ALL FALLS DOWN

At least once a month I’m let down. To be honest it’s probably more frequent than that but unless it was big, I’m not one to remember these things. At several points in your life you’ll be let down by others or even be a let-down to others. It’s just part of life and something I’ve come to accept cannot be avoided. I admire men and women of their word. It’s a beautiful thing for your ‘yes’ to be yes and your ‘no’ to be no. In my head it’s so simple, if you say you’re going to do something – do it. Otherwise don’t say anything. Using words like ‘definitely’ and ‘100 percent’ show full commitment to something, they’re sign-off words showing completion (whether actioned or pending) and so it’s not surprising when others expect a result. Easier said than done, trust me, I know – hence why I write this for my benefit and hopefully yours.

If you find yourself letting people down on a regular basis then the following notes are for you:

  • Do not fully commit to something if there’s an iota of doubt – using phrases like ‘I’ll see’ or ‘I’ll try my best’ can actually avoid disappointment as it informs the other person that there’s a possibility you may not come through on the agreed action.
  • Prioritise effectively – do not waste time on the unimportant things in life because you end up side-lining the things and people that matter. Spend your time wisely, in my opinion there’s 16 actionable hours in a day, you can make time for the things that matter.
  • Hedge the let-down – if you’ve agreed to call/Skype/Face Time a friend but you haven’t got the time, then send a courteous text to let them know you haven’t forgotten but to reschedule for another time.

If you find yourself feeling let down on a regular basis then the following notes are for you:

  • Lower your expectations of people – now you don’t have to make them aware that you’ve lowered them (unless you’re about that name and shame life) but realise that just because you’d do something for someone doesn’t mean they’d do it for you. We get upset because we put the people we love and care about on pedestals and so when they let us down, it cuts deep. Take people off the pedestals and line them up instead with your nearest and dearest first in line that way there’s no drop and as a result it will be less of a let-down.
  • ‘Make excuses for people’ – something my Pastor said that resonated with me. If someone said they’ll meet you at 7 and turns up at 8, just say to yourself that the traffic on their 10 minute walk must have been really bad because there’s no way they would have intentionally had you waiting on them for an hour. Silly anecdote, I know, but you’ll be less easily let-down if you make excuses for people that may or may not have deliberately set out to upset you.

Remember: ‘Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils; for why should he be esteemed?’ – Isaiah 2:22

And for the non-believers out there…

‘The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.’ – Bob Marley

YOU VS THEM

One of the most humanely annoying things we do is compare ourselves to others. It’s like even when we consciously try not to, we can’t help it. We start thinking “How can he bench more than me?” or “We’re using the same makeup, why doesn’t my face look like that?” or even “He got a 1st in this exam and I got a 2:1, I’m definitely an idiot”. I’m sure you feel like what I’m about to say you’ve heard all before and if you’re anything like me you hate people repeating themselves, but there are always exceptions to the rule – so make this blog post one of them.

Comparing physical attributes is actually the dumbest thing we humans do. Unless you have the same genetic makeup as someone (shalla to all the identical twins out there) you will not and never look like someone else no matter how much cosmetic surgery you undergo, how many reps you do or how many products you buy. Don’t get me wrong it’s annoying that you may never have a bum as big as Kim K or, if you’re female, bulk as fast as your male counterparts but you gotta realise it’s just not in your  genes. When it comes to comparing physical attributes, the best person to compare you to is yourself. It’s all about being a better version of you, that’s why progress photos are a great tool. If your eyeshadow game is weak right now, take a picture of your current state then put in the work. (YouTube is a great tool –Jennie Jenkins, Carli Bybel, Uchjn and EatSleepShop are great channels to check out on how to blend to perfection.) In a month’s time, take another picture of your eyeshadow and compare your then photo to your now photo. That cut crease is getting better right?

It’s not just physical, I feel in education we compare ourselves a lot. The book I’m reading ‘David and Goliath – Malcolm Gladwell’ states an anecdote of young lady being a high achiever in Chemistry in her sixth form/college made up of mediocre achieving students. She then progressed to a university of a high calibre, such as Oxford, where she took a module called Organic Chemistry and suddenly became a mediocre achiever in a pool of extremely high achievers. She ended up dropping out of her course completely due to that one module, as she lost all self-belief in her intelligence. Why? Well because she was comparing her weakness to another individual’s strength.  This is a big no no, it’s like me comparing my football knowledge to that of my brothers who bang Fifa every day and live for Sky Sports news – of course I’ll look like an idiot.  I will say, for some, comparison can be motivational. A bit of rivalry can push you to be better but there is a fine line and be careful you don’t cross it and end up even more demotivated than you started with.

If you’re African and more specifically Nigerian like me, I partially blame our culture. When you’re younger its literally everyday comparison. If you say something that your parents will obviously class as rude despite your intentions, you’ll most likely hear “Does Yemi talk to her parents like that? Of course not”. Or if you get a B in an exam “How can John be getting A’s and you be getting B’s; does John have 2 heads?” Now while this underhand encouragement to be the best is great, it’s really not every day compare. Whilst Yemi comes across as a pleasant young girl when greeting you aunty and uncle, she’s got the foulest mouth when on road. And whilst John is getting A’s in every subject, he’s also a massive cocaine user to keep him awake to study for those extra hours. Point is, you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. And until you know someone’s full story, traits, strengths and weaknesses then there is no point comparing yourself to them. You are running your own race and will be judged on what you do, not how you did in comparison to another.

Remember: ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’ – Theodore Roosevelt

I AM NOT TALENTED.

Yes, for years I used to think I was as untalented as it gets. I can’t sing, but I’m not tone-deaf, however I’ve been told  I have the makings to become the next Beyoncé. Let’s call my voice… ‘rough around the edges’. I can’t play an instrument however I’m sure if someone was to put a steel pan in front of me I’d remember a little suttin suttin from my school days. Thinking about it, I can play the Rugrats theme tune on the keyboard so I’m not completely hopeless. I can’t act, however I can play legally blind when I have to and I’ve been told I can be hard to read so I’m guessing that counts as something.

We tend to think about talents as something that can be easily displayed on demand like singing, dancing and acting. It’s not our fault really, when a show is labelled a ‘talent-show’ it has historically referred to something with a musical or entertainment orientation. Well, I’m here to tell you it’s more than that.

Some of the most fruitful talents are intangible. For example the act of persuasion is a talent. Do you know how hard it is for some people to convince others to believe in them? Or to get people on their side? But for others, it’s a piece of cake! For some reason you buy into whatever they say and you put faith in their abilities. My friend that is a talent! Imagine if you were seeking investment in a business idea, people will take one up on you regardless of your idea.

The good ‘ol dictionary defines talent as a ‘natural aptitude or skill’ – the crucial word in that definition is ‘natural’.

What if I told you that one person’s talent is another person’s skill?

In my opinion talents are natural, they are things you don’t know how you started doing but you just do and with great ease. Let’s use singing as an example, you know those people who say I’ve been singing since I was baby (to be honest I’ve always found this statement very unrealistic because they’re basically claiming their cries were ballads) but anyway we get what they mean.  That straight-outta-the-womb ability to open your mouth and saaaang is a certified talent. However others long for the desire to sing and will invest in lessons from a young age so that when they’re older they can saaang too. God-given or learned – the end result is that they can both sing.

Never say you’re untalented. Firstly because being talented is actually just a head-start and you still need to develop and polish that natural ability.  As corny as it sounds, we are all talented in our own way. Just remember one person’s natural talent is another person’s learned skill and no skill is ever out of reach.

Remember: “A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses these skills to accomplish his goals” – Larry Bird

PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE

A lot of the horrible situations we get ourselves into in life can probably be avoided. I say ‘probably’ as some situations are unavoidable and are part of our inevitable refining process.

Sometimes in life we feel that we’re above going through certain situations. We go along life saying statements such as ‘Boy, that’ll never happen to me because my parents never brought up an idiot’ and we look at others situations and say ‘How can you not see that’s a bad decision’ and well, the list goes on. What we fail to realise is that when a situation that will most likely lead to a destructive outcome arises, by the time realisation hits you, you’re more than likely already in it.

You’ve missed all the signs and red flashing lights that screamed at you on the path to this ill decision. You became blinded by emotion or experienced some sort of tunnel vision. Either way you failed to look at the bigger picture, which tends to show something is wrong. To keep us oblivious to the situation at hand, we focus on that one small glimmer of hope in a situation and hold and hone onto that as a reason why it can’t be all that bad.

If you see a red flag, stop (and if you have the strength…run).

A lot of people say they need to make the mistake in order to learn, but it’s not every day learn the hard way. We must all realise that some mistakes or bad choices have costly effects and some of us need to start saving and stop spending our emotions.

No one is perfect, no one makes the right decision all of the time. But you are truly insulting your own intelligence when you know something isn’t right but you refuse to acknowledge it. Easier said than done, I know, but if you are in a situation like such I’ve planted the seed for thought so HA!! – no avoiding this red flag.

Remember:  “It is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time. People say ‘It’s as plain as the nose on your face.’ But how much of the nose on your face can you see, unless someone holds a mirror up to you?” Isaac Asimov

LET YOUR ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN YOUR WORDS

I’m not sure if the key to success here is being humble or using wisdom…either way the point is stop talking and let the fruits of your labour do the talking for you.

Let me give you a little anecdote my mum used to tell me (see Mum I do listen!!):

When you’re baking a one-of-a-kind/original/inventive cake, at what point do you show people the cake? And at what point do you tell people the recipe?

Let’s imagine you’ve been telling others the cake is on its way, you’ve even gone as far to call it a ‘shut-down’ and you’ve told people not to @ you when this cake is made. The cake has been in the oven for a mere 10 minutes, but you’ve gassed it up so much that people want to see it (and deep down you want to show them), so you continue to open the oven to show its advancement. The golden-rule of cake baking is never to open the oven in the first 3 quarters of the baking process. You see if you are baking a cake and continually open the oven to show its progress, you stunt the process of the cake rising. After all your hype, is it not pretty embarrassing moreover a shame to see that the end product is substandard or non-existent? Isn’t it better to wait till the cake is made before showing and telling people that this is the greatest cake ever to be made? The moral of the story is – it is better to show off the final product and share the tried and tested process when you’ve gained credibility.

As a young person, there’s a lot of pressure to do the most. And quite frankly, I think it’s a good thing. Why not aim to be the best? But one thing as a generation we must understand is that stunting about your Twitter followers, retweets, your latest camel coat or any other materialistic thing is not ‘doing the most’. In fact, it’s doing just the opposite because you’re priding yourself in things that only matter at a certain stage of life (usually in the little university bubble that many people live in).

If an employer asks “What set’s you apart from the other candidates?”,  you cannot respond with “My twitter follower to following ratio is kinda mad still” and hope they respond with “Hmm, this definitely shows you strive to be the best amongst your peers”. With an example like that, you might as well start the interview with “Aight boom.”

The point is take pride in what matters, long term. Being happy, your relationship with God, your education (not just the book-smart kind), your steps in your career path and any positive impact you make to our lost society. Note I said take pride in, not be proud. Galatians 6 verse 3 says ‘If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves’. Humility is the way forward.

Celebrate the successes as and when they occur, I celebrate with you, but just remember nobody became successful by talking about it. Success comes with a dream and decisive action.

Remember:You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.’ – Zig Ziglar

‘You don’t know me…’

One thing that really grates on me is people telling me who I am, what I’m thinking and all the rest of the things they possibly couldn’t know unless they were God. I don’t understand how people can confidently say things about my character because they know one or two measly facts about my life.

I’m not going to lie sometimes people assuming they know you like that can be quite favourable e.g I like reading…so someone may say ‘Peda’s always reading, she’s so intelligent that girl’ in which case I’ll (in spirit) respond with gratitude. But most of the time it pans out like this – Peda goes to one rave and these types of people will usually say ‘Yeah she’s quite the party animal you know, like she’s at most raves…come let me show you this picture of her at Adrenaline’ (the one rave I attended the whole year!!!) These are examples and I did not attend Adrenaline however I do like reading so please feel free to think I’m intelligent.

The point I’m trying to make is ‘You don’t know me bisssh!’ *clicks fingers and flicks weave*

You cannot take a truth or fabricated information and create a whole story that aligns well with your perceived image of someone and then go and open your mouth and be telling people about another person’s character when you don’t know them. This is how, if you’re on the receiving end of this higgy-hagga story, you can end up thinking someone’s a cow when you haven’t even had one conversation with them and you’re already screwing them in anticipation that they may screw you.

I used to care so much about how I came across to people and I still do, but more in a way that I can be quite blunt and I’m conscious that just because I can take it doesn’t mean another can.

Anyway, whenever someone is trying to defame your character or you hear a cheeky rumour about yourself that you know isn’t true just remember ‘THEY DON’T KNOW YOU!’ They don’t. (And yes this may be the same ‘They’ that Khaled refers to.) Ignore the opinions of irrelevant people because there are too many of them in life. Get a core circle of friends and family around you that can vouch for your character and give you that reality check when needed – everyone else’s opinions are just white noise.

You have no control over how others perceive or feel about you but the one thing you do have control over is how you deal with their opinions. Be who you are and not who they want you to be and everything will be A1.

Remember: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” ― Bernard M. Baruch

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