Why Christians Aren’t Waiting Anymore

Many of my friends on Twitter and Facebook posted a link to a recent CNN article entitled “Why Young Christians Aren’t Waiting Anymore.” The title was intriguing, so of course I clicked on it, even scrolled through the comments in the comments section of the article, but still, I haven’t heard from my readers and friends: what do they think of the article?

For those of you haven’t read it, I’ll summarize. The article suggests that unmarried Christians are having almost as much premarital sex as their non-Christian peers. The author thinks our society  is so saturated with sexual images and messages in the media that drastically contradict “Abstinence Until Marriage” messages. Secondly, we live in a society where people do what feels right; this notion is preferred over delayed gratification. Thirdly, unlike previous generations, people of the current generation get married later in life, leaving them a good 13 – 15 years after puberty to slip up. Fourthly, the abstinence message is no longer relevant. The people who lived in Bible times got married at age young ages, so abstaining was easier.

While I agree with most of these arguments, I would like to present two of my own. First, it is HARD to save sex until marriage! I don’t know if any of you have tried to abstain lately, but my goodness, it takes the every fiber in your being (and God) to resist “temptation.” And secondly, finding a partner who willing to abstain is like finding a casette tape of one of your favorite music artists of the 90’s. Even the “very Christian” men will look at you funny when you propose your intention to abstain from sex until marriage.

So, readers, why do you think Christians aren’t waiting until marriage to have sex?

Dear Woman In A Relationship

I am so happy for you and your new-found love. You are happier than usual, grinning from ear to ear, and you have been flaunting a side of you that I’ve never seen before. It’s beautiful! But what I wanted to talk to you about is something that has been bothering me since you and your boo started dating. Don’t kill the messenger; these are just my observations.

You consistently cancel dates with your friends. 

On Saturday we had a plan for a girls night out. You know dinner at an ethic restaurant followed by a Spoken Word Night at Apache Cafe? Our plans were set and about 2 hours before our intended meeting time, you cancelled on us. Your reason? To go out to dinner with your boyfriend. Now, I know that he’s your boo, but we had these plans arranged before he called. As a matter of fact, we were here before he was. Would he have done the same for you? Don’t think so. Most men hardly ever cancel an outing with their boys because their girlfriend called. Would you like someone doing that to you? Nope. We didn’t like it either.

You no longer share your own opinion.

You used to stay abreast on the latest news and have a strong opinion about politics and international affairs. When we spent time together, we would talk for hours about those things.  Searching for the best restaurant in town used to give you such a thrill and you would Yelp about your experiences afterwards. Nowadays, I can’t even ask your opinion about a restaurant without you expressing his opinion tooI’m sorry, I asked your opinion, not his.

You no longer have an interest in doing the things that once made you happy.

Monday night kickboxing, Tuesday night belly dancing, Wednesday night Bible study, Thursday night poetry. Girl, your weekly schedule was packed! I understand that with the presence of a man in your life, somethings would change but I’ve noticed you only do what he wants to do. In the 15 years that we’ve been friends, I never knew you to be a sports fanatic. In fact, you never followed football or even knew what teams were playing in the Superbowl.  On the rare occasions that we did find ourselves at a Superbowl party, you would be in another room playing Spades, completely oblivious to what’s happening in the game. The cool thing about being in a relationship is the opportunities you have to expand your horizons and be introduced to the things that he enjoys. But that doesn’t mean you should lose yourself in the process.

You share intimate details about your love life in public.

Flirty comments about how good your man looks in his Facebook profile pic: sweet. Calling him the name of a superhero on his Facebook status: not so much. I know we’re close, but no one wants to know the names you call each other in the bedroom; no one wants to know the type of activities you two engage in when no one is looking. And most importantly, no one wants to know when you got some. Take a hint from your man. You see how he sparingly he posts intimate details about your relationship. There’s a reason for that; follow his lead

You are now an expert on all things surrounding relationships.

Ok, so you got lucky in the Love department. But that doesn’t grant you a doctorate degree in the area of Love and how to find it. Everyone is different. Everyone is looking for something different. You may be an expert on your relationship, but that doesn’t make you an expert on mine.

Women In A Relationship, I want you to have a happy healthy relationship. Explore your own interests and be protective of your special friendship. And finally, and I say this sincerely, spare me on the I-Know-It-All-Cause-I-Snagged-A-Man attitude. It is not flattering.

I’ve written this letter in the nicest way possible, but what I really want to say was so well articulated by Jozen Cummings, writer of the blog, “Until I Get Married.” I’ll direct you to his blog to supplement my message. Please click here.

Sincerely,

Yaa Yaa

 

How I Got Into Graduate School

My younger brother is in his senior year at Morehouse College. As a Big Sister who has matriculated through graduate school, I get the pleasure of offering advice through one of the most challenging years of his life. The other day, as I was fixing him a hearty breakfast before his GRE Exam, he asks me, “How many graduate schools did you apply to?” Lost in thought, I absentmindedly replied, “Three.” I didn’t think much of it, but he did and responded, “That didn’t seem like much. Why didn’t you apply to more?” I sighed and thought, Kobi always asks a lot of questions. I let out a deep breath and proceeded to tell him my story.

I can be indecisive about a lot of things, but in 2007, during my senior year in college, I was decisive about the three graduate schools I wanted to attend. My first choice was located in the South; the second choice was in the Midwest and my third choice was Boston University (BU). There were no other schools I wanted to attend. If I didn’t get into those schools, I planned to apply to graduate school again the following year.

Shockingly, I did not get accepted to any of my first two choices. Although I had maintained Honor Roll status throughout my four years at Spelman College, successfully competed and defended a thesis, listed three research related internships on my résumé, and had held leadership positions in four campus organizations, my first and second choice schools did not accept me. Their reason? My GRE scores did not meet their criteria.

I have never been good at standardized tests. I get anxious. I over-analyze questions. I take too much time and fail to complete the sections. Standardized tests don’t like me and I don’t like them. It was no surprise that my GRE scores were low; my SAT scores weren’t high either. My top two choices had stringent GRE standards; they used GRE scores to filter your applications. If your application didn’t meet the GRE requirement, your application was ruled out no matter what your credentials looked like.

BU wasn’t like that. During my visit to BU in the Fall of my senior year in college, I met the admissions recruiter and professors who in spite of my shortcomings saw in me raw talent. The admissions recruiter was adamant about maintaining contact with me throughout the application process. We both knew that my GRE scores were below the school’s requirements, but given my other qualifications, he thought I had a good shot. Even so, I had to work extra hard to get in. I submitted research papers and projects; I solicited recommendation letters from professors. I had even started communicating with professors at BU.

The end of April was quickly approaching. Final exams were around the corner, and I was putting finishing touches on final projects. Some of my classmates were already saying their final “Goodbyes.” Most schools had already sent out their acceptance letters and I was getting more and more anxious about my graduate school career with each passing day. My classmates were welcoming acceptance letters from Ivy League institutions like Harvard University and Columbia University. Others were entering into the corporate world, boasting about job offers on Wall Street. They asked what I was doing after graduation, and I didn’t have much to say. I met rejection letters in my campus mailbox frequently. And I was beginning to feel like graduate school was not in the cards for me, at least not immediately after college.

But to my surprise and joy, good news finally came.  After about six weeks in agony about not getting into graduate school, I received a phone call from the admissions recruiter from BU at around noon on Friday, April 20, 2007.  “On behalf of the admissions team here at BU, I’d like to welcome you to our school,” said the Admissions recruiter on the other end. I started yelling, screaming, and jumping up and down. Given the numerous conversations the admissions recruiter and I had held in the past few months, he had become accustomed to my vocal gestures and tendencies, he chuckled. “I know you’d be excited. CONGRATLATIONS!!” I hung up the phone and proceeded to call my biggest fans and supporters to tell them I did it.

It has been four years since that phone call, but I can still vividly recall the series of events leading up to my admission. I remember the anxiety I felt about the possibility of not getting in and I remember the long hours I invested to produce paperwork for the School to grant my admission. I am happy that I did not get into my first and second choice school. If I did, my life would have turned out differently.

BU offered me a host of opportunities that the other schools could not. I met some amazing people that I not only admire; I call them my friends. I learned from professors who were pioneers in their field.  I also had the time of my life in Boston, while learning alongside the nation’s most educated people. As a young woman from a historically Black college for women, I seized opportunities to share my experiences with my classmates. My college and my experiences were foreign to my classmates, as were their experiences to me.  We represented different cultures, countries, perspectives, and lifestyles, yet we learned from each other; we exchanged notes, stories, opinions, and perspectives. Each person I encountered at BU has made a positive influence on me and have contributed to the professional I am today.

You’d think, having gone through a series of ups and downs in my career, I’d be used to the feelings and the anxiety that it brings. I’m not. I am always in need of encouragement to continue pursuing my dreams. It’s when I look back at where I come from; it’s when I look at others who are successful and have been through tough times, that I am inspired to keep on keeping on ’cause in the midst of turmoil, rejection, and chaos, you will get what you wanted; in fact you will get even better than what you wanted.

So if this story resonates with you because you are in the midst of applying to graduate school; If you’re that woman from a small liberal arts institution; if you’re talented but talents are not reflected in your standardized tests scores; if your personal statement is just not perfect enough no matter how hard you work on it, then I encourage to keep on trekking on. Your time is coming soon. And when it does, you will be satisfied with the outcome even if you weren’t granted your first choice.

Why I Want A Wedding Not A Marriage

I love a good party. And a wedding is a grand excuse for a party.  Coral bridesmaid dresses, white wedding gown, Reggae Music, the Electric Slide, the Wobble and the Cupid Shuffle; family and friends; honeymooning in an exotic island; riding around in stretch White Cadillac Escalade with my favorite girls. All eyes on Yours Truly? (Sigh) I’ve gone to Heaven.

I believe in the institution of marriage but understand that social union involves a lot of work that I am not willing to invest. Each time I log onto Facebook, my newsfeed greets me with stories of friends tying the knot. I’m happy for them and anxiously click on their page, view all of their engagement and wedding photos, actively searching for a hints about how they met. I notice each and every detail in their pictures: wedding color scheme, the ring’s cut, the groom’s cumber bond. Everything. The couple appears ecstatic, grinning from ear to ear. But in a matter of weeks, after the couple has returned from their honeymoon. They update their status “No one told me that a marriage would be so much work!” A conversation that I initiate, “How’s married life?” ends with, a wide-mouthed response and he utters, “A lot of work. I wasn’t prepared for this.”

Marriage? A lot of Work? Oh, okay then, “no thank you.” I’m lazy and would rather be a ball with no chain, an independent woman, a free spirt. Here are my reasons why:

Marriages take years of preparation. Weddings don’t.

Marriage is the coming together of two people with personality flaws, expectations, bad experiences, hang-ups, regrets, and bad habits. Each person enters marital bliss with baggage, baggage that took a lifetime to create.  Both parties thrust their baggage upon their spouse, as if it were her spouse’s fault that she shops too much. She was a shopaholic long before their wedding day, but yet he is the scapegoat for her enormous credit card debt. Baggage was the result of bad experiences as a child and former relationships; no one acquires baggage overnight. It is the result of habits you developed as a child, as a teenager and it followed you into adulthood.

Weddings require one year of planning. That’s it. And if you’re like my highly organized friend, it could only take you one week. For a wedding, all that’s required is the dress, floral arrangements and some logistics, wedding invites and you’re done.

Marriage lasts one lifetime. Weddings last one day.

Well, let me take that back. Some weddings last a couple days, like the wedding I attended in India. But traditional American weddings  usually last one day. Marriages are usually intended to last a lifetime.  I can sense a lot of you offering the option of divorce. I acknowledge that, but I don’t really consider divorce an option when I think about marriage. Considering divorce is like planning to fail, and I’m too busy focused on success that really, I don’t contemplate failure.

Weddings are quick. You’re in. Dress up. See long lost friends. Drink and be merry. Dance til you can’t anymore and you’re done.

Chemistry fades. But marital commitments don’t.

One of my favorite things in this world are love stories. Any type. Romantic movies, romance novels, romantic songs, real life love stories, videographies – anything that conveys a story about how a couple met and fell in love. I am always amused about the life circumstances that bring a couple together: a car accident, a friend’s introduction, a random encounter at a bar. One thing that all these stories have in common is that they all start the same way. They met, felt butterflies, and had a gut feeling she/he was “The One.”  The chemistry was off the charts and it just felt “so right.” So why deny something that feels so good? The couple gets married. Weeks, months, or years into the marriage, the once happily married bride and groom begin to bicker. She used to love the fact that he was talkative, but now, after a few months of marriage, he talks too much. He used to love to wine and dine her, but now all he wants is a homecooked meal and she can’t cook. The chemistry deteriorates but those vows that the bride and groom uttered at the altar, they are still in effect.

Marriage destroys the agenda of the independent woman. Wedding doesn’t.

“Miss Independent” by Ne-yo was my mantra during the time of its release in 2008. Man, if any song could have describe me at that time, it was definitely that song. The song presented me with a bit of a conflict, however. On one hand, I wanted to be married one day, but on the other hand, I enjoyed being independent too much to be tied down. I asked my mom if you could be married and independent. She says, “it’s impossible.” She was right.

The foundation for marriage is the commitment each party has to one another. You depend on him; he depends on you. You can’t have a successful marriage and do things your way while he does things his way. If that was the case, then there would be no need for marriage. We can all stay unmarried forever. I don’t wanna give up my Miss Independent card. I want to pay my own bills, make my own decisions, and not have to consider how my decisions are going to affect someone else.

When marriages end, there is bitterness and regret. Weddings end in happiness.

Ever left a wedding angry? (Well, I have but the reason had nothing to do with the wedding itself and everything to do with a personal conflict I was dealing with at the time.) Weddings usually don’t make people angry. Weddings are joyous events; they lighten one’s spirits. They inspire people to continue searching for the love of their life. Marriages, on the other hand, end with people falling into depression; some contemplate suicide. The children are hurt, harboring resentments to parents and may experience trust issues afterwards. Just ugly. When weddings end, the situation is beautiful.

I don’t want to be married and given the fact that 50% of marriages end in divorce, I’m sure a lot of you would agree with me too. Weddings are a lot more fun; a lot less work; and a lot more appealing than a lifetime of marriage. No?

Author’s Note:

For those of you take this post to heart, know that I am only being sarcastic; I am poking fun of those that spend more time preparing for a brief event rather than a lifetime commitment. Yes, I realize that you cannot have a wedding without a marriage. Yes, I do want to get married one day. Like what you’ve read? Listen to the inspiration for this post: Love, Sex, & Dating Series by Adam Stanley of Buckhead Church.

Dating and Job-seeking: Separate But Similar

“Who wants to share bad news?” read a text message from a friend who is a hiring manager at a consulting firm. She was responding to a message where I vented my frustration with a company who failed to follow-up with me after an interview. From the way the interview unfolded and the fact that I was the perfect match for the job, I knew that (as Cher asserted in the movie “Clueless” ) “It was in the bag!”

Good point, I thought in response to my friend’s text message. Those words were never punched into my Android keypad, but her comment made me think of times where I had to be the bearer of bad news. I thought of men who had asked me on a date and I said “no.” I thought of men who had asked me to be their girlfriend, and I refused.  In fact, I realized that all my memories of me sharing bad news occurred between a member of the opposite sex and me. On numerous accounts throughout this grueling process, I’ve made connections between dating and job-seeking. Here’s how these two things are separate but similar:

1.     No one likes being rejected. And no one likes being the rejecter.

Recently, a fellow church member asked me out. He was a nice guy – considerate, funny, loved kids (especially his own) – but I wasn’t attractive to him. “Maybe if I avoid his phone calls, he’ll realize that I don’t feel the same way.” I told a girl friend via Skype video chat.

Jessica!” She blurted out, as if I had lost my mind, “Don’t do that. Just tell him you’re not interested! That’s trifling to avoid him.” She was right, and my stomach turned flips at the thought of having to tell him “no.”

The next time the guy called asking me out to a movie, I turned him down. It was a simple conversation.

Him: “Would you like to go to a movie?”

Me: “Thank you for asking. But no thank you.”

But that five-second conversation was ranked amongst the top 10 most difficult conversations I’ve had in 2011. I sensed the disappointment in his voice and I felt like a jerk. No one likes rejecters, and since employers  are people too (hard to believe, I know), they don’t like informing you that you weren’t a match for the position no matter how outstanding a candidate’s credentials.

2. You always want what you can’t have.

I move a lot. I’m semi-nomadic. I guess that’s part of the new 20something movement. About 3 out of the 7 times that I’ve moved in the last 6 years, a guy in the city that I’ve moved from will come out of the woodworks, days before my departure, to tell me how much he will miss me and how much he would like to be with me. My reaction is always the same: “You mean to tell me, that I’ve been here for [insert time here] and only now you tell me that you’d love to date me?” It aggravates me every time.

Similarly, employers will wait until I am no longer available to offer me a job. When I accepted a job offer in March 2010, my Gmail inbox became flooded with e-mails from recruiters I reached out to eons ago informing me that they had a position for me. One recruiter called me incessantly, informing me that among the 200 candidates who applied to the position, my profile was the only one that matched the job description. He even pleaded with me, asking me to consider rescinding my acceptance to the other job. (To which I responded, “No, but thanks for the offer.”)

You are more appealing to employers when you have another job; you are more appealing to the opposite sex when you’re unavailable. It’s human nature to always want what is unavailable.

3. Everyone wants to you to accept her offer.

“I like Atlanta girls cause their easy,” announced a guy I  met at the baggage carousel upon my arrival to Boston’s Logan International Airport in 2007. I guess that was his way of flirting with me? I was slightly offended and let him know that the “Atlanta girl” that he just described was not applicable to me. Men who go after women who are likely to say “yes” are far from being in a minority. My former co-worker used to brag all the time, “When I was in New York, girls were so hard. I had to perfect my skills to pick up women. But when I came to the South, my skills were up to par. And Southern girls were so easy! I like Southern girls better.”

In the same vein, employers are more likely to offer a position to a candidate who is likely to say “yes.” Before I accepted the offer from my most recent job in March 2010, the employer kept asking questions that would affirm my interest, “Are you sure you want this job? Are you willing to relocate?  Tell me why you want this job.” She wanted to make sure that when she offered me the position, I’d accept.

4. Desperation is bad.

The only thing more unattractive me than a man with a Jheri curl is a man who’s desperate. Women who are thirsty repel men too.  While hanging out with a girl friend at a Serani concert last month, we ran into one of her male friends. To be polite, she introduced me. After he expressed some interest in me, I took her aside to get the 411 on her homeboy. She told me that within the last year or so, he had not only hit on her, but five of her friends. Next! I thought. Desperation is bad.

Job hunting is frustrating at times. I am tempted to write HIRE ME in big bold letters on my LinkedIn page. I want to e-mail all my contacts with the subject that reads, PLEASE HIRE ME. A few times, I’ve drafted e-mails to former classmates that read, Your company won’t call me back, can you ask them why they won’t hire me? I never sent those e-mails because desperation is an unattractive quality.

What to Expect at SpelHouse Homecoming

“Are you going to Spel-House Homecoming?” That’s the million dollar question amongst all Spelman and Morehouse alumni. My response: “Maybe.”

“Maybe?!” My brother, a current senior at Morehouse, exclaimed in astonishment. I explained, “I’d go, but I just don’t feel like being…”

1. Overdressed for a tailgate party.

It’s understood but never explained why Spel-House attenders will drop some serious money on a outfit, get their hair did, eyebrows did, nails did, and sometimes a bikini wax to attend a tailgating party. I graduated 4 years ago and I still don’t get it. I don’t feel like having to shop for a new outfit, one that doesn’t look like I tried too hard, but am naturally fly. I don’t feel like making an appointment at Keep It Natural Hair Salon, so Rikya Taylor can straighten out my natural kinks so that it will bounce and swing in the light wind that October brings to Atlanta. I don’t feel like making an eyebrow threading appointment at Hair Images to have my eyebrow designed into a flawless arch and applying make up tips from Tierra of Make-Up-By-Tierra. These talented hairstylists and estheticians will make my natural glamour shine. Only an over-price pair of shades would complete my look. But I don’t feel like doing all this just to attend an outdoor cookout.

2. Disappointed if the Morehouse Tigers lose. 

I love my Morehouse brothers, but thank God they have other things going for them besides their football team. From the years I was a student at Spelman, 2003 to 2007, I can remember the Morehouse Tigers winning one homecoming game. You can imagine our amazement when the Tigers won the Homecoming Game of 2007. One Morehouse man exclaimed, “No! We’re not suppposed to win our Homecoming Game. It doesn’t feel right.”

I’ll admit: I don’t ever watch the football game. I’m usually tailgating with the rest of my former classmates. But surprisingly, I am still disappointed each time I hear we’ve lost the game.

3. Hearing that my former classmates are engaged to a millionaire and planning a wedding in Maui.

My lovely Spelman sisters are going to have their engagement rings shined and blinging on this day. They are going make sure that you see their ring. And while their hand is waving in the air exposing their princess cut diamond ring, they’ll drop some hints to let you know how loaded their fiance´is. Just enough to make a unmarried woman with no prospects want to upchuck the hotdogs she devoured from the Alpha’s tent.

Who am I kidding? I can’t wait for Homecoming 2011.

Choose Your Perspective

“Keerrrplum!” The sound that an owner of a new car never wants to hear, the sound that she cautiously tries to avoid. The sound of metal side swapping the passenger side of her pride and joy – her baby, her car. I looked over to my right to see a mindless 30something woman driver with long brown hair. She her head and looked at me as if I were the problem. You hit my car! How dare you! I thought.

That thought was followed by a series of Oh my gosh! How am I going to pay for this? What’ s my insurance company going to say? It was such a minor incident; no one was hurt. There was no impact when she hit my car. But should I call the police? Is my insurance premium going to rise? What’s going to happen now? 

And if that wasn’t enough, my thoughts continued: I do NOT need this to happen to me right now! I’m not working; no (real) income. The job offer may take a little longer than I anticipated. Bills are getting more difficult to pay these days, especially as my savings accounts diminish and my credit card balance rises. I should be working by now; I’m not. And on top of all this, my “friend” – he wasn’t my official boyfriend – and I just broke it off and I can’t really call him to share my struggles like I used to. Why is everything happening at the same time? 

And that’s where I stopped myself.  Lately, I have been challenging myself to remove the negative self-defeating thoughts and insert positive thoughts in their place. As mentioned in my “About Me” section, my favorite scripture is Romans 8:28, which basically states that All things happen for a reason. And this circumstance – even the unpleasant ones – all happen to make me a better person, regardless of how unpleasant it feels. Instead of raving about how wrong things are unfolding in my life right now, I’m going to boast about how wonderful it is. Be grateful that things aren’t worse than they are; look at the bright side of things.

And, despite whatever situation you find yourself in, I challenge you to do the same.

Three Reasons I Like Nigerians

The running joke among my friends is that I’ll probably marry a Nigerian man one day. I understand why they make this statement. In addition to finding Nigerian men attractive, I have worked in Nigeria and embraced its culture. I listen to Nigerian music artists, Naeto C, Bracket, and P-Square. I watch their movies. And I have made substantial efforts to learn languages of the country. I can’t predict the future, but I do like Nigerians. Here are three reasons why.

1.    They have a good sense of humor.

Nigerians have the worst reputation of any other group of people that I’ve ever heard: they are scammers; they are womanizers, and they are drug traffickers.  They are the scapegoats and sometimes perpetrators of Internet and credit card scams. Some are accused for having extramarital affairs with multiple women in multiple countries. Oftentimes, they are the ones that send you e-mails promising to make you rich if you send them a few thousand dollars. They take your money and you end up penniless. Tell a Nigerian about his reputation and he’ll laugh it off and make light of it. They don’t appear to be bothered by their reputation, but some will assure you that among 155 million people living in the country, only a small percentage actually live up to this reputation.

Many will even poke fun of their awful reputation. I once left my purse with a Nigerian friend of mine to hold while I ran an errand. He says, “I’m not going to take your cash, but I might take your credit card!” I chuckled, and grabbed my purse from him.

2. They are very direct.

If you want the un-sugarcoated truth, ask a Nigerian. They don’t beat around the bush. It’s not in their nature. I recently applied to a position at a company in Nigeria. After six weeks of hearing no response, I called the human resource department to inquire about my application’s status. He replies abruptly, “We’ve already selected the people we wanted for the position and you weren’t one of them.” Well,” I said, “Thanks.” I was shut down and did not have any follow-up questions for him (which is a rare occurrence for me). I thanked him for his time and hung up the Skype call.

I have been on the job hunt for a few months now and have applied to a copious amount of internships, jobs, schools, fellowship programs in my lifetime, so I am familiar with the script human resource departments (in the U.S.) follow when an applicant has been rejected from a position. They’ll say “Thank you for applying. This position had over 300 applications and we regret to inform you that you have not been selected for this position. You are highly talented. Please consider other positions with our company in the future.” In whatever they say, American companies will consider your ego; they won’t completely shut you down without at least an apology. That’s not the case for Nigerians.

3.    They are very intelligent.

I’m not a politics or history guru and I don’t claim to be. I know what I know about American history and politics, from CNN, MSNBC, BBC, and news networks and from whatever I’ve retained from lectures in grade school and that’s about it. But whenever I find myself in a conversation with a Nigerian about American politics or history, I am put to shame. They know more about it than I do. They will tell me what they believe Obama’s doing right and what Bush did wrong. I just smile and nod, too ashamed to admit that I don’t know what they’re talking about.

“Are You Ok?” and Other Questions Not To Ask An Unemployed Person

This morning, I read that Hallmark is now selling cards for the 9.1% of Americans who are unemployed. For all those considering purchasing a card for $3.99 to remind me that I’m unemployed, I suggest you use that money to buy me a Chick-fil-A biscuit; that’s my favorite breakfast that my budget no longer permits me to buy. Unemployment is another word for broke and hungry. Money or food is the greatest gift you can give an Unemployed Person.

Unemployed People appreciate the great lengths people take to console them, but sometimes these acts of kindness have adverse effects. Unemployed People are the most sensitive people on this planet. Something that you ask or say that you intend for good, has an opposite effect. Purchasing a card that says “Sorry you’re not working” is not going to soothe our pain; it will make us grieve even more.

I understand, Employed People. You are gainfully employed and don’t know what to say or how to act towards people who aren’t working. I get it. I thought you could use some help and wrote a list of questions/comments not to say to an Unemployed Person.

1. Are you ok? / Is everything ok?

I hate this question. I hate it more when it’s asked repeatedly. Are you ok? Is a question that implies that something bad happened to me. Ask this question and I think you’re prying.  But since you asked, no, I’m not ok. I just lost my job; my income is gone. I am forced to live with my in-laws or other family members. I am crunched in a 2 bedroom house, share a room and bathroom with 3 other people. I don’t have my spacious loft anymore. I eat Raman noodles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and between rerun episodes of Beverly Hills 90210 and General Hospital on SoapNet, I write e-mails, make phone calls and attend job fairs, and none of my efforts have been successful. And frankly, I’m tired of looking. Being a bum seems like a viable option to me these days.

Ask me “Is everything ok?,”  and I will dismiss you; ask me “How are you doing?” and I will be more receptive. Unemployed people are prideful people with a bruised ego. We are not going to tell you that we have $5.00 in our Wells Fargo checking account and we spend our free time looking between sofa cushions and digging through old Piggy Banks to salvage enough money to make the minimum balance on our cell phone bill, so Sprint won’t cut off our service.  We won’t tell you that we’re basically living off Tostitos and Gingerale; and haven’t eaten a nutritious meal in almost two weeks. We may just talk about how the Cowboys beat the Redskins on Sunday and what we’re expecting for the Panthers/Bears game.  We may want talk how big Beyonce’s pregnant tummy is becoming. Whatever it is we want to talk about, just listen. Don’t disregard what we’re saying. Unemployed people are lonely. We want someone to talk to. We want to get our mind off  our struggles. If we don’t talk to you about our struggles, leave it alone. Offer the fact that you are free whenever we need a listening ear.

2. Do You Have A Job Yet?

If I hear this question one more time, I am going scream. Don’t worry Employed Person, when I get a job offer, the entire world will know it. I am going to stand on my rooftop with a bullhorn yelling for my entire subdivision and all nearby complexes to hear, “I got a job!!!” I am going to send an e-mail to practically all of my 700 contacts listed on my G-Mail account; I’m going to post the new position on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Hey, I might even update my Google Plus profile and put it out there too. Thanks.

3. You’re Not Looking Hard Enough 

Unless you are with the Unemployed Person 24 hours per day, you cannot make this assumption. And since, Employed Person, you have a job, you’re at least busy for 8 hours of the day, you may only be with the employed person for 4 of her waking hours each day. You don’t know what we’re doing while you’re away at work. It’s a tough market out there. The best and the brightest are looking and each position receives at least 150 applicants. To say that we’re not looking hard enough is implying that we are lazy people who are sitting at home all day, polishing our nails and waiting for them to dry; that is not the case. Some of us are the most hard-working people that you will ever meet. We are just unfortunate in our job hunt.

4. What happened at your last job?

Nosy. How is my response to this question going to help you in your life? Perhaps, it will teach you a couple things, but it doesn’t matter cause right now I don’t want to talk about it. There’s a recession; so assume that’s what happened to my job.

Whatever is encouraging, whatever is empowering, whatever is enlightening, speak those things to Unemployed People. The main thing that an Unemployed Person wants to know is that there is someone in her corner and that she has a listening ear whenever she needs to vent. That’s all. And when you listen, get this, you don’t even need to give advice! You just need to listen!

High Expectations

A knot in my throat and tears in my eyes, I returned home from my 26th birthday celebration. Once again, my friends had let me down again, failing to show up to my birthday festivities. Despite the number of times I’ve shown up, overcame obstacles or incurred an exorbitant amount of debt to make it there for my friends, they failed to show up for me. I am a firm believer in where there is a will there is a way and if my friend has invited me to a wedding, milestone birthday celebration or made me promise to visit her in a far away city, then I will do whatever it takes – shift monies from my savings account, forgo a hair appointment or two (sometimes three), eat Raman noodles for breakfast lunch dinner – whatever it takes to be there for more friends.

I do these things because (a) I take the role of friendship seriously and in my book this means being there for your friend’s milestone events and (b) I assume that since we’re friends, you’ll do the same thing for me. And (c) most times these short excursions to attend a birthday party out of state are exhilarating for me. I enjoy the party.

Well, these beliefs have set me up for disappointment everytime. I find myself doing all these things to be there for me when it’s their turn to “reward” me, I get nothing. A mere text message on my birthday; a “sorry I can’t make it” on the e-vite, or my favorite, a non-acknowledgement that my birthday is here.

Now, I understand that life happens cause in the last few months life has happened to me too, certainly interrupted my comfort level, but on the other hand, I don’t really understand. I’ve practically jumped over wild horses, grew money in my non-furtile backyard, said a prayer over making it to your shin-dig, why can’t you do that for me?

When I think of these things, I typically become very angry. But I have recently come to the realization that putting faith in people to do what you do for them is simply unfair and inappropriate. Unfair – because who says that my friendship book matches their friendship book. And inappropriate because this expectation puts more damage on me then it does on them. Think about it. My friend is home doing whatever she does, while I’m at home sobbing cause she let me down again. While she says “sorry” for her non-attendance, she doesn’t carry the burden – the regret, the anger and the overall disappointment – that comes with this great expectation of mine. And on the bright side, I have had a brilliant life. For everytime someone has failed to meet my expectation, three people have exceeded them – giving me money when needed, traveling two hours to pick up an i-Pod that I left behind, taking me under their wings while I was away from my home country.

With this being said, I relinquish the burden that I have place on people to meet my every action and embrace the endless possibilities that life has to show me.