Fellowship is one of the four components of the Kashim Ibrahim Fellowship (KIF). It is safe to say that it is the most important component because it is expected to help foster unity among young Nigerians who are from different parts of the country. As Fellows live and work on various activities together, they build a bond and friendship that transcends the one-year programme into the future.
I remember when I resumed the fellowship, one of the things I intended to achieve was a cordial relationship with all my colleagues. Although I achieved that to some extent, the fellowship exposed me to myself.
Beyond the professional growth, acquiring leadership skills and building capacity, I now know myself a bit more. I also have a bit of understanding about humans and how their minds work; the kind of people I want to be around; and what I will and won’t tolerate, among others. This is all thanks to the fellowship component. This is why I consider it one of the best and effective aspects of KIF.
As I continue through life’s journey, these are 5 things I will never forget as they would forever influence my decisions.
- Your space is your home, GUARD IT!
I want you to view yourself as a house with many rooms in it. Now ask yourself, do you allow every Tom, Dick, and Harry into your house because you’ve seen them before? No, right? That’s it. I realised that I easily let people into my space. I easily trust them and have expectations of them without having a good knowledge of who they are. That you are in the same environment with someone does not mean that you should let them into your house. In the same vein, just as you do not take every visitor into your bedroom, you should not give everyone the opportunity into the deepest or most important parts of you.
As the bible said in John 10:10, some people are thieves who come to steal your peace and joy. They dump their baggage on you and ruffle you. You must deal with such people from a distance. Meanwhile, you cannot tell who a person is until you subject your relationship to the test of time. Don’t be in a hurry to share with someone you barely know just because they shared with you. Don’t be in a hurry to call someone your friend just because you hit it off immediately. Subject everything to the test of the Holy Spirit and time; guard your space jealously!
2. Not everyone will like you, learn to live with it.
Steve Jobs said, “If you want to make everyone happy, sell ice cream.” This statement is often made to explain that if you want everyone to like you, you must do what they like. But is that even possible? Guess what? I have a colleague (Seyi Bolaji) who doesn’t take ice cream. This shows that everyone has their preferences, hence, it is okay if people do not like you.
I see myself as someone who has great energy. I am a happy person; I am loyal and always ready to help and share. So, I used to expect to be liked. When it’s the opposite, I become worried, asking myself if I have offended the person in question which leads me to always explain myself and my motives.
The fellowship component of KIF made me realise that it is exhausting! The bitter truth is that not everybody will like you and you must be fine with it. Otherwise, you would always explain yourself; you would be belittled and tossed by the opinions of others. You will become a people pleaser who will not live their true potential.
Moreover, people have various things going on for them and it is not always about you. When you understand that not everyone will like you, you will be comfortable in your person. Meanwhile, it doesn’t matter who likes you or not, the question is, do you like yourself?
3. Choose one — Like or lose yourself!
There are different explanations for self-love but until you understand your context of self-love, you will keep dancing around a circle. Here are the questions that make up self-love for me:
How do you see yourself? (What name do you call yourself?) How do you talk to yourself? How do you talk about yourself to others? How do you carry yourself? What do you tell yourself? What does your life’s journey mean to you? Do you esteem others (because they have what you don’t have/ they are where you long to be) more than yourself? Do you belittle your life’s experiences? Do you water down your strengths? How do you respond when someone talks down on you/treats you shabbily? Do you let it slide for peace’s sake or do you address it? When you eventually understand that someone belittled you, how do you respond to it? Do you continue to be close to this person or interact with them from a distance?
Although your context matters, let me state that self-love begins with how you treat yourself. People see it and they will treat you the same way. In most cases, how people treat/talk to you is a reflection of how you carry yourself.
4. Know Thyself!
“Nobody can teach me who I am. You can describe parts of me, but who I am, and what I need is something I have to find out myself”- Chinua Achebe
If you allow people, they will project their fears, insecurities, and bad behaviours on you. What will save you is if you know yourself. You would be able to determine if it’s you or the other person only when you have an honest knowledge of yourself.
You can only know yourself when you self-evaluate/assess regularly. Do not leave out the areas that need to be fixed because you must actively seek to work on becoming a better person.
It would have been a messy fellowship year for me if I did not know who I was. When issues happen, I take a step back to check if this is me or not. It saved me many times. As a worrier, I would have been running helter-skelter trying to fix a bad situation I didn’t cause.
I had a good understanding of this projection when I asked a colleague if she had any issues with me because I noticed she had withdrawn from me. Her response was disappointing, and it just hit the nail on the head for me about knowing oneself.
How do you choose your friends?
How you choose your friends is as important as who you call a friend. we tend to throw the word friends around without knowing who our friends are. What were the criteria you used to choose that friend? Do your values align? Do they understand what friendship means? Did they also choose you as their friend?
Friendship is forgiveness.
I am big on relationships. I am family-oriented, and I love friendship. I go all out for my people, and I show them that I will always be there when they need me. I am always interested in the well-being of the people I love. I give my time, skills, money, affection, and help, and share my story with them.
As a result, I am deeply hurt when my friends fall below my expectations and it’s hard to forgive and move on in the friendship. My interactions with my colleagues have taught me that forgiveness is important in every relationship. You can’t throw everyone away because they hurt you. It could just be your expectations of them.
While giving yourself to others, do it with moderation and without expectations.
As Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai said, in every misunderstanding, leave room for reconciliation. In every friendship, leave room for misunderstanding.
PS: I hope you learnt something and enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I know this piece is lengthy but I also wrote it for myself, so that I can always come back to it whenever I need clarity on the aforementioned.