What It's Like Growing Up in Nigeria
Sometimes being a girl sucks. I say this because people—especially parents—forget that girls are strong and fearless and independent; they want to protect us and keep us safe from everything. I know this firsthand, since I’ve grown up in Nigeria with super-strict parents. Here’s how that’s impacted my life (so far).
First of all, I have an inability to trust others. I couldn’t let people in because I believed that everyone had ulterior motives, a hidden agenda. Now, I’m finally learning how to trust those around me.
As someone who would love to see the world someday, growing up with strict Nigerian parents wasn’t easy. In my home, being a girl meant being at homeall the time, cooking, and making sure the house was kept clean. I'm pretty adventurous, so I hated being told I had to stay home and do these things. I would watch as my brothers went out, and I couldn’t even go hang out with friends. It was a miserable feeling, and now I sometimes wonder if I didn’t live my life enough. I feel like time is running out and I missed out on a lot.
Speaking of? I’ve never been in a serious relationship in my life. While the thought alone gives me anxiety, I do eventually want to get married and have kids. But the minute a guy says hi to me or someone asks about my relationship status, I’m like "Yeahhhhh, try again later," and that drives me mad. I sometimes feel like I have no idea what I’m doing with myself or my life.
It doesn’t help that I have anxiety over every little thing. Growing up with strict parents, I always had someone telling me what to do and how to do it. It’s something you get used to, so when you go to school or get a job and you’re on your own, it starts to feel like the world is coming down on you. Everything just feels too much. You can’t decide what you want to eat or what to wear; you make yourself small in the midst of people so that you won’t be forced to be in the spotlight.
Communication is one of the most important things in any relationship, and when you’ve grown up with strict parents, this can be really hard. I hated when my parents told me to talk about my problems with them, because when I did, it was either not taken seriously, shut down, used as a way to compare me to someone, or used to give me a lecture. This, in turn, made me bad at expressing myself to others. I have gotten better at this, and I'm finally learning how to speak up.
Having strict parents is something that happens everywhere, not just Nigeria. But here, we have the excuse of not being as liberal as Western society to justify controlling kids. It’s not all doom and gloom, though; I've had to learn how to be independent and fight for myself. Nobody gets to define who I am but me.
By Ovie Stephanie Aliboh, 24