insecurities, lifestyle

My Biggest Insecurity

This post is long overdue!

My biggest insecurity is my hair and if I wasn’t so insecure about it, you would have read this post a long time ago.

In primary school I was a star student and by star student, I mean I aced all my tests and exams without even trying. My parents never paid for extra lessons and I had exactly the textbooks I needed, nothing more; still, I managed to come top of my class year after year. I soon became popular as one of the top students of the school and naturally teachers paid a little more interest in me. As a result of this interest, one unremarkable day, after handing out our test scripts on which I had scored the highest mark, the class teacher had said to me in front of the classroom

“God made up for your looks by giving you that brain”.

I was 7 years old.

I like to say that I grew up a normal child because it seems like the reasonable thing to say. I like to assume that everyone has had their insecurity and challenges throughout their lives that they’ve constantly had to deal with. Therefore, I grew up a normal child and I had my fare share of challenges.

Since I could identity myself in the mirror, I’ve been painfully aware of the fact that my hair didn’t look like everybody else’s. Most parts of my head bore normal healthy hair, but the front….. is bald in a really really weird way. It’s like someone took my head and carved out another hair line behind my original line such that when you look at my hair, all you see is a distinct hairless line across the front that shines. So there’s a little hair, a bald line, then lots of hair. You’re probably making a face. It’s fine. I make faces at my hair too.

When I got to junior secondary school, “What happened to your front hair?” became the most common statement people made to me. They couldn’t understand why a young girl would have the hair of an old woman and I don’t blame them. I didn’t understand it either. As was becoming the norm, I became popular in this new school. Partially because I was known as the intelligent student who read the news at the assembly every monday and partially because I was friends with the most beautiful girl in the school; Isabel. Isabel and I were both in the dance club and partook in all choreographies (is this a word?) together. The senior boys all fought to date her and her flow of love letters was unending. As you can guess, I was the ugly best friend. Don’t get me wrong, I owned that position with my chest. I gave her advice on boys and sometimes helped with school work. Everything was dandy. Until one day, when a classmate whom I’d never really spoken to, came to tell me that another classmate (a girl) had said to him about me

“Why is she friends with Isabel? Does she not know that Isabel is beautiful? With her hair that looks like rat ate it”

I was 11 years old.

For the first time in my life, I cried myself to a headache. Getting paracetamol from the sick bay was extremely embarrassing because when the nurse asked why I’d been crying, I broke down into a fresh stream of tears.

Perhaps the weirdest part of my “partially bald” hair story is that I come from a good hair family. My mother used to come visit me when I was in boarding house and she was known as the lady with the golden hair. Yes. Her hair was literally golden. My sister cuts her hair whenever she pleases because in a few months,it always grows back into a full head of hair. Even my brothers and father walk around sporting full heads of hair and matching beard. So what went wrong?

After Junior secondary school, I transferred to a boarding house and I was getting used to the stares and questions. I told people the truth; which was that nothing happened to my hair. I was born normal and started to grow abnormal hair. I don’t even know what my face would look like with a full head of hair because I’ve never had one. My answers satisfied them and they got used to me. Soon enough, I gained popularity for winning essay competitions and leading my school to the debate championship in Abuja; just like that, I became the headgirl. The most self-conscious, insecure, reserved girl suddenly became in charge of controlling other students! It was hilarious! On an unrelated note, the school re-branded all its uniforms and we went from wearing normal berets to wearing a sailors cap (the kind that runs from the front of your head to the back). I sucked at everything “head-girly” and the juniors were never eager to follow my orders because let’s be real, I was scared of them! One Saturday, the school called me to be present at the commissioning of the new computer library and while we waited for the representative from the ministry, Mrs Akin, the house mistress of “ogun house” adjusted my sailors cap and said

“Our special head girl. We had to make a special cap for everyone just to cover your front hair”

I was 15 years old.

I got to the university and something weird happened. I began to see myself as beautiful and so did everyone else. It was the strangest thing ever. I looked into the mirror one day and said “wow! I’m beautiful”. I didn’t know what to blame it on. Puberty? Hormones? My curves? My beautiful teeth? My smile? My walk? I don’t know! And I still don’t know what changed. I was still insecure about my hair and immediately I removed a weave, I installed another one immediately in the salon. People rarely ever saw me with my natural hair. Many people haven’t.

One day, I was sitting in my friends room reading a novel and I overheard her roommate say to her “Igbo girls aren’t really beautiful”. Naturally I became defensive and said “Don’t say that. Igbo girls are extremely beautiful”. She looked at me and said

“But you’re igbo and you aren’t beautiful”

I was 17 years old.

I finally got the courage to tell you about my insecurity today because I just loosened a 2- week old braid and my scalp suffered severe damages. It cut, sorry, uprooted my damaged hair even more and when I looked in the mirror at that glowing line of baldness, I cried a little.

I didn’t know where to begin and I must admit I haven’t told you half the stuff on my mind tonight because I’m a bit disoriented . Would you understand if I told you I don’t go to hairdressers because I’m tired of getting advice on products that I’ve already used? Would you understand if I told you that my mother used to always ask me kindly, if I was cutting my hair myself with a blade because it was always looking worse? Would you understand if I told you that I’ve always been told to make “special hairstyles” that could “cover up my front hair”? Would you understand if I told you that I am the most confident woman I know until I take off my wig? Would you understand why something as fickle as hair could bother me so?

I’m 20 years old.

and still insecure ….

What’s your biggest insecurity? Please leave a comment!

xoxo

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Environment, lifestyle

3 Realistic Eco-friendly Lifestyle You Should Adopt 

I promise I won’t ask you to be vegetarian!! 

To be honest, I can’t look you straight in the eye and claim that I care about the environment.

Let me explain.

I don’t know how high the sea levels are rising or how much depletion of the ozone layer is occurring neither do I know about the sea animals that are going extinct. It’s hard to care about things you don’t know about. 

I can however, look you straight in the eye and say that I care about myself. 

Let me explain.

I have stopped pretending that the environment and I are mutually exclusive. Without the environment, there would be no me. So I may not care that the sea animals are dying but I care that one day, I’ll order fried fish at a restaurant and they’ll say 

“Sorry, the world has run out of fish”. 

And I’ll freak the fuck out! (because I like fried fish) 

The internet has a ton of ideas on how you can live an eco friendly lifestyle but I find a lot of them rather impossible to live up to. However,there are 3 little changes that I’ve adopted /plan to adopt to help save the environment and I think you should adopt them too. 

1. Stop Using Straws. 

Funny story

I was on the judging panel for a debate competition and we were served with bottled soda which came with straws. I reached out for the straw and began placing it inside my soda but changed my mind half way and dropped it back on the table. The young man beside me asked

“Why did you do that?”

I said “We use straws for less than 10 minutes and they take 200 years to degrade”. 

He laughed and said “Anastasia, regardless of whether or not you use that straw, the world is still coming to an end”. 

With that, he picked his straw, placed it in his bottle and took a long satisfying sip.  I felt like an underperforming clown. 

For the longest time, I never took soda without a straw because I was trying to protect my beautiful teeth. But I came across articles that detailed the damage this tiny plastic object could cause and I chose the environment over my teeth. But everytime I’ve had to explain to anyone why I don’t use straws, I end up feeling foolish because they hit me with the “one straw doesn’t change anything” narrative. I’m hoping you would be diferent. 

Straws are made from plastic. They are non biodegradable which means they never be broken down completely by microorganisms. They are however degradable, which means that they break down into really tiny particles; but this process takes at least 200 years. Straws are too fragile to be recycled and because they are light weight, they are most often blown into water bodies constituting about 13% of all waste recovered from the ocean. They end up releasing toxins into the water which could cause pollution (which could kill me)  and also choke water animals(remember the fish story?)

No one is emotionally attached to straws. It’s a luxury,  not a necessity so believe me when I say it’s easy to give up. Of course,  persons living with disabilities and person’s who are sick would need a straw. But do you,a strong healthy adult, really need a straw to take a bottle of coke? Do you? 

2. Re-use Plastic bags. 

Weird story. 

I made a draft for this blog post on Saturday and while I jotted down this point in my notebook, I made a mental promise to challenge myself. I told myself that I was going to take an old nylon or a tote bag when I go to get groceries at the store later that night. 

Spoiler alert 

I didn’t. 

I came back with 3 fresh nylons holding my groceries. I later realized that I forgot to buy a pack of spaghetti at the store and I was grateful for another opportunity to prove my worth to the universe. I made up my mind to take a nylon along with me when I go to the shop in my hostel to buy the spaghetti. 

Spoiler alert 

I didn’t! 

Point is, it’s hard and I’m painfully aware of this! 

Almost everyone I know has more nylon than they need(Usually all stashed in one big nylon),  yet we keep collecting more. 
Nylon has the same effect as straw on the water bodies . Unlike straws however, it is recyclable but this is Nigeria! So instead of using millions and millions of nylons everyday that bring us closer to running out of fish, we could ‘simply’ re-use old nylons. So help me God! 

3. Turn off the lights! 

And the fan! And the sockets! And the air conditioner! Turn off your electric appliances when they’re not in use. First of all, it makes your electric bill lighter, you’re welcome.

Secondly, Reducing the amount of electricity we consume consequently reduces the amount of electricity generated for our use and this reduces the fossil fuels that are combusted to produce electricity! It’s a short boring process you can read about here. But the summary is that, turning off your electrical appliances helps reduce air and land pollution. 

This is a challenge I recently took upon myself and trust me, turning off your bulb when you sleep or leave the room isn’t as hard as you might. Matter of fact,  it isn’t hard at all! Just do it! 

Just incase you want to hit me with the “One straw or light bulb doesn’t make a difference” narrative, I want to casually remind you of the butterfly effect that explains that big changes in the world especially the climate can be influenced by things as little as the flapping of a butterfly’s wings. 

First it’s just one straw less,  then it’s 10 straws less,  then it’s millions of straws less and then we never run out of fish! I think I’ve exceeded the number of times I’m allowed to say fish. Said it again! Sorry! 

Practice these 3 lifestyles for the environment. 

Or don’t. 

Practice them for you! 

So we can continue to breathe clean air,  eat freshly grown crops and order fried fish. Sorry! 

Byeeeeeeeee

Xoxo. 

Blogging, Life, Life lessons, lifestyle

Articles I Never Posted…. Until Now

Let me be real with you. Sometimes, I doubt myself! 

Even at things that I’m clearly good at such as writing and farting; sometimes I still think to myself “you’re doing this wrong”. 

Over the past few months, I’ve been doing a lot of writing but have been too scared to complete or post them. They usually start out as a brilliant topic with a captivating story but somewhere along the way,  I convince myself that the piece is not good enough to go live so I abandon them like grains at the bottom of a cereal box. 

Today I’m holding nothing back. 

First, I tried to tell you about Prisca 

In junior secondary school, I had a friend named Prisca. Prisca was older than the average JSS3 student. She was short, plump and liked to sag her school skirt because it made her butt shake. She liked me and that made me feel good because getting friends as an oily skinned, homely child with bad hair was tough. Prisca got temporary tattoos on her thighs every week and told me “they help me make money”. I never asked how. She owned a smart phone which contained porn and repeatedly told me to stop being so bookish. She was the one friend that my parents could never know I had. After junior secondary school,my family moved across the state so I had to change school and the only way to keep in touch was via phone calls and ‘facebook’. I loved this girl and the food she got me every break time for 2 years,  but when she handed me that piece of paper bearing her phone number while saying ‘call me as soon as you get a phone,  I knew that would be the last of her pimpled face and chirpy voice that I’d see or hear.

Then I tried to tell you about my fascination with groundnut 

When I was ten years old,  my elder brother convinced me that groundnut was made by roasting beans on medium heat. I was doubtful but he laid a strong argument by telling me that you could divide a bean seed into two equal halves just as you could divide a groundnut. He further explained that the brown things that the women roasted in the streets looked exactly like bean seeds, so it had to be the same thing. We set out to prepare this delicacy for ourselves and on a day when all the adults in the house were not around, we snuck into the kitchen and took out the frying pan. Then we grabbed handfuls of beans and tossed it in the pan which we placed on the stove. Seconds turned to minutes and the bean seeds turned to black seeds. Still no groundnut. Forget the Great Wall of China, this was the biggest wonder of the world to me. Why didn’t the beans turn to groundnuts? What did we do wrong? Was it because we couldn’t get dry sand? Was that part of the ingredients? This occupied my mind for months and everytime I held a piece of groundnut I would  wonder how it came to be. About 6 months later, I eventually got the courage to ask the woman who sold groundnuts on my street how she made them and she explained to me that groundnut seeds were completely different from bean seeds even though they had the same colour. It finally made sense!

Finally, I tried to answer a very important question “Is The World Getting Better?”

 I recently watched a speech given by Trevor Noah, who is also my best friend(Ha ha!! I’m kidding! Or am I?). The topic he spoke on was the question “is the world getting better?” He said that although majority of the people in the world believed that the world was getting worse, he believed that the world was getting better because we have access to information that make us think the world is getting worse. Confusing huh? Let me explain. We see horrible things in the news; deaths, poverty,  insecurity, terrorism and so on. These information make us believe that the world is getting worse but Trevor insists that having access to such information is proof that we world is getting better because the world has always been bad but now, at least we know it. 

I was so intrigued by his perspective that I decided to dig a little bit into the world statistics. I was extremely shocked to read that based on the figures, the world was actually becoming a better place! Poverty was reducing, healthcare was improving and majority of the world population had better access to education. So why did a lot of people believe that the world was going down the drain? I guess the media! For reporting mostly bad news… But isn’t that their job? To report bad things so we could avoid them in the future? Or maybe we’re to blame! For feeding off negative news and forming opinions based on them! I was so confused. 

So I took my confusion to a wise friend and she changed the entire narrative. She said “The world isn’t getting better because soon enough we won’t have a world to live in”. She opined that although the world was doing better at stuff like education, technology, poverty and so on,  we were constantly destroying our planet with things like; deforestation, poaching, non-renewable energy and non-biodegradable materials. I had to agree with her. 

I still live with my confusion. Is the world getting better? On one hand it is. On this other hand it’s not. Truthfully, I don’t know the answer to the question.

While creating a wordpress profile, I described myself with these words

I want to make the world a better place, one blog post at a time. 

Writing about Prisca, Groundnut or Trevor Noah and not publishing those posts defeats my goal. So even though, I’m not proud of incomplete stories and inconclusive arguments, I posted these today so that I could at least say I tried. Reading this post(or collection of posts) may or may not make you have a better day,  it may not contribute to world peace or gender equality but it has made me a better and happier person. Thanks for watching me try! Byeeeeeeeeee

Xoxo. 

Life, Life lessons, lifestyle, Uncategorized

Building Legos 

In the rare moment that I wasn’t looking for inspiration, inspiration found me. 

Sometimes, I don’t get enough air. And on the evening of new year’s eve,  I wasn’t getting enough air. So I stepped out of my house and found an abandoned table in the compound to perch on. The evening breeze was cool and a welcome relief from the hellish heat inside. To avoid looking idle, I brought out my phone and began watching stand up comedy videos of Trevor Noah. Soon, I was lost in his funny jokes and smart dimples. 

I was so busy laughing that I didn’t notice when a group of children gathered untop  another table next to mine. Something lightly scratched my arm and I paused my video to take a look. Then I saw them. 

There were 3 children and they appeared to be around 7 years old. The 4th was a teenager of about 14 who looked completely uninterested in their affairs but stayed with them as if to prevent them from hurting themselves. They had a bag of legos beside them and they appeared to be building something. 

One untop of another, untop of another. That’s how you do it. 

I smiled at them. 

They looked at me,  the way a person would look at a stone. 

I said hi

They kept on building 

I soon lost interest in their affairs and continued my rendezvous with Trevor. 10 minutes later, after Trevor had bowed off the stage, I unplugged my earphones and turned to give the children my full attention. 

Little drops of water make a mighty ocean. Or does it? 

They had built about 5 blocks of something. I say something because I have no idea what it was. It looked pretty cool, like an amateur architectural design. I picked up one block and took a picture, admiring the blend of colors. 

In 10 minutes, they had used up all their legos and formed about 8 pieces of the block pictured above. Now, they were just staring. I stared too. Not at them but at their pieces. I reached out to take yet another picture but one of them got really protective and snatched the block from me. 

Understanding that I had overstayed my welcome, I stood up to leave.

It was the best lesson I could take into the new year and if you haven’t figured out the lesson yet,  here it is. 

It’s not always about making a mighty ocean. Small pools of water can be just as beautiful

 

Very often,  we fall into the temptation of assuming that our lives should always lead up to one masterpiece. For example, a person’s masterpiece could be to be a doctor and live in a beautiful home with a wife and 3 children. This is a beautiful dream and there’s nothing wrong with working hard towards achieving this dream. But before building up that masterpiece, how about other pieces that could be just as beautiful… For example, learning skills such as learning to play the piano,  starting a small business, joining a charity etcetera. 

Every child wants to build a masterpiece. Even at the beach, they attempt to build the most beautiful sand castle anyone has ever seen. They attempt to build Legos into monsters or cars so they can squeal in sheer delight and show off to their friends. But let’s face it, masterpieces don’t happen overnight and you can’t have a masterpiece without a piece. 

I’m almost done studying my dream course which is physiotherapy and ideally my masterpiece involves being a world class physiotherapist. I get a lot of advice saying “just focus on your school work so you can graduate and start earning good money” but I refuse to take that advice. I refuse to just remain “focused on my masterpiece” and here’s why

1. Our masterpiece most times won’t provide us with all the knowledge and experience we wish to posess.

At the age of 14, I joined my secondary school debate club and started mastering the art of public speaking. It was a great experience and led me to become the best speaker at the national debate competition for all secondary schools held in Abuja. By 16, I gained admission into the University of Ibadan and joined the literary and debating society;  it’s been an intense journey where I’m still learning about the art of public speaking, conversations, interviews etcetera. Here’s one thing you should know; Physiotherapy would have never taught me that. 

2. “Other pieces”, sometimes help us realize what we really want out of life. 

Lily Singh is an Indian Canadian YouTube star. She studied psychology in the University and in her final year, she uploaded a video on YouTube to “try things out”. She eventually realized that that was what she wanted to do with her life. Fast forward to today,  she was named the highest paid Youtuber by Vogue magazine in 2016, currently has over 13 million subscribers on YouTube and is a UNICEF global ambassador. Point taken. 

3. Building “other pieces” build character that would be useful in handling our masterpiece. 

I don’t know how to explain this. But taking a cue from the little children,  if you can’t build a small block of Legos, there’s no way you can build a giant block. 

I recently started learning the Italian language and by recently I mean two years ago.. Its another “piece” that seems far off the physiotherapy profession but imagine there’s a ground breaking physiotherapy skill that is being developed and the only place to learn it is in the faraway country of Italy…. Far stretch? Okay. 

I passed by the table on my way out on the 2nd of January, 2019 and the little children were back at the table. This time they had broken down their little blocks. 

Sometimes our pieces fail and that’s okay

Once upon a time, I bought a sewing machine and was convinced I was going to be a successful tailor. I was wrong and that’s okay. 

They appeared to be building bigger blocks with the Legos. I couldn’t wait to see how it would turn out but I knew that whatever they built would be worth their time. 

As I passed by, I smiled at them.

They smiled back.

Xoxo. 

Health, Life, Life lessons, lifestyle, Uncategorized, yoga

Everyone Has Nice Teeth

First of all… 

Okay now that I’ve shamelessly showed off my teeth, let’s talk! 

The first time I ever got a teeth compliment was in secondary school. My friend Sarah and I were walking back to class during lunch break, hands filled with the snacks we were set to devour. Out of the blues, she turned to me and said “When you smile,  you bare your whole teeth and they’re so beautiful!”

Before that incident, I had never paid much attention to my teeth. I performed the required responsibility of washing them at least once a day but that was all. After the incident, my teeth story took a different turn and I began to pay more attention to my pearly whites. I stood in front of the mirror more often because I realized that I really did have beautiful teeth, sometimes I cleaned my teeth with lime and baking soda(never heard of this? Crawl out of that rock please!), I began to use “whitening” toothpastes and at some point I never took soda without a straw because I didn’t want to stain my teeth. 

I grew older and got to the University and my teeth /smile/ laughter became a conversation piece. It was often times the first thing strangers noticed about me and we usually picked up the conversation from there. I became so confident knowing that I could be arrested for a crime and after an hour -long court session, the judge would say

“Look you’re a very bad person and you’re guilty of this crime but you have really nice teeth so I’ll let you off this time!”

Everyone has nice teeth! 

Maybe not teeth, but everyone has that one thing about their physical appearance that they are extremely confident about. It could be legs, abs, beards, skin, dimples ;any physical attribute. We all have it and we never get tired of hearing these compliments such that we are prepared to go out of our way (like I do with my teeth) to make this attribute even better. 

But then I realized very recently that this does not just apply to only physical attributes! I’ll explain 

I’ve been writing since junior secondary school. I started with poems scribbled down in my jotter. Then in senior secondary school, I mastered the art of writing essays and acquired a ton of accolades for it. I entered the University and I began to write speeches and deliver them… Still fueled by my accolades and compliments, I took it all a step further and started this blog in 2018 to share this creative skill with you.

Writing to me is like a set of beautiful teeth. Everyone compliments it and I will go to great lengths to improve it. 

What is your set of beautiful teeth? 

Everyone has a skill. Or is called Talent? Or Gift? Whatever you call it! And like Joel Osteen said, its not about having a big skill but about improving your skill. Maybe if we focused on that one little  thing we’re so sure we’re good at, it’d be easier to make decisions and plans for the future. 

Perhaps you’re getting the feeling that writing is the only thing I do apart from my everyday school routine but you’re wrong. There’s public speaking, yoga, modelling, MCing and at some point I even owned a sewing machine. But it’s easier to make decisions and set priorities because I’ve identified my beautiful teeth. And even though I still engage in these other activities, they eventually revolve around writing.

I’m in no position to give you advice. I’m neither rich nor famous, not even a published writer. It’s 4 am and my head hurts and I still have to be up by 8am but before I go to bed I really wanted to tell you to find your beautiful teeth and never stop polishing them. 

Maybe it’s because despite the craziness of my life, whenever I write a blog post and hit the “publish” button,  I feel happy. Maybe happiness comes with a side effect of ‘posts like this’. Maybe. But I want you to be happy too. 

Find your beautiful teeth. And polish the fuck out of them! 

Xoxo

Life, lifestyle

4 Simple Steps To Becoming More Productive. 

I’m writing this from my heart because for a long time,  I struggled with unproductivity.

It happens to everybody. You start out your day with a mental note to accomplish a couple of things and at the end of the day,  you realize the only thing you’ve accomplished is getting through the day( which is not a bad thing, but sometimes,  work needs to be done). 

I have compiled a short list of four incredibly simple tips that have helped me become more productive /less unproductive. They may not all suit you and that’s okay, but regardless, they’re all worth a shot. 

1. Have a good night sleep. 

It’s no rocket science. If you don’t sleep well, you’re going to feel drowsy, tired and even act grumpy throughout the next day. The problem with not getting enough sleep is that you spend all your free time trying to ‘rest’or ‘take a nap’ to recover from the previous night’s sleeplessness that there is no time left for anything else. In the event that you do take a nap, you tend to over sleep and lose important day hours because of this. Getting a goodnight sleep is the first step to having a productive day and the national sleep foundation recommends 7-9  hours of sleep everyday. 

2. Clear your space. 

I’m gonna sweep the dirts away

Wosh wosh wosh 

Excerpt from a nursery rhyme my mother taught me  

Only recently, I discovered that I accomplished more if my room was well organized. In fact, science says that the state of your room reflects your mental health. Therefore a scattered room represents a frantic mind while an organized room represents a calm and healthy mind. When I clear my room, first I feel like a superhero. I stand in the middle of the room for a few minutes and just admire the work that I’ve done because there, in that moment, I feel like I can take on whatever challenges life throws at me( I know I seem like an exaggerating flamingo but if you ever saw my room in its disorganized state, you would understand that arranging it is equivalent to saving the world).  Secondly, an arranged room does not allow for those tiny irritating distractions like a bug or a leaking Satchet of water.  Clear your space and this includes your room, your office, your bag,  your desk and watch yourself become more productive.

3. Set Daily Goals. 

Also known as To do lists. Also known as my favorite! I’m a sicker for to- do lists and I’m always making them. I write about it, I brag about it, I even tweet about it. A to -do list is like an annoying alarm that just won’t go off, but you know the best part about said alarm clock? It wakes you up! And that is the plan! To-do lists are a constant reminders of what you ought to achieve by the end of that day and even though it never goes off and keeps staring at you from the pages of your journal or wherever you write it,  it keeps you on your feet and that’s the plan! I recommend writing these tasks somewhere you’ll always have access to like a desk jotter or your journal. Sometimes I write them on my whatsapp status (excluding personal tasks) because I need the pressure of being held accountable. Different strokes for different folks. 

  A to-do list is dynamic. While setting daily goals, you must understand that there will be other goals you may have to achieve during the course of that day but were not included in your list at the beginning of the day. For example,  if you’re a doctor and your goals for the day included 

1. Go to work

2. Have meeting with Mr A

 3. Cook dinner 

4. Order new shoes

and by noon,  your boss asks you to read up on colonoscopy  and present this information to him the next day, you do it. First because you want to keep your job and second because it becomes a new item on your list! 

Here’s a picture of what my to do list for a day looks like. 

4. Reward yourself. 

The best part. I’ve come to understand that humans are motivated by the reward system. For example, we go to school so that we can be rewarded with a good job and good money in the future. We make relationships so we can be rewarded with love and companionship. We obey the law so that we can be rewarded with freedom and peace. We accomplish our goals so that we can be rewarded with satisfaction. That’s how it works. Actions beget rewards and rewards beget more actions. 

 But apart from the natural reward system, I encourage you to start your own reward foundation where you’re the sole benefactor and benefactee (I promise to research if this is an actual word). You don’t have to achieve every item on your list to reward yourself, you just have to achieve something. For example, on the day before I typed this post, this is what my to-do list looked like
1. Practice Yoga 

2. Complete registration 

3. Finish blog post 

4. Read novel 

5. Make playlist 

6 Go to class

By noon,  I had managed to go to class and complete the registration (which had been proving very difficult in the past). It didn’t matter that I had ticked only 2 out of 6 items on my list, I was overjoyed and rewarded myself with 5 episodes of Boston Legal and coconut chips( maybe too much but you get the point). 

Productivity is underrated. I believe in getting things done and making every moment count. Do you? How do you manage to stay productive? Was my list helpful? Let me know in the comment box below. 

Xoxo. 

Life, Life lessons, lifestyle, psychology

Uncertainties and Disappointments 

Uncertainty is one of the most important things that feature in our lives and as much as we try to, we never get used to it. 

How do you get used to the fact that this could be my last blog post ever? Or how do you get used to the fact that the person you call the love of your life today could be a complete stranger tomorrow? Or that a person seemingly sane could become an inmate of a mental institute? We never get used to it. 

I was about 9 years old when I learned about uncertainties and disappointments.  I had just had some issues applying for a federal college and as a result, I had to wait for a few months before I could gain admission into any school. During this period,  I spent most of my days home alone. All my siblings were away in school and I was left with my mum and dad.  They both left the house for work as early as 5am in the morning and didn’t get back till the night time. 

My routine was simple. I would wake when they were leaving and start reading any book I could lay my hands on. When the day broke, I made breakfast for myself and continued reading. I only took breaks from my books to use the toilet and fix a meal for myself. When it was 6pm, I would tidy the house and wait for my mum to arrive. She was usually the first to arrive and always came back between  7pm and 7.15 pm. 

Days turned to weeks and my mum stuck to this pattern. Everyday, once the clock struck 7pm, I would listen patiently for her footsteps on the stairs and surely before the clock struck 7.15pm, she would be knocking on the door. It was our little ritual and I absolutely loved it.

Then the day came. A normal Monday evening. It was 7pm and I was waiting for my lover’s footsteps like every other day but this time, I didn’t hear them. The clock struck 7.16 and I was already hyperventilating. It was getting dark and my fear of darkness was not helping. By 8pm, I was frantic with tears blinding and choking me. I imagined all things terrible that could have happened to her and wondered what would become of us.. Of me.. 
By 8.30pm, my mother knocked on the door in her usual cheerful self. She took one look at my face and frantically asked me what the problem was. After I managed to narrate my fear to her without sounding stupid,  she laughed sweetly and said “I’m sorry, I went to see your aunt and she wouldn’t stop talking. That’s why I’m home late” . 

Okay. Good thing is, she was safe. My fears were allayed. Bad thing is, I was sad and hurt and disappointed. Don’t ask me for a justification for my disappointment because my 9 year old self was not bothered about being reasonable but was merely dissapointed that my mum had broken our little ritual. 

It should have hit me at that point. But it didn’t. I was still convinced that if we take every tiny detail into consideration or that if we can find the pattern, we can, to an extent, predict the events of our life. For example, considering the fact that I was a star student throughout primary school and junior secondary school, I didn’t expect to be anything less than 3rd position in my first term in senior secondary school. I ‘expected’ that with my natural intelligence, coupled with reading and extra lessons, I would emerge top of my class. So when my results came at the end of the term with 5th position boldly written on it,  once again,  I was dissapointed. Dissapointed in myself and in my “intelligence”.

It should have hit me at this point. But still, it didn’t. I still believed that to an extent, life and the people in it were predictable. At least the sun rose every morning and set every evening. That should count for something. So I went about my daily life, constantly expecting. If I prepared hard for a competition, I expected to win. If I showed respect to someone, I expected respect in return. If I loved a person, I expected love in return. If I ate well and exercised daily,  I expected to be healthy. Expectations. Expectations. Expectations. 

Then on an uneventful evening, a person casually said to me. That if I lowered my expectations of life and people,i was bound to get less dissapointed. At that moment, it sounded like a good punchline so I tweeted it without thinking about it. 

And today. At this moment. I’m thinking about it. I’m sitting down in a crowded bank and the woman beside me smells like raw fish. My friend is on a long queue and I’m trying my best to breathe while holding my breath. At this moment, I’m thinking about it….

That the reason why it’s important to lower your expectations of life and people is because of uncertainties. The fact that you never truly know what could happen the next second is the reason why you shouldn’t have any expectations. It’s not about assuming the worst of every situation. It’s about not assuming at all. 

If I hadn’t expected my mum to stick to our ritual, I would not have been dissapointed. if I didn’t expect to automatically come top of my class, I wouldn’t have been disappointed. and so on and so forth. So on the surface it seems like a simple math formular. 

Expectations = Disappointment  when Uncertainty is constant. 

But here’s the plot twist; the fish smell has been replaced by the cologne of a young handsome man but unfortunately, my friend is done at the counter so I’m leaving the bank now. Now here’s the plot question… 

Is it humanly possible to have zero expectations? 

Isn’t there at least a minimum level of character you expect from friends and family? Don’t you expect your life to turn out a certain way? Here’s a sentence… 

I’m expecting a visitor by noon

If I lived a life of zero expectations, what would that sentence become? 

???????????

Do you see how hard this shit is? 

If the said visitor doesn’t show up, I’m going to be unavoidably dissapointed because let’s face it, I really was ‘expecting’ that human to show up

So in the comfort of my bed,  I’ve spent the past few hours surfing the internet and trying to figure out how a person can have zero expectations. How I can train my mind into understanding that no-one, not even life, owes me anything and how I can live my life with less expectations and less disappointments.

There is no ‘how’

After drowning myself in millions of articles, I’ve realized that there is no “how?”. You either have expectations or you don’t. 

It’s like a person asking “How do I smile?”. You either smile or you don’t smile. There’s no “how?”.

Perhaps we should try this principle at the crack of dawn today. There’s no asking “how do I have zero expectations?”. Wake up and have zero expectations and we’ll see if it’s possible and best of all, effective. 

Did I end this post too abruptly? Do you feel dissapointed? Remember what we just talked about?

PS. This is not my last blog post ❤ I love you too much to stop. 
PS: Happy world children’s day 

PS(i swear this is the last one): please drop a comment below and follow me on all social media @prettydiferent 

Xoxo

Life, Life lessons, lifestyle, Uncategorized

A Short Post About The Butterfly Effect  

I stood in the examination room of the surgical outpatient section of the University College hospital, Ibadan, shifting my weight from one foot to another while trying to focus on what the consultant was saying. I was very interested in the patient’s condition as it involved a damage to the spinal cord but at the same time I was also thinking of my next meal. 

“Ma’am I need you to lie on the plinth”

The deep sonorous voice of the consultant jolted me back from spaghetti land. He wanted to properly examine the sensory abilities of the patient and instructed her to lie on the bed-like platform called a plinth. All the students, including myself,  turned towards the plinth and struggled to get a good position to view the process. However the consultant noticed that the plinth was bare with no linen covering it and got furious.

In a bit to salvage the situation and noticing that there was a sheet hanging over the edge of the plinth, I reached out with my bare hands to lift this. 

“No that has been used. Put it down and call the nurse to bring a fresh linen” The consultant retorted. 

I dropped it immediately, not thinking twice and waited for the nurse. 

15 minutes later, the nurse walked in, bringing along a fresh set of bed coverings and made an entire ceremony of laying it smoother than a hotel bed. When she was done, she paused to admire her work and looked around her. 

She caught sight of the used bed sheet and to my horrified eyes, reached inside her pockets,  withdrew a pair of gloves, wore them and picked up the sheets. 

It was at this moment I knew I had fucked up. 

Okay. Take a deep breadth. You can handle this situation. All you have to do is wash your hands and everything will be okay. 

Then it hit me. In 15 minutes,  I’d brushed my hair from my face. I’d rubbed my nose. I’d pressed my phone, written down in my jotter and even tapped my colleague on the shoulder. 

I began to imagine the worst. I imagined the worst possible microorganisms that could have been present on the linen. I tried to recollect the nurse’s body language while she picked it up….. Did she wear the gloves out of caution or did she seem certain of a spill?.. Did the sheets appear wet? 

After washing my hands, I began to pray. No not pray. I began to torture myself with possible complications that could arise from touching the spill of a patient. 

 I imagined that this exposure would lead me to develop a terminal illness that would eventually lead to my death. That I would lay on my death bed and wish I hadn’t touched the sheets. Not likely,  but tell that to my brain. 

Half an hour later,  I was fine. Well not completely, but at least I didn’t think I was gonna die. I had reassured myself that it was merely hospital protocols and washing my hands would correct all the damage. 

I remembered that a while ago I had read about something called the butterfly effect. 

This effect explains that major events in the world (especially concerning the weather) could be caused by something as little as the flap of butterfly wings. Maybe not directly….. But a sequel of events.. For example

The flap of a butterfly’s wings will cause a car driver to get distracted and result in a road traffic accident. 

Okay let’s try something more complicated. 

In the movie, big little lies. Madeline sprained her ankle. Jane rushed to help her and they instantly became friends. Madeline introduced Jane to her best friend Celeste. Turns out their kids all go to the same school. Jane’s son is accused of hurting a girl at school, causing Madeline to defend her against the girls mother. Turns out it’s really Celeste’s son that was the bully and Celeste’s abusive husband is the man who raped Jane many years ago and is the father of her son. Celeste’s husband realizes there’s no escape for him and attempts to kill his wife, he is pushed down the stairs by Madeline’s ex husband’s new wife. He dies. 

A man dies because Madeline sprained her ankle. 

Mind blowing. Literally. 

This implies that small activities in our lives eventually build up to major events that define us…. 

My knowledge of this has been both a blessing and a curse. 

It has been a blessing because I can factor in little things that I know adds up to my self development. For example, I know that in working out frequently, I contribute to my general well-being and reduce the risk of most diseases. I also know that in setting goals for myself everyday and attempting to accomplish them, I contribute to being more productive and successful. 

Like I said, a blessing. 

I recently suffered two major losses while doing one of the things I love the most; public speaking. At the end of both debates my mind began the self destructive process of wondering what little thing I’d done that led to the butterfly effect of failure. I traced my entire journey to the first time I heard the topic I was to debate on…. I asked myself… Was I distracted? Did I have little time to prepare for this? Was it because I used this word and not that word? Did I pick the wrong outfit? Did I smile too little. For every loss, I am somehow convinced that it didn’t just happen and I was an active reason why things didn’t work out well. 

Like I said,  a curse.  

Now the question remains “What do I do with my knowledge of the butterfly effect?”

Do I live my life,  taking each tiny event as they come, completely independent of other events? 
Do I live my life like a sequel, knowing that even the smallest events lead up to the biggest events? 

Or do I just publish this post hoping that you my lovely reader have an answer to my questions? 

How do you live your life? Would you tell me? 

PS: Apologies if I ruined a great movie for you❤❤

Don’t leave without dropping a comment and subscribing! 

Xoxo

Life, Life lessons, lifestyle

My First Experience Of Acting.

How does one go from designated chef to hall of fame actress? 

I have a friend named Tee. Over the years, our relationship has become such that if I ever needed to hide a dead body, his name tops the list of my emergency contacts.

So it was no surprise when he called me sometime last year and said “I need you to cook for a couple of people this weekend”. Turns out his brother was just starting out in the movie industry and was going to shoot a short Christian film somewhere on the outskirts of Ibadan. He needed me to cook for members of the crew on Friday night and the whole of Saturday. The offer came with an undisclosed pay and I had no problem with the arrangement as I had scheduled nothing else that weekend. 

So I donned a black blouse and some good old fashioned boot cut jeans. I packed an extra cream colored shirt, a cardigan and some toiletries in my cute brown tote bag and took a bike to our agreed location to meet the rest of the crew.

Perhaps it’s true that sometimes we dress the worst for our best moments and the best for our worst moments. 

The crew consisted of one make up artist called Cynthia, 3 photographers Tee included, Tee’s brother and a young man called Paul. 

We fit comfortably into two minivans and set off on an unusually far journey. Sitting there, in a minivan, in the middle of the night with a bunch of strangers made me realize how much trust I had in Tee. Or maybe I’m just reckless. 

Let it be known that while my mates attended late night parties and got drunk, I took weird field trips with strangers in the middle of the night . Same difference. 

By 10pm,  we got to a 3 bedroom flat in a painfully new area on the outskirts of Ibadan. By painfully new, I mean that all buildings including ours were freshly plastered and the iron gates still had a factory smell. I made spaghetti with smoked catfish that night and engaged in friendly conversations with the other two photographers who were also students. 

Cynthia and I got a room with a big bed,  the three photographers got another room,  while Tee’s brother and Paul got the masters bedroom. Paul requested that since we would be shooting a Christian movie, we should all endeavor to play only gospel music on the sound system. 

It’s easy to come out of your comfort zone. The difficulty comes in remaining outside that comfort. 

The sun rose and so did we. Paul and Tee’s brother left to get the ‘rest of the crew’ while I made fried plantains and eggs for breakfast. We messed around with the cameras and enjoyed the guilty pleasure of playing non gospel music on the sound system. 

Turns out the ‘rest of the crew’was a young short bald man with the confidence of an Oscar award recipient. There was a little boy too who was extremely restless. 

On second thought, children are always restless. I need to chill. 

The set up for the movie began and I disappeared into the kitchen to prepare jollof rice for lunch. 

Things happened really fast. 

Their voices were getting louder.

Footsteps. 

Tee appeared in the kitchen with a smile on his face. 

He looked like a lizard. 

“What’s happening? ” I asked. 

He said nothing but continued smiling. 

A smiling lizard. 

Paul appeared in the kitchen with a worried look on his face. 

He looked like a cockroach. 

“Have you ever acted before?” he asked. 

“No” I replied. 

A worried cockroach.

“We really need you to take up a role in this movie. It’s not a big deal,  just about 3 scenes. The lady who was supposed to take the part bailed on us”. He said maintaining a frightening eye contact with me. 

 I just wanted to cook. Is that too much to ask? 

 I said yes. Not because I wanted to become the next Genevieve but because at that moment; between the smiling lizard and the worried cockroach, I could feel how much it meant to them. 

It’s so difficult to please ourselves. Yet so easy to please others. 

I was to be the wife of the bald man and the mother of the young boy. We were to  happily married and reflect this happiness. But how does one fake chemistry with a stranger with zero appeal to me? He stood at least 4 inches beneath me and was way too bossy for anyone’s liking. The little boy was cute but didn’t exactly make my ovaries itch. And I know that I also didn’t make anyone feel like a husband or a son. It was a beautiful mess. I felt sorry for Paul. 

At some point,  we become like pawns on the chessboard of life. We live for a greater purpose that we neither know nor appreciate. But still, we live. 

The first scene showed a happy family at morning devotion. All I had to do was say “Amen”, hand my husband his briefcase and instruct my son to be a good boy. After about 100 takes, we had the shot. No big deal. 

The second scene was a robbery scene. The Armed robbers barged into the house, trailing my husband with toy guns and making away with many thousands of Naira. All I had to do was fake some tears and say “please don’t hurt us” or something like that. After about two hundred takes, we had the shot. No big deal. 

It was dark already and although Paul insisted that I stay the night so we could wrap up the final scene the following day, I refused. I had lost interest in acting and socializing and just wanted return to my life of solitude. I made Paul drive me home, well half way… and I promised to meet them the next day for the hospital scene. 

Spoiler alert,  the robbers had shot my son and he was rushed to the hospital. It was an ugly mess. I felt sorry for myself. 

I slept in my bed that night, not that it was any consolation. The next morning I was torn between continuing what I’d started and disappointing Paul. However, by 9am I said fuck it and took a bike to our agreed point of rendezvous. 

Consistency can either be a virtue or a curse. For me, it’s both. 

We drove to the make shift hospital(which was actually a primary school) and began setting up. 

All I  had to do was act disturbed while my husband prayed to God for a miracle.God heard his prayers and the doctor announced the recovery of my son. Yayy…..after about three hundred takes,  we had the shot. No big deal. 

Two days later, I got a credit alert that could settle my data subscription for a month. Three days later,  the movie was released on YouTube and everyone was excited. 

Except me. 

I never watched the movie. 

I never shared the link or promoted the movie. 

I never spoke of that experience 

And as much as i tried to deny it, I knew I didn’t give it my best and for that reason,  I was ashamed. 

For my actions, I am ashamed. 

So I write this post to admonish myself 

That I am not perfect, never have been and never will be. 

That a constant pursuit of perfection is itself a sickness. 

That one cannot be good at all things. And that’s okay. 

That I was wrong to not watch and share the movie despite knowing how much it meant to Paul. 

That anything worth doing is worth doing well. And maybe if I’d given it my best, I wouldn’t feel this way.

That maybe if I’d given it my best, I’d still feel this way. But that’s okay too. 

That for my actions, or lack of actions, I am sincerely sorry. 

And if this write-up ever makes it to my blog, here’s what I promise 

To watch “IN ONE DAY” a short Christian film about the unpredictability of life and the unending power of God and maybe if I’m bold enough, to share the link with my contacts. 

And if you make it to the end of this post. Here’s what you should do. 

Reconcile with the things,events  or people in your life that you’re ashamed of or embarrassed about. 

Because at the end of the day, life’s too short to live in shame and regret

What things have you done that you’re not necessarily proud of? Tell me all about it in the comment box below!

Xoxo

Life, lifestyle, pain

How Do You Deal With Pain? 

Sometimes I think pain is just a lack of understanding. If we could only understand it all, would we feel no pain?. 

                       -J. Cole (once an addict) 

While typing up this post,  I tried to search for lovely quotes or descriptions of pain on the internet but I decided against it. I realize that pain needs no definition or poetic descriptions to be understood. Whether physical or emotional, you know pain when you feel pain. And I don’t mean the little ‘ouch’ that escapes my mouth when I prick my fingers or the ‘fuck’ I yell aggressively when I hit my little toe against anything wooden; it’s the kind of pain that sobers you up and has you questioning every value and truth you ever held. 

The first time I remember ever feeling pain was 8 years ago in junior secondary school. I was 11 years old, didn’t have much friends but somehow managed to be popular. That day was may 27,childrens day and my mother was preparing to visit my elder sister in boarding school. I can still remember the smell of the fried rice cooking on the stove and the sound of meat sizzling in hot oil. Out of the blues, my classmates, at least 15 of them,  showed up at the doorstep on their way to a children’s party, insisting I get dressed and follow them. I was shocked and flattered at the same time. My mum asked me to invite them in, get them refreshments and politely told them in sparkling English why I couldn’t go with them. I was relieved. I’ve always hated parties and the idea of forced socialization. But I got too comfortable with these strangers sprawn across our living room, I talked too loudly, laughed carelessly and when I decided to see them off, I didn’t come back home till 4 hours later. My mom was mad! I’d delayed her trip to the boarding house and I had left the house a mess. She took a cane from the top of the shelf and began to flog me.  Foolishly I ran to escape and ended up wedged between the wall and the deep freezer. She beat the shit out of me. Hours after she was gone,  I remained slumped on the floor, observing blisters rise and red marks appear on my dark skin. I cried my eyes out. I was in pain. 

But the thing with physical pain is that it has an ending or at least a solution. You can pop a few pain killers , get an injection,  employ a physiotherapist, you name it! It hurts till it doesn’t hurt anymore and you can move on with your life. If you can only live through the first few minutes, hours or days of its peak intensity, you get to tell the story like I just did now. Good for us! 

The second time I remember feeling pain was in my 3rd year in the University. I received news that I’d lost a loved one to cancer. I can still remember the crack in my sisters voice as she broke the news to me, I knew she had been crying too. I locked myself in my room for an entire day, not eating, not speaking to anyone, just crying my eyes out and reading my Bible trying to figure out why people die!They say the Bible has the answer to every question right? 

The pain from the death of a loved one is a different kind of pain. You never get used to it, it never goes away. Rather, it finds a home in you. And everytime a reminder flashes before your face, you’re put back in your misery. You can only rely on time to feel less miserable about it but that shit stays with you forever! 

The 3rd time I ever felt that much pain is even more recent than you can imagine. And this type of pain, is the pain that comes with love. It’s so excruciatingly heartbreaking that it eventually begins to manifest physically with fevers, asthma attacks and insomnia. I think the reason people are scared to love is because love hurts just as much as it heals. It takes as much as it gives. And in my little pea brained mind, I can’t seem to crack the code. 

    The most frustrating thing about pain is that it offers no pause button. Life goes on! So you must carry out your normal activities while facing the devil. It sucks! 

    Forgive my flimsy attempts at narrating painful experiences of my life but the point that Im trying to make is that I’ve felt pain and I know that you have too. So if we can establish that pain is a constant feature of our lives as humans and we can also establish that it is unpleasant, perhaps we should begin to ask ourselves how we deal with this pain. 

    I don’t remember how I dealt with the painful experiences in my life. As long as I can remember I’ve always had a tough spirit. I would cry over things but I never let them weigh me down for more than 24 hours. I cried when I watched the police throw our properties from the top of a 3 storied building, I cried when a class mate told everyone I was ugly, I cried when my cousins laughed at me because I wet the bed, I even cried when a weird photographer touched me inappropriately . But after all these incidences, I also remember showing up the next day, with a smile on my face, telling myself “You can handle this”.

    I don’t know how you deal with your pain but you must agree with me that time makes everything better. It doesn’t heal; I don’t know what heals or if I’ve ever completely healed from my experiences but I’ve learned to live with them. But here’s a piece of advice. 

    The next time you feel pain and you think you won’t survive it, think about the last time you were in that much pain and how you thought you wouldn’t survive it. Then tell yourself “I’m still here!”.

    If you’re reading this, then you’re still here. You survived that crazy heartbreak or humiliation or loss of a loved one. You’re still kicking! Let’s drink to that! 

    So I disagree with j. Cole on his saying about pain. Let’s rephrase 

    Pain is inevitable. But if we could only understand it, then maybe we’d feel less pain. 

                         – Prettydiferent. 

    Don’t leave without dropping a comment. I’d love to hear from you. How do you deal with pain? Xoxo