I like reading books written by authors who aren’t linked to science and academia to get a different perspective on life. What intrigues me the most is how most biographies of successful people out there are about the self-made man. If you don’t understand what this means, the self-made man is the archetype of successful men and women who had to start from the bottom, in poverty and hardship, to reach the acme of their chosen careers against all odds.
If you are a music connoisseur and American HipHop fan, you must have heard a lot of songs about the self-made man. Some include, Drake – Started from the bottom, Rick Ross – Self Made 1/2 albums, 50 Cent/The Game – How we do etc. So, it is easy to see that the American dream and the self-made man are intrinsically linked. This is because the self-made man originated in the United States. It was first described by Senator Henry Clay in 1842 who used the term to describe individuals who attained success on their own with little or no external help.
The self-made story is seductive because it offers many the hope and encouragement that anyone can become one, with hard work, consistency and persistence. However, in reality, the self-made man is a myth. I had previously written about it here. Hard work, consistency and persistence are all prerequisites for success but we all need people to move from point A to point B at different stages of our lives. And there’s no shame in admitting that nor asking for help.
In the context of a PhD degree, no one goes through the journey without external help. Although the PhD is a lonely journey in which you are “always” on your own, the effect of support from family, friends and colleagues is really underplayed. I’d use myself as an example here. My current supervisor played a major role in me securing the funding/grant for the PhD and till now, she has continued to support me in so many ways. My colleagues and technical staff have also come to my aid in the laboratory when I was stuck. Also, I had to collaborate with researchers from other universities and the industry to get to this point. Lastly, journals are often written by more than one author. So can I really say that I am self-made? Is anyone really self-made?
It’s our ego that makes us downplay or ignore the external efforts we get en route to our success. Our ego gets in the way at times and we can’t help it because power and influence are two things humans naturally yearn for. So, we momentarily embrace self-aggrandisement and instant gratification. However, it is important to plough the long-term path and acknowledge the effort others contributed to your success no matter how little or minute you may think it is. This way you empower others thereby building a stronger network that may propel you to even greater heights. After all, every master was once an apprentice. And every PhD Student is just an apprentice in research. Never outshine your master.
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.
“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 theseschools 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.
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.
Has anyone ever known that he could get away with cheating someone, and not taken advantage of it? If so, he deserves his wealth, and everyone will praise him for his generosity. – Sirach 31:10b – 11 (GNT)
In Nigeria, there is a general belief that everyone is out to manipulate you until proven otherwise. As a result, we try to “outsmart” everyone in our path. After all, that’s what a “sharp guy” does – scheme or get schemed.
In the Nigerian context, a sharp guy is someone who wastes no time in taking opportunities (or should I say taking advantage of others) whenever the chance presents itself. It is our default survival tactic and defence mechanism against manipulation and scam. Infact, you either “get sharp or get schemed.”
This mentality is ingrained in us from an early age so we often mistake “dishonesty” for smartness and “integrity” for stupidity. As a consequence, a person who clearly states his terms and keeps his words is seen as a fool or a “mumu.”
We pride ourselves in what should be termed ‘indecent behaviour’, believeing we are smarter than the next man. We exhibit this “smartness” even when it is unnecessary. For example, the average Nigerian would rather make funny attempts at something (s/he knows nothing about) than accept that s/he doesn’t know.
Why do we do this? The answer is simple. Even though it is obvious that life is a continuous learning journey – in which we learn, relearn and unlearn, we have a disdain for being tagged a learner or a dulling guy
Are you a learner? Don’t dull! These two statements were popularised by two Nigerian music artistes – Olamide and Wizkid- respectively. These have become an integral part of the daily Nigerian conversation used to mock a beginner or someone who is starting or learning a new skill, trade or profession.
In these situations, the rules of engagement are well laid out but one wrong step and you are left to rue your mistakes. The moment you acknowledge that you know nothing about whatever thing you may be involved in, you have shown your hand and managed to relegate yourself to the background. In every card game, you don’t show your cards lest you lose the game. The same applies here because at the end of the day, that is what is it is – A game!
Unfortunately (or should I say fortunately), our future encounters/deals with others depend a lot on our ability to deliver on our promises/words. Every deal tests our integrity, trustworthiness and reliability. Money is the ‘acid-test’ of people’s integrity. It’s often reveals who we really are especially when we are under pressure. And the thing about business is there’s always another one coming.
For many, inability to keep one’s end of a deal automatically rules out any chance of another deal in future. That’s it! The bridges have been burnt. No one likes being cheated or taken for a fool.
I like to make references to football because it was my first real education. As a kid playing in different teams, I was made to understand football teaches one so much about life – the essence of hard work, team work, dedication, determination and zeal to achieve one’s goal.
My coaches helped me understand that football, as a sport, allows me make use of my three brains (the right, the left and subconscious). As a consequence, I was equipped with indelible capabilities such as attention to detail and maintaining focus on my goal.
If a player, whether amateur or professional, can maintain his focus, he has attained a certain level of maturity. This seems easy on paper but it is very hard to maintain focus with fans/girls screaming your name. Personally, I learnt this the hard way.
I invited a beautiful girl (I was interested in at the time) to a football match. During the first half of the game, I couldn’t concentrate on the team’s goal – to win the game. I was keen to impress the young lady with my dribbling skills and by halftime we were one goal down. I got an earful from my teammates for my below-par performance and that was my wake-up call. I was apologetic, remorseful and went into the second half more focused. We ended up winning the game 3-1 with yours faithfully grabbing a brace.
This made me ask myself, why do we even do things to impress others and put unnecessary pressure on ourselves? I believe it is human nature to want to impress others. However, when one consciously tries to do so, it becomes a burden to oneself.
Even though we are reluctant to admit, the desire to impress others motivates our lives. There are many things we do because they seem cool and thence lead to societal acceptance. The clothes we wear, the way we speak, the genre of music we listen to, the movies we watch, the religious beliefs we embrace, the technology devices we use, the beard we keep, the places we hang out, the friends we keep and the careers we choose are heavily influenced by the desire to impress others.
Unfortunately, sustainability of these behaviours is often elusive. In a digital world, things are constantly evolving and changing. And things that impress people today will probably not impress them tomorrow. As a result, we put on a show and run ourselves into debt, get stuck with people and jobs we hate, and envy those who seem to have it all.
Vernon Howard succinctly explained this when he said “The need to impress others causes half the world’s woes.” The funniest thing about being an ‘impresario’ is that most of the things we do are for those that don’t give a fuck about us. Pardon my French.
Many mistakenly assume that they have to do big things to impress others however it is the little things that leave the biggest impact on us. According to Zinga Theory, if one has to try so hard to impress another person then the ‘impressee’ is probably not worth itand can’t be bothered.
I sincerely believe the worst person to date/marry is an ‘impressario/wannabe’. It is hard for such people to be satisfied and happy because of the pressure they put on themselves to meet up to expectations. Expectations they created in the first place.
Everybody can’t like you so instead of living your life to impress people who don’t really like you, you should channel that energy into being yourself.