In the 2012 Stephen Spielberg movie, “Lincoln,” the protagonist, Abraham Lincoln [portrayed by Daniel Day-Lewis] said:
“A compass, I learnt when I was surveying, it will point you True North from where you’re standing, but it’s got no advice about the swamps and desert and chasm that you will encounter along the way. If in pursuit of your destination, you plunge ahead; heedless of obstacles and achieve nothing more than to sink in a swamp…What’s the use of knowing True North?!”
And truly. What is the purpose of knowing the way if you will not get to your destination while strictly plying that route? You must make detours, take shortcuts and employ tricks before you get to your own there. Because, life. In no particular order, other than numerical, here is a list of ten easy-to-remember lifehacks you need to know as a Nigerian:
1. WIDEN YOUR NETWORK:
See. This is not for you to have resources that will manifest the Nigerian propensity to ask “do you know who I am,” before siccing the police/thugs on the person they have disagreements with. This is not for using your clout to show people pepper.
Cutting people off is fashionable and easy. Keeping communication going in the multifaceted demands of your own adulting is especially difficult. I have my struggles too after all! Still, make a conscious effort to meet people and keep in touch. Humans are symbiotic.
I understand the reluctance to let people past the cloaks we veil ourselves with, but not every human you know has to be a *thorough friend. People are pretty useful. Be deliberate about keeping up.
So. Protect your energy at all costs, but know people still. It makes sense.
2. BUY MINT BEFORE SEX
They summon you and you respond with crixutic efficiency. I have a theory that the angels record sins against the name of the one who instigates every bout of premarital sex. On your way to answer those calls, some unsettling questions pop up in your head:
“If I die on top [or below, or behind…or beside] this person, what will I tell God?”
However, one thing more ungodly than premarital sex is the morning breath of a human being. Eloquence is the curse of the intelligent and the many intelligent people in relationships will use grammar to paint repeated attempts to choke you with their morning breaths as one of the cute pillars of relationships. Do not mind them.
Most times, upon waking early in the morning, you will find a strong urge to have a go at each other (again), and then you find that the breath of your partner is stale. Simply reach into the bedside drawer, pull out a couple of menthols/gum and freshen your breath. Then do the do – without having left the bed.
3. SCHOOL WILL NOT TEACH YOU…many things.
With many outrightly unemployed humans, and the employed, gainlessly so – many of them graduates, the usefulness of school has never had its jugular this exposed to the jagged edges of skepticism.
I suspect school is useful. Some think it isn’t. What is clear is that most of the knowledge used in daily life will be gleaned from outside classrooms. School won’t teach you how to
bribe make your way (with a variety of coin/persuasion) past a bureaucratic hangup. Turning the wicked scowl of a joyless secretary into a beaming smile with nothing but a timely throwaway comment about her wristband is not exactly taught in school.
Nigeria’s education system is fixated on question and answer; not problem and solution. In a system that practically discourages invention, thought, disruption, opinion, confidence and other things required to confront daily issues, many people do not realize that the application of knowledge is greater than the inert possession of it. Within and outside school, open your head to learn, observe, unlearn, apply and flourish.
4. BE SELECTIVELY (DIS)HONEST.
Cuddling is tedious if we’re being absolutely honest with each other. Admittedly, it is useful sometimes, but generally, cuddling is borne of the need for relationship people to uphold one of the fabled precepts of relationships. Done in bits that do not exceed five minutes, it’s okay. But do you categorically tell your partner that cuddling is a nonsense?
Diplomacy makes you temper the truth with omissions and additions which make it palatable. Seriously, what do you have to gain from telling the absolute truth all the time?
I have a strong sense of Machiavellian pragmatism. You mix things up and get things done. Lies, or selective evasion of the truth are necessary at times. Honesty isn’t always the best policy. This isn’t Ure Chokwe’s world.
Being absolutely truthful all the time is sociopathic and I will discuss this no further. Thanks.
5. EMBRACE SADNESS.
You’re not supposed to always be happy. If you lose a job, sulk a little. Do not OD on positivity-peddling nuggets.
Most emotional struggles that lead to negative emotions (grief, despair, sadness, regret etc) are borne of the personal and/or cosmic failures. If something is inevitable, accept it and deal with it decisively. That way, you get the acuity to re-strategize and move on. You’re not a robot.
Process emotions. You will get to move past it eventually. When your woman leaves you, drop the macho act, buy a pail of icecream, cry into it as you bingewatch Game of Thrones.
Mark Manson wrote a whole book about this. Read it some time.
6. BE A BASTARD. Sometimes.
I saw a quote on TwitterNG that said: “Every goal must pass the test of discouragement.”
With due diligence done, prayers said and all manner of preparation in place, you must stick with the plan so that you don’t end up withering in the face of challenges, criticism and opinions. In this our Nigeria, if you do not have strong convictions about what you’re doing, you will likely get nowhere.
You must be a bit of a stubborn bastard in order to fulfill/achieve most of your goals.
7. AVOID ADDICTION TO YOUR STRUGGLES.
Stockholm syndrome is a psychological condition in which a hostage emotionally bonds to his/her captor. Due to the security of the familiar, a level of ambivalence trails our desires.
“Better the devil you know than the angel you don’t” is not a good saying. There are postulations that poor people who suddenly get large amounts of money (inadvertently) find a way to squander it and get back to managing – a condition they are accustomed to.
Do not become addicted to your current struggles. Watch yourself. Are you really (holistically) ready for progress? It comes with increased glare from the spotlight, increased responsibilities, fear of failure and increased scrutiny. Are you ready?
8. PROGRESS ISN’T ALWAYS LINEAR.
Whether you are trying to add or cleave something to/from your life, there usually is a process involved. Allow me a negative example (because they’re more memorable). Gambling, smoking, drinking and wanton fornication. Let’s say something is wrong with you and you engage in all of these things simultaneously. Upon a sudden, you want to listen to the Ministry of Health’s advice.
Smoke when you absolutely have to. Give yourself a timeframe and activate a plan. If your norm is fifteen sticks daily, reduce to twelve over a couple of months, then ten, then seven…you get the drift. On one of your off days, you will STILL sneak a smoke. And it will be okay. Allow yourself to be human. It does not mean that your own has finished. The occasional slip up does not invalidate your journey.
Believe in the process.
9. SCATTER THINGS.
The year was 1886. In a bid to find a cure for headaches, American pharmacist, John Pemberton used coca leaves and cola nuts to form a mixture. His assistant accidentally introduced carbonated water to the mix and the result, after a series of tweakings, is Coca-Cola.
Equally important, but no less interesting, is the legend behind the scientific discovery of Penicillin. Scottish biologist, Alexander Fleming took a long vacation from working on staphylococcus in his lab. Upon his return, he discovered that a particular fungus which had grown on a culture he left in the lab had killed off all surrounding bacteria. Hence, Penicillin.
I have given two scientific examples, but serendipity, defined as “an unsought, unintended and/or unexpected, but fortunate discovery and/or learning experience that happens by accident,” transcends science.
It is life. In your bid to make a particular thing happen, other things usually happen. We can extrapolate this to progress. Things rarely happen when moves aren’t being made. But when you scatter things, and things are in flux with the right amount of entropy, strange things you paid no mind might fall into the right strange places. Entropy begets progress.
Things happen when things are in flux. You scatter things long enough and things might eventually fall into place.
**Way too many things up there.
10. ATTAIN MATURITY.
Do you think being un-cling-y is a form of maturity in amorous relationships?
Scoring a C in an exam, do you believe punching the wall in disgust shows ingratitude in the midst of people who scored less?
Should you refuse to stamp the ankle of a player who elbows you in the temple during a football match?
While you hold the opinion that Andres Iniesta is at least on par with Zinedine Zidane in terms of majesty, are you quick to change your stance because someone throws a blanket statement that “these kids don’t know football!”
Does it make you feel bad when someone opines, based on your wide chest and tattooed arms, that you are arrogant and disrespectful – when in your own books, you are only proud and demanding?
Who defines things for you?
Unless there’s an empirically decent compelling argument that will enact an adjustment, the ultimate form of maturity, for me, is having your own definitions (values, views etc) and being comfortable with them.