Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Dodging the Bullet

Everyone is so happy when you get married. Regardless of how you get married, ultimately there’s that implicit “PHEW”. It’s almost a sigh of relief especially when you are of marriageable age.
“She dodged THAT bullet” - the bullet of your expiration date. 
I need to go back and look at the exact moment that I started to subscribe to that school of thought. Does living in Nigeria change that for you? Where pretty much all of a woman’s value is placed on her being married.

As a woman you could climb Mount Vesuvius, find the cure for cancer, help the forgotten souls in the ass crack of the Earth, at some point everyone is looking over your shoulders and accomplishments for the man behind you, the man whose last name you bear. The customary questions will haunt you; “soooo… you don’t have a husband?”, “Is she married?”.
It’s bad enough you get it from everyone else but when you get to the sanctuary that is your home and family. “Look Daddy! I just discovered a new planet in outer space that will sustain human life as we know it”.
"Sha mu ikan wale!” (Translated: Just bring one home! (If only it were that easy to just pick them and bring them home).

Our society inundates girls with mixed messages. Read your books, study hard, face your work, don’t let a boy touch you, you will get pregnant, boys only want you to destroy your life (another Yoruba saying- “okunrin ma ba aiye je”) and then all of a sudden it’s “where is your husband?” Where are your children?
We ask why women are desperate and seeking love at any and all cost when we reinforce the narrative that all boys are bad but bring one when we say it’s ok? Where are the lessons about loving yourself and valuing yourself? Why didn’t anybody teach us WHY we should stay away from boys as opposed to telling us to stay away because the only consequence is bringing utter shame and disgrace to the family name in form of an unwanted pregnancy? How do we reconcile that the things you tell us to fear the most in our formative years are what we are supposed to magically conjure when we haven’t been prepared to navigate the twists and turns that falling in love and being in a relationship bring?
Why aren’t we told that having sex forms soul-ties that have lasting consequences? That giving your body to the wrong man puts you and your precious heart in jeopardy. Why does no one tell a girl how devastating heartbreak is?

Our society touts the mantra “a man is a man” but is unwilling to accept that not all male are men, some male are monsters, and monsters are not just mythical creatures in fairy tales. They exist and we marry them because no one cares if he makes you laugh or even smile, no one bothers to ask if you have peace, they’re mostly just concerned with picking complimentary colors for the aso-ebi and how quickly can we club him over the head and drag him down the aisle willingly or not.
The very same dogmatic society that regards divorced women as pariahs labels single women as desperate when we succumb to the pressure and do as we are told- FIND a husband

So in the end, when all the small chops have been eaten and Dom P. has been popped and you drive away in your RR Phantom, the envy of every single girl tapping into the anointing of your 3 carat, ascher cut ring from Van Cleef & Arpels, no one knows that while you were busy dodging the bullet you ended up in front of a one man firing squad and no one is there when the trigger is pulled.

“God is Love, not a closed fist or controlling actions”

Monday, April 06, 2015

The End Justifies...What?

Photo Credit: ABC News

I am intensely preoccupied with endings. I have never been a fan of goodbyes. Every scene where people have to part makes me ugly cry. Over time, I have built a force field around my heart that acts as a prophylactic to shield the pain of endings. Endings are inevitable. With that knowledge stowed and lingering somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I struggle with beginnings.

As profoundly nonsensical as it may sound,  I keep thinking "what's the whole point?" 3 months from now I will wonder what I ever saw in you, 4 years down the line you'll wish you had crossed the road when you met me because you swear I was on psychotropic medication. We will walk past each other without even the slightest acknowledgment that just a couple of years ago we couldn't go to bed without speaking about everything and nothing for endless hours.

So what's the freaking point of it all?
When you invest so much into building a relationship; emotions, time, trust, the phone bill, the intimacy... Where does it all go when it ends? Or is it that those investments weren't designed to last therefore as the demand for you goes down by your 'investor' your stock loses value until you hit the inevitable price zero?

Much like the stock market I find that it does matter if you take the long or short position in investing in someone. What are the motives for my buying into your stock in the first place?  Are they solely based on what I deem are qualities that make you a worthwhile risk? Am I taking the long position where I'm all in and hope that this will appreciate 100% knowing that we both come out on top? Or is it the short position where I expect the asset to be devalued because I'm only borrowing it just to see what I can profit in the short term before I give it back? When things aren't looking too good, do I sell immediately looking to trade in other stock or do I keep my stock hoping that you will bounce back? Believing that the qualities that caused me to invest in you in the first place, will get your stock price back up.

As it is in the stock market, I find in life that every good thing does have an ending, that no great stock lasts forever and every stock has its day except when you're Warren Buffet. He believes in rebalancing periodically and reinvesting his dividends and interests. Maybe, just maybe, if we apply Mr Buffet's principles to our real lives we could get our "forever stock".
Hey, but then again what does he know? He's only the most successful investor of our lifetime.

And they said I'd never use those business degrees  :-)

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Swim or Sink?

A couple of days ago, a couple of friends & I had a heated debate about one of the most poignant story lines from the tv show 'Scandal'- the triangle between Olivia Pope, President Fitz, and his wife, Mellie.
I shy away at the thought of calling it a 'love triangle' especially as it is my personal opinion that 'love' by our limited definition is what is least in play in this situation.
Liv & Pres. Fitz fall in love while she is working on his campaign, he is married. As the show progresses, it is revealed that he wasn't really in love with his wife and married her out of a sense of duty. As a result, he is tortured, she is tortured and they all suffer.
So the topic of debate? Whose side are you on? Do you root for Liv and President Fitz because they seem to be 'soul mates'? Or do you sympathize with Mellie as she desperately tries to hold her marriage together?
I will admit that every time Fitz and Liv come on the screen, my heart winces. I have even shed a few tears. It has always baffled me how something so abstract can cause actual physical pain. The very thought that just a feeling can stop the most vital organ in my body has and will always be mystifying to me. We all know heart ache, metaphorically and literally.

However, I am Team Mellie!
In as much as I get it and I so do get the Olivia & President Fitz 'thing', I just cannot in good conscience root for them to be together. I am of the firm belief that love is a decision. Love in marriage is a decision. It is not as  we expect a feeling that should just 'be there' in our hearts and therefore the absence of it means it has taken its leave. Much like everything else in life, love is not stagnant, it evolves, over time it comes to mean different things in every relationship not just romantically. It is to be worked on and cultivated as with everything worth having and keeping in life.
As humans, we are told life is a journey and indeed it is. Do the same rules apply when the phase of our journey suddenly changes from sailing in perfect sunny weather to navigating a storm in torrential rains? And what if we weren't  prepared and thought a two person sailboat is all that was needed for the journey? Clearly the logical thing to do once we get into less than desirable sailing conditions would be to make the necessary adjustments in the interest of self preservation. Does that give you the right to bring a third person on board just because you don't feel as confident or as safe anymore? Why all of a sudden are my sailing skills not sufficient enough all because the weather changed? Surely if we both started out on the journey together, shouldn't your skills be called into question as well?
When, how, and why do we stop being enough to each other?
I have been told that I am oversimplifying love and ignoring all of the complexities. I'll confess I don't understand love much less all of its many  intricacies, my only question is; what about Mellie? Should she allow a third passenger on her 2 person sail boat? And how long before they all drown?
Liv & President Fitz may be soul mates but they don't know for sure. Is it not possible that those emotions are intensified simply and only because they cannot be together? If love is supposed to feel so good, why are they in anguish? If they fully explored this relationship and actually got together, who's to say that all will be well in their world? Does being soul mates give you automatic immunity from being human?

It is human nature to always wonder just how much greener the grass is on the other lawn, it is part of our evolutionary nature. Could Pres. Fitz feel so strongly about Olivia just because she's not Mellie? Did he ever consider that they're the same woman? They're both strong willed, assertive, intelligent women who love politics and their country. How different are they really?

I am of the notion that in a world with 7 billion people, if time and opportunity allowed for it, we would all find more than one soul mate. It's all about chances and odds but for whatever reason, we choose to settle and make a life with one who we feel is best suited to us and our wants & needs.
So by it's very definition, is this love? Is it selfish to abandon Mellie? Is it kind that he has a love affair?  That considered, how much of this is truly love ?
It seems to me that loving has more to do with how you feel and how the person makes you feel. Once that initial 'high' is gone, we start to chase rainbows, unfairly expecting each other to duplicate that feeling, our frustrations with each other cause us to either throw one off the boat or jump head first into the water, either way we have a man overboard situation.  It is why even when we have committed to journey through life with someone, deep down inside, we always look out for that rescue boat.

We all want to be saved. The real question is from whom or from what?

Photo Credit: ABC

Paving a New Road: The Journey to Self Discovery

“Courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to do something while you are still afraid”. - Anonymous

 **I wrote this in December 2011**

 I’ve heard it said a few times that the man that you marry in your 20’s is not the same man you’d marry in your 30’s. Fortunately for me that reality hit me (literally) before I hit my 30’s. Fine, it is in the twilight of my 20’s but nevertheless I am filled with gratitude.

 In the last few years, a lot of things died inside of me. I was living my life in a catatonic state. I watched life pass me by while I chose to stay stuck because I was caught up in a dogmatic society and what would be thought of me if I dared to defy the norm. There is nothing more satisfying than throwing a few choice fingers up to everything in your life that is destructive, disparaging, and mentally, emotionally and possibly physically unhealthy. Of all the fingers I have given in my life (and I have given my fair share and then some) nothing has been more bittersweet.
 Everyday is a new day and I am reacquainting myself with who I am. Everyday it gets a little less hazy and it probably will be the most intense and gruelling time of my life but I look forward to each day with a revived hope that I have not felt in a very long time.
It does help that I like me (seriously, have we met? I’m f*ckin’ awesome) ☺

 One of my rediscovered passions is my writing. I have had some amazing support in the last couple of months and one of the things I have been encouraged to do is to start doing what I love so much again and my first question was “What am I going to write about? I’m so lost”. The answer was “Just write what you know”. What I know is my life and the experiences that have shaped and formed who I have become.

So coming from a place of such extreme privacy and reclusion especially in the last few years, I am closing my eyes, taking a deep breath, feeling the fear, and jumping off this cliff with my eyes closed.

I will be living my life out loud on these pages not because I particularly enjoy putting my business out there but I hope that my words make you smile, laugh, provoke and challenge your thinking as well as mine.

More than anything else, I hope they make you silence the world and choose yourself just like I did.