Me and My “Vulnerables”

Solomon asked me to do a candid review of 2018. After reading his own review on Medium, I finally understand what a review is supposed to resemble and I realize that my initial objections were unnecessary.

Fears. Process. Uncertainty. Win. Seems simple enough. However, I do not want to do that because I fear that it would be unavoidably identical to my other narratives where I am consistently the defying hero. Instead, I intend to tell you the things that made me, the indefatigable David McCoy, most vulnerable.

2018 was an eventful year. It is easy to list my many tangible achievements at the expense of other less satisfying highlights. In 2018, I was able to confront my fears on a number of fronts. A lot, I felt like I too could be hurt, I too could lose, I too could be vulnerable. Here are a few of my triggers.

    The Tax Club

The Tax Club bothers me. And the extent of my devotion in turn bothers me. Is it okay to care this much?

Especially, I care about how I am seen. What kind of leader am I? It troubled me – how to force the tough exterior that made my colleagues obey me while being secretly terrified of being perceived as a callous, insensitive person. It bothered me that someone, anyone would see the club as a one-man show and me as some dictatorial overlord. It was my second tenure after all. It bothered me that I micro-managed people so I determinedly devolved responsibilities. There were many things I refused to do because nor be only me dey there.

It bothered me how my junior colleagues saw me. When they looked, what did they see? An inspiration? Or some narcissistic talkative. I wanted to be correct, honorable, exemplary . The future of the club bothered me. I wondered if the next set of members knew or cared as much. It made me panic. Whenever there was widespread indifference to some opportunity I suffered to secure, I would be worried sick.

  • Relationship

Every October, I reconsider my stance on dating. Do I have a stance? I don’t know. It comes with the many looming anxieties of my birthday. If I like to feel like I can conquer anything, why not relationships? With my singleness, I am consistently caught between the re-assertion that it is my choice and the suspicion that I am excruciatingly inadequate.  The following entry in my diary captures this predicament with satisfying precision –

Dear Diary, I think I am disappointing. There is a masculine doggedness I lack – a certain consistency and focus this wooing game requires. I am not up to par. My indiscriminate indifference is not as rewarding as it is indulging. They’re calling me cold, slow. They’re saying I’ll die alone.

Indeed, I need to remember to text my crush, without setting reminders. I need to pick up the phone. Maybe I need to make the moves.

They’re telling me I’ll erupt when I find “the one”. I suspect that that my phlegm is no respecter. Now when they come for my single, I defend myself with automated speeches about youth priorities. They’re saying my grateful reticence is utter muliebrity! They’re asking – how will you get a wife if you act like one?

Last year, I would consciously imitate Korie’s kindness and Solomon’s openness just so I would seem more accessible to females. After all, it wasn’t that I did not have admirers, it was that they would not speak to me. Perhaps, something in the way I walked told them that any revelations would not go down well. LOL. In the end, these pretentions sickened me, so I quit. I am not keen. I am not even proud of it.

I am hardly intimidated by other males. Never by their money, power or intelligence. It is their desire that “emasculates” me – that fervent wanting for a certain female, that conviction that she is worth disrupting their schedules for. It beats, impresses and shames me at the same time. When she says “yes”, they are not terrified. They are adequate, available, reassuring, devoting. Why do I not feel like this? Does it make me less of a man?

When I occasionally summon the bravery to announce these fears, my friends would summarily respond with a “You haven’t found the one. That’s why!” I hope that this is indeed the problem, that I have high standards and one day when they are met by some God-sent, I would be swept off my feet into obsessive delirium. I hope that someday I call someone at least every week, that I am willing to take responsibility for the prosperity of WhatsApp conversations.

  • Opinions

I do not like to hear too many opinions. I deleted my Twitter for that reason.

The first scene in my 2018 vulnerability drama had to be my sudden interest in people’s opinions of me. It never used to matter. This year, feedback began to mean everything and every time a friend spoke about me, I would respond with desperate attention. Something about seeing myself from the eyes of others began to gain importance. The resulting discovery clogged my throat.

Guy, people don’t like you (that much).

  • The Family

I love my family. My brother and sister are my favorite people. It is written.

I flout my mother’s instructions all the time, in front of my siblings and I wonder if I am anything close to a good brother. I wonder if I am good to my brother. I wonder if the many wrong decisions he has made have been my fault. I am older, I should have known better.

There is a certain distance between my sister and I. Perhaps, it is the age-difference, perhaps I have been too busy. I am desperate about bridging this distance but unsure about what to do. I want to tell her about university and studying the law, about boys and their destructive insincerity. I want to instruct her that besides asking for anything, she can tell me everything. I can be her confidant. She would be needing one. Instead, I ask when food will be ready or if she liked Aquaman.

Conversations between my Dad and I have been reduced to stern negotiations. We only talk about money. He complains about it and I know I should do better. But I have to be in Lagos on Sunday so I need my pocket money already!

He always asks about schoolwork though. He wants to know if I have met “Professor Alayinde” and if my extra-curricular has not gotten in the way of our goal – my first class. “You must try your best. A first class will change your life. It will make me proud. You are my retirement plan.”

After, I would bury my face in my hands and cry. In a bid to convince the universe that his concurrent labor is worth it, I would quietly vow to attend all my classes.

I never attend all my classes.

  • Law of Evidence

When I got a C in my first semester, I was shocked. I would open the e-portal at midnight to confirm, as if the newness of the day would remove scales from my eyes. I mourned for weeks before I resolved to ask for a faculty confirmation.

When my second semester result was released, I drew solace from the conviction that the worst had happened. After all, I had never scored a C. It was like cancer, meant for others. When I saw a D, I was disheveled. I covered my mouth in horror as tears streamed down my eyes. “My GPA!”

The error with this result has been confirmed and is being fixed. I have been on the tiresome process for months now. A lecturer forgot to mark a question. He will mark it. He is on strike even though the school is not. They will change the D to a C. Maybe.

Now, I know I am going to have regrets. I care about my results. Whatever they become, I know they could have been better. How I scored a C in my Law of Evidence remains a mystery. Ghoulish. Next to Who killed Dele Giwa?

  • Emotions

I fear that I do not understand emotions in the way that most people do. Now, I think I know why. Always, I crave precision. I want to say exactly what happened, employing adjectives that describe as effectively as possible. However, when we speak about emotions, we cannot be precise. Affection, for instance, does not enjoy “ascertain-ability”, it is often either exaggerated or understated. We say a person is our moon or we say we are dating.

This impreciseness frustrates me. Often, the people around me crave overt assurances, that I care, that they matter. (This of course rests on a fault that is entirely mine.) I look them in the eye and attempt something honest and precise. But I predictably fail.

I want to tell you how much you mean to me but I do not want to exaggerate as much as I do not want to mock it. So, I hold you and longingly kiss you because I want to communicate. But everyone wants to hold you and kiss you so it is seemingly ordinary, bland. Perverse even. Somewhere in my head I am wishing there was some objective means of quantifying these feelings, a scale of 1 to 10 perhaps.

In the first place, you are looking for words because my actions suck. I think I am doing great but the rest of the world disagrees. And what you call love, I curiously consider as a worrisome obsession.

Solomon, my make-shift therapist, often visits my pitiful inability to comprehend anything not logical. Admittedly, I speak pragmatism. I want to know if it makes sense, if it is reasonable in the circumstances, if it is effective. I speak of emotions like they are some epidemic disease that weakens vision and clouds reasoning. I am often wrong. I get into trouble all the time. It hurts.

  • Friends

I fear that I am not very available to my few friends. Patient. Understanding. Supportive. Sometimes, I wonder what they keep me around for.

Tolu and I hardly spoke this year and it hurt. It hurt because I wasn’t as hurt as I was humanly supposed to be. I just kept living, occasionally craving something I knew I used to have. We were the greatest – Tolu, Zainab and I. We could have done better. Whatever that happened is predictably my fault.

I fear that I don’t understand what conventional friendship looks like. The other day, Amara asked “You’ve worked with all your friends? You don’t have friends outside your many projects.”

“Yes!” I beamed, proudly relishing the incoming lecture about utility and mutual support. I still think about that question and every time, a new layer of the sureness I felt peels away.

Shhh… I need to ask after people even when I don’t need shit!

The other day, one of my friends went on about how she was battling depression to the extent that she was suicidal. I didn’t know. I had been missing her calls. I sat in my room and cried. I cried until I fell asleep.

  • Underachieving?

I am constantly haunted by the thought that I am doing less than my abilities, less than my opportunities. It is too late. I know too much now (or do I know anything at all?) I have met too many people (or has my networking being enough?) Anything less than resounding success, ubiquitous impressiveness is failure.

I look at my Linkedin and sigh. This is not the best excellent-student-wannabe-commercial- lawyer version of myself. Do I want to be a lawyer though? Just that? I could be writing a book, I could be hosting bigger events. I could be arranging the next chart topper. I know I can do it. Why am I not doing it? Why is this life holding me back?

The following entry in my diary explains –

Dear Diary, my ignorance shames me. The voice in my head has taunts for every moment. In the mornings – “You know nothing, McCoy.” Afternoon – “You’re just a boy, you don’t understand.”

And if I have learnt anything new by evening, it points to my brown jotter and convinces me that I am underachieving. I sleep late because I am drawing new to-dos. I wake up and I know nothing again.

  • The future

I sat up until late last night to draw up my plans for the year and immediately faced difficulty. Once again, I was suffering from imprecision. Here is an excerpt from Solomon’s review that is as profound as it is relatable –

It feels weird to be in final year after waiting so long for this moment. School has a certain sense of security. I have always known the next event to plan, the next association to focus on, leadership and coursework (to) make priorities. These days, people keep asking me what my plan for after school is and all I can think about is how I will miss the certainty that school brings.

In the end, I consider it self-evident that life is about the good things. “Living” is prima facie a positive word. So, I count my blessings. I make lemonade. That is why everything seems fine. It must. There is a lot I am grateful for.

I am imperfect. So is everyone else. I am religiously committed to getting better!

Thank you for reading!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

365k?!

No, we never talk about money. Or we’re never specific. The subject of money (especially any topic that reveals our true income) is so entwined with social stratification that it is delicate. So, we are uber conscious either about coming across as actually broke, too rich, proud, inviting envy. Or altogether provoking our village people. So, there is a golden rule that instructs us to never speak about our income, love life and next move. LOL. You know I am a rebel. I only hope that you handle the following information responsibly, that you recognize its didactic purpose. 

This time last year, I created a basic goal. I was reading some Robert Kiyosaki and I became very motivated. I decided I was going to save 1k as day throughout 2018. And I did. I saved 365k this year. That’s a fact  100% my own (legitimate) money. But you know this already. So, I expect that you are here for the “how”. You’re keen. You need reasons to believe or disbelieve me. You want to be inspired. Or you want to bullshit.

I am no expert at this stuff and 365k is not a lot of money. I have no authority over you and a lot in this article is mildly subjective. Let me also say that this post is not about how you can make 365k a year. I don’t know how you can. This is not a post about some money-making scheme I discovered. Contrarily, if you receive money, I can tell you how to save it, drawing from my 12-month experience. Please pay attention.

Saving is importanter

I am 22. I am an LLB5 student of Obafemi Awolowo University. I compere events and sometimes I write songs. I am the first-born son in a middle-class Yoruba family so at this point, my parents send me money when I beg profusely for it. My pocket money is between 30 – 40k. I don’t get any foodstuff, provisions or clothes. I buy everything myself, from this money. I am an honest person. I don’t lie, cheat or steal. This is my context. 

Saving is important because I know it would never be this easy. After Uni, my parents will stop sending me money, I will have numerous responsibilities. The opportunity to save money I make while “managing” my pocket money is temporary. Also, coming from a financially unstable family, I endlessly seek stability. I understand that stuff could get worse, a lot worse. I like to prepare for unforeseen contingencies. I like to have options. My father didn’t.

Finally, the popular Rich Dad Poor Dad motivated me. I did not finish it because it became repetitive. I read enough to understand two things about wealth – to become wealthy, I need to inculcate a habit of living below my means. Secondly, I need to invest, repeatedly. A lot of us speak about being fantastically wealthy but live oppositely. I understand that no one will ever become rich if they always spend all their money. No matter how big your pay-check is, it can and will finish. Everyone who is serious about wealth needs to save and invest. In addition, we must all be entrepreneurs. No one will pay you enough for you to be fantastically wealthy.

 

How did I do it?

I wish there was some elaborate plan to unravel, but there isn’t. I saved 365,000 by stacking money I made from compering and other things like my internship and a few underpayments. I pressured myself to stack 30,000 a month. I operated two accounts – one for spending and another for savings. My savings account was immobile and discreet. I refused to spend my MC money except on important projects. I saved before spending every time. I tracked my progress throughout the year with my main goal in mind. I even displayed this on my status using dates and fraction like 295/365. Remember? 

 

  • Saving habit 

Was this feat difficult? Not really. You see, I have always saved money. I like to save – it gives me pride and it gets easier. I have always saved to buy stuff. Now I save to invest. As the months passed, my goal became more achievable and my discipline, better. Like I repeatedly mentioned in The Theory of Why if your why is solid enough you can do anything.

 

  • Reduce goals to bits 

The only way to win the premier league is to focus, match by match. Often, we are overly excited about our ultimate goal that we forget the little unsatisfying bits. When you draw up your plan for the year, you must reduce it to a monthly or weekly plan. You must be conscious of how much to have at every point in the year.  For instance, do not be tempted to think that you can save 20% of your annual plan within the first half and the remaining in the remaining half. This might actually work but it is not a good plan. Every goal we chase in life has to be reduced to achievable bits. That is the only way.

 

  • Know the numbers 

Are you conscious of the numbers? A lot is just numbers – time, GPA, money. But numbers are easy to forget. We lose track of time, we gradually slip off the grades we want and some people have no idea how much they make or spend. I am obsessed with numbers – I know how much time I have left before my next task, I know how many As I need the same way I knew my 365k would be complete after I compered Legal Drama.

To save money, you need to know the numbers, be obsessed with them. You need to know how much you spend on what, how much you have wasted, how to do better next time. If you become more conscious, it may surprise you how much money you deal with regularly. You would need to repeat sums and deductions to determine what you can “afford”. You would have to plan and analyze. I, for one, write everything down. Try that. 

 

  • Do what you can afford 

To save money, “afford” must begin to mean different. Most people think they can afford something if they have the money in their account.  So, there are persons who empty their accounts to purchase things. My account is never empty. I can affordsomething if after I consider my savings, confirm the utility of that thing and highlight other competing demands, purchasing that thing is still reasonable. I purchased a laptop and a phone this year only when I could have afforded two of each.

 

  • Mind your business

I am an MC. That is my business, that is exactly what I make money from. I know it. I don’t make money off The Tax Club and CAP events are non-profit. As a person, I have become dead certain about the services I would charge you for and those I would happily do for free. This year, I did compering mainly for the money, for my savings. I knew the exact number of events to do a month. I did not play with my money. I would transfer the money ASAP and immediately announce “I am broke!”

People speak about how I am not as successful as I could be, but I don’t care. There are a number of things competing for my time and from my analysis, I simply cannot afford to do more MC work right now. I did just enough to save 30k a month. The importance of minding your business is that it helps you focus. I am a student after all so I must not get carried away with making money. The way I see it, I must not become too successful at my business that I stop minding my academics. My academics are the most important thing to me.

Speaking about MC work, it is perhaps the best option for a student. LOL. Listen, there are side hustles that are very profitable. One reason why I was able to save this much is because my business does not require capital expenditure. I did not need to restock or purchase anything for that matter. I simply showed up at events and talked for hours. (it’s actually not that simple lol) My investment was time, creativity and a couple of suits. There are other hustles like this – graphic designing, for instance. Learn these kinds. This does not mean that if you trade, you are damned. Just find a way to be ascertainably profitable. Get your money right.

Another upside was that I was certain about my rates. They were usually predictable round figures that rounded up nicely when I transferred them. Even if you’re business person, the importance of certainty to savings should not be understated.

  • Live below your means

If you spend money faster than you make it, you are poor and will continue to be until you change. The hardest lesson to learn is that of living below your means. This is an innately unpopular option amongst young people who are addicted to showing off.

I must tell you that I am not that frugal. My friends know this. I do not cook or wash my clothes and I spend at least #7,500 a month on data because I can afford to. I could have saved a lot more if I was a little more disciplined. I dislike inconvenience so I often overspent. However, I was always conscious of my target and with a lot of things, I heavily underspent. Whether you think I am spendthrift or frugal, understand that means is relative. You need to respect yours.

If I had 70k around me every month then there was a lot I could have done with it, but I decided to live on half of that. That is my means. I halved it. Our means are different. Think of it this way – if you do not have a savings you are living beyond your means. You must save, you must spend less than you actually have, unashamedly. Do less than you can, all the time. Don’t go out of your way to do anything. Don’t empty your account for anything. Buy stuff less expensive than the money you have. 

Shut up and be overtly broke! How can you do this?

  • Eliminate the pressure

Spending is always a means to an end. You want to buy something. Why? Is it always because you need it? Nah. 

You must eliminate the pressure to spend on certain things, luxuries for instance. You must become unashamed of your cheap stuff. Realize that life is a journey and if you are as young as me, it is okay to not have the money. A healthy self-esteem is going to help. If luxuries make you confident, you may already have a problem. I know a lot of my mates who like the money feeling, broke people who spend all their money so they look rich. It is bemusing. 

You may need to shut your ears to friends who always make you spend. Also, there is a certain confidence that males feel from spending on females. Eliminate that too. With all your spending, succumb to practical reasons. Buy stuff for yourself and for other people because it is necessary, don’t buy to show that you can.

My guy, you are a student too, receiving pocket money. Hers is probably more than yours. Instead of spending to convince, be fun and intelligent. Or stop chasing woman altogether!

 

  • Do not love things

One hard lesson I learnt this year was to extinguish all affections I had for things. We all need to stop being sentimental about things. This way, if it no longer serves your purpose you can sell it off. The day I bought my new phone, I sold off the former. I buy things, sell things, replace things, repair things without hesitation. They are just things. This also means that they must not be overpriced, they must be a means to an end. I do not buy things that sit in a corner and look good. They must be doing something for me.

  • New is overrated

You will save a lot of money if you overlook the hype around brand new stuff. I, for one, hardly buy new stuff anymore. Why? The used ones are cheaper! By underpaying for stuff, I was able to save a lot of money. My Iphone 6s cost 85,000, my laptop cost 82,000. There were more expensive options and my parents budgeted more money. Buying used stuff is of course tricky so you would need a trusted retailer, good street sense market experience and attentiveness. 

You would be shocked at how inexpensive I get stuff. Most of my shirts cost #300, trousers #500 and ties #100. I have a plug lol. I buy one used shoe a year. I have only ever bought three suits. The others must have been used gifts. 90% of my stuff is used. Do I ever look like I’m suffering though? LOL.

  • Set, save, forget!

Finally, this is my admonition to you brethren that you set your own saving goals. Like I did, do not speak to anyone about them until the end of the year. You may even decide to never speak about them. 

I fear that this article will cause problems for me. I hope that my close friends understand. Or they might never give me money again. LOL. Throughout the year, I was always “broke”. The truth is, I really was. After deducting my savings, the remaining was hardly enough. 

I was so determined that I would borrow instead of spending my savings. Money I could/ would easily pay back. Nothing on earth (except the opportunity to make more money or a life-changing experience) could make me spend this sacred money. 

Save before you spend. Transfer the money before you even think. Encourage transfers, cash is dangerous. Once you begin saving, you must forget that money, forget that it exists, tell yourself that it is no longer yours. Keep it out of reach. Once you finish your spending money, go underground. LOL. Start drinking zobo or go to Akure. Do not tell anyone that you have money stacked somewhere or soon enough they would need a loan.

 

Panel of judges, with these few points of mine, I hope I have been able to convince you that saving is important and doable!

Thank you for reading, have a swell 2019!

10/10

Dear Diary,

I almost died today.

It is 10PM. I am sitting in my room, staring into empty space. It is here— all I have been running from. My day-long denial meets it grim end. The realization, the thoughts, the trauma— they seep into my head. The same way blood seeps out of my knee. Rats! The bandage has been compromised.

I almost died today.

It was supposed to be easy, usual. I take a bike towards Shoprite. Heck, I can do this— this is Akure. I was supposed to meet up with my friends. We were supposed to see a movie by 12:25. “Supposed” is never a simple word.

I am thumbing my phone the entire ride. I am asking Tomide about PwC. I am asking Eniola about her short-term goals. I am suddenly unseated. The bike lurches to the right. The tires give way. My knees kiss the tar. I am on the floor. I roll off the road to safety. Everyone is saying a lot. I’m sitting still, shell-shocked. I cannot move or think. They are telling me how lucky I am. I see policemen.

My phone is on the road. I am stretching out to it and muttering. Then I am shouting. They hand me my phone, it is unscathed. The relief I feel makes me ashamed.

My jeans are ripped around my right knee. The blood is crimson red. The blood on my right hand has dirt all over. The bike man has a sharp, horizontal cut on his waist. The look sickens me.

They help me into the police van. It speeds off. The policemen are telling the story—The driver was speeding, the tire in front burst. We had a hurrying trailer opposite us. We fell to the right. It moved to the left. There was just meters between life and death. I am trying to listen. I am calling my mother.

Everyone is annoyingly calm at the hospital. The doctor will not attend to us until we buy equipment. The ceiling fan blows new pain into my flesh. My mother arrives. She is thanking her Eleda. She is looking for the bike man. She says I should have followed her to church. The hospital has no POS. She is livid. She leaves.

My friends arrive. They’re asking, laughing, taking pictures. I am laughing too. “Lucky” is the word of the day.

After an hour, the doctor attends to me. He has his glasses on his nose— an unnecessary habit for a young man. He makes jokes. He wants to know why I understand Yoruba but do not speak it.

I take two injections. I fight pain every time the soaked cotton wool is pressed to my body. The doctor smiles knowingly at me— “I hope that one is not painful. Brace yourself for this one.” The liquid in the brown bottle makes me scream and cringe. It is on a different level from iodine. I hate doctors. I hate hospitals. I hate today.

While I wash my hands, some person is wailing “Ye!” continuously. Intuitively, they prolong the “ye” and follow it with “this one na gbedu wey dey ja pata”. I cannot help myself. I am laughing aloud.

My mother finally leaves. She is relieved. I am directed to a nurse who takes my pulse, then to a doctor for some prescriptions, then to the pharmacy for drugs, then to the cashier for payments, then to the pharmacy for drugs. I am questioning the bureaucracy. I am wondering if I should be walking and queuing with my badly bruised knee. No one cares. There are sicker people.

Kayode takes me home. I refuse to stay home. I don’t want to think about it. I want to go back to the mall. I want to get away from solitude. I want to see “Night School” by all means. I want to change my damned trousers first. No one protests. Throughout the evening, Fakunle embellishes conversations with “So David had an accident for nothing?”. Feyi, my cousin, says it is good for me. Feyi has an odd way of showing affection.

I return home much later. 7:14. My other secondary school mates are asking about my well-being. I am fine, relatively. Bruises are better than a ground skull. I am grateful. I am also unhappy, traumatized. I hate the thought of death, or almost dying. I hate being lucky. I hate that saying this makes me seem grateful. I hate that I cannot explain the feeling.

A part of me wants to act normal as this is nothing to speak excitedly about. The other half wants to talk to people about the accident. I fear that the latter would win. I would turn my near-death experience into some blogpost. People would flood my DMs with questions. I am going to regret it. But I know that keeping it to myself would be much worse. I know that keeping an open diary is how I have gotten through my toughest experiences. I remember that I am not a hard guy so I switch to pondering the best way to tell this story. Oh yes! I will use present continuous tense and short sentences. No abbreviations.

I wait for the night prayers in the parlor for the first time. I was in an accident today, for the first time. The pain reverberates with my heartbeat. If I am able to sleep, I may have to do it facing up, for the first time.

Tomorrow, I will courageously take a chain of bike rides to Kayode’s. That FIFA 18 must be played before it is fully retired. Now I am wondering why EA took Ronaldo’s face off that FIFA 19 cover. That rape accusation has not been proven. I am religiously anti-rape but I am also beginning to fear for men.

Tomorrow, my mother will say bad things happen to me because I am not regular at church. She will wish aloud that I took anything in my life as seriously as I took Tax Club. I will lose my temper and accuse her of blaming the victim.

Now, I am thinking about pain— that doctor in Shutter Island said it is never about the place of contact but all about the brain’s reaction. I am asking my brain to stop. I am thinking about Shutter Island a lot these days; the end of that movie was confusing.

I am thinking about the ghoulish feeling in my occupied head before I left the house today. I had thought about having an accident. I had imagined my life on a wheelchair– everyone helping me to the toilet before ultimately losing their patience. I contemplate a lot of things, cerebrally. I am a fan of the hypothetical. Now, I am horrified. Was it my thoughts that made this happen? Was this a warning? I shake it off. This accident will not be spiritualized.

What if I had died? Had I done enough? Was anyone really impacted? Did my movements cause any positive change? Had anyone seen beyond my stubbornness and pride?

I am thinking about the credit alert I got earlier– the first, for my songwriting. It made me so happy. I love my options. I love my beautiful mind. I love my life. I am thankful.

Tomorrow I will do something new.

Now, it is 10PM on 10th October. It is 10 days to my 22nd birthday.

But I almost died today.

8/10

Dear Diary,

The Nigerian dream is twofold:

1. To leave Nigeria (and decorate one’s social media with “#ProudlyNG”)

2. To become fantastically rich Nigeria (with occasional trips to Santorini)

No. 2 is two-way:

1. To join the corruption train and steadfastly milk the country all the days of ones life (Politicians, ex-politicians, pastors)

2. To beat the odds through hard work and skill.

Dear Diary, at the end of the day, most of the dreamers will not be fantastically rich. In fact, most of us will be poor. I’m beginning to see why.

The image of a rich man that the media feeds us is one where he has an unusually large house, the latest cars and a lot of tangible things to show for it.

They’re wearing over-priced t-shirts, flying private and and buying the latest iPhones for the whole squad.

This is rich! Trapped in Instagram Explore we mutter to ourselves “Poverty na bastard”, “I will never be poor!”, “Kin sa ti lowo”

We want to become what we see ASAP.

The problem with this is that it easily displays a “what” without telling a “how”. And this is the root of a problem I now call “the mirage of richness”.

Somewhere along the line we forget that the objective is to become rich – to have money in the bank, property. Instead, we begin to believe that the objective is to look like we’re rich. So, we spend our little income on “displayable” things that will make us look rich while driving ourselves poor!

It is simple, really. Some people will be poor forever because they are endlessly trying to look like they’re not. Poor people spend their money on stuff they don’t need (and cannot afford) to impress other poor people.

When a poor person receives money they’re thinking about new stuff to buy that will make them “rich”. They think they are rich because they’re sporting a new gadget or they’re buying fancy things for bae.

Meanwhile, when rich people receive money, they’re thinking about investments— how to use that money to make more. This is how honest people become rich. They invest, they spend on assets, they explore cheaper alternatives, they create multiple streams of income.

I know that it is difficult to understand true wealth in Nigeria because we hardly have any good examples. Most of the money in our country is illegal— that’s why it’s carelessly flaunted. That’s why our super-rich MCM cannot tell us how he made his money— instead he responds with a futile “Na God oh.”

But if we’re no criminal, politician or fake pastor, then we need to get off the drug of online wealth and focus on making real money.

We need to realize that it is more lucrative to follow Tony Elemelu than Davido. While they’re both skilled and hardworking, one of them is more likely to (un)knowingly show a realistic ”how”— a practical, relatable guide on how to become successful (wealthy).

Instead, we watch Davido flaunt the new gadgets he bought for the squad on Snapchat. The total cost is about 1% of his worth. We, on the other hand use all of our savings (plus borrowed money) to buy the same gadget just so we can quickly put it up on Snapchat. When we do so, we get this temporary, false feeling that we’re equals with Davido and that people adore us just as much.

Meanwhile our bank account is empty. We are once again “broke”. We are waiting to spend all of our next allowance/pay.

I fear that ours is a generation of people, ignorant of (or too unrealistic to admit) our own poverty. We say “broke” a lot because we are in fact broke a lot of times— but another name for being broke a lot is poor.

We’re constantly stripped of cash because we are constantly spending on things we cannot afford. The way I see it, if anyone has to empty their bank account all the time, then they are living beyond their means! Also, how will anyone ever become rich if they have a habit of spending all of their money?

Ours is a generation of people who think that the word “afford” means they don’t have the sum of money as opposed to— being unwilling to spend that sum in light of competing demands and economic realities. A person who earns #50,000 thinks they can afford a secondary item of #40,000. I think not.

Ours is a generation that cheers the fellow who says nonsense like, “I’m going to spend my last naira on this. If I die I die.” I fight the urge to comment, “You won’t die now. Eventual poverty will slowly kill you because of your indiscipline.”

So, we use our last #500 to buy suya, then we speak to the seller rudely because we think he is just an ordinary suya-seller. Meanwhile we – and another 7 persons at the stand – are giving our money to this man, who eventually makes more money than we all do. I think that we need to see that the rich man is the man who’s receiving, not the one who is spending.

Ours is a generation where people slide into our DM to blackmail us into “dashing” them money. They serve the gist of “no employment”. This is another bluff. I’d like to say—

“There are always jobs. Always. Only that you consider yourself too cool for your options.”

5/10

My Motswana friend is a homosexual and a smoker. We have the most interesting conversations.

Once, we’re together in public. I’m watching him take majestic puffs. The women on our right are eyeballing us. He asks, “Why are you West Africans so conservative?”

I shrug. “We are not conservative, just hypocritical.”

He squints his red eyes. “Hypocritical?”

“Yes. Sex, for instance— people have a lot of it in my country. The rate is astronomic. Yet, everyone is a virgin. And it’s a lot worse when they’re honest about it. Then everyone else is going to hell.

I know people who lie, cheat, steal, gossip. The same people speak against fornication, drinking or smoking because these things are sins. Nigerians come after people who sin differently.

My country is the most corrupt and the most religious at the same time. There’s a lot of hypocrisy prima facie.”

4/10

Between Thursday 20th September and Thursday 4th October 2018 (two weeks), David “McCoy” Akindolire spent N10,000 on data.

In the realization— he is now nibbling bread in his room, between loud curses at MTN and hackneyed vows to delete his Instagram. He swears that the ho-hum holiday largely increased his exhaustion rate. We believe him.

David is one of the many young patients of internet addiction— persons who, although ever “broke” miraculously find the money for data. Most of whom make no income off the internet. If he keeps up this rate he will spend N260,000 a year. Internet addicts are richer than they think.

Mobile banking makes it easy to convert hundreds and thousands of naira to another funny video on Instagram or another unsolicited showcase of arrant shallowness on WhatsApp status.

When his present bundle runs out, David will buy another immediately. David is a careless, indisciplined child. There are many more where he’s from.

3/10

Dear Diary,

I think I am disappointing.

There’s a masculine doggedness I lack— a certain consistency and focus this wooing game requires. I am not up to par.

My indiscriminate indifference is not as rewarding as it is indulging. They’re calling me cold, slow. They’re saying I’ll die alone.

Indeed, I need to remember to text my crush, without setting reminders. I need to pick up the phone. Maybe I need to make the moves.

They’re telling me I’ll erupt when I find “the one”. I suspect that my phlegm is no respecter. Now when they come for my single, I defend myself with automated speeches about youth priorities.

They’re saying my graceful reticence is utter muliebrity! They’re asking— how will you get a wife if you act like one?!

30/09

Dear Diary,

I agree that it is a “great disservice to boys” — the way we raise them. I know that it begins with the lie — “boys don’t cry”. As a bearded Nigerian man, I know how difficult it is to express yourself in detail, to show weakness or emotion, to apologize and romanticize. Or to say you love another man without a punctual #NoHomo. LOL.

The product is a lot of rigid men who kill parts of themselves, who are endlessly trying to prove their masculinity. We do not realize that this thin rope men are unconsciously made to tread eventually makes a number of us stubborn, entitled, insecure, pompous, toxic.

There are men who build muscles to feel better, who share the primitive belief that every conflict should be resolved by a fist-fight. There are men who think it a taboo to go back on their word, who never apologize.

Society hinges masculinity on a few criteria. This way, men could easily feel “emasculated” when they are not adequately appreciated for meeting these criteria or when females beat them to it. These criteria could be physical strength, power, money, intellectual capacity.

For instance, a man could be taught to believe that richness is the criterion for masculinity. He becomes the kind that says nonsense like “I could never marry a woman who earns more than me” because he naively thinks that making more money is the manly thing to do! He will find rich women unattractive. Strong, independent females are hardly popular because they usually have qualities that men feel exclusively entitled to.

I think that masculinity should be made fluid. Logically, it is the human thing to do. The strive for feminism, (against) racism, egalitarianism all rest on one basic premise — that we are equally human before we are anything else! When we deprive men of overt emotions, we deprive them of humanity. Substituting humanity for masculinity makes no sense. You see, only humans can be men!

So I think that men should be allowed to cry out loud. I have a lot of requests. Lets start there.

28/09

Dear Diary,

In 22 days I will be 22. My reaction to birthdays is one of practiced indifference. Thesame reaction I give to the everyday realization that I do not have my future figured out. Contrary to “vicarious opinion”, this is true, and okay.

I know that young people are trained to dread failure, to be certain, to be at least performative about the “hustle” and intentional advancement.

Recently, I read some advice (directed to young people) that favored certainty over activity. It was good advice, just implausible. I thought— Really? Who has stuff figured out? Who knows what they will become? Who is 100% certain they will use their degree?

Of course I favor activity— trying stuff out, making mistakes, failing. I believe that this is how we figure out what we like and what we should be doing later. I feel like if we do not fail now, we will fail later.

I believe that if we are terrified of getting little things wrong at a young age, if we prefer to stick to the script, we may be setting ourselves up for a life of underachievement and/or regret.

The norm of expecting young people to be certain about their lives after a 4/5 year academic period where they study courses they may or may not enjoy is a sham.

Pressure me when I’m 35.

When I’m done with this write-up, I’m going to read another chapter of Adichie’s book. Then I’m going to call that TedX speaker. Then I’m going to fix that meeting with KPMG. Then I’m going to write that second verse for Bank3h’s Christmas song. Then I’m going to write “learn graphic designing” in my jotter for the 89th time.

I do not know what I will use these for. But I know that experience matters. Maybe it’s too much activity. I don’t care. I’m only 22. I have nothing to lose.