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Author Archives: Neetah

Skin lightening practices: unmasking the darkness within

Skin lightening practices have gradually become ingrained in our urban culture with majority of women (and men) being faced with the decision to lighten their skin from as early on as their secondary school days. It’s no more odd to see a woman whose skin colour varies distinctly from her family’s or her childhood pics and as more people openly verbalize their affiliations to #teamlightskin the practice becomes deeply entrenched.

These practices have gained popularity for many reasons, foremost of which is the issue of colourism. Colourism is prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group. So many women and men- because this issue has progressed to almost uniformly affect both sexes, have been discriminated against because of their skin colour. Lighter skin has been associated with better job opportunities in some sectors of the economy like the banking sector and the media. Lighter skin has been shown to be more attractive to the opposite sex and society celebrates the birth of a lighter skinned child almost as much as they celebrate the birth of a boy child. Lighter skin has also been associated with a higher self-esteem probably as a consequence of the effects of colourism. Prejudice against an individual with a darker skin tone is no different from apartheid or racism which were issues of international concern. The difference is its subtlety, as many would deny the problem even exists in the magnitude that it has been described.

Skin lightening practices are enshrouded in even more layers of darkness. One of them is the constant battle to overcome and mask the side effects attributable to the use of these agents. Common skin complications include stretch marks which are usually wide, dark or red and ugly compared by some to a tear in a fabric and common on the arms, thighs, buttocks, breasts and belly. Another complication is thin skin which is injured by mild physical contact and is very difficult for a doctor to sew together during surgical emergencies. There have also been reports of body odour because of the chemical reactions of the agents with sebum, poor wound healing, abnormal growth of hair on the face and chest, a myriad of skin infections especially fungal and bacterial infections, a worsening of skin conditions like acne and increased risk of sunburns and deposition of a dark pigment in some sun-exposed areas of the body. The most tragic long term skin complication of skin lightening is the increased risk of skin cancer.

Alarmingly, application of lightening agents on the skin have also been associated with some systemic complications like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, liver disease and kidney disease. Case reports and research have shown an association between these systemic diseases and application of lightening creams or soaps which contain agents like mercury, hydroquinone and steroids on the skin for an extended duration of time. A lot of women who develop any of the above side effects are ill- advised to switch to another brand of skin lightening agents and finally see the dermatologist or other health professional when it is too late. Women fear the stigma associated with cessation of bleaching practices as the repigmentation makes them feel less confident, less beautiful and judged. So many hide the side effects in a cloak of darkness and continue to bask in the pseudoeuphoria of belonging to #teamlightskin.

Advances in the beauty industry mean that there are potentially safer albeit more expensive bleaching options and these are marketed as pills, injections and organic brands. Some women have even begun bleaching their unborn children by taking pills that could potentially cause birth defects. Science is ever evolving and like the drug Thalidomide which was considered safe till after years of use it was found to cause severe birth defects in babies, some skin lightening practices could be considered safe now and their side effects only revealed years after use. There are also some side effects which occur regardless of the safety profile of the skin lightening agent used. These are attributed to the removal of one’s melanin pigment which serves to protect from the harmful UV rays of the sun and include sun burns and photoaging which is described as premature aging of the skin caused by repeated exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV), primarily from the sun and the increased risk of skin cancer.

Ending colorism and empowering every African to embrace melanin is the only way we can kick skin lightening practices off the continent. The physical and psychological long term effects are not worth the short-lived hype. Patients have died from kidney diseases attributable to long term exposure to toxins in skin lightening agents, others are living with chronic diseases and self-esteem issues. The government regulatory bodies and legislators have a role to play in restricting access to these harmful agents but until they do, self-preservation is key and so is being our brother’s keeper. Say no to skin lightening practices, beauty is never to die for!

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Posted by on August 21, 2018 in Health

 

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Skin Lightening Practices; A PanAfrican Emergency!

Every country in Africa is rife with skin lightening practices. Women, men and children engage in these practices with alarming prevalences being reported from all over Africa. It has become a Panafrican emergency.

Mama Africa’s heart is racing because her people are losing their identity. Decades after the chains were unbound they are still mentally enslaved by the wiles of the trans-atlantic billion dollar cosmetic companies.

We believe that lighter skin is better, more beautiful, more attractive to the opposite sex, signifies higher social class, leads to better job opportunities and gives higher self-esteem. The media has played a huge role in sending these subliminal messages that have changed our perception of black skin and led to these unnatural beliefs.

“Nothing can be better than the melanin you were born with, nothing can be healthier than your natural skin tone.
But how do we open their eyes to see this truth…?”

Skin lightening practices have been associated with considerable morbidity and mortality including skin cancer, liver and kidney disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity and various skin conditions including infections and premature aging.

Studies have shown that the African child first starts skin lightening practices in secondary school. However, younger children are becoming victims and pregnant women have begun to use pills to lighten their babies in utero.
An increasing number of men are engaged in skin lightening practices and this emergency spares no gender, educational or socioeconomic level, age or tribe.

But has this problem gone unnoticed for decades? Definitely not! There have been many measures howbeit half-hearted and unsustainable which have been put in place to address the issue:

– The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in Nigeria in 2002 re-emphasized the ban on mercury, hydroquinone and steroid containing creams and soaps.
– Cyclical international and local anti-skin bleaching media reports and sensitization.
– Medical practitioners repeatedly cautioning against the adverse effects of such practices.
– A lot of research conducted to observe and understand the phenomena.
– Some well proven harmful brands phased out of the open market.
– The media occasionally celebrating a few dark skinned celebrities for their beauty. Lupita Nyong’o was named People Magazine’s most beautiful person in the world in 2014.

But why isn’t it working???
– Lax regulations on the sale of these agents.
– Thriving black market for banned skin lightening agents remains unchecked.
– Employers not bound by laws that ensure inclusion of every skintone. Colorism still thrives in the labour market.
– Media still focussed on lighter skin as the epitome of beauty.
– Foreign media influence on African culture and societal norms.
– Sunscreen with an SPF suitable for African skin is either unavailable or too expensive.
– Cosmetic companies not held accountable for the messages sent through their adverts and the contents of their products. Poor consumer protection.
– Stigma attributed to skin damage as a result of bleaching fosters desperation to continue at any cost.
– Harmful agents freely available over the counter without enforcing prescriptions.
– Paucity of health education for the masses.

Every African knows someone who engages in skin lightening practices. Together we must work together to protect our identity and our health and kick colorism and skin lightening practices off the continent. We need to be our brother’s keeper and stand for change!

Please sign this petition to restrict the sale of harmful skin lightening agents over the counter.

PETITION

Be the change you want to see!

#embracemelanin
#theNigerianDermatologist
#blackisbeautiful
#endcolorism

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Colorism and the concept of peace! #livingmandelaslegacy

Peace is the concept of harmony of mind, body and soul. A concept that can only thrive in the absence of hostility. It creates a safe space for people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse beliefs to be able to express themselves in every form without judgement. Peace is not only the absence of war and conflict in our nations but an ideology that each person must internalize and find before they can advocate for it externally.

Africa is under attack but not by armies from beyond the Atlantic but by brothers and sisters of the same tribe. Brothers and sisters who after fighting the common enemy have begun to fight eachother. Can you as an African say you are truly at peace?

I am an African woman with dark skin. I was never sold as a slave, I never lived with the prejudice racial discrimination brings and I was born in the 80s- the post colonial era when my people were free. Yet from a tender age I was told I was too black, no better than a shadow or a golliwog from one of Enid Blyton’s stories. The market women would eagerly beckon to me, “a little of this cream to make you beautiful my dear”. The boys looked at me and some of them said “if you were a little lighter, you would be so much finer”…

The media celebrated light skin and I was lured by the beauty promised in a bottle of bleaching cream. A beauty that seemed to guarantee social acceptance, better job opportunities, attraction by the male folk and peace…It promised calm to my inner turmoil and a silencing of the screaming voices that told me I was not good enough or pretty enough.

77% of Nigerians are currently lightening their skin, 59% of the Togolese, 35% of South Africans, 27% of Senegalese and 25% of Malians. No country is exempt. This has become a Panafrican pandemic!

Less than 10% of users are aware of the side effects which go beyond skin diseases, skin aging and skin cancer to encompass liver and kidney disease, diabetes, hypertension and obesity and there are others. In some cultures, it is taboo to even talk about it. The people who lighten their skin may be admired but they are invariably shamed for it when the side effects set in. Society has always been fickle.

Many of these people resorted to bleaching in a quest for peace because the lack of acceptance by their own people caused them inner conflict and a rising inferiority complex. Colorism has robbed so many of a peaceful existence.

Men are not spared, neither are children or even unborn babies as pregnant women have begun to take pills to lighten their fetus and birth a more attractive, lighter skinned child. Self- acceptance knows no gender, education, socioeconomic status or tribe.

“Our mind must make peace with our heart before we can make peace with the world” ~ Roxana Jones

Embracing peace means not discriminating against your African brother or sister with darker skin tones.

Embracing peace means deliberately choosing darker skinned models and actresses in the media.

Embracing peace means letting our children see heroes and TV personalities that they can identify with on African TV #wakandaforever

Embracing peace means full disclosure of the ingredients and side effects of skin lightening agents on every bottle.

Embracing peace means lighter is not better but every shade of black skin is equally beautiful.

The path to inner peace is through self-acceptance. Self-acceptance is most often based on the community’s viewpoints about our values. Mandela fought to end apartheid but isn’t colorism an apartheid of sorts and mustn’t we fight it as hard as he did?

“Until the minds of men become united, no important matter can be accomplished. At present, universal peace is a matter of great importance but unity of conscience is essential so that the foundation of this matter may become secure, its establishment firm and its edifice strong” ~ Abdu’l- Baha

Embracing peace as an African means embracing melanin and breaking the shackles of mental slavery. You cannot change the practice until you change the perception!

Together we can end colorism in Africa and kick skin bleaching off the continent. If you are interested in joining the movement send an email to embracemelanin@gmail.com

#livingmandelaslegacy

#mymandelalegacy

Mandela said “it always seems impossible until it’s done!”

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2018 in Inspirational

 

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The Little Finger Phenomenon

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Have you ever sensed that a person may not be all they seem to be? That behind the smile lies a lurking darkness that you can’t quite figure out?

Have you ever felt your instincts kick you in the guts every time a certain person assures you of their loyalty or friendship but you try hard to ignore the ill-feeling?

Have you ever felt like someone you trusted could stick a knife in your back if given the opportunity or would bring you down in a heartbeat if they had the chance?

Have you ever felt a persistent unease around a certain person, the kind of unease that only grows the moment you start divulging classified info or things too personal to share with someone who truly doesn’t have your back?

Don’t suppress the flight or fight emotion, the outcome could be deadly!

At one of my old workplaces there was a woman who was always hanging around me and her words and body language showed she was interested in a more meaningful friendship but I couldn’t shake off the niggling doubts I had deep down. We became acquaintances and as time went by I learned to block out the unease. One day she comes to report a close colleague to me and said a lot of horrible things about the person trying to get a response out of me. As I opened my mouth to speak I saw her hand working very deftly on her phone and my instincts start screaming ‘DANGER’. Of course, she wasn’t looking at me cos her eyes were fixated on whatever she was doing. I leaned over the table and saw her activating the voice recorder. She looked up suddenly and caught my eye and the guilt in her eyes finally cleared every doubt I had ever had. I asked her why on earth she would want to record one part of a private discussion without my consent especially about such a sensitive topic. I walked her out of my office and the charade ended that instant.

What if she had succeeded? She would have messed up my reputation and my friendship with the other colleague without roping she and her inciteful comments in. Sometimes we never actually realise the reason for the uneasiness with certain people. However, it’s safe to say that if your head keeps telling you to be careful and you don’t have a history of paranoia, you should take it seriously.

I call it the ‘Little Finger Phenomenon’. Little Finger in the Game of Thrones Series was my most hated villain because he seemed so helpful and charming and was able to gain the trust of unsuspecting people only to advance his selfish ambitions without caring who he hurt or who he ruined. He did get his comeuppance but at what cost?

Jealousy, ambition, competitiveness, hate, obsession and bitterness are some of the emotions that can trigger your instincts about another person. The negative energy is often hard to ignore by the subconscious mind. So people, today I am asking you to screw the dictates of polite society by not accommodating anyone who constantly makes you uneasy. Keep a more than respectful distance and let your words be few because ultimately you are better safe than sorry!

Have a good day Chutzpah fam,

xoxo

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2018 in Inspirational

 

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JFK Blues

I was recently selected for the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders and this is exactly how I felt:

It made the opposition I received from men, women and even learned colleagues who were all standing on the table I was so vigorously trying to shake by speaking out against skin lightening practices totally worthwhile. #thefightcontinues #saynotobleaching

So I packed my bags ready for my dream trip to God’s own country. Eager to be moulded into greatness and to rub shoulders with the other fellows. #letsgothere

Had some hiccups in the days leading up to the trip but in Naija we know village people must always try themselves fortunately, God pass them!

So I would love to end the post here and say my trip to obodo oyinbo was uneventful but when you are making soup and Lagos traffic, faulty airplane, TSA, missed flight and spiritual cold are ingredients you know you are cooking up a storm so just grab a plate and let me continue…

Air peace got me to Lagos right on time. They give me the kind of assurance that aerocontractors had in its glory days. The kind that makes you wanna call them ‘your girl’.

Had a 10 hour wait till my next flight but had gotten an email to be at the airport 2 hours before checking in for some last minute instructions.

Called up my mama (you know I am a Lasgidi girl through and through) and she suggested we go somewhere outside the airport to chill for the 4 hours I had to kill.

That’s when my village people started laughing in Isoko. The traffic from the International airport to the nearest eatery in Ajao estate was ‘unholy’ to say the least. We finally spotted one Mr Biggs after being in traffic for over an hour. I had already started doing the mental calculations about how much time I was allowed to eat, gist and then hit the road again so I’d not be the star actress in ‘stories that touch’ episode 78!

We got back to the airport in record time after my beloved mama had prayed over me, anointed me and kissed me all over intermittently giving stern instructions and nuggets of advice. I love me an African mom any day, any time! #bestkarmaforanytrip

Everything else was uneventful at least for a while. I had to look frantically for a place to charge my phone. Why oh why are all the ports at the airport broken? Naija I hail oh!

I boarded my Delta Airlines flight to JFK ready for my amazing journey and undeterred by the fact that I was sitting between two African mothers who needed this ‘daughter’ to show them the buttons, adjust this and that and answer all manner of questions. Guys my new name is Anita Fixit!

Then the absolute worst happened. It was like a dream…first the monitors went off, then the airplane became very hot and then the lights went off and only the emergency lights gave us any form of visibility. I put my hands on my head! If this was Arik air, I would just hiss and wait for the pilot’s announcement of a delayed flight due to technical difficulties (Yes, Arik has shown me pepper plenty times #sorrynotsorry) but this was an oyinbo airline for Okoro’s sake! I thought of a zillion things- the missing planes and plane crashes and the domino effect a delay in one flight would invariably cause.

Soon we were sweating and then panting and everyone had the same bewildered look on their faces. The air hostesses passed out cold paper towels and we got progress reports from time to time. I sent a message to la familia to ‘bẹrẹ gbadura‘. Hubby sent me a youtube link to this awesome song and my frayed nerves found some calm.

Ada- I Testify

In a couple more minutes we were on the move and I testify that it was smooth sailing all the way to NYC. Well apart from the time when the waitress asked if we wanted chicken and yam or beef and rice and I picked beef and rice and aunty beside me picked ‘anything’ only to start wailing when she saw the mutilated chicken sitting untop mashed yam swimming in a pastel colored gravy. At least my excuse for jollof rice was edible!

Got to JFK, breezed past immigration (All Glory To God), checked in my luggage for my next flight and got my boarding pass. Connected to free wifi and then went in search of some cake and hot chocolate. To better understand the events that unfolded afterwards I would like to add that I went to the departure area but some stern looking Fed told me it was too early to be there since my flight was in 8 hours and I should find something to do with myself till much closer to departure. (Who sent me to even ask question sef? Shey I could have just wakad jejerly to the departure lounge).

When it was about an hour and 15 minutes to departure I strolled like a boss to the departure area only to see the worst queue I had ever seen in my life. The queue had twists and turns and interceptions and people walking like the undead. I panicked! The oyinbos were in no hurry and I mentally willed them to go faster. When it was 20 minutes to departure I kept begging the TSA guys to let me jump the queue cos I was gonna miss my flight and they’d calmly say ‘ma’am we should be over and done with in a couple more minutes.’ I was gobsmacked!

I left the TSA 10 minutes to departure only to realise the actual distance to gate B51. I ran and jogged and searched frantically for a cart to assist me with the commute and then ran some more till my lungs felt like they would burst. Got to the boarding gate at the exact time of departure printed on my boarding pass and was about to breathlessly congratulate myself when the woman at the desk informed me that my flight had gone 10 minutes before.

The kind folks at Delta airline put me on the next available flight which was 8 hours later and I became an omonile at JFK! The sort of person who hadn’t showered in 24 hours and who was unimpressed with the facilities around and just wanted to get home! The hours flew by kindly enough. I got busy with a course I’d left pending for some weeks and covered good ground.

Finally it was time to head to Washington DC and I made sure I was first in line. I had been assured that my luggage that arrived 8 hours earlier would be waiting for me. In Naija, the luggage would have found a new home! The plane was really small and for some odd reason my feet were freezing cold like rock solid cold even though the rest of the airplane had ambient temperature. Had to wrap my pashmina around my feet.

Finally got to the place I would be calling home for 6 weeks and I was offered a roll that tasted like boiled unseasoned beans wrapped in a slice of bread- they called it a burrito!

To be continued…

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

What Are Your Intentions?

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I was walking out of a meeting when an elderly colleague accosted me. She asked me to follow her into her office and wait there, then she proceeded to bring three other women also senior colleagues into her office. Being a smart woman, my brain had already figured out that there was going to be trouble and that it had to do with how I looked because this woman and I had never crossed paths before now. I looked at my hair, neat not over the top, not coloured like a rainbow. My ward-coat was clean and neat and my shoes were flat and demure and then I saw it. My red dress (yes doctors wear red every once in a while calm down!) had ridden up a little to my knee instead of staying where I put it (which was below my knees)- not that that should matter which is why I hadn’t bothered adjusting the pesky thing since I had a coat on but alas I had been called into the principal’s office so all offences mattered. I hastily adjusted my dress as she walked in with the last senior colleague.

hattie-mcdaniel-gone-with-the-wind

“Oh you have adjusted your dress! Why do you think it’s okay to walk around with a dress like this? And see her earrings, her hair obscures them but they look to me like chandeliers”

I was dumbfounded and embarrassed all at once. Words failed me. Not that they would have helped at that point.

She looked at the other women. “She must be unmarried and a house officer or one of the new registrars just starting residency!” She finished. Awaiting their nods and oohs and aahs of similar disapproval.

I was chagrined!

One of the women spoke up. “She is actually married and a senior registrar”.

Madam was taken aback. Maybe if she knew I wasn’t a newbie she may have decided to call me privately into her office like a mother would instead of subjecting me to such open ridicule.

My ears were hot.

“Well then she must be a product of your institution because a graduate from MY prestigious school would not dress like this.” She muttered in further disdain.

One of her colleagues smiled quite a knowing smile and then asked me; “Young woman where did you finish from?”

“UNILAG ma”

At this point I would like to pause and say that ‘the woman never hexperrerit!

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I was married, a Senior registrar and an alumnus from the very same school she finished from! She thought she had me all figured out and as such had acted as accuser, judge, jury and hangman but I was actually just some married woman who left her house in a hurry that morning only to discover the fashion faux-pas as she raced to clinic. A faux-pas that I tried to salvage by leaving my ward coat on all day. I wasn’t a villain, I had never been accosted for ‘provocative dressing’ and I sure as hell didn’t have a secret agenda for the men in my department.

I found my voice…

“Ma, please I do not usually dress like this. This was a fashion faux-pas which I only noticed after I left the house. I am sorry”.

The matter ended shortly and she told me they all would be watching me for future offences.

The other senior colleagues had been quite uncomfortable throughout the whole exchange and one of them sweetly called me the very next day to assure me that the whole debacle had stemmed from only good intentions. I appreciated the call but I was still a bit shell-shocked. You kinda assume that when you’re married and part of the old girl’s club, older women will treat you more like one of their own and less like an errant teenager.

One of my friends who is a banker had so many issues with her line manager till she finally put in for a transfer. The woman was always picking on her dressing, accusing her of not dressing like a married woman even though her dressing was within the confines of the bank’s dress code simply because she was blessed with the kind of coke-bottle shape that made a sack look sexy! (HR would have promptly sent for her if she was erring) and even went as far as calling her husband an irresponsible ‘yahoo’ boy. A husband the woman had never even met! Another woman I know wore mildly distressed jeans (distressed at the knees) out with her husband and while he was parking the car, an older woman came to lecture her on why a married woman should never dress like this and then once the woman spied her husband, she said the younger woman’s behaviour was excused simply because she had her husband in tow! One of my older colleagues had gone for a meeting and had been chastised by a woman there that her suit was attracting too much attention and she shouldn’t have worn it. The suit in question was a dress suit with a sleeveless dress and jacket (she had the jacket in her hands because it was hot) her exposed arms were the woman’s problem.  My colleague calmly pointed to another woman who was wearing a very provocative suit and said ‘Why don’t you start with her?’ The woman promptly replied that the other woman was married with a son almost in the university but she had heard that she was single. My colleague shook her head and corrected the woman, she also was very married and her daughter was in SS2! I taya for some people oh. So if my colleague wasn’t married it would have been okay to embarrass her like that? And do women need to wear bigger wedding rings- not to ward off men but to ward off unsavoury comments from other women? These are the issues!

An older woman should be a mentor regardless of age difference- agreed! But what is her intention? To build up or tear down? To effect change or sprout bitterness? Is she speaking the truth with love? Or just telling it like it is regardless of who she hurts? A hurting human is more likely to be obstinate and resist change. Like one woman I know put it, sometimes a woman who is out there correcting other people’s children either has no control over her own or imagines hers to be perfect. Another woman pointed out that a scorned woman may be projecting her frustrations on the next seemingly happy woman beside her enshrouding her bitterness in chastisement. We have all been corrected in the past- old, young, single and married. The gentle old woman, who calls you aside to secretly help you adjust your skirt makes a more lasting impression than the one who loudly points out that your skirt is tucked into your briefs at the back when you exit the ladies room.

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Ladies- regardless of age or our diversities, we need to debunk the widely held beliefs that women tear each other down. Let’s be patient with each other and speak our truths with love. Let’s stand with each other and build up instead of tear down. The next woman will not steal the shine off your crown neither will she rob you of your spotlight, make you feel redundant or steal your man and she definitely isn’t the cause of all your problems in life. So many women have missed networking opportunities and opportunities to bond simply because they judged and misjudged another woman too hastily. Let’s be mothers and sisters before we are haters and fighters. Let’s spread love wherever we go. Sowing good never brought forth evil! What are your intentions? Let this guide your words, thoughts and actions.

FYI, the red dress in question is currently serving time at the back of my wardrobe! It cannor come and embarrass me and get away with it!

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Have a lovely Saturday Chutzpah fam,

xoxo

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2018 in Me, Myself and I

 

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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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