If you know me, you're aware that I love my Nigerian heritage. However, those close to me may have heard me discuss my personal journey of unlearning certain Nigerian customs based on my own experiences and revelations. I want to clarify that this process of unlearning was never intended to shame my culture, but rather to critically examine and challenge certain aspects of it.
Letting Go of Perfectionism
Growing up in the Nigerian culture, there is often an expectation that anything less than a grade A or coming in second or fifth place is not good enough. This mindset can have a detrimental effect on one's self-esteem, leading to anxiety, depression, and a constant sense of inadequacy. Over time, I've learned to accept my flaws and mistakes while breaking free from the trap of people-pleasing.
Marriage Does Not Define My Worth
In the Nigerian culture, there can be societal pressure and concern when someone remains unmarried in their 30s. Some individuals prioritize marriage as a mere title, overlooking the importance of being with a partner who brings peace, abundance, and God's favor into one's life.
As an unmarried Nigerian woman in my mid-30s, I've learned to disregard the judgmental whispers that equated my worth based on my relationship/marital status.
Instead, I've come to appreciate and acknowledge the unique qualities that make me an amazing single woman. It's essential to understand that one's value and the contributions they make to the world are never determined by their marital status. In fact, those who grasp this concept often maximize their singleness to live a purpose-filled life.
Putting God Above Culture
While I cherish my Nigerian culture, it doesn't mean I unquestioningly agree with every aspect of it. As a Christian and Nigerian, there have been moments when I needed to reflect and decide which path should take precedence in my life.
This decision-making process became particularly relevant when it came to dating. I realized the importance of making choices based on godly principles rather than factors like tribe or family background. Ultimately, if I believe that God's ways are higher than my ways (Isaiah 55:8), then I must commit to following what God says above all else on a daily basis.
Holding People Accountable and Establishing Boundaries Doesn't Make Me a Villain
Nigerian culture places significant emphasis on respecting elders and others in general. While I value these principles, I've also come to understand that when respect is not reciprocated, it becomes necessary to establish and maintain boundaries. In recent years, I've realized that familial relationships aren't always the most important or healthy connections.
In such cases, I've had to make decisions about who should have close proximity to my life. There was a time when I felt guilty for holding people accountable and felt obligated to maintain communication with certain individuals, whether family members or family friends, solely to uphold appearances. However, I've learned that perpetuating this pattern only leads to an unhealthy cycle of people-pleasing, leaving me feeling drained and frequently triggered.
These four points have transformed my perspective for the better. Have you experienced anything similar that you've had to unlearn in your own life recently? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences.