15 Things I learned in 2017

Wow, that was a rather quick year.

I still remember doing this end of year review last year (seems like just a few months ago though).

Anyways, it was a quick year meaning there’s so much left to do. I honestly can’t wait to start running.

But before we hit the tracks, I decided to jot down my learnings this past year.

  1. You don’t have to like people to work well with them

Throughout my relatively short career, I’ve worked with truly amazing people who remain friends till this day. This year, I started out on a fresh adventure when I switched jobs. For the first time, I’m working with people… let’s just say I’m not so fond of. There’s just something about their personality that rubs me wrong.

I always assumed this would be a problem for me but the reverse has been the case. It became an opportunity to slow down and practice tolerance, as well as keeping an eye on the bigger picture which is the task at hand.

So, while working with colleagues who are like friends and family will make your work experience infinitely enjoyable, working with “colleagues” has no negative effect on the final output. At the end of the day, you’re at work not to make friends but to work.

  1. Liking your colleagues however, makes work feel amazing

On the other hand, this year I blessed with another amazing boss (warning, gushing sentences ahead). My boss is like a coach, a cheerleader and Albert Einstein rolled up in one. She’s so brilliant, industrious, always bursting with ideas and versatile. I see her tackle new subjects with a mental agility people only dream about.

But intelligence does not a decent human being make. Luckily for me, my boss is fiercely supportive. She’s like a mom and a favorite aunt rolled up into one. We joke, we laugh, we fight and we kick ass together.

  1. When managing conflict, it’s okay NOT to be cynical

Have you ever been in those situations where you get into a not-so-friendly exchange with someone from which you eventually walk away? Then after several hours you come up with the perfect comeback, but the opportunity is gone. Painful, right?

In the bid not to be outdone, we now have the clapback culture – people sit behind the safety of their keyboard screens, and tear down other human beings.

It’s ugly.

We tend to celebrate it on twitter and laugh it off but truth is, it’s a zero sum game.

Towards, the ending of 2017, I realised managing conflict is a handy skill to have. Unfortunately, over time, my go-to social skill for managing conflict is usually sarcasm. And sarcasm has a twin brother called cynicism. Together, both siblings had grown significantly in my speech and attitude.

I had to consciously avoid using them. The real shocker was the fact that, this was frigging difficult! I kept stifling myself several times a day, just to keep from sarcastic retorts and cynical comments.

But stifle we shall.

  1. Be generous with praise and stingy with criticism

When you’re right, stifle the need to tell people – “I told you so”. They already feel bad enough.

  1. Become a cheerleader to others, especially your family and friends.

It’s easy to overlook those closest to us, I honestly don’t know why. This year, I tried to fix that, popping in regularly to let them know I believed in them and want them to succeed.

  1. Stay away from lazy people

Laziness is contagious. So is an industrious spirit. I learned this the hard way. If you want to improve in anything, first unclutter your life. Lazy people are everywhere – we are friends with them, we chat with them, we make plans with them on how to kill valuable time. There are also really diligent + focused people around. We know them so why not speak with them often, chat with them, learn from them? Let them inspire you to be better.

  1. Stay away from toxic people in general

Toxicity includes people who complain but refuse to do anything to fix the problem. This year, I noticed a lot of people kept seeing problems everywhere around them but they rarely if ever do anything to fix it. I’m not talking about big, national problems. I’m referring to personal everyday issues they face. They simply complain and that’s it. They go on with their daily routine or douse themselves with TV.

Another side of toxicity is numbness. A lot of people are passionless. They’ve lost their sense of wonder. They live for themselves alone, having nothing bigger to live for.

Newsflash: That’s called selfishness.

Been weeding out these people from my life all through 2017.

  1. There’s no such thing as a boring subject

My new job involves a lot of research around financial services, national development and policy. The past 6 months saw me reading, writing and interviewing major financial services ecosystem players in Nigeria and delving into the core of the dynamics of the sector.  On the last day of 2017, my dad asked me to tell him about my new job. And for the next 15 minutes, I talked about the Nigerian financial services sector and my work at the SIDFS initiative of Lagos Business School. You could see the light coming on in his eyes. He asked questions, smiled and nodded several times. Judging by the fact that there was a premiership match going on when we were talking, I think I did a good enough job keeping his attention (dad is a huge soccer fan!).

  1. Be more vocal with what you want

“I want a day off.”

“I want a raise.”

“I want to work from home twice a week.”

As long as you think it is valid, go ahead and ask. The worst that will happen is a no. And then you’ll be right back where you were just two seconds ago before you asked. So what exactly are you scared of again?

  1. People will always try to exploit you if you allow them to

I love helping people. And some people caught on to the fact that, Ibukun likes helping out. So they exploited it. This bothered me until I realised something – I do this shit cos I like doing this shit!

I’m doing it cos I care but I’m also doing it cos it feels good to help!

Most times, helping out is its own reward. After all, what else would you do? Watch them suffer? That’s worse.

  1. For writers, complement your writing with speaking

Learn how to talk. As someone who makes a living constructing words, I spend a lot of time in my own head. Social media has kind of exacerbated the situation cos I get to bypass speaking and just directly imprint my thoughts on a page.

Until it’s time to speak at a team meeting and I found myself stuttering and “ehmig and i-ing”. It’s really frustrating cos it makes you seem less competent than you really are. As a writer, speaking well can do wonders for your career. It’s a worthy investment.

  1. Love is worth the pain

In the search for love, you’ll go through a lot of disappointments. People will break your heart, take you for granted and mostly further their agendas. Yes, some will treat you right but the heartbreaks usually overshadow the good memories.

Underlying those horrible experiences is change. You’ll learn, you’ll grow, you’ll change. You’ll cry, yes. But you’ll also have some laughs along the way. You’ll learn to recognise and discern crushes. And side step them when cupid wants to shoot you that silly arrow. When love comes eventually, it will be worth it.

  1. Love is worth the wait

While waiting for the “one”, I’ve met loads of people. In the process of meeting and getting to know people, they’ve exposed my weak points. I’m glad these weaknesses are coming to light now and I’m getting to deal with them early. The wait means I get more time to grow. I get to be more patient, wiser, kinder, stronger and more disciplined.

Sometimes I look at the man I’m becoming. And I smile cos I’m growing.

Future wifey is in for a treat.

P.S. I hope you’re growing too!

  1. A lot of what happens on social media is posturing

People are aspirational. And that aspiration translates to social media. We are usually trying to portray an image of what we are, or what we think we are or what we hope to be. Hence, you can’t judge people based on their social media feed/timeline.

While this is understandable, I also believe we need to have integrity. As we age, we should be consolidating not fragmenting. Same life in church, at work, at home and ultimately online.

Tall order? Maybe, but I’m working towards a unified presentation of my life to all. Adopting this mentality has enabled me to re-examine what I share online. Even the discussions I join.

It’s not every conversation you need to join.

  1. Stop putting people on a pedestal, everyone is still figuring things out

Nobody has it all figured out. Even though some folks will not admit, we’re mostly just winging it through life. Unfortunately, it’s hard not to idealise them. And when we idealise them, we set the up to inadvertently disappoint us, big time.

Rather, the right attitude is to give people a large margin of error even though they will rarely ask for it. People are human so they will be selfish, forgetful, opportunistic and entitled.

No surprise. So are you.

So am I.

The important thing is: Are you changing?

Thanks for reading. Happy 2018.

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About Pain and Heartbreak

Heartbreak sucks.

Anyone who’s ever heard the love of their life say, “We’re done!” will understand how it feels to have your chest caved in with a bludgeon.

It’s not just the rejection that crushes you.

You’ll fight memories and old habits, many of which you formed together.

You will wear out your soul while reliving the moment he/she rejected you, a thousand times each day.

It’ll hurt so much you will sometimes wish for death on yourself, and later on, you’ll wish it on the leaving party who is causing you so much pain.

The pain is intense and it has no remorse.

While dealing with the pains of heartbreak, people repress feelings. In a bid to escape the pain, they stifle themselves and shut the emotions in and out.

True, some people feel things deeply, much deeper than others. And negative, painful feelings have a way of weighing us down, even dangerously so. But something I learned from watching Inside Out, Pixar’s incredibly moving animation, was that sorrow is as much a part of life as joy. (If you’re yet to see Inside Out, you should fix that right away).

You can’t wish or pray sorrow away. Recite all the motivational quotes from now till Aristotle’s grave turns over, sorrow will continue to be a part of our human existence.

Knowing that sorrow is part of our journey will stop you from panicking when it shows up. You’ll take it in stride.

I used to hate sorrow. It sapped my energy and made me unable to think straight. I’d shut down, convince myself it wasn’t such a big deal and that was the end of it. I’d struggle with the pain for about three days, and each time the thoughts showed up, I’d nix them right in the bud.

It worked.

I felt better. At least, I thought I did. I went back to getting work done.

But these things found other ways of expressing themselves.  More painful and devastating ways.

Perhaps more importantly, repression changes you in ways you didn’t bargain for. You lose a part of you.

You become hard. You lose your wonder, your quest for adventure and love.

Love eventually becomes transactional – nothing goes for nothing. It seems wiser and safer to be economical with love. You don’t realize you just settled on an even more twisted version of Machiavelli’s theory – the end justifying the means.

But is this the end you wanted? Deprived of love, the selfless, rapturous kind that storytellers and musicians have spun tales and ballads about. You become the centre of your own universe, your focus is you, your feelings, your wants, your plans, you you you.

You’re bankrupt.

Love has left you. And it didn’t leave a forwarding address.

So yeah, repression works, granting you short term benefits but in the long run, it leaves you worse off.

So instead of repression, try embracing the pain.

Sit down and have a good cry. Stress eat. Load up your playlist and play all the love songs, imagining how right or wrong the singers were. Look at the stars and yell at God. Reach towards your friends’ shoulder and soak it with tears.

Let pain find expression. The heart knows how to heal itself and will tell you when it’s ready.

It’s hard, I know. It hurts, I know that too.

But I also know that it’s all part of what makes love worth it eventually.

 

Photo Credit: MaleCodependence

Your Love Was Tame

Photo Credit: StockProject1

The calls were the first sign that our fire was going out

Calls of convenience

Like a chore, a bore, a dull activity needed to be done

How did it come to this?

From our endless talks about nothing and everything

Now all we have is the rare and awkward exchange on twitter, on Facebook

Now, all you’re good for is blog fodder

I caress your face and walk with you down the halls of memory, just to write about you.

You came, saw what you wanted, not what was there, and you left

I wish I could hate you but I can’t

I wish I could hate you, it’d be so much easier

Hate is a very simple emotion. It’s straightforward

But this… what I feel now does it even have a name?

My stupid brain is at it again, laying the blame on the only person who’ll listen – me

I should have run after you, sometimes I tell myself this

Broken down the doors as the picture of tomorrow I’d built in my head of us together went up in flames

My call logs say different.

They tell me I did – I fought, I waited, I prayed

You still left

You left me with only time to take care of my aching heart

Now I realise, leaving was for the best

Now I realise, your love was lukewarm

I wanted to say I’d rise again like the phoenix

But did we ever burn bright? Are there even ashes for me to be reborn?

You did this to us

I’m done carrying your scars

You used to be part of me. But no more

Now I’m whole again

I’m whole

 

Moving On

Photo Credit: SecretsofaGoodGirl

How a person treats you is a reflection of them, not youthings you tell yourself when going through the aftermaths of a breakup.

Why do they call it moving on? Like it’s a feel-good thing.

Moving on doesn’t feel good. It hurts.

It’s like deciding to go on a diet. Or quitting soda drinks cold turkey.

It sucks at first, and the only bright spot is the logic part of your brain telling you you’re doing the right thing. In time, that voice will get louder. And easier to believe.

And one day, you would have moved on.

But not today. Today, you’re still moving on.

And it feels awful.

It is admitting you made a mistake, a poor decision. It’s admitting you lived with this mistake either oblivious or too stubborn to admit it.

You should have known. The signs were there.

When her words didn’t change but her actions did. You should have known.

She kept saying I love you but she stopped calling. You should have known.

She stopped caring. And then she stopped talking. You should have known.

Finally, you pull the plug, and the dejection overwhelms you.

This you knew. Anticipated.

It didn’t stop you feeling like your heart had been run over by a steam train.

I let you in where no one has been before. You went in and awakened places in me that I never thought I had, then left me when I’d come to depend on youthoughts that keep you crying into your sheets at night.

So yes, moving on sucks. But staying put would suck even more.

So dont.

Photo Credit: SecretsofaGoodGirl

Love in the time of economic recession

Love in the time of economic recession

Hey there. Remember me?

I’m as surprised as you.

Surprised it’s taken so long for me to get back to posting anything here. Save for that birthday post which I had to quickly drum up for my lovely sister, I’ve ignored this place for months.

Everything’s so dusty back here.

I blame work. And a little bit of laziness. Plus, after writing technical stuff all day, the last thing on my mind is churning out 600-800 words about my random thoughts. The only thing on my mind in the evenings are usually food and sleep.

But I couldn’t stay away forever. And here I am.

Technically, I’m not back though.

I’m here to present a series of guest posts from my friend Francoise.

I met Francoise through a funny set of events in 2015. She’s a French lady who’s married to a Yoruba man. And she’s lived with him in Nigeria since 1987.

Her story’s a long one which probably deserves a blogpost of its own. She’s been trying to get me to write her biography for months. I’m still thinking about it.

I’m letting her pour out some of her thoughts on my blog for a while. Let me (and her) know what you think.

Note: She’s a native French speaker, and still hasn’t gotten good with writing our language. And I have refused to edit her prose, partly because I want to preserve the authenticity of her voice, and partly cos I want to punish her (lol). I also had to BEG her before she sent me pictures I could use for this story. She’s the most camera shy person I’ve met so far.

Francoise, you’re up:

………………………………

Hey!

Here I am, building another bridge between the two continents,  a new bridge between my two continents, between Europe and Africa, between the two cultures, between the two races….

I was born in one and I’ll like to die in the other.

As we put on the wall pictures of our family because we love them, or the cross of the Christ to remember His sacrifice, I had to tattoo the flag of my land on my shoulder to testify to myself that I am not denying the soil that made me ;  but Lagos took me by the heart, that is a fact. Don’t ask me why because I don’t know: le coeur a ses raisons que la raison n’a pas…. what is sure is that it is a love story, a passionate story that I’ll like to share.

Francoise Tatoo

I just finished reading the last novel of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I like this young author. Right from the first page, you are immersed in the story and you like the characters. This pleasure with Americanah came from the depth of the prose and the similarities with my personal experiences in life.  My own story’s title would have been Africanah.

As I was progressing in the story of this Nigerian girl living in today’s America, three essential points arose. And I could not resist comparing them with my own African life. So similar and so different at the same time… like similar opposites. The worries being the same yet opposite, like the reflection in a mirror.

Here is the story of a black girl in America and there is the picture of a White woman in Africa.

The first point of course is the colour of the skin. Like the Nigerian girl who discovered her blackness as soon as she arrived in the US, I have discovered my whiteness as soon as I arrived in Nigeria.

Yes, I know what you are thinking right now, but please say it again, because there is a lot to be said. This is the first very important point of our uprooted life and we shall come back to it again.

The second interesting point is the management of our hair. There are difficulties and I would like to take my time to express them.

The third point I would like to develop is the effect of our accent, and believe me it has its importance, you have to live it to realize that.

I’ll be going over these with you.

See you next week

Francoise Selfie

…………………………………….

Hey!

Ibukun is my friend. Ibukun is a nice guy.

When I made my proposition; he said “ok, no problem, but at one condition: you don’t go on shit”. Then I said “Ok, no problem, I am a clean fly, I don’t go on shit… only on food.”

If you know me… you’ll recognize me,

If you like me… you’ll follow me,

If you want… you can write me.

See you around…

Ibukun’s Note: Francoise will post again next week. Please leave a comment and check back.