How the Impostor Syndrome is Hurting your Progress

I haven’t written in so long and it feels great to be able to come back to my blog and share my thoughts with you all. I have been busy handling school, work, and life and I honestly tell you now that if hard work does not kill you, it will make you detest all the rich and successful people you know. But hey, you can’t detest those you wish to become, so here’s me raising a glass to all the successful people out there who broke their backs to get to the top. It is not easy following your footsteps but my eyes are on the goal. Dine with you soon.

Yea, I know what you are thinking. Is this a post about whining and soliloquy? Well, no. Be patient and take deep breaths. I am getting to it.

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Yesterday, a young lady approached me to discuss some problems she was facing at work. She told me about how her interpersonal relationship with her colleagues was suffering and how she just avoided getting in anyone’s way because she was worried being more visible at work would only expose her to more hatred. I listened attentively, watching her body language as she spoke and listening to how her voice dropped everytime she mentioned meeting with her boss. When she had told me all she believed I needed to know, I asked her the question that had been playing on my mind the moment she began speaking:

“Do you feel you deserve the position you currently hold at work?”

She was visibly taken aback. She had probably expected me to equip her with coping skills on how to deal with that mean guy from accounting or how to act so her boss can be nicer to her. But I asked her the question that I knew would address all of her issues. Did she feel like she deserved to be at her job, in her position, getting the benefits she was?

She proceeded to tell me how qualified she was and how she had worked hard to get where she was. But I didn’t ask her about all that. And it became evident right there that what I was thinking was true – she felt she did not deserve to be in her position at work so she dedicated her energy to either defending her right to be there or hiding away so no one would discover her secret.

Surely, she’s not a peculiar case. Many of us have had a brush or two with the impostor syndrome. It is that tiny voice in your head that tells you to introduce yourself as ‘a boring technician’ when you are actually the senior engineer. It is that whisper in your head that says you can’t call yourself a tech girl because you don’t know all the coding languages in the world. It is that mixed feeling of anxiety and confusion you get when you are invited to a prestigious meeting with your peers and you start to wonder when you arrive at the meeting if the said people are really your peers because they seem to be bounds of knowledge ahead of you.

Many people, including I, will tell you that this is a feeling you will have to deal with at some point in your life. The problem is staying stuck on it, or even worse – not knowing you are going through it. Some people swear “it is harmless.” “It’s just a feeling.” “One day, you will get over it.”

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Well, what if you don’t? If you consider it to be harmless why would you be motivated to get over it or through it? Let me motivate you by telling you what the impostor syndrome really does to you:

1.) It makes you less likely to take initiative at work: People who let the impostor syndrome take over their lives are less likely to make decisions on their own. They often second-guess themselves even after ensuring that the decision they have reached is the best possible one. This makes it difficult for them to progress at work because really, no boss wants to promote a person who requires 10,000 emails of assurance before they make a decision.

2.) It makes you unnecessarily defensive: When people feel they don’t belong in a position, company or any place at all, they tend to defend themselves even when they have not been attacked. The lady I spoke with went on to tell me about her 1001 qualifications when all I was really asking was whether she felt like she belonged in her team and her workplace. A defensive attitude, no matter which direction you swing it is hardly ever a good way to climb up the ladder at work. It makes you unpleasant to work with, makes it difficult for others to understand you and makes you come across as ‘naturally abrasive’. Yes, we are all abrasive every once in a while when things are just not looking good, but when the people you work with start to think that is your natural disposition, you have a problem.

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3.) It makes you cower: You know what it means to cower right? To grovel, crouch, kneel, crawl… basically act like you are beneath everybody including your peers. This is the opposite of being defensive and shooting down anyone before their words or actions get to you. It is the worst trait you can manifest at work. As much as people love to take advantage of doormats, no boss wants to promote one. Think about it. When was the last time you looked at your front door mat and thought to yourself:

“Wow! So many shoes have been cleaned on this mat, I think it is time to move it to the living room as the center rug” Never? That is exactly how your boss thinks of you when you are cowering.

I know the impostor syndrome can be overwhelming but it is something you must overcome. Firstly, start by believing in yourself. If you have been offered a seat at the table, it is because you deserve that seat. No, it is not affirmative action. It is not for demographics. It is because you are qualified to be there. Own your seat.

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Secondly, focus on delivering your best work rather than worrying about what others think of you. You’re new and your colleagues don’t like you? Focus on delivering your best work. You are not in the workplace to be liked. You are there to prove you are worth the contract the company signed with you. And you want to know what the funny thing is? Your colleagues probably don’t even dislike you. You just expect them to because you think you shouldn’t be there in the first place.

Lastly, be assertive. Many people with impostor syndrome find it hard to assert themselves. It is like they have this fear that any assertion on their part will lead to them being exposed and laughed at. Think about it though. If you are qualified to be where you are, what are afraid of? Why do you think anyone will expose you? What exactly will they expose? Possibly nothing.

Stop letting the impostor syndrome ruin your life and your career. Rise above. XOXO

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My Experience with Gluten-Free Spaghetti

Hello everyone! Welcome to this new section of my blog.

I have realized that motivation is not all we need to get through life yea? We need practical ideas and choices about our lifestyle. Sometimes, we need a little help with making the right food choices, visiting the perfect restaurant, doing the right kind of exercise… you know, everyday choices that help us live the motivated and fulfilling lives we desire. So, I have decided to blog about my choices, places I visit and things I eat to stay healthy, and hopefully the exercises I do (filming them still presents a challenge). I hope you find these posts helpful and I hope they push you to make good or better choices. Many of these posts are will be in the form of reviews so, let’s get started with the first one – gluten-free pasta!

Recently, I started to notice something weird about my body. My stomach was distended for hours after eating, my body felt blocked up and all I wanted to do was crawl into bed after eating like an overfed python, hoping for digestion to happen fast. But it didn’t. It was so bad that I felt slow, and my body felt like an extra weight I had to carry around with me. This happened every time I had carbohydrates – especially refined carbs. I could have a basket of fruits and vegetables and not have the same reaction. But one serving of pasta and I felt like I had to drag myself everywhere. I started to keep a food diary and voila! the common factor jumped out at me – gluten was killing me slowly!

So I decided to start trying gluten-free options. I live in South Africa where gluten-free options are more expensive than regular options and can sometimes cost five times more. Yep. You read right. Five times more. Thankfully, my gluten-free spaghetti did not cost that much. The regular option I used to buy cost R16.99 while the gluten-free option (image below) cost me R31.99 – twice as much. The option I found was made of corn and rice flour. My buddy in the USA told me she had gluten free option with corn flour only.

I got home and got to work. Sorry guys. I forgot to film the cooking but this is really what I did:

 

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If you are in South Africa, you can get this from a local Pick n Pay grocery store

  • I let some water boil in a pot, added a sprinkle of salt and a teaspoon of grapeseed oil.
  • I added about 100g of spaghetti. I didn’t break them and left to boil. First thing I noticed was that the pasta dis not cook as quickly as the regular option. After boiling for about 8 minutes, I noticed it the pasta was getting sticky. I took it off the stove and poured it in a colander. I rinsed it with cold water to get rid of what I call the ‘starchiness’. The spaghetti was still tough as though it had not been exposed to any heat!
  • I put it back in the pot and poured some water over it. I put it on the stove for another three minutes and took it off when it had softened a bit. I had to do this because I had prepared meatballs and pasta sauce and planned to complete the cooking in the sauce.
  • I drained the spaghetti in the colander and added it to the sauce I already prepared. I lowered the heat and left it to simmer for an additional two minutes. I was scared of overcooking it.

Then I served myself a pretty portion (image below) and this is what I discovered. I will do the cons first.

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I sprinkled some parmesan on it and some chopped parsley

  • the spaghetti was grainy to taste. It did not have the smoothness of normal semolina-derived pasta and that grainy-ness was annoying to me. It felt like I was eating bits of rice really.
  • It still didn’t feel like it had cooked through even though the packet said it cooks in ten minutes. From the way it felt though, one extra minute on the stove and it would have been overcooked.
  • It had an after-taste that came across as egg-ish. But hey, I don’t have a professional palette but that what it felt like.

Pros: 

  • No distended tummy after eating. I could still feel my abs – all one and a half of them.
  • My body did not feel clogged or slow. My energy level was boosted instead. I didn’t have an overwhelming urge to lie down like an overfed python.
  • A very good pasta sauce can cover up most of the after-taste. Mine was a thick sauce made with fresh tomatoes, tomato paste, red pepper and onions but I could still catch a bit of that egg in the middle of my tongue.

So there you have it. You know what to expect if you decide to go for gluten-free spaghetti. But if you’ve tried a different kind of gluten-free pasta and gotten different results, please share in the comments. XOXO

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Protect Your Joy; Protect Your Life

As 2017 drew to an end, I decided to go off the grid. It wasn’t due to exhaustion (although I admit I was almost at the end of myself by December); nor was it a stunt I believed would make me appear more mature. I took time off to communicate with God and believe it or not, with myself.

You see, as 2017 trudged along, I stopped speaking to myself and I definitely stopped listening to myself. I am a naturally optimistic person; you can even say when it comes to determining outcomes I am in my own world. As much as I prepare for possible negative outcomes, I tend to visualize the positive outcomes more. I excite myself thinking about them. I walk as though things have already worked out; I talk as though I am already in the reality of a positive outcome.

But something was different in 2017. As the months went by, I stopped visualizing the positive. I stopped seeing the positive. I stopped walking like it was going to happen. I stopped talking like it had happened.

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I spent a lot of time listening to what others had to say even though they were not speaking to me or about me. I listened so much that I started to internalize what others had gone through; I started to expect the negative outcomes they got and at some point believed that my glasses were rose-tinted and life, in reality, was a rolling ball of negativity.

Thank God for those three days I spent off the grid. Thank God for those three days I spent immersed in my bible, speaking to God and listening to my heart. They made the important difference I’ve experienced in 2018 so far.

You see, no matter how cautious we are, we are to some extent influenced by the environment, by the things we hear and by the things others are doing around us. Last year, I listened to so many negative stories about relationships that I started to let go of my dream relationship. I said to myself “Demi it’s too far-fetched, it won’t happen”. I started to expect the worst, and as a result, I did everything possible to avoid it. Of course, it did not help that old scars began to find their way to the surface with the direction of my thoughts, reinforcing the negativity I was internalizing without being aware of it. I thought of the dream life I wanted to live and started to let my reality get in the way of that dream. I listened often to the people who told me about how their dream lives did not work out – not in celebration of something better, but in resignation to life as it had played out.

But those three days changed the direction of my thoughts and made me ‘rogue’ in how unshakeably I now believe in the validity of my dreams and aspirations. I started the year off happier, better and stronger than I ever was all through 2017. And I just want to say these to you:

 

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Source: She knows

 

  • Your dreams are valid. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Even if the people around you have never had what you dream of, don’t assume it is a natural rule that you can’t have it. The validity of your dreams is not dependent on the approval of those around you. Please don’t ever forget this.

 

  • You can sympathize with others without internalizing the negativity they have experienced. In other words, just because it happened to someone else or many other people, does not mean it will happen to you. This is where many of us struggle. We struggle to separate our lives from the lives of others. For some reason, we feel solidarity with those who are experiencing negative outcomes, and there is nothing wrong with this. However, we must remember that our solidarity is based on support and not necessarily on us sharing the same negative niche. For example, if your best friend’s husband cheats or if your buddy’s wife is abusive, by all means, be a supportive friend but don’t go home with the assumption that your own partner will be the same. Don’t subscribe to a club based on perception. Your reality might be different. Focus on your reality

  • Be OK with pulling out when you feel your heart is reaching a tipping point. Yes, there is an emotional tipping point where you go from being a supportive friend, neighbour or colleague to being overwhelmed with so much emotion, it is as though you are right in the situation when truly you are not. Be OK with excusing yourself. Be OK with saying “Can we please discuss a happier topic that will make us both feel better?” Be OK with giving a good tight hug and then leaving if you don’t want to listen anymore. It does not make you a bad person. You’re no use to the person you are trying to support if you are overcome with negative emotions. So why not pull out for a bit, get yourself together and step back in when you really have your heart protected and can speak to them from a position that offers strength and support, rather than one that dwells in the pigsty of negativity?

 

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Source: Dreamstime.com

Finally, please remember that negative outcomes make the news more than positive outcomes ever will. Negative stories get more shares on Facebook. Negative topics make the trends on Twitter. Look out for what’s not making the news – working marriages and relationships, successful fulfilled people walking in purpose in their own way, fulfilled dreams and aspirations, peaceful towns and cities with little or no crime… these trends don’t make the news but it does not mean they are not out there. Look for the positive and protect your joy. Believe in the validity of your dreams and stand firm. The negative outcomes of others do not, cannot and will not dictate your own. XOXO

 

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Starting the Year Off Right

Am I the only one who regards January as a trial month before I get right into the swing of things? Just me? OK then 🙂

It feels great to be back to two things I love – blogging and vlogging. I hope to blog as much as I vlog this year and I hope you will join me on this awesome journey. 

So at the end of last year, I took some time to plan for my vlog. Yes, in case you are unaware, I have a YouTube channel (Just search Demilade Faye on YouTube) where I share motivational advice to get you going. My plan for this year is to create themes for each month and speak on topics under that theme for the whole month. Yes, I am not playing around anymore. I really want these two things I love to have a positive impact. 

For the month of February, I have selected the theme: Creating the Life You Desire… because really, who wants to keep living a lie, pretending to enjoy life when their heart yearns for something else?

The first video is up! The topic is: Start with yourself.

It is like doing an assessment, but a really fun one because this time it’s about you. You are the jury and the judge and if you don’t like the results you find, the topic for next week might just help you make a change.

Please check it out below and share with friends. Invite them to join us on the exciting journey.  XOXO

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On the Issue of Users and the Power of Time

You probably think this post is about how time heals all wounds even though it doesn’t erase any scars. Sorry to disappoint you, but it is not.

In recent relations with people, I have discovered that time is a gift. A gift many of us are unaware of. A gift that can literally save us from all the heartache we complain about on social media. Time is a precious gift, not just because we can’t get it back once it is wasted, but because it is a teacher.

Have you learned to give people, things, dreams, ideas, visions time? That is one thing I learned this year. Especially when it comes to people.

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“Time reveals all things”.

This is no ordinary cliche. It is a life motto. It is a lifesaver. It is an open secret. Time reveals who people are. Time reveals the truth in relationships. Time reveals the cracks people hide underneath well-crafted masks designed to deceive and emotionally bankrupt.

It is so easy to be swept off by the initial aura of a person. It is easy to believe people are who they say they are, especially when they have the whole good person act together. It is easy to fall for the non-existent good in people who have perfected the art of ‘appearing to be’ as opposed to ‘actually being’.

Just because people are Christian or appear to be religious, it does not mean they are not users. Let us get this straight and not get carried away with the misconceptions of their appearance or even their words. There are many bible-quoting, demon-chasing, tongue-speaking people who are out to use others to their advantage without caring about the emotional or psychological bankruptcy they will leave behind. These people put on the garment of humility in order to connect with your good nature, because they know that nothing in you will relate with arrogance. But wait. Take a deep breath. Listen closely and watch carefully. Observe earnestly the faux humility that’s laced with entitlement and ask yourself if humility can truly co-exist with an entitled nature. If you are struggling with the answer to that one, it’s NO. The two cannot co-exist.

But being the good-natured person that you are, you avoid jumping to conclusions the first time of entitlement rears its head. You ascribe it to a difficult phase in their life, a need you’ve been chosen to fulfill, and you even hope that your good nature will change them, because you know exemplary conduct has the power to change a person.

Can I just put a pin in your bubble? Oops! Not waiting for a response to that one. Here goes:

 

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You cannot change a user. Your good nature can’t. Your sacrifices can’t. Your words of encouragement can’t. If anything at all, users view you as a more viable candidate for their selfish ends the more you try to change them. They will spur you on with encouraging words regarding your self-sacrifice. If they are callous enough, they will go the emotional route, and confess non-existent feelings for you – confessions that negate their actions or even perceptions of you. They will ‘lovingly’ discourage you from pursuing any goal that antagonizes what they can get out of you because they are focused on the end goal – to use your good nature, skills and influence to their advantage, after which they will suddenly come up with a list of your faults and explain why they have oh so patient with your excesses. 

How do you prevent yourself from falling into this? Give people time. Don’t jump into emotional confessions just because they put pressure on you. Oh yes! they will do this in order to cement the foundation of their faux humility and entitlement and to implement the modus operandi of your emotional and psychological bankruptcy. Don’t be quick to jump onboard their bandwagon, cheering them on in dreams where you are the support ATM where no deposits are made. Don’t think it’s awkward not to say “I love you” back when they have said it a million times. Don’t feel the need to tell them you miss them because it seems unbalanced that they seem to miss you more. Give them time.

Time to reveal their true nature and their perceptions of you. Time to show that they are truly who they are they are, or not. Give them time to reveal their real intentions, because with the power of time, users get frustrated and everything bubbles up to the surface. Give them time, not to prove you wrong (because you are not to form negative perceptions prior to engaging with them), but to show you in actions the kind of relationship they are hoping to build with you. Yes, it may seem like you are overly cautious; but rather be that than have another piece of yourself stolen away by an emotionally-unavailable user whose feelings for you were based solely on what they can get from you. You might even feel like you’re losing out on some people with your cautiousness, but guess what? genuine people always stand the test of time.

Use time to your advantage. Let it teach you. let it show you. Let it reveal all things. Time is power. Start using it right.

PS: This post does not mean you should not be kind to people. By all means, be kind. But don’t be roped into an emotional investment with a person whose end goal is to use you.

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For All the Strong People Who Are Feeling Faint…

This post is for all the strong people out there and for those who surround them. I hope this touches your heart.

You see, being a strong person is great. It means you are a survivor, a victor, an overcomer. Many strong people are alone but they are hardly ever lonely because they are either planning the next big thing or fighting a new goliath to reach the next level. Many strong people tend to do life alone and no one seems to understand why that is.

The problem is people who surround strong people expect nothing less than strength from them. They expect strong people to be ‘on’ all the time, abuzz with bible verses and inspirational quotes. They expect strong people to always have something to pour out while they eagerly receive. They don’t ever expect strong people to faint or even feel faint.

But here is a fact: Strong people faint many times.

Strong people feel situations like you do. They might know all the bible verses, but when it seems like the doors of life are closing in, strong people break down and cry too. It is at times like this that they need words of encouragement, love, hugs, a treat, no pity parties but an outlet to let out the pain they feel and an encouraging verse to strengthen their hearts after they have emptied their hearts of hovering depression.

But what do people around them do instead?

They judge. They mock. They castigate them for daring to faint.

“Shouldn’t you be the strong one here?” “If you are weak, how can we be strong?” “I don’t believe you are saying things like this. You should know better!” “Wow…. and you say you believe in God?”

It is no surprise that strong people learn to shut up. They struggle with vulnerability. Even in relationships, they struggle to say “I don’t really have this on lockdown because I don’t feel equipped to handle it.” They are scared to say “I feel like God is not coming through for me. Everything is such a mess.”

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They struggle to bare their emotions with anyone, including their partners. From my observation, I have noticed that the partners of many strong people tend to leave them to handle life alone. Any attempt at expressing vulnerability is met with a barrage of inspirational quotes and Bible verses that mean nothing to a heart that just wants to empty itself of the pain of struggle. How can these quotes and verses find room in a heart that is already filled with despondency and doubt? Oh yes! Strong people get despondent too. They doubt their journey too. They wonder about their process too. They cry. They faint. And people let them do it all alone. People make them feel guilty for feeling faint, and question if they truly serve God.

Dear strong person, the fact that you feel faint after holding on for so long is nothing to feel guilty for. David, a man after God’s heart, felt faint many times (read the psalms and take note of this). I imagine that Joseph through his travails lost hope many times. People may desire you to be a robot so they don’t have to invest any human emotions in your wellbeing, but you are not a robot. You are human. Sometimes the weight will be too heavy. Sometimes your heart will break over the smallest things. It is not because you are weak or because you lack faith, but because you are human and humans get tired. Sometimes you will seek encouragement or an outlet and be met with judgment and concealed mockery. Whatever it is, do not stop being human.

Did you expect me to say “do not stop being strong”? How can I say that when I know exactly how dark some days can be? I know how quickly courage can become cowardice, how quickly faith can turn to fear, how frustration can creep in on you and make you question your life.

I get it. Perhaps many people don’t. But I get it. Being strong can be a lonely journey. But let’s learn a lesson from David. Everytime his spirit felt faint, his go-to person was God. He cried to God, talked to God, expressed himself to God. God is the best listener. His ears are always open and his eyes never close in sleep. Yes, we all wish for people to understand those dark days without mockery or judgment, but many of them won’t. Those who do will stand by and get you back on your feet. They will give you a pep talk that will lighten your heart, or they will buy you three flavours of ice cream in one cone just to show that everything can work together for your good. If you are surrounded by these people who get the gist of your concealed fragility and your human-ness, keep them close. They are needed for your journey. If you are surrounded by those who castigate your fainting spells because ‘they’ve been through worse’ or ‘you are acting non-christian’ by fainting’, love them but never faint in their presence.

Take it to God. It is him afterall who gives you strength. XOXO

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Understand the Seasons of Your Life

Hey you! What season of life are you in? Are you doing what is required of the season! Check out this five-minute video from my YouTube channel regarding two important seasons of life we must understand.

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Nicki Minaj On A Gospel Track?

This has been a debate for weeks! Check out my take on it

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What River Rafting Taught Me About Relationships

If you follow me on Instagram, you already know I spent last weekend at the Girl Ignite Africa Summit where I was a mentor with seven other amazing individuals. We all got along from the moment we met and spent so much time laughing together, you would have sworn we’ve known each other for years. This connection and positive energy gave us so much optimism, we decided at some point during the weekend to go river rafting.

Now if you know me personally, you already know that I have an irrational fear of being inside water, especially if my feet can’t touch the ground. You might also know that when I am unsure of something I am about to do, I get all the information I can about it, just to make sure I don’t fail. Yes, I took that whole “Be prepared” mantra from my High School Girls Scouts pretty seriously.

So, before I agreed to go river rafting, I already had all the information I needed. I’d never paddled in a bathtub, not to mention a boat, but I was ready to put everything I learned through observation to practice. Afterall, I learned many other things through observation – driving, cooking, playing volleyball…somewhere in my head, the rules of lawn tennis lay dormant and will be awoken very soon. I digress.

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Four of us got into the raft – four ladies who were super-excited and who got along well the entire weekend. The guys by the shore told us “Get in, it’s easy” and so we got in. The raft was pushed into the water, and the task to move in a desired direction fell on our shoulders. We were alone and we had to paddle. And that was when we realized this was no easy task. Some of us believed we had to paddle backwards to move forward while others thought the opposite. Some of us paddled stronger than others, making the raft turn around in circles over and over again (I blame the river current partly for that one). And I believe some of us were so obsessed with making sure everything ran smoothly, that we could not help but speak loudly and tell everyone what to do.

But that was not the only problem we faced. As we waddled on the river, speaking at the top of our voices, trying to figure things out, those on the shore of the river kept yelling out instructions. “Paddle backwards!” “Count to three and paddle together!” “Move the raft forward!” “Turn around”…. The instructions we did not get before we left the shore were now being released in dozens of screams. Mixed with the cacophony of our own voices, we were soon stuck and frustrated, sitting on a raft in the middle of a river, rather unhappy with the fact that we could not hear each other or figure out how to move in the direction we desired.

And in the midst of all that, I had an epiphany that made me laugh.

 Isn’t this how relationships work?

In the beginning, it is so great to connect with a person who just gets you, makes you laugh and thinks you are the brightest, most amazing person ever. And the observers of this chemistry will very often encourage both of you to get into the boat. “He is such a sweet young man, I have no doubt he will treat you with dignity, respect, and love.” “She is such a loving young girl. I have no doubt she will make you happy”. And excitedly, we get into the boat, believing that chemistry is all that is required to row the boat forward. That’s until we get the shock of our lives when we realize there’s that little factor called communication.

downloadI guess you’re thinking “Oh please communication is easy”. Well, I used to think so too until I found myself sitting in that raft, trying to just paddle back to shore so I could get out and mourn our failure. And then it dawned on me… Communication is easy when you are not in a difficult, sticky, or in our case, a wet, lost situation. You cannot claim to be an excellent communicator if you have only been in rosy situations where you did not have to make an effort to communicate. You cannot claim to be an excellent communicator if you pay more attention to those screaming instructions from the shore than you do to the person you are in the boat with.

This is perhaps the real reason many relationships crash when they face difficulty. Sometimes, in the rocky phases of our relationships, we pay a lot of attention to what others have to say based on their own personal experiences. We trust the perceptions others have of our partners more than we trust our own perceptions. We trust the biased opinions others have of our situation rather than listen to the person we are in the boat with. We spend more time communicating with the outside world than we spend relating with the person in the ship. This applies not just to romantic relationships but also to our relationship with God but this is a post for another day). We tend to speak more to others about our situation and our partners than we speak to our partners. And maybe sometimes, we speak to our partners, but we do this so loudly, that we deafen them with our ‘megaphonorious’ (this is not a word) opinions.

Sometimes, our over-zealous optimism tends to ruin our relationships more than build them. Many of us go into relationships with pre-conceived notions of how they should work. We believe relationships have a universal framework they are based on, and we go in with the notion that the person we are with knows how the framework is structured. We don’t realize that while we may have a framework in mind, we must never forget that the person we are with is not a robot who responds to the buttons we push. That person is human with a different perception of relationships. And unless we let them be themselves, we will never move the ship of relation forward. Like we were going around in circles on that river, relationships where expectations are based on pre-conceived notions rather than an in-depth understanding of individual qualities, expectations, and perceptions, often end up going around in circles till one person gets tired of the ‘not-so-merry-go-round’ and decides to leave the boat.

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But leaving is not the answer to communication and perception problems. I know we live in an age where people cut other people off the moment those people piss them off because they are on some “I don’t allow negativity in my space”. Honeypie, a person who disagrees with you without subjugating you or belittling your dreams is not negative. You are just bad at communicating. Rather than leave, learn the skill of effective communication.

That was another epiphany that hit me as I fought the desire to just get back to shore and leave the boat. I had no right to leave. The fact that my over-zealous optimism was not working, was not enough reason to quit. I had to take deep breaths and listen to what the others in the boat thought. I had to communicate what I knew in a different manner. I had to take what I could from the shore and ignore what was not necessary. Most importantly, I had to realize that it was not about me. It was about me AND the people in the boat with me. It was about their expectations, understanding their intentions and realizing that they had the same goal I did – rowing the boat forward.

We cannot row relationships on our own, no matter how efficient we are. We cannot let our over-zealous optimism and over-efficiency make others seem inadequate. We cannot let a little frustration push us into giving up. Sometimes, all we really need to do in those rocky times is to breathe, shut up, listen to what the other person has to say, and ensure that when we do share what we know, we share it in a manner that is helpful, constructive and encouraging.

With this in mind, we finally rowed the boat forward and it was great to have that victory and learn that lesson. Below is a picture of us as we arrived back at shore, happy, ‘unfrustrated’ (this again is not a word) and educated in what I now believe is a communication masterclass masked as a fun activity.

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 Have you done any activity that taught you lessons in communication? Please share.

XOXO

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Perhaps This Is Why Some Marriages Break Down

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Source: The Daily Beast

Maybe….just maybe… marriages break down for one simple reason no one is paying attention to.

 

I had an interesting epiphany as I conversed with a friend last night. It was not a Eureka! moment, nor did the word Voila! come to heart. It was a theory that formed as the conversation progressed, highlighting what I believe may be the reason marriages go from “I can’t get enough of you” to “It feels like we just live together”.

In this age of information, there are so many ideologies and notions about marriage that are passed on to people via all information platforms, especially social media. If you are an African woman, the list might be along the lines of:

  • Submit to your husband at all times
  • Learn the art of silence
  • Know his favourite meal and cook it all the time
  • Learn the best sex moves you can and impress him every time
  • Wash his clothes – it’s a sign of love (Just in case you have been looking for the recipe to keep a traditional man happy, this is it).

The list for men is pretty short

  • Provide (Yep that about sums it up. You want to be a man now, don’t you?)

But there are no guarantees that all of these things will be sufficient to keep your marriage afloat. As a matter of fact, many of these marriages which are built on efficiency still somehow find a way to fall apart. And of course, many of us these days are so disappointed in the institution, we are beginning to view it as a burden. But what if we start to do some things differently?

You see, in my many years of relating with people and being a ‘life coach’ for romantic relationships (I should get that business card printed now), I have learned one very important lesson.

It is not your efficiency in the fulfilment of your ‘expected obligations’ that keeps your partner happy, interested or committed.

If it was that, then so many marriages will be happy considering the Voltron mode many women assume once the ring touches the finger. It is not about how much you get done or how well you get everything done. It is not about how early you rise in the morning to ‘do something around the house’ or how dinner is ready at 6pm everyday. It is not about how you sort out the bills or get the children ready with little or no help. It is not about how skilled you are at ironing your husband’s shirts or how well you have mastered the art of handwashing his pocket squares.

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These are all activities that keep you busy and for some, come with the territory of marriage. But maybe, just maybe these activities keep you so busy you ignore the most important thing you should be doing.

You stop learning about your partner.

We all hear of the couples who drift apart and settle for divorce in the end. We see those who live like flatmates even though they try to present rosy romance on Instagram. We know them, we’ve heard their stories. Yet, for some reason my brain cannot grasp, we repeat their patterns, assuming erroneously that Sally at the office was the reason hubby left or Ben the gardener was the reason Mrs Simpson no longer found pleasure in her husband.

I’ll tell you my theory: Maybe Sally at the office was paying hubby so much attention and learning his new interests that he felt like his dreams were valid again. Perhaps, Ben the gardener noticed the new hairdo every week and the change of nail colour that made Mrs. Simpson feel visible again.

Perhaps, people are too busy trying to efficiently run their marriages like an operations managers runs a fleet of deliveries, that they forget to communicate with the person who makes the marriage.. (I mean, you can’t exactly be in a marriage with yourself now, can you?).

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Perhaps people are too tired from the 101% level efficiency they have to be on, that they forget to sit and crack jokes with their partners, listen to new music, try out food, and learn a new dance together. Perhaps people just get so involved with the symbol of the marriage, they forget the substance of it – a relationship – a ship where two people should relate. Sure, the ambiance in the ship is not always endearing but perhaps, there will be more days of love than days of heated words. But even heated words show some form of relationship, and they definitely beat days of silence- not silence from anger or pain, but silence because the fire has fizzled out and no one is willing to light another match.

I put it to you that this efficiency mode of running your marriage is not even for the survival of your marriage. Deep down, it’s for your ego. You view marriage as a cotton field and you want to be the best cotton picker who always exceeds the quota for the day. You want to say you earned it, and pride yourself as you tell people it’s hard work to be married and oh well, you just know how to keep it together. You focus so much on doing the work that you forget to relate with your partner.

So the point? You are more likely to keep your marriage alive if you don’t get up in the efficiency of maintaining the symbol more than you get caught up in discovering more about your partner and relating endearingly.

Advice: Know you can’t do everything. What technology can do, let it. What money can sort out, let it. What a third party can do, let them. Get excited about spending quality time with your partner and discovering more about them. Take every chance you get to peel another layer of partner and marvel at the pleasant surprise (well, not all the time) you will find. XOXO

 

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