Why Teenage Girls in Nigeria Need More Menstrual Support

Menstruation begins at puberty in females. It is a part of the monthly menstrual cycle characterized by vaginal bleeding, a normal and harmless body process. It is simply an indication of the absence of pregnancy. Ideally, every month, a woman’s ovary releases eggs to be fertilized. However, when fertilization does not occur, there is the shedding of the uterus lining. This shedding is what menstruation entails, and it is what brings about the bleeding in the vagina. Menstruation usually lasts for 3-5 days depending on different individuals, and in some, it could even occur for as long as 7 days. During these days, a high level of hygiene is crucial for the body. Ensuring that the menstrual process is as healthy and hygienic as possible helps to avoid infections and discomfort. Also, ensuring proper hygiene measures keeps the environment from being polluted.

In this case, the need for an absorbent such as a sanitary pad comes to play. The sanitary pad helps soak up the blood flow for disposal, thus making such absorbent a necessary tool for ensuring proper menstrual hygiene. However, the high cost of sanitary pads tends to be inadequate access to this product in developing countries like Nigeria. Apart from this, in rural communities, many young women, especially teenage girls who are usually just getting adapted to this process, do not often get the opportunity for adequate health education to inform them on the necessary procedures for ensuring proper menstrual hygiene routines.

While a major reason for limited education about menstruation is the conservative culture of many societies, which does not give the open space for conversations relating the sexual and menstrual health, many teenage girls are unable to afford sufficient menstrual products because of low income and the relatively high price of these products.  Over the past years in Nigeria, the cost of one pack of sanitary pads containing 7-10 pad pieces has increased to between 450 Naira to 1000 Naira (between 1-2 dollars) depending on the brand of the sanitary product. Because of the price, teenage girls often resort to cheaper alternatives such as cloth and rolled toilet paper as a menstrual absorbent.

As a result of this situation, many teenage girls in Nigeria still need help in terms of menstrual education and support with menstrual hygiene products to protect their health. Educating these girls is also crucial in ensuring proper disposal, which can improve the environmental conditions of the communities in Nigeria.

Your Driving Force and Kickstarting Your Career Journey: A Tale of Three Women

I am one of three ladies who tell themselves three words, “we don’t settle!” Hence, last week when my sister said to me that she felt like giving up because of the frustration of not getting a job in the Nigerian health sector, she pushed a trigger button. So, I asked her, “You want to give up? What does it even mean to give up?” My friends had a similar reaction the last time I tried to give up on something big. I had received the rejection mail from the last scholarship, which I was looking forward to in 2019. So, I told my friends I was beginning to look for Nigerian universities that offer any master’s programmes that I was interested in.

Their response was, “Hell no! If you are looking for Nigerian schools, it means you are giving up. We don’t settle, so no giving up. You keep your eyes on your target, intensify efforts, and keep applying. How many schools did you even apply to this year?” Whenever one of us says she is frustrated at her current job and wants to quit, we evaluate and see if something can be done. If not, we support her leaving because we don’t settle for jobs or situations not meant for us.

I guess that as you read this, you would think about how you probably do or don’t have friends who are exactly like this. I get it. My friends are unique, and friends are good, but it is not just about that. It is about our individual inner drive for achieving our goals. It is this drive that we exhibit and makes a stranger astounded by us. It is what people see in you and make them want to give you a try. It is what my friends and I transfer into supporting one another. If either of us lacked this, it would be difficult to pull or push this person. I have other friends who exhibit similar passion, and they generate results. Let’s call one of these friends Mara.

Mara used to be my business partner during my undergraduate programme. She started an advertisement firm, and I was baking cakes, so we were going to work together to market my product. We were pretty serious back then, but now I can’t even remember how that idea died off. What I can remember is she was driven to market anything marketable. To figure how people find this drive, I asked Mara and my two other gang members, let’s call them Tay and Fay, what motivates them to pursue their careers intensely like they do. I chatted with Tay, Fay and Mara, and these are their responses about their driving force and how they started their career journey.

I had a rough childhood and had to learn to be very independent because I realized that I might not get what I want or where I want to be if I kept waiting. I think it was in my 2nd year that I said, “I am not going to wait around for people to hand me things.” I was very hungry that day, I just drank garri with nothing in it. I know this sounds a bit cliché but that’s what spurred me to make that statement to myself. I can vividly remember the exact moment.

So, I started a student advertisement firm with 30,000naira support from my dad even though mom didn’t think I could do it. Well, mom was right. I failed but developed confidence and persistence so, I moved on to other things.

I used to think my motivation was money, the desire for the better things in life, the foundation I have plans to build, the name I want to be autocorrected on Microsoft Words. But now, I just think it’s second nature to figure out my own way. I do not want the comfortable mediocre life, I want to touch lives in a rich way, I want people to know me and what I’ve done, I want to inspire men and women who build everything from practically nothing. So, it’s no longer about the money, I’ve realized I can make enough money to be very comfortable, but to make an impact, I need more money than what can make me comfortable. Currently, I’m in the dilemma of what road to take to make the kind of impact that I dream of. I hope to find this in a saner environment soon.

Finally, I’m stubborn and I don’t believe you can’t do anything unless you don’t want to. Aside from that, you can do anything you wish. I am not trying to be motivational, but that’s how I really feel. It’s why I’ve always taught myself most of the things I know but there are also some things you must learn from others.

– Mara

So for Mara, she could not afford to wait for the handouts. She, however, tried to get one last one of 30K naira from her dad and launched out to try to be the Mark Zuckerberg of Marketing. Lol! She is not there yet, but she is doing great. Let’s read from Fay before we dive into the lengthy read from Tay.

Around my 3rd year of studying two different agricultural courses, I discovered I wanted to be a filmmaker, but I don’t have money so, I felt I was dreaming too big. I crossed it off my list of goals and began thinking of something else I wanted to do. For a long time, I didn’t know what this was hence, I was opened to trying everything else- I tried setting up a jewellery brand, making pieces of jewellery with fabric. I got bored and didn’t even know how to scale the business, so I went ahead to learn hair styling. Halfway through it, I knew it wasn’t what I wanted. So, I learnt fashion designing. This one was interesting because I enjoyed it. But I didn’t like dealing with customers, I saw the issues with customers while still at my boss, so I decided I wasn’t going to practice it full time.

But, in all of this starts and ends, the one sense of motivation I had was that I just wanted to do something for myself. I don’t want to be a liability to anyone. At some point, I went into social media marketing because I liked remote working and being a freelancer. Finally, I figured what I wanted. Everything else was going to bore me if it wasn’t filmmaking. So, I came up with a way to earn money that wouldn’t become toxic to me while I try to pursue filmmaking as a career. I went into coding because there was money in it. Then, I stopped because I realized coding will require my full dedication and it wasn’t what I was looking for. Then I started a personal shopping business and I have been consistent since then. It is flexible like I want, and it fetches me some money to support my filmmaking development process. I have also been able to use the social media knowledge which I acquired in this business, and I am now enrolled in filmmaking school.

I guess my drive also increased when I lost my sister. It just felt like I now have more responsibility and the best I could do for my parent was to not become a liability while trying to sort my life.

– Fay

I like to think of myself as a natural independent. However, on deep introspection, I find that some external factors contribute to shaping me into what I have been and what is currently obtainable. My dad is a huge influence. Though multifaceted this influence, I find both the negatives and positives worthy to take lessons from.

1. From my dad’s narrative of being the only graduate in his immediate family and achieving this at later time when compared to his friends and while juggling jobs and raising a family, I constantly reference that time is just a social construct and impossible is nothing. There’s nothing on earth that can stop me from hitting my life’s goldmine even if the timing differs from others.

2. Growing up, I had almost everything I wanted but at some point. Lost some of these things. I got withdrawn from a school I really liked to one that was just there because of the expenses. From this, I learnt that it is not enough to have great plans or wishes. Money is the pathway to many great plans.

3. Till date, my dad despises his eldest brother who was rich during their youths because in my dad’s words, “…he was not a visionary leader. If he was, all of us would be graduates by now.

The two lessons I learnt from this were:
i. Nobody really owes anyone anything. My dad’s rebuttal to this is often “but he was collecting all our salaries then, so why not?!” So, on the other hand, if he took their salaries, it’s be unfair of me to say he didn’t owe them anything.

ii. Their relationship made me feel a sense of responsibility for myself….and by virtue of extension of my kind nature, responsibility for others. My siblings especially.

I hate the burden of hate. I see it in my dad, and it is a sore sight. At the same time, I hate the pressure of being responsible for others. Hence, to strike a balance between these two, I know that I need to have sufficient motivation and potential to earn high. This also helps me be kind at my pace and to the absolute best of my capacity, as far as I have the intent to be this.

4. My parents’ separation in 2009 opened some door for full-fledged poverty which my family is yet to fully recover from. Because of the intricate causality between my parent’s relationship and our economic status, I learnt that your choice of partner is a vital life decision. Although even with your best knowledge, no predictability is guaranteed. So, continue to strive to achieve the best of your capacity so you don’t lose it all if your relationship does not work out.

– Tay

Such great responses from these women. Here are some of the driving forces that can be picked from their stories:

  • Knowing what you want.
  • Willingness to try. Mara started an ads firm. What does she think she is? Fay started and ended different initiatives. This means they invested time, resources, energy and then backed down to try something else. Try as many options as possible. To learn, unlearn, relearn until you find that thing you want to stick with.
  • A can-do mindset. These women framed this same motivation in different words but all they were saying is that you can achieve anything you set you mind on. Time and circumstance may differ when compared to people around you, but you can.
  • No one owes you anything, you are responsible for yourself.
  • Money is important to making your dreams come through so while you pursue what you really want, it is okay to do something else that fetches the money, just like Fay.
  • Independence. Take developmental initiatives for yourself, take your lessons from experiences, and make of it something beneficial for your development and also strive for financial independence because even if you are able to get handout, having some financial support of your own can increases your chances. One time, I wished to change my laptop, so I lamented to someone rich and asked for support. What he replied was, “how much have you saved for this?” Sometimes, it might not be money that proves your independence but rather tangible evidence that show that you are trying your best. Evidence like applying to many opportunities, acquiring different skills, reading and learning about where you dream to be.

I hope you find some inspiration from the stories of these women, find your driving force and act on it to start your journey to where you want to be.

You can also share your story in the comment section, or if you have something really personal, you can use the submission form on the homepage. There also, you will find the subscription form for you to fill to be notified of future stories of different women around the world.

Ask the Question, Don’t Browse It.

I used to wonder why some people would rather ask questions that seem basic than try to find out the answers on their own. Some months ago, I had to confront a friend with this mindset and tell them they were too inquisitive. I knew that it was a good attitude but, I felt like it was an attitude of total dependence and total dependence is not an attitude to which I am subscribed.

Here are two questions for you to begin with:

  1. Would you rather ask a person a question or Google the answer yourself?
  2. Have you ever had one of those really bumpy weeks where everything seems like chaos but somehow, the week ends in an unexpectedly positive way.

I recently experienced a bumpy week full of anxiety, frustration, disappointment, significant humbling moments, disagreement, reconciliation and finding answers to a long-overdue question. By the weekend, I was out of words to describe my state of mind.

The week began with a flood of panic before I made a scientific paper presentation. Usually, we all get nervous before these big days, but somehow, we manage it. However, for me this time, I could not manage my anxiety. I was the first presenter and had this intense pressure to get my colleagues off to a perfect start. To be so good with my presentation.

However, that presentation turned out to be one of my least impressive presentations. Except for the good designs, everything was bland, and I sped through my words, forgetting the need for pauses and emphasising key contents.

Further into the week, I had a disagreement with a friend, and instead of handling the situation calmly, I did not. I let out my emotions as harsh as they came. However, I apologized later.

To close up the week, I received an average grade on a project I expected an excellent result from. I thought I knew the task but, it turned out I did not have the magic to turn my blog writing skill into scientific paper writing skill at the very first opportunity to do so. Apparently, there’s something called a learning curve and asking questions.

Right in front of my laptop, looking at that result and crying, I realized a humbling truth: it’s okay to aim for the best, but it’s also okay to not be the best, and it’s always better to ask when in doubt.

I realized that I have not been asking enough questions. I have lived many of my years like a treasure hunter who only picks clues on her journey and never asks those around if they know about the treasure she is searching for. It is thrilling to jump into bed every night, knowing that I searched for my own answers without asking others for clues or answers. More recently, I’ve allowed myself to dwell so much on my ability to be smart and independent that I neglect opportunities that look like dependence.

I could have asked more questions from my project supervisor. Trying to solely navigate my journey around the world is not better than accepting the ideas that my friend acquired from experience and from asking people. Also, the answer I got to my long-overdue question could have been gotten about five months ago if only I had asked at the time.

Independence is a great skill that is often highly relevant for starting life or a career that we dream of. But, it is important to know when to put away the independence cape and ask for help. It is important to know when to be dependent when to immediately seek human or expert’s clarification about a confusion rather than plan to ask Google.

It is a great thing to know your skills. However, it is even greater to identify when you need to go through a learning curve and while you go through it, be humble to ask for as much help as you can get. Your body and the people who care about you deserve better than you putting yourself through difficult times when all you need to do is ask for help.

The internet is great for providing answers, especially in uncomfortable situations when we are too shy or have no one to talk to. But, there is no big deal in asking people -sometimes, random strangers- for answers when you don’t have the answer to a situation. The smart thing is to gather answers from a few heads if there’s no one expert or to get the answer from an expert.

Moreover, when you get the answer, verify, clarify and most importantly, use it.

Transitioning into Tech

Life to me has always felt like a field full of things to explore. I believe that with the right amount of curiosity and willingness to learn, you can acquire knowledge about almost everything in the world. Even more possible with the presence of companies such as Google and YouTube!

These two big bosses of the internet have made knowledge acquisition available to everyone right at their fingertips. They are the reason why a person like me, who studied Soil Science for five years in the university can easily transition into the tech world simply by being curious enough and ready to learn.

I began with social media. Talk about Twitter, Instagram and the age-long Facebook. Everyone was on these platforms and I was not left out. I had my pages but at some point, I became more fascinated about the different platforms. I watched several YouTube videos and took courses on how I could monetize this holy grail called, Social Media.

Learning how to monetize my social media presence led me into Social Media Marketing. I started out by helping friends build their small business pages for free. Later, I got recommended to other people and businesses by these friends. With most engagements, I worked based on freelance contracts which allowed me to take on as many brands as possible and to have several potential sources of income. A number of the brands still owe me for these services but, I practiced my skills and improved what I had to while I worked with them.

I learnt to use some applications to provide more services to my employers; video editing apps, design apps and, I improved my copywriting skills which helped me with better content creation.

Soon, it appeared like everyone was into Social Media Marketing and around this period, my interest began to peak in the areas of website design and coding.

One day, I came across an offer of almost-free coding classes for women and I applied. Almost-free because I paid 10,000Naira to acquire the resources used during the training. There, I learnt the basics of front-end website development and UI/UX designing.

But life doesn’t always go as planned. I’ve had several distractions from furthering my website development trainings and practices. I’ve started new businesses and taken marketing job roles. However, this year, I am attending a training to get certified on being a UI/UX designer. This certification training is scholarship-based and it excites my friends.

I began taking social media gigs 3 years ago and it’s been a huge learning process transitioning into a UI/UX designer. So, if you are thinking of changing your career, all you need to do is take the appropriate steps and get to work.

Also, remember to have fun while at it.

Submission by: Wems

Finding Love, Blind Date, Domestic Violence and Age gap

A friend once said to me, “the right man would come when you least expect him to show up!”

I had just returned from work this evening when my mum informed me that she had seen a family friend of ours who asked her to have me call her as soon as possible because she knew a guy who was ready to settle down and she felt I was a right choice for him. “Of course“, I rolled my eyes. “Please, you people have started again! I’m not even that old. Just 26 and everybody has made it his/her life goal to find me a husband.

I called this family friend of ours out of respect and she began telling me about this guy she wanted me to talk to. He was based outside Nigeria, had two children with a white woman but they were no longer together and he wanted to be with someone from his tribe this time around. She told me he was handsome, tall and had good investments here in Nigeria. Hmmm!!! I should be over the moon right? But, I always have this nagging feeling at the back of my mind whenever I hear that family members are helping a man find a wife. Most times, I think he must be an incomplete man. Something just has to be wrong with him which would make him seem reproachful to the opposite sex.

Our family friend asked that I send my pictures to her on WhatsApp as soon as possible. To be honest, I was curious. I wanted to know if he was as fine as he’d been described. So, the next day, I sent her my pictures and within hours an international number told me “hi” on WhatsApp. Okay, that must be my blind match!

The conversations were awkward at first and he didn’t look so fine in his profile picture. I was expecting to see a young guy but I saw someone who looked like he was middle-aged and I cursed our family friend in my mind. I’m a baby girl na! Which one is this old man they’re helping me with? Agreed that I haven’t been so lucky in love but make una dey pity person na. What is all this? Already I was giving my blind date half-hearted answers and then I asked of his age after he’d asked me mine and he said he was in his early forties. Early forties? My Mum is only 47. I later found out he was about 45. This our family friend no just try at all.

He sounded okay via call but I don’t know this person so I was the least interested. After few days of voice call and “how are you”, he asked that he sees me on a video call and it was at this point that I realized that I have a thing for fine men. Lol. The dude was fine. It turned out that his few pictures were not doing him any justice. I like fair men too and his yellow pawpaw colour just entered my eyes. Okayyy!! This looks good. At this point, I became more responsive and we’d talk for a long time in the coming days.
I’m averse to the “talking to stage” because I can’t afford to waste my time and effort getting to know somebody and nothing comes out of it in the long run but, this felt different because there was a huge possibility that it could lead to marriage.

My perception to being with an older man with two kids began to
change even with the disapproval of my Mum who felt the age gap was too
much. My excuse was, all these young men out there have taken me to hell and back and I was willing to stay with this older man if he’d treat me right and love me well. I had no issue taking care of his kids because I’m a good person who loves kids so I was sure of not being a bad step-mother. He just told me he liked me and I was already projecting!

I asked about his previous relationships and he asked about mine. I did voice my opinion about how I felt he was interviewing me when he did ask me questions and he apologized and told me I could tell him if his questions were making me uncomfortable but of course, I felt it was still part of the ‘getting to know’ process since he was looking to settle down.

At a point, he told me he was a very traditional man and I laughed it off because, I felt he loved the Igbo culture, food and music. I even admired this quality of his. It just happened that I shared with him a story about a young woman who was nine months pregnant, whose husband had beaten her till she lost consciousness and the baby had to be cut out from her. His next response threw me off. He asked “What did she do?” Then he went ahead to talk about how wives add to their husband’s frustrations.

This seemed like his true identity was really out that fateful evening. I was really upset because of the young woman’s misfortune but, to have someone I was actively talking to not show empathy to that was mind blowing. It didn’t end there, he went about telling me that since his divorce, he was careful to not make the mistake of marrying a wrong woman again. Apparently, my stance on women empowerment and the choice for women to leave a partner who constantly abuses them had put him off. In his opinion, a woman is supposed to stay and pray for her husband while also trying out things that could please her husband to have a change of heart. He kept reiterating the fact that he wasn’t a violent man but, I didn’t need no seer to tell me something was bound to happen if I ventured that path with him. If he had that mentality, of course he’ll hit his wife someday, especially if she is a black woman.

Well, I think we had this silent agreement to not speak to each other again
because after the promise of calling me later that night, we haven’t spoken to each other again. It hurts a little because I’ve been speaking with this guy nonstop for close to a month now and we’re back to being strangers but it’s all good.

I’m back to the streets where the young guys with my kind of mentality exist.

Submission by: Uche

Menstrual Cycle and Body Changes

My first set of menstruation as a teenager ran for an average of 7 days. I would bleed heavily for about 5 days and then mildly for the next 2 days. Sometimes, for more days. Sanitary pads were expensive and there was no special allowance for this aside from the 2500naira pocket money that I got from my parents every term. 2500naira was not a lot but, in 2005 through 2010, it was worth more than it does now. The Christmas holidays were the best. During this period, I got more money from uncles and aunties and my pocket money sometimes doubled.

When my menstruation began in 2008, I did not tell my parents because, at the time, I had already made the decision not to ask them for anything. So, I bought my feminine products from my pocket money or any amount which I was given for provision shopping before school resumes. There was only one pre-menstrual or menstrual symptom that I noticed at the time; cramps. My stomach would hurt in a way that seemed intense for a teenager. However, looking back now and comparing the intensity of this pain to what I feel now, that series of menstrual cramp was mild.

Over the years, my body has changed so much and it feels like every year comes with a new menstrual symptom. About three years ago, I had severe malaria which troubled me for days and I got treated, tested to confirm no trace of malaria but fatigue and mild fever persisted. I could not afford to go for a test just one month after being treated for malaria. So, I did not do much about it. One day while my colleagues and I were discussing at work, I mentioned that I was feeling sick and they were surprised because they knew I had recently been treated for malaria. Then, out of the blues, the oldest lady in the office asked, “are you sure this is not related to your period?” I never expected to feel malaria symptoms in my menstrual cycle and so I had no answers to give her.

However, I began to study the time of the month when these malarial symptoms appeared and I noticed a trend of one to two weeks before my period. Sometimes, this sick feeling runs into my period. Months later, I went for a comprehensive check-up because I thought I was feeling too sick to be healthy. I had a cervical screening and was tested for STDs. The only thing found was yeast. I was excited that nothing more complicated was found but, I couldn’t yet fathom why my body continuously put me under so much stress.

My body has remained that way and so, coupled with the intense cramp I get during the five days of my menstruation, I get to also have fatigue, fever and sometimes lightheadedness before my period. These are only the physical symptoms I get. There is also the mood swings that come at will with anxiety, aggression and over-sensitivity after my ovulation.

I thought I had seen it all but as I sit by my computer to write this submission, I discovered a new symptom yesterday which has been persistent for 4 months- itching and resultant swelling of my eyes. It is a side-effect of the NSAIDs which I recently began using to relieve me of the cramp and disability that comes with the gushing of blood every month. It often begins with this crazy feeling of having something poking my eye, I would think it is the lashes and try to brush it off. It would persist and before I know it, I am rigorously brushing my eye.

The next minutes that follow, the eyelid would feel inflamed, I would walk to my mirror to see what is happening and find that my eye or eyes had become swollen. This would usually stress me for the rest of the night and gradually, over hours, the inflammation would reduce and my eyes return to normal but, it saddens me to know that coupled with all the symptoms I already have, I have to choose either to stay disabled in bed for days because of an intense menstrual cramp or deal with itchy and inflamed eyes because of pain reliever.

I don’t know what else to expect from this female body of mine but I hope that some other girls out there have it easier on them.

Also, I have been really scared of going to the gynaecologist for a contraceptive procedure because of all the stories of body changes that come with getting contraception. I feel like, I have gotten enough surprises and I do not want any more of them. Can you girls reading this probably share your experience of getting contraception or your own body changes as a result of menstruation in the comments to this post?

Submission by: Name withheld

Commitment, Cheating and Separation: A Begging Question

I read this story recently. It was about a young individual who had a good relationship with their dad. This individual trusted their father so much, banked on him like a model and felt betrayed when they realized their father and mother would be divorcing because dad had been seeing a younger woman.

This story spurred a long-existing curiosity that I’ve had about monogamy, cheating and Divorce.

I’ve read the Bible to some extent to know that we were neither created to be polygamous nor monogamous. The characters of the book had different marital choices. Abraham, the most faithful, connived with Sarah to make a baby with Hagar. Jacob chose to marry Leah and Rachel because he did not get his desired wife the first time. That story is hilarious but has some really nice elements of true love. But, I get it. People make their decisions based on options and/or circumstances. However, the rate of separation from cheating in our generation is increasing rising and it makes me wonder if it is okay for cheating to really be a deal-breaker for people who want to stay married.

I mean, I’m not saying I would like for my partner to cheat on me. Ideally, I would like to have someone who cherishes me and chooses only me. But, how easy is it to actually choose only one person for several decades if we intend to spend our lives together forever? I hate cheating and rather than cheat, I would rather clearly tell my partner that I no longer have an interest in being with them but, what if the other person does not hate cheating like I do and does not respond to developing affection for someone else in the manner in which I respond? Does this make them wrong and bad?

What exactly is the greater problem with cheating? Is it the indulgence in an affair with some other humans, the disrespect that comes with one’s partner having these affairs without informing them or the thought of one’s partner having the thought of actually choosing someone else? Why exactly do we hate cheating?

Also, I would like to question the concept of forever. I’ve had about 5 serious relationships as a 20+ lady and I feel like I have no idea what makes people stay together. I am also beginning to lose hope in the idea of marriage or a happy home. Many people around me do not have what I think a happy home should look like and I can count the number of long-term marriages around me where there aren’t rumors of cheating or some other disheartening situation. Does companionship have to be forever? Can we maybe take breaks when we feel like we do not want to be with our partners?

This whole thing is just complicated and I really hope that I am able to find answers.

Submission by: Anonymous

Big Goals, Childhood and Moving On

For many of us, there’s that one incidence that shapes the rest of our lives. Based on this incidence and other peculiar issues that we’ve witnessed, we make a decision, build a value or reform our thoughts. I’ve told a few persons this story but I’m going to tell it again. The scene is faint in my memory but the message of the incidence was clear. “You have to pass and do well in school before I can buy the things you want.” That was the message from my parent. After she said these words, the next minutes was of me crying and thinking of what to do to get the things I need in life if peradventure, I am unable to make the best grades in school. I got an idea quickly. I told myself I would not ask my parents for so much that they’d have to consider my grades. Since I am not confident of having excellent grades, I would take only whatever they have to offer and on my own, figure out how to secure the other things that I need or want. For instance, instead of asking for new set of under-wears, if mama offers some, I will take them. If she does not, I will take some of my pocket money to buy these for myself.

Moreso, just to prove their idea wrong and to gain the respect that I desire, I would study and make these good grades. I would become a girl that makes good grades and does not ask for help. An absolutely independent woman. I would pay little or no attention to the things that would derail my study plan. This includes fashion or non-academic friendships. I would take on whatever cumbersome challenges I am faced with and do it regardless of how much it saps from me. I would be smart and good at everything.

Over the years, this became my mantra and I lived my years being independent, not asking for help and always trying to prove to everyone that I do not need them. Exception would be boys who provide emotional attention and sexual pleasure. My brain became the most treasured part of me. The way I solved problems, the way I became the poise lady on the street, one of the smart students and the one that hardly asks for help. All of these are attributed to my brain and so I love it and I love to challenge it. But recently, my brain betrayed me. About 720hrs of study and all I could make was a medium satisfactory grade.

I had received the grade from my 3rd compulsory master’s degree module. I got a C+ and the second C that I’ve received within this first semester. Upon seeing this grade, I became utterly broken. This is not the goal. Smart girls don’t make C grades. Not even the ones who teach other people the same modules. A C means average and there is no way I would gladly accept that all my struggles and provings since the age of 13 is to be among the group of people with regular average level of intelligence. Sheer arrogance and pain was all that I felt. I wrote my narrative poem to express the anger of all that I had gone through that week. I hated myself and felt betrayed by my brain. I cried and locked myself out for the day.

Few hours into the evening with my worthless thoughts, I remembered how I began this pursuit for excellent grades and validations. I also remembered how in the previous week I was befundled by the realization that I was clueless about the things I really want to do. It had become obvious that some of my engagements are indeed challenging, demanding and the only satisfaction I derived from them was the satisfaction of taking up  challenging tasks even when they hurt my health.

So, now, I’m thinking, maybe it time.
Maybe it’s time to actually live. To credit myself for living till age 25 with these high expectations and actually achieving a good deal of them. Maybe it’s time to drop the standards of my parents’ validation, to forget the words of all those who thought it fair to tell me that someone else is more intelligent than I am as well as those who thought my bachelor’s was a shitty programme. Maybe it’s time to cave in and stop taking challenges that are far above me just to prove that I can do anything. Maybe it’s time to accept some help and stop trying to do it all on my own. Maybe it’s time to stop judging myself so badly, to stop thinking that I’m responsible for so much. Maybe it’s really time to do all the things that don’t bring validation or accolade from anyone else but give me peace and happiness. Maybe it’s time to stop doing everything just because they sound great and challenging, to choose the things I love and I am really capable of. Maybe it’s time to heal, to not know, to have fun, to cut the standards, to be able to say no because saying yes would only hurt me and to stop wanting to be a hero for others.

Short letter to an ex-boyfriend and to you

Dear ex-boyfriend who studied accounting but was passionately working hard as a footballer,

The truth is that I never understood why you would focus on a passion-led career with no predictable Nigerian market instead of one with a predictable path and income structure. Today, I indeed hope that someday those football dreams came true for you.

To you reading this doing that thing you’re passionate about, not for validation or to prove to others but, because you found passion in it. You chose it without a clearly predictable future. I hope you’re doing okay and are indeed happy.

To you in a situation just like me,

You’re working, setting goals and doing everything,

Not because you really love it but because you’ve spent all your life this particular way and you can’t think of way out. You started with a reason that seemed so valid and right but you’ve discovered that life has more to offer and that your goals are just like the wind that blows heavy, gets the attention of everyone around but later turns void. I hope that one way or another, you find your way to fulfillment and that someday, the road be made easy for you.

Save That Coochie For You And Maybe For a Worthy Sex

Have you heard Don Jazzy, Big N and Kiss Daniel’s new song titled, My Dear? You should download it as it’s my present to you for making a trip to this post.

Some time ago, I had a conversation with a friend and at some point, she mentioned, “sex for the first time.”

“Sex” is one word that will cause my ears to become extra attentive when in conversation with female friends. And, “Sex for the first time”, is that conversation that pulls me back when I already walked away from a discussion. For whatever reasons you’re thinking, I enjoy discussing this not so often discussed topic in African gatherings, even if I’ll be the silent party.

So, my friend and I discussed and I enquired about the guy who is about to get this big bite. Because, the last time I checked, babe wasn’t in a serious relationship and as much as I know some folks don’t need a relationship before getting laid, that wasn’t the case for either of us.

However, contrary to my expectation, there wasn’t a special guy! Sister was just thinking. And, I assisted her in discarding the thought. Our thoughts can lead us to trouble you know? Sex might not be trouble but some times, the thought of it is trouble.

I discarded her thought because, the holy book encourages being undefiled and when you consider the level of attachment that sex builds, you really might want to have your first time full fledged penetrative sex with someone special. Someone worth the sin. Someone worth spending the days of tribulation with, should in case rapture happens while you’re getting fucked.

Moreso, over time, I’ve come to love my body more and more. Yea! After having to deal with candidiasis after some kind of humping and living in panic for days over my health after a kiss with some guy, I’ve truly learnt to be protective of my body and anyone who allows me to protect theirs. As much as I love kissing, I’ve learnt to let go a lot of kisses as a way of keeping my immunity.

Sexually transmitted diseases are real and the figure of infected persons in Nigeria is so crazy. Asides HIV/AIDS which you know about and think, “Okay, no penetration, just a little dance around the corner,” you could contact yeast via fingering. You could contact HPV via kissing. And above all, you could become less productive in your daily routine, because of the fear of having contacted a disease or being pregnant.

And, the funny thing is, the female body is fucking vulnerable to diseases. Worse still, for an African girl who had genital mutilation. Just a little dance and you find out that something has gone wrong with your baby snail.

However, you and I can save ourselves lot of stress by saving that pussy. By saving it till we meet someone who’s gonna blow it up with a big-O while we stay healthy. You can think about it in your spare time or at work. You can imagine sex in the kitchen, getting drunk at a bar and ending up in an elevator or even in a car.

Just make sure you’re not reckless about your health, your coochie and always think about God and Rapture! You know God loves you anytime and can be all forgiving. But on the day of rapture, lol, you might not have expected it.

Now, can I have a story from you too? Share with me, kindly.