So I was going to do a week by week update, however, I find that some of these lessons rolled along into other weeks. Hence, I will give a summary of all the lessons learned from week 2 – 7,
a. Your principles can be an affront to many: there is a saying back home in Nigeria, “You’re not jollof rice, so stop trying to please everyone“, Jolof rice is a tasty rice meal that serves as a staple meal for all occasions. Adults and children alike love jollof rice, people have been known to take bowls to parties just to steal large servings of the meal away. However as pleasant as the meal is there are still people who do not like it or there are times when it doesn’t appeal to our taste buds. In like manner, we must accept that our lifestyle choices will always confront or challenge others, sometimes without us saying a word.
b. Do not give people the weapon they need to harm you: I often talk to myself when I am stressed or trying to think things through. Somewhere within this seven-week period, I think my mumbling offended an ‘unintended’ eavesdropper. Rather than talk to me about it, the Chinese whispers chain was set up and a wall was laid. Seeing as people pleasing isn’t a skill I aspire to, (I believe it only equips bullies and manipulators with the license to rob you blind) I found myself in the difficult position of trying my best, but still being ridiculed in a very unkind manner. Thus, note to self always ensure you are alone when consulting with yourself.
c. Avoid the need to tell tales: this ranges from sharing your problems with people to divulging seemingly irrelevant details of another person’s life to a third party. They say a problem shared is a problem half solved; I say a problem shared with the wrong person is a problem at the very least half-doubled. For example, I said to someone that I still breastfed my eight-month-old and the advise given was to stop breastfeeding as it might stress my work life.
On the surface, this is a fair and seemingly honest/harmless comment, however, legally I am entitled to certain rights in the workplace as a breastfeeding mother and no provision was made for this. I do not hold this against anyone as I never asked for those changes to be made. And I did not do so as I assumed that a.) I would be able to express enough and the baby would be fine. b.) that seven weeks would fly by quickly. Taking that advice would have meant my lactose intolerant baby would not only be deprived of his mum but would have to go through the stress of adapting to meals and changes before he was ready to.
People will advise you from their own experience. Their fears, triumphs, and disappointment. Be careful not to rewrite your story based on their manuscript, sift the principle and move on.
d.) If you don’t drop the crumbs the birds won’t come: leading on from point C if you don’t divulge anything over time people will get bored and move on with their own lives. If you don’t want their input simply don’t tell them stuff. I find it interesting when people ask for an opinion and then get angry at what’s offered. However, to the individual being asked, try to give advice based on principles not based on what you would do or how you would like it. It might be a lonely and somewhat hectic place to be, but at least you can control what circles your life moves in and the words you speak.
e.) Finally, keep your eyes on the prize at all times: do your best to eliminate every distraction, chose your battles wisely, chose your weapons even more carefully. Above everything else identify your weaknesses and try to get over them. Deal with your personal bias as it helps you forgive others their own.