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On Friendships: Lessons from my Adaobis

Everyone is my teacher. Some I seek. Some I subconsciously attract. Often I learn simply by observing others. Some may be completely unaware that I’m learning from them, yet I bow deeply in gratitude.

-Eric Allen

More than half of my closest friends are first-born daughters. I call them my Adaobis (only in my head, not to their faces). Adaobi is a Nigerian name of Igbo origin, and it means the first daughter in the family. I have known these women for a long time and I consider them to be close members of my inner tribe. I feel like at this point, if I had to write a final will/testament, they would all go into it even though they’ll probably not get much or anything at all (It’s the thought that counts, after all). We grew up together in the same cocoon of knowledge (this is such a dramatic way of saying that we all went to the same university lol) and there are so many shared experiences that were functional in what I will describe as the merging of our fates.

Read the previous post.

I, on the other end, am the last-born child of my household. I was born after two older people and if I may simply put it, I had life partly figured out for me to a reasonable extent. Although it consisted of a lot of living in their shadows and trying harder to forge my path, I can’t deny that being born last has made life considerably easier than it would have been if I had to first do all the test runs by myself. Where they excelled, I emulated and where they failed, I doubled down. I had a map, even if it was not always an excellent one. Many times, I’ve looked at my friends in undeniable admiration at how they are simply raw dogging life without any manual (like, why did you rush to earth? Is it worth it?)

Recently, I had a conversation with two friends who fall into this category. We were talking about parenting/upbringing in general. And it was from this conversation I realized that even though I’ve known these women for more than half of my adult life, there are some levels that we were yet to unlock in our closely-knit relationship. For further context, I share many similarities with my friends. It’s like a clan of people that share similar values. We even have similar likes and dislikes, in that at several times, we have liked/disliked the same things and people. So I’ve always imagined that even if our ideologies differed, it wouldn’t be that far off because we are often on a similar page.

Photo by Jill Wellington

But then, we had this conversation that kind of blew everything open. Not in a bad way, of course. It was eye-opening in terms of the fact that it was then I realized that we do have different realities and these have somehow shaped our personal yet not-so-dissimilar worldviews. For the first time in what I can refer to as a bump-free relationship, we slept and laid our heads on different sides of the bed. I am self-aware enough to acknowledge that I struggle to relate to some things on the peerage level, however, on this particular topic, I have always imagined that because we share so much in common, that must be because we have had similar upbringings. Right? I couldn’t be more wrong.

When we had the conversation, details of which I will not be sharing in this post (it simply would take too long), I was taken aback when their opinions were far off from mine. Generally speaking, disagreements are believed to be recipes for disasters in any relationship, be it platonic or romantic and because of this belief, we tend to avoid conversations around them. And it wasn’t until further reflection on that conversation did I began to think deeply about how easy it is to water down other people’s realities based solely on what parts of them we’ve been shown. It’s the easiest thing in the world to impose narratives that judge preemptively when one perspective doesn’t immediately mirror our own.

Eventually, I figured that having this, somewhat unusual conversation, with my friends was a blessing in disguise. Because of our proximities, hearing them talk about things I would ordinarily not be able to relate to, was instrumental for me to look beyond my nose. I can’t lie, I will never be able to completely relate to some of the things they’ve shared because sadly, I will never be able to walk in their shoes. However, I have become more aware of the fact that what makes our friendship solid isn’t only the similarities that we share but more importantly, our openness towards the acceptance of our differences. I think all my friends are pretty great, and I am grateful for them in more ways than one. πŸ’›

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Oh, by the way, there’s a new contributor on the blog: @latunji. I hope you will stay tuned to see enough of him around. 😊

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