Tag: friends

The Value of Good Friendships

A true friend is the greatest of all blessings, and that which we take the least care of all to acquire.

Francois de La Rochefoucauld

From recent conversations and generally observing the people around me, the value of a good friend has become more illuminated than it has ever been before. Having a good friend, even just one, is a really great blessing. A blessing which can significantly affect your life trajectory.

We often hear people talk about “the company you keep” and how “you are the sum total of the people you spend most of your time with”. I have seen this unfold in my life and those of the people around me. Most people do not invest much time in acquiring and keeping good friendships because we take it for granted. We think the people around us are good enough, but when last did you take stock of your friendships to check:

  • Are you helping each other to become better versions of yourselves?
  • Are you giving each other constructive advice or you spend time talking about other people or engaging in time-wasting activities?
  • Do you see your current friends in your future or you are just taking it one day at a time?
  • Are you being real with each other, or when you get together it is time to show off to each other, instead of building each other up?
  • If you would lose everything you own today, can you count on your current circle of friends to have your back?

If you can truly answer YES to these questions, then I can say you are in good friendships. Very few of us really take the time to evaluate our social interactions and this is dangerous. In 2018 and years before that, I spent a lot of hours with the wrong people who were not adding any value to my life. Only when you find yourself in the company of really good and meaningful individuals, do you start to notice the difference. I do not regret the people who have passed through my life, they also taught me a valuable lesson on friendships. Now, I am more careful who I bring into my circle.

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Happy to say that I have these women in my life

One of my friends said something that stuck with me this weekend. He was talking about ENERGY! and how each one of us gives off a certain vibe or energy which can be described as either positive or negative; life-changing and exciting or destructive energy. He said if you find people that are giving positive, life-giving, inspiring energy then reciprocate that because that is hard to come by. When it is reciprocated, it grows and you feed off each other’s positive energy and it can only get better from there. These are the kind of conversations I am trying to have in 2019.

Me and my close friends are always discussing pushing one boundary after the other. We are constantly challenging each other to do better and be better.  Me and Uche are always hyping each other up, calling each other boss ladies, LOL. It actually works because we put in the work to become what we confess everyday. We all need meaningful interactions, otherwise what are we expending our energy on? This is why it is also OK to outgrow some people and friendships that have reached a dead end. If the energy is off and the friendship has become more draining than useful, then it needs to go.

Wishing you a fruitful week and do take the time to evaluate and make solid friendships that make sense for your current life stage and for your future.

GG

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When did I become the voice of reason?

I always marvel when I find myself as someone’s voice of reason, when I think that  someone out there looks up to and appreciates the advice of little old me. My oldest sister and the first born in our family called me earlier to discuss some ideas that she has about her life. After that call I could not stop grinning, thinking I have helped her find a way through a confusing maze of ideas. That is when I realised I have become a voice of wisdom on some particular topics over the years. Here’s why:

  • I absolutely love to brainstorm. My close friend and fellow graduate student Uchechi and I often have brainstorming sessions about a wide variety of topics. It is just something we have become accustomed to doing and we have found that it is really helpful. So I can help someone come up with a plan about something they are thinking about just by putting down all the possible options and discussing them until there is evidence that everything has been exhausted. It is a skill people.

brainstorming1

 

  • I am a plannerI was always that one child in my family who knew what she wanted to do with her life from a very early age. I wrote down all my ideas and plans in journals since I was younger than 12 years old. Well, back then they were different sizes of notebooks that I would stress my mother to buy for me, but now I invest in proper journals that can last me for years. I have also been so blunt as to hint to my friends or partners when I need a new journal as a gift, and it is always a good gift for someone like me. So, because my family members know that I plan everything and write it down, they trust me to help come up with a plan, which is why I have suddenly become the “voice of reason”.

 

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My journal (2013-2018)

 

  • I am overly practical. This makes me more rational than emotional when it comes to making decisions. People close to me dislike this particular character trait of mine because instead of listening to them moan for hours about something, I would rather prefer to get straight to the solution. We have a problem, great now what are we going to do about it? is my usual response to most problems my friends and family have. Sounds familiar guys? Because I believe males usually apply this practical, solution-oriented quality to their problem-solving more than females do.

Now, all the above make me sound like I am the most organised, well put-together woman on the internet today, LOL. But, the truth is, I cannot, for the life of me, figure out my own problems all by myself. I wrote about that here You cannot heal thyself….. some years ago. I also need others to help me sift through the jumbled mess in my head on occasion and I do seek out my friends when I am in need. Just today, I called my friend Uchechi to rant about the statistical analysis that is doing my head in. Thank goodness I have friends and a very good social circle for moments like that.  But, at this moment right now, I am celebrating being someone’s voice of reason for a change. Thank God for small mercies right? When I am deep in the throngs of my own troubles, I sometimes forget that there are people who call me for relationship advice, career advice and life advice, even when I don’t always have it all figured out. I can never stop surprising myself, in a good way of course.

As this is not a self-promotion post, here is the message (finally)

Sometimes we doubt ourselves and ask ourselves what value we add to the people around us. We question whether we are useful, whether we are making an impact in the world. Well, I challenge you today to look around you and see what small things make you a valuable friend, sister, brother, tutor, whatever your title is. You are doing something in your own small way to make a difference in someone’s life. Sometimes our value is tied to the things we take for granted. I found mine and it totally shifted my mood. Let me know how it works for you. 

GG

 

 

The Social Work Dilemma

I haven’t practized social work in almost a year now. I realized only in the practical sense have I not practized but in principle I never stopped being a social worker.

Reminiscing on my days in the social work office
Reminiscing on my days in the social work office

It is when you are having normal day-to-day conversations with friends and significant others that you realize there are certain things that have become instilled in you due to the work you do. You do these things even when you are not in a work setting. It’s like when people say lawyers like to argue…they do this even when they are not in court. It becomes their lifestyle to argue every point even when discussing general issues. In the same way, I realized the social worker in me did not switch off when I left the profession about a year ago. I still think and talk like a social worker. And I have found, to my dismay that this is not always a good thing.

Scenario 1: I am having a normal conversation with my mother and I find myself not agreeing with what she is saying. Instead of supporting my point of view properly like her daughter, I start psycho-analyzing her. I start wondering why she might be taking that stance instead of the other. Quickly in my head I am calculating how I can question her to get the right answers as if I am in a counselling session. Ask questions that will make her show me the deeper thoughts behind whatever statement she makes. This is no longer a normal mother-daughter conversation. It is now a client-social worker dialogue. The formal tone and line of questioning is enough to make anyone defensive.

Scenario 2:  I am discussing a problem a friend might be having, I switch into social work mode. I start thinking every quandary has a solution and it is the role of the client (my friend) to think of all available options before selecting the desired solution…with my help of course. In a way, I think my friends appreciate the advice at the end of the day but am I really being a friend or I am treating them as clients? I doubt they care or see the difference as long as they leave with a solution. This is when I realized not so long ago that I actually give good relationship advice (just wish I could take the same advice myself).  But where do you draw the line because at times our friends just want to vent and do not necessarily want to be grilled until they solve the issue.

So yes I cannot erase or silence the social worker in me. I want to be a good friend and daughter but I need to learn to balance the professional voice with my own. The two have become so mixed that I can’t tell which one is me and which one is the professional.  I don’t think I want to change totally, because in principle social workers are really cool people (I have to say that!!!). I like being helpful to my friends and family but do they enjoy being treated as clients? On the other hand, I also feel that the people I care about deserve to talk to me as I am, not wearing the professional mask on.

I really should learn to just be myself…but social work is my life so I don’t know how I can separate the two.

What are your thoughts?

The Lesson in Separation

Its ironic that I find loneliness to be something that can be positive. In a flash it looks as if it can be a lesson…a lesson in appreciation for all those special people in our lives. When people are around us, we don’t have a need to miss them. Just reminded me of lyrics by Passenger in the song “Let Her Go” below

Well you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go

Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low
Only hate the road when you’re missin’ home
Only know you love her when you let her go
And you let her go

Now I remember why I love this song so much. My point is, you get to appreciate those you love in moments when they are not there or in moments when you cannot reach them. In this instance the moments we spend alone/in solitude are not to be taken in a negative way but rather used to remember the ones that used to grace our presence and bring so much joy.

I miss my family everyday, it is hard to be away from them. I miss my friends and everyone I was close to but instead of giving up and succumbing to depression I realize this is not a bad thing. When I do get back home, I will cherish the moments we have even more because I have lived without them before…and I know how much living without them sucks. In a nutshell, the presence of loved ones is not something to be taken for granted because honestly, we are not always going to be together.

The pictures below are by no means an exhaustive list…I miss a lot of people and I could not fit all their pictures in just one post. But they know themselves…The children at Ons Plek whose images I cannot publish…forever in my heart.

My People...
My People…
Vixens...I don't even know how I have managed these months without these two ladies
Vixens…I don’t even know how I have managed these months without these two ladies
A sister, friend and spiritual mentor.
A sister, friend and spiritual mentor.

New Year…Old Me!!!

New year, Old Me…literally. On the first day of each year I am a year older. I am one of those special New Year babies and twenty something years later, I still feel like a little princess every birthday. So when everyone is celebrating the beginning of the year I also celebrate my birthday and its double blessings every year for me. But its also a lot of pressure, I get to begin the year with a reminder that I am not getting any younger on top of all my New Year resolutions.

Happy Birthday to me!!
Happy Birthday to me!!

So this year on the 1st of January 2015 I was away from my family and friends for the first time. I always celebrated my birthday with my family since it falls during holiday season. I thought I would be sad on the day but I actually had an amazing first-time-in-Europe New Year. I have an amazing group of new friends who brought cake and sang Happy birthday!!! So even though my family was not here I still found love with my new found family. There is nothing worse than being alone on New Years Eve and I am glad I had a whole church family with me this year…I did my countdown at Grace Church in Ireland. It was an amazing experience and quite different from the countdown that I had been used to in my younger years…in the club and usually not very sober. I am glad to be older this year because I really have put away a lot of childish things.

I always hear people say close to the end of each year, “New Year, New Me”!!! And I know we all want to believe that we can become better versions of ourselves with the dawn of each New Year. It symbolizes hope and faith in ourselves. And even though at the end of the year none of the resolutions have been fulfilled, we still shout the same on New Years and make new resolutions or repeat the same ones from four/five years ago. That s the beauty of human nature. We live, we fail, we get up and we start again. We don’t really have a choice. Or maybe we do but this seems to be the way things have been going for a while.

I don’t know what 2015 has in store for me. I do know that it will be amazing. I suspect a lot of ups and downs because what is life without a few bumps along the way right? That is how I grow and learn so I say BRING IT ON!!! I have many things I wish would happen for me this year. I also know I have to put in a lot of work in order for my dreams to materialize.

New Year, OLDer Me!!!
New Year, OLDer Me!!!

I am blessed to have life. i just want to find a way to live it abundantly..to the fullest if I can!!! I owe that to myself.

Hope you started the New Year on a positive note!!! If you did ride that happy wave. If not, I hope things will turn around for you!!!

Stay blessed.