Tell Me…

If you are a writer, there is nothing as daunting as a blinking cursor. Nothing as taunting as that little black line, blinking away daring you to write but you have no words so you just sit there and stare, stare at it until you slam your laptop close in frustration. There is nothing as frustrating as reaching for your phone because you thought you heard a beep only to find that it was a phantom beep; no one sent you a message, no one is calling.  Your mind is playing tricks on you because you want your phone to beep, you want a call or text or something! nothing as painful as scrolling through your timeline, seeing your friends celebrating milestones, and achieving great things. There is nothing quite like sucking it up, repressing that surge of envy and typing them a congratulatory message…

“So and so asked me out and I don’t want to date any of them, I don’t have the time to date because I am trying to…” it’s painful to hear because you cannot relate but you smile anyway. The only man that has spoken to you in months is the doorman at your apartment, asking you if you had a good day and telling you that you have mail. Tell me what is worse than seeing your plans unravel, adjusting and resizing your dreams because they just won’t work out like you hope they would. Does it get lonelier that screaming in the shower and standing there till the hot water runs out and you are forced to get out of the tub?

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A lonely street…photo Credit: Me

What bigger lie is there than “I am fine”? Even when everything inside of you aches, when uncertainty and doubts and insecurities have pitched tents in your head, but you smile anyway because it is easier to say “I’m fine” than to try and explain why you cry yourself to sleep every night. What hurts more when your friends fail to support you and be there for you when you need them the most? Or when you stop confiding in them altogether because your problems are starting to sound depressing even to you? So the bottle of henney you stashed away in your room becomes your best friend and you spend hours and hours on social media because it feels good to watch funny videos and to read about other people’s misfortune for a change…

Your social media presence is quite strong, your posts and pictures are carefully selected, and well picked out and the likes are pouring in by the numbers. But then you make the mistake of  giving  yourself the false belief that if people don’t like you in real life, at least they like your pictures and status updates. Tell me what is more ignorant than saying “Oh, He/She is fine, I saw their status update and pictures the other day” don’t you know that people are not all they seem to post? We often lie to ourselves, especially we Africans that everything is alright, that all is well. Nobody takes mental health seriously and if you say you want to see a shrink or seek psychiatric help, you are instantly labelled crazy.

This probably wasn’t a happy post to read was it? But it’s real, and if we tell ourselves the truth, we have all found ourselves in one or more of the aforementioned situations. Lend a listening ear, a hug, your time or whatever it is you can if you sense that the people you love might need it. Do something!

This is real, I am one to talk; I should know.

Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

You say you’re ‘depressed’ – all I see is resilience. You are allowed to feel messed up and inside out. It doesn’t mean you’re defective – it just means you’re human.”― David Mitchell

 

On Broken Teeth and Broken Roofs..

So I mentioned a while ago that my tooth mysteriously broke right? Right. So this tooth broke and I was living in terrible pain for months. My nerves were exposed so I could neither eat nor drink nor chew nor even smile. I was in deep torment but I did not want to deal with the extraction. However, last week I bit the bullet and went in for a tooth extraction and though I am still recovering from the process, I feel awesome! I feel so relieved, I am gradually able to chew again, to smile again, to do all those things I couldn’t do and it has been bliss.

Now, let us liken a broken or decayed tooth to the friends we have. The Bible tells us of a man who was paralyzed and bed ridden and was in a very helpless situation. His friends heard that the Lord Jesus was in town and they took their friend to go see him. When they got there the place was so packed that there was literally no path to carry their bed ridden friend inside the building. When it seemed like all hope was lost, they looked up and saw the roof and then they climbed up to what I will assume was someone else’s house and they broke the roof. When the roof caved in, they lowered their friend in until he lay at the feet of Jesus. Of course this caught the Lord’s attention and when he looked at the faith of his friends, the sheer ferocity with which they believed that He would heal their friend, He said the word and the man who had been carried in through the roof, got up and walked.

This is to me is friendship, love in its purest form. When they got the house and found it full, they could have been discouraged and left but they didn’t, they broke the damn roof of a building that did not belong to them! They did the impossible, they believed for their friend who did not believe as much as they did and that singular act brought about their friends healing. Let me ask you what I have been asking myself; will the friends you have right now break the roof for you literally or figuratively? Will they go the extra mile to see that all is well with you? Do they pray for you, correct you, encourage you, cover in you love, defend you and put your needs above their own? Will they open their home to you if you need shelter or their wallets to you when you are in need? If they do not, then perhaps this is worth thinking about. I do not take friendship lightly, I never have. It is a sacred bond, and a very big deal to open up to someone, let them in, and tell them your deepest thoughts and dreams, to love them even when they sometimes hurt you, to tell them things about you and your past that very few people on earth know, not even your parents! that to me is sacred and is not an opportunity to be given at random.

My tooth was broken and hurting and it had to go. People that add no value to you have to go. I have been asking myself how good a friend I am; will I break the roof for my friends? I will also be the first to admit that I am not always a good friend, I become so self involved in my own issues and I forget that others need me and are going through issues too, and I am trying to change. I have few friends, and I love them and pray for them and cover them as much as I can, I will not rest on my oars though, I will keep striving till I become that friend that the Bible teaches us about, the friend that sticks closer than a brother/sister.

Ps: My beautiful, precious, adorable niece is here and I will share her pictures and her birth story in the next post so watch this space!

True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island… to find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune; to keep him or her is a blessing.”- Baltasar Gracian

 

A Stranger’s Kindness

 

Dear Diary,

It was a really long day. Emotionally tasking and physically draining. Walking to the bus station seemed like a herculean task and as I struggled to put one foot in front of the other, I found myself doing that which came naturally to me; crying. So I stood there, in the middle of Lindbergh station, bawling my eyes out, feeling the weight in every inch of my body. I could care less if anyone was watching me cry, I just knew I needed to ease the tight feeling in my chest and too bad if I was on the road. It was a windy day and my tears dried before they reached my lips, leaving streaks in my makeup and what was left of my eyeliner, I looked a mess.

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I needed to blow my nose so bad so I dug frantically in my handbag looking for tissue and I could not find any, somehow that made me even sadder. Now this is America, if you strip naked on the road people will probably walk right through you, because everyone is always in motion, and they just keep moving. Still digging through my bag in a frenzy, I felt a hand on my shoulder and the person said to me; here, you need this and handed me a pack of tissue. I took it buried my face in it for a minute, finally feeling shame and remembering where I was. When I looked up, the person who handed me the tissue was a man, dressed as a woman, make up and all.

He led me to the nearest park bench and asked me what was wrong and if I wanted to talk about it and the words came spewing from nowhere and we talked and talked. The bus came and went and we did not notice, this stranger somehow, had taken my pain away. He offered to buy me coffee but the next bus had come and I really wanted to go home so I declined politely. He encouraged me some more, gave me the warmest most comforting hug and thanked me for not looking at him like a crazy person. He was walking away and I called out to him and said; thank you so much, God bless you and Jesus loves you…His eyes lit up at that and he gave me his card and walked away.

I finally got on the bus and I thought about the experience I just had with a total stranger. I  was standing in the middle of the road, crying my heart out and straight, regular people walked by without a second glance. Not that they owed me anything but still, they did not care. This man, who is kind of confused about his gender and  judged by many to be crazy was the only one that stopped to show me basic human kindness and a love that trumped race and orientation. We are often quick to judge, condemn and dismiss people based on their outward looks, quick to label and call them names forgetting that we cannot reach anyone unless we do it in love and tolerance and humility. How as a Christian, do you hope to convert an unbeliever if you refuse to associate with them or talk to them? How will you tell them of God’s love, a God they do not know and  cannot see if you who they can see refuse to show them love? We cannot change anybody by sheer will power, only the Holy Spirit can do that. Our job is to obey the greatest commandment of all, to love our neighbors and to show them the way to God’s heart through love and patience rather than condemnation and disdain, at the end of the day, we are all broken. Whether or not we admit it, we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God and we all need Jesus.

Your life style, the words you speak and how you conduct yourself might be the only Bible an unbeliever ever gets to read, your life is a message, what are you saying? I made a friend today, and somehow someday I will invite him to Church but until then, I will be loving and kind to him, to show him a glimpse of the restoring power of the Love of God.

“It’s not our job to play judge and jury, to determine who is worthy of our kindness and who is not. We just need to be kind, unconditionally and without ulterior motive, especially when we’d prefer not to be.”- Josh Radnor

 

Imagine.

 

Dear Diary,

This has been on my mind for a while now. Why is it so hard to just be real these days? To actually say what we mean to say? When did we get to the point of suffering and smiling, of telling lies so easily instead of just calling it what it is?

Imagine.

Imagine a world where a guy and a girl have their first date and totally hate it, so instead of faking it  if they just told each other that they weren’t feeling it and called it a day. Not  letting a meaningless and clueless relationship form.  A relationship that will drag on for weeks and maybe months and not add any value, but waste time that cannot be recovered. Imagine a world where we tell ourselves and our friends the truth, rather than lying to them and giving them half hearted advice, telling them what they want to hear rather than telling them the truth that will make them better. Imagine a world where we didn’t have to tolerate one another.  A world where If you don’t like or regard someone, they do not have to be in your life, in your head space or on your social media! It is ok to unfollow them, or leave their life, rather than hanging around and acting like the friend you know you aren’t and then trashing them behind their backs.

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Imagine a world where people keep their word, where they do what they said they would do in the first place? Where it’s ok to say to no and not be hated for it. Imagine a world where you can voice your opinion when you don’t agree with something rather than nodding like zombies and accepting everything just so you can appear cool and be liked. where it is ok to call a spade a spade and not a big spoon.

Imagine a world where we live our life to please those who actually need to be pleased. A life that honors the God who gave us life and can take it, the parents who brought us into this world, and a few people that  matter. A world where we don’t have to bend over backwards to be liked…

It’s hard to imagine that the world will ever be like that, but I owe it to myself to start acting like it, and maybe you should too. To treat my own corner of the world like the precious place that it is, to dedicate my head space and mind and attention to the things that actually matter and have eternal value, to stop chasing the love and affections of people who don’t care, and to treat life like the priceless gift that it is because every minute wasted can never be regained.

Imagine.

All The Things We Think Love Is, and All The Things Love Isn’t…

 

Right now, love has to be the most misused and misconstrued word that there is. It’s almost as if the entire world is fighting so hard to define what love should be, and to conceal what it actually is. Everybody has their own definition of the greatest word of all, and unfortunately it has nothing to do with what love actually is. For me, there is only one definition of love and it can be found in 1st Corinthians 13, vs: 4-8:

                ” 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”

So I started watching Scandal all over again because for some weird reason this ongoing electoral process in the States made me want to watch the early seasons again.As I was watching, I got to a scene where senator Edison, who was hopelessly in love with Olivia Pope at the time was trying to get her to love him back and think about marrying him but she wouldn’t budge. He got frustrated and asked her why and she told him that she could not love him back because loving him was easy, and that she didn’t want easy. She wanted hard, painful, difficult and complicated, she basically told him that she wanted a love that would rip her to shreds from the pain it brought and when she was done talking, the senator looked at her and said: Love is nothing like what you have just described Olivia, love shouldn’t be painful or difficult or heart breaking, if it’s all that to you then that isn’t love. Love is beautiful Olivia and it’s a shame you don’t see it.

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I have probably watched that scene like ten times; in fact, I only stopped watching it so I could write this. I kept rewinding it because that was such a profound statement. I know that Scandal is just a TV show but man! Isn’t that the truth? I love you  means less and less every day. What has love become? In fact these days, the people who literally hate you are the ones who “love” you the most. The friends slandering your name will text you and say: “hey love!” the woman enduring physical, mental and verbal abuse from her husband and the father of her children is standing in harm’s way because maybe she thinks that’s his own way of showing her that he “loves” her. The married man who is simultaneously cheating on his wife and stringing his mistress along happens to be in “love ” with all the women in his life. The guy who has no intention of marrying the girl he’s with and sees no future with her will keep telling her that he “loves” her, because it shuts up her questions and keeps her sprung.

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If your love doesn’t hold up to the standards in first Corinthians then maybe you should look again. If he loves you, he will honor your body until he marries you because contrary to popular belief you can both do without sex. If he loves you, he will not cheat, or lie or beat you or harm your kids. If she loves you she will respect you, and take care of you and be the help meet that God made her to be, not give you lip and question your authority as the man of the home. If your friends love you, they will correct you when you are wrong rather than gossip about you, they will cover you in prayers and hold you up when you fall because love is patient and kind and it covers a multitude of sins. They will celebrate with you when you succeed rather than scowl in a corner and envy you because love does not envy. They will forgive you easily because love is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrong doings.

Love is a word that should not be misused. It’s too sacred, too deep to be carelessly tossed around the way it is these days. Love never fails. The bible was very clear on that so if it keeps failing you and beating you up and hurting you and making you cry every single time, then no, it is not love it is a poor imitation. Perfect love casts out fear, so if you have to compromise to keep him or her in your life, if you are always afraid they will walk away, then that isn’t love because the one thing that love is not is unsure. Love is always sure. Love is humble, there is not a trace of pride in it. So if your love is tainted with pride, well you already know what the answer is…

The true definition of love might seem lofty, difficult even especially in this world we live in today, but when you get it just right, when you love like you are supposed to, it makes all the difference in the world. So here’s to love, to real love, to not settling, and to loving exactly the way God taught us to. Here’s to loving ourselves, our spouses, our friends, our neighbors and even our enemies, yes even our enemies. Nobody said it was going to be easy.

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”Martin Luther King, Jr.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”Jesus Christ

When you say I love you, mean it!” Adaugo

 

Twenty eight lessons…

So, I have learned that some of my best writings have happened on the nights that Lady Sleep eludes me. Yes I am convinced that sleep is a woman and she is somehow mad at me, because why else will I spend more nights than I can count staring at my window, watching the sun rise? Everything hurts. My mind is tired, my eyes hurt, my chest hurts, and even my tattoo hurts. My mind is clouded, sigh…lonely is a bad place to be…and now I’ve digressed! Back to the matter at hand, sleep deprivation. Since I can’t sleep, I might as well write. 4:49am…

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I should have written this post in March seeing that I had my birthday in March and now this is July but better late than never right? So here goes: 28 lessons I have learned in my 28 years.

  1. Life doesn’t always go like you planned for it to go, and that’s ok. If your plans fall through, regroup and make new ones and try not dwell on what could have been.
  2. People will hurt you, especially those closest to you. But hey, that’s life. Be quick to forgive, for you, for your sanity and peace of mind.
  3. Pick your battles wisely. You absolutely don’t have to attend every argument that you get invited to. Master the art of walking away from toxic situations.
  4. Learn how to say No! You cannot be Mr or Ms nice every single time, because people will take you for granted. Be kind, but be smart and allocate your time to things that matter. I am not saying don’t help people, I am saying be smart.
  5. Be passionate. By now you should have figured out what you want to do with your life, hold on to it and be all out. Whatever your hands find to do, do it with gusto and do it with pride. Leave no room for mediocrity.
  6. Learn new things as often as you can; a song, a craft, a skill, a new dish, whatever it is, try to do something new, something you’ve never done before, venture into new things, the world is yours, take it!
  7. Find the time to read. Don’t be an ignorant 28 year old who knows nothing other than the crumbles gleaned from social media. Find the time to actually watch the news, read a book and be aware of the happenings in the world around you.
  8. Take care of yourself. You cannot be of use to anybody if you are unhappy or unwell. Take care of your body, your health, your mind. If you are a woman go for a pap smear and a mammogram, if you are a guy go for a body work up. Its dangerous to be nonchalant about your health.
  9. Refine your circle of friends; you are old enough to identify the toxic, no good people who only seek to tear others down. Re-evaluate the company you keep, if no meaning comes from it, detach yourself asap.
  10. Give yourself, your love, your time, and resources to those that are less fortunate than yourself. There is immense joy to be found in giving.
  11. Don’t make rash decisions. Always think things through as much as you can, there’s no need burdening yourself with the regrets that accompany bad decisions.
  12. Drink ALOT of water; drink water more than you drink alcohol. It does wonders for the body and the skin and hair and nails and everything. Why hasten your wrinkles when you can slow it down?
  13. Smile at strangers, smile at familiar people. You look more beautiful when you smile, plus it costs nothing and it does wonders for your face as well. It takes more muscles to frown than to smile, true story! You are never fully dressed without a smile.
  14. Don’t take things too seriously, learn to laugh things off and just be happy. Nobody cares if you are miserable so you might as well be happy right?
  15. Old friends are awesome, but then so are new ones. Be open to meeting new people both older and younger and giving them a chance to be in your life. Friends are awesome and I am grateful for mine.quotescover-JPG-71
  16. Don’t be superman or super woman when you don’t have to be. Ask for help if you need it. You really don’t have to do it all by yourself, don’t be an island. Everybody needs somebody, and you are no exception.
  17. Be sensitive and alert to the seasons of your life. Some friendships and relationships are for a season. Most times that season will end abruptly and it will hurt you badly. But when it does, don’t sweat it or force it. Be wise enough to know when to let go.
  18. You are what you think you are, so think big.
  19. Be yourself. Be the best version of yourself that you can possibly be. Don’t copy anyone; don’t make any decisions on a whim just because you saw it on social media or because everyone else is doing it.
  20. Speaking of social media, don’t be gullible. Facebook, instagram, snapchat and twitter are alternate universes. Don’t be fooled by the hype! Spending all your time on social media will lead you nowhere.
  21. Take risks. Pack up and leave your comfort zone!
  22. Don’t be afraid to fail. If and when you do, its ok to be sad but snap out of it and move on, try again and keep trying till you get it right.
  23. Value your time. You’re too old to spend your precious time on frivolities.
  24. Be happy when your friends are successful, even if it hasn’t happened for you yet. If you are like me and all your friends are getting married and having babies and it hasn’t happened for you yet, smile! Be sincerely happy and wish them well and be confident in the fact that your time will come.
  25. Be content in your season. Whatever season you find yourself in, be content and rest in God’s perfect timing. Run to God, note that I said run, not walk. You need Him at this stage of your life, more than you ever have!
  26. Take care of your parents; I don’t talk about this a lot but my dad is unable to walk as a result of an accident and sometimes he’s unable to do some things for himself. So one day he was in a fix and I ran to him and helped him and afterwards, he told me to go on my knees and he laid his hands on his heart and blessed me, he said some deep proclamations over me that left me with goose bumps…do something for your parents that will provoke them to bless you like they never have.
  27. Don’t give your pearls to the swine. Don’t have meaningless sex just because. Guard your heart. Don’t give your love, your time or your body to people who don’t deserve you. Be wise.
  28. Find joy in all the little things, like singing and dancing in front of the bathroom mirror, taking long walks, whatever it is that will make you happy do it. Your happiness is literally in your hands; don’t put it in other people’s hands because they will drop it, every single time.

Another sun rise and I am wide awake…well, I am thankful for life, for the gift of a new day, and for the presence of mind to gather my thoughts and share with you all. Have an awesome day!

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”  – Steve Jobs

Friends In Unexpected Places…

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Tosin and yours truly…

This post is dedicated to my friend/honorary big sister/ gist partner Tosin aka sisto.

March 7 2011, I stood on the queue alongside hundreds of my fellow freshly minted corps members in Lagos state camp. The sun was exceptionally hot that day and the NYSC staff were taking their sweet time to pay us attention and appoint rooms to our tired selves. I didn’t serve with my original batch, so I literally knew no one in camp and I just stood by myself on the queue, my box behind me and my red bucket beside me. It was so so noisy and I wished fervently that I had my ipod with me but alas I left it in my mum’s car when she dropped me off.

Out of all the noise and clatter, I could make out a distinctive voice with some sort of accent and it inexplicably made me so mad, I found myself rolling my eyes and wondering what was wrong with her and her posse of friends. I finally turned back to look at her and there she was, in her navy blue top, black pants and oversized sun glasses. Well, her Ghana weaving is fine sha…I thought to myself. The NYSC officials deigned to attend to us and they started assigning rooms, and as the queue moved along and I noticed the random pattern of the assignment, I prayed fervently that she would not be in my room. I didn’t come to camp to make friends biko, and I honestly didn’t want to deal with her. I just wanted the compulsory three weeks to fly by so I could resume my job at the bank.

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The queue got crazy and I lost sight of her so I concentrated on looking for my room, the epic room 11 and I found it. I walked in and found my bunk, and as I was trying to focus on something else to drown out the voice of my bunk mate who was already talking my ear off, I saw her! Ahhhh why me? I thought to myself. I was determined to stay out of her way and mind my own business and besides I was trying to wrap my mind around how filthy the hostel was and how I was going to survive for three whole weeks here. That night, my red bucket, my bottle of dettol, my soap dish, my sponge and my towel mysteriously disappeared when I left the bathroom line briefly to charge my phone. I had to buy a whole new bathing paraphernalia the next day and I didn’t find it funny!

I managed to avoid Ms. Thing and her crew until one fateful morning on the parade ground. It must have been around 8am and as we stood waiting for the soldiers to tell us what to do, this girl walked by, fully made up! Powder, concealer, foundation, eye shadow, red lipstick, and false lashes to boot. I couldn’t comprehend why anyone in their right mind would wear all that make up for morning exercise. I looked around to see if I was the only one that found this situation amusing when my eyes met with hers and we simultaneously burst into laughter and we laughed till we almost cried. I walked up to her platoon and she said Hi, my name is Tosin and that was it! PS: we nicknamed the girl makeup chick and for the life of me I never knew her real name. From that moment, I forgot that I didn’t like her before and we spent almost every waking moment together in camp and frankly she made my camp experience bearable. I met some of the most amazing human beings I have ever known in that camp: Yemisi, Cee, Mide, Dr. Efosa, Jesse, Yetty, Tosin(boy), Cheekway, Skar and most importantly Ajay! These people were literally the best thing that happened to me, and they made my birthday celebration in camp the best one I have had till date! Thanks guys…

Tosin and I have been through so much together and sometimes when I think about I her I honestly can’t imagine my life without her and it occurs to me how I would have missed out on knowing such an amazing soul, so this is a heartfelt shout out to make up chick! My sisto is beautiful, smart, kind, a talented singer and event planner, and she makes my life brighter with her presence, I am super grateful for her and to my camp crew who I am still friends with till date, love you guys!

When I think about it, some of my closest friends were met in unexpected places, I met my loving friend Kemi on a BRT bus from Lekki, I met Sheila at Lekki bustop, My darling friend Emmanuel I met on the bus as well, and how can I forget Achalugo and Mfon whom I met from blogging? they have all been so good to me and it never ceases to amaze me how we just meet random people and they come into your life and just stay. I am truly blessed, and I hope this post made you smile, reach out to your friends today and tell them how grateful you are to have them in your life, I am deeply grateful for mine…

 “There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met.” –William Butler Yeats