20 things to know as a single adult in Nigeria
Do you wake up every morning groping the other side of your bed before your senses return enough for you to realize that yes, it’s another day and you’re still all alone? No? Not even once? Okay. Me neither. Seriously though, so many things remind you of your solitary status daily (which may or may not as a result of your terrible behavior or shortcomings), that you may have to consciously draw up a coping plan. In a bid to do my bit for the common good, I’ve decided to share mine, and a bit of what I’ve gleaned from my friends’ experiences. Feel free to pick and choose what works best for you.
1. Friends for All Seasons: You need to know which friends you should roll with at different times of the month. Not every Friday night turn-up, sometimes Vigil! It is the dumbest idea ever to collect all the money you made and spend it on tables at the club. Know when to buy a drink by the bar, especially when you are trying to get a better job. While the rich friends help you make better net-worth connections, the low-key friends are your real soldiers in your time of need. Be sure to maintain symbiotic relationships with all your friends, or else you may find a ‘USER’ label smacked on your forehead.
2. Find something you are really good at: While it’s great to be jack of many trades, it is important that you be a pro at one thing in particular. It could be just coding in PhP, becoming fluent in Spanish, playing the soprano guitar, or making ice-cream for dessert. If you can, try to learn a second language; it’s easy and fun.
3. Keep Friends of All Trades: The beauty of schoolroom relationships is that when you’re all grown, you’re likely to be very chummy with an impressive number of professionals. Use them wisely, and make new ones as much as you can. You’re going to need a doctor friend, a friend who is a plumber, a friend in the telecoms industry, a friend in the police force, a friend who is a mechanic, etc. You get the idea. If not, you just may perish from rage or outrageous bills here. Simple things like buying a data plan on your mobile device and not being able to get it to work, or not having a reliable contact in case of a medical emergency within your neighborhood could trigger a mental hemorrhage. I also warn: f your car is likely to give up on Third Mainland Bridge and you are always rude to your mechanic oh well, “You better call Saul.”
4. About Wedding Trains: You can complain all you like, but you will always come to mind when your friends need someone to be on their wedding train. This is going to burn a huge hole in your pocket as you might need to buy dresses, shoes and suits. You have to learn to say no, when to say no or who to help you say it. Your affianced friends probably feel they are doing you a favor by putting you on that bridal train list, but they are not aware your rent’s due date is fast approaching like a metro-train. You must firmly cut your coat according to your cloth.
5. Save, Save, Save: This is going to be extremely tough, but you need a secret account that’s so sacred even your mother’s enormous debt isn’t enough to make a withdrawal for. The only permissible reason for touching this account is that you have an opportunity to invest in something that can transcribe into an asset. Even then, you should not deflate this account by more than 60%, ever. Remember you’re an adult now and you may need this money for a very grown-up issue; like say bailing yourself out of a life-or-death situation.
6. Get a Travel Buddy: I have two roaming buddies and even when we never save enough money, we can save enough for random vacation time. We won’t be going to be single forever. St. Tropez might not be within reach right now but the nearest African countries know us by name.
7. Keep a Taxi’s phone number: This is not only because of those times your friends drag a reluctant (of course) you on midnight adventures. There are also times when your car (if you are lucky enough to have one) could just inexplicably be on its period and you might have to attend certain events on very short notice. The last thing you want is to show up smelling of exhaust and sweat. Cabbie to the rescue.
8. Apology Flash Cards: It is only a matter of time; you will forget a very important birthday. People do not always realize how easily we are clouded by troubles. It does not have to be a Walt Whitman romantic piece but be ready for a one-liner or a verbal tranquilizer to assuage the rage.
9. That Social Media Addiction: It does not matter how you journeyed to singlehood – via betrayal, divorce, a nasty break-up or whatever, the social media is going to become your life source and you have to be careful how much time you spend there. There are real people in dance classes, the sports club, a book club and such, all waiting to hook up with you. Sometimes, leave the people who reside in your phone alone and seek 3-D human contact.
10. It’s One Man, One Machete: Most people just do not care. The sun is getting hotter by the year and no one is planting trees. Per Capita GDP is getting lower and the inflation rate is almost double digits. Simple things like cleaning drainages, being nice to your security guard and giving his wife your old clothes now belong to the pre-medieval books. You really should call the police if you suspect foul play in your neighbor’s apartment, I know, but the truth of the matter is, you are mostly on your own. Look out for yourself.
11. Prepare for Unsolicited Advice: Where do we even start? Your family members or your senior colleagues? Questions on what you spend your money on or offering to help you pay some bride price in case you are broke(n) beyond repair and whatnot ambush you, wherever you turn. Unfortunately, you have to deal with these people, and with a smile, no less. Don’t bother about trying to be arrogant and don’t be biased by their opinions. It is a phase and you are perfectly alright. You are probably doing better than some of these people who can’t even file their taxes. My friends call this the skin-of-an elephant theory.
12. Hook-up City: While this is not necessarily a bad idea, you’re likely to be overwhelmed by this experience. Virtually everyone thinks you are in a pathetic state and you need help finding your significant other. You are going to meet a lot of people undergoing the same and some of them may even make you feel your standards are too high. Some dates will certainly be awkward, or even worse, you might be so carried away you will not even see that some only want to get in your pants. Keep your wits about you before you find yourself pressured into being hitched to your worst nightmare.
13. Food From Quick-fix: No, Quick-fix is not a restaurant (sadly), but you need to know how to make food that take less than 5mins to cook: sunny side fries, wraps, plantain, stir fry, spaghetti, cereal and all other quick-fix good stuff. Your fridge, if you have one, is essential because microwaveable meals are your lifesaver. You also need to watch your drinking. Sometimes, pass by the booze and surprise your liver with water.
14. Sleepovers: I can’t help you much here; you are going to learn about this yourself. I only know that it’s likely to be full of awkward moments (at first), getting to know your host for better and for worse and getting high on one another’s supply. Be careful. Know when you are going to need the morning-after pill as well. You know what I mean.
15. Know Your Bus Routes: I do not know if there is an app for this yet, but there should be. Your route must be on the left side of your brain always, whether you have a car or not. Some parts of town are private vehicle-repellent, so knowing what bus/keke/bike to take to what location is only fundamental wisdom.
16. New Friends: You are going to make new friends so often you will not believe it. This is because your married friends’ focus will change immediately they leave the altar. The late nights you shared with them at the bar or the usual hangouts will not be there anymore. You might even feel uninvited to an apartment you used to know so well and you might begin to read different symbols and writings on the wall telling you that you have overstayed your welcome. Get used to the revolving door.
17. A Good Support System: This is something you have to intellectually and deliberately carve out for your life. It could be a mentor-protégé relationship or just having older friends who can help out with making good decisions. You will face some career, relationship or financial situations and if you do not make the right choices at that time, you may lose your life as you know it.
18. Get Ciprotab: I am not a marketer for Pfizer or Boots, I promise, but you need to take care of yourself as an adult, for the days of having your mommy force-feed you cough syrup are sadly long gone. In these early days of our careers when most of us are working with start-upsor working freelance, health insurance is a luxury. Considering the amount of germs purposefully floating about, anyone is easily susceptible to certain diseases. You need to be able to get back on the grind as soon as possible and Ciprotab is a solid choice. Ask a good pharmacist if you don’t believe me.
19. Progressive De-stressing: This is your own way of calming your nerves. It could be a particular lounge you visit, a swimming pool or frequent visit to a massage parlor. This, I personally think, is suitable for Sunday evenings (I believe this is the time people feel most lonely). It is a place you can visit or an activity you can do without breaking your bank account disrupting your schedule beyond recognition, and it should leave you feeling much mellower when it’s done.
20. Act It Till You Make It (Within Reason): You do not have to be earning the fattest cheques or wearing suits from Brioni but this is you, with a better image of yourself in your head. Act it out. Act like you have the best of jobs, a fantastic relationship and most awesome of friends. Be accommodating, if you eat at your friend’s, then they can eat at yours. But in all things, find a balance where you remain true to who you are.