It’s okay, really. It’s okay to have shortcomings. It’s okay when people regard you as a model but deal in closet with flaws you can tell no being. It’s okay to struggle. It’s okay to climb and fall. It’s okay to try and fail. It’s okay to strive to be a better person but fail as many times as you try.
It’s okay when everybody expects you to be this way but you are that way. It’s okay to be a work in progress, as long as death is your only retirement plan.
I was a very self-seeking person. But I learnt self-sacrifice from friends who showed me unimaginable selflessness and crazy loyalty. I am (was) a very impulsive person. I crave(d) and learn(t) patience from people and situations around me.
I used to be a bad boyfriend (lmao). Maybe not really bad. But in hindsight, I could have done more. I did not know better. Little by little, I have learnt how to treat a woman like a good man is supposed to. And that is exactly the point of this post. Life is not about the one who denies his shortcomings. It is about the one who admits and acknowledges his weaknesses and strives daily, competing with no one, to be a better person.
It’s okay not to be perfect. It’s okay to be human. Humanity is imperfection mixed with empathy. We could as well be aliens. Do aliens kiss and hug? Thank goodness we are not.
As long as you do not give up on the quest to become a better person; as long as you do not allow your imperfections become a burden; as long as you enjoy the process while looking forward to the result, it’s okay to fall and fail, daily. Falling and failing is part of the process!
A man wakes up one day with severe pain in his groin area. He visits the hospital and voila! he has cancer.
A family reeking of love and affection suddenly loses its positive vibe. Why? The mother dies!
A happy and loving father suddenly loses his job. He is unable to fend for his family. Despondency sets in. He becomes suicidal.
The list is endless. Life is unfair. Life is difficult. Life’s troubles are inevitable (and at times preventable). It is guaranteed that each person will to go through one difficult period or the other on the surface of the earth.
I have had my own share of some of these difficult times (inevitable and preventable) and I foresee more to come (I see difficulties as a sign of progress). With depression and rate of suicide on the increase, I feel it is necessary to share some of the tips that have helped me in dealing with the difficulties I have faced.
•Love someone other than you.
Love, whether platonic or romantic, is a good platter upon which to weather the storms of life. Love, not the battered and pervasive human conception hinged on deceit, gives you a reason to live to fight another day when life tells you otherwise. It keeps pumping blood in your veins when life threatens to suck it dry. Life beats you down, love raises you up. Life tells you it is difficult, love responds ‘I’ll go through it with you.’ Life reminds you of your seeming incapabilities, love says ‘I choose you nonetheless.’ When you find such, don’t let it go. It has the potency to give you strength in your lowliest days, if you allow it.
• Build meaningful relationships with people around you.
If you do not have an exclusive or a small circle of friends with whom you can be vulnerable and share your depth and hurts, life may really be more difficult. It’s easy to have people around to slay together when life makes you feel like Neil Armstrong. But when life catches up with you at your lowest and you have genuine people around to pour your heart and soul to, you are a lucky human. Such relationships don’t come often in this Twitter age. If you don’t have such, make a genuine effort to build it. Meaningful relationships are like umbrellas in showers of rain. They cannot prevent the rain from totally not touching you but they can provide a covering to keep you from getting soaked.
Meaningful relationships are like umbrellas in showers of rain. They cannot prevent the rain from totally not touching you but they can provide a covering to keep you from getting soaked.
•Associate with people better than you.
Asking people who have gone ahead of you for directions can make your journey less strenuous and more direct, especially when you get to the rough plains. So, to make difficult moments in life bearable, we need mentors, either spiritual, professional or in other spheres of life. They may not be able to make it go away but they can help mitigate the harshness of the situation with their experience, wisdom and guidance. I got into a somewhat messy situation recently. I had my pastor advising me from the spiritual perspective. I had a senior friend taking things from the professional angle. I had another senior friend looking at things from the familiarity side. Truthfully, things did not go as planned but the fact that I had these people to lean on and run to made life more bearable for me.
•Lead a plain life.
Aside life’s inevitabilities and inexplicable occurrences, some of life’s difficulties are self-inflicted and avoidable if we can learn to lead a life rooted in ease, integrity, honesty and far from shadiness. A determination not to get one’s hands soiled can ward off preventable difficulties. Learn to be patient. Practice contentment. Even the Holy Bible says: “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” [1 Timothy 6:6 (KJV)]
Plain in this context may also mean observing a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent a breakdown in health.
• Contribute to a cause bigger than you.
Either in philanthropy or in volunteering, contributing to a worthy cause bigger than one person has a way of diverting your attention from your difficult situation to another person’s more hopeless circumstance. In turn, it energizes you to live life positively and gives you a sense of fulfilment. Try this today and come back with the testimony.
• Believe in ‘something’ bigger than you.
This is partly an allusion to religion and partly a reference to a personal relationship with God or a god or whatever you believe in, if that’s possible. I have come to realize that belief in a “supernatural being” tends to give one a sense of security in the most insecure of circumstances. Whether that supernatural being is capable of saving you is another story entirely and beyond the scope of this piece. The thought of a divine force capable of suddenly pulling off a miraculous stunt in your favor in a tumultuous life situation can infuse your fainting heart with “hope for tomorrow and strength for today“, in the words of a song I have come to really like. In fact, haven’t you heard of people who never believed in the existence of God but still said a word of prayer in a difficult situation? It is a testament to the fact that human nature always longs for something bigger than it to hang on to when life’s billows roll. So, when life gets inexplicably difficult, don’t hesitate to call upon your G(g)od.
These 6 tips have in one way or the other helped me in times past to deal with the questions life has thrown my way. However, one noteworthy thing is that they are not things you pull out like a magic wand in the thick of difficulties. They are things you would have developed over time but become handy when your share of life’s difficulties is tossed to you.
So love that man or woman, invest in that meaningful relationship, find a mentor, lead an unpretentious life, contribute to your community and have a supernatural backbone. They will bail you out when your lawyer can’t!
This is an unusual subject for me. But whenever inspiration comes running, I embrace it like an average man would want to hug a 34D-endowed woman.
But then, that is exactly the issue. We segment and discriminate against the female folks based on their bodily features. We do not hesitate to taunt them for what, at times, they may have little or no power over.
“I don’t like your name“. A girl I had never seen and will never see said this to me. I was in SS3 in a boys’ only school. Our self esteem was largely dependent on how much attention we got from girls. But here I was, in Abuja, far away from home, representing my school and State in a national conference, and a girl just crushed the last piece of coldstone-esteem I took pride in.
I have tried to understand the concept of body shaming of women from my perspective. Anytime I don a cloth that is not as smart on me as I want, or I am not comfortable in it, my confidence level wanes by some inches. For the rest of that day, I will be too self conscious to the extent that I can keep looking into the mirror to give myself some assurance: “it’s not that bad“. A five-minute intermittent confidence-boosting assurance. Yet, unlike yeast, the confidence hardly rises. It’s worse when I have to speak to an attractive woman.
However, the advantage I have is that after looking into the mirror first time, I can switch clothes. Or if I change my mind after leaving my house, I can return and wear another one. Or in some instances, if it’s a work shirt, I can easily put on a jacket and not remove it till the end of the day.
But really, what is the fate of a beautiful but insecure plump lady whose confidence has been bashed multiple times by people who believe and do not refrain from offering unsolicited advice that a beautiful woman must have an hour glass shape, flat tummy, tiny waist, shapely derriere and round breast?
How does such a woman suck the fat from her Cup-DD boobs in months, or weeks or a day like I would change my cloth before leaving my house? Or how would a petite lady whose boobs do not even need a bra for support embiggen same after being taunted for having breast as small as a mustard seed?
When the girl told me she didn’t like my name, it was with the hotel phone. My room and school mate who made some random calls had called her room. In the course of their conversation, he told her my name is Sunday. The girl did not hesitate to offer her unsought opinion. I never saw her. Never will I see her. But she made me become conscious of telling people my first name thenceforth.
In dealing with the confidence-bashing seed the lady unknowingly sowed, rather than tell people my name is Oluwaseun or Ola or the others, I had to deliberately tell new people I meet that my name is Sunday without giving it a second thought. It was easy dealing with since then.
I have nomenclature options. Does a woman on the fat side have same? I can easily change my cloth. Can a woman switch her tummy?
Definitely, you are not compelled to like everybody. But you are also not compelled to offer your debasing opinion. If you do not like some features in a woman, except she asks for it or you are closely knitted, keep your words to yourself.
Do not be the reason a woman will embark on a neck-breaking voyage of conformity. No one defines the ideal. In fact, the ideal is subject to subjectivity.
We are all hustlers. From the street hawkers, to the ones who don the archaic wig and gown even in hot weather, to the woman who displays her wares by the roadside and dozes off (this is always profound for me when I see them). Sadly, our realities are different. But we are all hustlers.
But, are we meant to hustle every day of our lives? Are we meant to lead a life of work and then slip into eternal exit? What kind of life is that? I know people who literally bury themselves in work and hardly have a life outside it. But I know there’s a greater essence to life than this.
Both my deliberate and casual readings about work-life balance have greatly shaped my outlook to life and living to the extent that I feel I may be lazy at times. But the truth is, life is meaningless if its trajectory is to be born, go to school, get a job and then work one’s asses out till death.
In the relentless pursuit of security, we most times end up neglecting the most important things that give meaning to life and essence to existence.
We sacrifice family. We sabotage relationships. We neglect our health. We underrate the efficacy of taking a break.
When the energy is gone, when strength gives way, when the reality comes to the fore, no one remembers the deadline missed or met; no one remembers the overtime worked. Only the priceless moments spent, the ineffable memories had and the beautiful people met remain imprinted on the hearts of men.
Admittedly, these things may be hard to observe in the early years of an individual’s voyage in the ‘hustle class’ or for one who has never moved to the next class after enrolment. However, with deliberate attempts to not lose ourselves in the quest to make a living, we can develop habits and attitudes necessary for this daunting journey of life.
However, for those whose life’s meaning is tied to their work, it’s a different ball game. For them, the priceless moments spent, ineffable memories had and beautiful people met may be in the course of their work. For these, work is not making a living stricto sensu, but the fulfilment of an inexplicable yearning and hunger.
But no matter the case, I do not believe because life is a hustle, hustle must be life!
Whether friends, family, acquaintances or strangers, one of the things I enjoy the most is listening to the deepest things that hurt these people, and together, help chart a course out of the hurt.
In this process, with practical steps, one of the things I have had to talk about the most is the power and potency of courage; taking the jump even when the ground is out of sight; diving from comfort zones to uncertainties with forward-looking potentials; trusting your instincts and knowing when to quit but not give up.
I cherish this process, whether in talking about relationships, academics, career, abuse in whatever form or life in general. Courage is the common denominator to the way out of most life’s issues and challenges.
However, I have found myself in some very challenging situations and I cringed at the first thought of what to do.
As an aside, this is the reason I fancy pragmatism, personal experience and execution than motivational speaking. The feel-good effect of motivational speaking flies out of the window in the face of daunting challenges.
Now, I cringed not because of the overwhelming nature of the situations but at the thought of the courageous but seemingly stupid options I had to take. By taking these options; for instance, quitting a job or leaving a good woman, would I fall into regret? Would I slip into personal oblivion and endless frustration? Would I be plunged into an irredeemable abyss? That was why I cringed.
But I only cringed. I did not crumble. We can fall; staying down is the downside. We can fail; conceding to failure is the fatality.
What I do to prevent crumbling in such situations is to:
• be dispassionate and less emotional about it
• accept the reality of the difficult choices I’m faced with.
Then in a state of biting and acute self awareness, I know I am not dreaming; I have to make a decision. I speak to both my conscious and subconscious. I have just this life. When my back becomes bent, I never want to look back at my younger self and regret the tough choices I chickened out from making; I never want to look back and realize I was a coward.
We chart the course of our lives with each decision we make and more often than not, there is no opportunity to undo the things we’ve done. Life is not a rehearsal. Each performance is the real thing and you are the director of your own script. That is why courage is needed to make the tough choices and stick by them, succeed or fail. We can always try again. The truth is, it may be hard to pick yourself up after giving so much and failing. But we will rather try again with a better orientation than walk away defeated in life and for life.
We have just this one life. No substitute. No half time. No second half. Life calls for some rage in making tough choices. It is courage. We are going all out for it. No more! No less!
Have you ever wondered why some celebrities get rocked with scandals they never recover from? Or why some just simply take a long walk to obscurity after huge expectations? Or why do some promising young football stars never live up to the promise?
Apart from the fact that some are more hyped than talented, life is a chronology. Skipping one stage has a huge impact on the performance in the next. He who skips the rehearsal will miss a step before the audience.
He who skips the rehearsal will miss a step before the audience.
One common denominator for humans is the hunger for success, in whatever form. Be it CEO of a Fortune 500 company, graduating from University, having millions in savings, being able to afford the next meal, becoming a landlord, getting paid every month, being your own boss… We all define success with divergent metrics.
When I read the Paddy Adenuga’s article of how he, at 29, almost acquired Chevron Netherlands, all I saw, which was one of the things that inspired this article, was a young man who had used the opportunities he had early in life as learning platforms; a young man who leveraged his vantage to acquire the requisite skills, knowledge and experience while handling the businesses entrusted to him. His business acumen and shrewdness in the uncommon privilege he had early in life prepared him for such a lofty goal as acquiring Chevron Netherlands at 29, to the extent that even though he lost, it has been counted unto him as a win.
When David faced Goliath, he was not a novice. His CV was not blank. In his experience column, he had:
” In my day to day employment at Jesse & Sons’ Farms, while keeping my employer’s sheep, whenever a lion or bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. If it ever turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.”
No employer was going to see that and ignore, not even King Saul.
That was enough for his confidence and enough to impress Saul, who gave David his own royal tunic after conducting a hurried job interview for him.
Unfortunately today, we have people who desire stardom but wish to get there at the speed of light. Being in the jet and information age will not jet a man to success without learning the ropes.
There is a need for patience in the process of desiring and working toward stardom. Take your time in learning and development. You need to acquire the requisite tenacity and experience for some levels in life.
Build the capacity for your desired place. If you skip the learning stage, you will end up as a disaster in a place that may be rightfully yours.
When you dream, be patient enough to develop the capacity and capability to handle the dream when it comes to fruition.
Not all who desire stardom can handle it. There are platforms a 25-year old will step onto and handle with poise, grace and confidence. If a 35-year old gets to the same platform, he or she will cringe and crumble. It is not a function of age but the capability to function at such a level.
Like the celebrity whose undoing is the fame he never prepared for; like the football star who could not shine beyond a night, one thing is instructive: you cannot give what you do not have. But you can have what is yours if you give yourself to patience, purpose and practice.
The prospect of stardom without the requisite capability is a promise of failure.
We all want to have successful careers, goals, objectives or pursuits that wake us up every morning with an acute sense of purpose. It is even keener these days, realising the world has been connected easily with breakthroughs in technology and social media. You can seamlessly connect with many successful people at the other end of the earth. You can drool over their pictures, articles and videos where they look like the perfect examples of success. Yet it seems you just cannot get your acts together.
Craving it is one thing. Knowing how to go about it is another. And this craving, most times, whether exposed to social media or not, kicks in at a tender age. Success is a natural tendency for humans.
Unfortunately, lack of clarity as to the path to follow to actualize the craving creates a bigger problem that a young boy or girl, if not careful, can grapple with for years or for life. This lack of clarity can be summed up as “identity crisis”.
We all want to have a sense of direction; we all crave to be the go-to guy for some things; we all desire to be relevant. In short, we all want a unique identity.
A sense of identity gives one’s life a meaningful meaning. But with chaotic upbringing, directionless early relationships (not necessarily romantic), lack of exposure to life defining experiences, identity crisis can spring up; with an unresolved identity crisis, mid life crisis can occur; with mid life crisis unabated, an individual can become a permanent example of what not to be in and how not to live life. Try get an opportunity to speak with some (not all) criminals in correctional facilities.
Having what psychologists refer to as ‘identity achievement’ – coming to a substantial resolution as to the path to embark on in adulthood – is very vital to leading a happy and fulfilling life.
According to the findings in psychology, there are about four identity statuses which explain the state of an individual’s identity:
• Identity foreclosure: as the name implies, the identity of such a person with this is foreclosed. He or she has had an identity handed down to him or her by parents or others who had an overwhelming influence on the individual at the defining period of his or her life. Such an individual did not have a period where he or she had to choose between alternatives, where he or she had to make a conscious effort in defining or charting the course of his or her life personally.
Unfortunately, the foreclosure can snowball into a crisis when the ‘security blanket’ of their assumed identity is removed; for instance if the parents die or whatever thing that ties them to the assumed identity is no longer available.
• Identity diffusion: for this status, an individual neither has a defined identity nor is he searching for one. The identity remains unresolved and there is also no crisis. For instance, asking a teenager what he wants to do in life and he replies, “I don’t know. I’ve not really thought about it”.
• Identity Moratorium: a status where an individual is in a frantic search of his or her identity. Such an individual is open minded and willing to commit to so many things but still in a crisis as to which particular path to follow to realise his passion and purpose.
• Identity Achievement: This is when a person has resolved the crisis and has come to the realisation of the path he or she wants to follow in life. This path may not be the most popular path but the individual is courageous and convinced that that’s the way he should go.
Getting to identity achievement is knowing ‘you’ and defining your role in life and it may spare you a lifetime of directionlessness.
Let’s have a few metrics for preventing or dealing with identity crisis.
1. Guide but allow: this is basically for parents. Guide your children in their formative years but allow them to choose the paths they want to follow. Encourage them to explore and be supportive when they fail. They will discover their unique identities in the process. Parents are not to reproduce themselves in their children. They have lives of their own.
2. Volunteer: volunteering for different organizations and projects has a potent way of making you discover what you want to do with your life along the line. You can form your identity from interacting and socializing with other volunteers and in engaging in selfless causes.
3. Take responsibility: one of the surest ways of slipping into an identity crisis is by dodging responsibilities anywhere and everywhere. Take responsibilities, take initiatives. They will define your life’s journey somewhere along the line. One of the things that helped me in my identity formation stage was because I took responsibilities a lot and I discovered what I wanted to do in the process.
4. Explore: while growing up, dabble into many things and explore several options if you are yet to get to identity achievement. This is mostly important for teenagers who still have age on their side. Never hold back. And then…
5. Be courageous: in the process of exploring several options, have the courage to take the ‘jump’. Be courageous enough to go all out for one thing at every point in time. It is okay to fail in the process. Your courage to keep trying even after failing will pay off eventually, both in getting to identity achievement and in personality building.
Identity crisis, surprisingly, is not limited to teenagers. It can be found in adulthood also and in any stage of an individual’s life.
Getting to identity achievement can make your life a whole lot better. And the truth is, nobody is going to do that for you. It is your duty. It is your life.