I Know Someone Who Has Five Jobs. Here are Ideas to Help You Get Out of Unemployment Rut

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You graduated from university five years ago with good grades. You have yet to find a job. It’s not your fault. I have been there. But then you heard about your former classmate who has a nice-paying job and other money-making side-hustles. How did he do it? Why does he have multiple sources of income and you have none? In this post, I will give you ideas on how to leverage the opportunities you already have, opportunities you previously neglected, to get you going. And here is where it gets good, once you get busy, people trust you more and give you even more responsibilities–you establish multiple streams of income.

Ike’s and Silvia’s Stories
I started writing this post about a month ago when a former classmate told me how well another former classmate of ours, Ike*, was doing. A young attorney, Ike has a successful law practice in Abuja. Besides his day job, Ike is also a Special Adviser to a State Government in Nigeria. When he gets home from his law practice where he wears a suit and a tie, Ike puts on casual clothes to visit work sites where he acts as a supervisor. For this third job as a supervisor, Ike is contracted by busy businessmen who have ongoing building construction projects but cannot make out time to monitor day-to-day progress at the sites. Ike uses his training as an attorney to ensure that workers comply with the building plan, resources are not wasted, and deadlines are met.

The same weekend I heard about Ike’s success, I ran into Silvia and was even more inspired by how well she manages her time juggling multiple jobs. Silvia* has a demanding job as a top manager in a private firm. Silvia also has a real estate investment that requires as much attention as a full-time job such that some investors with a portfolio as big as hers employ resident managers for the sole purpose of managing the properties. In addition, Silvia teaches three classes in a State university. Silvia is also currently studying for her Ph.D program. Lastly Silva is the primary care-giver to her two kids. Though she no longer does, just a few years ago, Silvia also had another teaching job for her Saturdays.

Why You Need to be Successful
While having multiple jobs may make a work-life balance harder to achieve, it has its upsides. When you diversify your sources of income, you can do many things you cannot otherwise do with limited resources. You can upgrade from shopping at Ross to Nordstrom. You will have sufficient fund for medical bills and legal bills. (As unfair as it sounds, health can be bought, and justice can be bought; ask Lamar Odom and O.J. Simpson.) Further, when you have enough money, you can send your kids to best private schools around and set them up for a great start in life. Most important, when you become rich, you are able to touch several lives. (Even if he had good intentions, the good Samaritan will not be known today if couldn’t take that wounded traveler to the hospital because of lack of money.) Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are able to fight and eradicate diseases around the world because of the enormous amount of resources at their disposal.

Start Somewhere, Get Busy
You don’t have a job so that sounds like a good reason to stay at home all day binge eating and netflixing. The key to getting started is to get busy, occupy your time with something productive, however small.

For example, I find that volunteering has a way of opening hitherto closed doors. If you are looking for a teaching opportunity, walk to that primary school close to your house and tell the principal that you want to volunteer in his school. It’s more likely than not that he will find something to keep you busy. When you volunteer with an organization, you have a higher chance of getting employed when a paid opportunity opens up than outsiders who are not familiar with the organization’s culture. I once volunteered with an organization and months later, when they were hiring, they first contacted those of us who volunteered with them to see if we were interested in the position before offering it to outsiders. Also I read a story by a Nigerian girl of how, when she was unemployed, she started volunteering with two hospitals in Lagos as she was in the medical field. With time, one of the hospitals was hiring and offered her a full time job. She said that while she may have “wasted” transport fares in those early days as a volunteer, commuting to both jobs, what she makes now more than compensate for the “lost” time and money. Had she been at home sitting on the couch, she said, she will still be unemployed.

What Do You Have in Your Hands?
In a post by this title, Toby Nwazor writes about how though he had always loved writing, he studied engineering at the university because of the misconception that intelligent people study sciences. After graduating, he got jobs in his field but was never quite successful. A question by his pastor asking him what he had in his hand, a natural talent, an allusion to Moses’ encounter at the burning bush, prompted him to go back to writing. He is now a freelance writer, happy and fulfilled. Before now, he didn’t believe he could make money writing. Sometimes, tapping into your natural talent can take you to places where you can never dream of going with your 9-5 job. Find out what you already have in your hands.

If you are unemployed, you are in a good position to find out where your talent lies. Because of the free time on your hands, you can try out your passions, interests, etc and see where they lead you. If you are an artist, draw a popular musician and tag him on social media. They take notice and share it on their wall, and bingo, you are getting calls from prospective clients. If you love writing, you can sign up an account with Wikipedia and pitch to Nigeria celebrities and businesses, who are notable but are not on Wikipedia. Offer to create a page for them. If you have an aunt or uncle whose business will do better with an online presence, help them set up social media accounts to advertise their products. As you are starting out, be open to doing this for free with hope that these first customers will refer future clients to you. Linda Ikeji, BellaNaija and Sisiyemmie worked hard long years before their passions turned into multi-million naira businesses. If you can’t think of anything to keep busy, follow your mum or dad to work; it doesn’t matter if it is at Main Market or Ariaria. Just get busy.

Leverage the Power of Social Media
On my Facebook page, I see wonderful posts from my former classmates and I am amazed at what they create (edible dollar note on a cake etc.,) that I share it to my friends. If you are reading this, you probably clicked a link you saw on my Facebook page. It’s my way of advertising my blog. And it has been rewarding in some ways. If you are creating something, share it on social media. It takes just one viral post and you are made. Olajumoke, the bread seller, is a case in point. Besides other endorsements she has, she just go a free five-year lease for a luxury apartment in Lagos. Though her story is more of a case of being at the right place at the right time, it shows how powerful social media can be.

Be Inspired

Chijioke Ben

Oresegun olumide

Art

The pictures above are works of two Nigerian artists, Chijioke Anyacho (paints with ink), and Oresegun Olamide (his artworks look real). In the past few months, both of their works went viral through the power of social media.

After his work went viral, Olamide was featured on CNN. CNN said “The hyperrealism created in the oil paintings makes his work seem so life like that it is hard to believe they aren’t.” What bigger advertisement does one need? I’m sure he can no longer keep up with demands for his work.

And Chijioke, who chronicles his journey on his Facebook page said his painting with pen was an accident. According to him, one day, he was waiting for his drawing materials to arrive and a thought came to him, “Why don’t you start with what you have?” He had a pen with him and he started drawing with it. Today his work is featured in other countries including South Africa. He has distinguished himself as an artist who can create incredible artwork with mere ball point pen. He recently finished a portrait Tinubu commissioned him to draw. Here’s what Chijioke posted on his Facebook page when his work first went viral:

“Friends please join me to thank God…..even if you don’t believe in God, just join me and thank Him….I am overwhelmed…I am blown away by what is currently happening to me right now…. THIS IS A MIRACLE. I just can’t explain this……it’s bigger than I ever dreamt.
I slept around 5am this morning…..from 3am till i slept i was responding to messages and notifications on Facebook and i kept saying to myself…
“i can’t believe this” Even as i write this, i am still saying “i can’t believe this”..
Friends this is beyond my widest imaginations….
Magazines from across Africa wants to feature me….
Television interviews are warming up…
Blogs are requesting….
Calls are streaming in…
NGO’s are indicting interest to work with me…
I can no longer handle my Facebook messages….its pouring in like rain…
I keep asking myself, what exactly did I do….what is it that I am doing? Wetin I do oooooo I no even sabi draw reach some people sef.
I AM SPEECHLESS OOOOOOOOOOOOOO
This is just crazy…..i am lost for words….
I had to call my Uncle(who’s my guardian) to express my speechless…he gave me the needed support when I started….way back when I was offline…
Friends request is streaming in as if am a public figure…
Request for my work is even surpassing what I can handle..
.
Last week I was just a nobody…..last week I was begging someone to have my work for a 60%discount…today my work has appreciated and its 3x the amount I was begging the guy for. And its reviewing itself to meet up.

-Chijoke Anyacho

You can only get this once in a life time intense feeling of euphoria if you get busy. And the good thing is once you get your big break, you can maximize the opportunity to further diversify your income. For example, besides selling his artwork at exorbitant prices, Chijioke can get gigs as a motivational speaker, get endorsements from bic, write a book on how social media can help a brand, etc.

Don’t envy him. You can do it too, just stop playing candy crush.

P.S:* Minor details changed to protect identity of real persons.

Pls Dn’t Ryte Lk DS

It probably took you a while to understand the title of this post–“Please Don’t Write Like This.” That is what you subject your friends to when you sacrifice proper English on the altar of lols, imhos, and smiley faces (some of us can’t tell the difference between a smiling and a crying one). That is what internet slang has done to communication.

Internet slang and abbreviations became popular in Nigeria in the early 2000’s when MTN, desperate to recoup its investment in Nigeria telecommunication industry, billed an extra 15 naira for every 161st character a subscriber sent in a text message. It became a good business decision for phone users to substitute “r” for “you”, “dt”for “that,” etc. With its launch in 2006, Twitter’s 140 character per tweet limit further embedded the culture of word economy in the millennials. With time, normalizing misspellings in the name of efficiency led to erosion in the quality of written English. Using XOXO, lol, W8, cul, etc became an indication that one is moving with the times. Sticking to proper English is deemed old-school.

While Internet slang saves time for the writer, they take two times as long for the reader to understand. Internet slang also gives room for misunderstanding. A young man once told a story of how shocked he was when he got a text from his mother that read, “Your Aunty, Jane, died this morning. lol”. What was funny about their beloved Aunty Jane dying? It was only afterwards that his mother explained that she used lol to mean “Lots of Love.”

While Generally I don’t “ryte lk dat”, I remember once sending my then fiance (now husband) a text that had him looking over the internet for the meaning of PCM etc,. Also, on a recent day, I sent a text to a friend and used “anr” in one of the sentences. My friend’s reply came: “what is “anr?”” Anr happens to be an abbreviation lawyers and law students are familiar with. It is often used in citing cases to indicate there is another party to a case besides the named party, e.g., Buhari v. Jonathan & Anr. Because of my background, I took it for granted that everybody knows what my three letter replacement for the seven letter word meant. But to my medical doctor friend, it was all Greek to her. On the converse, I too have been in situations where I have had to tell my much cooler younger brothers to explain abbreviations contained in texts they sent to me. Whatever time a writer meant to save by abbreviating is lost when he has to go back and forth with the recipient explaining what he actually meant.

Besides the risk of being misunderstood, one is taken less seriously when they use internet slang and emoticons in professional settings. Many businesses ban the use of internet slang at work places, and rightly so.

Inappropriate use of slang can also cost one opportunities. Chimamanda Adichie, Nigeria’s foremost author, once said she doesn’t take emails with slang and abbreviations seriously. It would also appear that using abbreviations unnecessarily on dating sites results in one losing out on the best prospects. In this post Glory Edozie writing about her experience on Tinder said she swipes a left whenever she sees “pointless abbreviations i.e, odawise, cuz, ryte or anything similar” on a guy’s profile. People set these rules to ensure an uneducated person doesn’t hide under the guise of internet slang to cover his lack of knowledge.

Here’s the rule of the thumb for using internet slang: only use it on social interactions. Stick to the ones that are commonly known, e.g, lol but not PCM (Please call me). Never use it at the work place especially when interacting with supervisors and clients. Don’t use it when you are asking for favors. Use it in text messages to family and friends only when you need to economize data. This is a simple guideline. These things do matter. Inserting an emoticon in a job application can delete your chance of getting a job.

CUL8R. ( Does it mean “See you later” or “Call you later.” You pick.)

Three Reasons Why Criticisms Should Not Get to You

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When I first started getting my feet wet in the legal profession (I still am), I once wrote a brief and my supervisor, after reviewing it, returned it with a note that read: “Good. Well-researched.” He didn’t make any edits. A few weeks later, in the reply brief, the opposing counsel wrote that the argument in the brief was “nonsensical,” was filled with “lack of knowledge,” and was a “gross failing” on my part. I was devastated.

About a week after we received the scathing reply, my supervisor walked into my office waving a sheet of paper; the Judge ruled the motion in our favor. The judge found my ‘nonsensical’ argument more convincing than the opposing lawyer’s.

As you try to succeed, people will tell you that you are not good enough, sometimes well-meaning. These encounters will affect your self-esteem and make you question your abilities. Don’t be discouraged. Here are three reasons why you should not give up on your goals in the face of criticism.

1. You Cannot Avoid Criticism if You Want to Succeed

How ever good you are, you can only avoid criticism by locking yourself up in a room, everyday. Once you make the decision to get off your bed and speak to even a family member, expect that from time to time, you will be reminded of areas you fall short. The more people you interact with, the more your ideas and actions will conflict with someone else’s. For e.g., if you are a stay-at-home mum, you have only your husband to please. But if you work, you will get criticisms from the workplace too.

It follows that the amount of criticism one gets is directly proportional to his responsibility. Despite his good intentions, President Obama is the most maligned person in the U.S. (bedsides perhaps the Kardashians). In Nigeria, President Buhari is the scape goat. Before him, President Goodluck Jonathan was. So if you aspire to play a significant role in the society, brace yourself for disapproval.

First Lady Michelle Obama learned this from experience. In a TV interview, when asked what her most important advice to young people was, the First Lady said, “to always keep in mind that however good one’s intentions are, one will be criticized.” Another quote I heard some years ago sums it up, “If you don’t want to be criticized, don’t say anything, do anything, or be anything.”

2. Criticisms Don’t Define You
Often, when people are criticized, they internalize the negative words such that they weigh heavily on their minds, lingering more than they should. But when put in perspective, criticisms hurt less.

If you consider that some criticisms are made in good faith, by those who care about you, to help you grow, then you will take them to heart and work on areas that need improvement. In the same vein, you should disregard criticisms made by detractors to pull you down.

Moreover, considering that people’s judgment and values are subjective, you should not care of people’s opinion when you need not. This quote credited to George Clooney sums it up: “You’re never as good as everyone tells you when you win, and you’re never as bad as they say when you lose.” So learn to put both ovation and condemnation in their right place. If people’s judgement are not always reliable, why place undue importance on them?

3. Criticisms are Blessings in Disguise

Millions of people heard of Steve Harvey for the first time when he mistakenly announced the wrong winner during the Miss Universe contest. After the mistake, commentators predicted that Harvey’s career was over. But the reverse happened. Miss Universe invited Harvey to host the pageant again next year and his career is flourishing more than ever.

In an interview he granted Hollywood Reporter after the Miss Universe gaffe, Steve Harvey told The Hollywood Reporter, “I was asking God to help me increase my global persona. I don’t appreciate the route he took.’

I got to know Nigerian musicians Wizkid and Davido only after I read their Babymama drama on Nigerian blogs. While the stories defamed them, and rightfully so, it also made their existence known to me. Next time I hear their songs play, chances are that I will listen in more than I would have if I had never heard about them. More people listening to their songs translates to more money in their bank accounts.

People in public relations business say “there is no such thing as bad publicity.” So the next time you get a public reproach, remember that you could be receiving a free advertisement.

As far as you continue to relate with people, expect that people will disapprove of certain things you do. If you want to succeed, be open to criticism and humbly improve where necessary. If however you are not keen on succeeding, you now know how to fail–avoid criticism.

Hulk Hogan’s $140 Million Lawsuit Win Against Gawker, A Win for Privacy

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In this post, I condemned the unethical manner media companies like TMZ conduct their businesses–by feeding on the misery and weakness of celebrities. So when last month I read The New Yorker’s The Digital Dirt How TMZ gets the videos and photos that celebrities want to hide, I gave a fist pump excited that the tables were turning on TMZ. While reading the feature I was struck by the writer’s narration that when he approached Harvey Levin (TMZ’s Managing Editor) during his investigations, Levin expressed displeasure over the fact that the journalist had been contacting current and former TMZ employees for the feature, and instead of granting an interview Levin referred the writer to his publicist. I wondered if Levin realized the irony that while he aggressively digs for dirt on celebrities and send paparazzi to harass and follow them around, he won’t himself grant as much as an interview. After reading the feature, I hoped the Feds would investigate TMZ for possible violation of privacy laws.

While I waited for the Feds to act, last week I was exhilarated when a jury awarded Hulk Hogan (former wrestler) $140 million (Hogan only asked for $100 million) against Gawker, a media company that operates very much like TMZ.

Hulk Hogan had sued Gawker for publishing a sex tape that showed him having sex with the wife of a friend of his at the time, Todd Clem. While his sexual indiscretion is reprehensible, it is not for Gawker to act as a moral police. Consider what dirt(literally and otherwise) would be uncovered of each of us if there is a secret video recording our every action. (For example, though most people look down their nose at nose-picking, a survey shows that 91% of people do it when no one is looking.)Hogan sobbed as the verdict was announced. This verdict will definitely send a cautionary signal to online publishers. In an interview he gave after the trial, He said he sued not to make money but to send a message.

While media houses are easily held for defamation when they publish untrue and harmful stories about a person, it has been tricky to win an invasion of privacy claim due to its conflict with the first amendment right to free speech. In an invasion of privacy claim, a Plaintiff is saying though what you published is true, I expected a reasonable expectation of privacy regarding this subject but you published it and caused me damage. It is especially hard for celebrities to win privacy tort actions because it is argued that having decided to be in the public eye, they have given up any expectation they have of privacy.

The tort of intrusion which is one form of privacy tort encompasses not-consented-to physical intrusion into the home, hospital room or other place the privacy of which is legally recognized, as well as unwarranted sensory intrusions such as eavesdropping, wiretapping, and visual or photographic spying.

The element of intrusion is not met when the plaintiff has merely been observed, or even photographed or recorded, in a public place. Rather, the plaintiff must show the defendant penetrated some zone of physical or sensory privacy surrounding, or obtained unwanted access to data about the plaintiff. This element, that the act must have taken place in a private space, may be the reason Solange and Jay Z (Solange punching and kicking Jay Z), and Ray Rice (Dragging out his unconscious wife from an elevator) may not succeed in a privacy lawsuit against TMZ for their publication of the infamous videos. Though an elevator is an enclosed space, it was within a public area. So if you pick your nose while in the elevator alone (or break the wind) you do so at your peril.

In the Hogan case, Gawker and their attorney’s arrogance and lack of remorse may have played a role in the jury’s decision. In his closing statement for the defense, Gawker’s attorney insisted that uncovering the sometimes less-than-laudatory activities of public figures “is what journalists do, and at the end of the day it’s what we want journalists to do.” This statement rubbed the jurors who sat on the case the wrong way. After the trial, the jurors cited this statement and said that it spoke of the defense’s arrogance. One of the jurors cited that the defense was also “very flippant” during the depositions (I suppose the deposition was read in court).

A juror’s advice to Gawker founder when asked by an interviewer? ‘Don’t demean yourself by going for the vulgar and the lewd and the trashy. Stick to the newsworthy journalism — you understand what that is.’ When asked what his advice to Gawker is, another juror said, “Put yourself in their shoes, if you have the ability to do that,” before saying, “I don’t even know if they even have the heart to be able to do that. It’s just amazing, everything I listened to, that they have no heart. No soul. It’s all about the almighty dollar, and it’s sick.”

I couldn’t have said it better than the jurors. While is is easy to condemn Gawker for their exposure of celebrity secrets, I find that in real life, it is hard to keep juicy stories to oneself. If we take time to scrutinize every story we share, we will find that we spread harmful gossips and rumors about others as much as TMZ and Gawker do. For example, if you hear that a girlfriend who is neither engaged nor unwed is pregnant, will you pass this information on to mutual friends?

As a rule of the thumb, before you speak THINK, that is, Is it True? Is it Helpful? Is it Inspiring? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind? It must pass all five musters. If it isn’t any of these, Keep it to yourself. This is the argument I made in this post.

Congratulations to Hogan! So what’s your opinion? Are you happy Hogan’s secret tape was leaked? Do you feel it was a just punishment for his sexual indiscretion and that the jury verdict is like paying him for committing adultery? Some people have taken this position. Please let me know what you think in the comments section.

Do You Know Your Car Plate Number?

Years ago, a lawyer told me a story of how once he was at a lawyers’ event when someone announced through the public address system that the person with car plate number so-and-so should step outside and repark his car which was blocking another car. After the announcement, nobody moved in their seats. It was only after further details like make and color were disclosed that somebody in the room realized it was his car. Apparently the owner of the offending car did not know his plate number. At the time I was incredulous that a lawyer wouldn’t know his plate number. (How the heck would he remember case names?)

So yesterday, I was on the phone with someone booking an appointment for me when she requested for my car plate number (and also the make, model, year and color). Here are two possible scenarios of how it went down.

First scenario, I gave the information without having to go through my records (after all I pride myself in my ability to recollect easily).

Second scenario, I could only give one of the information confidently so I promised to send an email. Then after the call, I hastily ran outside the house to get the rest of the information from the car port (after all, I struggle with knowing the names of cars so much so that recently when Father told me a relative bought a certain car, I told him I would have to google it to know the car he was talking about, much to his ‘disappointment. It could also be that I gave a fist pump two days ago when the letters on a red car I saw on the road confirmed my guess that it was an an escalade).

You choose which scenario to believe.

Growing up, I knew all my dad’s plate numbers by heart. There was the black and white plate number in the Peugeot 505, was it IM 4851 ZA? (Siblings confirm, please.) This was long before the Federal government commissioned the new white plate numbers that tagged Imo State as the The Land of Hope, Abia as God’s Own State and Anambra as the Home for All. But as I grew up and it became customary to have more than one car in a household, I figured there were more important things I could store in my brain than car numbers.

Knowing your plate number will come in handy when you find yourself in a similar situation like I found myself yesterday. Also, if your car gets stolen and your glove compartment is the only place having your vehicle’s information, you will make the police’s job much harder, that is, if they even find your story–that your car is stolen but that you don’t know its particulars– credible. So if you don’t know your vehicle information, make a mental note as you read this to memorize it on your way to work tomorrow (or Monday). You don’t want to be found slacking.

Don’t feel bad if you make effort to but still can’t memorize it though. It may well be that you are smarter than the rest of us. If it’s any consolation, legend has it that one of the most popular scientist didn’t know his phone number by heart, and that when asked, he would say that his brain was filled with more important stuff.

So do you know your plate number or your spouse’s? Tell us in the comments section (without disclosing the actual numbers, for your privacy). Indicate your gender too. I will like to know which of the sexes remember more.

Dear Women in the Workforce, You are As Smart as Your Male Colleagues. Here are Four Mistakes that Hurt Your Career

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When I was looking for job fresh out of law school, a lawyer, who would later become my employer, expressed his preference for male employees. He believed that female employees often have other priorities higher than their jobs and are more likely to be absent from work.

While family obligations–like having to leave work midday to pick up a sick child from preschool, or taking the day off for doctor appointments–affect the number of hours women work, there are certain other reasons, factors within women’s control, why women don’t make as much progress in their careers as men do. Here are four of them from my personal experience.

1. Women Lack Confidence So They Don’t Reach for Opportunities
Some months ago, a former classmate from university, a male, told me he was considering running for a political office in Nigeria in 2019. I was impressed and I asked, “For House of Assembly?” (Lawmaker at the State Level.) He replied, “No, House of Representatives.” (Lawmaker at the federal level) I believe him.

In her book Lean In Sheryl Sanberg, Facebook COO, told a story of how when she was in Harvard, she, a female friend, and her brother were all taking one class together. Before the exam, Sheryl and her friend read all the books required for the course which was between seven and ten books. Sheryl’s brother, on the other hand, read only one book and few days to the exam, walked into Sheryl’s room to be tutored.

When they finished writing the exam and were discussing how the exam went, Sheryl and her friend pointed out that there were areas they didn’t quite cover well in the exam. When they asked Sheryl’s brother how well he wrote, he told them that he would get the best grade in class. When the results were released, all three had A’s. In retrospect, Sheryl concluded, it wasn’t that her brother was overconfident, it was that she and her female friend were insecure.

People advance in their careers by challenging themselves to take on additional responsibilities beyond what their current role requires. However, research shows that most women don’t apply for new opportunities unless they have 100% of the qualifications required for the job. On the other hand, men apply for new jobs when they have only 60% of the qualifications required.

In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg also told a story of how when she was pregnant at a former job and had to take maternity leave, her male subordinates offered to ‘help’ by taking over some of her job responsibilities. By doing so, they positioned themselves for promotion should the position become available. No woman did.

Most women in the workplace already put their noses to the grindstone. Women only need to be more aggressive in accepting new challenges as that is the only way to learn and grow. Confidence is vital for leadership. So a woman who is good at her job but lacks confidence will be passed over for promotion while a more confident but less knowledgeable male colleague will be promoted.

2. Women Plan Their Careers Around Their Families–Sometimes Sooner than Necessary

About eight years ago, a young female friend had two jobs to choose from. One was directly related to what she studied in the university but the organization didn’t have branches in other cities, the other was with a bank that had branches across the country. She chose the bank job because, she reasoned, among other things, that if she got married in the future, she could transfer from the city she lived at the time to join her future husband wherever he might be living. Several years later, she got married, got a transfer and relocated to another city to join her husband.

While in my friend’s case, things seem to have worked out well, sometimes, women turn down opportunities when there is no imminent reason to do so. Many young women plan their careers around the expectation that they will get married and have children in future. So while their male colleagues decide, while in university, on which city to settle in and build a career once they graduate, women make little effort to start a career upon graduation but settle for any job they can find in the city where their parents live rationalizing that their future husbands will ultimately decide where they will settle. They reason, “why move to a new city and build a career only to be uprooted upon marriage.” This reasoning robs women between five to ten years of their lives that would have been used to get their feet wet in the workforce.

3. Women Rarely Ask for a Raise
One study shows that only about 7% of women negotiate their salaries whereas 57% of men do. Some female employees actually ask for a cut in their pay to accommodate other employees. Women don’t believe they deserve to earn more because they believe they aren’t worth more. But men think they are ‘awesome’ so they ask for promotions and raises–and they get them.

Recently, a female friend told me about how her husband who works in advertising prepared an ‘intimidating’ resume (she said it’s like a booklet) for her to help her in her job search. After her first interview, she felt she wasn’t quite as good as the resume portrays and told her husband to tone down the resume. Now, this friend graduated at the top of her class in university and is one of the most confident and most-likely-to-succeed women I know. Yet her confidence pales in comparison to her husband’s who she told me can nail down any job he wants because he will win any interviewer over with his confidence. If a woman as smart as my friend doesn’t believe in her abilities, how can she ask for a raise?

Because women focus more on result rather than pay, even when they are in a good position to ask for a raise, they don’t. Sheryl Sandberg said that when she was negotiating for her job at Facebook, it was her brother-in-law and her husband who encouraged her to ask Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, for more benefits including stocks at Facebook. She did and Mark granted all she requested. But for her husband and brother-in-law, sheryl would have settled for Mark’s initial offer which she thought was good enough.

4. Women try to do it all
Most women try to dot their i’s and cross their t’s. But leadership positions, with their many responsibilities, sometimes require sacrificing details for efficiency. Men succeed in the workforce more because they see the big picture. Women will succeed more if they learn to do the same.

Similarly, if a woman plans to remain in the work force while raising kids, something may have to give. For example, if you are a working mum, you are more likely to put your child in a blue (instead of green) t-shirt on St. Patrick’s day (ask Sheryl Sandberg)–Happy St Patrick’s day by the way–but does it matter? You have other important things to worry about.

Another female executive once told a story of how when her career was too demanding, she had her children go to bed at night in their school uniforms so she didn’t have to waste time getting them ready in the mornings. While this may be extreme, I can see how she had to do this to save her career. So if women can learn to let go of things that don’t matter, they can more effectively balance their careers and their work.

Women are uniquely gifted because they care about touching lives as well as they do about their careers. Several of my female friends fund non-profits they founded from their meager earnings. Women can accomplish more and make more impact if they make effort to occupy leadership positions. I hope this post inspires you to believe in yourself and assert yourself more. If you do, you are more likely to have an amazing career.

P.S. I was inspired to write this post after reading Sheryl Sanberg’s Lean in and watching her TEDtalk speech. Avail yourself of the two resources if you can. I found them very helpful. I have made almost all the mistakes identified in this post. But since reading Sheryl’s book, I try to accept more responsibilities and not turn them down on account of inexperience as I used to.

If you like my blog, please comment below, like and share on Facebook. Thank you, as always.

CHINAZA ANUSIONWU: TEN DANGERS OF SOCIAL MEDIA EVERY TEEN SHOULD KNOW

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Editor’s Note: This post is a contribution by a teenage guest writer Chinaza Anusionwu. I figured that as a teen she would do justice to the topic more than I could. She didn’t disappoint. I hope you show it to all the young people in your life so that they will be more careful with what information they put online.

Social media are computer-mediated tools that allow people or companies to create, share, or exchange information, career interests, ideas, and pictures/videos in virtual communities and networks. However, there are subtle, everyday dangers of social media that are either unknown, being ignored, or minimized. Teens need to be educated and appropriate boundaries should be set for them to feel safe. The dangers of social media for teens include:

1. Emotional Implications: Psychological experts warn that social media sites can have emotional implications for kids who are already suffering from low self-esteem or confidence. Such children may judge their success by the number of friends they have on Facebook or if they are included in a specific group of people. This may lead to further diminishing of their confidence

2.Lack of Interpersonal Skills: Children spending too much time online may consider a virtual relation a substitute for a real one. By spending more time online they often ignore the importance and the appropriate behavior related to face-to-face contact. Hence, the set of interpersonal skills that are necessary for the success in the real life may not develop properly

3.Social Media Makes Self-Harm Worse for Teens: Despite efforts of social media sites to curb the amount of disturbing material their users post online, images of self-harm, like “cutting,” continue to surface on sites like Instagram and Tumblr. Teen posting images of disturbing behavior online is not new. Pictures of dangerously thin people, usually girls, appear as “thinspiration,” motivating people with bulimia or anorexia to avoid treatment. Other images involve dangerous trends: In April, teens posted pictures of themselves trying the “Kylie Jenner Challenge,” sucking their lips inside a glass to give them an inflated look like the reality star. The glass can break under the pressure, requiring stitches; the suction can create severe bruising and tissue damage. Teens have posted videos of the “Cinnamon Challenge,” where they swallow a spoonful of ground cinnamon in under 60 seconds without drinking anything – which can be dangerous to their lungs.

4.Sexting: Sexting is sending and receiving sexually explicit messages, primarily between mobile phones. The Pew Research Center commissioned a study on sexting, which divides the practice into three types: exchange of images solely between two romantic partners, exchanges between partners that are shared with others outside the relationship and exchanges between people who are not yet in a relationship, but where at least one person hopes to be from behind their bedroom doors. More than 1 out of every 10 teenagers has sent a nude or semi-nude picture of themselves to others online – a “digital tattoo” that could haunt them for the rest of their lives. Hope Witsell A 13-year-old who grew up in Sundance, Florida, forwarded a nude photo of herself to a boy she liked. That image found its way to other students, resulting in name calling, cyberbullying and Hope’s suicide.

5.Cyberbulling: “Cyberbullying” is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. Victimization of young people online has received an increasing level of scrutiny, particularly after a series of high-profile suicides of teenagers who were reportedly bullied on various social networks. In 2013, for example, a spate of suicides was linked to the social network Ask.fm, where users can ask each other questions anonymously. The deaths of teens who had been subject to abuse on the site prompted Ask.fm (which was acquired by Ask.com in 2014) to launch new safety efforts. Twitter, likewise, announced plans in April to filter out abusive tweets and suspend bullying users.
Here are some real life incidents: Jessica Logan a petite, blond-haired, blue-eyed Ohio high school senior committed suicide after a nude photo of herself she sent to her boyfriend was distributed around the school. Sarah Lynn Butler. A seventh grader from Hardy, Arkansas, voted Queen for her Fall Festival committed suicide after she was teased at school, and later on received bullying messages on her MySpace page. Hannah Smith a 14-year-old from Leicestershire, England hanged herself in her bedroom following taunts on the Ask.fm social networking site. Phoebe Prince. A 15-year-old Irish immigrant from Massachusetts hanged herself two days before the winter cotillion dance at her school, because she was cyberbullied.

6.Social Media Use in Teens is Linked to Poor Sleep and Anxiety: The pressure to be available 24/7 on social media may lead to poorer sleep quality as well as an increased risk of depression and anxiety in teens, according to a new study. In the study, researchers asked 467 teenagers ages 11 to 17 about their use of social media during the day and at night. In other tests, they examined the teens’ sleep quality, self-esteem, anxiety and depression. They also looked at whether and to what extent the kids felt the pressure to be available on social media all the time. The researchers found that using social media at any point was significantly related to decreased sleep quality, lower self-esteem, increased anxiety and depression levels in the study participants.

7.Online predators: Internet-facilitated sex crimes against minors involve deceit and begin with adults communicating with children over the Internet with the goal of coercing them into illegal sexual activity. Sometimes the sexual abuse happens face to face. Chat rooms, instant messaging, Internet forums, social networking sites, cell phones, and even video game consoles have all attracted online predators.
In 2002, 13-year old Kacie Renee Woody met David Fuller in a Christian chat room. Fuller, age 47, told Kacie that he was 18. They courted for a bit, but Kacie fell in love with another boy and broke up with Dave. One night when Kacie was home alone in her Greenbrier, Arkansas home, Fuller had come into her house, covered her face with a choloroform-soaked rag, and dragged her into a minivan. Fuller drove from California to Arkansas and stalked Kacie before the abduction. He knew when she got home from school, when her father left for work, and when she would be at home alone. Kacie’s friends were worried about Kacie giving out information freely to people that she had met on the Internet and even spoke to a counselor at school about their concern. It was too late in Kacie’s situation. Fuller took Kacie to a storage unit, raped and killed her, before turning a gun on himself.

8.Cyber-stalking: Stalking is defined as the obsessive monitoring or attention towards the victim that may harass him or her. Cyber-stalking can be done in many different ways using social media. Sometimes, an ex-boyfriend or spouse may get angry at the breakup of a relationship and use social media to pursue the victim. In another case, a relationship that was developed online gets sour and the personal information shared can be used by the stalker. Or, someone may also fall victim to a random cyber stalking attack.
Kristen’s story is just one of the many cyber stalking stories that have recently made the news. It seemed like an innocent Facebook message from a former college classmate, but one that left Kristen Pratt fearing for her life for several months. She is in her early 20s, and like other women her age, she is active on social networks. Patrick Macchione made contact with her for the first time in 2009, several years after they were classmates at the University of Central Florida. She thought he was just someone who was trying to catch up; only to find out later that he would be stalking her online through emails, texts, and online videos. Macchione was able to contact her even after she changed her phone number. He bombarded her with messages on her Facebook and Twitter account. He also uploaded 27 YouTube videos all directed to her, telling her he loved her, which later on turned into threats after she ignored him. Pratt filed an injunction against Macchione but he continued to harass her online. Although Macchione was arrested and jailed for four years, Kristen continues to live in fear and believes that she may no longer get rid of this fear for the rest of her life.

9.Identity theft: Identity theft is the deliberate use of someone else’s identity, usually as a method to gain a financial advantage or obtain credit and other benefits in the other person’s name and perhaps to the other person’s disadvantage or loss. The person whose identity has been assumed may suffer adverse consequences if they are held responsible for the perpetrator’s actions. Identity theft occurs when someone uses another’s personally identifying information, like their name, identifying number, or credit card number, without their permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.
One of the big problems with social media sites is that children often do not fully read or understand the privacy settings of their accounts. They are unaware of the risks of disclosing unnecessary personal information. According to a recent survey, 20% of the youth think it to be perfectly safe to post their personal information and photos online. Such kids may easily become victim of identity theft.

10. Explicit Or Violent Imagery: Spending a lot of time on social media sites like Facebook can be dangerous, as often as a result of political events around the world, explicit and violent imagery get shown on the discussion threads. Often it is very difficult to moderate such content due to its viral nature. This may have a negative effect on the minds of children, leading them to have a sadistic and defeatist view of the world.

A Reader Sent Me This Heartbreaking Story About His Sister in Response to My Blog on Immigration-Marriage Fraud

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Editor’s note: When I was writing this post I was worried that it may come off as judgmental, that people who engage in the act condemned in it will dismiss it as a self-righteous post by someone who has never been in their shoes, a privileged girl who would not understand what leads a man to rob a woman of her heart, wealth, and body. After I published the post, I did get a comment that stopped short of saying just that.

However, this story a reader sent me is further proof that marriage fraud leaves it its wake victims who cannot wrap around their head the fact that a man who slept with them for years never in fact loved them; that all the while he said he loved them, he was merely tolerating them; that all the while they went through the highs and lows of marriage, the man secretly cursed them wondering when the green card will arrive in the mail.

I’m no saint. I have had my share of missteps in life as has each one for us. That said, I hope that sharing stories like this will deter someone from using women as objects that can be dispensed with after they have served their purpose. Below is the story a reader sent me. I’m sure you will be moved by it as much as I was.

‘Hi Anne, I read your write up on marriage fraud. My younger Sister and my only sister got married to this guy six years ago. He was working in one of the big banks in Nigeria and they had a daughter together. Two years after their marriage, my sister’s husband (Odili, not real name) was nowhere to be found. We searched for him everywhere and even reported to the police. We informed the family, but we noticed they were not as worried, then we suspected they knew something about his whereabouts. Though this was difficult to conceive because my sister and her husband had no fight or misunderstanding prior to his disappearance. He was supposed to be on leave at that time so his office couldn’t do much. After a few weeks, his elder brother called my sister to inform her that her husband was in the US. But Odili never called or wrote until after four months. He wrote me a personal letter apologizing for his actions and giving me a list of baseless reasons why he did what he did.

‘My sister always believied that one day he will come back to his senses because she thought he loved her and he didn’t have the face for confrontation at that time. It was later when she searched for their marriage certificate that it dawned on her that Odili was gone for long time or maybe forever. Tell me, how do think my sister was able to cope? What about her daughter growing up without a father? What happens to the loan Odili collected from the bank to buy a car? It was tough for me because I was always traveling from the north to the west just to give my sister some comfort in those difficult times. At one time she contemplated suicide but thank God that the Holy spirit spoke to her.

‘The bank was after my sister for the loan Odili collected and I hadn’t such money at that time. Years later my sister has moved on with her life accepting her fate and hoping for the best life has to offer. My sister is doing fine but she isn’t interested in marriage anymore (so she says) though I know she needs a man in her life. It’s not easy bringing up a child alone.

‘Subsequently, a lady (an African American) called my sister crying. She first got in contact with my sister on Facebook. She was in pain because she was married to a Nigerian man (Odili) who was already married in Nigeria. Odili promised her heaven on earth and she was madly in love with him. Today we hear Odili has left this American woman and he is planning a “real” marriage with a “real” woman. Odili’s friend called my sister to confirm Odili is marrying another woman in Nigeria.

‘Anne, this story is another side of the one you told. I have never taken time to narrate the story in detail as I have done now. I am doing this because I am ready to forgive Odili and I appreciate your work. Share if you may, as I know so many women are in same problem all because of this “American dream”. Thank you for taking time to read. God bless you.’

P.S: I immensely thank the reader who shared this story. He also requested some words of advice from readers to his heartbroken sister. Personally, I’ll keep the victims in my prayers. Our reader’s sister is a child of God and I know that God will give her strength to recover from this heartbreak and ultimately fulfill God’s plan for her life.

Marrying For Green Card, Is It Worth It?

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A few months ago, I got a call from a colleague about one of his friends, Ike (not real name). Ike had gotten himself in a mess. A Nigerian living as an illegal immigrant in the United States, Ike had recently married a U.S.legal resident and only months into the marriage, his wife caught him exchanging inappropriate messages and pictures with another woman. Ike’s wife was raising hell.

While Ike’s wife had filed an adjustment of status application for Ike to get his green card, the application had not been approved. During the phone conversation, my colleague was concerned more about how the recent development might affect Ike’s immigration status; little was said about how reprehensible Ike’s actions were and how betrayed his wife must feel. I deduced that Ike married the U.S. resident just to get his green card through her; that his wife was an innocent victim of immigration fraud.

Also recently, I spoke with another young man living in the U.S. illegally. He was living with an American woman he was engaged to, had a fiancee in Nigeria, and was distressed that his European wife (he married her when he lived in Europe just to get her country’s passport) who was still clearly in love with him had refused to divorce him. This young man in his twenties had three women in his life who believed he loved them. He would divorce the American girl once he got permanent residency in the U.S. regardless of her feelings. I didn’t approve of his actions and I told him that much.

Around the same time I had the conversation with the young man, I was having a chat with someone when I casually asked the person whether her relative who was living in the U.S. was married. She gave me a flippant response: ‘Yes, but not the real one.’

‘Not the real one’ could mean either that the relative entered into a contract with an American who gets paid between 5,000 and 50,000 dollars to pretend to be his wife for two to three years, long enough for him to get his green card, or that the relative duped the ‘wife’ into believing his intentions are true but would divorce him once his papers are approved, just like the young man I mentioned earlier plan to do.

I do not approve of and will not be part of any form of immigration fraud. That said, I find the second scenario more reprehensible. When a man deceives a woman (I read that women deceive men too) into believing he loves her just to get a green card, he dupes not just a faceless government agency (as happens in the first scenario where both parties collude to commit the fraud), but he also dupes the woman into giving him her heart and body–her most priced possessions.

While researching for this post, I read a taped conversation that a victim of such fraud sent to USCIS. In this case, the immigrant spouse had a second language in which he often spoke with a fiancee he had left in his home country prior to migrating to the U.S. The U.S. wife had to use an interpreter before she found out that all the time her husband claimed he loved her, he had a ‘real’ fiancee patiently waiting for him. Why the ‘real’ partners would be complicit in such schemes is beyond me.

The taped conversation which the victim sent to USCIS to revoke her husband’s (Tony) visa went as follows (Sonja was the ‘real’ fiance in the fraudster’s home country) :
Sonja: “Do you promise that when you come back, you won’t bring her [Angela – the U.S wife]?”
Tony: “Don’t be stupid, how can I bring her?”
Sonja: “When are you coming?”
Tony: “Angela suspects something. She told me I must have a girlfriend back in Macedonia, but don’t worry, one more year until I get my permanent green card and after that she can pull my [expletive]! Until then, we have to wait, baby, what can we do?”
Sonja: “One whole year we have to wait?”
Tony: “Yes, but what can we do? I’m coming to see you, I love to see you, to feel you, to make love to you. I need you!”
Sonja: “ I need you too!”
Tony: “ So you need to wait and be calm! Bye for now. I love you!”

You can imagine how used the U.S. wife must feel. I discussed this sort of immigration fraud with a friend expressing how appalled I was by it. But my friend advised not to judge as most people who do it see it as a last resort. Often, she said, they are desperate and risk deportation if they don’t find a lady to marry. Having heard this perspective from my friend, I now understand how dire the situation is for those who follow that route. Nevertheless, I still appeal to your conscience to not dupe a woman for green card for the following reasons: First–the golden rule–don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want done to you (or your daughter). Imagine that 22 years from now, you give out your daughter in marriage and two months after her wedding she comes crying to you that he just realized the man was fake, that he used her to get his papers. If you cannot bear this thought, then please don’t do it to another person’s child.

Second, you can be sent to jail for immigration fraud if you are found out. Note in particular that Polygamy is a ground for deportation.

Third, by engaging in visa fraud, deceiving and juggling two or more women at the same time, you complicate your life in so many ways. If the woman you married to get a green card has a child for you, you tie yourself up for at least eighteen years with child support and custody battles. That is one sure way to not live the American dream. Recently, I read about the tragic story of this Nigerian Couple in Baltimore. Allegedly, the woman had married the man without knowing he was previously married in Nigeria and had three kids. When she found out that the man had been lying all along and now wanted to bring his Nigerian family to the U.S., she moved out of the house. Ultimately, the man killed the U.S. wife and himself over a domestic dispute.

You shouldn’t engage in visa fraud for the additional reason that when you do it, it affects the chances of other people who genuinely find love in and want to migrate to foreign countries. For example, because this sort of fraud is perpetrated more by men than women, I find that girls in the U.S. are often advised against marrying men from Nigeria. But Nigerian women marry U.S. residents in large numbers and nobody raises an eyebrow. (This is one of the reasons I don’t envy men. Immigration benefits aside, a woman has a better chance of marrying well than a man does).

Blaming your duping a woman into marriage for green card on harsh economic conditions in your home country is like justifying robbery by poor people. The woman you marry for green card did not cause you poor (pun intended) lot in life; the argument that you wouldn’t have done it but for desperation is a lame attempt to assuage your conscience.

There are other ways–even if more difficult ways–to get green cards. People get green cards through lottery, employment, as religious workers, etc. But if you consider that marrying a citizen is the only way to avoid deportation, marry someone you love who has the qualities you want. If, for example, you want to have kids, don’t marry a woman that is past menopause except you are willing to adopt. You cannot have your cake and eat it.

For the innocent victims, here are ways to know if that person professing love wants to marry you for card or for love. This website lists the following as signs to watch out for:

1. They don’t introduce you to any friends and family. If your mate is keeping you in hiding, it could be that he/she doesn’t want others to find out about you. If you are suspicious, suggest to your mate that you want to have a big wedding in his home country. His reaction could be telling. And in this era of social media, whether he updates his status on Facebook to show he is involved with you and posts pictures of both of you could be an indication that he is either real or fake. When he posts pictures of the two of you, watch out for comments from his friends that may be suggestive of things he won’t tell you. For example if the age difference between the two of you is wide and such is not popular in his culture, it could be your mate is using you as a passport (pun intended) to a foreign country.

2. They are always asking you for money or things. If after being with your mate for just a few months, you are kind of getting that feeling that you are a personal cash cow, chances are you are. People who marry for green card are often desperate and are usually financially dependent on their victim. If he is financially sufficient in the firs place, he probably wouldn’t be seeking to migrate. Don’t be deceived by flamboyant looks (empty vessels make the loudest noise); that is not what you are looking for. You want to make sure he has a stable job and is not just seeking to escape his hard life by using you as a means. While there is nothing wrong with one’s fortune changing through marriage, that shouldn’t be the primary motivation.

3. He/she is a habitual liar. If your partner keeps changing their story, such as telling you they don’t have any children, and confessing the truth only after you run into a picture, you should be wary of his intentions. If he tells you that he is the chief executive officer of his own company, but after months of dating, you’ve come to find out that they don’t even have a steady job,don’t hang around him any further. If your mate is lying about these things, then chances are they are also lying about their love for you.

4. He/she gets upset when you suggest you both live in his Home Country after tying the knot. If your lover always gets upset whenever you suggest that both of you try and make life in his home country instead of living in your country, it may be an indication that you are just a means of escape from his hard life. For them, you are basically putting a spoke in the wheel of their plans to live the charming life in another country. If he keeps inquiring about your legal status within a short time of meeting you, he may be after your green card not you. To gauge his intentions, if you have nothing against telling a white lie, then you may tell him you have no legal status just to see if he sticks around. If he doesn’t, you are better off.

5. Your new lover tries to rush you into marriage. You hardly know each other, but yet he/she has already settled on the perfect date for the wedding. There is no outward proof of his/her professed love and affection for you and instead of whispering words of affirmation to you, most of your conversations surround what will happen when the ‘papers’ come through. If this is the state of your relationship, don’t marry him. You will regret it later.

6. Your friend tells you he/she is using you. It’s hard to see a person’s fault when you are blinded by love, but if your friends and family tell your that your mate is using you, then chances are that they probably might be. The least you could do is to assess what they have said.

I hope this entry helps at least one person. I wrote this piece because of the experiences I shared and also because I’ve noticed that girls that are legal residents in foreign countries are wary of men from developed countries. This affects the number of men that are able to migrate to developed countries through marriage. The trend can be reversed. If you are a man and you need a green card, find a girl that is a legal resident, marry her, and most importantly, stay with her.

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Braiding One’s Hair Outside Nigeria: A Lesson in Humility and Resourcefulness

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So today, I was looking through Youtube (for the umpteenth time, to find yet another tutorial on how to braid her) when I came across Adanna Ohakim’s (daughter of former Imo State Governor) hair tutorial videos. While I’ve been a fan of hers for sometime now (mostly because I’m fascinated that despite her father’s wealth, she has managed to be successful in her own right, getting through medical school and having over 100,000 Youtube subscribers with her husband David for their reality show vlog) I was never quite prepared for what I learned:She braids her own hair. Tiny individual twists. And wait for this–she recycles her artificial hairs (attachment) several times; she doesn’t throw them away after one use like most of us do. Daughter of a former state governor.

Now, if you have never lived in Nigeria, you may not understand why I’m impressed by Adanna’s industry and resourcefulness. If you live in a developed country where labor is expensive (I know someone who makes in an hour in U.S. what he made monthly when he was in Nigeria), however rich you are, you probably drive your own car, cook your food, wash your car, change your baby’s diaper, etc. In Nigeria, however, even a middle-class family can afford a chauffeur, a chef, ten domestic servants, etc. So in Nigeria, a girl with Adanna’s background will likely have domestic servants waiting on her. Living in Dublin however, Adanna doesn’t just cook her food, she does her hair– a service even the poor in Nigeria can afford.

While in Nigeria you can get a beautiful braid done for between 2000 and 7000 naira (10 to 35 dollars), in Los Angeles, for example, getting your hair done in a salon will set you back 250 dollars, and at least 100 dollars if you get a freelancer to come to your home to do your hair. Freelancers are cheaper because they don’t have overhead costs to worry about. Given the current dollar to naira exchange rate, many Nigerians in diaspora are not willing to spend that much on hair. So taking a cue form their African American counterparts, many Nigerians have learned to do their hair themselves. The alternative would be wearing wigs year-round on a stunted, dandruff-ridden, matted hair ( I know you hate the picture; but don’t judge). I’m not exaggerating. Today, I spoke with a friend in UK who told me she alternates between three wigs–but given how great she is I’m sure she takes good care of her natural hair.

Leaving Nigeria changes one’s values and one’s perception of things. In some ways, it changes one’s idea of what really matters. For example, what does it matter whether one’s bag is a channel or run-of-the mill? When I was in Nigeria, I had a friend who bought mothercare bathtub which cost about five times more than the ordinary plastic baby bathtubs because she didn’t want her colleagues to think she was cheap when they visit her new baby. I have another friend, an amazing one, whom I tease that she wouldn’t buy a running shoe without a ‘good mark'(the swoosh) because she only buys Nike.

When you leave Nigeria shores, nobody cares about how you are dressed (except you are a Kim Kardashian) and when you realize nobody is assessing or judging you in that way, you make decisions based on what works for you and not on what other people might think. For example, Adanna’s, Ohakim’s daughter, mum and her sister bought her new baby Ralph Lauren and Gucci clothes but she told them not to ‘spoil’ the baby with designer clothes because she won’t be buying them; she would rather invest them for the future, she said. She can follow through with this decision because she is in Dublin. Were she in Nigeria, the pressure to ‘represent’ when her father’s minister and governor friends visit will make it harder for her to put her family’s long-term financial goals over designer baby clothes.

I imagine that in Nigeria, if someone wants to do her hair herself, friends will judge her for being cheap. But here, braiding one’s hair is the norm. Most of my Nigerian female friends have learned how to do their hair. One, a doctor whose mum was a public office holder in the past administration was wearing tiny braids she did her self when I visited her about two weeks ago. Another, an RN who makes six-figure salary braids her hair and her daughter’s. A colleague, who shortly before she left Nigeria to join her husband in U.S. worked as an apprentice in a salon where she was teased about how a ‘whole’ lawyer can be learning how to braid hair, doesn’t spend money on hair as she and another friend of hers take turns to do each other’s hair. Yet another friend of mine, also a lawyer, fixes her own weaves.

Watching these young women do their hair has thought me that we can do anything we set our minds to. Years ago, I would never have imagined that it is remotely possible for someone to braid their entire hair–a task that takes even professionals as many as ten hours. I would have wondered how one can reach the back of one’s hair to braid. But I have seen many girls do it on Youtube and my girlfriends have shown me it is possible. Adversity indeed forces one to be resourceful.

Just as I have realized one can indeed braid one’s hair, something I considered impossible before, you will realize success is attainable if you surround yourself with positive people. But if you continue to hang out with people who after realizing their cheese have been moved only mourn its lost without looking for it, your cheese will be permanently lost.

In particular, as Nigeria’s economy continues to worsen, one can surround oneself with friends who will curse the present administration but do nothing to help themselves. In the alternative, one can surround oneself with people who know that now, more than ever, is the best time to make good money in Nigeria, either by producing things that are no longer imported or finding some other opportunity presented by the depreciation of the naira. (An acquaintance, a young man who is barely thirty, bought a car just from the money he made by moving money back and forth between Nigeria and another country with a hard currency in the wake of the economic crisis).

Thanks to my hair-braiding friends who inspired me to write this post but who for privacy reasons I cannot openly acknowledge. Now, let me watch more hair videos with hope that very soon I will join the hairdressers club.

P.S: If you are in Nigeria, do you know anyone in Nigeria who braids her own hair? I’d love to know.

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