20 things I’ve learned living in my 20s

The other day, my Aunt told me “you na even 30 yet? You geh, life na start until 30. Live small yah”. What she meant was I have barely experience the greatest part of my life and I need to enjoy the ride through life. I might not be 30, but I have to say it has been an eventful ride so far. I am here to share a few things I’ve learn so far. Hope these speak to you or help you see life in another way.  If nothing else, just another list of things you see on the internet that stick with you. Here we go: 

  1. LOVE does not hurt, but people who say they love us hurt us the most. Often times I hear people saying you have to struggle in love and that love can be tough at times. I just think life in general can be tough, but love is the one thing that is actually easy.  Love is selfless and very kind. When done the right way, it is so easy. Love should not be hurtful or full of doubt. That is that.
  1. HEARTBREAK should be called Heartbreaking. I am not sure why they call it heart break since the entire thing is such a  long process. It is a continuous cycle of hurt, regret, distractions, more hurt, more distractions, and so on. I like to the think of it as the breaking of a plate on the kitchen floor. The noise is obviously disturbing, but then imagine picking up each of those pieces with your bare hands. You might cut a finger, make more mess or both. A heartbreak just sucks, but it goes away eventually…it really just takes time. 
  1. Being a CHRISTIAN does not mean being perfect. The best thing about being a Christian is being able to experience the power of forgiveness. God love is beyond amazing that even when we are still in our sinful ways, he loves us. The grace of God makes it okay to not be perfect and I have learn that. Perfection is not necessary because every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. So we need to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves as followers of Christ.
  1. Sugar is the Devil. Yes! I want you all to keep saying this until you drop those chocolate bars. People like to say chocolate fixes everything. IT DOES NOT! Desserts is in fact stressed spelled backwards, but it doesn’t mean eating chocolate will bring you less stress. Sugar will lead to so many health problems including what I am a victim of; tooth decay. Stay away from sugar as much as you can. Just say no and keep it moving. You have not seen pain until you go through toothaches. It is NOT worth it.
  1. To my ladies: All MEN are not Dogs. Just because you met a couple of Chihuahuas in your life does not mean you should run around calling all the men dogs. There are so many breeds of dogs out there. If the chihuahuas wont cut it, get a pit bull. It is just sad to hear young women say “they are all the same”. Seriously? Have you tried them all?
  1. SEX is not overrated. You might have had some bad experiences, but stop running around saying sex is overrated. It is not. Sex is a very important part of most relationships. You have to be responsible and have conversations about sex with your partner. Stop telling your friends about your bad experiences- help your partner. Sex is such a taboo subject for many of us, we don’t even know what we are missing so we join the crowd to say it is overrated. Stop it. 
  1. Do not Believe lives on Social media- Social Media makes everyone keep constant watch on everyone. It creates a pressure to show everyone your life in a certain way. However, I have learned to stay in my own lane and keep my eyes on the road ahead of me. Do not feel the need to look around too much or you might crash or run into other people. What do I mean? Stop believing everything you see on social media. That perfect couple you are saying “#goals” to, might just be Tom and Jerry in real life. You cannot set your life goals based on what people are posting. Those beautiful places and beaches have stories you’ll never be able to live through. I have learned to just scroll through and take it as it is.  People forget we actually know them in real life. #DontBelievetheHype 
  1. You do not need too many FRIENDS. The older I get, I have come to understand that it is in fact perfectly normal to have only a few friends. Everyone you know or is acquainted with does not automatically become a friend. In kindergarden that might be the case, but the hash realities of life teaches us that friends are the ones that weather the storm. Most people are just around during the sunshine. Be wise and choose wisely. 
  1. Stay at HOME  every now and then. I know how great the outdoors can be. I’ve had my share of wild weekends and the outdoors. I just want to go on the record here and say nothing beats staying at home. You have to just sit there sometimes and enjoy your own company.  No one ever said being home on a Friday means you lose your cool. Once in a while, just sit back, grab a good movie or book and call it a night. 
  1. Get a Mentor or Be a Mentor. We cannot make all the mistakes ourselves. You have to be able to walk in the shadow of someone who walked where you want to go. You must be willing to give back to people and places that contribute to your life. I’ve learned so much from my mentor and continues to consult him for life decisions. Think of them as a compass through life. 
  1. Travel is a must! The world is too big for the short time we have, so try to explore it as much as possible. You will not know what is out there unless you go. The people and places I’ve been have shaped the person I am becoming. You must travel to appreciate where you are. It does not have to be far or cross cultural, just leave where you are and see the difference it makes. 
  1. You cannot please everyone. This one is pretty simply. A man and his wife was riding a donkey. People walked by and said they were being cruel to the donkey. They traded and carried the donkey. People walked by again and this time said they were stupid. How else will they have gotten to their destination if they kept trying to please people? You have to live a life that is satisfying for you. People will always have something to say- let them. 
  1. Integrity is EVERYTHING. It doesn’t matter how rich, old or beautiful you are, if you lack integrity nothing else matters. It paints the picture of who you really are when nobody else is around. This is the foundation of character. You have to be willing to sacrifice everything to uphold your values and never compromise your integrity- ever! 
  2. Growth is painful. This one I am still dealing with. When you grow you have to expand and that can mean cutting off people, adding new people, changing goals, building new plans, etc. These things are difficult to do. If you are like me, you attach personal relationships to every aspect of your life, so it become painful to grow. You cannot grow if you remain in the same spot so we must appreciate the pain of growth. 
  1. Social media makes your business our business. It is just plain stupid to tell people to mind your business on any social media outlet. Just face it, you put it out there becuase you want others to know. With that being said, no one has to know when your aunt sally is being carried away to the mortuary- keep that picture to yourself! Your pinky toe is bruised, I don’t need to see that either. You broke up with your “no good piece of sh*t” boyfriend the 3rd time this week, don’t put it on there because guess what? When you are back together we have to pretend like you didn’t just call him “no good peice of sh*t”. The rules are simply, share what you want people to know. Though I have learned people want you to know everything! 
  1. Let a CRUSH stay a crush! Sometimes we are simply attracted to the unknown. The best part about a crush is all the fantasy you create about them.  If you see a sexy person everyday and you day dream of being with them, keep it that way. 9 out of 10 times when you approach that person, they are nothing like your fantasy. Don’t mess up a good thing. Just enjoy them as whatever perfection you’ve stored them as in your head. Okay sweetie? 
  1. Free is not Free! I cannot emphasize this enough. There is always a price for free things. When someone tells you don’t pay for something, they simply means you owe me a favor if I deliver shady service in the future. It also means you are not allowed to complain about my terrible ways later. I am telling you just like I tell most people- free things are even more expensive than the original price. The next time you see a FREE sign, run! 
  1. WOMEN are our own enemies. I know this sounds crazy since we are suppose to be all nurturing and what not. Trust me, when women start lifting and supporting each other, we will find the peace the world so desperately needs. I’ve seen guys sleep with the same woman, shake hands and move on. Women? The battle will continue for years. The friends of women who are not even present for the battle will hate other woman simply because their friends hate them. I mean real HATE. The same hate that start riots and wars. Why can’t we all just get along? 
  1. KARMA is not a B*tch. Karma gets the job done. Why are we such ungrateful people? Someone hurts you and Karma hurts them back & we go around calling her a b*tch? I personally think Karma is a Queen. There were times that I wished Karma had an address so I can send her some flowers for a job well done. This world is way too small to go around hurting people ignoring the wheel will eventually come back around. We should all give a huge round of applause for Queen Karma. Thank you.
  1. Just do YOU. It sounds simple or like a cliché, but it’s so easy to be doing what everyone else is doing.  These days social media (especially Instagram) makes it so easy for people to peep into the lives of others and start making comparison to theirs. Most times, there are stories behind the post we see. You have to focus on YOU to get the results YOU want. Yes, you might be doing it in a different way and getting there at a different pace, but keep doing YOU. An African proverb says if you mind the noise in the market, you will not buy your goods. Don’t mind these instagram lives and filter faces to deter you from what YOU got going. Keep going boo- you got this. 

Wandering

This post came about from a dinner the other night with some of my friends from middle and junior high school. The evening was going very well until they decided to start questioning me and my relationship status. First, let me give you a little background on some things before I talk about the conversation that evening. I am currently residing in Liberia so the West African tradition (mostly just Liberia & what I see in movies from Ghana and Nigeria) depicts that I should be married and with a child or children by now AND most importantly my decisions should be supported by my husband. I was out to dinner with three of my guy friends along with one of their wives. These are folks I went to school with, shared meals with, laughed, cried, rebelled and even cheated on a few French test during our time together. Oh what times we had! I am blessed to still have these folks in my life. Whenever I visit Monrovia, I always make time to catch with them because it reminds me that no matter how much time have past, some things are still the same.  We all seem to be getting along in life just fine. It might not be what we perfect lives, but we are enjoying what life has to offer. One of them is now married to a wife that was arranged for him by family. The other will be following his foot steps soon and the last one just want to go to America- simple. Then, there is this outcast one who apparently needs to be married or at least having children- womp womp! I laughed it off, but this has become the norm since I came to Liberia. There is a constant battle between families, friends and other people. What am I waiting for or what is holding me back? Well, here is the thing:

1. I am working on me- (Traveling, Exploring and Testing the waters)
I am in no type of rush to be called Mrs or Mama (mommy). I spend way too much time trying to decide what to do with my now bald hair. I also like myself way too much for now to even think about sharing with anyone. Unlike most people, I actually live the life my Instagram shows. I am neighbors with paradise- literally a few minutes away from ocean views that will take your breath away! I am blessed to live the beach life most folks just dream about. I enjoy going on trips, getting lost in translations and attempting to say phrases in different languages. I am not saying being married will stop these things, but since I have those things now, why do I have to change it? I’ll wait….


2. I am NOT ready (seriously is anybody ever really ready?)
I find it hard to believe that some of these people asking me to get into a long term commitment are even satisfy with their own commitments. I know it sounds like an excuse, but I am not ready for that type of commitment. Marriage ehhhh maybe, but children are very serious commitment. Have you ever try to return them? What is that process like? I am thinking- Sooooo not only am I committing to someone for a lifetime, I have other people depending on me too?! I think I need time to accept all that. I need to accept that I will no longer be living for myself. I need to start putting the needs of others ahead of mine. That is precisely the kind of thing I am NOT ready for. Why is that wrong? I see this like the GREs. Although you never know what is on it, you have a general sense so you can still prepare for it- you can have practice sessions, group studies and even pre-tests. I am still preparing for that type of commitment. Is that okay?


3. The FEAR is too real (So what if I am a chicken ?)I have seen way too many good people lose themselves in the name of love. They say love is a give and take deal, but I’ve seen people continuously give and get nothing back. I have seen and heard about the headaches, heartbreaks and regrets. I’ve had my share of foolishness too in the name of love. I do not have any shame in admitting that it scares me to think about giving myself to anyone in the name of love. I read somewhere that love is knowing someone has the opportunity to hurt you, but trusting that they will not take it. I, Randell Zuleka Dauda fear giving that opportunity to anyone as of yet. I am allow to decide when I want to stop living in fear and start living for love. Right? Let me Live.

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4. I just want to be SURE (Like beyond all reasonable doubt sure…) It is no rocket science that love takes time to grow. For some people it happens almost instantly and for others, it takes time. The pressure from social media or real life friends should not be the reason I am pushed to change my relationship status. I am not unhappy or complacent. I want to be in love with love itself when the time comes. I am genuinely excited for those that have found it and highly skeptical of those folks that say single life is better. I am a helpless romantic with a filthy mind and complicated attitude towards love. I want my cake and want to eat it too! I am selfish and not ashamed to admit it. At the appropriate time, I just want to be sure beyond all reasonable doubt as they say in Criminal Justice.


5. He is not Complaining, Why are you? I am blessed to have a guy that acknowledged all the points I made above. He accepts me and my decision to work on me, hide from love and even the uncertainties I sometimes attach to love. He has yet to call me crazy, but he does give me that crazy feeling 🙂 Love makes you crazy- right? At least that is what they say. I am not sure what we have, but I am sure of his promise to me…it shines just as bright as diamonds from Sierra Leone. Here is to all the questions and puzzle looks that came and are yet to come 🙂

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Find Your Peace 

I came across this little quote about inner peace and thought I share it along with this photo from my recent travels to Hawaii- 

“Inner peace begins the moment you decide not to allow another person or event to control your emotions.”

We are so programmed to react to people and events that this really made me think about what exactly that would mean to achieve inner peace. It is important to take care of ourselves, but how?  Here are a few things that work for me: 

  1. Remove yourself from your regular routines. We get caught up in daily routines that we forget to take care of ourselves
  2. Do things that make YOU happy. It might sound simple, but most times we just do things because that is what we are suppose to do. Are you happy doing those things? 
  3. Find an easy and a cheap Escape. You can read a book, watch a movie, write a story, listen to music, or just sleep. Do things that get you away from the regular routines for a while. 
  4. Let it go! If “it” (can be people too) is not helping you grow, let it go! You can’t keep carrying toxic things and people along in hopes of better days. Growth comes with sacrifices. 
  5. Lastly, take a break from all things if you have to. Relax, Reflect and Renew your energy. 

Hold On

In the still of the night
As the heat settles and darkness takes over, she dials his phone
The space in her chest racing
Her hands shaking as she hears the sound of the phone ringing
She hesitates for a bit
Maybe she should hang up
Or maybe she should just say something else
But this needs to be said
He had to know that despite what they have, she wants an end
An end to hiding and sneaking
Late nights and early mornings
She just wants it all gone
“Hello”? He says
She answers softly, but really wants to just cry out for him to hold her 
She wants him with her
Right there in that very minute
She wants him
But their situations calls for separate beds and Separate lives
She swallowed her saliva before speaking
There’s a feeling in her stomach that some called intuition
Instead of her regular chatty voice she says “Hold on” in a way that is unfamiliar to even her
She pushes her work away, wipes her eyes and commence talking to him
Tonight she wants to tell him to let go
But his presence and voice changed everything
Tonight, his voice reminded her to just hold on
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Sweet LIB

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To the place I first open my eyes

To the place of my future and past 

To reason my love for Africa never dies

To  the place my mother calls home

Sweet Liberia, I salute thee

To the reason I’m proud to be called African

To the German plum, the monkey apple and those sweet sweet sugar cane

To the cassava leaf, the palm butter and the juicy torborgee

To the pem-pem boys ont he corner of Meclin and Carey Streets

Sweet Liberia, the very thought of thee excites me

To the hard times, the war and all it left behind

To the blood, tears and lives on the front lines from years of civil wars

To the devastation, the frustration and the reconstruction that came after

To the hope for the young and new generation

To the grona boys trying to make ends meet

To the children chasing cars selling cold water  in the streets 

To the land you’ve given those people

To the beautiful red, white and blue on our flag 

To the lone star representing the first Western Styled Independent Republic in Africa

sweet Liberia, I salute thee

To the glorious land of Liberty 

To the million reason only a few enjoy those liberties 

To the Lone star and Liberians everywhere

To the girls in the Grebo Bushes 

To the guys carry cutlass in the bushes 

To endless possibilites of a new day 

To the day it comes and people working towards it

 

Sweet Liberia 

I Salute Thee  

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Photo Taken on top of what used to be the Ducor Palace Hotel in Central MONROVIA-LIBERIA.Credit: Kikiphotography

 

Ode to KehKeh (Tuk-Tuk)

What is Kehkeh? Kehkeh is LIFE. Some will say Kehkeh are the three-wheeled taxi used for transportation in Liberia or  just the capital city. They come in various colors, make and models. In Asia, they’re known as Tuk-Tuk…Well, in Thailand that’s what they called it during my study abroad. I think I fell in love with then there, but forgot how much I enjoyed them until I got to Liberia. If you ever ran into me while in Liberia and I wasn’t in a Kehkeh, it wasn’t me! I even had an assigned Kehkeh with a guy named Roland. We had a relationship much more than just  passenger and driver. I spent so much time with Roland that I even knew his family and where he lived. Roland knew my friends, family and all the conu-conu (Secret spots). You see, I worked in the rural parts of Liberia and they did not have any Kehkeh there. So during my few visits to the capital, Roland and his Kehkeh was a huge part of my days. I went to lunch, ran errands, visited families and friends, etc all while smiling and observing the craziness of the overpopulated Monrovia. Riding Kehkeh was cheaper, but also offered the best view of all things Liberia. I could jump in and out of a Kehkeh if I saw street food worth trying. Or I simply took Instagram Stories as I rode along. Sometimes I just sat there and enjoyed music and sipped coconut water from the shell. I can not think of a more efficient way to travel and enjoy any city. I got a front eye view to people, places and traditions in a way I never thought I could. Some people told me Kehkehs are for poor people. A police Officer even told me “people like me should not be Kehkehs”. I had a friend tell me “I can’t be serious” when I showed up for lunch in a Kehkeh. I am not going to get into the socio-economic ramifications of Kehkehs. I just want everyone to get a piece of my life in Kehkehs. This is for Roland and all those random times I asked him to play music even when he didn’t like it. This is also for all those so-called rich folks who taught they were better than me because I showed up in my Kehkeh. We all were at the table eating though…Nah? 

 

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Thailand 2009- Where it all started….
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Back seat Chilling
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Mechlin Street-Roland was not around that day
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Waiting to head to lunch. Kehkehs are not allowed on the main roads so we had to wait on the back streets. Why not make use of the time?
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Kehkeh Parking Lot-Meclin and Carey Streets
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Interestingly enough, the vehicle taking me to town had a flat tire. Kehkeh to the rescue!

 

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This is my friend Roland. He owns this Yellow Kehkeh. This day he waited for me over 3 hours to make a simple Bank Tranaction- “System Down” they say…SMH
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Roland!! Oh, Roland.
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Roland came to pick me up from home (Banjor) on a Saturday.
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Waiting to buy Scratch card (Phone cards/units)
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Roland found a Kehkeh that matched my outfit. We stopped the guy and took this photo.

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“To travel is to Live” Kehkeh is Life. The next time you visit Liberia or a place where you see these little things, hop in and thank me later. 

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God is Real

If you have not heard India Arie’s God is Real, please do 🙂 

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The sand beneath my feet
I will not dare count
The Ocean before me
There is almost no end
My eyes can look no further
The sun above me
The rays hitting my brown skin
I dare not look directly towards it
Then to my far left there are these giant rocks
Housed in the oceans
I wonder how they got there?
The waves keep hitting them continuously
Yet they never lose their shinning black color
The waves inching toward my feet, but does not touch it
Who tells them where to stop?
As it rushes back, they leave beautiful imprints on the sand
Who made these waves?
The salty oceans waters, the depth of its floors
Those foams on top of each waves
How much beauty there is in this one setting!
How, then can people doubt the existence of God?
If you want to give credit to a massive explosion for creation
You clearly have never seen what happens after explosions
I wish everyone could sit with me and see what I see
Today, I sat in the front row of “God is Real” exhibit
My God, Oh how GREAT thy art!