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Atoke’s Monday Morning Banter: Finding Your Happy Place




As I packed up my computer at the close of business on Wednesday, letting out a whoop of joy, I was ready for the holidays. I had a faint idea of what I was going to talk about this morning. I was going to tell you guys about the amazing weekend. I was going to be very careful about not mentioning that it was my birthday on Saturday and I was going to talk about the amazing-ness of my new favorite pastime – Watching football!

I’ve recently taken to watching football and contrary to what all my friends believe about it being boy-induced… it’s actually induced by a girl! My friend, Aishah, watches all sorts of  sports on TV and she’s so passionate about it. It got me thinking… what kind of writer doesn’t have an all round knowledge of sports?  I mean, I’m not saying I’m ready to know how scores are counted in Tennis or the dynamics of the car Vettel is driving, but the least I can do is know the basics.

Anyway, you get the point. I had this post on lock down and then yesterday morning I read about the bombings in the North and I thought about the fact that sometimes life just gets depressing. You hear stories every day which make you want to just throw in the towel. You probably get to work and find a pile of to-dos! Or there’s an incompetent superior who’s trying to get you to take the fall for his/her ineptitude. Life is difficult but we have to trudge on. So I sat there feeling helpless and wondering when we would have a reason to smile as a Nation. We all have to find our happy place and hold on to that light of hope that change will come whether in our generation or in our children’s.

Where’s my happy place?  It changes from time to time depending on what my state of mind at that point. The first time I sought out my happy place was the first time I had to go to Kwara State on my own in JS.2. My parents,  in their attempt to liberate themselves, decided that it was time for me to know where the Kwara Express line was in Iddo. My first trip to Ilorin was HELL! If you’ve ever traveled interstate by public transport in Nigeria you’ll have an idea of why I needed to FIND my happy place. With a mother who had two kids on her lap and one standing between her legs, while trying to use ‘style’ to push one of the kids in my direction “Sit with your Aunty”. I sat there in shock wondering when I acquired nieces  and looked away. Then there was the guy who needed to buy everything that was on sale at every stop. Lagos-Ibadan-Fiditi-Oyo-Ogbomosho-Ilorin. There was the accompanying farts and body odors as well and it was the hardest I’d ever prayed for a journey to come to an end. Muttering ‘mind over matter‘ about 300 times till sleep finally came for me was the only way I got through that horrendous experience. I found my Happy Place in SnoozeVille.

My point? No matter how bad things get, and no matter how hard and tough it looks like it’s going to get, we have to find that one thing that keeps us happy and alive. Think about a happy place, real or imagined, and hold on to it.

Have a great week guys and don’t let anything bog you down okay?

Oh and don’t forget to share your happy place with us.


You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore.Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website for more information.


  1. Retrochic

    October 29, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Boring but insightful, bella its not fair publish my article.

  2. penshy

    October 29, 2012 at 10:51 am

    i know what you mean Atoke! sometimes youre bombarded by the things that make up life and you so desperately want to just get it over with that you forget there’s a place, each his own, where you can be happily sane while getting through life’s hurdles. my happy place is with family…whenever they’re around, my smile never turns upside down. Nice Piece!

  3. kiki

    October 29, 2012 at 11:11 am

    i cant agree more….. i hav totally stopped sein sad movies coz real life has enuf tragedy to offer…. my happy place, without a doubt is my bath-tub.. with my laptop on d edge n my headphones on.. i just sit in n watch sitcoms.. the new 1 now 4 me is ” 2 broke girls”

  4. Lee

    October 29, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Yeah happiness matters but right now I can’t seem to find it. Don’t even know what it feels like. I wish someone could help me out. Got engaged to someone I didn’t really love and I did it out of pity. Now the guy really did something terrible to me and decided to leave him. His parents won’t let me rest begging and begging. I can’t continue with him and can’t even tell my folks that I aint getting married anymore after doing introduction. Its like I disgraced and fooled them. Mehn, I have been down for a long time for the past two months. Happiness has eluded me. Cry myself to sleep everyday. God help me

    • ij

      October 29, 2012 at 12:09 pm

      it takes courage to be honest with yourself , so well done: 1) they cant force you into marriage 2) them begging you will not change the fact that you do not love their son and want to discontinue the relationship 3) give yourself a deadline to tell your folks the truth and work towards it , people call off weddings everyday, talk less of engagement, you wont be the first 4) you deserve to be happy , so do what is necessary to be happy and i think the first thing to do is work on no 3, explain to your folks in all honesty that you cannot continue with the relationship, whether they understand or not is not the case , your concern is that they have been informed.
      I think that informing your parents will make you feel much much better, so do that honey

    • Go!

      October 29, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      Hi Lee,

      1. You didn’t really love him 2. You did it out of pit and 3. He did something wrong….girl, I’m happy that you decided to leave him. No one should date or marry out of pity or pressure cos when it comes down to it, you’d be left alone to face the consequences of your wrong decision.

      Talk to God about how you’re feeling and try not to allow these thoughts dwell in your mind too much. The best way to fight thoughts is with words….so speak positively, build your confidence with your words, look in the mirror and “hype” yourself. Also avoid being alone for too long….hang around family and friends.

      You’ll be fine, its only a matter of time. We may not be able to change the issues we face, but we are totally in charge of how we choose to react. Be happy, girl!!

    • Chattyzee

      October 29, 2012 at 1:09 pm

      I’m tempted to say Congratulations! That is the best decision you could have made for your future, so good for you! As to your parents, I understand that they’ll be mad, even ashamed at that, but girl, it’s your future on the line, they will get over it. But the sooner you tell ’em, the better.
      Don’t let his parents pressure you into marrying him because if you do marry him, I bet they’ll turn on you the very chance they get.
      Now, as to the most important thing, your healing. It will take time to heal your heart. But with God, all things are possible. So pray, cry, cry and cry some more, till there are no tears left; then get up, wipe your tears, dry your face and move on! Because you know that the glory of the latter will surpass the former…it can only get better from here. Your best days, are ahead of you! ****hugs****

    • X factor

      October 29, 2012 at 1:34 pm

      Right choice gurl friend i pray for you that when you look back in the next one year, you will be glad that u took that decision…..meanwhile….

    • Kemi

      October 29, 2012 at 2:30 pm

      My dear, I know what you are going through. I just broke up with someone too, cos I dated him out of pressure from people, family, and also pity. This went on for years. What is your problem, there is no perfect man (whomever told them I was looking for a perfect man, i dont know o), he loves you, you are not getting any younger. A few days shy of my 29th birthday, I broke up with him. I couldnt take it anymore, cos he had already started talking marriage, and the thought scared me shitless. The kind you will wake up in the middle of the night, sweating. I knew I couldnt do it. At 29, I was told, you want to start all over again, are you mad? Who told you that marriage is a bed of roses. The devil you know is better, this guy loves you to pieces. I was tempted to take him back at first o, but I prayed and prayed for the Lord to give me a sign, that I did the right thing, and incredibly, soon after that, I got that sign. He messed up really bad on something, as in astronomically bad, that the people championing him before, took back their words, and they cant look at me in the face now. A lot of them are avoiding me, so I have lost close friends now, but I dont mind. A lot of them are married, but I’ve always known that misery loves company. I dont want to join their “group”. They are the same people that will tell you take heart ehn, when your marriage goes south, and you are terribly unhappy. Imagine if I had listened, and we had started planning a wedding/were married. Marriage isnt a bed of roses, but with the right person, you will withstand the thorns together, and it will make you a stronger couple. With the wrong person, you will feel those thorns times 100, and they will break you and crush your spirit. Something someone told me was, no matter how unhappy you are now, if you marry the wrong person, you will know what despair means. Lee, in the midst of your tears, if you can do what I did. Ask for the Lord to give you a sign. Believe me, when that sign comes, your tears will evaporate, and you will be so happy and grateful. I’m 29 now, and single, but girl, I haven’t felt this free and happy in years. The burden has lifted, and I am actually looking forward to falling in love, and finding the right person. I think of love, marriage and family, with a smile on my face now, not fear, and disquiet like before.

    • brown

      October 29, 2012 at 2:32 pm

      Lee Darling, there’s a peace that passes all understanding, it comes from a spiritual and divine intervention, its a bliss that suddenly ignores everything currently happening in your life. i was in a similar position tho mine broke my hrt, i didn’t leave him.please pray, i pray God embrace your heart with that peace that passes all understanding. God keep your heart and order your footsteps. if you need an ear, : [email protected]

    • Gimmer

      October 30, 2012 at 7:43 am

      Well said


      November 18, 2012 at 7:12 am

      My dear pls don’t be sad. You could never imagine the level of misery you just spared urself by calling it off. Suffice it 2 say u just told my story but with a different ending. I capitulated after thnkng of d embarrassment to my family who had already accepted the first part of the things required of the groom for the traditional rites. Long story short, I compromised a lot of my principles and values for a guy I knew in my heart ws not worth it, and this was after breaking up with other guys who compared to this one were angels; and NO I was not desperate to be married. Till date I still wonder how I let everything go so wrong…so not like me. Well, d wedding date was fxed for the latter part of the year. I had plans of delaying it as long as possible so I cud realy evaluate things and pull my life back together. Then gbam! I became pregnant (gist for anoda day) and that ws the final nail in the coffin. The wedding was fast-tracked. Our anniversary is in a few weeks and my daughter is barely six months old, and despite taking precautions (birth control implant) I just discovered I am pregnant again! I cannot aptly describe the emotional torture I go throughh everyday. Even wen I stood b4 the minister on our wedding day taking those vows…infact frm the previous day wen everybody arrived 4 the wedding from different parts of the country smiling, hugging and congratulating me, I felt like it was my funeral the following day. I can’t tell you everything word for word, but I can tell you this, my sister I am desperately miserable. I wish all day, everyday that I were still single and had the nerve to do the right thing b4 it got too late. u are a strong, beautiful woman who deserves to be happy. Don’t ever regret the decision you took. Please and please DON’T END UP LIKE ME

  5. ij

    October 29, 2012 at 11:41 am

    We all need that happy place honestly , My happy place is picking up the phone and exhausting one £5 talk home calling card speaking to my dad, just talking about everything , it never fails

    • Ijay Too!

      October 29, 2012 at 5:30 pm

      Who’s this Ij that sounds sooo much like me ooh,everyone keeps telling me ‘I saw ur comment on bella naija on so and so post’lol!We even have the same mannerisms…you have got to be kidding me!I’m pretty sure you’re supercool too..take care dear!

  6. QueenBee

    October 29, 2012 at 11:45 am

    LMAO! Sit with your aunty, even when travelling in a cab to ilorin, the experience is still similar…. Nice post Atoke!!! Keep it up

    @Lee, take it one day at a time, cry if you must but I must tell you if you r a xtian, try to find solace in God, if you need to talk to a stranger as it is sometimes hard confiding in family, email: [email protected]
    I pray God heals your hurt….

  7. Aijaay

    October 29, 2012 at 11:53 am

    I can’t agree more

  8. kiki

    October 29, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Lee, my dear, i cant say i know how u feel bt babe, try n find hapiness.. its smewr inside of you. n im nt sure hw close u are 2 God or if u r a christian but books by Joel Osteen keep me goin… u did the best thing yeah… finally, find positive energy from ppl around u n watch plenty happy tv…. not romance n happily ever afters oh… dose 1s can just make u feel worse. all in all, luv urself coz God luvs u m He’s more than enuf

  9. nne

    October 29, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    LEE dear, so sorry abt wot ure going thru atm. u dated him for a while b4 agreeing to marry him meaning at some point, u had something for him dah wasnt pity. love grows hun. Ask urself if u can grow in love with ds guy and if ure ready to build on it. i believe evrytn can be fixed.. it jst takes work and two people who r ready. buh if uve tot abt it thoroughly and u cnt, its beta to leave nw. Remember a broken engagement is beta dan a broken marriage..marriage is supposed to be enjoyed..not endured. its ur life and ur happiness..nt anybdy else’s. God’s grace

  10. nems

    October 29, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    GREAT ARTICLE, I love how a happy place could be somewhere simple like snoozeville. I have a few happy places I wrote about in my blog
    Like Hot Chocolate and watching REVENGE or NEW GIRL or calling that crazy friend for a good chat. I know it doesn’t fix the problem but it gives my mind a happy rest.

  11. tootsy

    October 29, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Hi atoke, thanks for the last bit u chipped in’ Dont let anything bog u down’ dt is what am holding unto. Got a letter frm my HR unit today dt my confirmation has been extended cos i havent been able to bring in money. Really depressing, but i wont let that hold me down, am ready to forge ahead and put in the best for the job hoping that something good will come to me at last. Thanks

  12. cathy

    October 29, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    cool piece. with all going on all round us, yesterday was truly depressing for me; watching the young lad face cut into like that #kadunabombing left me restless for hours. my happy place is in the solitude of worshiping my GOD. i find this inner peace which this very world can give me.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      October 29, 2012 at 4:00 pm


  13. oluwaseun

    October 29, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Hmmm,Lee hun,regardless of what anybory has to say about this issue,you should put ur happiness and that of your future kids into consideration before making any funny decision.The truth is that people will mock you,some will even say horrible things to your face, even ur parents might get very angry but trust me they’ll all come around.What you should do now is tryna watch the guy n see if u can get to love him cos i believe there’s sumtin that u saw in him in d 1st place that made u say YES to him,buh if it doesnt work,just let go and tryna hope u find that person u truly luv.Don’t ever marry anybody out of pity cos u can never be happy in it.Don’t make that mistake dear. It’s well.#hug#

  14. MissBonnie

    October 29, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    My Happy Place! My house—> My ROOM—->MY BED 😀

  15. Berry Choco Latte

    October 29, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    I have several happy places: First up, having comfort food: cake and ice cream or fried (soft to the point of almost bad) plantain! I can forget all the worries in world! Second: losing myself in TV/movies. And third: traveling anywhere with my family.

    @ Lee and tootsy: it’s ok to be sad at your situations. but remember what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger. Lee, it’s waaaay better to have broken off the engagement than getting divorced down the line. Tootsy, at least you still have a job (I’m basically jobless, starting Thursday). In all, just pray that God puts a smile on your face. You probably even have reasons to smile now e.g. you’re alive today! Don’t worry about anything, k? God’s got you!

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      October 29, 2012 at 4:09 pm

      (@Berry Choco Latte) Honey, I pray that God uses this season in your life to show you that He is truly your all-encompassing source and His lifting will find you very soon.

      Spent 4 months at home and jobless during the height of the UK banking crisis and it was NOT funny but when God showed up at the end of it all, my goodness, HE SHOWED UP. I still look back on that season and praise Him for the series of events He put into motion … Stay uplifted, it’ll happen and you’ll be amazed.

  16. oluwaseun

    October 29, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    bella naija post my comment jor

  17. Chattyzee

    October 29, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    My Happy Place is talking to God and just pouring out my heart to him, It always makes me feel so much better; next I love to talk to my mentors and my friends (select few)
    Finally, I love the peace and quiet that I enjoy in my house….

  18. Esther

    October 29, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    My happy place is wit family. Love dem so much! @lee good decision! Never love out of pity, u deserve much more dan dat…

  19. tomeloma

    October 29, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Happy place is in fronting on the tv..surfing through channels (anything but the news)…got me through a lot of bad days jsut watching people you don’t know

    • tomeloma

      October 29, 2012 at 5:55 pm

      omg …in front of…

    • tomeloma

      October 29, 2012 at 5:57 pm

      omg..these fingers sha… Happy place is in front on the tv..surfing through channels

  20. missy

    October 29, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Happy belated birthday Atoke

  21. Mz Socially Awkward...

    October 29, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Yeah, happy belated birthday, Atoke! May God truly “wow” you in the coming year and bring you joy in every good way.

    Plus, surely you know that for some of us, BellaNaija is our happy place… 🙂

  22. Motunrayo

    October 29, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    @LEE, your story is similar to mine, might not seem like there’s hope now but there truly is hope. I broke up with my “pity” boyfriend too a month before I turned 30 and it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do because all I could think about was turning 30 and being unmarried. I kept getting tempted to take him back, after all everyone said that I could grow to love him. My 30th birthday was the worst ever, I was so depressed, but kept chanting over and over again “this too shall pass”. I was 30, single and terribly depressed. Regardless of all that, I felt free because I had finally stood my ground and was free of the guy, nobody should marry out of pity, it’s the worst thing ever.
    A day after my 30th birthday I got a belated birthday message from a long lost friend, it all started innocently, but its been a while now and I have never been happier in a relationship in my life. No pity here at all. He’s met my family and they all love him and we’ve even started talking marriage, but are taking it slow. Unlike the last relationship, when I think about getting married to him, I do not have panic attacks, just peace in my heart.
    I now know that just when you think you’re all alone, God is up to something. I have found my happy place and trust me when I say that since you have been true to yourself, you will find yours too.

  23. Limog

    October 29, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    @ Kiki: Hehe! @ Broke Girls. I love ’em to bits too 🙂 @ Atoke: I love this piece. Nice write-up and that’s the truth actually. My Happy place may change from time to time and from place to place. Also, never seek another person’s happy place ‘cos you really may not find “happyness” there. Cheers.

  24. Missfab

    October 30, 2012 at 2:07 am

    My dear pls run as fast as u can now bcos its better to have a broken engagement n know ur free. Dated my last boyfriend for bout 5 yrs but I knew I wasn’t happy when we were bout 3 yrs but he kept begging n making me feel bad every time I wanted to leave he really loved me but I wasn’t feelin d same for him. I was unhappy n I finally left which am thankful I did now iv got 2 lovely kids n a man dat loves me as much as I love him. My friend got messed up in d same thing ur in now she’s separated after 1 yr of an elaborate wedding she did to please her parents. It’s ur life pls think of ur future n ur happiness if u don’t want to look older than ur age bf time Hugs x

  25. shydiva

    November 12, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    My happy place is actually twitter or bbm chats/phone conversations with my sister. we talk till we laugh-cry

  26. Stella

    November 26, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    My happy place is with my family, working because I truly love what I do and blasting some Naija music while driving.

  27. nwanyi na aga aga

    January 14, 2013 at 9:17 am

    My First happy place is the Church, when am there with my God it seems everything is ok. I forget all my worries those 3 hours represent moments peace, quiet and serenity for me.
    My 2nd happy place is bellanaija *wide smile* when i come here i learn so much, at the red carpet events i laugh so much at the comments, bella naija commentators have a way of making u laugh so hard.
    then the 3rd happy place is when am on an interesting movie. I get lost.

  28. Ibinabo

    March 11, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    music gets me by, food, and sleep.

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