Sometime in October, it occurred to me that I had become too old for the nest. Actually, I had wanted to leave the nest since I turned twenty five, but I cared too much what society thought about the issue. And society doesn’t exactly come smiling with outstretched arms at single girls who live alone. No. She’s rather harsh and unforgiving. I can count on both hands the number of potential suitors who told me that their respect for me would diminish considerably if I lived alone. Anyway, you get to a certain age, and society’s double standards and unrealistic expectations cease to matter to you, and this is another thing I wish my younger self knew, but late is always better than never, as I’m sure you’ll agree. So I got to work house hunting, which is a nightmare in Lagos. Suffice to say I saw and heard “nwhenn“. My experiences range from being propositioned by one of the agents I’d contracted (he thought I would make a good side chick) to visiting the shittiest locations in Lagos, all because Banana Island is way above my budget. Scratch that, it’s in my dream budget. In the end, I found what I think of as the perfect place for me. Allow me share with you five lessons I learned from this recent experience that I think are relevant for everyday living.
Lesson 1: Know Thyself, and What Thou “Wantest”
A lot has been said about going after what one wants, but as the wise Matthew E. Fryer once said, you can’t find what you want if you don’t know what you’re looking for. The world is a deep vortex of too many seemingly attractive distractions just waiting to suck you in, if you don’t know what you want.
At one of those apartment leasing agencies, I was assigned my own relationship officer, a very pretty younger girl by the name of Queen who was late for our first appointment, but made up for it with her patience. She insisted that she understood every time I said no to an apartment she was sure I would like. “At least you know what you want”, she would tell me in her chirpy voice. It didn’t stop her from calling me not less than four times every day. Sadly, she never found what I wanted.
Lesson 2: The Best Bucket Lists Go Hand-In-Hand With Timelines
So you know what you want and everything. You’ve made a nice long list of your goals, short and long term. It’s wise to attach a timeline to each item on the list, and work towards it realistically. Why? Well, for one, timelines help with procrastination. Not only that, they push us to think about what it will take to achieve that goal.
After a week or two of serious wakajugbe with nothing to show for it, I had a talk with myself. I thought long and hard about when I could realistically be out of the nest. Already, the year was winding down, and house hunting in Lagos is not a walk in the park. I decided that whatever happened, I would celebrate my next birthday (I’m a January baby) in my spanking new apartment. Armed with my new-found resolve, I resumed smart house hunting, tripled the agencies I was dealing with, began requesting pictures as against physically inspecting every prospect, et al. It worked! I moved in six days before my birthday.
Lesson 3: Baby Steps Are Not For Babies Alone
You know how wise people recommend taking tiny steps, one after the other in the direction of your goal? Turns out it’s true! Moving house is hard. It’s even harder when it’s your first apartment. There are a million things to do and another million things to buy. In fact, the buying doesn’t stop for the first few weeks, as you get to own the space and everything. The whole process put together is intimidating. The same goes for almost every goal or achievement you’ve set your sights on. Nothing of value is a walk in the park. And the big picture can sometimes be daunting. But baby steps will help bring you closer and closer to the destination, until you get there. Not just that, I think there’s a force in the atmosphere that forces nature to align in your favour and somehow ease your challenges. Maybe it sounds like hogwash, but it reminds me of something Paulo Coelho wrote on page 23 in The Alchemist:
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
Need I say more? I’ll just leave this here, to drive it home.
Lesson 4: Your Network Is Your Net Worth (or something like that)
Sometime in July last year, I came across a very interesting headline, a quote from the President of the New York Stock Exchange. It read, “I owe every job I’ve ever had to networking.” Now that wasn’t easy to take in, for a hermit like me, but the truth seldom is. And the truth is that whether you work in sales or not, it’s important to widen your network from time to time. It’s not just because no man is an island. It’s also because you never know where your next big break will come from, or your next apartment.
After I had decided to leave the nest, I did mo gbo mo ya, and accompanied my friend to her friend’s house. My friend’s friend took us to her friend’s house, to eat sallah meat (I know, it’s a lot of friends in that sentence, but that’s just how it was, and it ends well). Anyway, in between chewing sallah meat and drinking malt, I let slip that I was house hunting. Over a month after, my friend’s friend who had become my friend, called me to say she had a friend who was moving out of her apartment, and did I want to see the place? Long story short, it’s my apartment today.
Sometimes, mo gbo mo ya is a worthy venture.
Lesson 5: Always Be Prepared, Scout Or Not
In primary school I did a brief stint as a Girl Scout, and I remember our shouts of “Be Prepared!” after reciting the scout promise. I’ve never forgotten that motto, mostly because I have not always been prepared for the situations in my life. Not being prepared is a costly mistake that I have had to pay dearly for. It pays to be prepared because opportunities rarely announce their arrival. They like to sneak up on you like the Biblical thief in the night, or sometimes they come in the form of a phone call.
When I got the call from my friend’s friend now mine, I was already frustrated with the lack of success at finding the kind of apartment that I wanted. I had saved up my budgeted rent, but I was contemplating using it for something else while I waited. I figured I had time to raise the money back before my deadline. By some stroke of luck, the call came just a day before I would have blown my rent money to tiny bits, and this time, I was prepared. And had I blown that rent, it would have messed up my deadline, because things kind of became a little awry after that. So yeah, be a scout and always be prepared!
You’re welcome. I hope this impacts you somehow. These lessons don’t discount the others, you also must pray. Be Grateful. Give. Work Hard. Love. Make good choices. Live.