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Pointing Fingers

“A wise man once said that every time you point a finger to accuse someone else, your other four fingers are pointing right back at you…”

A friend of mine called me one day out of the blues that she had just lost her pregnancy and I experienced a rainbow mix of unexpected emotions. I was shocked and confused because I had seen her almost every day prior to that and had no clue that she was preggers. I felt sad and heartbroken because she had lost something she had wanted for so long. I felt hurt and betrayed because she hadn’t trusted me enough to confide in me till she needed a shoulder to cry on. For the time being I put my feelings aside and was there for her. I was everything she needed me to be.

It didn’t take too long however, to realise she wasn’t the only one that needed comforting. I called my mom to unburden my chest and she told me it was usual for some friends not to tell each other sensitive stuff like this because of our culture and the ‘you don’t know who is really happy for you’ mentality and that maybe the couple had reasons for keeping it in and I shouldn’t let it affect me. But it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. All my other friends had told me the news as soon as they peed on the stick and this friend had shed tears more than once that some other friend of hers had excluded her from the baby announcement and since some of her inner circle knew about it, I felt I had been deliberately excluded.

So I called up one of my oldest friends to whine about it and as I was going on and on about the seeming betrayal, I let it slip that all that time I had confided in this friend about the procedure I had done, and she had never once felt the need to trade her own secret and voila, the next instance something unexpected happened. My dear friend cut me short and asked when I had the procedure done. I told her and as it dawned on me that I had goofed, I felt the embarrasment creep up my neck. I had kept the details from my friend even though she had initially suggested it and asked me about it once or twice. I hastily replied that I wanted to be sure the procedure had worked and was waiting for the right time to break the ‘good’ news which unfortunately never came. I tried to convince her that I hadn’t excluded her for any negative reason and that it was just more convenient to tell my other friend because she was going through the same issues that I was. Right then it occured to me that I had been feeling hurt and betrayed when I had done exactly the same thing to my other friend!

So many friendships have had bad blood mar them because one friend hid a new man, new job, a pregnancy, an engagement, a wedding announcement, a party, a promotion, a hangout or some other opportunity or good news from the other friend. We have done this to protect their feelings, prevent jealousy or bad blood, protect our good news from frenemies (and village people) or just to keep our matters private but most times we inadvertently hurt someone who has only good intentions towards us. The worst part is that the friend doesn’t know which of the above reasons you had for excluding her and many times emotions make people assume the worst.

So how do you control the dissemination of your private affairs without sacrificing a good friend on the altar of secrecy? Here are 3 points to note. This points don’t apply if you deliberately excluded the person for any reason.

1. Be consistent. Let your friend know exactly what place she occupies in your life. Every person has different circles of friends. If you have 2 best friends, don’t tell one and leave the other out unless it is a known fact that you are closer to one of them. If you tell only your inner circle a secret, a friend in the outer circle won’t feel excluded unless you have given her reason to believe that she was part of your inner circle.

2. Be sensitive. Don’t assume that your friend understands why she wasn’t included. Take out time to explain to her and to gently tackle how she may be feeling. Invest more time, attention and love into the relationship so that you restore the balance that was there before the big reveal and so that she is assured that she wasn’t excluded for a negative reason. This may take time, don’t be in a hurry to move on unless you are sure she has.

3. Be fair. The world is so intertwined that many times we get as good as we give. If you are a private person then don’t get mad if someone else keeps their information private. If you planned to keep the information private but a couple of people already know about it, tell the people who are important to you rather than someone in your inner circle hearing it from a random friend outside or finding out she was one of the few people who didn’t know. Remember gist gets around pretty fast.

Life isn’t static. We will always have our own secrets and not be privy to someone else’s. Even though we may be inadvertently or intentionally excluded from certain circles of trust, we must be careful not to point fingers for with someone else we may have unwittingly crossed the same line. People have different characters and if you choose to be friends with a secretive person, you must own this and not get upset when the person is just being herself. You must also understand that some secrets are kept out of fear of past personal failures (they don’t want to jinx it) and not fear of what you can or can’t do to ruin it.

Finally, if you choose to keep a secret, do it for your own reasons and not because of advice from some random third party who doesn’t understand the depth of your friendship and has made you suspicious of the very people you trust. Your friend knows you and as a result can anticipate your reactions and odd behaviour hurts even more.

Nobody is perfect, may the force of friendship be strong within us and may forgiveness, love and understanding guide the ones we love and the ones who love us!

Have a lovely day Chutzpah fam,

Xoxo

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Posted by on May 23, 2018 in Memoirs

 

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Am I too black?

Am I too black?

skin-bleaching (2)

I was 12 years old when it hit me that I could be too dark. Perhaps God had been a bit overeager with the melanin and where the manual said a pinch he threw it all in.

But the preacher says God doesn’t make mistakes…

I was walking through Tejuosho market that blazing hot afternoon and a couple of innocuous market women bored with the fact that they hadn’t made any sales all afternoon decided to shake the very core of my foundation perhaps for sport or maybe the way mothers do when they think they are doing what’s best for you.

“Sisi you too black”

“Come make we give you cream”

“Man no like black skin like this oh”

“No mind her black and shine, come make I give you the one wey go tone you small”

“This one go maintain your colour make you light small, all the big girls use it”

And so they hovered around like birds of prey while I tried desperately to escape their greasy palms.

Something changed that day and I became acutely aware that I had lived with these jibes for most of my life. My friends called me “Blacky shadow”, family often referred to my darker skin tone. I was often described as the black girl which wouldn’t have been weird if I lived abroad but I was somewhat bemused because everyone around me was black- well racially speaking.

I tried to fix my inadequacies by attaining flawless skin by hook or crook! Tried using my mom’s creams and soaps. Even reacted to one of them, a French cream given to her by a friend which turned out to be liquid soap and yours truly slathered it generously on her face before bed and woke up to swollen eyes and lips which took their damn good time to resolve. Or the time I had that one pimple and put an antiseptic soap on my face overnight and woke up with chemical burns! Had to wear my hair like a rockstar, obscuring most of my face and I got laughed at by the unkind kids in church. Needless to say, I was obsessed with my skin. That obsession steered me towards the path of Dermatology and fuelled my passion for dark skin activism.

Last year I decided my dermatology thesis would be on skin lightening because it was the elephant in the room. Every body knew somebody who was bleaching. The media celebrated it, dark skin actors and actresses were sidelined, the cosmetic industry was still making billions of dollars annually and NAFDAC had released a watery statement banning the use of mercury, hydroquinone and steroids in skin lightening agents but of course didn’t enforce it and the market still thrived. I even had medical colleagues that were bleaching- this was certainly going to be an unpopular topic.

Do you know that 77% of Nigerians are currently using skin lightening agents and research shows that the figures may be much higher.

Women who claim to be against bleaching are toning their skin to ‘maintain’ their colour. People are mixing steroid containing creams like Funbact-A into their body creams and acting surprised when their skin gets lighter. Like one woman said “I was lighter skinned as a child, it’s my true colour coming out”. But then she couldn’t understand why she suddenly had unsightly stretch marks.

People are free to do whatever they want with their skin so why am I so concerned with this?

The Federal Ministry of Health warns that smokers are liable to die young…

The Federal Ministry of Health warns that tobacco smoking is dangerous to health…

Front-and-Back-views-of-Cigarette-pack-in-Nigeria-showing-text-only-warning-labels

Boldly inscribed on every cigarette pack! Smokers are free to smoke but fully aware of the adverse effects. People who lighten their skin have no idea what they are signing up for. Research showed that less than a tenth of skin bleachers were aware of the side effects. I want the Federal Government to put inscriptions about the adverse effects of skin lightening on every bottle or jar of skin lightening cream sold in the market. Ignorance is killing Nigerians!

I watched a 25 year old girl die from kidney failure. She had been on maintenance dialysis but her kidneys couldn’t keep up. Her only risk factor was the use of skin lightening agents for a couple of years. She had started in secondary school because a guy she liked picked a lighter skinned classmate over her…

You can’t change the behaviour if you don’t change the perception.

Here are 20 adverse effects of use of skin lightening agents (the list is not exhaustive)

  1. Obesity
  2. Diabetes
  3. Hypertension
  4. Poor wound healing
  5. Skin discolouration (especially on the cheeks, feet and knuckles)
  6. Kidney disease
  7. Liver disease
  8. Ring worm and other fungal infections
  9. Stretch marks
  10. Recurrent boils and bacterial infections
  11. Thinning of the skin and increased skin fragility
  12. Heart valve infections (from intravenous injections of skin lightening agents)
  13. Sudden death from air embolism (from intravenous injections of skin lightening agents)
  14. Skin cancer
  15. Sun burns
  16. Increased redness of the skin
  17. Prematurely ageing skin
  18. Growth of unwanted hair on parts of the body like the chin and chest in women
  19. Body odour
  20. Worsening of pre-existing skin conditions like acne.

People have different thresholds and skin lightening agents have different strengths so people may experience these side effects with varying lengths of time. Some skin-lightening agents especially the newer ones like the organic brands and Glutathione may promise little or no side effects but one thing is for certain, if you strip away your melanin by using skin lightening agents, your skin will be more exposed to the ultraviolet rays of the sun and your risk of skin cancer and sun burns will definitely increase. Nature has established that those with more melanin live in places with greater sun exposure and that’s why the Caucasians with less melanin have a higher risk of skin cancer with prolonged exposure to the sun. Dear skin bleacher, you are now a Caucasian living under the blazing hot Nigerian sun. That mole may not be ordinary, have it checked out before it gets you!

There’s so much to say about skin lightening but for now I ask that you join my crusade by signing my petition to ban the sale of harmful skin lightening agents over the counter.

Young women and men need to know that their skin colour doesn’t define them. We are Africans and having black skin comes with the territory. Please follow my Instagram page  1000beautiful_black_women to join the campaign.

#blackisbeautiful

#backtoblack

#saynotobleaching

#theNigerianDermatologist

xxx

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2018 in Health

 

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The Argument against Gossip

Gossip is therapeutic. I am a grownass woman and I can attest to this fact!

Talking about your grievances against someone to a neutral sympathetic ear makes you feel instantly better.

We justify it by saying we are only confiding in a friend who understands; or airing our views to one who wouldn’t blow it out of proportion. We shy away from the word back-biting seeing it as an unkind synonym.

‘I am not a confrontational person’, we say.

‘I am passive aggressive’, we seek to justify.

‘He/She would never accept the fault was theirs’, we argue.

‘It may lead to a big fight and an end to a friendship you still need’, we silently agitate.

So we say nothing. We talk about our grievances to all and sundry except the aggressor; not realizing that we are creating a monster. A person who feels they do no wrong and goes through life unchecked.

We unknowingly groom a self-righteous fiend and then one day it goes too far and you blow the lid off your pent up emotions and say more than you should about every damn issue that has ever bothered you and the other person is taken aback believing his small misdemeanor led to a torrential outpouring of negative emotion. We overreact like a pressure cooker in its prime. Many friendships do not survive that, even well-meaning ones.

So is gossip really therapeutic? Maybe in the short run but facing your issues with the one you call friend is an investment in your future.

You know you deserve better so if there’s someone out there who you call a friend, who has done things to you that make you choke up with unspoken emotion every time you think of them, man up and tell that person exactly how you feel. Cut out the insults and assumptions and say it as you see and feel it. It won’t be pretty but your friendship will come out stronger and if you have to kiss the friendship goodbye then consider it self-preservation. Nobody is indispensable!

Rise above gossip. Don’t say it to them till you have said it to him/her. #hardbutworthatry

Matthew 18:15 KJV;

‘Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.’

I wish for you friends that stick closer than brothers…

Have a great day Chutzpah fam,

Xoxo

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2018 in Inspirational

 

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Finding yourself!

One day when I was tired of being down trodden and tossed about by the ill winds of life, I gazed upon my reflection and finally saw myself for who I really was…

A Queen!

Dear Woman,

Queens do not hustle.

They do not worry.

They cannot beg.

Queens never doubt their identity.

They do not bend to the whims of others.

They are strong even in adversity.

Queens are not helpless.

They lead.

They have no fear of tomorrow.

Queens know their worth.

They expect the best every time.

They never fail.

They never fall.

Queens sleep easy.

They are beautiful within and without.

They do not seek validation.

They are not afraid to stand alone.

Queens are set apart from the crowd.

They are relevant and significant.

They are favored and recognized.

Their very presence wields influence.

They are confident and self-assured.

They are queens regardless of location or circumstance.

It doesn’t matter if your present reality speaks another story for David was anointed King long before he ascended the throne!

A daughter of a King becomes a Queen.

You are the daughter of the King of Kings.

Step into your destiny and forget about the logistics. You are a force to be reckoned with but until you step into the shoes that are rightfully yours, the odds will remain against you.

You are a Queen. Believe and Become!

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2018 in Inspirational

 

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Deafening Silence

My ears were ringing again and I felt like my head was going to implode. I counted to 10 between deep breaths hoping the whoosh of expiration would blow away the waves.

Why couldn’t anyone else hear the deafening silence? Why was the still thunder tearing us apart while everyone looked on like it was just another day?

Lassa had killed so many already but all I heard was talk and more talk about the 2019 elections. The government turned its nose in the air and the media buried its head in the sand as yet another health worker breathed his last unsaved by the care his 5000 naira hazard allowance could cover. Killed because he stood by the Hippocratic oath in the face of danger.

There were no longer beds available at the Lassa center and staff worked in trepidation setting up makeshift tents and dragging old beds unto the open field for wounded soldiers. Yet the silence continued…

The rats have won, the rats have won! That would be the dirge soon if something wasn’t done to curb the growing number of victims. Victims whose close contacts could not be fully traced till the next set dropped like flies.

Lassa is here,

Lassa strikes fear

Lassa is on a killing spree

while the culprit rats still run free!

Protect your food

because the government doesn’t seem to care about the deaths in your neighborhood!!!

Stay Woke!

Dear Nigerian government, you have a duty to your people and to your health personnel! #endthesilence

Dear News media, you promised us unbiased, real time news! Give Lassa a voice so we can curb this menace. #endthesilence

Dear Health personnel, protect yourself first. Universal precautions could save your life. Assume the worst with every patient. Any patient with a history of fever should be screened. #staywoke

Dear Nigerian, na only one life you get. Kill the rats, don’t touch their urine, faeces or blood. Don’t eat rats and store your grains and food in plastic containeres with covers so that rats can’t urinate or pass faeces on them. #staywoke

God help us all!

And God bless the families of thise who have lost their lives to this virus especially the health workers killed in the line of duty.

Say NO to this deafening silence. The Nigerian government should tackle this issue NOW!!!

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2018 in Health

 

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How to make waiting count 

How to make waiting count 

Everyone has someone or something they are waiting for;

…A meaningful relationship 

…Marriage

…Children 

…A job

…A financial breakthrough

…A business opportunity

…Freedom

…Or just some good news

The list is endless…

We all have that one thing we are waiting for and waiting is not the most pleasant experience. Sometimes it can seem endless and in a few cases we lose patience and shelve our need in the box labelled unattainable and makedo with a more realistic albeit less satisfactory alternative.

So how do we make waiting count? (Since the wait is almost inevitable.)

1. Focus on what you already have.

There is so much negativity in the world that if you only stopped for a second to appreciate what you already have, you would be filled with such gratitude.

https://youtu.be/Eyfa1yR8tx0

2. Don’t miss the lesson to be learned

Waiting teaches us valuable lessons. Write a list of things you have learned about yourself and others since you started the wait. Waiting may have revealed toxic relationships in your life or strengths you didn’t know you had or just shown you how resilient or ingenious you can be. Don’t look down on these life lessons. 

3. Waiting gives us a unique story that can encourage someone else.

You can’t give good advice unless you have walked in that person’s shoes. So what better way to make waiting count than to encourage someone else who is waiting for the same reason, to keep going. A lot of people are not as strong as you are and encouraging someone else will give you an extra boost of positive energy. 

4. Work on yourself while you wait.

Are you waiting for a husband? Work on the rough edges, your perceived weaknesses and eliminating your emotional baggage so that when he does come around he meets you whole. Are you waiting for something else, read about qualities, attributes, qualifications and mindsets needed to accomodate the thing or person you are waiting for. Success is when opportunity (what you are waiting for) meets preparation (what you need to be doing while waiting).

5. Use the waiting time to strike off all the other things on your to-do list.

Sometimes the things we are waiting so earnestly for could change our lives irreversibly for the better and maybe for the worse. A new baby may make getting that postgraduate degree more complicated so why don’t you get it now. A husband may put a dampener on your dreams to travel the world so why don’t you do that now instead of wallowing?

Waiting makes the want or need more memorable and appreciated when it is finally in our grasp. It’s so easy to take for granted the things we didn’t wait or labour for. Don’t waste your waiting time, it’s the right time to do a lot of things. Life is a continuum, there are no pauses or vacuums. Make each day count so that when your expectations become a reality they won’t be brought into an otherwise futile existence. 

Have a great day Chutzpah fam,

Xoxo

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2017 in Inspirational

 

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Time Doesn’t Heal Wrong

Time Doesn’t Heal Wrong

When Bishop David Oyedepo said these words during Shiloh 2017, a lightbulb went off in my head. Truer words had never been said.

Time heals lots of things…a broken heart, an injured knee, the hurt from your past but as awesome as time is, it doesn’t heal wrong. Love may cover wrong but only RIGHT heals wrong!

Are you currently working a job you have no business doing simply because you want to make ends meet? No matter how long a writer paints, unless he has a gift for both expressions of art, his destiny would remain untapped and unfulfilled till he retraces his steps. Yes I do believe in destiny.

A man who kills another man doesn’t become less guilty because twenty years have passed and his crime is still undetected nor a side chick who pushed another woman out of her home.

As long as we walk the wrong path, our comeuppance awaits us regardless of how slowly the clock is ticking. Many people have been sidelined because they went off track and felt too much time had passed and a whole lot of water under the bridge and it was just too late to get back on track.

This principle applies to all aspects of life- your career, your relationship, your marriage, your life decisions etc. It’s never too late to steer yourself back to the right path. It’s the only path to fulfilment but it takes courage to admit that you are on the wrong path and more courage to take a step in the right direction. Only the right direction leads to the path of greatness and self-fulfilment so get going now, even if you are already old and grey.

Be brave!

Have a great Sunday Chutzpah fam,

Xoxo

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2017 in Inspirational

 

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