MY FIRST TIME: Confessions Of A Young Man

Her eyes glistened softly. She looked so happy. Were those tears of joy? Oh, her dazzling smile ! The mild makeup simply exploded her beauty; her smooth, dark (sorry chocolate) skin struck a sharp, yet lovely contrast with her white dress. The atmosphere felt soothingly heavy with romance. Love was in the air. Months of planning had finally led up to this one perfect moment- the moment she said ‘I do’ to my dear friend. And what a joy, I was right there on the scene to witness it all as the bestman. It was my first time.

Dear reader, when you saw the title of this post, what crossed your mind? Some randy tale of my escapades with one of the daughters of Eve? *laughing* Gotcha! Well, since you’re already here, you might as well read this to the end.

Looking at this title and the prankish angle I chose to approach this, many thoughts invade my mind.

I could look at this from the angle of recalling the first time I tried something interesting, daring or just plain fun (or what looked like fun). ‘The first time is the hardest’; that’s a statement I’ve come to believe from both personal experiences and observing the lives of others. Be it good or bad, that statement holds true in most cases- once you’ve done it the first time, it gets a bit easier … and easier…till it becomes normal. So whatever you want to do (good I hope!), just do it the first time- imperfect as it may be, just go ahead and do it already. It gets better the next time around.

I could also choose to talk about the dangers of passing judgement before we get the full story. The dangers of stereotyping and trying too hard to ‘read the other person’. You probably had a few ideas already brewing in your mental space. ‘My first time’ could mean anything. What did you assume? And why?

How about I choose to talk about how being so up close with the couple as they exchanged their vows gave me a new understanding of marriage’s  spiritual dimensions. Those words carry more weight than most of us have ever bothered to think about. Beyond the fancy dresses and toe-curling words, there’s an interplay beyond the surface. That’s why I believe that disrespect for and abuse of the institution of marriage is a direct, blatant insult to God. That covenant is deep.

Or should I delve into the mild ‘incidents’ that always occur in the days leading up to such events and the plenty prophecies of ‘you’re next’ that bathed my ears that beautiful Saturday?    Oh my….

So many thoughts, so many angles. All from my first time.

Ik

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No Strings…

My bum felt uncomfortably warm.  That’s the price you pay for occupying the front seat of a commercial bus in Lagos- especially those with the engines right under the passenger seat. Imagine those turbine-like engine blades spinning fiercely just right under you, less than half a metre away *shudders*. Anyways, my long legs appreciated the extra room to stretch- you stretch some, you heat up  others. Such is life.

A familiar aroma wafts across, slapping me gently. It was from the girl by me. Unconscious of what she had done to my attention, she innocently unwrapped a capsule of my favorite sweet (I won’t tell you the name! loll) and popped it through her glossy lips. With the innocence of a child, my eyes trailed the journey of hand to mouth- and got stuck there for a few seconds (who was even counting, sef?).

I wanted one of those. But how? I definitely COULD afford a pack full of those tiny tablets of delight, but somehow I wanted it from her. Now how do I ask her, a perfect stranger, a perfect stranger in lagos, a perfect stranger in lagos who happens to be a young girl (definitely in her 20’s), a young AND beautiful stanger-girl in a lagos bus. You get the idea sha.

But I was determined to get ‘my’ sweet. So I did the obvious.

“Hope you bought mine sha”

She smiled, “yes”.

Hand in bag. Hand out of bag (with something).

Few seconds later, my tongue felt that sweet sensation all over again. Yippee!!!

 

I share this story because of how the young lady reacted to my request. Compared to the ‘typical’ response. A guy barely says hello and she goes into defense mode. Probably all he wanted to do was ask an innocent question, or like in my case, a tiny favour.

Dear ladies, not every guy who says hi has an ‘ulterior’ motive. Some of us just want to be friendly- with no strings attached. Don’t judge so quickly, tone down on the hostility (until it becomes obvious he needs it to get his head straightened out) and just be the cute, nice, accessible diva that we know you are. Can you do that for us? Thanks.

 

Ik.

‘Wetin Life Dey Talk’

Recently, I had a conversation with my uncle. We talked about a few subjects then we got into careers and work life. I shared a long-held (though not so public) personal opinion that the service years of ‘government workers’ should be slashed from the present 35 years down to 25 years after which they should compulsorily retire. This, I opined, will create room for younger people to get into the workforce while at the same time forcing many civil servants to be more conscious of how they spent their resources during their working days. In my mind, having a shorter time to spend there should ‘quicken’ their minds on how to quickly establish viable (and legal!) alternative income streams.

My uncle countered (as expected). According to him, those 35 years are actually like a flash in the pan (since I’m not up to 35, labeling my entire life a ‘flash’ sounded rather strange…must be a really l-o-n-g flash). “Before you think of settling down and training your children, over half of the time is already gone, and before you think of building a house, you’ve spent almost 30 something years in service”, he stated emphatically.

Well, one thing I’ve learned from experience is the futility of a younger person trying to change the perspective of an older person from a different generation. So I simply smiled and skillfully wrapped up the conversation. As I walked away, he looked at me, smiled back and said those all too familiar words “well, the reason you are talking like this is because you are still quite young. You never know wetin life dey talk” he concluded.

Hmmm…

wetin life dey talk”… I’m sure you’ve heard that phrase too. When someone shares a lofty dream, a grand idea or a thought that sounds so far from present realities, he or she is usually greeted with a pitiable shake of the head, a patronizing smile and the punch line, “make una leave am, e never know wetin life dey talk”

But. Dear reader, let’s examine this together. What is life really saying? Does it have a secret message that only pessimists seem to understand? How come those who envision innovative ideas are usually labeled naïve? Could there be something about life’s message that we haven’t understood. What is ‘life’ r-e-a-l-l-y saying?

To answer that, I think it’s a smart move to ask the One who designed it. He knows the secret codes of this program we’re all running called life. Did the designer say life is hard? Or have we taken our experiences as the only reality? Dear reader, I’ve checked through the designer’s manual and guess what? He didn’t promise us a hard life. He set down certain guiding principles and guaranteed that if we’d be ‘stupid’ enough to follow those principles, our lives would work so efficiently it’d seem like we’re living on a different planet.

Do you know the designer’s principles? Have you discovered how he really programmed life to run? What are the guiding principles of YOUR life?

Today dear reader, I challenge you to dare to be odd, dare to be different. I challenge you to question popular belief systems and see if they correspond with the designer’s blueprint. Dare to go against popular opinion. Whoever said “the voice of the people is the voice of God” must have got it mixed up somewhere because if ‘the people’ were speaking God’s mind, we’d be in heaven on earth already! The voice of the people is NOT the voice of God.

I’d like to challenge you to do something- in your mind, picture your life as a strange-looking machine, something you’ve never seen before. Walk around it, examine its’ weird buttons, feel its’ strange exterior. As you do this, ask yourself “how is THIS thing supposed to work?”. Then get into the word with that question in your heart and I can guarantee that what you find will absolutely blow your mind! Forget what anyone else says, forget their experiences and ‘stories’ if it doesn’t match up with the manual’s contents. The world you’ve experienced is not the only world that exists. There’s a better world- it’s the designer’s world. Find it. Get in.

Life is beautiful on the designer’s side- care to join me?

Ik,

Fine Boy

 

26 Lessons @ 26: My Birthday Special

On a day like this some years ago, a young couple witnessed the arrival of baby No. 3. His shrill cry brought smiles to his mother’s face- she had another son. Fast forward to today. That cute (yeah) lil’ bundle of joy is now a young man. Sadly though, the arms that first held him has since become one with the earth. But her legacy lives on in him. Miss you loads, Mummy.

Over the past few weeks as I approached my 26th birthday, I’ve been thinking a lot about my life and trying to make composite sense of my two and half decades on this planet. I sought to boil down all my experiences to a few distinct lessons that I’ve picked up along this incredible journey. What you’re about to read is the summary of those thinking exercises. These are not things I read in books or heard from others. So in no particular order, these are personal lessons drawn from experiences, adventures and reflections. Enjoy!

 

26 LESSONS AT 26

1. There’s a God and He really does care about EVERY detail of my life. People tend to assume that God is only interested in the ‘spiritual’ aspects of our lives. But being someone who’s had divine advice on things as ‘trivial’ as what to wear or when exactly to walk to a bus stop to avoid the mad rush, I beg to differ.

2.If someone aks you for advice and they’re arguing, stop talking and walk away.   Many times, when people ask for advice, they just want to hear what they are already thinking from another person’s mouth. Use your time for something better.

3. Dreaming is free. Don’t be economical in your dreams. It costs me nothing to dream. So why hold back?

4. Either you humble yourself or you get humiliated. Learned this the hard way! Haven’t you noticed that every time God speaks about humility, He always defines it as our PERSONAL responsibility? If you don’t bring yourself low, he’ll let you be brought low- painfully!

5. Real learning starts after graduation. You find out just how ignorant you really are after obtaining your degree. Schools by nature compel us to block out many other knowledge areas so we can excel in our chosen field of study. Real life doesn’t do that. So it’s either you learn or get left behind.

6. If you don’t ask, the answer will always be ‘no’. It’s interesting how we mentally make request and simultaneously turn ourselves down with cooked up reasons. Ask already. What’s the worst that could happen?

7. Never be too quick to say “I love you”. It’s amazing how feelings can change in a short time. Feelings are the worst foundation for a relationship- especially if you’re planning it to be long-term.

8. Talk may be cheap-but it can buy a whole lot. Your words do really affect your life.

9. Regret is like trying to turn eba into garri- seems easy but a complete waste of precious time. No matter how much you hurt over the past, it’s gone- and never coming back. So it’s best to learn the lessons, dust yourself down and move on with life.

9. It’s not what you tell your friends or post on social media that counts. That small voice in your head when you’re all alone is the real deal. Anyone can say anything on social media. What goes on between your ears is more important.

10. Not everyone wants to be OUTSTANDINGLY successful in life– some are totally content and happy with just an average existence. This I guess, is the lesson I have emotionally struggled with the most to accept. Being someone who’s passionate about growth, it was hard to accept the reality that not everyone wants to fly-some are just cool with driving through life.

11.  It is ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE to out-give God. I’ve proved this too much to doubt it. There’s no way you can make God indebted to you by your giving. He gives more- ALL the time.

12. If you’re everyone’s friend, then you can’t be my friend. Had to end a budding friendship for this. If you’re everybody’s buddy, that just passes a wrong message.

13. You always have a choice-a-l-w-a-y-s! no matter what you tell yourself.

14. God-sent helpers will not need you to beg them before they offer help. If you find yourself ‘lobbying’, you’re the one organizing it- not my God.

15. You have to be rich before you can have money. Financial success starts inside.

16. People aren’t mind readers. If you don’t express it, don’t expect it. “I thought that you…” has caused so many problems. If you ‘thought’ it, say it!

17. Sometimes, the worst thing to win is an argument. Sometimes, it’s the best thing to win.

18. To be a winner every time, pick your battles very carefully.

19. ‘Mental planning’ is a ruse. If it ain’t on paper, it ain’t nowhere else. Thoughts have a way of becoming simplified when they get on paper. Once you get it out of your head onto paper, chances are that you’ll see a fresh perspective that may just lead to the answer you need.

20. Once anointed is not always anointed. Keep it fresh- daily. Relationship with God can’t be stored up like a charged battery.

21. You always think you’re so smart- until five years later.  I still cringe when I recall some of the things I said and did some years back- thinking “how could I do THAT? what was I thinking?!”

22. Good things take time to mature (learned this the hard way too). Why rush it when you want it to last forever?

23. As a leader, your weaknesses are crystal clear to those you lead. If you doubt this and you’ve got guts, ask them. Front all you want, as a leader, your perceptive followers can read you like an open book.

24. Serving God is not complex (difficult)- but it is a complex (many-sided). Many times, it takes more than one turn of the key to open the door. The multiple turns aren’t really hard to make- but they have to be made, else the door stays shut.

25. It is better to be prepared and you’re not called up, than to be called up and not be prepared. You don’t prepare for battle on the day of battle.

That’s all. What? Thought I promised 26 lessons right? And I kept my promise. Count to see where you missed it *smiling*

Thanks for reading…and happy birthday to me!

Fine Boy

Can YOU Pay For THIS?

About two weeks ago, I attended an event somewhere in Ikeja, Lagos. Since it was a youth-centric event, I figured it will be worth investing my otherwise sacred weekend after five eventful days at the office. On arrival, something caught my eye. I noticed military vehicles and uniformed, mean-looking men loitering around the entrance. At the entry gate, all guests were being screened by men in dark suits and darker sunglasses.

It wasn’t much of a surprise since the state governor, His Excellency, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) was scheduled to be the keynote speaker for the day. The presence of the governor himself demanded tight security. The organizers thought it necessary to control who was allowed into the premises. Smart people.

Most times, I (almost subconsciously) find useful life lessons in otherwise normal events. What you’re about to read is what I found on that sunny Saturday.

Do you have any idea what it costs to hire real, professional bodyguards? That’s what came to my mind as soon as I was cleared to go in (after presenting my proof of invitation and exposing the contents of my brown bag). I tried to come up with a sum but quickly gave up the effort. One thing was clear though, a few credit alerts must have gone round to get those guys stationed at the gates, looking all ‘James Bond-ish’. All that cash (or transfers) just to control who had access to the event centre where the executive governor will be present. Think about the planning, the effort, the logistics and all that; all for one purpose- to control access.

As I thought about this, Proverbs 4:23 made new meaning. Wondering what in the world is in Proverbs 4:23? Here

“guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life” (KJV)

‘Guard’ made deeper sense after that weekend. I had to ask a friend to send me various bible translations of this verse. Here’s what she came up with

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life (NLT)

 “Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts” (MSG)

“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (NKJV)

“Above all else guard your heart, it is where life comes from’ (NIRV)

That’s some heavy stuff. The word says your heart rules your life. It determines what you become. It’s your heart, dear reader, that creates your future. Not your background, not your connections, certificates, the economy or blind luck. It’s your heart. What goes on in there determines what happens out here.

Dear reader, do you have guards around your heart? Or is anything and anyone free to access it as they please? Do you have control over what you let yourself think? Think about your thoughts for a minute. Do you consciously channel them towards specific goals or are they licensed to roam wherever, whenever?

For some of us, this may sound like some psychological gibberish, but from personal experience and the stories of others, I have found this to be true- whatever you perpetually think about has a way of becoming reality in your life. It’s scary but I’ve actually proved this in my personal life. I’ve switched jobs (lower to higher) by operating this principle and I’m still applying it to other areas in my life. It really works. Now don’t get me wrong- I’m NOT saying thinking ALONE will bring about the life changes you desire. But it’s a crucial part-it’s the foundation.

“What you think about, you bring about”

Can you see the importance of your thoughts? If they are so important, that they shape your life, how much will you be willing to pay to have your thoughts shielded? Imagine if you could actually pay someone to guard your thoughts, what figure are you willing to write on their paycheque? Can you pay for the services of a ‘mindguard’?

Thankfully, we don’t have to pay some anyone to do this for us. Neither do we need fearsome biceps, a mean face or skillful marksmanship. In the concluding part of this piece, I’ll be sharing some steps that I’ve personally proved that will help you become a professional ‘mindguard’.

See you then!

 Ik

“I Be Warri!”

Their eyes burned with palpable rage as they spat colourful expletives in each other’s face. A passerby would have assumed the argument was over something significant. Well, if you call ₦50 ‘significant’, then these guys were right on the mark. Tempers grew hotter as voices became louder. Surely, any moment now, the first punch will fly and a full scale fist fight would break out.

fight 1

“You dey c-c-c-c-r-r-r-r—a-a-a-as-ss-sse!!!!” the shorter dude screamed. I almost laughed at his use of stress. My secondary school English teacher would have been proud of him. The misty saliva spray that escorted the words further betrayed the seething volcano within this otherwise small-statured fellow.

“Ehn! Na me this small rat dey talk to?! Make una leemee make I brush am! e dey madt ni! the opponent yelled, addressing the peacemakers restraining him from getting close his shorter ‘friend’.

On and on the drama played out. I was not in any hurry to get to my destination so I stayed a safe distance away, the writer in me working at full speed to capture the moment. Thankfully, the peace keeping regiment succeeded in breaking up hostilities and everyone was soon on their way, groups of twos and threes, heading different ways, each having their own animated versions of what they just witnessed.

As I spun on my heels to walk away, a phrase trailed me. I’d heard it countless times- under different circumstances, from different people. It always somehow found its’ way to the tongue of angry folks as they ‘let off steam’. Despite its’ many variants, the underlying theme was constant.

“You nor dey look face? I be warri o, nor try me”.

Hmmm…

”I be warri”…that line stuck with me. You’ve probably heard similar assertions.

“I be Ijebu o”

“I be Lagos babe o”

“Me na Aba boy na, you nor know?” and a dozen other claims.

“I be warri”; the fighter said it with so much pride, as if the mere mention of a location carried some magical power. What’s so special about your place of origin? Why brag about it? After all, we all came from somewhere. No one fell from heaven- or did they?

As I thought about the rationale behind the human tendency to proudly associate with specific locations, it all made sense. It’s obvious why, in the heat of confrontation, a person recalls his place of origin. It’s so clear- over time, people from specific locations have generally being identified with distinct qualities/traits. While this generalization is not always accurate or even justified, it’s one of those things that have come to stay in human nature as we seek to make sense of the world around us.

But I’m thinking. What if I pledged that same allegiance to heaven? What if, in the heat of life’s battles, I faced those unpleasant circumstances and declared my origin just like those angry guys did? What if every time I’m challenged, I square up against the confrontation, and loudly, proudly declare “Hey! You nor know your mate? I’m from heaven! Nor try yourself o, you this problem”

Dear reader, I’m challenging you today, if you’re a believer to cultivate the habit of recalling your new roots in God- not just in the day of conflict but even when all is rosy. Let the consciousness of your God-connection seep into the core of your being.

And if you’re not yet a believer, I urge you to make that decision today. Who better to be associated with than the very designer of life? The best of life is locked up in a genuine relationship with God. You may get the ‘good’ out there, you may even attain the ‘better’, but I’d bet my life on it, that the very best possible version of your existence is in one place only- in God.

As you go through life dear reader, remember that troubles come to the good and the bad. So when it blows your way, keep your calm, smile at it and announce: “Nor try me o, I be …”

Thank you for reading.

Fine Boy

Note: The preceeding article was a mixture of fact and fiction. Hope you enjoyed it

How to keep your dreams alive- in Naija!

naija

Just over half a century ago, a young, idealistic African-American activist delivered what still remains one of the most remarkable speeches to date. The words “I have a dream” evoke feelings of hope, justice and possibilities.

Dreams. That’s not such a common concept in this part of the world. It seems so far away, so unrealistic. I mean, how can a young person think about dreams in an environment that seems doggedly determined to stifle every move towards a better future? How can that bright young lady realize her dream of being the youngest professor her nation has ever known when ASUU and the FG can’t stop fighting? How can that enterprising young man pursue his vision of being the next Mark Zuckerberg when he can barely afford a ‘third-hand’ laptop? How will that aspiring entrepreneur ever dismantle Ashish Thakkar’s record of being the youngest African billionaire (in USD, before he turned 30) when no one seems willing to support his ideas with much needed startup capital?

So many questions- how? when? where?

As a young person also living in this unique environment, I cannot deny that these are real, legitimate questions. And they deserve real answers. How on earth do you keep your dream alive in this seemingly hostile environment called naija? How do you avoid joining the millions whose dreams have been choked, drowned, frustrated, stabbed, trampled, starved or simply shot to death by this aggressive socio-economic climate?

Where can we find the answers to these itching questions? Allow me to share my discoveries with you. I found my answers in an old book. Yes, you guessed right- I’m talking about the bible.

Waoh, waoh waoh (holding my arms up), before you toss this aside as being just another ‘one of those things’. Think about it for a minute: who else could know better about dreams than the one who dreamed you up in the first place? Think about it for just a sec. Would He have something to say about keeping dreams alive- even in naija? What are His prescribed steps?

dream

#1: Commit your dream to the Lord

“commit your way (dreams) unto the Lord…and He shall bring it to pass” Psalms 37:5

“Commit your works to the LORD, and your thoughts shall be established” Proverbs 16:3

When you

  • consciously
  • mentally
  • emotionally and
  • verbally

place your dreams in God’s hands, you make Him an active partner in the business of your life- that’s dream preservation guaranteed!

#2: Never stop thinking about it

“nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do” Gen. 11:6

The bible repeatedly mentions, and science has confirmed that what we most frequently think about has a way of showing up in our lives. I’m not talking about wishful occasional pie-in-the-sky fantasies. I’m talking about those heart-felt thoughts that rule your mental space. Keep your dreams at the front of your mind. See them every day. No matter how ‘far out’ they seem from your present reality, keep your dreams in your conscious thoughts. As you do this consistently, they will become more real to you and the miracle that has happened to countless others will start happening to you too- you’ll see your dominant thoughts becoming realities right before your eyes.

#3: Devour the stories of others that have succeeded in realizing similar dreams

“that you be not slothful (lazy, weak) but followers of them who through faith and patience fulfilled their dreams” Hebrews 6:12 (paraphrased)

We live in a sad age where too many young dreamers are desperately craving the bragging rights to being ‘self-made’.  Yes, your dream is unique; but it’s not so new that there’s no example to study and glean wisdom from. For instance, while your dream may be the creation of a new product or service that has never existed, there are countless stories of successful inventors and pioneers of new ideas. Connect with their stories. It may sound cliché but it’s true- if you don’t stay inspired, you may soon expire.

#4: Share your dream- but be selective!

Because our dreams are so personal, we feel them at a deeply intense emotional level that sometimes holds us back from sharing them with others to avoid ridicule or any form of discouragement. But after all said and done, if that dream must become reality, others must help you in the process. And how can they help if they never hear your dream? I know it’s risky because there are so many dream killers out there; but the benefits of sharing trump the false security of keeping it all to yourself. When you share your dream, you subconsciously reinforce it your mind. It graduates from just being an ‘idea in your head’ to something that others can relate with. Spread the word- wisely.

#5: Keep preparing for it

The fastest way to kill your dream is to sit and wait for it to become reality. There may be times when it seems like the resources (especially financial) are far away. That’s not the time to slack back and start feeling sorry for yourself or get angry at people who don’t even know you exist. Keep training yourself, keep asking questions, keep refining, keep researching and as Robert Kiyosaki said, “when the student is ready, the teacher will show up”. When your preparations hit that critical threshold, the other requirements will start falling into place like a pack of cards.

#6: Pursue-even if it’s half step at a time

I love what David Abioye said in one of his books, he said “God will never let you get to the point where there’s ABSOLUTELY NOTHING you can do” (check out 1st Cor. 10:13). There’s always something you can do to move just one step closer to your dream- if you’ll bother to ask God for it. I can’t stress this enough. Many times, we sit back, throw our hands up and conclude that there’s no opportunity, there’s nothing we can do. That’s not true. There IS always something you can do to stay on the path of progress. Don’t allow yourself to stagnate.

No matter how trivial the opportunity seems, determine to make use of it to move forward towards your dream. There’s always a way forward.

Start Local. Think Global.

Don't Stop Believing

To your dreams, remain ever true.

Much love,

Ik

A collection of ramblings, scribbles and everything in-between from a developing mind