PhD Chronicles: Part One

This year, I became a student again; went back to the University for a doctorate degree. And the journey has an interesting one, I must say.

I never envisaged that enormous stress and intrigue accompany the program. No pain, no gain right? Abeggi! The stress is on another level; it is nothing compared to anything I have been exposed to.

Prior to starting in January, I read a lot of articles on the mental health of PhD Students. I had always wondered why there were loads of articles on this but months down the line, I completely understand now.

I never thought that the PhD would end up being a dual degree – yes! it automatically comes with a degree in self understanding. I have come to understand that there are certain things about myself that I never thought and/or knew were there. Maybe these things have always been there and I turned a blind eye to them.

The first thing that I noticed was my apparent lack of social skills or conversation confidence. And I need this skill more than anything else to get to the level I am aiming for. Without this skill under my belt, I will not be able to charm/engage/learn from others, progress in my career, network, sweep the woman of my dreams off her feet, and most importantly, get ahead in life – become a billionaire dawg!

In his book, Mastery, Robert Greene identified social intelligence as one of prerequisites for success and mastery in our individual endeavours. Without social intelligence, we lack the ability to read others, and thence misread their intentions and become emotionally drained by the endless political intrigues and battles. Without social intelligence, one won’t be able to sustain success attained because this involves consistent interaction with others to learn from them, network with them, and sometimes even be able to work well within a group or workplace.

This year, I have fallen out with a lot of people including my landlady, co-workers and housemates. And this triggered some self-reflection. When you fall out with a lot of people, something is amiss so I needed to identify and rectify it.

You see, the reason I never knew that I had this problem was the fact that I have always seen myself as a “people’s person“. I get along with people so easily and make so much effort not to be a nosy parker or have others up in my business (see my previous post on this). On my day, I can light up the room and make everyone laugh.

I questioned myself a lot this year and it didn’t help my case. Like many other PhD newbies, I struggled with the impostor syndrome, and it left me holding onto what’s left of my self confidence. This created self defeating thoughts in my head; that I am not good enough.

Unfortunately, this translated to other parts of my life without me even noticing it. I couldn’t get my research story across – and this made me feel completely inadequate. A friend and an ex, once told me that my self-confidence level was too high, and because of that I come of as arrogant, proud and condescending.

I couldn’t believe that there would ever come a time that I would feel this insecure about myself. I mean even in my weakness, I believed there was some sort of strength in there. Maybe, I was wrong.

But the first and most important step towards solving a problem is identifying the problem. So once I did, I set out to solve it. First thing I did was to delete all the social media apps on my phone (except whatsapp), turned to literature to know and sound more confident about my research, and talk to people randomly (about anything) on the bus, pubs/clubs, at work etc complimenting and hugging them along the way.

I am going to do this for the rest of the year and review how far I’ve gone and level of progress I’ve made after that. I will certainly share my chronicles with you as I go on this journey.

Wish me luck.

What do you think about social and conversation confidence? Do you have or lack it? Please leave a comment in the comment section.

Much Ado About Sex

Scrolling through different social media platforms and watching people drop entertaining/funny freestyles to “for the dick/pussy” challenge, proved to me what I already know..our world is so obsessed with sex. And it is a bit out of control to say the least.

Sex is everywhere you go; there’s no escaping it. Everything is linked back to sex..the pictures, twerk videos, innuendos etc. Even when we are angry, one of the most common verbal expressions in the English language, “Fuck you!” subtly suggests sex. This makes me wonder if Oscar Wilde was right after all when he said, “Everything is about sex except sex, sex is about power.”

When I started blogging, one of the few pieces of advice I received was, “Dude, write about sex and relationships, that’s what people want to read about.” And he was right, blogs get more traffic when writers focus on such topics. Often, you hear people say that there’s more to life than sex/fun yet somehow they still join or follow the conversation.

The urge to join the conversation whenever the topic is about sex, love and relationships, is always there. Maybe because it is something we can all relate to. Maybe it is our deep craving to take a breather and relax our minds. Whatever it may be, sexual intimacy is at the core of our psychological needs.

Naturally, sex, love and affection are basic psychological needs (not wants) of every human being because we are biologically wired with hormones. These gonadal hormones (oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone), produced by the testes and ovaries, control brain chemistry and connections, and hence affect our emotions, mood and behaviour.

According to a scientist, Dr Daniel Amen, at the University of California, ‘enhancing oestrogen levels through regular sexual activity increases overall brain activity.’ Also, a recent study by German scientists has shown that brief viewing of pornography interferes with people’s working memory – the ability to pay attention and multi-task.

Either way, this alludes to us paying attention to what we feed our minds. The mind is so absorbent that it can soak up information from everything we do, see and hear: pictures, places, people, shows, movies, stories, ideas and opinions. What you feed your mind has a great impact on your brain capacity.

The brain has the capacity to create neural connections to your thoughts and experiences. So the mind can change the structure of your brain and relationships with others by creating patterns of the information it has absorbed. In the same vein, the brain can change the structure of the mind and relationships. And lastly, because we are tremendously influenced by others, relationships with others can change the mind and brain.

Feed your mind with empowering stuff. Cultivate relationships with people you can learn from. Value learning above everything. Hopefully, this will lead you to all the right moves in all the right places.

P.S. if you don’t like jokes about the genitalia, don’t bother watching the #FortheDick/Pussy” challenge videos.

Stop Avoiding Hurt by Chukwukadibia Ude


Everyone is a builder but what people build differentiates them. Relationships prove that every human being builds either a prison, wall or bridge.
A lot of people open their minds to the hurt stories around them and as such refuse to give themselves the gift of experience. I hear people in this category say things like: ‘men are horrible’, ‘women are dangerous’, ‘all men are the same’, ‘all women are the same’. These people build prisons for themselves. From the prison, they look out and assume a lot. Most times, they have a tunnel view about life and all they think about is what people will do for them. Such people are blame masters and can be referred to as ‘closed’ people.
The second category is made up of men and women who have come out of their shells or prisons but are still living in the world of too much expectation. Relating with this people is okay but once you make a mistake that hurt them, you may end up losing them for life because little hurts to them mark the end of the relationship. Immediately, they build walls to shield themselves from you. These people regret being open and return to closeness. They are referred to as ‘open to those that like me’ people.

The last category has a few men and women who give themselves to the practice of forgiveness. They open their hearts and build bridges . They have tasted both closeness and openness. They choose to know how to become better after being hurt rather than building walls. People hurt them, but they remember that they hurt others too.Their openness show them how weak they are and their closeness remind them of the need to open their doors for people to come in. Their take is not to build prisons for themselves because that would be like starting all over again. Their resolve is not to build walls for some certain people and see them at some point from afar. They choose the bridge because that’s the only way to show that the heart accepts other hearts. To them, openness is an exercise. They are referred to as ‘open’ people

There are varieties of people that share a mix of these three categories but the point is on how they understand the hurts in the world. Avoiding hurts should not be your aim. You will judge people forever.

Learn to be the one who aims to give the best love and you will grow through the mistakes you never dreamed you could make. Remember, when you say ‘people are deceitful or horrible or dangerous’, you may have counted yourself in the number.

Closeness and openness are tools available for you, don’t see them as destinations. Openness is what gives you experience. Closeness helps you think of better ways to improve.

When you are open, you open doors for yourself. Instead of saying that openness is bad, think of better ways to become open. Do the same with Closeness.

Hurts are big heaters. They give you pains that release your weaknesses. This also applies when you hurt people. Asking for forgiveness helps you release the pains of pride.

Relate with people and throw away your pains. All you need is the guidance of Intelligent Love that does not err.

Into me, into you.

Chukwukadibia Ude.

Tags and Labels: A Social Barrier 

“Labels are for fillings. Labels are for clothings. Labels are not for people.” – Martina Navratilova 

Back in 1990s/early 2000s Nigeria, every parent wanted his/her child to go to a Unity School as they were the leading secondary educational institutions in the country. The name ‘Unity Schools’ was coined by the Federal Government of Nigeria, and comprised of a number of colleges spread across the nation, which were used to promote national unity via the admission of “intelligent” students from all parts of the country and all ethnic groups. Little wonder the motto of these schools is Pro Unitate.

I was opportune to attend a Unity School, Federal Government College Enugu (in Fedi lol), to be precise. It was an eye-opening experience. You have people from all walks of life, background, ethnicity, religion, culture all mixed up in one place.

Ironically, this was the first place I learnt about labels and tags, and the effects they could have on both “the tagger” and “the tagged.” It was a typical high school, with so many people forming cliques, which differentiated the cool from the uncool, the smart (nerds) from the dullards, the boarders (gnashites) from the day students (day goats), ‘guy men’ from the ‘Jew men’, the rich from the poor etc.

The first place I witnessed the effects of tags and labels

Last year, I met some folks I went to secondary school with and they all addressed me as a “bookworm.” One even told me, “I’m surprised you drink.”

I couldn’t help but laugh as that’s the worst way to describe me. Although I did well in school, I can’t remember ever sitting in front of the class nor count the number of times I was disciplined by the teacher because I was a perpetual noise maker. I seldom paid attention but I get it, I did well so the bookworm tag fits perfectly.

Similarly, we place tags and labels on others in our minds the moment we meet them, based on different parameters, and most times, we are wrong. To be fair, labels and tags are all around. We are all labelled and tagged by either sex, race, ethnicity, religion, anatomy/physique, sexuality, socio-economic status, music we listen to, sports we play/sports team we support, clothes we wear or the job we have. Sometimes we don’t mean to label and tag others but we can’t help it; it just happens.

I wonder if labelling will ever stop. It has been used as a means of discrimination for thousands of years. It is like clothing people with what you want them to be whilst covering their real identities. However, human beings are complex and multi-dimensional.


I was taken aback when some folks asked if I was gay and gothic because they heard me play and sing rock hits and songs made by openly gay music artistes like Frank Ocean and Sam Smith. Even though, research has shown that music tells you a lot about someone’s personality, it is disputable. So I’m really curious, why can’t a straight man gladly enjoy good music made by gay musicians? Does being gay suddenly make their good music bad? I listen to and enjoy different genres of music, as far as it is good music. And for the record, Ocean’s Lost remains one of my best songs ever.

The problem with labelling others is that it limits the perceptions of the “the tagger” and “the tagged” about life creating a tunnel vision of some sort. When we tag and label others, we are overtaken by unintentional and unconcealed prejudice hence losing our ability to think objectively. It leads to segregation and as a result, we miss out on a lot of good things in life. We miss out on friendships, interesting conversations, business deals, good music, marriage/relationships, food, travel experience, family (via adoption), life-changing experiences etc.

Naturally, people cling to things and people that they are used to but I find that boring. Is it possible to change your perception about life if you stick so religiously to what you are used to? During my masters degree in the UK, there was a huge divide between the British and foreign students – it was as obvious as the midnight stars. And it did affect the budding understanding, friendship and relationship between both groups.

Labelling is a lifetime trigger. Once we have an encounter with another person, we tend to hold on to that memory for so many years until proven otherwise. As a consequence, a bad experience with someone can make us hate an entire race, religion, tribe or sex hence forgetting that we can also have similar experience with people from our own comfort zone.

There is no problem in using your past experiences to shield yourself from future hurt. No problem at all. However, it becomes a problem when you use your personal experience/standards to ill-advise and judge others. I mean your personal standards could be mere opinions or blatant assertions, not facts.

This is evident in our relationships and marriages. I had thought that what really matters is finding someone who is good for you, in every meaning of the word, regardless of his/her religion, race or ethnicity. Oh boy! How wrong was I?

Inter-racial, inter-ethnic, intra-ethnic and/or inter-religious relationships/marriages are still a “taboo” to many people across the globe. To even make matters worse, amongst Christians in Nigeria, there is still animosity towards members who marry Christians from other denominations. And most of the time, this segregation is heavily influenced by the church, parents/family and/or friends.

A person’s race, religion, sexuality, socio-economic status, calories, sex, tribe, nationality or intelligence does not define him/her. That black people like dancing does not mean all black people know how to dance (I mean, I don’t!). That white people can’t pronounce black names does not mean there is no white person who can.

Let go of tags and labels, and see people for who they really are. People are not their hairs, skins or your expectations. They are souls that live within.

What do you think of tags and labels? And how have they limited your views about others? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

Is Perfection a necessary or even realistic ambition? by Nnamdi Onyema


Wikipedia describes perfection as this “Perfection is broadly, a state of completeness and flawlessness”. In other words, being whole or free from faults. 

My father, (Happy Father’s Day to him as today 18.6.2017 is father’s day in the UK), I once described to a fellow student as an eccentric, when I didn’t fully understand the motives for his perspectives​ on life. Growing up as a young child with my siblings in Nigeria and the UK, my father was always instilling the principle of “doing better until you couldn’t do any better in us from a very young age especially myself, as I was the eldest of my 2 siblings.

He always told me I had uncontrollable potential but that I couldn’t rely on ability alone. He stressed the need for me to imbibe the core principles of conscientiousness, determination and discipline to realise one’s potential into tangible achievements. 

Reminiscing on past conversations with him, while in University Primary School  Enugu State after transferring from Ekulu Primary School when my father took the position of lecturer in University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus (UNEC), he would say “do better” after I took 18th position in primary 3, and then after I took 3rd position in primary 4, it was “do your best and take 1st position”. I was very unhappy at transferring to University Primary School because I lost many friends and it thoroughly had an effect on my performance as I rarely wanted to be in school.

Eventually, I took 1st place in primary 5, my father then changed his normal sermon to “score 100% in your exams”. In that same year, I gained 3rd position in the common entrance exams to enter into University Secondary School. Even after that accomplishment, I remember going for a drive with my father in his Mitsubishi and he was gesturing frantically while saying I should have taken 1st position in the common entrance so I could be recognised as the best student in the state.

I remember thinking to myself, “this guy is really nuts, what does he want? Perfection?” and that encounter and other countless similar ones, led to my belief that he was somewhat one-dimensional, a perfectionist in matters of academics alone. Perhaps this was because I was busy ‘perfecting’ my football skills and lacked the support from my father in these endeavours but then again, my father was an academic after all.

As I grew into a youth, I often reminisced on my father’s dramatic and animated speeches, I now understand he was encouraging my siblings and I to be perfect in all our activities, be it academic, leisure, relationships etc. and this I felt was a noble ambition worthy of my efforts. Perhaps my father wasn’t one-dimensional or eccentric after all. At this point, you might ask, why is perfection necessary?

Perfection based on Wikipedia’s definition, implies a state of completeness or wholeness. When an object is less than whole, it implies something is missing eg, if you had a body without a heart, you are missing an organ and are incomplete or someone stole an item from you, you become incomplete and would want to retrieve the item because it belongs to you and without it, you feel your belonging is missing.

However, perfection has often been misinterpreted by society as an unattainable quality attributable only to God. We often hear in churches, that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and thus earthly beings​ should wait for the return of their saviour Jesus Christ, to make them whole again. This only ends in disempowerment of the masses and thence gives the impression to the masses that humans are less-worthy and should limit their ambitions until their saviour returns to make them ‘whole’ again.

Interestingly, the Bible says in Matthew 5:48 (NIV) “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect”. Thus, the Bible accepts that perfection is an ambition all earthly beings should strive towards, to be as they were created in the image of their creator. I wonder why this part of the Bile is largely ignored by unscrupulous churches.

In my opinion, perfection is very necessary; if we take a look in the earth today, there are wars, natural disasters and the seven deadly sins are prevalent. However, even scientists agree that, planet earth had ‘perfect’ conditions for the existence of life. So why all this turmoil? Why is nature crying out?

Assuming the earth was perfect in the beginning, bearing in mind, perfection means a state of completeness, flawlessness or wholeness, it is our utmost responsibility to make earth whole again. I mean the earth is our home, our connection to nature and consciousness and perhaps future of mankind depends on the wholeness of the earth.

To those who might say, is perfection a realistic ambition? I say, “practice makes perfect.” Perfection comes from the determination to improve incrementally, until you’ve mastered a skill. In today’s economy, it is widely acknowledged (perhaps in the developed world more than the developing) that skills are the new passport to employment, not degrees and then of course, Jesus Christ might look more favourably upon a person who is making efforts to improve all aspects of their character incrementally rather than procrastinating, waiting upon his return to make them whole again; recall the parable of the talents, where a master travels and gives his servants some talents, upon his return, rewarding the conscientious servants whilst admonishing the servant who didn’t attempt to increase their talents. 

Perfection is thus, not an utopian ideal, but a very realistic and achievable ambition in our lifetime but then again, I’ve always been unorthodoxically inclined from an early age. Perfection shouldn’t be perceived as unusual or difficult but​ rather as the norm. Wholeness or flawlessness, implies the quality of functioning correctly.

The earth and its inhabitants are not functioning correctly because they are imperfect and thus, incomplete. In Nigeria, where roads, political system, access to electricity and water, education system etc. are lacking perfection, our imperfect attitude is clearly shown hence why our outcomes are also imperfect.

Attitude, they say, determines altitude. Life is to be enjoyed, not tolerated and the masses in Nigeria, in my experience, have been tolerating and not enjoying life. We must each internalise perfection in our minds and perfect outcomes will surely follow. To those whose minds have been imprisoned by their negative experiences of an imperfect earth and who remain doubting of perfection as a realistic ambition, like Thomas, the disciple of Jesus Christ, I leave you with this, “if one voice can change a room, then it can change a city, and if it can change a city, it can change a nation, and if it can change a nation, then it can surely, change earth. Become the change you want to see”

Perfection can be the norm for every human. Perfection, like the daily habit of cleaning one’s self in the morning, begins with incrementally improving your attitudes until you are whole and it promulgates into every sphere of one’s existence, and together, we can all experience the necessary and realistic ambition that is perfection.

Happy Father’s Day to my perfect father and every perfect father out there.

Do you think perfection is necessary or a realistic ambition? Please share your thoughts.