The Courage to be Happy.

You might need to take notes for this one.

For a bit there, I mulled over telling you, “Welcome to Womanly“, because I am here at 22, having a private party, learning to love me and the woman I am becoming. But nothing here is really more about being a woman than is more about becoming an adult and a human being. It’s a daunting, exciting, but also teary process at life’s grand theatre. Sometimes you are at the top of the world, with life running through your veins, and at times you are on a hamster’s wheel where push comes to shove. Nonetheless, it’s a good life, and here are a few lessons that I am learning.

  1. Ask specific questions

I am learning to ask specific questions. Are we dating? Are we friends? Do you need my help?

I am learning how to ask specific questions because uncertainty is inherently unsustainable. Eventually, everything either is or isn’t.

  1. Consistency over quality, any day

Writing, especially creative writing, is one of those crafts that you can’t call for a meeting and create KPIs. You sometimes just sit for days and wait for it. You write a paragraph and wait for it to marinate. On good days it will take you a few hours, or days…on bad days months. But through all these, the only way out is to never stop writing. Somehow, I manage to get about 15 pages of writing done every week, whether through work, my undergrad degree, or my hobby(which includes this blog, a weekly newsletter, and a medium account).  Unnerving as that sounds, here is a three-pointer case I always make for writing and managing to get work done:

i). Finish the work, because it means you have kept a promise to yourself.

ii). Finish because you can only fix what exists.

iii). Finish because it will make you respect the process. I started writing the article for the Igby Prize Essay for Kalahari Review, which I featured in January 2018. Every month, I looked at the prompt, wrote a paragraph, and couldn’t write anymore. I only managed to get a story in November 2019, which surprisingly took me a few hours to write. Struggling through this one feature made me value writing, authors, and the work they put in.

So battle the imposter and write the bad stuff, write the boring stuff, write the no-one-is-going-to-read-this stuff…but just write. This advice applies to all crafts.

  1. Twitter is not ruthless; people are…

And so is the rest of social media and the internet. There is a fallacy around the fact that the internet has made people bad; we famously dub it under “The disadvantages of the internet or technology.” By so doing, we refuse to call out bad actions, and we sanitize the terrible people. But the internet does not make people bad; it just exposes how bad people are. Knowing this will help you understand that bullies are just cowards hiding behind a screen.

  1. May books be with you.

In the days when writing emails was fancy, a close friend of mine would send me books to read. He made every effort for me to open those emails and read them, including giving them the subject Teddy Bear… but I didn’t till 2018 when I discovered the wonder of books. Because discovering the joy of reading just happens when you get there. No one can get you at that bus stop…and no one will also understand how books help you to meet yourself. But here is the wish I long to leave with anyone that crosses my path is ‘May books be with you.’

Here is a list of books I wish to be with you-

(In no particular order)

  1. When Becomes Air-Paul Kalanithi
  2. Purple Hibiscus- Chimamanda Ngozi
  3. Lean In-Sheryl Sandberg
  4. Americannah-Chimamanda Ngozi
  5. The Year of Yes-Shonda Rhimes
  6. How To Save A life-Sara Zarr
  7. Eat Pray Love-Elizabeth Gilbert
  8. The Book Thief-Markus Zusak
  9. The Courage To Be Disliked-Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
  10.  Children of Blood and Bone- Tomi Adeyemi
  11. The Dictator’s Handbook-Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith,
  12. Art of War- Sun Tzu
  1. Permanence is an illusion.

Understanding that everything is temporary in this world has allowed me to embrace life’s outcomes, whatever they are. People like things are temporary and bearing in mind that everything that exists is already fraying and in transition makes the ultimate process of fragmentation and separation easier. One of our main frustrations in life is the apparent attachment we create on people and things-money, property, parents, friends, but most especially our partners. We create an illusion that they will be our forever, which makes us live in the constant fear of losing them to someone else. It’s important to realize that it’s nice to have all these things and all these people, but it’s not a requirement for you to be happy.

  1. In or out.

Hell yeah or heck no for every decision.

And when in doubt, be yourself.

  1. Men (and other stories)

Relationships

How to save a life.

Mandy in Sara Zarr’s How To Save A Life says, “A lot of times when I look at the world and everyone in it, I feel like they all know something I don’t. I’m not dumb; I can see how it works. But it’s like Double Dutch jump rope. In grade school, I would watch the ropes fly and see girl after girl jump in and either get it right or get tangled in the ropes and laugh. I’d stand there with my hands ready and my body going back and forth, trying to get the rhythm and the right moment, and Ms. Trimble, the PE teacher, would say, “Come on, Mandy, everyone’s waiting,” and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t figure out how to get in. That’s how life feels to me. Everyone is doing it; everyone knows how. To live and be who they are, and find a place, find a moment. I’m still waiting.”

Like Mandy, when it comes to relationships, I am still waiting to learn how to love, and I am still waiting to be loved. I feel like the rest of you know the way, yet I know no one truly does. However, through the heartbreaks, I have picked up a few lessons.  The first is that loving truly and deeply is the only way I can be at peace with myself at all times. And the second is that healing and the process of relearning, like any treatment likely to treat a patient; -is also likely to cause discomfort.

  1. This

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.”

Richard P. Feynman.
  1. To an unknown God

Funny enough, the arguments on whether God exists didn’t begin with modern-day atheism and agnosticism. In Athens, during Paul’s missionary excursions throughout modern-day Asia, he found Athenians and foreigners who were epicureans and stoics. Athens was filled with all kinds of idols, altars, and the liberty to worship any god that anyone subscribed to. One of those altars read, To an unknown God. It’s quite easy to discount the existence of God and think that religion is superfluous in a world obsessed with colonizing Mars, and how the next new iPhone will look like. But if you ask me, there is and has always been a place for God in an increasing geopolitical battled world that is striken by a pandemic, a world that craves social connection and validation and individuals who are in constant need of justice, grace, and mercy.

  1. Also this ⬇

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.

Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked.”

Steve Jobs
  1. Feminism

Equal rights for women has never meant fewer rights for men. It’s not a pie.

  1. Fish Love

Sweet analogy. You know the way people ask you what’s your favorite food and you casually chuckle,

“I love fish.” Well, you don’t. You just love eating fish. Most friendships and relationships are like this. People are your friends because they have something to gain, and vice versa. And that is not entirely a bad thing if you really think about it, but it’s an open cue to learn to guard your heart.

  1. Press pause

Because you are human and you burn out.

“Now and then, it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.”

― Guillaume Apollinaire

  1. Fine things take time.

In my first section of accounting, our lecturer would often say that our generation’s problem is that we want a mansion today and a car yesterday. I still want both of those things in that time frame three years later. But realizing that fine things take time has taught me how to trust the process, and to blossom here with the things 22 has to offer.