Ladies, please stand up!

Women face struggles in managing careers and societal expectations, particularly after marriage, where they often sacrifice their ambitions due to pressure to conform to traditional roles. Adedeji is urging women to reclaim their dreams, make informed decisions before marriage, understand their worth, and not let societal norms dictate their happiness.

I have known too many women over my professional career and have more than a fair share of female friends. In fact out of the 100 friends I have, 120 of them are womenfolk.

This unfortunately makes me a bit of a backyard authority on issues they face especially career related annoyances. I have heard so much gripe, my otorhinolaryngologist warned that the next time I come over for tinnitus treatment she’s going to seal the damn ears with wax. Ok, that was an exaggeration.

Back to more serious issues.

Gender inequality is over flogged everywhere; it’s more of a theory to the average Omobinrin on the street. But when that reality confronts them it’s clothed as something personal – career decisions, societal pressure, I need to have kids, I’m getting old, I’m a chic, what will my family say, bla bla bla.

Nature already stacked the table against every girl from birth (who said nature is nice?) – period, pregnancy, mishmash of hormones and Telemundo. But here’s the strange thing, despite these natural challenges, why do women still allow men and society to add to their pains?

This isn’t a blame-the-victim tripe. Far from it. This is a call to action to my beautiful friends although I don’t have the guts to give them this holier-than-thou lecture in person as I could end up with scratches from poorly fixed nails.

Call me a chicken in pinstripe if you like, na you sabi.

The girl is good, maybe not all the time!

Some of the most amazing and talented people I ever worked with are women. They work hard, they are super smart and extremely ambitious. Not only that, they have empathy and solid emotional intelligence which the most sensitive of men can only dream off. I also know a few “Up NEPA” ones that make a dull office look pretty awesome on a rainy Monday morning.

Then they get married and most often than not their ambition, performance and sometimes some body parts go south. They become a shadow of their former selves. Ten years go by and countless missed promotions, they become bitter and angry.

It’s extremely confusing for me. Their brains are still there; their knowledge, and competence gained over the years, are not lost, what happened?

My male friends come back from honeymoon smoking hot and still productive for years. In fact studies have shown that quite a lot of men have career boosts post marriage. Why not the average working class woman?

I did a back-of-the-napkin study and found out that they never really lost the dreams or ambition.  They just got their backs against the wall….and not in the sense that you think of.

Usually a woman goes into a marriage, especially in my part of the world, and she’s expected to be the one to compromise. In fact if she’s a high flyer and unmarried her parents, the same ones who paid for the expensive education, are the first to fire the first salvo “Rolake, you are too career minded, no man will marry you!”

She will be advised to chill out, scale down, and underplay her progress so she can be attractive to some dude with very low esteem. Post wedding she’s the one to get home on time to cook, the one to take care of the kids, and worst of it if they both work in same organization without family friendly policies, she’s the one to resign to stay at home or look for another job.

If kids are ill she takes time off work. She can’t work away from home or abroad because it won’t speak well of her but nothing is wrong if her spouse is posted out of station to Kathmandu. If the idiotic husband loves to pound her instead of fufu, her parents will be the one to tell her to chill, pray, endure or whatever random rubbish anyone could think of.

There is nothing wrong with marriage (for those hung up on it) or having kids (they are fun when not annoying) but like everything you do, you have to know what you want and go for it. In fact good relationships are beneficial, they provide synergy and support not available to lone rangers.

However if you enter into any contract or relationship without knowing what you really want or deserve then you are a loser from day one.

So what’s a girl to do?

Men and women are EQUAL but not necessarily the same (I don’t want to be a girl, duh). As simple as that sounds, it’s fundamental to everything! If you sincerely believe that your life as woman, hope, aspirations, etc. is as worthy as that of any man’s then you have taken the right steps in the right direction. Please repeat that ten times!

Find your dreams again. What did you want to become? How do you want to reap the years and countless millions you have invested on/for your life so far? Think about this; the degrees, certifications or even professional experiences you have aren’t required to be a good mum but to be a build a good career, then make good use of them. However if you are already married you are going to need a ton of diplomacy and compromise to get a decent traction. Learn it!

Marriage is fun and relationships are beneficial but there is absolutely nothing wrong if you aren’t married. It isn’t a failure as much as every man not being a millionaire a failure. Next time someone tells you that you are not complete without a man, let the person know he’s a failure for not being a Bill Gate. Case closed.

Look before you leap – things have to be clarified before you let him put a ring on it. Like a contract, if isn’t well defined before you go into it, you can’t change it to favor you once you are in it. Remember, it’s difficult to fix an airplane’s engine while in flight!

Don’t have more kids than you can manage and that means also projecting into the future; school fees go everywhere except downwards. Space them if you can so it doesn’t put stress on your career progression and you can even have one for the road later, I heard it’s fun! By the way, there is something called family planning, don’t depend on men to do the right thing at the right time; they won’t and the burden of their mistakes will be yours forever. #BorrowWisdom

Choose your friends carefully as you won’t be better than them. If you hang out with the type who have lost their sense of self-worth to their other partners or those who feel women were born to serve men, how will you do better? Their negative claptrap will corrode you and make your life miserable forever.

Learn to keep your cool as many will surely try to get a rise out of you because of your decisions. Just keep calm and keep your mouth shut – you can’t win an argument with any of them. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty or unhappy about your final decisions, don’t live your life for them.

What’s a girl not to do?

Don’t take this as an excuse to be a bitch at home if you are married, hey, if you got tossed out because of it, I ain’t got no spare room!

Don’t take a hardline on everything – your way or your way – life isn’t that way. A compromise is probably one nonviolent means to end any domestic warfare but make sure you never get the short end of the stick.

Don’t blame men, boys, grandpas, etc. for everything that goes wrong with you. Remember you take the ultimate responsibility for your life, careers and aspirations. The faster you know the buck stops on the stool next to you, the better for you and your sanity

Be careful of things you read on the internet, including this! Take what resonates with you and junk the rest as quickly as a bad habit (wait, ain’t bad habits difficult to stop?)

Before you form that conclusion

I’m just a simple guy with an honest belief that everyone is equal but same but I’m not a feminist. While I believe that those in positions of responsibility should ensure level playing ground for everyone irrespective of gender, women everywhere also have to standup for themselves.

So You Want to Be Respected?

I’m always amazed when I reminisce on the many stupid things I’ve done just to appear cool. I remember when I was a teenager I used to iron the back of my school uniform shirts in a certain way just to have that swagger. Boy, looking back now, that must have been one hell of madness, really!

But when you compare all I did to look cool (I still didn’t look cool, sad!) to what others did or are doing, you will pat me on the back for keeping most of the screws holding my sanity together. Em, you can’t blame me for losing a few.
So which begs the question: why do we desperately want to appear cool? Or what do we want to achieve when we do very outrageous things…to be respected by others?

You want to know what some of us do just to be respected? Here are some:
Lie about who we are

My mum owns the National Theatre or I’m the CEO of Somewhere Limited with interests in oil and gas, properties, etc. I’m also into forwarding and backwarding.

Drop names like it’s hot
Bihari and my dad play draught every weekend and if I don’t call Osinbajo every other day he’s going to throw tantrums, crawl into a little room in Aso Rock and bawl like a child.

Buy things we can’t afford on credit
Social media is replete with car dealers chasing celebrities around on cars not paid for. I know a couple of guys who get first class tickets on credit and then dodge the hapless travel agents for months. Enough said.

Sucking up
Become a lap dog to senior management, celebrities, just to be relevant. They treat you like crap but you take it like blessing all because you want to be seen as part of the hip crowd. You even laugh at their stupid jokes!

Fake it like it’s real
This is pretty common! Buy fake designer bags, shoes and accessories just to look like you’re happening! I once followed a friend into a real Channel store, saw the price tags and left with a profound knowledge that all the Channel brooches I’ve seen in my office are fakes. Walahi!

Date an eye candy
Do all you can to date that super skinny yellow girl with a hip/waist ratio – that can make even a Cardinal lose his faith. It doesn’t matter that she’s emptier than a washed out barrel. Sometimes it is to stick up to the abusive super rich oil tycoon married boyfriend who pounds her with blows better than fufu.

There are many more ways to be a dick head just because we want to be known, seen, respected and be successful. If you think I’m talking about musicians, Nollywood starlets, OAPs, etc. you are so wrong! Their misbehaviors are part of the drama that life gives us as entertainment; their craziness is what defines them. I’m actually referring to the everyday me, you, my cousins and some of your colleagues at work.

Fundamentally somewhere in the deep recess of each of us (especially me) we want to be respected and everything we strive for is to achieve that – money, career, fame, girls, husbands, etc. Since the need to be respected can’t be cured or is innate to us, maybe we should focus our attention on how to be respected in a wholesome manner.

Let me break it down. The best way to be respected is to be good in what you do. No other sustainable way.

I can illustrate this better with two Nigerian women. Dame Patience Jonathan was a favorite punch bag for everyone with her numerous gaffes and poor grammar; she provided a good comic relief. Nothing beats this YouTube performance. Nike Davies Okundaye, on the other hand, represents some of the best things that ever came out of Nigeria. She grew up uneducated but despite that developed herself into a world renown artist.

Both are Nigerian women with poor grammar and don’t speak with phoney but while one is lampooned at every turn, the other is revered. Why? Because everyone knows Nike is good in what she does.

How to get real respect
Understand that the need to be respected isn’t bad. Like the need to get Coldstone Ice Cream or to Netflix, it’s part of every one of us.
Real and enduring respect comes from competence. When you are very good at what you do, and you are smart and consistent, trust me, even your haters will give you sadankata. I don’t like Cristiano Ronaldo and it’s from pure jealousy; he’s rich and I’m not. He has a six-pack but I’ve just a large one. He’s popular but nobody even knows me on my street. Beef aside though, I respect him because he’s good and not from luck; he’s good because he works hard at being good. How do you explain scoring more than 50 goals consistently for 6 straight seasons, na yam?

So put in real efforts into what you do and after a while, everyone will give you the required praise and attention you need. Don’t look for a shortcut, real competence takes a while to have.

Be yourself and don’t try to be others. After all you weren’t born a clone so why become one? You will be surprised that the fancy people you want to be like aren’t even half as good as you are!

Don’t buy what you can’t afford, fake your accent or wear stuff just because it’s the in-thing. Be comfortable in your own skin. By the way, this doesn’t give you liberty to dress like an idiot. Being cultured is part of competence.

Don’t suck up to politicians, celebrities, supervisors, the happening guys in your office, bla bla. It’s just a sad display and will definitely embarrass your kids in the future. You can’t imagine how much I cringe at the sickening display of loyalty in different offices – you call someone young enough to be your child oga or madam etc. just because you want to be relevant, seriously? Dude, do your job!

Understand the fact that being popular wouldn’t last forever so why kill for it? Even if you are the trending item on Twitter today or the most sought after speaker on the talk circuit, after a while everyone would be naturally bored and move on to the next thing. It doesn’t mean you ain’t respected, so don’t sweat it. Continue to do what you are good at. It will most certainly speak for you in the long run.

This brings me to talk about supervisors, managers and other random senior people in random offices. If you want your subordinates or colleagues to respect you, it won’t be by politics or being the boss from hell. Be a leader and be competent. Leadership means you provide your team with vision and you lead them on a mission of towards greatness. Of course discipline is needed and if butts need whopping, please apply whatever whopping is prescribed in the company handbook. But you need to be good and knowledgeable on the job to be respected so preaching leadership alone is – meh! When things are tough, they expect you to reach into your endless wealth of experience to solve whatever problem the team or your subordinate is facing at that time.

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