Four Problems with Being the ‘Fixer’ Friend

Me and Fixer are friends. We are talking.

Me: “My nephew just failed his final university exams. I don’t get it. He’s always had a 3.6 GPA. The Faculty Dean says he…”

Fixer: “Oh my gosh, he failed?! His final exams? Oh my gosh, okay don’t freak out. My uncle is a partner at a law firm, I’m sure he can help him get a job.”

What do you think of that response? Anyway, next week Fixer and I meet up again.

Me: “I just came back from the hospital. It doesn’t look good. They think my grandmother might have canc..”

Fixer: “I REBUKE THAT RIGHT NOW! Cancer must BOW to Jesus! Oya come, come, come. Pastor Ugochukwo has just released a new line of fresh anointing oil, it even comes from organic olives. Let us go and get it now!”

Are you seeing the trend? Okay the next time:

Me: “I think my boyfriend might be cheating on me. I was going through…”

Fixer: “What?! GIIIIIRRRRRLLL LEAVE HIM! DUMP THAT LYING BUM! HE DON’T DESERVE YOU! Honestly the moment I met him I just knew, I just knew there was something about him.”

It’s usually more nuanced than this but what I’m trying to point out is the automatic impulse to spring up and fix everything without listening to the problem. Fixers are not people who always provide bad solutions, sometimes their solutions are correct and their hearts are usually in the right place. However, sometimes people just want to talk to you because you’re a friend not because you have all the answers.

Here are four issues with the ‘fixer’ mentality:

  1. We may be offering solutions that nobody was asking for.

People don’t always need some verbal panacea, some profound platitude, or even powerful preaching. Yes, a problem shared may be a problem half-solved but sometimes the solution does not include instructions or information. The solution may just be communication, venting out emotions, thinking through the situation by speaking out. Sometimes you need to just be there to listen. Be present but be quiet.

  1. We are desperate to feel more in control.

There is a vicarious pain that comes when the people we love are hurting. And when we feel pain that affects us emotionally without affecting us directly, it can bring about a sense of powerlessness. And so becoming a ‘fixer’ becomes this reflex response where we’re throwing out all the solutions we can think of in an attempt to break through the limitations that life has caged us in.

I think it takes a lot of bravery to share in people’s pain knowing full well that you can’t control the pain, you can’t fix it.

Be comforted in this: you don’t always need to.

  1. We may be trivializing pain.

Getting some fresh air doesn’t always cure depression. Working harder doesn’t always result in a promotion. Being non-confrontational doesn’t always prevent police brutality. Simple answers don’t always fix complex problems.

reg-quoteWhen we are self-centred, we believe that the magnitude of our problems easily overshadow those of everyone else’s. We think our problems are valid, meaningful, worth listening to. But other people’s problems are self-inflicted, simple, easy to cure. So we end up offering common-sense solutions that everybody else has already offered, implying that people’s real-life struggles are just minor problems that we would have sorted out a long time ago if we were in their shoes.

Sometimes people do exaggerate their problems and you will need to interrupt their pity party to dish out the truth. But saying ‘Your problems are not important’ is not as effective as listening for a while and then reminding them ‘You are too important for this to be this big of a problem’

  1. We may be labelling people.

People going through a hard time are still people. They have stories and hobbies and journeys and idiosyncrasies and a million things that make them special and unique and worth it. Sometimes when we’re so focused on fixing a problem, we only zoom in on that aspect of a person’s life.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for fixers. There are some people that I would go to if I just wanted help with sorting something out, but I wouldn’t go to them if I just wanted to talk. My closest friends are those who can tell when to just listen and when to get up and help, those who know that they don’t need to fix things to be needed.

Review of SGIT’s Season 3 Finale (WARNING: Contains spoilers)

(Don’t read if you haven’t watched Skinny Girl In Transit’s Season 3 Finale. Watch it and come back)

Me from beginning to mid-episode:
I am so frustrated.
I am actually so frustrated. Why is Tiwa trying to put stress in my life? She is LI-TE-RA-LLY the most annoying protagonist of ANY show I have watched in my entire life. Why is she so annoying? I mean I understand the concept of playing hard to get, but she is playing ‘IMPOSSIBLE TO ACHIEVE LEVEL 100’. Ah ah! Iss enough! This boy likes you! He likes you now! Ki lon se yin?* Ah, he’s rich, he’s ‘andsome, he can sing (not sure about that last note but nevertheless), he’s in touch with his emotions, he GOTS GAME! Ati** ‘When I met you, I was in a rough patch. But you gave me reason to smile, you made me believe in love again’ COME ON! COME ON SOMEBOTHY! BARRRRRRRSSS fo’ days though. Yeesh. The bobo even used the girl from Adekunle Gold’s Orente music video as a prop to impress you. Ah ah, do you want him to go and kill before you stop doing shakara for him?

Thing is, this entire show was meant to be a modern day fairy tale with a slightly feminist Lagos twist. Sooooooooo when Prince Charming comes along, CAN’T YOU GRAB YOUR BLESSIN’ AND CARRY GO?! Ah I’m stressed. I was literally (I kid you not) massaging my temples throughout this episode. ‘Twas not easy, dealing with all d suspension and frostration but I soldiered through…

Me at the end of the episode:
*Clears throat* Well. Well then…

But later: after I have properly digested the episode:
Oh. Wait, maybe this was the whole point. Maybe the screenwriters wanted to frustrate me. They wanted to bring out how frustrating our own insecurities are. We are all Tiwa at times; faced with an amazing opportunity in front of us but not being honest enough with ourselves to just admit that we want it because we cannot believe that this company or this man or this publisher could actually want us back. And for all we know, our insecurities could be frustrating everyone around us. Wow. Das deep. Goooood job Ndani TV. Good job.

When the deepness hits you
When the deepness hits you

In case you don’t actually know what SGIT is, in which case, fam, you’re behind though: click here.
For another beautiful and short story about body image issues and love by one of my favorite authors Chibundu Onuzo, click here

 

*Ki lon se yin: What’s doing you?
**Ati: A word used in Southern and Eastern Africa when you’re about to quote someone, especially in a mocking way.

Cupcakes and the Muslim Ban

In light of the recent #MuslimBan, an unusual thought popped to mind:

I need to sit down with a Donald Trump supporter (especially one who supports the recent developments) and just have a real talk discussion with them. Like, we could have tea and little cupcakes with sprinkles and we could just taaaaalk. Like, just talk. Just talk to me hey? We would talk about the life experiences that shaped us and the core worldviews that define our mental map of society. And I would get them to help me understand, just understand, WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?!

*Clears throat* Excuse me. I wouldn’t exactly say it that way. I want my cupcake sprinkles staying in place. But in all seriousness, this whole Donald Trump wahala made me think that I wasn’t listening enough. I was too busy laughing at Donald Trump at the start, too busy condemning Donald Trump supporters in the middle, too busy holding my head in my hands on election night to properly process this entire episode. It’s like history just whacked me in the face the way an African mother backhands your head when you’re not paying attention.

What I find lacking in too many political discussions is…an actual discussion. Instead there are egos and insults and defensiveness and fake facts and real facts and the questioning of the importance of such facts. Maybe if we all understood each other better and stopped castigating people for asking questions, the world would be a better place. *Fluffy angel halo floats in*

At the same time we must that these discussions are a symptom of privilege. We could discuss theoretically whether there is a potential conflict of interest in Donald Trump’s exclusion of countries like Saudi Arabia and UAE on his naughty list considering his business interests in these countries and the fact that many Islamic terrorists have been citizens of these countries. We could discuss theoretically whether Islamophobia fuels terrorism considering the fact that Daesh uses anti-Islam remarks as propaganda for recruiting new terrorists. We could discuss theoretically whether the Muslim ban being issued on the same day as Holocaust Remembrance Day is a chilling coincidence or shameful patterns in history.

And then when we’re done, we could wipe the cupcake crumbs off our faces and get off our comfortable tushies to go back to our comfortable families and continue our comfortable lives. We wouldn’t have to deal with the pain, betrayal, and confusion that the young genius and recent MIT scholarship recipient Mahmoud Hassan currently has to grapple with after life basically told him ‟You’re super smart. But you’re Muslim”. We wouldn’t have to deal with the anger of the Yazidi refugee in Iraq who finally (fiiiinally!) got the opportunity to fly to the States this weekend but instead had months of preparation signed off in a few seconds because her Iraqi citizenship deemed her threat. We wouldn’t have to deal with the indignation that Mo Farrah is currently experiencing with the voice of institutionalized Islamophobia whispering in his ear ‟You may be knighted by the Queen, you may have won the UK two gold medals, but you’re always just going to be a little Somali boy”.

We wouldn’t have to deal with any of that.

We would be eating cake.

But even then, I still do need to talk to more Donald Trump supporters. I need to take all of this seriously. So if you’re a Donald Trump and Muslim ban supporter, wanna meet up sometime? I’ll start baking. What kind of frosting would you prefer? Isolated icing or unmoved meringue?

 

Lawwwwwwwwwd Jesus. Election Day ti de and mi o ready ra ra*

OLUWA OLUWA WA! AH. OLORUN OLORUN MI O!
 
WE AINT SLEEPING TONIGHT PEOPLES!
Oya begin to open your mout and pray. PRAY O PRAY.
Oh God the full weight of this election is beginning to just strike my body like a tunder from d sky! YEI!
 
Up down up down. Shoulders going up down.
 
Real talk though, how much have I actually prayed for this election? Been busy discussing discussing tinking tinking gisting gisting. Is gisting going to destroy the work of satan? Mschew. 
 
Also, can I be really honest right now? (PLEASE don’t look at me like I’m this perfect Christian cuz sometimes I feel like God had to allocate more of the blood of Jesus upon my soul for me to be saved). So when Christians be all ‘Regardless of what happens God is in control. Jesus is still the ruler of the world’…
 
I’m just there giving some still-figuring-out-this-whole-salvation-thing side eye going “Yalls. IS IT TIME TO BE OVERSPIRITUAL NOW?!” I’m very sorry but it’s like watching a live and bitterly graphic WWE match between Dwayne Johnson and John Cena and saying “Anyway God is the strongest”.
 
Ehn? Clap for yasef.
 
I’m sorry but I’m freaking out. Dang it when I’m grown, like grown grown, like some sexay gangster grandmother that mortality aint even wanna touch? I’m gonna have STORIES FOR MY BABIES THOUGH.
 
They gon’ be there doing some history report about the American economy (if America still exists) and I’m gon’ be there spittin’ TRUF like “Yall you aint get it. It was crazy. It was a fight. There was blood. There were tears. There was sweat. I’m pretty sure a whole bunch of other bodily fluids were being swung around cuz baby it was a TRIP.”
 
We find out who the FOHTEE-FITH president. Of the United States of America is going to be in just a couple hours.
 
…Why do I feel scared?

*Translation of title: Lord Jesus. Election Day has arrived and I am not ready at all

Popularity Is Not a Virtue

When I was around 11, my mother baked me a birthday cake to share with my friends at school.

Note: my friends.

Okay she didn’t use the word ‘friend’ specifically. She didn’t need to. It was a simple affair. On your birthday you take a cake to school and people eat it.

What I wasn’t aware of were the hounds of ravenous students that would come charging at me because of the sweet succulent cake flesh in my hands. And that wasn’t even the problem.

The problem was everybody (even those intimidating high school students) kept showering me with pretty glittery happy birthday shouts that I ended up giving them so much of my cake. By the time I was going back home I realized I hadn’t even given my big brother any cake.

That was very sad. But the hurt really hit home when I stepped out of the car the next morning and realized that I was no longer popular.

I was so confused. I was looking around thinking ‘Did I not give this same boy 4 by 6 inches of my cake yesterday? And yet he cannot even greet?’

No red carpet. No acknowledgement. In fact simple greeting they could not produce.

It was then that I realized people were celebrating my cake more than they were celebrating me. And this doesn’t just happen in school. Today, people try to acquire different forms of ‘cake’ to appease the masses as if true acceptance and unconditional love are unattainable.

Proverbs 18:24 says “A man of many companions may come to ruin but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother”. Having many companions does not make one successful, but one form of success is the ability to identify and appreciate a true friend.

Sometimes in our desperate plea to chase after the approval of those that don’t yet care about us, we disregard the love of those that do care.

The kids at school didn’t care about me. They cared about my cake! But come to think of it, I didn’t care about them either. I just cared about them caring about me! I didn’t care about their interests or their families or their lives. I just wanted them to like me.

They wanted my cake. I wanted their approval. It was a superficial transaction.

Now I aim to focus on love. I was called to love. Love makes me appreciate people, and love makes me appreciate the fact that I was called to not be everyone’s best friend because love does not require me to be your best friend before I appreciate you.

So don’t just give cake in return for other people’s approval. Give love regardless of approval. And if giving cake is your way of sharing love with others then go ahead.

Just make sure your awesome big brother gets a share.

And serve my piece with some vanilla ice cream on the side please. 😉

Why Wonbiliki Wobia is a Heart Balm in These Recession Times

Wonbiliki Wobia

/wʌn-bɪ-li-ki wo-bia/

noun:

Someone who is greedy, gluttonous, disgracefully desperate for unnecessary amounts of more.

A song by Gaisebaba.


I feel things very deeply sometimes.
And other times not at all.

Listening to “Wonbiliki Wobia” by one of my favorite artists Gaisebaba resuscitated my heart out of the necrotic apathy that the news had been infesting me with.

“Barrell of oil to start selling for $70 only”

“Lagos state government to start bulldozing homes and businesses”

“The Nigerian economy has officially entered recession”

“Bomb blast in Maiduguri kills eight”

After a while, we almost expect it these things. We think hope is a luxury.

During the election season, someone told me there was no option. Buhari was our saviour. “When Buhari comes to power, a lot of people are going to DIE! And that’s what we need.” she said

The system is failing us. Nigerians believed in this 1983 dictator that would come to topple the corrupt leaders, the entire corrupt system, instill the war on indiscipline again, return us to our former glory (#MakeNigeriaGreatAgain) and save our world.

Another friend said ‘Ah it is not Buhari or Jonathan o. It is only God that can save Nigeria’.

My face turned to: -______-. I believe in Jesus too but we can’t use faith as a substitute for engaging in the basic political discourse that we need to make informed choices as responsible citizens.

But now I get what she meant. She had lived through too many promises, too much politics, too many games. When people say “It’s only God that can save us” I don’t know if that’s an attempt to acquire some hope or an indication that they’ve given up hope.

I won’t lie to you and say that the song gave me hope. It didn’t. It gave me emotion.

Hope chooses to see a brighter future. Emotion refuses to keep your eyes closed.

And that’s a start.

(This post has not been sponsored by anyone. I  just love the song)

#StopMarriagism2016

Okay some people are gonna judge me right about now but ya girl gots to SPEAK.

I’m tired of all you marriagist people. YEESSS YESS that’s right! I’m tired of you! I’m tired of all you marriage supremacists folk! And many of you are single so this isn’t me attacking anybody in particular. I am right here putting up straight assault on this ATTITUDE.

Uggggggghhhh. Let me explain.

So I’m reading an article yeah? Woman lady be talking ’bout how she’s over 30 and single and…wait for it, wait for it….ENJOYING HER LIFE.

Oh wow. What an incredible phenomenon. A single woman over 30 that’s HAPPY? Surely that can’t be! Nooo! She’s messing up the system! Gather round all the oversabi amebos of our society! Let us go and destroy her happiness and stuff her into a box of singlehood-related depression and loneliness where she belongs!

-___________________- Oh my actual gosh. My eyes are rolling so hard I’m actually getting dizzy.

Come and see how the amebo army starts attacking this woman. Ehn ‘Hmm that’s why you’re single o”. Ati “This is just an excuse to stay single”.

Please wait while I faint.

The stupid. It is overpowering my consciousness.

Now let me break it down for all y’all:

Sista wa here is not making ‘excuses’ for being single. She’s explaining the REASONS why being single is great for her. And she shouldn’t have to! Married people don’t have to explain if they’re happy!

If we are expected to be happy, we need to be happy before then. The spirit of discontentment won’t just magically disappear with a ring.

Imma be real, sometimes I want a man too. Wait. Rephrase. Sometimes I want that Jesus-loving footrub-giving David Oyelowo-looking brother in tha Lord!

Sometimes.

But NO MAN is going to be that ALL of the time. Sometimes he could be that nostril-flaring fart-producing toenail-growing patient in the ward. And as a wife it would be my responsibility to love him just as much in both states.

And here’s the thing that we sometimes forget: it would be just as important to love MYSELF just as much, regardless of how successful my husband may look.

Your relationship with your husband could affect your relationship with yourself. And the devil may try to make you source your identity solely on being some man’s wife.

People need to stop looking at marriage as a commodity. As a seasonal trendy item that we are supposed to just obtain.

And it’s so disgusting how we have the ‘husband hiearchy’ for women (and vice versa as well).

Points Allocated to Woman In Following Scenarios:
10 points = Husband has obviously gifted barber
50 points = Husband has good job
100 points = Husband owns company
Etc, etc

(You started weighing out the points didn’t you?)

I want to be content in my singleness, in my identity in Christ, that I don’t end up needing/using a guy to decorate my success.

Don’t get me wrong. Desiring marriage is NOT bad, if you desire marriage for the right reasons, that’s a good thing! Good. Positive. To be commended. But the general expectation placed on single people to be obsessed with marriage, to be unhappy is very bad.

It’s not just as simple as ‘married’ or ‘unmarried’. Sometimes it could be
“Married but separated”
“Married and happy”
“Married and only one person is happy”
“Married and going through a tough time but strong enough to get through it”
“Married but not excited or hating it. Just married”

OR

“Unmarried because they are so immature that marriage would be like intellectual pedophilia”
“Unmarried and very grateful for it”
“Unmarried and about to meet husband in next five minutes”
“Unmarried but in long term relationship that has been long term for a while now”
“Unmarried and called to singleness.”

There could be all kinds of reasons why somebody is married or unmarried. I hope one day we’ll all be judged not by our marital statuses but by the content of our character.

I know that it’s hard being single. Definitely. But this overemphasized truth almost creates an obligation in single people to be sad while it makes it difficult for married people to express the fact that they sometimes struggle to fulfill their “obligation” to be happy.

If I’m having a moment of loneliness as a single person, I can be real about that. I can call up a friend and be like “Girl why aint God brought my Boaz yet?” But if I was married, I can imagine that it would be difficult to say “I kinda miss being single right now”. We should be able to celebrate and sympathize with people in both seasons.

I get so excited about engagements and pretty weddings and Bella Naija proposals and wedding cakes (and like, any kind of food really). But I also get excited about my me-time, my free time, the fact that I’m in control of my time. Being grateful for singleness should not be abnormal.

Now. Some of you might read all this and go ‘Psssh. This is why she’s still single”

Annnnnddddd you’re right. Some people are single for the same reasons some people are married: they are right where they’re supposed to be.

So let’s stop patronizing single people. #StopMarriagism2016

 

*Oversabi = Know it all
*Amebo = Gossiper