22 So Far: God, Career & Dating in Lagos

So, I have been 22 for just about two months now and I have to tell you, this has to be one of my most pivotal years ever. I am exploring so many new parts of myself and my environment and it is just more than I expected it to be but I am enjoying it and excited to see what each new day brings. So, I wanted to take you guys on a journey on the different aspects of my life since I turned 22.

SPIRITUALITY

Of course, this is the most important thing. I am still not where I hope to be when it comes to God but I have realised something. I find myself leaning more on God than I have ever done in the past. I have found that one way in which he communicates with me is through my intuition so whenever I have any doubts about something or I am confused about the next step to take, I say a little prayer and check to see how my spirit feels about it. This is something that I am really appreciative of because I know that I need God more than anything else I could ever hope for in this life or the one after. As I mentioned, I am still not where I want to be but I am trying, God willing.

 

CAREER

I believe I mentioned in an earlier post that I am currently doing my NYSC, which ofor those who are not aware, means National Youth Service Corps, which is the national service that Nigerian graduates partake in for a year. So, at the moment, I am currently serving in Punch Newspapers which is such a full circle moment for me. One of the very first newspapers I ever read was Punch. In fact, I used to read Saturday Punch and Sunday Punch more than any other paper because they had stories and they were just more my speed. So, it is just so amazing that I get to work and write for Sunday Punch. God is such a comedian and I love it. It can be stressful and to be honest, working in a Nigerian office, – especially after experiencing working in the UK – takes some getting used to but I am taking it all in stride and doing my best to keep working and just being the very best I can.

 

DATING

So, dating in Lagos has been so interesting to me. Lol. I was in a relationship for about 3 years. So, this was like from when I was 17 to 20 years old. It took a while to get over that relationship because that was my first serious committed relationship. I mean, I saw myself getting married to this guy and having all his babies but that did not work out and I really really lost myself. So, my experience of early getting back into the dating scene has been in Lagos. I mean, I did a little bit of it in the UK but now, it is different because I tend to be out of the house more than I ever really have. I am still just at the entry of dating but so far, it has been interesting meeting and talking to people. It can be scary though because I have noticed that people tend to be really dishonest about themselves in this town so, you never really know if someone is being genuine with you. It is really about being careful and I am trying to do that while having fun.

 

ME

I have been so good. I think, in the last couple of months, I have somehow – without even realising – become more confident and happy and just better than I used to be. A friend of mine told me that I am ‘glowing in the chaos’ I truly believe I have God to thank for that. I have to say all glory really belongs to God because He got me out of a really bad rut and I am just generally happy and accepting of things. I try not to stress about things I do not have much control over and just keep it pushing. Mind you, I do not always succeed but I am putting in so much effort into just being happy, honest and free.

 

So, how am I finding 22? 22 has been good to me so far. I do not have much to complain about and a lot to be grateful for. I just hope and pray that this year keeps on coming with the most pleasant surprises, God willing. I cannot wait.

Saturdays are for Weddings

In the last two and a half months, I have been to 3 weddings. It seems that I have gotten to that point in my life where weddings have become a part of my social calendar. For the sake of comparison, I’ll let you know that the last time I went to a wedding prior to this period was my aunt’s wedding in 2012. Now, it has become a regular turn-up for me.

I enjoy going for weddings. I think it’s a great way to spend a Saturday, especially a Nigerian wedding. You get to dress up and look cute and there is so much food to eat, a lot of alcohol is flowing and the music is popping. I can tell you that there is nothing like a Nigerian wedding.

In going for all these weddings, there is a new reality that I am suddenly faced with: This could be me in a couple of years. In a couple of years, I could be the one getting married. My day will be on people’s social calendar. There will be people trooping to the wedding that I don’t even know and will never know that they were there. I would be a Mrs., a wife and the only question that is on my mind is, ‘HOW THE FUCK DID I GET HERE?’

I mean, I know how I got here. It’s just that it came so fast. While I am young and have no plans on getting married anytime soon, I do realise that I am not so far away from it any longer. I am not a little girl anymore and for all intents and purposes, I am now a woman. Any relationship that I get into now, is not for jokes or bants or to see how it goes. If I am to date someone, it is with the notion that we are headed in that direction. If that is not the case, then there is no point.

This is why I am not rushing the process. I am not trying to get into anything serious until I am ready for it. While I am a strong woman who is trying to get my career on track and be the best person that I can be for myself, I am also excited at the prospect of starting a family at some point in my life and with every wedding, the reality of this gets clearer and clearer.

 

Too Much Flexing in Lagos

So, last week Friday, one of my close friends, Abiola turned a year older. Sheyi, Abiola and I always try to do something for each other when our birthdays come around so, as we are such busy people, we decided to take Abiola out for dinner on Sunday when we were less busy.

So, as we were searching for places to go, my friend Millicent (as I was in her house at the time) suggested that we try a place called ‘Brass and Copper’ which happened to be on the Island. So, in looking at their social media accounts, Sheyi realised that, that very Sunday that we planned to go was their grand opening. Coincidence right? Anyway, we decided that it will be nice to go there and check out what is going on.

So, later that evening, I dressed up like a doll and had my Taxify driver take me to the restaurant which also happened to have a bar as well as Shisha. Abiola got there before me, so I headed straight to the bar to meet him there. As, we sat there talking, we looked around to get a feel of the place. It was not a bad place at all. Personally, since I got back two months ago, I haven’t really been to a place like this in Lagos. So, it was definitely nice to be out at a place like this. Sheyi eventually joined us and we went to the restaurant area to have some good food and drinks and nice conversation.

At some point during our dinner, I started to notice that this seemed to be a hot spot for the night. It seemed like all the big Lagos boys and babes decided to converge here for a meeting on this special day. As I turned to my back, I saw Toke Makinwa there, who is a popular socialite and a TV personality in Lagos. I studied her for a couple of seconds and turned away to focus on my friends. We had some good food and it was just nice to hang out with each other because we do not get to do that often. Sitting there, I was feeling like such a grown up because I realised that this was now my life. My life was now NYSC, work, public transport, the occasional Owambes(Lagos parties) and once-in-a-while dinner with friends. This is now my life.

After dinner and walking around for a bit, I decided to go home since it seemed like we had peaked for the night. Abiola and Sheyi decided to wait with me as I waited for my taxi. At that moment, I started to hear sirens. Okay, what is going on? Next thing you know, I am seeing this car trying to park in front of the building and I notice that this big car with the sirens is protecting this man driving his Lamborghini. Now, bear in mind, I am not sure I had ever seen a Lamborghini this close to me in my life. I think I saw one once race past on a road in London but I had actually never seen one so close before in my life. The first thing that came out of my mouth was ‘Omo, too much flexing in Lagos.’ which only made Abiola giggle.  Lol. And in that moment, I had a conversation with myself.

In looking at all the pomp and glamour,  I realised the pressure that people faced in Lagos. There is this pressure to be a big boy or a big babe in Lagos. No matter where you look, you see it. On social media, in restaurants, in bars, while hanging out with friends. While I want to get to a point in my life where I am successful and celebrating my success, I never want to feel pressured into being something or somebody that I am not. I always want to remain me and a big fear for me is that I lose sight of who I am. So, I am going to make a conscious effort to always stay true to myself no matter what and live my life as honest and as free as I possibly can.

IJGB: A Woke View of Sexual Assault in Nigeria

I wrote this last month, so please bear that in mind as you read this and as always, I hope to hear your thoughts on the issue.

There are a lot of things that I love about my country, Nigeria. I love the people, the food, the parties, the music and so much more. This is why, when I landed in Murtala Muhammed airport a couple of weeks ago after being away in the UK for six years, I had a huge smile on my face because with all the issues that we face in this country, there really is no place like home.

However, within the last month that I have been here, I have found myself either having to tolerate or to educate people on what I believe should be common sense: sexual assault, in any form, is wrong!

Over the last couple of months, the Western media has been filled with reports of men in power who have been accused of sexual assault. If you google the word, sexual assault, you will see new cases of men who are alleged to have abused their powers on women and in some cases other men too. Social media has been filled with conversations about sexual assault and sexual harassment more than ever before and while I am glad that these issues are being talked about, a lot of the stories I have heard have left me completely sick to my stomach.

For the purpose of this piece, I thought it important to define what sexual assault means. According to Wikipedia, “sexual assault is a sexual act in which a person is coerced or physically forced to engage against their will. It is also defined as non-consensual touching of a person” Now, I have had a conversation with a lot of women in my life and I can tell you that based on this definition, majority of them have been sexually assaulted. If these are just the women in my circle, now imagine how many women out there are going throuigh the same thing every single day, especially in this country.

For a lot of men in this country, I think that our cultural and religious values have left them with a sense of entitlement. I think because our culture and religions teach us that we should respect the men, they automatically believe that women are property. This is not all men but I think that this is a problem that has largely been caused by the society by which we live in.

When I was growing up and even now as I am older, I hated going to the market. Whenever I went, there were always men catcalling and attempting and in a lot of cases, succeeding to touch me inappropriately. Now, was that being done to my brother? No. This just shows how far this culture has seeped into the DNA of our people.

In leaving this country six years ago, I knew that these things were wrong but it had happened so much over the course of my life that it was all I had ever known the society around me to be. Then, I lived in a different society where the rules were completely different. Then, I realised that this is not normal. Does that mean that it does not happen in the Western countries? No. In fact, the news cycle in the last couple of months has shown that this happens very often. The difference is that these men are now being shamed for their actions.

I have only been back for a little over a month and I have already been sexually assaulted by men from all sorts of backgrounds. I just finished my time at the NYSC orientation camp and while I was there, I had a lot of these conversations with some young men and women on camp. For some people, when I started talking about this, they called me feminist – which in their minds translated to men-hating. I am a feminist but I do not hate men. I just believe that women should feel comfortable being whoever and whatever they want to be without anyone giving them grief. I believe that a woman who works hard should be rewarded for her hardwork just as much as the man would be. I absolutely believe that women should not be touched or spoken to in an inappropriate manner that would leave them feeling sick and disgusted. This, to me is just common sense. Just as our common sense knows that stealing or lying is wrong, we should also know that we should respect people’s boundaries and not touch or speak to people without their consent.

How do we combat this issue in our society? I think we need to start educating ourselves on this issue and shaming those who commit these disgusting acts. I believe that we have to make victims comfortable in speaking out because our society has made it almost impossible for them to say anything. If they do, they are either blamed for the acts committed on them or they are told to shut up altogether. Our leaders need to take point on this because this is a real issue in our society and no one seems to be talking about. It all starts from the top.

I would love to live in a society where I am treated with respect as a human being and for what I can offer. Let us start the conversation. Let us say No to sexual assault.

Career.

In getting older, I have been forced too think about my future way more now than ever before. As you grow in age, your responsibilities increase as well. Apart from finding a purpose that will fulfil me, I also need to find a means to make money so as to be able to take care of myself.

I know that one area that I always want to be involved in is the media, in some way even if it is not journalism-related. I just find that I thrive more in media more than anything more. I also want to be able to write – whether that is my main job or a side hustle, it does not matter but writing has to be a part of my life always.

As part of my national service, I started working at Punch Newspapers which is major. I am excited to get the experience and to be able to put it down in my CV- I mean, it is only the biggest newspaper firm in the country.

There are some things that I want to achieve by the end of this year but I don’t want to talk about them yet until they are almost done so that I do not jinx it.

Right now, I just leave my future in God’s hands because He has already seen it and He knows the right path for me to take.

God.

Consider what you owe to his immutability. Though you have changed a thousand times, He has not changed once.

– Charles Spurgeon

I have never met a perfect person. In my 8089 days of living, I am yet to meet or hear to someone that is just 100% absolutely, positively perfect. However, I am aware of an entity who is perfect in every way and that is God.

God is the only perfect being that was, is and is forever. He is faithful, kind, loving and every other amazing adjectives. The way that God loves me is like none other. You see humans aren’t perfect and no matter how hard we try, we can never be perfect. We will always make mistakes. It is just the way it is and the good thing about it is that God doesn’t expect us to be perfect.

And thank God for that because I have done some shitty things in my life but what I have discovered is that some how, some way, even when I don’t deserve it – which quite frankly is never – He loves me anyway. He is always right there, loving me and waiting for me to come to Him.

You know if I had a friend or a loved one who constantly – without fail – hurt me or did something bad to me, at some point, my patience will probably run out but see, that’s not the same with God. His patience never runs out.

I just…I have come to see that God really and truly is everything and I yearn to know him more and more. Unfortunately,  I am still at the point where I have not let go of a lot of my bad habits. It is hard, I won’t lie but I want to try. I do not even know if I am ready to try to be perfectly honest but I do want to keep working on my relationship with God. Even though, my spiritual life is really shaky, I feel like this is the best it has ever been because more than ever, I understand God a whole lot more than I did even a year ago.

I know that He loves me so much and I have faith in Him and I acknowledge what Jesus did for me on the cross and I am so thankful for it because I would be so doomed without  that beautiful price that He paid for me.

Happiness.

I’ll tell you what Freedom is to me. No fear.

– Nina Simone

I have never really been able to define what happiness meant but in the last year, I have come to see it as two things. The first is Freedom. Happiness, for me has always meant complete freedom – complete freedom to be me – and be okay with that -, complete freedom to live, to breathe; freedom from restrictions. I watched a documentary on Nina Simone recently aptly titled, ‘What Happened Miss Simone’ and she said something that touched me to the core of my soul. She said “I’ll tell you what Freedom is to me. No fear.” To me, that mirrors what happiness is. The only entity that I truly want to fear in life and the one after is the Most High God.

This is not to say that I want to just go about and be doing bad or evil things. No. Whatever you do in life, whether good or bad had it’s own rewards and I recognise that. I always want to maintain a strong moral compass on what is right and what is wrong. No matter what.

I also see Happiness as contentment. That is the second thing. Contentment. That feeling that no matter what I have in life, whether big or small, I’ll be good. I read something that Saint Paul had said in the Bible a while ago and when I read it, I said to myself, “This is what I want to feel all day, everyday.” He said: “I know what it is to be in need and what it is to have more than enough. I have learned this secret, so that at anywhere, at anytime, I am content, whether I am full or hungry, whether I have too much or too little.” (Philippians 4:12 GNT) .

I have never been the happiest person. I have always had bouts of happiness but it has never really been the full thing. This is because for a very long time, I suffered from depression. I have been pretty open about that and it was only last year that I really started seeing a light. So, in the last year, I have been the happiest I have ever been but it is still not where I want to be.

I have come to view happiness as a choice and I have to make that choice. Also, I have come to realise that true happiness comes from Jesus. The sort of happiness that Jesus provides is like none other because when you allow him to shoulder your burdens for you, you feel so much lighter. My spiritual life is shaky at best but it’s the best it has been in my entire life but I am trying though.

I am also trying to laugh more and not just laugh for the sake of laughing but that kind of laughter that makes your stomach hurt because you have been laughing so hard. I want to be content and I want to be able to depend on Jesus all the time.

Life is beautiful but it can be tough sometimes. You know this world is a whole mess and it always will be but it is what we got and I just want to make the best of every situation.

I know what it is to be in need and what it is to have more than enough. I have learned this secret, so that at anywhere, at anytime, I am content, whether I am full or hungry, whether I have too much or too little.

– St. Paul (Philippians 4:12)