Sunday, 18 November 2012

Chasing Success: L. L. S. F (3)

Good to see you here again. I hope all is well with you

In continuing my ramblings on 'Chasing Success', I will be touching on my third L.L.S.F (Lessons Learnt So Far)

As usual, I will start with a preamble:

When Abby graduated in 1991, her priority was to make sure her younger siblings were well provided for. Her parents were both pensioners and this was the time - in Nigeria - when pensions were often not paid and pensioners really struggled to survive, talk less of taking care of their families.

As soon as she arrived in the UK, she contacted friends to make sure she got a job asap. Through her friends, she got a job as a carer (someone who goes into people’s homes to take care of their needs). Her job involved going into old people’s homes and help them with things they found difficult to do i.e. shopping, paying bills and laundry.

Abby did this job – with two employers - for three years; and was able to send enough money home to ensure her two younger ones could complete their university education. However, this was done at great sacrifice as Abby’s social life was nonexistent. Her living arrangements were also very basic as she chose to rent a room only so she could keep her living costs to a basic minimum. All through this period, whenever Abby called home, there was always one demand or another........... Abby did her best to make sure her family did not lack.

In her fourth year in London, Abby met a special person and they got married the following year in a small ceremony with a few friends. As they began to build a home together, Abby started to question her future as a carer – especially as she felt she was not achieving her full potential. Both her siblings had now graduated and she felt it was time to focus on her future. With the support of her husband, Abby decided to change to a part time job position (meaning a significant drop in income) and return to university - to retrain as a social worker.

When Abby told her siblings and parents about her new position – and that she wouldn’t be able to send money home regularly; she was surprised that her family was very cold. She expected them to warm up to the idea but this didnt happen. It seemed the ‘golden goose’ had stopped laying golden eggs. Saddened, she reminded her younger sister that she had done so much for the family and it was time to focus on herself – to consolidate her own future. Her sister’s reply:
‘Wetin you don do, wey somebody never do before?’ (What have you done that hasn’t been done before)

Broken hearted, she told her mother she was disappointed by her siblings’ behaviour......Her mother’s response: ‘Abeg no vex, you know first born be like dustbin !!! (Please don’t be offended, you must know that the first born child is like a bin – always on the receiving end)!!!

I use this story to illustrate my 3rd L.L.S.F : ‘Real Friends and True Family members should NEVER resent your success – Recognise Your Millstone’

(Millstone = One of a pair of cylindrical stones used in a mill for grinding grain - Also refers to A heavy weight or burden)

Dont get me wrong, we are all competitive. However, true friends and real family members should NEVER weigh someone down.
In most African cultures, we are brought up to put family first – always. However, over time, I have come to realise that some friends and family members can be  ‘millstones’ that can drag you down.

I have to be honest when I say some friends and family members can resent progress and change. That is when we hear comments like:
-         ‘You are not the boy/ girl I used to know’  OR ‘You’ve really changed’
  My opinion: How can people expect someone to remain the same forever?
-         ‘You think you are better than us now because you are now .........’
  My opinion: More often than not, the person asking the question is the one that is feeling inferior
-         ‘Are you ashamed of us?’
My opinion: Except the person who is being asked this question has been behaving like a snob, the person asking the question is likely to be trying to make the successful person feel guilty.

So, as harsh as it might sound – If one wants to achieve one’s dreams; one has to be conscious of those millstones in one’s life.

There is a pidgin saying that goes: 'Twenty pickin no fit play together for twenty years' (Twenty children cannot remain friends for twenty years)..........................Too true. One must recognise one's millstones and decide what to do with them.

May God grant us the wisdom to surround ourselves with people who are good for us. Amen.

Stay blessed, I'll be back on the 26th November.


  1. Hi Naijamum, I agree with you on "...the millstones that can drag someone down" Great lessons I am learning here. thank you.

  2. powerful post, hmmmm makes plenty sense.

    I love reading your posts.

  3. Very good post! I agree with you 100%.

  4. As in... at times it seems the only way to please people is to stay in the same spot and resent progress. I've learned to embrace the idea that I can't please all of the people all of the time, in fact I'll be lucky to please some of the people some of the time.

  5. It's not worth it hanging on when you begin to feel 'some weight' about the other person in a friendship.

  6. Hmmm, true sha. Family can be a pain at times. Thank God for the ones that support.

  7. That story is heartbreaking, but so painfully true a lot of times. Great lesson again, keep them coming :)

  8. The story is very touching. If I am the one, i will delete their numbers from my phone.kilode.

    Thanks for the lessons.

  9. True, the reality is we need to remain balanced because if we don't take care of ourselves we won't be able to continue taking care of our loved ones.

  10. "One must recognize one's millstones and decide what to do with them" so so true...
    thanks so much NIL, your posts add lots of value.

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  12. Millstomes I have all around me, it is just sad when family and friends never want your happiness the moment it does not favor them.

    Call me selfish but I am so good at blanking out millstones.

  13. I am so loving this post and a particular feature it highlighted to me...the terrible responsibility placed on first born daughters/'achieving' daughters. It is heartbreaking like Myne said. Even in my family, I see it atimes and have to make a conscious effort not to think my eldest owes me and rather think of her needs.
    And you are right "true friends and real family members should NEVER weigh someone down" rather they support and encourage you even if they dont understand your vision as long as they can see it gives you joy.

  14. Such an in-depth analysis, makes so much sense. Keep writing

  15. Most times when you do stuff, you need to put God in mind
    Because even the 'thank yous' that aren't enough, you might not get
    She's doing the right thing. Her family should get off their butt and

  16. This is a serious issue in the Nigerian community. I hope those who are affected read this.

  17. Nice Nice one...
    Can be really disheartening when people dear to you don't appreciate your sacrifices...

  18. This story smacks so close to home for many immigrants, I can't tell you how many times this discussion has come up amongst friends. I've always argued that when are African/ Asian parents going to realise that their responsibilities cannot be passed on to their children especially 1st born, it's unfair. how is the first child meant to make something of their own lives if all resources goes back to the family.

    The worse part of it is those sacrificed for will never know the value of it so the affected party needs to make a tough but important decision, focus on oneself and immediate family, help when possible but should not be priority.

    Great post.

  19. Ingratitude feels like one was bitten by a snake!; POISONOUS! so annoys me when people expects so much from you but gives back nothing or little or don't want you to do something for yourself!

    Imagine the bile words the sibling vomited! I relate to this so much because i know people who were victims of such attitude.'soannoyed'

    Like my momma told me...'my pickin,if you like cut your head put for plate for people, dem go still say you no do anything!' She is damn right!

    An interesting post 9jamum...putting ones priority first before others..shikenah!.

  20. Millstones all around us and most times it's hard to let them go cos they hold a special place. A good question to ask though is, "hope I'm not being a millstone in anyone's life?"

  21. Very touching story. Thanks for sharing your knowledge in this series

  22. This rings true in our Nigerian families. I wish they could be more understanding and grateful.

  23. "So, as harsh as it might sound – If one
    wants to achieve one’s dreams; one
    has to be conscious of those millstones
    in one’s life."

  24. Abby is very lucky ooo. Why? I used to know a woman who trained her siblings and refused to marry until they all graduated from university. She had several D & C or abortion. She had to settle for an old papa as her husband and then realised that she was barren. She was very rich but unhappy and old.

    To make the matter worse she is not a graduate like her siblings. I learnt a lot from her life history although she held a good professional job before she resigned to marry a very rich old man. She will continue to question why she refused to focus on her life rather than help her siblings. She should have had chidren, no matter what. What do you think?

  25. I think telling a white lie that she lost your job and not working would have been better for Abby. It is wrong to lies but it could save alot of family squabbles. Most people are noramlly very selfish and not ready to adhere to the truth. Abby was their cash-cow. *Sad*.

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