An Ibadan Girl’s Guide to Love

The 20’s can be a weird period. For some people, it is that awkward time when they take those first, uncertain steps into adulthood and each step they take takes them further away from the cocoon of safety that was their teenage years.

Love, I guess, is one of the many choices that comes with adulthood. There is something to be said about loving (romantic relationships, really) as an adult. They mostly lose the heady recklessness that was the tune of teenage relationships and take on this strange “who are we to each other” seriousness. They become less casual. New people one meets are met with the critical internal probe “could they be ‘the one?”.

In all the uncertainty that tends to swirl around adult relationships, I will say this one thing. In that sea of people and faces, sometimes, if you get real lucky and the big sky daddy shines benevolently on you, you might meet someone who makes you feel different but the same. Being with them might make you find yourself chiseling and working on yourself, perfecting all the itty-bits of you. Gazing at them might bring you this deep, profound peace. They might unlock something in you that you never knew existed. And being with them might feel like the most perfect, most natural thing in the world.

If you ever get lucky, real lucky, hold them tight and love them while that moment lasts. And remember that it is okay if that moment ends … because for that brief spell, you were loved and you loved.

An Ibadan Girl’s Guide to Living

Lol, yes. Here’s a guide to living.

Too often, I find myself waiting to live … simply existing and going through the motions in the present while I set my sights and all that is within me on the future that I envision for myself.

I remember wondering, when I graduated from law school, where all that time had gone. It seemed like I had slept one night as a first year law student and awoken on the morning of my Call to Bar.

This is as much a guide for me as it is one for you (if you are anything like me). Savour today. Be it a bright, sunny day or a dour, cloudy one. Love it with everything in you and live it just as fiercely.

I vow,

To enjoy today,

Not because tomorrow is not assured,

But because today is beautiful,

And today’s beauty won’t come tomorrow.

~ Oyinkan Adebimpe circa 2016

An Ibadan Girl’s Guide to Grief

“The cruelest words

to say to the recently bereaved are

“Life goes on”.

True, life goes on.

But life tomorrow,

will never be what it was yesterday”

~ Oyinkan Adebimpe, circa 2016

Grief is such a deep, hard-to-fathom emotion.

I remember the first time I encountered grief. I was in primary school and was no older than seven at the time. A classmate had lost their father and we were all asked to observe a minute of silence for the dearly departed.

Grief is a strange emotion and rather uncontrollable in its strangeness. I remember, years later in University, when I lost a dear one and was told of his death unceremoniously and over the phone by a meddlesome family member who should have known better. I remember that my chest seemed to enlarge as the gravity of the news dawned on me. It seemed that a huge gaping chasm had formed in the very center of my being. I do not remember standing from the library desk where I sat and walking all the way to my hostel room. But I remember, I remember as I clambered on my bed and grabbed my pillow over my head. I screamed into my pillow, as though my tears could fill that hole in my soul.

I did not know then, of course, but I would go on to lose a friend barely two years later. In the years that have followed, friends have lost loved ones and the harshest truth is that there is no one way to mourn. Some, like me, will cry. Others will stare, unseeing, stunned into silence by loss so profound. Others, yet, will laugh, disbelieving that which they know to be true.

Not everyone will cry and that is okay. What is not okay is policing how people express their grief. It is also not okay to echo empty, hollow phrases like “God gives and God takes” or “Life goes on”. It is okay to ask them how they would like you to be there for them and to let them know that you are available if they need you. This is not a guide but I sure hope it helps.

An Ibadan Girl’s Guide to Work-Life Balance

Here I am. Seated at my desk at 2:00am. Writing about work-life balance.

Here’s the thing. I cannot think of any 20-something I know who has full-time employment and has gotten a hang of this work-life balance thing.

I remember seeing a random twitter poll asking 20-somethings if they thought their workplace allowed them work-life balance. The poll had an addendum – something along the lines of “work-life balance does not mean having enough hours to sleep after work. It means having enough time outside of work to pick up other interests”. I remember being stunned. I had always thought work-life balance meant having enough hours of sleep, LOL.

If like me, you are a 20-something living and working in a fast-paced city like Lagos, Nigeria, I guess work-life balance might be something of a fantasy.

You already know this is not a guide but here goes nothing. You have to take that time out anyway. You have to take time to figure out the things you want from life and how to go about achieving them. You have to give yourself a closing time from work or steal an hour or two everyday for yourself. Even if you are an entrepreneur, building your business or startup from the ground up all by your lonesome, you still deserve those hours to develop other interests. Your life should not revolve around your work, no matter how much you love your work. Pick up a hobby, some new skills, a side job. Your future self will thank me for it. LOL.

An Ibadan Girl’s Guide to Lifelong Learning

I bet you have already figured out that I am definitely not an expert on this topic. Heck, I am hardly even qualified to speak on it. We both know I am almost a good five decades away from the global average life expectancy. I reckon anyone who has passed the global average is an expert (expert being defined very loosely here). Anyway, we are here. Might as well delve into this.

My first tip would be healthy curiosity. You are probably thinking “But curiosity killed the cat!” Well, true. Curiosity did kill the cat but hey, guess what, satisfaction brought it back. Yes, yes, that is indeed the lesser known end of the well-known saying.

Another tip would be to select your company. It just so happens that the kind of content that the people in your immediate mental, social and physical environment consume dictates a lot of the kind of content you consume. I bet that, as kids, we all heard the saying “Evil communication corrupts good manners” more times than we cared to hear it. Urgghh. Turns out our parents and those annoying teachers were right. The people you closely and constantly interact with can determine a lot about you. Including your approach to learning.

The final tip is to learn. Yep, to learn. On your own terms and rules. Determine the kind of knowledge that you want, your approach to learning and where you want to source the knowledge from. Pick topics and issues that genuinely interest you and not the hot topic that everyone seems to be raving about. Learn in your own time and at your own pace and in ways that make learning pleasurable.

Well, well, well. It turns out I ended up creating an actual guide. LOL. I hope you found this helpful!

An Ibadan Girl’s Guide to Being a Fierce Woman

Everyday, for the past six weeks, I take a danfo* to Obalende*. On some days, the bus stops along the way to pick up more passengers. Over time, I have come to notice a young woman at the bus stop. She waits there everyday with her young son, all dressed in his cute little school uniform.

When the danfo comes, she is the first to hustle for it (mornings in Lagos, especially when using the public transport system, are a battle for the triumph of the swiftest). She fights harder than everyone else to get on the bus. Getting her son to school promptly probably means she is able to get to work early.

Every time I get the opportunity to ride with her, I watch her stealthily out of the corner of my eye. She settles herself on the narrow bus bench, hoists her son onto her lap and haggles the bus fare. When the fare has been haggled to her satisfaction, she sits with her spine straight, her eyes facing forward and her chin jutting out.

Every day I get to watch her, I admire her silently. She is one bad ass fierce woman and I hope I get to tell her one day.

*Generally used to refer to the bright yellow buses that arguably form the backbone of the public transport system in Lagos, Nigeria.

*A popular neighbourhood in the Eti-Osa Local Government Area, Lagos, Nigeria.

Postscript: This post was originally written in October, 2018. I never got to tell the young woman how much I admired her.

AN IBADAN GIRL’S GUIDE TO BEING 20 AGAIN

I remember the first day I realised that time only goes forward.

I was 8 or 9 at the time and the realisation seemed huge and scary. To be honest, it still feels huge and scary every time I think about it. At the time, it dawned on me that every single second that had passed would never come back and so for a month or two afterwards, I would close my eyes at intervals, trying as hard as I could to pause time. Lol, was I one weird kid or what?

Anyway, you definitely guessed right. Of course, that did not work. But at 19 I finally had my ‘Eureka’ moment! I figured out how to pause time!

I started journaling. I did not intend to. I just began to piece random thoughts together and put them down in a notebook. I wrote about my days, my friends, the things I loved and the woman I wanted to be.

I stopped writing four days after I turned 21.

Every once in a while, these days, I pick up that journal and flip through the pages. I read as that young teenager on the cusp of adulthood writes her heart out. Boy, did she love John Lennon! I sometimes cry as I flip through the bits of her story. I mostly laugh. She was sad on some days, bored on others but she was beautiful everyday.

Re-living life through her eyes, she shows me how to be 20 again.

AN IBADAN GIRL’S GUIDE TO BEING FEMINIST

We should all be feminist | Free download Printable Funny Quotes T- Shirt  Design in Png

I knew what it meant to be feminist.

Or I thought I knew. 

It meant to be a man-hating, God-hating rabble-rousing shrew who will never find a man willing to marry her because no man will ever want to put up with ‘that’. ‘That’ being a word spat out disdainfully at the folly of the unfortunate woman.


I knew who I was and my stand on gender and women’s rights.

Or I thought I knew.

My stand was to support women and girls whoever they were. To ensure that no woman who came in contact with me lost her voice. To let every girl I met know that she’s a strong capable person who deserves to be treated as an individual not lumped into a category – woman- by which her every action will be judged and weighted. But when it came to being called feminist, naaaah. “I’m not feminist!” I would vehemently retort whenever anyone asked or attempted to label me. Every time I heard the word ‘feminist’, the image of the shrew would come, unbidden, to mind.

It all ground to a halt the day I asked myself “What then am I?” I do not believe that I should be limited in academics, sports, adventure or anything by my gender and I do not believe anyone else, regardless of their gender, should be either. I do not believe that anyone or their capabilities and abilities should be limited or shunned based solely on their gender. 


Like the dawning of day, slowly but surely, when even the deep crevices come illuminated. Slowly but surely, it dawned on me that I am, indeed, feminist.


I AM FEMINIST!

AN IBADAN GIRLS GUIDE TO BEING RACIST


I cried all through the movie ‘The Hate U Give’. I did not when I read the book. But as I watched the movie, as I felt the pains become palpable, a huge lump formed in my throat that just wouldn’t go down because I knew what it felt like to be black. I knew what it felt like to keep my hands visible whenever the blue and white cars drove by. I knew what it felt like for white people to clutch their bags tighter when I passed by them. I knew what it felt like to be stared at warily whenever I was in a predominantly white neighborhood. I knew what it felt like to avoid hoodies and burly jackets that could ‘conceal’ weapons. I knew what it felt like to be black.


But what I didn’t know was what it felt like to be black everyday of my life. I grew up and still live in the most populous black nation on earth. In Nigeria, I’m just Oyinkan. Dark skinned, Christian , Yoruba Oyinkan. Never Black Oyinkan or African Oyinkan. Just plain boring Oyinkan. The first time I ever stepped out of my country was when I was twenty years old and it was on a visit to the US. That was the first time I knew what it felt like to be black. What it felt like to be treated differently, to be looked at differently. To be regarded differently.


I said earlier that I didn’t know what it felt like to be black everyday of my life. The truth is I still don’t know. I experience being black for a couple of months a year and then I have my Nigeria to come back to. I have the option of coming back home where I am judged for a lot of things and for being a lot of things but none, the color of my beautiful brown skin. 
My heart breaks for those who share my color and whose home is that place of judgement. It breaks for everyone who is judged for something they didn’t choose and can’t change. For everyone who ever has to meet stumbling blocks because they’re black, because they’re female, because they’re differently abled, physically or mentally or because their sexual orientation is different. For everyone who has a privilege… class privilege, white privilege, choice privilege, gender privilege… I want you to know that you are not made less by speaking out more for those without that privilege. 


You are not less of a man if you speak out for feminism. You are not less white if you speak out against racism. You are not less straight if you speak out homophobia. You are not less of an able bodied person if you speak out for inclusive infrastructure for differently abled persons. You are still you, with a serving of humanity on top.


POSTSCRIPT: I chose that title because I want you to be outraged. Not at me or at my post. But at all those things you can change. All those things that continue to exist because you keep quiet. Nobody can make you quiet unless you choose to remain silent. 

POST POSTSCRIPT: Post originally written in October, 2018.

AN IBADAN GIRL’S GUIDE TO HAVING A GOOD HEART


I took quite the carefree walk today, bouncing jauntily with every step until I got to the main road. Now if you know me, you know how I am with crossing the road. Now if you don’t, let’s just say I’d rather walk a mile in 7-inch stilettos if it meant I would get to avoid crossing the road. And don’t let me even get started on how I am about wearing heels (a word I comfortably define as anything higher than flats). But hey, I digress.
When I’m crossing the road, I usually pour all of me into it. I put every other thing on hold. Phone calls, texts, memes, you name it. I keep my eyes darting both ways (because some drivers are crazy enough to drive against traffic). In the midst of all that, I notice this hunched old lady with a walking stick trying to cross the road. People keep brushing right past her, hurtling across the road and going their way. I stand by her side, hoping to God that I can figure out a way to get her(and myself) safely across the road. 
Now, anyone who knows me knows that when crossing the road, I spend a good 30 seconds (sometimes more) squealing like a lost baby goat. Every move of every car gets me all nervous. So picture this, here I am, by the road, a nervous wreck intending to help somebody else across the road. At the last minute, help comes in a scrawny middle aged man who holds the old lady’s frail hands in one of his while using the other hand to plead with motorists to stop. A couple of them drive right past but a few eventually stop. Both of them (and myself, thank heavens) get to the other side unscathed. He lets go of her hand and brushes off her sincere thanks. 
With one last look at the pair, I turn around and go my way with a huge grin on my face. Don’t lose hope just yet folks. We still have beautiful people. 

Photo by Darius Krause on Pexels.com