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Living Alone is the Best Decision You Will Ever Make

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Living Alone

Choosing to living alone all by myself is still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The freedom, the peace of mind, the responsibility, the learning and unlearning … it never gets old.

Deciding to get a place of your own can be difficult. It’s either you are wondering how you will cope in a new environment, the free food you’ll miss, having to pay certain bills, or going through the pain of finding the best place to live. However, if you are mentally, physically, and financially stable and prepared, you should take this bold step.

So far, I have no regrets; moving out of my parent’s house and staying alone is the best thing that has happened to me. There’s a kind of solitude I’ve never experienced before, but it’s beautiful. I can decide to move around my apartment in all of my glory, dance freely because no one’s watching, and just truly be myself.

Still not sure of why you should live alone? Let me highlight the beauties of it:

Live by your rules

My house. My rules. Even if my mum pays a visit sef, I can tell her what I want and how I want certain things to be done with my full chest. Turn the house upside down? Dance like there’s no tomorrow? Jump around for no reason? Laugh hysterically? Do yoga naked? There are just so many things you can do in your home.

You can choose whether you want noise or silence, music or movies. You can choose what to listen to, what you want to watch and how you want to watch it. You can be in charge of the atmosphere. There’s that freedom of acting crazy without having anyone around to rain on your parade. Just you, the furniture, and the wall. Bliss!

Get to know you better

Sometimes I could be an introvert, other times I could be an ambivert. There are days when I just want to be left alone and days when I want to be on my worst behaviour with friends. I’ve realized that I recharge best when I’m alone. This lesson was especially potent for me because I work from home, so I don’t have co-workers to get some physical interaction with. There are times I don’t step out of my house for days and I’ve never felt more refreshed. When the pandemic started and there was a shelter-in-place order, I had no issue with it because it was my normal life.

By living alone, I’ve learned to love myself. I’ve learned to be introspective and self-aware. I’ve also learned to be creative in my spare time.

You become more independent

You learn to shoulder the responsibilities that accompany living alone – paying bills and maintaining your home. You become a stronger and more independent person. Living alone can build your confidence, help you become emotionally independent, and learn to make decisions on your own.

Financial independence makes you smarter

Bills suddenly seem enormous, and that’s because it’s up to you to pay all of them, by yourself. Even if you’ve saved as much as possible before moving in, you are still caught off guard with how much you’ll have to spend. This makes you become extremely careful with what you spend your money on. I became smarter with spending (well, not totally). I still beat myself up for how much I spend on food. Food oh!

I learned to keep track of what I spend, and where I spend. I’m not the best person to advise you on spending because I’m still a work in progress, you get the drift? But then, I know when I’m broke there’s nobody to turn to, so it’s just me, my sense and my extra common sense.

The beauty of cooking

I can eat what I want, when I want, and how I want. When you are on your own, you cook every meal for yourself, as opposed to cooking for the whole family. This can get pretty interesting and annoying since you’re always cooking for one person – you. For me, the whole process of making a meal for one serving at that moment seems like I’m in my own cooking show.

Recently, I cooked Jollof rice for the first time and it was amazing. Thanks to the Kitchen Muse. I remember when I tried to make Jollof rice for my dad and it came out like rice and stew. I didn’t hear the last of it that day. At least if you mess up, nobody will make you feel bad – Nigerian parents are so good at this.

You surprise yourself with what you can do on your own

You may have always felt all grown up and mature, but nothing tests you more than living alone. There’s a kind of joy that comes with getting things done on your own, by yourself. The small accomplishments you experience regularly while being alone – whether it’s taking out the trash and recycling, paying every bill on time, fixing something that’s broken, whipping up a recipe – make you so proud of yourself. In short, living alone empowers you in a way you’ve never known.

There is no one to judge you

When you live alone, there is no one to judge you in your home. You don’t have to live up to somebody else’s standards. You can put the groceries away when you buy them or just leave them on the kitchen bench until you are ready. You can sleep as much as you like. Having no one to judge you can be extremely freeing.

Just the other night, I was watching a movie in bed and I cried. I realized how special it was to have the privacy to do so. I was grateful all over again for this time in my life. And the amazing part? I have never felt lonely in any way.

So do you live alone? Wanna share your sweet and not-so-sweet experience?

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Wait!!! Women Need a Letter of Consent From their Husbands to Cut Their Hair?

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a letter of consent

Many things have been happening on Twitter lately, from the #EndSARS movement to Lil Frosh allegedly beating up his babe to Room 306. If you don’t know the Room 306 gist, trust me, you don’t want to know.

I was quietly strolling down the Twitter street when I saw a tweet that made me pause.

Wait, women actually need a letter of consent from their partners before they can have their hair cut? Their own hair? The one on their own head? I’m shook.

While this sounds really ridiculous, many women confirmed that this practice actually exists and they have experienced this a lot of times.

Come to think of it, why, how and when did this practice start?

Public outcry ke?

You know, in the last few days, we have been talking about SARS brutality in Nigeria, but it is obvious that we also need to talk about the brutality and the blatant disregard of the law and human rights of the people by our law enforcement agents. From soldiers to policemen, MOPOLs, FRSC, and LASTMA officers, it seems everyone is looking for an avenue to oppress the bloody civilians.

When I read Eketi‘s tweet, my first reaction was to blame the barber? I mean, what’s that? But come to think of it, if you, as a barber, gets arrested and locked up by a woman’s husband for cutting his wife’s hair, would you try it again? To be honest, me, I won’t. I will not because of 1,000 Naira haircut chop beating, sleep in a cell, and perhaps have to bail myself out (with some cash, of course). The best option is to avoid wahala and tell women to have the consent of their husband or boyfriend first before I sink my clippers into their hair.

There’s nowhere in the constitution that says a woman must get consent from her husband or boyfriend before cutting her hair. Why are we even having this kind of conversation in 2020? It is clearly wrong, unconstitutional, and illegal to arrest a barber for cutting a woman’s hair. But just like a lot of wrong things in Nigeria, this is happening. It’s like anyone who has the smallest bit of power is a law unto himself and can beat up or arrest any other person at will. We know it is wrong that a barber could be arrested for cutting a woman’s hair, but how can they fight back? Can they even sue the officer that arrested them? Who do they report to? Remember, this is Nigeria where SARS officers are brutalising and killing people in broad daylight and they’re going scotfree.

We’re operating in a really shitty system that gives excess power to security agents and does not persecute them when they misuse this power. Even a man who is not in any force can invite policemen to arrest a barber for cutting his wife’s hair.

Let’s paint this scenario: A man walks into the police station (or maybe reports to his police friend) and says “my wife don go cut her hair and the barber cut am without asking me first, make una come help me arrest am”. Then they too will tuck in their trousers, cock their guns, follow the man to the barber’s shop, arrest the barber (with a lot of slaps and shirt-grabbing, as usual), bundle him into the police van and take him to the station. When you take this barber to the police station, what will you write in his statement? That he cut a grown woman’s hair? Is that an offense? Think am na.

This whole issue also shows that a lot of men still infantilise women (read their wives/girlfriends) and do not see them as a complete entity, a full human capable of making decisions herself. It is not your head so why are you vexing that she cut her hair? If you are angry about her decision, why don’t you face her instead of fighting the barber? Is this your way of saying “I know you don’t know any better so I will go fight the person who should know better?”

I’m still trying to wrap my head around all this and picture many scenarios. As a man, will you be comfortable writing a consent letter so your wife or girlfriend (a grown, able-bodied woman who has a brain, can clearly think and make decisions) can cut her hair? If you come home to find out that your wife has cut her hair, would you fight the barber or get him arrested? Remember it is also her head and not yours. As a barber, have you ever been arrested for cutting a woman’s hair? As a woman, have you ever needed permission from your partner before you can cut your hair?

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Abraham Dominic : Forgiveness is Futile, Pay Attention to Healing

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forgiveness is futile

People advise us to forgive a person who has wronged us. The person could even beg for forgiveness. It is almost as though we are doing the offender a favour. However, the selfish human mind is uncomfortable with this.

Understanding that selfishness is a primal instinct helps put many notions into perspective. In the throes of hurt and pain, granting pardon to someone who has caused us to bleed is too much of an act of charity to perform. The selfish human psyche does not desire to give forgiveness; au contraire, it desires to feel better by any means. This makes the idea of forgiveness sketchy, and after critical analysis, it is pointless, albeit to an extent. This is the way I see it: not the absolute truth.

We desire healing, not necessarily to forgive the person (or event) that hurt us.

Humans are inherently vindictive. For instance, an infant could hit their head on a wall. This child begins to cry. You pet the child, but they do not stop. Next thing, you ask the child, “Should I beat the wall?” Petulantly, the child nods. You smack the wall a couple of times. Immediately, the child stops crying. The child wants revenge. We do not outgrow childish tendencies such as this. They repackage themselves as other behavioural traits in adulthood.

People ask us to release pain without showing or telling us how to go about it. They go ahead to put a deadline on forgiveness. We are compelled to be clement. And when we do not meet this deadline, they vilify us, “Haba! Your mind is too strong; you’re cold-hearted.” We are asked to show mercy lest we run on a revenge rampage. In giving forgiveness, it seems as if we put emphasis on the other person – we make it about them. Conversely, in the case of healing, we put the focus on us. I always recommend this: “Forget forgiveness. Make this about you: Heal.”

We take responsibility for ourselves when we make the effort to heal.

There is no set-in-stone pattern or timeframe to healing. Some of us bounce back faster than others do. Personality differences play a salient role, so we must look inwards to find ways on how to heal. For some of us, therapy works fine. For others, it does not work. You won’t say because K went to therapy, you’ll bundle yourself to therapy. If you consider talking about ‘things’ a chore, therapy might not be the best thing for you. According to Carl Jung, “The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.” This applies to healing. Therapy creates space, the enabling mental and emotional environment, for you to heal yourself.

Then again, there are basic elements involved in the process.

First, we must be gentle with ourselves. Things happen. The past is past. We should grieve, but we must not wallow.

Furthermore, we must find meaning in that situation. Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist and neurologist, concluded loss and suffering could be purposeful after his release from Auschwitz. In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, he went on to explain how finding meaning in tragedy helps people overcome pain and remain who they are regardless of horrible hardships. If we believe everyone has a life purpose, it makes sense we must have life lessons. How else do you achieve your purpose without lessons? If we believe helpers come into our lives at different times, we should expect “hurters” come into our lives at certain points. What are the lessons we are taking from the event? In the bigger picture, we can use those lessons to enhance our lives. We become tougher. The phoenix rises from its ashes.

In addition, we have to love ourselves. This is crucial. In loving ourselves, we are kind to ourselves and we understand holding on to pain hurts us more. This would motivate us to create healthy ways – specific to us – to heal.

I think being vindictive is fine if it would facilitate healing. Sometimes, we have to get justice. Think of it as some sort of restitution. Karma is real. Newton’s Third Law of Motion: For every action in nature, there is an equal and opposite reaction. What goes around comes around. It is okay if we allow Karma use us to do “The Job”. Nonetheless, we should try not to lose ourselves in seeking vengeance. Abu in Cyprian Ekwensi’s An African Night Entertainment lost so much in seeking revenge.

Our focus must remain inwards during the healing process. We should not occupy our minds with forgiving. It will come without being forced, as love, forgiveness, and healing go together. Loving ourselves motivates us to heal. In doing this, we release pain. We truly forgive after healing.

There will be triggers even after we think we have healed because healing is a lifelong process. However, with healing, we see the event through the lenses of survivors, not victims. This is our power: survivor, not victim.

That we forgive someone/something does not mean we allow that same thing to repeat itself. Classic example: not lending money to someone who refused to pay an old debt.

Here is something to ponder on when we can: Do we really want to heal if we keep defining ourselves by pain we felt when we were hurt?

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On the Other Hand Would You Let Your Village People Raise Your Child?

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village

One way or the other, humans are not created to exist in isolation, and parenting is not expected to be an isolated journey. Whether you take the advice of your grandmother or you take that of a stranger online, you have been able to obtain support from an external body.

“Help! I gave birth a few days ago and I am still not lactating.”

“My child is running a fever and biting into everything including me. Do you think he is teething?”

“When do you think my period will return after my delivery? It’s been three months!”

As I sat on my apoti given to me by my neighbor, I read through the over-350 messages I received on a motherhood WhatsApp group I recently joined. You see, I was supposed to be studying for my exams that would be coming up in a few months, but was indefinitely sacked from my study space by my cranky infant. As someone who has no help, I had to type with one hand and rock my baby with the other. Sometimes, when that didn’t work, I’d simply leave my workspace to continue the following day.

These people would not have needed to ask these basic questions if they had allowed their families to assist them in raising their children. Everyone is now forming individualism. After all, they said it takes a village to raise a child. Where did their village go?

This thought or judgment of mine was not borne out of concern for those people. No! I was judging them because I am equally alone, 4000 miles away from Nigeria and, unlike me, I felt they were closer to their own families and could employ the help of those people anytime.

Once upon a time, there were no WhatsApp groups for pregnant women and mothers. Wet diaper diaries or mealtimes were not things you log on your phone. Total strangers were not who you asked for advice on how to raise your child. Once upon a time, other women and children rallied around a woman in labour, made hot compresses, boiled water, massaged her, and showered her with love and care. The birth of one child was a remarkable celebration for the entire village. It used to take a village to raise a child, so what’s happening with women’s gradual shift away from it? If you had a child today, would you let the village raise them?

It takes a village to raise a child is an African proverb that means an entire community of people must interact with the children for those children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment. Raising children is not left in the hands of the parents alone; childcare is systemic, and the children are expected to adhere to communal principles and core values.

Village, here, means the entire community. It could be one’s neighbors, parents, friends, in-laws, or siblings, boss, subordinate, house help. It may even be a total stranger on the street who tells you to wipe the residual milk off your baby’s face. Naturally, they come with the purest intentions of contributing to your child’s wellbeing. However, if it is so pure-intentioned, why are mothers and parents shifting away from the village despite the overwhelming stress that comes with motherhood and parenting?

In the typical Nigerian atmosphere, ‘village’ is not only a noun or a place you go to visit your family, it is also what English people call a Janus word or a contronym: a word with two opposite meanings. The village is both a blessing and a curse. Positive and negative. A paradox. Something to long for and, at the same time, stay away from if you want to succeed in life. The term ‘village people’ could stand for kinsmen and could also mean enemies.

Perhaps those people who refuse to let the village raise their children are conflicted on what the ‘village people’ are actually raising their children to be or they yearn for individualism so much that they want to be certain that every character their children exude are qualities they have single handedly crafted into those children.

Those who strongly loathe the advice or lessons given to them by the traditional village are not aware that the village does not entirely leave you. The ‘village people’ – however way one chooses to conceive its meaning – have transcended the traditional borders of remaining in the actual village. Nowadays, there are virtual communities where parents could obtain support.

Whether you join WhatsApp groups on parenting or simply post a picture of you and your child on Instagram, you will find someone who tells you to wipe the residual milk off your child’s face. One way or the other, humans are not created to exist in isolation, and parenting is not expected to be an isolated journey. Whether you take the advice of your grandmother or you take that of a stranger online, you have been able to obtain support from an external body.

So, has the village left us? I say, no. The traditional village, as it used to be, has simply given way to a new-age one: a virtual one. Rather than a visit, we now have video calls to tutor you on lactation or even school you on your child’s weird poop.

The village is always there to raise your child and we are grateful for it.

***

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