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At some moment in our lives, something is going to go wrong, something is going to happen not the way you expected or wanted it to go, people will walk out on you, you’ll lose things and people and relationships. It’s life and these things are inevitable. But what makes life beautiful is that you get over them, you bounce back after a while.

But what if you don’t? Or can’t ?

We hear about that scary word “Depression” a lot but most people don’t actually know what it means.

Depression is a mental illness characterized by prolonged feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and sometimes self-harm. If you ask anyone who’s ever been diagnosed with depression, chances are you’ll hear a lot of different descriptions of what depression is and feels like.

Having been diagnosed with mild depression in 2017, I could give a personal description of depression as “Feeling like you’re in a deep dark hole, there’s a ladder in front of you that can help you get out, it’s right beside you, but you can’t reach it. It’s just there, you want to reach it but you just can’t muster up the energy to reach it and propel yourself out of the hole” Seems dark right?

Depression is more common in Nigeria than we think or even know. There are more than a million known diagnoses every year and think about people who haven’t even opened up about it. It’s a wonder why mental health and mental illnesses are still so stigmatized in Nigeria. Maybe because of our religious prejudices, or the fact that we lay more emphasis on physical health while ignoring mental health.

What causes depression?

I wish mental illnesses were as straight forward as physical illnesses. When you have malaria, you get tested and you know that you got it from a mosquito, or when you have diarrhea, you know it’s from eating or drinking something. For mental illnesses, it’s not that easy or straightforward. It’s much more complex, there can be a lot of unrelated things piling up to be a cause of any type of mental illness and what causes depression for might not necessarily be what causes it for B and C and D.

A commonly ignored and even unknown cause of depression, as well as many other mental illnesses, is Chemical Imbalances in the brain. When I first got diagnosed with depression and I got my drug prescription, I was confused, depression affected my mind and my thoughts, what do I need the pills for?

My therapist broke it down by explaining to me that all human beings have neurotransmitters in their bodies. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood. Now if for any reason it starts to be produced in smaller amounts, it results in Depression. If it starts to be produced in larger amounts, it can lead to Anxiety. So what the pills do is regulate the secretion of Serotonin with the hopes of getting the chemicals balanced again. So yes, people don’t just get sad and decide to not pull themselves out of it, there are actually chemical imbalances in their brains that stop them from being able to. It’s just as real and treatable as physical sickness, if you can’t dismiss a headache, you should never dismiss anything affecting mental health.

Probably one of the most common causes of depression and many mental illnesses is Certain Life Events. Due to life is so unpredictable and unfair, anything can throw anyone off balance at any time. Death, failing an exam, losing a job, a breakup, parents going through a divorce, bullying… I could go on about all the things that could happen to you in life. I was severely bullied growing up because I was bigger than most, the fatphobic comments came early on and I grew up hearing it up until I graduated secondary school and that had a huge negative impact on my self-esteem and self-image.

Though that’s just me, other people may get bullied and not end up depressed or anxious about it later in life, it doesn’t mean one person is stronger than the other because it didn’t affect them as much. It means we are human and we are different and we may not react to things the same way. For some people it could have been bullying, for some the loss of a parent or a friend, for some a relationship ending could make them spiral and land in that deep dark hole that is depression.

I know a lot of people are thinking “it’s just a relationship, why would you let it make you depressed?” Do most people forget the emotional attachment that comes with relationships, and I don’t even mean romantic relationships alone, friendships are relationships too. Having an emotional attachment be broken out of the blue can be as devastating as anything you can imagine, and that should not invalidate the feelings and struggles of another person.

Read Now: Love in the social media era

What does depression looks like?

I’d be lying if I told you Depression has a trademark look because it does not. Depression isn’t stamped on the forehead and because of how complex it is, some people can live years and years hiding the fact that they are struggling internally without you even having an idea. There are signs you can watch out for though, just some people do not show those signs and that does not mean they aren’t going through it.

Usually, depression symptoms can be persistent sadness, loss of appetite, lack on interest in what the person is usually interested in, weight gain or weightloss, reclusiveness, flaking out on people, signs of self harm or talks of suicide and lots more.

But some people don’t show these symptoms and that’s why mental health is very important because you may never know what is happening in someone’s head before it’s too late.

Read Now: What does happiness mean to you?

Why don’t depressed people open up about it?

This is probably the most frustrating part. Why don’t they tell you about it? Why do they take so long before they open up? For some it’s already too late and their family and friends end up feeling bad that they weren’t aware of the struggle.

It took me ten years, yes, TEN whole years before I could open up about my mental health and actually seek help for it. Not because I liked feeling like slitting my wrists or I liked crying myself to sleep every night, I had a few reasons. I think I speak for everyone who’s ever gone through this when I say, it is not easy to talk about.

Finding the courage and the right words to open up was probably the hardest part of seeking help for me (even worse than group therapy and the mood swings I got from Prozac). Depression is so complex, sometimes you can’t even string up the right words to use when trying to explain what’s going. It just doesn’t come that easy because sometimes even you don’t know what’s going on in your head. You just feel that overwhelming slam of sadness and despair and you can’t exactly point out what’s wrong or why or what exactly triggered it. So people, speaking about mental illnesses is HARD.

Another fat reason why people don’t really speak up is How stigmatized mental health is. In more open-minded societies, it is still not easy for people to open up, now think of how hard it is in the Nigerian society where people will easily chalk up your struggle to non-existent “village people” or invalidate you using the crappiest statements ever.

In Nigeria, mental health and talking about it is so stigmatized, there’s that fear that people won’t understand you or they won’t take you seriously enough. I remember telling someone just a little bit about my depression and all they said was “Stop behaving like those white girls” and really that’s probably one of the worst things you can say to anyone who has come to open up to you. Mental health and mental illnesses are so trivialized in Nigeria, yet we express shock every time we hear someone has jumped off a bridge or downed a pack of pills, then we exclaim “He should have spoken up”.

Nigerians see therapy as such a huge deal, it’s almost like you’re crazy to have to go into therapy for your own health, some even tell you to just pray like an angel would come to you in the middle of the night and give your head a shake so your serotonin levels gets balanced again.

People also don’t open up because they are scared. It’s like being on a wall, you don’t know what’s on the other side, you can only hope that it’s something good and helpful. That’s how it’s like talking about your mental health, it’s either the people you tell understand you and they offer help or they don’t. And there’s that fear that keeps them from speaking up. People are scared of being ridiculed or undermined or just told to “Get over it” or the typical Nigerian; they tell you how they have it worse or how other people have it worse and make you feel entitled to having feelings.

How do I make people open up to me?

The most important thing you have to do is make yourself open to people. Open meaning that they know you will listen and understand. When you create a friendly and understanding atmosphere for people to feel like they can share their problems with you, they will. Creating an environment that makes people comfortable is very important.

You also have to let them know you are trustworthy and you won’t judge. There’s nothing more hurtful and regrettable than being judged for speaking about something as delicate as mental health. So two things, create a warm and friendly environment and let everyone around you know you don’t judge, and everything they tell you is safe with you.

No one likes a blabbermouth Also an occasional “Hello” “How are you today?”, a smile and a hug goes a long way even if it seems cliche. Back when I was still in that dark hole of depression, a smile would have gone a long way. It made me feel cared for in a way. Even if they don’t tell you what’s going on at that moment, a smile or a hug will make them feel like you’re open to listening whenever it is they want to talk.

Life is so short and everything we do has an impact, no matter how little or how big. We have to be there for each other, be kind and caring because you never know what’s going through in a person’s mind and head, so be kind with your words and actions.

For anyone going through anything at all, open up. Speak up, it’s hard but it gets easier after that. In the end, you will be happy you opened up in the first place.

Understanding genes and homosexuality: is being gay a choice?

To understand whether homosexuality is genetics, we must first understand what genes are? Genes are simply a segment of DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid). They are so powerful that they control who we are: our height, the color of our skin, and probably behaviors like who we fall in love with. Identical twins are very good indicators of how powerful genes are. Not only do they look alike, but they have very similar mannerisms, preferences, and habits. This uncanny similarity is not just limited to twins but can be observed among siblings and even parents who share the same characteristic behaviors with their children. So basically we are doing the bidding of our genes and to betray that “bidding” will be betraying our very own nature.

To understand how genes work we first have to understand what they are. Basically, we are just a bunch of cells carefully arranged with cells combining to form corresponding tissues and organs. Almost every cell in our body has 23 pairs of chromosomes in the nucleus. These 23 pairs of chromosomes are made up of materials called histones wrapped around strands of DNA. A short section of that DNA is a “gene”.

These genes contain instructions of basically everything from how and when our cells are formed, to our height, the color of our eyes, to the creation of hormones that are responsible for emotions we feel. It is also good to note that we inherit our genes from our parents. Sperm cells(male gamete) and egg cells(female gamete) undergo meiosis with each gamete containing half the usual number of chromosomes and both gametes later combining to form 23 pairs chromosomes which carry the instructions to “build us” through a process called mitosis. Some times in the process of “copying our genes” mistakes happen. These “mistakes” are called mutation and may produce sickle cells or the 46 chromosomes becoming 47 a condition called trisomy. The point here is to show how powerful genes are and how the process of copying genetics can lead to mutation which has known to be a major recipe for big evolutionary changes.

Remarkably these genes only consist of a small percentage of 3 billion base pairs of DNA. The implication is that a very big chunk of DNA is doing something else other than coding instructions. Why is so much of our genome not being used to code for protein? Projects like the Human Genome Project have begun to unravel the complexity and size of the human genome and hopefully in the future answers to such questions will be known.

Read Now: LGBTQ+ community in Nigeria

How genes play their part in determining sexuality?

Scientists are still on the verge of properly figuring out which particular genes affect certain expressions, but it is very clear that genes are responsible for our nature. It shouldn’t then be a surprise that genes are responsible for our preference, and even our love choices. Animals have been seen engaging in same sex acts with same sex couples even stealing eggs and looking after them as observed in penguins. It has been estimated that a quarter of black swans pairing are of males. The paired males have been known to steal nests from females and also forming threesomes with females to obtain eggs. Mammals also display homosexual behaviour. Males of the American bison, a bovine mammal, engage in courtship, mounting and full anal penetration.

A new study from Science Magazine analyzed the genetics of same-sex sexual behaviors and found that genetics plays a role, responsible for a third of the influence on homosexuality. The influence does not come from one gene alone, but many genes each contributing small effects, and the rest of the influence coming from the environment. The study analyzed the genetic data of 408,000 men and women from a large British database, the U.K. Bio-bank, who answered extensive health and behavior questions between 2006 and 2010 when they were between the ages of 40 and 69.

The conclusion of the study was that genes are not solely responsible for same-sex behaviors, but the environment has some part to play. There have been fears concerning the study of genes and their linkage to homosexuality, with some LGBTQ activists concerned that anti-gay groups will misconstrue such findings like using the fact that environmental factors are also at play in determining homosexuality. What such groups fail to grasp is that no matter how the environment plays a part, genes also play a part, and who are we if not our genes?

Interesting facts about genetics

  • Some diseases are inherited through genes.
  • Doctors may be able to cure diseases in the future by replacing necessary genes.
  • DNA is a long molecule and there are lots of them in the human body. If you unraveled all the DNA molecules in your body, they would reach the sun and back several times.
  • Some inherited traits are determined by multiple different genes.
  • Genes make up only about 3 percent of your DNA. The rest of your DNA controls the activity of your genes.
  • The word gene wasn’t coined until the 20th century by Danish botanist Wilhelm Johannsen.
  • Genes can disappear as species evolve.
  • Octopuses can edit their own genes.

UNDERSTANDING THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY IN NIGERIA

To understand the LGBTQ+ community, you must first understand love. Have you ever been in love? You know, felt that heart thudding, ragged breathing, mind disorienting feeling that is love? Yeah, a large number of us have. Also ever heard of the expression, “The heart wants what it wants”? No not the song, the expression. The one that means you don’t choose who you love, your heart is just an independent organ who selfishly picks who it wants you to fall in love with and when to fall out of love with them. Odds are you’ve probably heard it, or not. But what I’m trying to say is, Love is genderless.

Read Now: Who should love more in a relationship

We can characterize love with a lot of things, patience, kindness, it does not envy or boast (yes I am quoting 1st Corinthians). But why do we leave out a very key characteristic of love, the fact that is genderless…and the fact that we can fall in love with anybody and everybody.

WHAT DOES LGBTQ+ MEAN?

The LGBT community exists virtually everywhere in the world. Literally everywhere. And contrary to plenty and wrong belief, the LGBTQ+ community does not only comprise of homosexuals. Yes, when you see that cute colorful flag 🏳️‍🌈 it does not only cover gay people. You’d be surprised at how wide the community is and just how many people comfortably fit in it.

L stands for lesbian. A lesbian is a woman who is attracted to other women. I choose not to use the term “sexually attracted” because that would be meaning only a mere sexual attraction to other women would constitute lesbianism which is in fact totally wrong. There are lesbian couples who believe it or not are not having sex. Does that mean they are not lesbians? Definitely not. A lesbian woman is a woman who is attracted to women, attracted to being an all-encompassing word for love, affection, romance, emotional attraction and then sex.

G Gay is an adjectival word that encompasses the whole term that is homosexuality. But since we already gendered the word by using Lesbians for women, Gay here means a man who is attracted to other men. Just like lesbians, this does not connote only sex, it encompasses everything that is felt in a heterosexual relationship and sex.

B Bisexuality basically is any individual who has the ability to create or have romantic, emotional or sexual attraction to either of the sexes. A man or a woman can be bisexual, the term is not gender specific like lesbian. Fun fact, bisexual people don’t need to have had any actual or specific sexual experiences to identify as bisexual. Know why, just like straight people don’t need to have had sexual experience to know they’re straight, they don’t either. Crazy right?

T The more complex and most often misunderstood member of this community are the Transgender people. It’s an umbrella term for people who are gender non conforming. Often mixed up with trans sexuality, it’s important to distinguish between gender and sex.

Let’s have a little sociology cum biology class. The two terms are very similar as well as very different. Sex is the physical trait that distinguishes males from females; so like a man is a man because he has a penis and a woman is a woman because she has a vagina instead of a penis. Gender on the other hand is a social construct, like many other things( virginity) but I digress. The main difference therefore is sex is your physical construct while gender is a social construct. A good example would be, using our very interesting and sometimes vexatious Nigerian society, it’s often believed a man should not be seen wearing certain types of clothing because it’s not “manly”.

Transgender people are people whose gender identity does not conform with the sex they were assigned to at birth. A worthy mention is The Billy Porter. While Transexual people are individuals who have actually undergone surgery to change their sex to the gender they conform to.

Q Queer people are people who do not exclusively identify as heterosexual but see the terms gay or lesbian as too limiting to describe what they are.

+ Because the LGBTQ community is very large, there are a host of other terms under them. The plus symbol encompasses them all in their entirety, the Asexuals, Pansexuals, Intersex and, Questioning, to mention a few.

THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY IN NIGERIA

When you mention the LGBTQ+ community in Nigeria, the chances are you’ll be met by either a frown or some snarky remark which is almost always homophobic. It’s crazy and completely ludicrous to think that in a country as diverse as Nigeria, home to more than 200 million people, there will be not one single person who is gender non conforming or homosexual. Yet as crazy as it sounds, some people legitimately believe this. Nigeria is a country deeply rooted in homophobia and hypocrisy at the same time.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community in Nigeria are met with hostility and constantly live in fear of being lynched one day by some homophobe who believes homosexuality is against his religion.

But that deep rooted hatred for the community, where does it come from? I,like many people, often wonder, why do we accept that one can be born straight but one can’t be born  gay? Why do we accept that there are certain things that can remove the “manliness” out of a man or add “manliness” to a woman? I’ve had multiple discussions with many people and ten out of ten people are against the community because of Religion, Laws, Colonialism and “I just don’t like gay people”.

RELIGION

This comes first because this is every homophobic go-to answer when asked why they are homophobic. A rather weak point because not everyone confirms to a religion. Not everyone is a Christian or a Muslim ( I mention these two because they are the most practiced religion in Nigeria).

Yes, the Bible is homophobic, yes the Koran is homophobic but it can’t be binding on everyone if there are still some people who do not conform to either religion. This emphasis on religion is based on deep-rooted hypocrisy. I once had a conversation with a guy who once used religion as a premise to justify his homophobia. When asked if he found the idea of two girls getting it on exciting or sexy, he gave a definite “Uh yeah, what guy doesn’t?” And when asked what he thinks about two men getting it on, he replied with a nasty comment. The fact that a large chunk of Nigerian men fantasize about watching two girls get it on and even them joining in on the action but frown at two men getting it on borders highly on hypocrisy. Using religion to justify why two men can’t be together but praising two girls being together smells like that putrid air, what’s it called again…Hypocrisy!

When we see people who vehemently use the umbrella of religion to go against the LGBTQ+ community, it doesn’t take much digging or investigation into their lives to see that they are far from “perfect”. You see men and women who are sexually active (don’t get me wrong, sex is beautiful and you can have sex if you want to (as long as you’re being safe) coming out to bash members of the community because they feel it’s against the tenets of religion. Having sex outside of wedlock which is more beautifully called Fornication is a sin if we’re going along with religious tenet, so why should any one who’s fornicating think he’s a better follower of a religion than a member of the community? Also I’m not trying to say every one fornicates but in a day, every individual commits at least one sin. When your mum asks how many cubes of sugar you added to your cup of tea and you say three instead of six because you don’t want her to yell at you, you’ve lied, that’s a sin. Also when your talkative friend calls you and you say “I’ll call you back, my mum’s calling me” just because you don’t want to talk to them, you’ve committed a sin. When you take your sister’s dress and keep it because you like it and you know she wouldn’t give you if you asked, you’ve stolen and that’s a sin. When you kiss a woman that’s not your wife, you’ve committed a sin which is adultery. The list could go on and on. Bottom line is, you can not use religion as a premise to hate or discriminate against gay or trans people if you’re doing all these things yourself. You also should not because not everyone practices the same religion. In the end, we do not know if religion is real or not. It’s all about our faith and in the end, it may have just been a fabrication made to keep all humans in check.

LAWS

Homosexuality is against the law in Nigeria. It’s in the criminal code, the penal code and there’s even a whole act that stipulates jail time for them. It’s commendable that people know these (despite not being able to even state their rights as citizens and where it is stated in the constitution). Jail time is ten to fourteen years which is very appalling and nauseating when you think that rapists don’t even get that amount of jail time neither do pedophiles. Even more upsetting is the fact that less than fifty people in the whole history of Nigeria have been convicted of rape. Yet, we all know that rape occurs ten times more in the country.

I ask myself, why should homosexuality even be a crime in the first place? When you think of a crime, you’re thinking of something that  has adverse effects on the well being of the populace and the society like murder, theft, rape, treason and the likes. So how exactly does homosexuality fit into that? Why should the sentiments of a group of people constitute what is law and what is not?

Earlier in this article I mentioned how homosexuality, bisexuality and the likes are not only about sexual attraction, it has to do with emotional, romantic love and affection between two individuals just like heterosexuality is. So why should two consenting adults face jail time for loving each other the way heterosexual people love each other? Some people are of the opinion that because this has been criminalised in Nigeria, it is automatically a just law when in fact it is the exact opposite. As Nigerian citizens we all have the right to dignity, right to personal liberty, right to the freedom of expression and movement. It is a complete contradiction of these rights to implement a law that mets out jail time to two people who love each other. It is also hypocritical that we have serious crimes that go unpunished in Nigeria but everyone is suddenly up and ready to be law abiding once it comes to the idea of the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, the implementation of these laws have become legalised homophobia which is more dangerous than most people would like to admit.

COLONIALISM

If I had a kobo for every time someone told me “being gay isn’t in our culture. The white people brought it when they colonised us”  I’d have thirty billion sitting comfortably in my account. Really, I’ve heard this so many times, I wish I could get some money each time someone said it to me.

The white people did bring a lot to Nigeria during colonisation, like religion (the one that people use as a premise to be homophobic, they forget it is also not our culture when they use this argument. Quite comfortable isn’t it?) , the language we speak, some of the foods we eat, a lot of the clothing. But one thing I know for a fact that wasn’t brought by white people is homosexuality and gender non conformation. You know why, because being gay and gender non conforming is not something a person learns or is forced into, it is something an individual is born as. History has receipts and records of homosexuality in Africa that dates back as many years before the penetration of Europeans into the continent. Several tribes like the Nupe people in Nigeria, Azande in Congo and Sudan, the Tutsi people of Rwanda all practiced same sex relationships for ritual purposes and for spiritual purposes. Literally a thirty minute Google  search  into the history of African before colonialism would do a lot of good. It’s just plain ridiculous to think that in a country of millions, it is impossible that before the white man came, no two people of the same sex have ever tried or experimented with something sexual or even non conformed with their gender. The possibility of that being a reality is very slim. And that putrid smell is here again, oh what’s it called…hypocrisy! The colonialists brought us so many things in Nigeria. The suit and tie we wear even under the scorching Sub Saharan sun, the English that is not our indigenous language was also brought by the colonialists, why have we not rebelled against them and labelled them “not our culture”?

“I JUST DON’T LIKE GAY PEOPLE”

Another statement that could have easily fetched me thirty billion in my account. After having conversations with people and exhaustively debunking their premises for homophobia, they result to this and I have to say it is the weakest point. People often say that it is not by force to like the LGBTQ+ community. And that pop culture has tried to force it down their throats. Now the thing is, members of the community do not need you to like them. Liking them really does not if we’re being honest. But you don’t have to the or discriminate them. You can either be for or against something, there is no in between. Earlier this year on Nigerian Twitter, a young man was lynched after being tricked into thinking he was meeting up with another gay man. The problem with this is that idea that “I don’t like gay people”. It breeds discrimination and builds into hatred. I have spoken to gay people and effeminate men in Nigeria who cannot leave their houses because they get yelled at, stated at and even stoned when they go out. Yes, people literally hurl stones at them. If you can like straight people, why can’t you like gay people or people who do not feel like they gender assigned to them by society is the gender they choose to conform with? What is the point of hating or just not liking people who have no issues with you and whose personal lives do not affect yours in any way?

THE WAY OUT

On a concluding note, I’d like to remind us all that gay or straight or bisexual, gender-conforming or gender non conforming, queer, pansexual, asexual, we are all humans.

Deserving of giving and receiving love. Love is love and as the Bible we all love to quote so much says, it does not discriminate.

Every individual deserves to live life without the fear of being lynched by someone who believes their way of life is superior to others. In Nigeria and in the whole world, members of the LGBT+ society are beat up, hanged up against and even killed because of homophobia. There should be no room for hostility. And members of the community in a cold blooded country like Nigeria need our help and support to fully incorporate them into the society free of discrimination and prejudice.

Digital Love

Humans have never been more dependent on the internet than ever before, with virtually everything being “digitized” even our love lives. This is in contrast to a few years back where you had to meet someone physically and asses them through first impressions, gradually knowing them yourself without having to worry about if they lied on their tinder profile or not.

In the modern era where internet dating is rampant, we get first impressions from a person’s profile. While things may seem to have been easier this just ironically complicates things. The consequences are so grave that you might find yourself waking up in the middle of the night and wondering why the person beside you in bed is so different from what you had imagined.

Oh Joe

Read Now: Signs of deep love in a relationship

Difference With Time

Kids these days are in some ways unlucky because they are already so exposed than kids were in the past. They grow up even more insecure and less naive.

Read Now: What is happiness to you?

Most don’t understand the joy of knowing someone intimately not based on first impressions they get off the internet but that sweet sensation you get in putting down your metaphorical shield and allowing someone to love you gradually like the slow process love should be much like evolution, maybe a little faster.

The Problem

People look to social media to understand and learn how to love from celebrities or influencers. Their eyes and brains are filled with happy pictures of people who seem to be or are really in love. This is in contrast to before where you had to figure things out by checking what works for you and your partner.

Break Up

This causes high expectations which in turn leaders to breakups and infidelities. With words like, “side chick”, “side piece” one can easily see how cheating is normalized. Little wonder why the infidelity rate is high, according to Hernom.com about 40% of unmarried relationships and 25% of marriages see at least one incident of infidelity. An issue of Marriage and Divorce journal also stated that 70% engage in some kind of affair sometime during their marital life.

Things may not be so gloomy after all. People have claimed to find the “right one” through the internet and that number seems to be growing continuously. There may still be hope after all as time gets by we can better navigate and develop a sort of “digital seventh sense” which may be able to digitally filter the persons we meet on the internet just from their online bio data. Thanks for reading my Ted talk.

Viewing happiness as a Nigerian

I did some surveys on twitter to understand how most Nigerians view happiness. I came to a few conclusions.

Nigerians mostly view happiness as social status, reaching a certain place in life, having a lot of money if not more, being able to afford anything and the list keeps ongoing.

A few questions people had difficulty or inconclusive answers to were as follows:

Can you be happy all the time?

Let’s say you attain the social status you craved, now what?

Can money buy happiness?

What does happiness mean to you?

Before we go into the details explaining what happiness is, let look at what isn’t happiness for a better understanding.

“Happiness is like butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder”

Henry david thoreau

Happy isn’t a state of mind

It’s believed that every individual has a level of happiness. Psychologists refer to it as a set-point theory of happiness. It varies for each individual based on the environment that they grew up and the life experiences they have had so far in life.

Most at times when you receive a salary alert/twitter giveaway alert, news of your loved one putting to bed, gift and so on, you would feel a level of increase in your current state of happiness. After some period of time, it returns back to it’s set point.

Equally the same when you received news of losing a loved one, your level of happiness decreased, creating a sad feeling. After a certain period, it returns back to it’s set point.

Read Now: How to build your self-worth to improve your self-esteem.

Does more money mean happiness?

“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

During my survey on twitter, most Nigerians if not all agreed that money is their source of happiness. A lot of Nigerian live below the poverty line which makes it hard to be happy.

For freelancers and entrepreneurs, the process of earning money gives them happiness rather than the money itself.

According to thriveglobal.com, researchers found that having more money directly increases life satisfaction. Nevertheless, after a certain period of time, the impact it has on happiness diminishes. And those with little money felt happier with increased earning.

Yet, money is needed to maintain the level of happiness(set point theory of happiness) or to keep it afloat.

What does happiness mean to you?

“Happiness is being contented with what you have, living in freedom and liberty, having a good family life, and good friends.”

Divyanka Tripathi

In Nigeria, people live with lots of expectations, either from people or themselves. Life isn’t a destination but rather a day to day journey.

Carrying a lot in the heart weights down your happiness and can disrupt chemical imbalance which could lead to depression.

Happiness is the ability to overcome negative emotions, seeing positive in the worst scenario. The ability to connect and affect others positively. A sense of well-being, joy, or contentment.

Your happiness simply means how contented you are with your life, how you interact with your family and friends. How you allow your day to day affects you.

Understanding “feminism” in Nigeria

Feminism/feminists are two of the most commonly used word in Nigeria’s social media platforms since 2010 according to Google trends. Most people have few to little understanding of what feminism actually means due to how frequently it’s often misused in Nigeria.

Some Nigerians view it as a stand against men due to how often the words are associate with “hate men” analogy. Some Nigerians criticize feminism/ feminist from a religious standpoint. Does beg the question of what is feminism actually?

What does feminism mean to you?

Feminism can be defined in simple terms as the fight for all people equality not just “women”. People should not be excluded based on their sex, race, tribe, religion, social standing, and sexual preference. Feminism is more than just gender equality.

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That’s is the true meaning of feminism, but often on social media platforms, people use feminism to represent the wrong image which creates a horrible look for what feminism actually stands for.

Misandry is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against or boys in general

Wikipedia

When next you come across people associating themselves with the terms feminist. Yet only talks about their hatred towards men, they don’t represent feminism rather misandry.

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Nudity & Feminism, What’s the connection?

Feminism means equality, not nudity, yet feminism stands with liberation. Over the years women have been subjected to what to wear, how to sit, and how to walk to mention quite a few.

In recent times more women can dress as they see fit without being subjected to the slut slender.

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Often people argue that male and female nudity isn’t the same. In truth, yes they are not the same, women have been covering their bodies in all religions and traditions over the years.

If women began to cover their eyes, after a long period of time, covering eyes would be the same as covering boobs. Her body, her choice!

The notion of feminism is against tradition/ religion?

Feminism isn’t against tradition nor religion. If the tradition in question is against gender equality then such tradition should be changed or scraped away because the world has moved passed those archaic ways.

Feminism is all about togetherness, peace, and one love. The notion that feminism is against religion is guff.

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Conclusion

If you believe in one love, togetherness, peace, equality for all then you are already a feminist.

You should speak up because your voice means liberation not just for women but for discriminations based on religion, gender, tribe, social standing, and social orientation.

Being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone, neither is being an employee. In Nigeria, people often argue which is better, an employee’s life, or an entrepreneur’s life. Entrepreneurs are seen as hustlers, free, risk-takers that have control over how much they earn and how their time is being spent.

They can engage in multiple businesses that act as the source of income increasing they are potential earning drastically. With experience and knowledge, they acquire developing businesses, achieving success which is their ultimate goal.

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In Nigeria’s reality, many entrepreneurs fail. There are lots of factors to consider as an entrepreneur in Nigeria. An entrepreneur in Nigeria doesn’t have a guaranteed salary or work security an employee has.

Most times, entrepreneurs don’t have a team of colleagues to fail back on or depend on, an alert to receive at the end of the month, allowance, office car, and career progression due to years of service.

The process of registering a company in Nigeria, the tax return, the failure, and business mishaps. The life of an entrepreneur isn’t as shinny as most motivational speakers in Nigeria make it seem.

There is a popular Igbo saying “If you tell a poor man what it takes to be rich, he would reply let him remain poor”. With proper planning and madcap ideas led by confidence and ambition, being a successful entrepreneur in Nigeria can be achieved.

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With technology moving at a rapid pace, more opportunities are been presented to succeed in Nigeria as an entrepreneur.

Merits of being an entrepreneur in Nigeria

No salary cap

That’s what’s good about being an entrepreneur, your earning don’t have any salary cap. From my own personal perspective, I know a friend that’s a graphics designer that works as a freelancer and walks home with ₦10,000 on a bad day and ₦17,000 on a good day, do the maths with a calculator and it’s jaw-dropping.

Flexible Schedule

Part of the perks of being an entrepreneur is the flexibility of your time. When the business grows, you can equally employ people, sit back and observe.

Control

You are the boss. Free to make professional decisions, direct employees on how they can help the company achieve more.

Demerits of being an entrepreneur in Nigeria

Stress

Being the boss is cool and all but with no guaranteed income, no colleague for support. It can quickly turn into a lonely and stressful place. Mishaps are banned to happen and not all entrepreneurs have a business safety plan.

Startup time

Most businesses in Nigeria need a lot of hours at the being of the startup, due to different factors. If you are starting a business that has lots of competitors, lots of working time is the only way of building a solid reputation and customer base.

Risk

The best factor in Nigeria for entrepreneurs. The government doesn’t provide or aid small businesses trying to create empowerment. No available loan that’s below 10% interest for small business in Nigeria.

The risk of debt, the risk of failing, the risk of others witnessing your failure and risk of mental health, being an entrepreneur in Nigeria isn’t for the light-hearted.

Merits of being an employee in Nigeria

Alert

It comes always at the exact time, it’s needed the most. It’s financial security for most Nigerians. It even gets better when you are working for the state or federal government due to petition.

Most Nigerian banks are more engage to award loans to salary earners than entrepreneurs to the financial security monthly salary comes within Nigeria.

Less Responsibility

You are often assigned a particular role to perform a specific task. No need to be considered with mother tasks that weren’t assigned to you. You would receive your salary for completing only the task given to you.

Career Progression

Over years of services to a particular company, promotions are banned to occur, so does salary increase. It’s a system that awards employees for their years of services.

Demerits of being an employee in Nigeria

Limited income

Limited income puts a constraint on your life. Bonuses and allowances can only do some much but even those are capped.

No passion

Over the years of working as an employee, you are banned to lose your passion, the spark in you. It naturally occurs that you won’t know at what point you lost your passion.

Job Security

Once every year, we get the news of an outrageous number of people in Nigeria that lost their jobs at the banks. Jobs are never guaranteed for life and employers can often sack employees without giving a solid reason.

Conclusion

Nigeria is a country where nothing is a given, not your job, not your housing, not your welfare absolutely nothing.

If you are an entrepreneur, have a safety plan in place for an emergency and invest wisely, if you are an employee try to open a small business, look for means to earn additional income each money.

Online Shopping growth in Nigeria

It’s no secret that online shopping has started gaining ground in Nigeria, with people selling different products like sneakers, clothes, shoes, and more on different online platforms such as Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, Jumia and the list goes on.

Most of these products that are being showcased on these platforms are often fashion products. But the biggest problem with buying online from unverified sources is being a victim of online fraud which is quite common.

We did some research and compiled a list of the best online stores specifically for shopping for clothes in Nigeria, where you can shop with an assurance of quality and good customer services.

Note: We are not affiliated with these websites, this list was compiled from “Best of” lists published by the most trusted sources, reviews and google recommendation.

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The5kShop

Affordable clothing and accessories for women. Decent value for money.

Price Range: Low.
Latest Trends: High.
Website Usability: Easy to navigate.
The best thing about the site: Everything is below ₦5,000.

Besaz boutique

Besaz boutique has great going-out clothes in the latest trends.

Price Range: Medium.
Latest Trends: High.
Website Usability: Fairly easy to navigate.
The best thing about the site: They have a section for the plus size and they can ship to Ghana and the US.

Chincotonaija Online Shop

Chincotonaija is surprisingly good for getting cheap clothes but can equally be viewed as a wholesale store.

Price Range: Low.
Latest Trends: High.
Website Usability: Easy.
The best thing about the site: They have a loyalty system that rewards the customer for buying.

Obeezi

Obeezi has men’s clothes as well as women’s clothes in their online shopping platforms. They have different fashion accessories ranging from wristwatches to men’s purses. It’s really a shop for all. Available as a mobile app for ios and android.

Price Range: Medium-High.
Latest Trends: Medium.
Website Usability: Simple, clean and clear website layout.
The best thing about the site: Plenty of offers and sales on the website.

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Find Original Clothes with going out of your comfort zone.

Shopping online can help you find quality and different clothes than in the market. What to know about different online shopping sites and the kinds of clothes they sell?

We’ve all been there. You spend time at the local market looking for original right cloth for an event, only to wear that dress out to the venue and wind up matching with your someone else, then calling “sis”.

Having the same clothes as a lot of other people is bound to happen, as most sellers in the market have the stock, and import similar products, if not exact, products. A great way to avoid buying similar stuff to everyone and finding different items is by shopping online.

Next time you feel you need some new clothes, shoes or bag, just think of the style you’re looking for. There is a site with the relevant clothes is out there!

Class and High-Quality

For classic and elegant clothes, there are sites like Chincotonaija and the5kShop. Chincotonaija is a new online, which ships directly from China, they sell designer clothes, shoes, bags, and accessories. It has all sorts of different styles of clothes on the site from Chinese designers. From classic purses and retro sneakers to designer dresses, although it’s mostly for wholesale with a few for retail purchase.

The5kShop is the true embodiment of online shopping in Nigeria, just as the name suggests everything in the store is no more than ₦5,000. They have different clothes from different designers but from Nigeria and overseas. They sell most female dresses with elegant style and design.

Obeezi is filled with lots of discounts offer for their products. Their wristwatches and men’s shoes can’t be matched in quality by any other store.