not homesickness.

I do not have the strength for this travel. I do not have the strength to deal with all the family drama.

I got to the airport, found out my flight was delayed for seven hours. I feel like I could see the finger of the Lord warning me not to go home. I damn well nearly collapsed. By this time, the illness was in full effect. Some 800mg of Ibuprofen later, I was able to survive till I got home. I went to bed at 2am.

I got up at 7am for the family function. I needed more rest. But I dared not complain. It was going to be a busy day. Sometimes, sacrifices are necessary for family.

5pm. I received a disturbing news. A member of my family was more or less missing. The details around it were sketchy and I couldn’t let father know. Father had already broken down crying at the news. I have never seen father cry. All through the deaths that had occurred over the years; his friends and family. Father had never cried. It was up to me to figure out what to do and calm father down. I couldn’t risk his having another myocardial infarction.

Some GPS tracking later and some calls later, said family member was contacted. I will probably give details of her stupid acts that led to the panic in another post.

8pm. Family function was done and dusted. I couldn’t believe I was still alive. I couldn’t feel my legs or any part of my body for that matter. I hadn’t had anything to eat all day, plus my house was full to its maximum capacity; all seven rooms of it. Each room had a minimum of three. The room I stayed in, we were seven…

I managed to muster strength to put a few things in order and have a little offal soup, and off I went to bed. I didn’t sleep very long before it was morning.

Today is the 15th. Today is the day I go back to my safe haven. Away from the drama. I should be overexcited, strengthened even. But I still feel sick. I am beginning to wonder if I have a sort of terminal illness.

My flight was for midday. Two strange things happened today.

Firstly, on my way to the airport, my car that was perfectly fine and was used for the family function broke down. It was already 30 minutes to flight departure. I was already beginning to feel a bad omen. I tried ringing customer service to see how I can possibly be helped; I was kept on hold for a long time until I cut the call. I eventually found a taxi, practically threw my things in and raced to the airport. Yeah, I was the last one in.

Secondly, the aircraft I entered was battling with the winds for a part of the journey. While others shrieked and prayed, I looked through my window admiring the way the clouds hit the wing flaps and made it invisible. I thought to myself that perhaps the time has come for me to die. I was already composing the messages I would have sent to those I love even as my sister who sat beside me gripped my hand tightly. What is weird is that at that exact moment, I wasn’t scared to die. I was thinking, I feel terrible anyway; my head is banging, I have got a fever, my body feels like I’ve been doing squats and push-ups thirty hours non-stop. So yeah, I wouldn’t mind dying if it took away the pains I feel now.

Well, the turbulence stopped sadly and a very rough landing almost immediately, we arrived. Then the guilty conscience came. How would father survive? Surely I had seen how he was yesterday, this would kill him.

Well, I didn’t die. I just entertained the thought of death for a short time. I’m getting tired of living. It is too much effort.

Scratch that… I am not even alive anymore, I am just breathing.

Posted in Musings

Tattling

Happy new day!

Happy Sunday!!

Happy new week!!!

Happy new month!!!

That is, to those who always look for something to celebrate even when there’s nothing to celebrate. The Lord is your strength.

Happy Independence Day to Nigeria. As my friend eloquently put it, “on this day, Nigeria unfollowed Britain”.

Did we really?

I have not written in a while. I have had nothing to write about. Even now, I have nothing to write about. I would have, if my plans had fallen into place. So sit back and enjoy my blabbering.

So exactly a month ago, I was about to start putting in motion, plans to execute the biggest surprise I have ever done. I was ecstatic. Certain that my surprise package will go well. You see, I took three weeks off work for this surprise. I was going to see “the one”. I had missed him for the past nine months. He had treated me badly, granted. But I was still willing to try and see if there was hope for us.

I was wrong. My love didn’t want me to come. He didn’t even want me around him. I had already booked my flight. I unfortunately had to cancel. He said hurtful things to me. None of which were logical enough to make sense. Being the fool in love that I am, I still forgave him. I will still try to go see him again. Maybe my persistence will change his mind.

On another note. I surprised mother and myself today, if I might add. Almost always any conversation with mother ends in an argument of some sorts.

Usually rebellion on my side to be fair.

So I had this hairstyle on that mother didn’t approve of when I met her last week. I noticed it in her stance, the hardness of her eyes and the coldness in her reception when we met. I was hurt. I haven’t seen mother in three months. A warm welcome would have been nice, even if it’s a pretentious one.

I have been waiting for mother to comment on it for the past couple of days. But she has been too scared to say anything. Always going through my siblings who will then tell me. Well finally, mother stopped being coy and commented on it. I am sure she expected some anger, loose words, fire, brimstone etc from me. I wonder how much she must have prepared to receive them.

She was quite taken aback when I simply just commented “okay, I wouldn’t make it again”. I felt her dead silence over the phone, so much so that I had to check if the conversation was still on.

In retrospect, I don’t know how or why I did it. Either I’m having an early stage adulthood crisis or I’m actually changing, for good I hope. I am tired of fighting with mother.

Posted in Little Steps

Renovation 101

The day is September 28th, 2017. The time is 8:03am. I feel rather strange today. Well, lately I’ve been feeling strange.

Today is the day I have started to let go of some garbage that are rather old and I have continued to hold on to. Maybe I am starting to grow old or I am having a crisis. I don’t know. I started with destroying my wedding planner. I created that in 2014. It was created at a time in my life when I was incredibly lonely, so starting it gave me joy. It filled my lonely days. I could finally dream of something although very unrealistic. Oh, you should have seen it. Very grandiose in planning. Obviously I wasn’t planning to get the money off my potential husband, I am all for 50/50 splitting of wedding costs. I think it was grandiose majorly because I was trying to fit things into my parents and my immediate society’s way and at the same time have a perfect wedding. Now, I don’t just care about society. I believe a compromise will have to be made by my parents. A wedding is just a day, not even a day, a couple of hours at months. What really matters is the marriage which is forever.

Everyday I had new ideas, I put them down there. I had notes on it. I had a beautiful book dedicated to it. Here’s a plot twist, getting married is the least of things on my agenda. How time changes.

In my process of deleting old garbage, I found something I wrote down a couple of months ago that I got from the internet. It seemed rather useless at the time. It seemed like all those crap that motivational speakers say to enrich themselves. It’s weird I have it right. I’m surprised myself that I am in possession of it. I have always felt that everyone is in control of motivating yourself. You are your own motivation and the earlier you realise it, the better.

Well back to the motivational article I found. I finally had a read through of it today, and it isn’t half bad. Too bad I had already begun the process before I read it. Well the title is “Steps to Discovering Yourself”. Grab a pillow and be prepared to sleep…

Steps to Discovering Yourself

Culled from the internet

How to Find Yourself

Wake your consciousness: write down your life’s timeline and distinguish your thoughts from others’. Start with a clean slate and organize your world.

Give yourself some alone time;seek out a passion, and find a mentor.

Change your perspective and let go of negative thoughts.

Question yourself, then act on your newfound knowledge.

Part One of Four:
Waking Your Conscious

1
Create your own life timeline.
Write down all of your major goals that you feel you have achieved and want to achieve. In turn, write down the events in your life that have already happened and that have shaped or affected you. When life brings problems or misfortunes it shapes our belief system and makes us think differently, but it also makes us us. These things you list are organically you, not a simple reflection of society.

• This isn’t an exercise in wallowing. It’s about clarification and identification of issues. These issues might be keeping you from reaching your present potential and letting your true self blossom.

• Spend a little time clarifying the past in your timeline. A timeline is an incredibly objective method for marking down past occurrences in your life that you consider to be major. You can look at them as formation blocks and as changing experiences along your timeline without imbuing them with too much emotion (as would occur within a diary account). As if writing a résumé, keep it simple, real, and condensed to the major effects or lessons learned from each past incident.

• When analyzing negative past experiences, focus on what you learned from them. Everyone has these blips in their timeline, but exaggerating or ignoring them won’t help you. Instead, recognize that these experiences shaped you.

2
Distinguish your thoughts from the thoughts of others.
For most people (it’s more common than you may think) life is pretty easy to go through while on autopilot; we practically get handed a road map for how reality “works.” Go to school, get a job, get married, think this, that, and the other, and boom — hope you had a good time. And that’s all well and good — it gets the job done certainly — but it doesn’t allow room for you. So sit down with yourself. At the end of the timeline, come up with a few beliefs of yours that aren’t based on logic, but are based on what you’ve been told. We all have them. Now, what do you actually think?

• Society has a very covert way of handing us the “misfits”, condemning the “losers”, idolizing the “beautiful”, alienating the “strange.” But here’s a heads up: These describing words have no basis in reality. How do you feel about the world around you? Think about what you believe to be good and bad — not what anyone else has told you.

• Feel free to think more concretely. Do you actually agree with your parents’ political or religious affiliations? Is having a career really the most important thing to you? Do think, black glasses really make you feel “cooler?” If the answer is no, great! There’s absolutely zero problems with not molding yourself to pre-existing norms. Now all you have to do is unlearn and then relearn. Only this time, relearn based on your gut.

3
Start relying on yourself.
Confidence and reliance are at the heart of finding yourself. If you don’t have a solid sense of self-worth, you’ll listen to what others have to say all the time and to be swayed by their insistence on what is appropriate. Learn to believe in yourself and trust your own feelings. Then, you’ll come up with a structure to base your new sense of self on. Remember, be patient with yourself and confident in your abilities. Everything will come with time.

• If you have been victimized in the past, confront these issues. They’re not going to go away on their own. They might be coloring your approach to daily life, causing you to live up to other people’s expectations instead of your own.

• Start trusting your own judgment and decision-making processes, mistakes and all. We all make mistakes, but through mistakes we find ourselves growing, learning, and reaching our real selves.

• Start taking responsibility for budgeting, household matters, and planning about the future. People who lack a sense of self tend to disregard the “details” of life with a carefree attitude, believing that things will all sort themselves out. But things don’t always sort themselves out. Taking responsibility pulls you back from the precipice and lets you be self-reliant and self-determined, no longer carried along by the waves of fate.

4
Prepare to begin again with a clean slate.
Develop your own moral conduct and practice sticking to it. Start by overcoming bad habits.

• Stop smoking, over-eating, and abusive drinking. These are examples of lapses or habits that will prevent you from functioning at your peak. They also let you “off the hook” by sidestepping the analysis of why you use these crutches instead of finding better ways to brighten your life.

• This step may take some major rehabilitation for some individuals but putting it into the too-hard basket won’t make it go away. Remember, you can’t drive your life forward if you are always gazing through your rear-view mirror!

5
Organize your world.
You may find that having all your other affairs in order will help expedite the process to grabbing a firm hold on your identity. So clean your room. Do your homework. Resolve that fight with that friend. Getting everything else out of the way will clear up the path to “me” time.

• We all have excuses for why we’re not growing in the direction we want to be growing — it could be money, school, a job, a relationship, you name it, someone’s used it. If you’re a busy bee, take strides to clear your schedule so you can sit down and tackle this thing head on. If it’s always priority #2, it’ll never get done.

Part Two of Four:
Conquering Your World

1

Immerse yourself in solitude. Give yourself some time and space to get away from the expectations, the conversations, the noise, the media, and the pressure. Take some time each day to go for a long walk and think. Plant yourself on a park bench and look. Take a long, thoughtful road trip. Whatever you do, move away from anything that distracts you from contemplating your life and where you want it to go. In solitude, you should feel independent and self-sufficient, not lonely, needy or afraid.

• Every person needs time alone, whether they’re introverted or extroverted, single or in a relationship, young or old. Solitude is time for rejuvenation and self-talk, for utter peace and for realizing that purposeful “loneliness” is not a bad place to be but rather, a liberating part of your overall existence.

If you are a creative person, you may find that alone-time will help stoke your creativity. While it’s nice to collaborate with other people sometimes, it’s hard to be truly creative when you’re always surrounded by other people. Step back and tap into your creativity.

2
Seek out a passion.
When you believe in something or see beauty in something, you should do it no matter what anyone else thinks. If you have found something that is worthy of your best efforts, sacrifice, and tears, then you have found the most important pursuit of your life. Often, that pursuit can lead you to something ultimately fulfilling.

• The key here is to realize that it doesn’t matter what it is. It could be preventing child hunger or it could be painting. There is no scale when it comes to passion. You either feel it or you don’t; none is better than any other. When you find something that zaps you out of bed in the morning, cling onto it. You’ll only bloom from there.

3
Find a mentor.
Though ultimately soul-searching can only be done by you and it’s only you that determines what you need, having a mentor will be an incredible resource when you hit those unavoidable bumps in the road. Seek out someone you trust who has a definite sense of self. How did they do it?

• Let them know the process you’re starting to undertake. Stress that you know it’s your journey, but would love to use their strength as a guide. Take a look at them as objectively as you can. What seems to ground them, making them who they are? How did they find that? How do they stay true to themselves?

• A support system is key to any self-improvement tactic. Not a lot of people will understand what you’re going through and will brush off your broaching the topic as a flash-in-the-pan moodiness. Use this mentor as a sounding board, too, for what you come up against. The outlet will surely come in handy.

4
Sort out your career path.
If you’re meandering all over the place looking for the right “fit”, chances are that you’re not happy inside. You could be using the job-changing as an excuse for not fully realizing your true potential. Find yourself by really taking an interest in what you love to do. If money weren’t an issue, what would you spend your days doing? What way can you monetize this activity/skill?

• Spend some time free-associating. Think about what you like and don’t like; think beyond those things to other ideas that simply pop into your mind while you’re associating. Keep a record of these things. Then, come back to the career question and look at the free associations. What type of career seems to gel most with the things that excited, moved, and really energized you from the free-association exercise? As Alain de Botton says, this exercise is about looking for “beeps of joy” amid the cacophony of must-do’s, shoulds, and expectations.[1]

• Bear in mind, however, that work may not be where your “calling” is. If that’s the case, you’ll need to work out a work-life balance that lets you pursue your “true self” more outside of the workplace, even if this means more hours and less income. It is all possible, especially if it’s in the pursuit of finding and sustaining your true sense of self.

Part Three of Four:
Changing Your Perspective

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Let go of the need to be loved by all.
Accept that some people will think poorly of you no matter what you do. It’s important to forget about what everyone else thinks because you cannot please everyone. And while you might not want to disappoint the people close to you, they should want you to be happy. As long as you continue to exist just to fulfill other people’s ideas of who you should be, you’ll never know who you really are. This thought is aptly summed up by Raymond Hull: “He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.”

• Realize that some people will become jealous, afraid, or overwhelmed when a person changes their usual habits and grows more mature and self-loving (others will love it). It’s a threat to the relationship you’ve always had, and it forces them to take a cold, hard look at themselves, which they may not want to do. Give these people space and compassion; they may come around in time. If they don’t, leave them be. You don’t need them to be you.
2
Abandon the negative.
Although it sounds abstract, it’s not difficult. Make a conscious effort to minimize judging — others, objects, and yourself. This is for two reasons: 1) Positivity is nourishing and can usher in a sense of happiness which being “lost” masks, and 2) Opening your mind to new experiences and new people (that you previously wrote off) will show you a whole new world that may be better than the one you knew before — one where you can find your corner of the sky, your castle on a cloud, your niche in this crazy world.

• Try to do something every day that you would’ve brushed off as “weird,” “illogical,” or just plain “uncomfortable”. Getting out of your zone will not only teach you something, but it will force you to get to know you — what you’re capable of, what you like, what you definitely don’t like, and what you were previously missing.

PART 3
Question yourself.
Ask yourself difficult and far-reaching questions, and record your answers. Beyond your time spent in solitude, it’s easy for these purposeful thoughts to slip to the back of your mind and be forgotten. If you have them written down, then every time you reflect, you can review your notes and take it a step further, instead of answering the same questions all over again. Keep them in a notebook that’s easy to access and update; it will be a source of sustenance for you, by which you can continue to measure your growth through life. Here are some to get you started:

• “If I had all the resources in the world — if I didn’t need to make money — what would I be doing with my life and why?” Perhaps you’d be painting, or writing, or farming, or exploring the Amazon rain forest. Don’t hold back.

• “What do I want to look back on in my life and say that I never regretted?” Would you regret never having traveled abroad? Would you regret never having asked that person out, even if it meant risking rejection? Would you regret not spending enough time with your family when you could? Would you regret keeping your unique view of society to yourself by not sharing with friends? Did I conform/stick out beyond the level I’d have like to? This question can be really difficult.

• “If I had to choose three words to describe the kind of person I’d love to be, what would those words be?” Adventurous? Accepting towards few? Open? Honest? Hilarious? Optimistic? Unreliable? Don’t be afraid to choose words that are considered negative because that proves you’re a real person, and not a lopsided combination of parts other people want to be known for.

• Sometimes the traits that you don’t like become useful in emergency situations — like being bossy. Sometimes they are valuable to the job you’re meant to perform — like being nitpicky.

• If you do have a truly negative trait, acknowledging it openly can give you the motivation to work on redirecting that energy to something positive. Try channelling that bad habit and into a hobby. Don’t wash your clothes much? Try camping — maybe you’ll like it. Even something like pole dancing could be your golden ticket! Know you’re lazy with certain tasks? Maybe you can lead yourself to find another task that hardly ever bores you.

• “Who am I?” This question is not static. It should be one you continue to ask yourself throughout your life. A healthy person continues to reinvent themselves throughout their life. By asking this question regularly, it updates your understanding of who you are and how you change. Instead of answering who you think you ought to be, keep it focused on who you actually are, because in all likelihood that’s a very good answer, warts and all.

Part Four of Four:
Settling In for Good

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Act upon — and use — your newly discovered knowledge.
Pick up those watercolors. Write a short story. Plan a trip to Mombasa. Have dinner with a family member. Start cracking jokes. Open up. Tell the truth. Whatever it is that you’ve decided you want to be or do, start being and doing it now.

• You may shake your head and come up with excuses such as “no time,” “no money,” “family responsibilities,” etc. Instead of using these as excuses, start planning around the hurdles in your life. You can free up time, find money, and get a break from duties if you make time how to plan and find the courage to ask for these things.

• Sometimes, the real you is too afraid to face the practicalities because it’d mean facing up to what you’ve limited yourself by. Start planning what you really want to do and investigating what needs to be done to get you to that point instead of flinging excuses at them, stopping the goals and dreams dead in their tracks.
2
Be ready for dead ends.
Finding yourself is a journey, not a destination. A lot of it is trial and error. That’s the price you pay in return for the satisfaction you receive: More often than not, you hit a bump in the road, and sometimes you fall flat on your face. Be prepared to understand and accept that this is a part of the process, and commit to getting right back up and starting over.

• It’s not going to be easy — it never has been for anybody — but if you learn to see that as a chance to prove how much you want to find yourself, then you’ll find fulfillment and security in your pursuit. When you know yourself, most people will respect you more and treat you kindly. Best of all, your light will shine on both you and others, making them (and you) feel even more certain about your sense of self.

3
Serve others.
Mahatma Gandhi once said that “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Being introspective without reaching out to others can cause you to navel-gaze and shut yourself off from others. Service to other people and to the community is the ultimate way to find purpose and a sense of your place in the world.

• When you see how hard life can be for those in greater need than you, it’s often a wake-up call that puts your own worries, concerns, and issues into perspective. It helps you to see what you do have, and the opportunities you’ve been able to seize through life. That can fuel a great sense of self because suddenly everything can fall into place for you and you realize what matters most. Try it. You’ll like it.