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Friday Reflections

1.) You know how when we were little, they would tell us, "you can be anything you want to be"? Well, this homeboy took it quite literally. He is a NAVY SEAL, medical doctor, AND an astronaut. And he is just 34. Excuse me, while I go ponder about my life.

2.) Okay so I have talked the dangers of [sourcing] hair extensions on this blog before, but please watch this video/documentary to get a better perspective, and let's all salute Dan for committing to ethical business practices!

3.) The human insights missing from big data. Good stuff!

4.) Why low skilled workers will win in the robot revolution.

5.) So Loni Love recently started dating a white man, and people were like, "oh I thought Loni was pro black",  "oh I can't believe Loni is with a white man", which is a completely lame in my opinion. I mean no one likes black love more than me, but I don't get it; she is a forty something year old woman. If black men don't find her attractive or aren't interested in her, is she supposed to remain a spinster forever?

6.) Successful relationships are successful for the exact same reasons. It's lengthy, but really helpful.

7.) 100 people tell us their biggest regrets.

When Your French is Not Good After Years of Learning And Why Quitting Can Be a Great Idea

There are a few things in life you're just supposed to do: read a lot, learn to code (SILLY!), take useless certificate classes, take random classes on Coursera that you and I know you will never need, learn a new language etc.We are here to talk about that last part: learn a new language. I feel the need to add that I don't believe in all of the personal development crap. Let me explain. Yes, you probably should invest in yourself or I don't know, take care of yourself somehow. But I don't believe everybody needs to learn to code. I think reading is good and can be very interesting, but please don't read obscure 18th century literature just to sound cool if it sounds like nothing you're interested in. Also except a certificate is directly related to your career, please invest that time in your sleep. I'm not kidding. This year, and henceforth we are resting (more on this in a subsequent post). We are not taking any more than necessary. Which brings me to today's gist: learning French.

I already speak two languages very well; one native and one...they are actually both native languages. I think I just know English better, because well, that's what I speak more. Somewhere along the line, around the time I was rounding up college and thinking about next steps, I got it in my mind that French was something I was supposed to learn. One reason for that, I think, was because it would just be cool to say you speak French. Another was I thought I would certainly need it for my career. Except not really; I don't and probably will never. My plan was to take an immersive three to five months class. This did not happen. Many years later, I picked up the idea again. I have tried YouTube, and now Duolingo, and I still don't speak French. I am angry about this because I feel like I have spent way too much time talking about learning French and then learning French to not be able to speak French. Learning a language as an adult is freaking hard! Don't get me wrong; I do have some knowledge of the language. I am probably approaching intermediary proficiency, and with a little more dedication, I might surpass it. But I am tired of it.

So now I am reevaluating my choices. What is my why? Honestly, it's just one of those things; no real why per se. I still want to visit Paris with my sister, so it will probably be useful. With everything I have said, the next question would be, how am I learning? Well everyone always says to use YouTube for everything. Been there done that. It was not structured enough for me. My main tool has been Duolingo but I don't think it is very helpful. Because now I know so many phrases and words, but complete sentences are still tedious. Which leaves me wondering if those daily fifteen minutes or less I spend on Duolingo are not a waste of my extremely precious time. I mean, could I spend that time doing something very meaningful to my life and mental health? For shizzle sure. People say to learn by immersion. Pray tell, where do I get the time and money to dump my life as is and move to Paris for a year? Er no. People say to learn by listening to French music. Excuse you, I haven't even listened to English music. Pass. People say to learn by watching French movies. When I eventually get a minute to relax from what is usually a very mentally stressful and busy day, believe me what I need to relax is NOT a French movie. If this sounds like I am making excuses. Well, that's because I am.

My point is, learning French brings me zero joy and fulfillment. And while I'm usually not the type to only do things that bring me joy (because if I did that, I would starve), there has to be a bigger why for me. This post is me admitting there is none. Although, I rarely ever quit, I am  not afraid of quitting. I can quit a friendship, relationship, job, whatever, whenever I like as long as I have a good reason to. Like a lot of things, I'm just not feeling it.  So...adieu Francais. This year I am trying my best to embrace joy and release stress and pain.

I probably will still go to Duolingo once in a while when I have the time. Since all bloggers always motivate y'all, I'm doing y'all a solid by telling you to know when to quit. Quitting is okay too, sometimes. So tell me, what do you find yourself doing just because it sounds cool to do but is incredibly tedious and time consuming? Let me know.



Book of the Month: Schindler's List

It is the last day of the month, and I'm DESPERATE, yes, desperate to post a book of the month for this month, because this year is about consistency. Okay so this book is a classic. It is an award winning historical fiction novel that tells the story of Oskar Schindler, a Nazi party member who then becomes a hero when he saved more than one thousand Jews from concentration camps all over Germany and Poland. I feel like it is such an old book that most people already know this very unusual story of humanity. Now while this book is an historical fiction, it describes actual people and events with some fictional events and dialogues added by the author. I think we should all read this book, particularly in this era we live in where it is sooo incredibly easy for hate to creep in. It is so easy for hate and bigotry to become normalized.

I think there is something to be said about how flawed a man Schindler was: habitual drinker, philandering, and at first, a profiteer. The BEST part of this story is how undramatic Schindler's act was. But this was someone who eventually spent practically all of his money and energy saving Jews from death.  He also wasn't motivated by an unrealistic idealism or this egoistic "I am meant to save the world" sense that a lot of modern day activists have. Modern day activists can be VERY narcissistic and think saving the world is a job for them and them alone. It's a false sense of perfection that feeds their ego. Additionally, we are now very unforgiving and carping; we demand nothing but perfection from our heroes. In real life, it is not so black and white; lots of shades of grey.  It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

"True heroism is remarkably sober very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost." - Arthur Ashe

The interesting part is, I think it was the subtlety and stealth of the act that made it successful. Indeed, after the war, Schindler is not particularly seen as some virtuous man, and the last years of his life were not particularly exciting.

Something that would make this book particularly poignant is the despicable violence of the Nazi party. I mean, that's old news for sure, but I also don't want it to be glorified or again, normalized. Another reason I can't stand slave movies. I believe in telling these important stories but I also don't want these heinous acts romanticized or some person making so much money off other people's history. In this case, one of the Holocaust survivors, Poldek Pfefferberg, inspired (and I think, sought out) Keneally to write this book. So every time I read about the gas chambers the Nazi party members employed, random murders for sport, and enslavement, I still flinched and marveled at how despicable man's heart can be. So those little miracles were breaths of fresh air in the middle of all that wickedness.

All of that being said, this is not an easy book to read. It is tedious, and frankly filled with some unnecessary narration and details. If it wasn't historical, I am not sure it is a book I would read. Now the author is award winning, and of course prolific, but this book read like he was trying too hard. I really try to make the books of the month easy books to read, so I apologize. But you should still read this book for everything it symbolizes. For the reminder that in the midst of pain and hate, you can singlehandedly choose love; for the reminder that sometimes you don't need giant strides to make an impact; for the reminder that even laws can be unjust and callous; for the reminder that your own activism doesn't have to be piercingly loud to matter; for the reminder that the quest for equality of all kinds is more than throwing buzzwords around, and more about your actions and choices; for all of these and more, please read this book. And if you absolutely can't, then watch the movie.



What have toxic masculinity and patriarchy got to do with it?

It's interesting I am now writing this because if you're on Nigerian Twitter, you might think this is because of all the hot takes about gender more recently. Or if you're on Twitter generally, you might think this is about the Gillette Ad.  I have in fact been thinking about this post for weeks now; about three to four weeks to be more precise. But because I didn't want to end the year on such serious terms plus laziness, I put it off for a while. What is it? It is the place of women in our society. Society is incredibly layered, and because the societies I am well versed with, relative to others are Nigeria and the U.S. In the U.S. there is of course sexism and gender inequality, but to some extent there are laws and institutions safeguarding women. Nigeria is a whole other kettle of fish entirely. And that's exactly why we are here.

Despite decades of the feminist movement, an insane upsurge in wokeness, the liberal overtaking of Hollywood, more equal marriages and romantic partnerships, I'm afraid it still looks like a bleak outlook. Especially in places like Nigeria where people are so adamant on remaining ingrained and rooted in dangerous traditions and practicing cultures ruthless to women. Societies have insisted on being unforgiving to women, rendering scathing judgments on women for the pettiest thing, but continually enabling men. A society that raises spoilt boys to be entitled, but holds women to unreasonable standards, so much that we now have grown, responsible women, who  have to pick suitors from a bunch of lazy, whiny, petulant, irresponsible boys whom mommy coddled all their lives. Now, I all of people know that nuance is an important factor in these kinds of topics, so I am doing my best to include as much nuance as I can in this post.

Never forget.

You know how when people ask, if there is a next life, would you want to come back as a woman, and a lot of women always insist they would come back as women. And one day on The View, our favorite resident Aunt, Joy Behar, asked, why? Honestly, why? Ceteris paribus, why would I want to come back to this world as a woman? Why would a Nigerian woman living in Nigeria for instance, want to come back to this world as a woman? Let's forget all of what women have been saddled with, thanks to Biology. How about the burdens religion, society, and culture have placed on her? You can't earn equal to a man with the same qualifications. You are created just to serve you husband; his helper and nothing more. You have no say in your own home. How dare you challenge your husband? Your husband can humiliate you when and where he sees fit, including but not limited to in front of your own children. You are married off at age God-knows-what. You are basically raised to be subservient, so that later in life you can be served up to a man. Look, if it is this world as is, I'm not entirely sure I would like to come back as a woman. I'm not sure I want a world where we have to constantly fight, tweet, instagram, blog, Facebook, and argue everyday to demonstrate you deserve to be treated as a human being. My friend and I joke that in our next life, we want to be white men definitely. And if that's not possible, can we at least be a white man's dog. Because let me tell y'all white men don't joke with their dogs, and some of those dogs live better lives than many human beings. But I digress.

It's safe to say I don't believe we have achieved true equality. Despite decades of fight by tried and true feminists, despite radical movements, and no matter how many buzzwords Twitter feminists throw around, I think the place of women in our society is incredibly disheartening. And if I think my generation has it bad, my mother's generation breaks my heart even more.

Every single day...literally, every single day, we hear of another South African trash that has attacked a woman who turned down his advances with acid. The other day Ndani TV made a short film called "The House Wife" and the comments underneath the post were painful, and quite honestly, traumatic.

Oh see this one  below from someone young who might also agree the future is hella bleak. I honestly feel so bad for her that she doesn't know to desire better; to desire an equal partnership

And often times, the argument is but your mothers did it, whats stopping you. I don't know, some of y'all's ancestors killed twins and some others on the other side of the world enslaved black people, what's stopping you, boo?

And, yes, it is a matter of life and death.

I know this looks like such a pessimistic view. After all, we have come such a long way: women are doctors, lawyers, Supreme Court justices, hell, presidents (side eye, 'Murica); they now drive, they now vote. You are right, we truly have. But we still have such a long way to go. Girls are still being denied a good education. Another little girl is being match made with a man old enough to be her grandpa. Many women in some parts of the world are still not allowed to vote or drive, much less run the world. Let's face it, you and I are lucky; merely privileged to have educated parents who find it idiotic to not train a girl child. For the most part too, you and I don't have to tolerate a moronic husband. You and I can (and should) demand equal partnerships in our marriages. But many others aren't so lucky or shall I say, privileged. Yet, despite this cumbersome patriarchal world you and I are forced to live in, I do have some hope. Even after witnessing the most toxic masculinity, I quietly mutter to myself, our generation WILL DESTROY THIS.



The Women of Black Panther's Wakanda

Happy new year!

When does this get old? 10th? 5th? 30th? Whenever you first see the person that year, even if it's in August? Ha.

I recently rewatched Black Panther, and I will be honest with you; I was a little hesitant to rewatch because I thought since the hype was now over, it might actually be crap. But it really wasn't. I enjoyed rewatching it. One part that struck a chord the first time I watched and even now upon rewatching, was the women of Wakanda. Please, except you're literally under the rock, you must know what Wakanda is. No? Okay. Wakanda is a fictional country in Marvel's famous Comic, Black Panther. Okay so there are lots of things wrong with Wakanda as a sovereign nation, but that's not why we are here today. We are here today because of the Dora Milaje, the team of special forces for Wakanda; all of whom are women! I mean, how badass is that?! Specifically, we are here for Okoye, Nakia, and Shuri.

Okoye, Nakia, and Ayo

The women of Wakanda were my favorite part of the entire movie. Somehow they had their own calling and purpose. Somehow, their entire identities were not about the men they loved, neither were their callings subsumed by the men's purpose. I loved that. I like that all of their lives were not about the men in their lives. Take Okoye for instance. First of all, Okoye is the definition of badass. We need to start saying, as badass as Okoye. Second, she was ready to stab that disloyal beau of hers, what's his face, W'Kabi. There was a scene, after the civil war commenced and they were in battle. Of course, he and Okoye were on opposing sides. As they came face to face in battle, she told him to drop his weapon, so he asked,

"Would you kill me, my love?"

"For Wakanda?" She asked, before wielding her spear

"Without question!" She finally said.

What makes it particularly endearing is that in real life, there is often this notion that women would typically, because of their affectionate love for a man, give up their callings. And Okoye is like, nah beau.

And then we had Nakia. T'Challa was seriously on her case, and wanted her to give it all up to come and be with him in Wakanda as his Queen. In real life, she would have been expected to leave everything she was doing and move in to be his Queen. But she knew what she was destined to do; she saw all the troubles of this world and decided that she was more useful out there than being cooped up with a man. And because her love mattered a lot to him, he was creative enough to think about how he could combine her goals and their duties with their love.

Nakia and Shuri

And finally (for this post) and definitely not the least, Shuri. First of, she brought humor to the film, but she was also a mastermind who skillfully leveraged Wakanda's Vibranium for the betterment of the nation. I'm confident many young black girls who watched Shuri would be inspired to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math fields. It is not often you see black female superheroes, and I remember a lot of women saying the Wonder Woman movie empowered them. Nah fam, the Dora Milaje empowered me. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how representation works.

yoooooo, I just want to fight, you know, just for the sake of wielding a spear

The empowerment of women in this film was no joke and I was here for it. How often do we get to see black women whether in real life or movies at the helm of political affairs of a nation? Not to mention, at the helm of warfare? I will answer that for you: not often.

So yeah, the women of Wakanda were brave, courageous, determined, warriors, loyal, loving, and super freaking heroes. I love them.



Friday Reflections

1.) Love is not enough. If you're single, read that. If you are in a relationship, then definitely read that. If you're married, well I can't help you.

2.) Confessions of a bad feminist.

3.) "Any politician who is overfunding law and order, border security, and wars on terror—and underfunding medical research—is not keeping us safe." Read Dr. Kendi's essay on surviving and defeating metastatic, stage 4 colon cancer, years after his mother and wife survived breast cancer.

4.) Okay, if this is not the funniest thing you watched all week, let me know. Oprah and Gayle talk dating advice, phone passcodes, and spicing it up in the bedroom. I want moreeeee

5.) New year, new anxieties. I'm already tired, and it's just the 11th!

6.) Do it afraid.

7.) What are your new year resolutions? I think mine is just to be consistent. No big goals or anything. Just consistency.

8.) And oh, happy new year!

Not Quite An End of the Year Review

As we end this year, I thought to take a step back and write something more retrospective. Sure, I write for an audience but I also write for me, for various reasons I have talked about on this blog. I am reluctant to title this in memory of because like I said last year, end of the year reviews can be narcissistic. But let's take a step back for a second. I started this year explaining my distrust for social media, and in  recent times after finding private information about me online (!), I became even more distrustful, and slightly livid. How can you balance a love for sharing some things and an ardent desire for being private? How about the overload of information? Believe it or not, I just don't care about your new purchase of bedsheets or yet another discount code from another sponsored brand. Ohhh and social justice warriors? Bless them, but they can increase your anxiety levels. Let me tell you, you don't know peace until you're free from endless tweets about the damage trump is doing to America or some other apocalyptic problem. So, again how do you balance wanting to KNOW and care for the world you inhabit, but also wanting to avoid insane anxiety levels? My quest these past few weeks.

My blessing and my curse is that I am very self aware. Osemhen's end of the year review reminded me that I am also very deliberate with everything, and there is nothing I do that doesn't involve me thinking and thinking and thinking. I don't mind that trait at all. So it is possible my exhaustion with social media is merely me overthinking. I know though that social media is more harmful than helpful. That post by Osemhen inspired me to write this whole post, which is basically me, meandering. Anyway, like her, I am rethinking social media. I will probably not completely shun it. However, can you imagine the freedom of just enjoying things and experiences without the pressure to share them with folks who don't care?

In the same post, Osemhen wrote about generational curses, and how we always think it is about witchcraft and literal curses, when it is often repetitive cycles, and persistent harmful or (sometimes) beneficial behaviors. But many people hardly recognize these because no one really likes to admit that there are aspects of their upbringing they don't like. And those who don't idolize their upbringings blame everything on their parents and refuse to take responsibility for their lives. Don't be either. In this new year, take responsibilities for your actions, but also be aware enough and pray against all forms of generational curses. In the very beginning of this—now famous (thanks to me, haha)—post, she mentions getting counseling and therapy, and I was very impressed and frankly, fascinated with all the clarity therapy brought her. To be honest with you, there was a part of me (the Nigerian in me, I guess) that thought that therapy has been idolized. Don't get me wrong, I think our mental health should be priority, but I still don't think everyone needs therapy. Osemhen's post might have changed or at least challenged my opinion. And I'm here for it.

This year was a lot. But isn't every year? The one thing adulthood has ingrained in me is the perfect understanding of life as a mix of the good and the bad. You can't get the rainbow without the rain. Life is mostly mundane and that's fine. I knew all this beginning of this year but I still started the year with an insurmountable amount of fear, ennui, anger, and exhaustion. The kind of fear that even thinking back now, was unhealthy and I still don't quite understand.  I mean, the beginning of this year was in fact a train-wreck, just from thinking back now. I even struggled with my faith. But my greatest miracle is that God didn't give up on me. Now, some of those fears almost materialized, and the funniest part is it never is that bad. I mean, there was that one time I had the worst sickness of my life and legit thought I would not make it, but I did. Despite all this, what I remember the most about this year is the successes. Good news, good news, good news. There is nothing like the end of the year to remind you of the seductiveness of pessimism. So to briefly recap, humble brag, but mostly thank God, I will say (what I'm usually too shy to mention) I presented my research at a major conference, defended a qualifier, wrote two MAJOR exams (and passed one with a distinction), won two great fellowships etc. I worked HARD this year.  But don't even get started on the amazing things God did for my family and loved ones—truly my favorite part of this year. I remember knowing without a doubt that God is GOOD. I remember also having a perfect understanding of a salient fact: even if, nay when I fail, God is still good. And that was beautiful. That was the best part.

The one thing I have not perfectly nailed however, is the art of not caring. Don't get me wrong. I'm supposed to care. I just should not care too much. I should not care what people think or say. I should learn to scroll past all the terrible news on social media without a heavy heart. I was really there for a lot of people in 2018, and it was good. However, in 2019, I want more of me for myself, you know? Some people deserve all the love I have to give. Some people don't. I must never conflate both groups. Most of all though, if I could just give myself half the attention, time, resources, joy, celebratory words, cheerleading I gave to others in 2018, then 2019 will already be perfect.

Ah what am I saying? What is the point of all this? Meh, who knows? Whatever you do in this coming year, be better. But please don't overkill yourself with the idea that you have to be perfect. So what if you don't achieve all your goals? Just be a decent human being. Don't be that person who never returns calls. Or who only ever messages people when you need them. Be better. Do better. Most of all, remember that in the end, everything will be okay.