You will always be the bad guy in someone else’s story

I’ve always been considerate of people’s feelings. In fact, at some point, I was quite the people pleaser. However, I’ve realized that I will always be the bad guy in somebody’s story, and so will you.

bad guy
Photo: Unsplash/Eddy Lackmann

When I became more spiritual, I tried to make amends for every wrong thing I’d done. I reached out to old employers to apologize for being rude. Old friends who walked away because of my poor communication skills also received apology messages. In my desperation to do right, I even apologized to my nemesis ex for screaming at him, though he totally deserved it.

Unfortunately, this new habit opened the door to soul-crushing guilt. I found myself constantly apologizing to people who either didn’t deserve it, or wouldn’t forgive me no matter how sorry I was. So despite my apologies, they would spread rumours about me to anyone who cared to listen. 

READ MORE: My life would be so much easier if I could just like the people who like me

Eventually, I realized that I would always be the bad guy in someone’s story. No matter how hard I try to do right, I’m human and I will fall short. Somebody will send me a message on a day that I’m sad and I’ll ignore them.

Someone will call my name on the street and I won’t hear because I’m preoccupied. Somebody will speak to me when I’m tired and assume that I’m being rude. I cannot help it, and neither can you, we will always be the bad guy in someone’s story.

bad guy
Photo: Pexels/Vlada Karpovich

To some people, I am Jola, the kind and supportive girl who stands by those in need. To others, I am the girl who made them look bad at work, snatched their boyfriends or said something so painful they’ll never forget it.

It used to tear me up inside that I couldn’t be a good person in everybody’s books, but I’ve made my peace with it. I’m doing the best I can to be a good and kind person. I’m making amends where possible, but I will not spend the rest of my life being a prisoner of guilt, and neither should you.

I have forgiven people who have hurt me in the worst ways, so now I extend that forgiveness to myself. I’m forgiving myself for the things I did when I didn’t know any better. I’ve forgiven myself in advance for the mistakes I will make in future because I’m only human and hence a perpetual work in progress. 

READ MORE: Now that you’re all asleep, let me tell you everything that scares me about marriage and motherhood

I know that I will always be the bad guy in someone’s story, because some people desperately need a bad guy. No matter how much you apologize, they can’t let it go. So it’s up to you to free yourself. It doesn’t matter who calls you a bad guy, as long as you’re doing your best to be the good guy. Day by day, step by step, because all you can really do is your best.

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A photo of a man’s chest taught me how dangerous distraction is

On Monday morning, bright and early, a friend sent me a post-workout photo of himself. He was covered in sweat and his pectoral muscles were displayed in all their glory. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I completely lost focus. That man’s chest was all I could think about for the whole day. In fact, if I’m being honest, that chest is all I’ve thought about this entire week. 

man's chest
Photo: Unsplash/Karsten Winegeart

I’m supposed to write a post everyday this week, and I have an accountability partner who makes sure I follow through on my writing goals. When she reached out to me yesterday, I explained my predicament. She gave me a concession but insisted I must write something today. So here I am, writing about that glorious chest because that’s the only thing on my mind now. 

Thankfully though, life’s greatest lessons are usually hidden in small and seemingly mundane moments. So there’s a lesson in all this. We live in a very distracted world today. We’re constantly scrolling through feeds and staring at screens unaware of what’s really happening around us. It has become our new normal, but that doesn’t make it any less dangerous.

READ MORE: A person can look at you like hot Agege bread and still not want to be with you

This week, while I was focused on that man’s chest, my goals suffered. I spent the week in a haze and couldn’t concentrate enough to do anything tangible. It’s cute because this is a funny story. But the truth is, I missed out on some important things because I got distracted. 

We can’t avoid distractions, but we can control them. In my case, maybe if I had waited till the afternoon to get on social media, my entire Monday wouldn’t have been derailed. Maybe if I had stuck to my schedule, I could have gotten some work done before stumbling upon those gorgeous pecs. 

READ MORE: My life would be so much easier if I could just like the people who like me

The key to controlling distraction and keeping it from stalling your progress is to stay on top of it. Basically, check yourself before you wreck yourself. I’m sorry I’ve made this beautiful story about an equally beautiful chest into a motivational speech, but I have an accountability partner to satisfy. Thanks for reading, and please don’t judge me. God bless you. 

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How to get over someone you never dated

Almost relationships are the worst. You meet someone who you like and spend precious time and energy trying to build a connection with them. Then all of a sudden, you realize that your conversations are not going anywhere. You hoped for a serious relationship, but it’s obvious this person doesn’t want the same thing.

almost relationships
Photo: Unsplash/Natasha Hall

Or worse, you feel like things are progressing nicely. Your conversations are building up to a tempo and you’ve even gone out a few times. Then one day, out of the blue, you send a text and don’t get a response. So you think, maybe he’s busy. Then three hours later when there’s still no reply, you call because you’re worried. He doesn’t pick up. After doing this for one week, you finally realize what’s happened. You’ve been ghosted.

READ MORE: My life would be so much easier if I could just like the people who like me

The hardest thing about almost relationships is the feeling that they’re not real. If this was an official relationship, you’d tell your friends about the breakup and they’d console you. You’d cry and grieve for your lost love because it was something concrete and now it’s gone. But with someone you never dated, you feel foolish for being sad. How do you explain that you’re crying over someone who never even said “I love you”? 

It’s hard to get over almost relationships, but it’s possible, so here are a few things that can help:

Allow yourself to grieve

Whether your relationship had a label or not, it was a legitimate connection. If it was important to you, it was important, period. So don’t deny how valid the experience was. It won’t make your healing process any easier. Denying the existence of a wound makes it difficult to heal. Allow yourself to feel the sense of loss and then take the steps necessary to heal.

almost relationships
Photo: Pexels/Vlada Karpovich
Set new boundaries

There’s a high probability that the person who disappeared on you will come back at some point. Don’t allow that to happen. Don’t get stuck in false hope. Remove their access to you and stop checking on them. Stop waiting around for them to change their mind about you.  You deserve someone who wants you as much as you want them and when you want them.

If you’ve realized that the person you’re talking to doesn’t want what you want, stop talking to them. Your mind will tell you that you can be friends but you know that’s easier said than done. You might not be an official couple yet but a line has been crossed. Give yourself some time and space to grieve what could’ve been before trying the “just friends” route. Don’t let anyone guilt-trip you into a friendship your heart isn’t ready for. 

READ MORE: A person can look at you like hot Agege bread and still not want to be with you
Forgive yourself

If you’ve found yourself in a few almost relationships before, it’s easy to become self-critical. You scold yourself for falling into the same trap and worry that you’ll never get it right. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You took a chance and it didn’t work out.

There’s nothing wrong with that. Can you imagine if everything did work out between you and this person? How would you have known if you didn’t take the leap? One day, very soon, you will take a chance just like this one and you will be grateful you did.

Almost relationships are hard to process. But if you allow yourself to grieve and take it one day at a time, you’ll soon see the experience for what it really is; a minor bump on a long and beautiful road.

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My married friend says marriage is a scam, here’s what he really means

I can’t count the number of times that a married friend has said to me that they envy me. “You’re free to do anything you want. You better enjoy it while it lasts.” 

married friend
Photo: Unsplash/Gift Habeshaw

One married friend took this conversation to a whole new level by telling me that marriage is a scam. According to him, things were better when he and his wife were dating. He wants to go back in time and just find a woman to have children with minus the commitment. I understand his sentiments perfectly because I was afraid of the very same thing for years. Choosing to get married will take away some of your freedom. There’s no way around it.

That’s why some married people want to be single again when many single people want to be married. It’s the human condition of believing that the grass is greener on the other side. For those who are married, they exalt the past through selective amnesia that tells them life was perfect back then. The single people on the other hand believe that getting married is the key to a brighter future.

married friend
Photo: Unsplash/Tiko Giorgadze

The truth is, we have failed to grasp the reality that every stage of our lives will come with pleasure and pain. Every new level we get to will require sacrifices. So single people have their lonely days and married people can’t get any breathing space. The pros will always come with cons, and there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s called the weight of glory. 

READ MORE: My parents have been married for 37 years, here’s the only lesson you need to learn from them

My married friend had expectations of what his life would be like as a husband. Obviously, some of those expectations aren’t being met. He was told that marriage is paradise. Unfortunately, those who told him that story left out how much work it takes to build that paradise.

In the area of marriage, I have been something like an election observer. I’ve seen people who are enjoying themselves and those who aren’t. The frustrations of the latter group are strikingly similar. They thought they were getting something different than they actually got.

married friend
Photo: Unsplash/Sandy Millar

I’m not giving marriage advice because I refuse to be a spectator telling players how to score goals. However, I will tell single people to develop an objective view of marriage before going into it. Your aunty lied, marriage will not solve all your problems. 

READ MORE: Now that you’re all asleep, let me tell you everything that scares me about marriage and motherhood

For the married people who find themselves hungry for freedom, please remember that you willingly signed a document uniting you with another person for life. So temper your expectations. And most importantly, stop telling single people that marriage is a scam. You’re scaring us. God bless you as you comply. 

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5 life-changing books about money everyone should read in 2021

Most people want to be rich but not many educate themselves on how to do this. I decided to be more intentional about financial education this year, so I’m reading more books about money. Reading classic books will first of all work on your mindset and get you started on the journey to building wealth. 

books about money
Photo: Unsplash/Mona Eendra

Here are 5 top books about money I believe everyone should read: 

1. The Richest Man In Babylon

I’ve read this book five times, it’s that good. I love the fact that it teaches life lessons through stories. It’s a really enjoyable read and if you apply the principles within, you will start your journey to wealth.

The major lessons that stood out for me in the book are that you need to live within your means and save part of your income to invest. You should also do what it takes to improve your skills and increase your earning capacity.

My favourite quote from the book is “Opportunity is a haughty goddess who wastes no time with the unprepared.”

2. Rich Dad, Poor Dad

This classic book is a winner for many reasons. It also uses the power of storytelling to explain that wealth is connected to life choices. Poor people expect the government and their employers to take care of their financial obligations and they complain when they get disappointed. Rich people on the other hand take their destinies into their own hands and take the risks necessary to build wealth.

The major highlight for me was finding out the difference between an asset and a liability. An asset makes you money and a liability costs you money. I always thought a house was an asset, but I realized that it can be a liability if you don’t have the means to fund it. It’s best to gather assets first and then use the income from them to fund your liabilities. 

For example, instead of buying a 5 bedroom house as my first home, I’ll acquire property I can rent out and then use the income from my tenants to pay for and maintain my home. 

My favourite quote from the book is “There is a difference between being poor and being broke. Broke is temporary. Poor is eternal.”

3. You’re a badass at making money

This book isn’t as popular as the others but it’s life-changing all the same. The biggest takeaway for me is that many people are broke by choice. They believe they don’t have what it takes to make money, so they spend their lives complaining and justifying why they’re poor. They claim they don’t want money and attack those who make it. 

The author, Jen Sincero, used to be like that until she had a mindset shift. The core message of the book is that we all have what it takes to create wealth. You’ll need to take responsibility for building a new life and dump your excuses, but you’re just as capable as anyone else. Accept that you need money and then figure out what you need to do in your own unique way to get it.

My favourite quote from the book is “Time wasted rationalizing the mediocre could be time spent creating the magnificent.”

4. Think and grow rich

Think and Grow Rich is based on the principle that if you desire wealth strongly enough and take the necessary steps, you’ll get it. It’s all about cultivating the right mindset, thinking the right thoughts and taking the right actions.

The author, Napoleon Hill, believes that if you have enough clarity about your goals and are obsessed with attaining them by a specified time, you will be unstoppable. 

His six steps for acquiring wealth are:

1. Be specific about the exact amount you want

2. Decide what you’ll do to get the money

3. Choose a definite deadline 

4. Create a plan and take action at once

5. Write out a statement with the steps above

6. Read your statement twice a day, when you wake up and before you sleep.

As you read it, imagine how your life would be when you have the money and believe you already have it.

My favourite quote from the book is: “Wishing will not bring riches.”

5. The science of getting rich

What stood out for me in the science of getting rich was the author, Walter Wattles’ argument that nobody can live a full life without wealth. 

The book is very similar to Think and Grow Rich but it’s worth a read as well.    The author talks about the need to think like a rich person in order to attract physical wealth. So according to him everything that will be created must first start in your thoughts. 

He also encourages readers to avoid competition and focus on creating value instead. This is based on the abundance mindset. If you believe there’s more than enough wealth to round you won’t try to compete with others or cheat them out of their own money. When you create, you add value, and money flows in the direction of value. 

Just like Think and Grow Rich, he talks about the importance of desire as a catalyst for creating wealth. He also emphasizes the need to take action and use your willpower to make your desires a reality. 

READ MORE: How to wake up happy: 3 habits that will help you love your life

My favourite quote from the book is: “Whatever may be said in praise of poverty, the fact remains that it is not possible to live a really complete or successful life unless one is rich.”

The major learning from all these books about money is that wealth starts in the mind. Rich people think a certain way and those thoughts lead them to behave in a different way. So the first place to start if you want to create wealth is in your mind. 

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I deleted Instagram and my life changed in these 3 major ways

I deleted Instagram last month. I’d been planning to get rid of the app for a while but I could never bring myself to do it. My attachment to my feed was unhealthy and I knew it. The hours I spent on mindless scrolling increased every week. And the more I indulged, the more anxious and unhappy I became. 

i deleted instagram
Photo: Unsplash/Solen Feyissa

I told myself I needed Instagram for work, and I do. I need it to gather content and gain inspiration. However, I was spending more time on nonsense than I was on actual work. So after being challenged by a friend, I hit the delete button. My life has changed in 3 major ways since I deleted Instagram. Here they are:

1. I’m less anxious

I haven’t been off Instagram in years. It was a constant in my life and if I’m being honest, I started suffering from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). The pandemic and all the extra drama that came with 2020 made it difficult to post as frequently as I used to.

So everyday I would scroll and stress about losing my audience. Then I started to compare myself with others and it made me feel like I was behind in life. Since I deleted Instagram, I find myself feeling less rushed and more content. I’m happy for all the successes people are recording but now I have more time to work towards my own goals. 

2. I’m reading more 

For the first few days after deleting Instagram, I would automatically reach for my phone to check the app as usual. Eventually, I realized that I needed to fill up my time with something else. So I subscribed to Medium and it’s been one of the best decisions of my life. I’m reading more than I have in a long time and filling my mind with important and valuable information. Instagram can be a great source of inspiration, no doubt, but it can also be a huge distraction. 

3. I’m getting more work done

Instagram, and social media as a whole, is a bubble. It makes you feel like you’re achieving something when you might actually just be wasting time. Deleting Instagram has left me with a lot of free time. I was spending almost 2 hours per day on the app, sometimes more. That’s an extra two hours that I have to work on my goals and focus on my life. 

i deleted instagram
Photo: Unsplash/Prateek Katyal

There’s a reason why Instagram stats such as likes and follows are called vanity metrics. It’s because in the grand scheme of things, they aren’t really important. Social media is a great way to connect with people, build a brand and make impact. Nothing can change my mind about that. However, it’s important to take a step back sometimes and remember that it’s not real. 

READ MORE: Why you shouldn’t be afraid of dying before your time

To be honest, I don’t miss Instagram. I will eventually download the app again but at least now I know I can live without it. Hopefully, when I do go back I will remember the lessons I learned during my time away. Deleting Instagram is one of the best decisions I’ve made this year. Will you try it?

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How to wake up happy: 3 habits that will help you love your life

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” – Rumi

Believe it or not, it’s possible to wake up happy everyday, well almost everyday. One of the greatest discoveries I’ve made is the realization that my happiness depends entirely on me. Keeping that in mind has completely changed my life.

wake up happy
Photo: Unsplash/ Jessica Felicio

Unfortunately, there’s a widespread belief that life is supposed to go according to our plans and expectations. That’s why people ask “why me?” when bad things happen to them. 

I’m not sure where we got that idea from but it’s obviously nonsense. One only needs to look around to see that everybody on earth will get their own share of trouble at one point or the other. You can’t avoid trying times, so you might as well prepare yourself.

How can a person wake up happy no matter their circumstances? By making a firm decision and building a set of habits to support that decision. I made that decision years ago, and here are three habits that have helped me sustain it:

1. Dance as often as you can
“The rule is you have to dance a little bit in the morning before you leave the house because it changes the way you walk out in the world.” – Sandra Bullock.

When I woke up this morning, I could feel the beginnings of a foul mood. I had two options; succumb and spend the day feeling sorry for myself or do something to shift my mood so I could have a good day. I chose the latter.

wake up happy
Photo: Unsplash/Georgia de Lotz

So I borrowed my brother’s Bluetooth speaker and after 5 minutes of dancing to Joeboy’s “Celebration,” I’m happy to report that I feel excited and ready to start my day. Dancing is a guaranteed mood shifter, so create a playlist specially for this and dance as much and as often as you can. 

2. Be grateful for the little things
“…I started out giving thanks for the small things, and the more thankful I became, the more my bounty increased…” – Oprah Winfrey

There’s always something to be grateful for, and gratitude is scientifically proven to change your life. In 2019, after a particularly rough month, I fell into the pit of despair. I was so sad that I avoided all my friends. Thankfully, one of them sensed something was wrong and when she reached out, I told her everything.

READ MORE: How I got arrested for giving someone my number in church

Her advice was unconventional, but it was the solution I needed. She told me to write down everything good that happened to me that year and by the time I was done, I saw how truly blessed I was. I know it’s not easy to look past everything that’s going wrong and focus on what’s working, but it is what you focus on that will expand. Be grateful for the little things, and you’ll have more. If you are intentional about gratitude, you will wake up happy everyday.

3. Surround yourself with hope and positivity
“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” – Desmond Tutu

The past year was really rough for me. There were days when I couldn’t imagine how things would get better. I’m not going to pretend that it’s been easy to stay hopeful, but I’m doing my best. One thing that’s helped me is surrounding myself with positivity. I unfollowed everyone on social media who made me sad. I avoid bingeing on the news.

READ MORE: Why you shouldn’t be afraid of dying before your time

I watch movies and shows that inspire me and read books and articles that encourage me. I’ve been deliberate about maintaining a cocoon of positive vibes and it has saved my life, literally. There will be dark times, but we can choose to see the light and keep hope alive. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. 

wake up happy
Photo: Unsplash/Tim Mossholder

These three habits that help me wake up happy show that happiness is a choice. You might not be able to control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond to it. So here’s hoping you make the decision to be as happy as you can and live a life you love everyday. Well, almost everyday. 

Bonus point: Laugh as hard as you can, as often as you can. Laughter is indeed medicine for the soul

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Are your fears real, or did you inherit them from your parents?

On a recent drive with my mum, a car jumped in front of her and made her brake sharply. I was visibly spooked. My mum, amused, looked at me and said in Yoruba “You’re so fearful.” She turned her attention back to the road and left me to ponder the irony of her statement. It was ironic because my mum is one of the most fearful people I know. In fact, many of her fears border on irrational.

fears
Photo: Ellen via Giphy

When I was younger, my mum was afraid my brothers and I would get pneumonia from using air conditioning. So whenever she was home, which was all the time, our ACs went unused. She was also afraid that the flavouring in noodles would give us cancer and that using pillows would ruin our necks. In addition, we were warned against using toothpicks because they’re addictive and banned from receiving long phone calls just because. 

READ MORE: My parents have been married for 37 years, here’s the only lesson you need to learn from them

So you can understand why it’s so rich that my mum, the original fearmonger, thinks I’m too fearful. The exchange made me think deeply about some of my fears and where they came from. I replayed conversations with my dad where he told me that South Africa is a terrible place to live. He had so many convincing stats that my teenage brain had no choice but to agree with him. So now I don’t like South Africa because my daddy says it’s no good. 

fears
Photo: RHOA via Giphy

I remember my mum freezing whenever she had to drive past a large truck. One day she actually screamed “Blood of Jesus” when a truck was passing by. Apparently, she was afraid because she was stuck between the vehicle and a deep ditch. I knew she had more than enough room on both sides, but still I became deathly afraid of trucks. Thanks mum. 

READ MORE: Now that you’re all asleep, let me tell you everything that scares me about marriage and motherhood

It’s amazing isn’t it? How we pack on our parents’ fears and biases without any investigation of our own. Mummy and daddy said this so it must be the gospel truth. As I move towards a more intentional existence, I’m determined to throw off the excess baggage I have unconsciously accepted from my parents and forebears. I sincerely hope you’ll do the same, because every journey is better when you travel light. 

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Why you shouldn’t be afraid of dying before your time

“Pray to avoid dying before your time,” I heard the pastor of a neighbourhood church tell his members one Sunday. As Nigerian preachers are wont to do, he told a scary story about a young woman who had died in a car accident. According to him, her blood soaked the white aso-ebi she was wearing and filled the streets. When he was done with the story, his fearful members began to scream at the top of their lungs begging God not to let them die young.

dying before your time
Photo: Unsplash/Samuel Martins

I haven’t been to church in months due to the pandemic and a sudden relocation. However, while I miss certain aspects of worshipping in a community, there are some things I’m glad to do away with. That prayer to avoid dying before your time is one of them. It’s a prayer rooted in fear and not faith and it makes people panic which is not what prayer is supposed to do. 

Also, how do you even know that a person died before their time? Who told you when their time would be? How do we determine a time that we never set in the first place? This all comes down to the human illusion of being in control. You’d think after 2020, we’d have realized that nobody knows anything for sure. Our best theories are nothing more than intelligent guesswork.

READ MORE: I’ve not been okay since October 20,2020

I don’t pray that prayer anymore; the one that begs God to keep me from dying before my time. Instead, I pray that he helps me make the most of my opportunities. I pray that he helps me do the best I can with the time I have left. I pray that I live a life of impact and achieve everything he meant for me to do. We’re afraid of death because we think it’s the worst thing that can happen to us. It’s not. 

dying before your time
Photo: QuoteFancy

The worst thing is for a person to come to this earth and leave without making a mark. It doesn’t really matter if they depart at 40 or 90. We all have a purpose to fulfill. Nobody is here by accident. So instead of fearing death or being scared about dying before your time, do your best to live life to the uttermost. Because the ones who truly live never really die. 

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Why can’t married men have female friends? (and vice versa)

So there’s a video that trended on social media recently where a woman basically says her husband isn’t allowed to have female friends. The video has gotten millions of views and it’s scary that so many people think this way. 

Now I understand not having female besties because things can get complicated, besides your wife should be your best friend. However, I really don’t get why married people can’t have friends of the opposite sex. 

I remember when I sent a message to a married friend of mine just to say hi. The message was not inappropriate or suggestive in any way. Yet the reply I got back was like an attack and I knew it wasn’t him I was speaking to. He responded later in his usual tone and didn’t even mention the previous message. So I knew it was his wife who attacked me.

female friends
Photo: RHOA via Giphy

I know this is a widespread belief because when I read some Christian books about marriage, they tell women to pray for their husband’s friends as if he’s only allowed to have male friends. I believe differently. With the proper boundaries in place, married men and women should be able to have platonic friendships with members of the opposite sex.

READ MORE: My parents have been married for 37 years, here’s the only lesson you need to learn from them

If I was able to have male friends before I got married and I didn’t sleep with all of them, why can’t we remain friends after marriage? I have healthy male and female friendships and I like the variety of perspectives they give me. I recently discussed ghosting with my male friends and they made me see it from a completely different light. It gave me new information to work with. 

I don’t want to be the only female friend my husband has. I want him to have amazing women in his life who can speak wisdom to him. I believe he can do that and still be faithful to me. This is my sincere opinion. So what do you think? Women, are you allowing your husband to have female friends? Men are you allowing your wife to have male friends?