Oh man, you know how you just meet some people and everything just clicks? Oluchi was/ is like that. She’s my pen-pal (we write really long emails to each other), my sister and she has the most amazing hairrr. Like #hairgoals. For real though, she’s one of those people who have a serenity around them that does not shake. And you’ll see as you read this! As usual quotes from me in italics.
1. What does your name mean to you?
I go by my middle name which means “God’s work” (holla!) but my first name (which I wish I could switch back to) means “God does everything for me”. Both names are a reminder to always stay unbothered about anything and retain my peace.
2. What’s your favourite childhood memory(ies)?
I used to look forward to my mother coming back from work every night. I would run to her and hug her for what seemed like eternity, tirelessly wait for her to undress and sit at the dining table with us, a burning lantern in between me and my brother. She told the most beautiful folklore stories, made the best comical faces and was theatrical in her gesticulations. It’s fascinating to know all the things that I learned (never to talk to strangers; to cherish friends but still be wary of some; that although family is important, blood does not always wish you well; that the willingness to forgive is the greatest attribute any human can possess) were from the stories she told me.
I learned how to play “two little blackbirds, Peter and Paul” with my fingers, from my mother. I remember coming home really upset after school and waiting for her to arrive so I could unfold all my frustrations on her. I wanted to understand the magic in making the papered fingers disappear and come back in seconds. Like a pro, she uncovered the secret. I went back to school the next day feeling like a champ.
3. What is the unique thing about growing up female and Nigerian?
For me, being told that I had very limited roles to play in society and only had to focus on said roles to excel as a woman. None of these roles included anything remotely empowering. I was told that I belonged in the kitchen; I had to clean up after my older cousins and my elders; I had to be subservient and opinion-less to be desirable and loved; I had to aim for ultimate goal of life: marriage.
4. How have you tackled any of these unique challenges?
By trying to educate as many people as I can when presented with the opportunity. I’m usually very personal when I try to tackle them i.e. I rarely ever speak for “all women”, I teach them how to treat me. I will not hear that a woman has no pride until she is married, because my pride is in my faith, my sanity, my well being (and even possibly my bank account to be quite honest). I tell them that “a woman without a husband has no complete life” might apply to someone from their past or present (perhaps, these things you never know) but does not apply to me; my life was already complete before the earth was created (yes, I went there.). My life had already been beautifully orchestrated by the one who completes me (please see the meaning of my name for further reference and clearance) and no, he is not my husband. I tell them that we have all been given two hands and one brain, so no, I don’t want to slow down because it makes me look too career focused and not family focused. If someone else is doing it (man or woman), I’m going to do it too.
Yes! Feminism is about respecting choices and understanding that your choices are different from others’ but not more or less valid.
5. What do you do professionally at the moment and why do you do it?
I’m an X-ray Technologist. I’ve always wanted to be in healthcare but needed to find just the right profession to fit my personality (anxiety-stricken being the main dilemma). I crossed out being a doctor because it just seemed like a waste of my time for something I wasn’t fully passionate about, and nursing because of the close knit /emotional relationships one would have to build with the patients. I wanted to build relationships, but easy brief ones. X-ray seemed like the right fit.
6. What was your trajectory? How did you get to this point?
I honestly had medical school in mind from the start, but as time went on and my family experienced a financial crisis, I started to rethink all my options. This just fit right in my books and seemed like a good starting point to help me get to where I really want to be in the future.
7. What are you passionate about? (cringe)
Lol. This is such a difficult question because a plethora of things came to mind and I don’t know where to begin, or want to dive into all of it.
I am most passionate about reading, writing, and travelling. If I could drop my day job and just travel for the rest of my life, I 100% definitely would. I am a people lover to a fault (I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a “friendly” person, but sometimes I am drawn to random people, and I just all of a sudden feel the need to take care of them. It’s the strangest feeling, but it does happen often.)
I have firsthand experience of this.
8. What are three lessons you’ve learned in the past year?
– No one’s really got your back except God. (It is almost silly to expect anything out of the ordinary from anyone but God, therefore it is okay to be more forgiving of the flaws in yourself, as well as the flaws in others.)
– Love has many names and faces. It might not be exactly as you pictured it, but with an open heart and mind, you will begin to understand that this “Love” that sometimes seems scarce, is actually everywhere.
– Loyalty and Trust are terribly fragile.
9. Are you happy at the moment? What can you do to be happier?
I’m happy. Could be happier on an island somewhere with a piña colada but hey, such is my life for now I guess.
10. Who inspires you? Why?
My Mother. Her strength, her courage, her fighter spirit, her generous heart, and her heartwarming hugs are everything. I don’t want to go on about her, I might turn this into an essay lol, but If I could have half her resilience… yeah.
My friend Muna, who is just the most gracious human being known to mankind. I have seen this girl in the most crippling situations and marvelled at how gracefully she had handled them. She’s very driven, keeps me on my toes, makes sure I’m not settling for less than anything but the best. Her faith is amazing, and she’s always with the brightest smile on her face no matter what. I like to think of her as the queen of all angels.
Beyonce because she’s Beyonce? One hell of a woman? Modern day badass? Yes, definitely Beyonce.
Chinedu, my brother. Yes!! Chinedu’s humility and kindness is humbling, and disgusting, but mostly humbling. 🙂
11. What are you reading at the moment?
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
12. What would you say to the teenage you?
Ease into this thing called life and stop trying to jump the steps – where are you rushing to? Who taught you to be in such a hurry all the damn time?
Stop worrying about your frame, your body, your big ass head. Stop trying to fit in with the cool gang. Some of these people you adored and worshiped will one day become every thing that you do not want to be. They will want to fit in with the likes of you and you will be the only one worthy of adoration. (Okay this is me reaching, you’re not like.. a “queen” or anything in the future but you’re pretty darn close – plus the anointing upon your head is quite glorious.)
Is it because of ordinary breasts that you’re crying? Aunty, can you face your books? You’re one day going to mold into a body you can come to appreciate and love. Don’t get me wrong, your breasts aren’t like “huge” (they’re actually still small, sorry no vex) and you’re still slim (no vex), but your body is sooo on point. Everything you wear will sorta kinda automatically look good on you, and people will stop you on the streets and say things like “omg you’re stunning!”, or “are you a model?” – listen, you must smile graciously and remain modest but never forget to lightly flip your hair off your shoulders if it’s a cute guy.
You’re going to love you so much that people will mistake your confidence for vanity, but do we care?… (btw the answer to that is No, because I know how you can be…please don’t try it. The answer is NO oh. Oluchi we don’t care anymore oh…hear hear!)
13. What would you like your future self to remember/ keep about this season of your life?
As cliché as this may sound, you are enough. On occasion, you can be your own shaman, your friend, your voice of reason, your competition, your challenge, your biggest supporter, your most trusted critic, your greatest companion. At some point you will require some help or an opinion, and it’s okay to ask, but remember that you do not need validation from anybody.