Breaking News

The right level

A SENSE of belonging is what most people spend their whole lives looking to find; its why we are attached to friends and relatives; its why we spend a major part of our lives looking for that special someone to share our lives with; its why we build our homes to particular tastes and fill it with all sorts of knick knacks that make it a home..

As much as we all aspire to greatness; to excel in all enterprises we set our minds to no one really wants to be all alone! Those who seek lives of complete solitude have either been spurned by the world or driven away from civilisation to find deeper meaning in things that are totally outside the range of judgement and rejection.

What is becoming very apparent to me is that quite a number of people are actually very lonely despite not being alone! Sounds ridiculous to be in the middle of a crowd yet be consumed by abject loneliness but surprisingly a number of people are in that very position.

It’s possible to grow up in a large family and have a lonely childhood just like it’s very possible to feel alone even when in a relationship. The key thing really is the feeling of belonging!

Can we find our own level, that makes interaction easy in everyday life or are we to resign ourselves to being the square peg in the round hole our entire lives? It boils down to the reality of sociology, how do we fit into the environment and live happy lives within our communities?

Responses and questions

I get a lot of responses and questions from people who often find themselves feeling the outsider and since I also do from time to time, I wanted to share a few ideas that have helped me integrate better. I call it finding the right level.

The manner of integration is not a one size fits all solution as people and situations differ almost second per second; so you must always find a level.

A couple of days ago, I was in the middle of a briefing and somebody mentioned how I had switched from very stilted queen’s English, to pidgin English before finally speaking like the typical Lagosian in a space of 10 minutes.

I actually hadn’t noticed but I have found one of the surest ways of favourable interaction is to get on the level of whomever I am speaking to.

Initially I had been on the phone with associates abroad so the level I adopted was one of seriousness and quiet authority, minutes later I was giving a friend’s driver descriptions to get somewhere so pidgin English was the tool of choice; later on I was in the middle of giving instructions to subordinates who needed some gentle nudging to render services that were not only urgent but crucial to the success of a project that I was in the middle of so I sounded exactly like them.

The thing to note was that at no point was I talking down to anyone or allowed myself to be talked down to. No matter the repertoire of accents at our disposal; communication must always be the deciding factor in our manner of speaking.

Sounding like a professor of  English while pricing fish at a  local market will only get you a bad bargain, trying it with colleagues and subordinates will only breed resentment and will guarantee one remains an outsider in any group.

One of my favourite animals is the chameleon; it has fascinated me from when I was very small! I tried having one as a pet as a child but always managed to lose them as their peculiar ability of being able to change colour to blend into their immediate environment  meant they avoided detection, I remember the last one actually starved to death as it was eventually discovered among the shrubs of an indoor plant.

It had so blended with the brown and dead leaves that it was only discovered when the said plant was taken out for a pruning. I am not in any way saying that we should give up our principles and beliefs to live a life without structure, what I am saying is that we can learn to show more respect to our environment, other people’s beliefs and culture.

One of my very good friends is a Muslim and while our beliefs differ I would never make fun or disrespect his values and religion. I get along so well with him and his that I am affectionately called Yasmin by his family (I look like an aunt by that name apparently); that does not deny or belittle my strong belief that Jesus Christ is my Lord and saviour; it simply says I respect another human being enough to adapt myself to his environment whenever I am in it.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.