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I’m Not Here!

Thanks wordpress.com, I’ve moved on.

I now blog at jokeadekunle.com.

See you there!

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How to Survive a Long Distance Relationship and a Demanding Career

Homegrown relationships are increasingly becoming so 1995, as technology brings the world together, people now prefer virtual meetings over in-person meetings and chatting up a stranger on Skype, BBM and Facebook have all replaced letters and other forms of communication to a pen-pal. Ikeja-20130120-00296

On his way back from the airport, a friend called me. He had just said a first of many goodbyes to his new girlfriend who’d be continents apart to pursue her academic aspiration. I’m guessing many thoughts had crossed his mind seeing her leave and she too must have gone through her phase of questioning while they held hands, wishing themselves luck in their now long distant relationship.  Long story short, my friend wanted to know how the tutor and I managed to keep a 5-year relationship going strong. The way he sees it, we’ve been together that long, but the tutor and I have only been together for slightly over 3 years; 14 months break in between sums it up to 5 years.

It’s easy to keep up with the trend, have that favorite person you like to talk to online and maybe at some point, you feel you know this person so well you want to move a notch higher in the relationship.  So 5 years and less than 25 visits altogether sure requires an explanation, especially if you know that we’ve been only 3 hours away from each other. Now it’s less with flights.

These are some of the things I learned and adopted in my relationship through the years.

*For the sake of my incurable writing disease, LDR means Long Distance Relationship.

LDRs and physical dating are different systems.
This is fundamental, so many LDRs hit the rocks because partners fail to see things from this perspective. You can’t have a significant other miles away and expect him or her to act like s/he is physically present with you.

Understandably, you want the best for you and your partner, you’d like to be sure you are doing the right thing and by nature, cross-check a lot of things but some partners take this act of concern to the extreme by becoming detectives in their relationships – tracking every move, sucking up all the oxygen.  

I didn’t realise this early enough and the relationship suffered. Being a woman and naturally emotional about everything, I read meanings to things and my emotional intelligence was killing me. The moment I discovered this truth, things started taking shape.

People subconsciously feel freer out of sight and when you monitor your partner’s every move, he’d snap at some point.  Committing to a LDR means allowing for more breathing space, trusting blindly that your partner has your best interest at heart. So there goes, trust is an important element in a LDR; if you can’t trust your partner you can either choose not to commit to the relationship or call it off already. But bear in mind that monitoring your partner doesn’t guarantee her fidelity.

Understand who you are. Understand your partner.
I am an ambivert, I love alone time, I have occasional mood swings, I could be terrible with teams and I more often place importance on my career to the detriment of everything else – my health, family and relationships. It’s not commendable, it’s just me.

The tutor is irritable, self-disciplined and has an uber-focus on his life goals. So my mood swings sometimes got to him, with limited talk-time on his part, I kept causing a rift with my hyper-suspicion. I just couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t give an arm for me even though I wasn’t ready to lose an eyelash.

We had more low moments than high moments, we were hot and cold. It was all roller-coaster and I had woken up one morning to break up with him for no just cause. All of this kept recurring in different forms until I got to understand him better and he learned to understand me. This wouldn’t have taken so long if we had done a cross-match of our strengths and weakness, our likes and dislikes etc.  Mind you, we talked often but weren’t really communicating. Not that I didn’t try to know him better, I just gave up asking the “so tell me more about you” question, coupled with the fact that I loathe it.

Mind your habits around your partner.
Occasional hangouts, staying late at work, working round the clock  maybe pointers to working hard and shaping a successful career but don’t expect your partner to understand that when you eventually get to spend sometime together. Respect his time, give her a good memory of her last visit with you.

LDRs have a way of masking big problems and if you don’t utilise the time spent talking or seeing each other, you  cook trouble for yourself, the type you’d most likely be unable to handle. I once lived  with him for a month to be closer to the company I interned with and I broke up with him shortly after that.  It took us another 2 months break to think through things deeply. Long distance don’t kill relationships, doubts do. 

See your relationship as a business venture.
My job is demanding, the tutor also did jobs where he was practically at work 24/7 so we both didn’t give as much time as a normal working relationship would require. When you are in a LDR, committing could be tough,  it just so happens that one partner waits for the other to set the pace.

A huge benefit of long distance relationship is you have control over so many things, your career to start with. Clearly men place more premium over their career while women focus more on family but I’m probably the exception. Since I moved out, I have only visited my parents twice yet they live in Lagos. But that’s a topic for another day.

A LDR is like a baby – you have to tend it, nurture it, give it all your attention. So also is a growing career. 

LDRs work for you and your career if you reach a consensus with your partner. While the tutor was settling into the corporate world, I had all the time to myself and I chose to focus on building my career. I handled responsibilities in school and got better for me.  Placing emphasis on our careers put a strain on the relationship but we were able to cross that hurdle by setting goals for the relationship. One being to give it everything it takes and if for any reason we break up again, to part for good.

Elements of compassion, respect and even love can be stripped in LDRs but with a goal in mind and a strict adherence to the unwritten rules, you’ll have the best relationship yet.

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I Wrote a Book.

3 weeks long spent reading Chimamanda’s Americanah sent me on a journey down memory lane.

I was pre-puberty and very inqusitive; I asked more questions than allowed and jarred many nerves doing so.
I had a private lesson teacher, with whom I learned my first piano and computer lessons. My father had always envisioned me the star of his home, being his only girl with a history of excellent academic reports,  he wanted me to have the life he wished for himself.  I stepped into his shoes sometimes, aspiring to be a medical surgeon slash pianist slash God-knows-what and at other times I just wanted to be his sweet little girl.

Lurking somewhere in those aspirations was my passion for writing, I had come to the knowledge of being a lover of art and a strong believer of dreams; writing seemed the closest to living the realities I imagined.

And so I wrote. I wrote articles for my church, wrote poems to my friends, had a pen-pal who lived a block away (because he was much older, my mother threatened severally to slit my throat if she found us together, writing to each other was the only option we had to sustain the friendship). I rewrote some of the novels I stole from my father’s library- stashed up on his shelf – old worn out books, from erotic fiction to downright horror – I particularly recall reading a Return of the medicine man. I can’t recount the story but I remember reading it through several nights till I was done.

Gradually, I had formed a habit; to play with words, to fancy them, to trust authors more than my parents and I had reveled in the thought of being one too, an author with so much power to transform a child’s memory, to earn the trust of a stranger without the struggle. To own space in a life without the asking.
I wrote a book. “A Hopeful Future” – I wrote it with all enthusiasm, skipping my class assignments to squeeze the words out, to bleed ink till something worth reading came alive on paper. And there it was, 16 pages of carefully written simple sentences, with a story I can’t remember now. I was more thrilled in finishing the book than the actual writing of it.

Aided by my private teacher, I printed several copies, and looked forward to sharing it with my classmates the next day, I had announced to these tiny tots I’d be using my personal computer to write out my first book.

I feel that pang, remembering how my hopes were smashed – I had unintentionally hurt my father and he would later that evening kill the joy and courage I had built in that short time.
I got into the house late – something I had never tried before, I saw my father leaning on the railing, hands clasped together, eyes staring into space. For a flicker of a moment, he shifted his gaze to focus on me and then he looked up, then back to me; eyes fixed, causing my legs to visibly go weak. And as though I meant to plead his forgiveness, I held out the copies of my book as I approached him, with my lips parted showing a will to speak, silently hoping he’d be delighted to see I had broken the rules to chase after my passion.
I guess it was a wrong move, my father didn’t let me speak, he didn’t raise his voice either- he just said, “you are distracted and this will tell on your grades. This book won’t fetch you money or success (the kind that I wish for you), you are better off facing your academics and piano lessons squarely. Keep a journal like I did if that’s how much you love to write but writing as a profession won’t get you that far”.

I respected and feared my father, I admired him from a distance too, watching how successful he was. He lived a life of many luxuries, and I considered him a role model, wanting desperately to be like him.
I gave myself no other choice but to heed his advice, I wanted him to remain proud of me.

I asked my boyfriend to buy me a journal…

To be continued.

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Things I Hate About Me.

I’m starting to believe I’m more of an editor than a writer, as a matter of experience, that’s what I am. I can’t string sentences together for a long time and so I find ways to skip that process, but I love to re-structure sentences and I have a knack for hitting the backspace key while I type.
That said, I’m also worried about so many things – my blog to start with. It lacks focus, it starves of content and attention, both from user and owner end. Sad.

jokeadekunle.wordpress.com

It’s 6:40pm and I’m having a large bowl of oatmeal filled with tiny (dead of course) ants. I’m too hungry to be disgusted at the sight of it. I’m lazy, I’ve been this way since school days, I suddenly became an expert in procrastinating, I wonder if there’s a job that requires this skill.

I’m really falling behind the learning curve; I want to learn to speak French and German, I read tirelessly on how to work more productively but that doesn’t seem to be working for me. I’ll call this laziness thing a disease, I never used to be this way.

I have a laundry list of many other things I’m worried about but just to be clear, I doubt my blog will ever regain focus, maybe when I’m in my late 20s, I’d come up with something scalable but not now. I feel too inadequate to get things done. I’m terrible at following things up, I love coming up with excuses for my failures.
I had the title of this post as “I give up”, but in the process of writing, I figured it won’t make any sense to you; because I actually still care about my readers.

So I’m taking after Penelope, she breaks a vital blogging rule – of NOT making it ONLY about yourself. She talks on and on about herself, even though she has a way to fit it into a real-life situation. But that’s what makes a good blog post, writing from a unique angle is one thing and bringing in your reader however you do it is another (and the most important). It’s like a 3D experience for the reader, and we know 3D movies are more intriguing. Never leave your reader hanging.

I want to make my blog lively again, so I’m thinking – maybe I should stick to what I know how to do best – not because I have a talent in it; but because I spent years practicing to do it on a daily basis; I kept a journal of my life through 5 years and an additional two years on and off. You simply become what you practice.

I madly want to be an entrepreneur but I fit more into the ideapreneuur group – which by my definition is someone who thinks up an idea and ships it to someone else for implementation, Ross Bailey has a somewhat different opinion.
I spent half my day trying to pull through a lecture on Udemy – I slept halfway – perhaps my body thought it another movie ( I sleep off watching movies).
I have ideas flying in my head – vague, clear, stupid, stupid, fair; all these wrapped in one small head.
I’m reading about ADD and ADHD, I got tired of seeing it in articles online and not having the slightest clue what they mean,- I considered this distraction a good thing – curiosity fuels creativity after all. Practice does too, research does even better.

Creativity is about  connecting things so that justifies why I can read almost anything and find keen interest in almost anything. I mean, I fell in love with finance topics after a long ride with a friend who narrated his experience working with an investment bank.

I realise I have written more than I expected but I’m not surprised because this feels like I’m writing in my journal and I’m lost in it. You do better at what you love, especially if it solves a problem.

I have that propensity to lose steam with one project the minute another idea hits me.

I need app ideas, I need business ideas, I need money ideas, I need to learn new words because I don’t consider myself fluent in the English Language – I’m simply light years behind in all of these and I feel like the world has moved on. I’m freaking out I don’t know how to end this article with a punchline so I run to Problogger for help. And yes, content aggregation is another form of blogging you should try if you don’t like to write but want to run a blog like me. Ian Carnevale does it right.

I don’t feel bad writing about myself because I assume you clicked this title to read about me. A good writer never misleads his readers.

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Why Blogs Fail

Statistics show that 3 million blogs become redundant every year and I hate to be part of that number. I blog for a living, but as a content manager for a Jobs website; understandably, blogging is part of my life, if not all of it yet. © Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporation

Focus is not a buzzword.

Many experienced bloggers cry about this and it is the first thing I can place a finger on. So many blogs fail for lack of focus, mine for example is treading that path.I want to write like many authors I admire – Seth Godin, Penelope Trunk, Chris Brogan and a host of others, I have no idea who I should be writing to. I want to write about blogging, writing, public speaking, personal experiences, address corporate issues, hence the name Soapbox served as a silhouette for the real purpose of the blog – I just wanted to say something, anything at all.

You could stumble upon my blog and have no clue what your long term benefit would be. In a moment, you’d find a post or two interesting enough to keep you reading but you’d most likely not find a reason to come back. Those who come back are either your friends or people who just have so much time to spare. Only focus on one thing if you want to be taken seriously.

Consistency is a skill.

This is one big mountain-sized (forgive my tautology) problem. I am more of a speak than act person, if you’d know, I have spent hours thinking about this post and more hours trying to write it. I find editing more interesting than writing, I like to get in the dirt and do the finishing touches but writing is pain – I speak for myself – I get bored that quick.

I understand that for myself and I am patient enough to put up with me but everybody is busy trying to be a better version of themselves, so I had better get my s#!+ together and make sure people keep coming back to find something new to read. Every time.

You are just not that good.

Read guest post guidelines for Forbes or the Harvard Business Review and you’d be weak in the knees as an amateur writer. A lot of work goes into those top-notch-squeaky-clean blogs and websites; it’s not a lofty dream to have your blog run like that but if you are unwilling to bend backwards over to do a good job then forget it. Friends would come for a while and stop when they don’t find anything interesting to read. It’s that simple. Always give yourself nothing short of the best and outdo that the next time. Even the best articles online are scanned through. So sit up.

 

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Your Weakness Can Make You Different.

 

aaI’m home in Lagos with family, yeah no place like home; not if I burn it down.

I can’t multitask, not because science has proof that it stifles productivity but because it’s my Achilles heel. I figured this back in school after missing out on a bazillion interesting gist with my buddies – asides hearing screams of my name across the room reminding me I had to answer a question or simply nod in agreement.

I decided to change that; I despised the thought that there was something I just couldn’t get good at.

So I got home really eager to do stuff; I tried helping out with chores, cook, eat, sleep and work all at the same time. I’ll be stating the obvious to say I failed because I did. Many times.

Just this week, mum finally let me prepare meals and I’m stunned at how bad I am at cooking. The last two days were worse – charred rice, crunchy black beans; yesterday, we had steam with bread for breakfast. Right, it is a taboo for an African woman to fail in the kitchen, feel free to shoot me.

So What? You Have a Weakness.

You probably don’t know Steven Spielberg or that he has dyslexia  but you know the movies The Extra-Terrestrial and Jurassic Park.  As opposed to general forward thinking that successful people focus only on their strengths, Steven did not become a seasoned screenwriter and studio entrepreneur by ignoring the fact that he had spelling and writing problems. Denying the existence of your weakness is as good as focusing on it.

Weigh your options.

I know I’m often too self-conscious to speak in public especially because I always feel I’m not properly dressed. But I love public speaking, a ton.

I start by telling myself how much I want public speaking to be a part of my career and how being self-conscious gets in the way. I look hard and deep within for reasons why public speaking gives me fulfilment and there, I find the “aha” moment. I know I’d regret to look back from the future and wonder why I never tried to speak at all.

Admit you can’t change it; at least, not with the same ways you’ve tried.

So I slip into something very comfortable every time I have to stand before an audience since I can’t wear an invisible cloak, at best, I dress to cause a good stare. Thankfully, I’m not that ugly.

 

Don’t try to hide it, in fact, tell someone about it.

A problem shared is a problem halved – Nah. Not that.

The first time I had to anchor an event hosting about 400 people, I got the chills even in my bespoke suit. I called The Tutor and shared my fear with him, he said “Most of the things we are scared about aren’t the problems we face but that we make them appear bigger than they really are.” I still think he stole that quote from someone but those were the words I needed to hear.

Through the event, it didn’t matter whether someone in the audience was waiting to throw something heavy at me, I did it almost seamlessly. And flew off the stage the second I was done.

Coming out open is not a guarantee you’ll get positive feedback or a pat on the shoulder but for a fraction of one second, you feel some freshness sweep over your face. You stand disentangled from the thought of hiding behind your fears and you find that courage to tell more. When you hide your weakness, you become more vulnerable to it as it grows more powerful before your peaky eyes.

Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous start out with people having similar weakness find strength to fight their dependency through sharing their stories.

 

Thrive on it.

With the feeling that I have worked on my weakness, not eliminate it, I grow the confidence to do better by; telling a more inspiring story, touching a life and stop bothering myself over some cheap attire. (Yes, I still buy cheap things).

Now I cook when I’m not working, I don’t read while chatting and I simply make my life easier doing one thing at a time because I know I can’t multitask.

This should work for any other weakness, I think.