On Love, Relationships, Dating, and Marriage: Why You Really Should Never Settle For Less

When you are an unmarried woman in your late twenties, you get a lot of unsolicited advice on love, marriage, and relationships. If we are being honest, if you are an unmarried woman of any age, you do get a lot of unsolicited advice on what's causing you to be so single, as if being single is a disease. When you are an unmarried woman, and if by some misfortune you are an unmarried Nigerian woman who is supposed to be married but isn't, it's a double whammy. This is interesting because a lot of Nigerian marriages are not exactly the most alluring situation that a person should want or desire. I mean, for the most part many of the wives are glorified slaves in makeshift roommate situations they call marriages (through no fault of theirs of course). But I understand that the fastest way to get some modicum of respect in Nigeria is to at least be married. Otherwise, you are not respected in your own house. But also landlords would not allow you rent their houses. People would think you have no "covering", and yes I have heard people tell me that even their friends would preface the simplest stuff with, well you're not married, so you don't understand. Fortunately for me, although I am technically an unmarried Nigerian woman, I don't have to experience most of the above listed things because I have the privilege to also be an unmarried American woman. I don't live in a society that pressures me to get married, and frankly American women are marrying later than usual. It still does not mean that unmarried American women do not get unsolicited advice from people, worrying about why they are sooo unmarried. Let me say that whether or not this concern comes from a good place does not eradicate the fact that asking why someone is so single can come across as  sounding like to be single is to have the plague.

Go out more

Put yourself out there

Your standards are too high

But you never know, he could be the one (said about the most basic guy).

A more polite  bunch of questions I tend to ask my unmarried friends is, how is the dating life? Is marriage something you're interested in? I also make sure to never ever suggest that they just are not doing enough to combat singleness. Yuck.



To marry someone is to be tethered to that person for the rest of your life. Even when you carefully make this decision, the chances of making a wrong one are still incredibly high. Human beings suck. They are unreliable. They are angry. They are badly behaved. They suck. Still a lot of us want to marry. Nay, a lot of us need to marry. We have the unfortunate luck to have been created to desire companionship. It's primal. Beyond that however, many of us need the financial strength that comes from combining your assets (or debt) with someone else's. We need to couple up. That's okay. What is not okay is to lose yourself in the process.

When I was younger, I always wondered how a couple could get divorced even when there had been no infidelity. Now I know better. Now, I know there are so many reasons to decide that you would rather die than remain married to a toxic person. This is why before even getting to the marriage stage, make sure that  no matter the advice people give you, no matter the cajoling, if you do not feel like dating a person or marrying them, do not do it. Even if your wedding is next week, do not do it. Our instincts are powerful. In Lade Tawak's newsletter this week, she mentioned a powerful essay in The Paris Review that inspired this post. The autobiographical essay by a writer and professor tells a story of the events that transpire in the author's life shortly after breaking her engagement. It also gives us a glimpse into what life was like in said relationship. Spoiler alert: it was terrible. When you read that essay, you will first agree that some people are really terrible human beings. But you'll also see how easy it is for you to lose yourself. We always think we are doing too much when we desire what we want. We don't want to hurt people, or offend them. As a woman, it is so easy to give up on standards and values that matter to you. It is so easy to convince yourself that you're overthinking it when in fact this person is treating you like trash: the truth is if you find yourself crying all the time; if you have to wonder if the person you're with loves you; if your boyfriend sleeps with your mutual friend or frankly with anyone other than you, don't be pressured into acting like it's fine so he thinks you're cool, it is not fine.

It's incredibly easy to allow people mold you into what you are not, especially if like me you have strong opinions about life and people living in it. If you are also very unlike me and have no strong opinions about anything, do not let anyone bully you into being what you are not: an opinionated, strong-willed person. Whatever you desire in a life partner is what you should demand. The double whammy of being a woman and an African (or black or person of color etc.), I realize, is that we are always afraid of being too much. Our white counterparts never are. When my Uncle recently asked me why I stopped blogging or why I sort of reduced the intensity of my blog's voice, I said I worried about being too much. I said I didn't want to be that person either among friends or on cyberspace. I didn't want to make people uncomfortable. This is BS.  The same way it is BS to cower or compromise on what you desire in a life partner, like respect, love, honor. In a lot of African homes, women are groomed for men. Maybe not explicitly, but on days you didn't do your chores or maybe didn't do it well, you're told "is that how you will behave when you're in your husband's house?" I know men were never told this. So a lot of what you do can be a result from how you're socially conditioned. If you're too bookish, if you like a good political argument, a tiny part of you starts to wonder if that would discourage a potential husband. If you don't like certain things, you start to wonder how that would seem to the man you are supposed to marry.

If you are unmarried (I am deliberate with using the term unmarried), make a list of the most important values to you. Does he have to share the same religion? Does he have to be diligent in that religion? Is it okay that you are feminist but your romantic partner thinks women don't matter? Is he a card carrying Republican who thinks black people make too much noise about "racial issues" and voted for Trump, but you are a pro-choice liberal feminist who thinks AOC is too moderate? Now that makes for a good storyline in a movie, but you won't work in real life. These shared values, lifestyle, principles are what matters, more than whether he is from a particular country or the color of his or her skin, interestingly. Of course, their background plays into aforementioned factors. And even if a person shares all of the exact values as you do, and looks exceedingly great on paper, but you just either do not find them attractive or perhaps there is just something missing, do not let people around you bully you into dating/marrying them anyway. Listen to counsel sure, but most counsel on marriage is more about getting you coupled up by all means than about a genuine concern for your romantic life.

You can extend these principles to friendships too. My father always says (I can literally start any piece of writing with my father always says or my mother always says because they literally always say haha) a friendship that is not mutual is not friendship. I am reevaluating my own relationships, and while I always struggle with trying to live as Jesus would and trying not to be too selfish,  I have started to create too much allowances for people. Yet people are fairly predictable. If you bend you back, they WILL ride against it. I think my father said that too. So yes, be a little selfish. If someone only calls on you when they need you, sometimes, don't answer them. If you think someone is treating you like trash, they probably are. And they can gaslight you from now till next year, It doesn't change the fact that they are mistreating you. This goes especially for women. Even if you are old and grey, do not let anyone blackmail you: treating you terribly but rewarding you with the promise of marriage to keep you hanging. There are so many men on God's green earth, you will find another.

And never ever be afraid or ashamed to say you desire love. That you need love. That you want love. And don't be afraid to want to be loved a particular way. If you can be loved by the Almighty God in the most glorious way, then you don't deserve mediocre love.

This is a long way to say for something so complicated, relationships can also be fairly straightforward and predictable. You are worthy of a great love, don't settle for less than that.

Love,

I

P.S: I think I'm really, really back to blogging. I say this a lot but I'm ready to take this seriously so watch this space, and follow the blog on Instagram. Lots and lots of contents coming your way :-) Especially long form, life essays like this one (this would be really awkward if you hated this or hate long essays haha but yes, let me know if your style is more short and simple and we can do that too!).

Book of the Month: Trevor Noah's Born a Crime

I like to think that I have read a lot of books in this life. But hands down, my favorite memoir has to be Trevor Noah's Born a Crime. I talk a good game about all the books of the month I write about  here, but I'm very excited about this one. Of course I always knew Trevor Noah as a comedian.  I have watched clips of his show here and there. I even went to the taping of his show in New York and had a great time. I always knew him as a brilliant, articulate, and funny person. I also knew he wrote a book but never really got around to it, and frankly, I don't think I heard so much about it from people. Truth is,  nothing could have prepared me for this book.



Interestingly, I randomly bought it at an Amtrak station store while visiting home. I had just finished a grueling presentation and by extension, I was having a terrible day, and was looking around the store while I waited for my parents to come pick me up at the station, and bam I saw it. Meanwhile two nights before, my siblings and I went to New York for his show. So when I saw it at the store, I thought hey, this guy was funny, perhaps his book will be too. TRUST ME when I say, it IS. This book is funny, enlightening, educating, hilarious, and has so much depth. At some point, I had to ask how a book can make you laugh so much and also make you cry a little.



In telling his life's story, Trevor Noah explores various themes of his life while growing up in South Africa. As a child of a white man and a black woman, his very conception was already a crime. I think the brilliance of the book also comes from the fact that although it seems like Trevor Noah was telling his story, he was really telling the story of a phenomenal woman—his  mother. Trevor Noah is a fantastic storyteller. Everyone says Michelle Obama's Becoming was something and I haven't read it yet; I don't really like reading or even consuming any form of entertainment when it's all a rave. I like to take my time to digest it. The point being it will be hard expecting any memoir to trump Noah's.

As usual, I will mention some things that stuck out without revealing too much about the book because this is really a book I want you to read. I say this a lot, but I truly always mean it. I really liked how his mom taught him about women, and also about how to be a man. She told him that he had to learn to respect women and treat women right, and that a man is not a man because of how much he earns. This was especially necessary because as Trevor himself mentions, he never really grew up around men per se, and ahem his step father was not the exemplary father any person should have. There was something about his mom, and by something I mean, she was outright amazing in her perception of the society, her fierceness, and her values. Who am I kidding, their relationship might be the best part of this book.

Something else I really learnt was noticing cycles of abuse; really, abuse in any form. You would understand this better if you read the book. One thing is common, abusers are always nice. They laugh with you, they are charming until they are not. Until something extremely trivial causes a switch to go off and that's it. Because there is always that "good time" that lasts pretty long, the abuse continues to escalate and victims are more likely to suffer. In Trevor's words, "it is sporadic enough that you would think it would not happen again, but it is also frequent enough that you never forget it is possible," and there lies the danger of an abuser. So you see how after an incident, you fight them. Maybe you even go a while without talking to them, then later, you casually say hi and then there is a joke here and there, and slowly life goes back to usual, until they strike again. And knowing typical abusers, they always will.  Another thing is common: lots of societies do not do enough to protect vulnerable women and it's unfortunate.

Interestingly, though a victim of poverty, abuse, apartheid, and injustice, and many more things that would make a person give up, Trevor Noah tells his story in such a way that you do not feel pity for him.  What you are left feeling is complete admiration. That someone could endure all that and still make something for himself is amazing. But he doesn't have the hubris or arrogance that tells people that all you have to do is work hard to be successful. He understands how systems can be designed to harm specific groups of people. I guess you chalk it up to growing up in Apartheid South Africa, no? Either way, this is not a memoir you will forget soon, and as Refinery29 describes:

"This isn't your average comic-writes-a-memoir: it's a unique look at a man who is a product of his culture—and  a nuanced look at a part of the world whose people have known dark times easily pushed aside."

When you do read this, definitely let me know how you think!

Love,

I

Why The U.S. Women's Soccer Team is the Best Sports Team Ever and Why They Deserve Equal Pay

Yaaaass.

The FIFA World Cup Finals was just recently concluded. By recently, I mean less than an hour ago (as of writing this). And yes, the USA won Lol. Of course, I was rooting for them so I am very happy. Apart from my own bias as an American, the team is quite an exceptional one. Ordinarily, that's all fine and dandy. Of course, you should be great at what you do, what's the big deal yada yada. But what makes this win even all the more amazing is that members of the team, especially the great Megan Rapinoe, are quite the political activists. Like their coach said, they are great players, but even better human beings.

The thing is, these women have been fighting for equal pay for a while. The unfortunate irony is that the mediocre men in the U.S. men's team get paid more the women's team despite the blatant superior performance the women always display. This is the fourth time America is winning the World Cup, and the second consecutive win for this team, but the men's team has NEVER won and they don't even play as well. Yet they are paid better than the women. Now, there is in fact an inherent sexist approach to sports. Women's sport generally get less acclaim than the male sports no matter the quality of the actual game. I mean, the men's competition is the "World Cup" but the women's is the "Women's World Cup" as though to imply that the actual and original World Cup is the men's. If they were given the same weight, then the men's World Cup would be called: "Men's World Cup".



People always argue for unequal pay in soccer by saying women's sports get less viewership than men's  and chalk it all up to economics and a sound business model. False. The US men's team do not get as much views as the women's. According to the Wall Street Journal, from 2016 through 2018, the U.S. women's games pulled in $50.8 million in revenue compared with $49.9 million for the men. Not to mention, the same people who complain that women's teams don't get as much viewership are the same folks who refuse to watch. Such people dismiss women's sports simply because women are the ones playing. Such chauvinistic, myopic, and ignorant tropes hurt the quest for gender equality overall,  but also specifically hurts pay equality. The fact that we are still fighting for equal pay in 2019 is heartbreaking and another reason why should all be feminists.



See, I always say if you are going to fight, you better be excellent. This team has reinforced that idea for me. They have embodied the idea that sometimes [because we live in an unfair world], you have to demand what you have earned; what you deserve. You can't just take what's handed to you, you gotta get up, and you gotta PUSH back. They refused to accept defeat. And even in this final game, after they had scored twice, they refused to relax, they kept working hard. That's the spirit. In that, I saw diligence and relentlessness (is this even a word?). They are not just asking for more for the sake of it (although even that is not always wrong), but these girls armed themselves with preparation and excellence. They knew their shit.







And that's exactly how you fight. That's how you respond to critics. They have faced so much criticisms. First, it was that they celebrated too hard after beating Thailand, 13-1. Then it was that they are arrogant. Then it was HOW Alex Morgan celebrated after a historic goal against England when she mimed sipping tea. No matter what they did, it was one thing or another. People wanted them to cower, to apologize. But it was as if these girls knew their worth. You have to be extra ballsy to sue your employer before the World Cup.  They knew the burden this placed on them. But in the words of Alex Morgan, "having success gives us the platform to fight for equality". Now, the team is already capitalizing on this success. ESPN has agreed to televise 14 of the league's matches this season; 55 players on the World Cup rosters play in the leagues. Budweiser also announced a multi-year partnership agreement with the NWSL. The equal pay suit is headed for mediation. Ladies and gentlemen, THAT is how you win. 

This World Cup was historic in other ways. According to Time Magazine, in Britain, England's semi-final match against America had 11.7 million viewers, making it the most-watched TV broadcast in Great Britain this year. France's quarterfinal game against the U.S. had 10.7million viewers and was the most watched broadcast of the year in France too. In Brazil, 35.2 million people watch and that was the highest ever audience for a women's world cup game. 








These girls don't even deserve equal pay with the mediocre's men's team, they deserve MORE. And let's face it, a team that gets me interested in soccer is one that has earned every single coin. SO PAY them.

"In the last three games of the World Cup, the U.S. faced an ascendant French power on home soil, England, a team that won a tune-up tournament in the United States earlier this year, and in Sunday's final, the  reigning European champion, the Netherlands." - Sean Gregory

The U.S. beat them all.

Now, Megan Rapinoe. That woman is a legend on her own. She is really the one I knew beforehand because all her activism, that has gone beyond fighting for her own identity to protesting injustice against black people. She's a good leader, she's an inspiring person, and if all of that don't mean jack, well, she is exceedingly great at what she does. And I am always here for that. She was awarded the golden boot AND golden ball. From reading more about her and her story (particularly her complicated relationship with her brother whom she shouted out/wished a happy birthday during her post-win interview today), I am learning grit and determination.




It is sooo good to be on the winning team, I tell ya. I am very proud of them, and it's been a lot of fun watching them play and represent us at this tournament. They are the actual world champions. My overall greatest lesson from this is, whatever you do; whatever your hands finds to do, be excellent at it; be great at it;  be best at it.

Love,

I