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Atoke’s Monday Morning Banter: Look Into The Mirror



You stir; it’s the morning of your birthday and that’s the first thing that floats into your consciousness. The bed is warm,but your toes are cold – you forgot to wear your socks before sleep came. Blame Blacklist – so engrossed in the show that you were too lazy to grab your cozies. You remember it’s your birthday again, and soon your semi-numb toes are a distant memory.

Your phone; you reach for it. Nothing. Check pillow two? Pillow three? Nothing. God, please don’t let it have fallen during the night. Argh! You’re forced to open one eye. You don’t want to, because it means admitting an awareness of this thing called getting older. Oh well! You have no choice, you have to open your eyes if you’re going to find your phone. Remember it doubles as your time piece, and you need to know how late you’ve slept in on what’s the beginning of your thirty-third year on earth. For a fleeting second, you wonder whether you should get yourself a watch. You hate the full glare of your phone’s LCD – another reason why you can’t wait for the iWatch

Your gym; you promised yourself you’d wake up early enough to make the gym 5 times a week. It is part of your self discovery in the art of dedication and tenacity. You think it is a good trait to have when one is in their early thirties. So, you want to do this. For you. Oh My God! 6.30a.m! You panic at the thought of having overslept, then you remember – the clocks went back yesterday. You can make the gym and come back in time to write Banter. Yes, you can!

Growing up, I was told over and over and over, that birthdays are no achievements. It was drummed into my ears so many times that I have become that adult who never gets excited about her birthday, or anyone else’s. I was told that I neither participated in the decision to bring me into this world, nor did I make any conscious effort to ensure that the birthing was successful, thus, I was not entitled to celebrate any achievement on the 27th of October. So year, rolled into year and I did what I was ‘allowed’ to do. Be grateful to my creator for the privilege of existence and preservation. I stopped praying for ‘long life’ for personal reasons. It didn’t matter one way or the other – it was more pertinent that the years count for something regardless of their number – something that transcends my lifetime.


The mirror; at some point in the day you find yourself staring at it. You see the woman staring back at you and you wonder if she’s anything like the person inside of you. She looks familiar. Same round head, same natural hair with eroded edges. Lord! when will these edges fill out? You look closer and you see a neck that is longer and more defined than it was 8 months ago. You smile – the first one since the dawn of the day. You remember that this is the slimmest you have been since you were 18. You stand, arms akimbo and you think about the work that needs to be done on your arms. Still, you’re pleased with the reward of your hard work and dedication. You tuck in your almost smug smile, you don’t want the Universe to think you’re a gloating irritant.

The suitcases; three of them littered around your room, waiting for you to give them attention. As much as you hate packing, it has to be done. Another phase of your life is over; you chuckle at the melodrama of it all. As one door shuts, another one opens. Or something along those lines. You can’t think that far ahead because you’re afraid. You’re afraid of the monster of failure. What if you end up being poor for the rest of your life? What if you’re that friend who keeps trying to keep her head above the water and nobody bothers to call for a contribution to help dying children? But… you hear it – it’s a still small whisper. What if you do make it? What if you do find a way to do what you love to do, and are financially rewarded for it? What if you do make bucketloads of money?

The silence; broken by the loud hum of the kettle which you clicked on because you need your morning fix of coffee. No! Not coffee. You are on a coffee detox. Tea. Green tea. With cinnamon sticks and star anise seeds with a dash of lemon. Okay, more than a dash. A proper squeeze through. But, ‘dash’ sounds more like what a writer would write. Right? 

So what exactly are birthdays if they’re not to be celebrated as achievements? It’s a day for you to take stock – how far you’ve come, where you are, and where you hope to be.

I have come to realise that contrary to what was ingrained in me, I can choose a reason to celebrate my birthday. For starters, it’s a time for me to bask in the glory of ME!

Your birthday is that one day of the year when everything you do has a special tone to it. It is that one day when people who love you send you messages and gifts and ensure that you know that someone somewhere loves you. It’s that one day when you are totally allowed to be self-centred, because it’s your freaking birthday.

Peace, love & cabbage strips!


Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Wavebreakmedia Ltd

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. di

    October 27, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Happy Boirthday Atoke!!!!! #1sttocomment #1sttosayHBD

  2. SocialBluff

    October 27, 2014 at 9:25 am

    Whew! Happy Birthday to you Atoke! 27th is a special number for me cos most great peoples are born on this date and my birthday date fall on that too (Nov 27th).
    Dont worry the sky is your starting and surely yiur life is already counting as peoples around like me are being touched by your lovely,jovial, inspiring & immaculate write-ups.

    To me i cant remember ever celebrating my own birthday, you can call me weird. I dont feel anything special apart from the gifts,calls and beeps from from my social friends. Dont pity me cos i hardly got a full bloodied friend, im too introvert for that.

    .Have Fun Dear plus ur taffles and noodles are always delicious Lol.

  3. Personal Assistant

    October 27, 2014 at 9:32 am

    Happy belated birthday Atoke. If you like put cucumber or cabbage strips, e no fit sweet reach cupcake. I love my birthdays. To me, it is MY special opportunity for a fresh start. (even though each day is a fresh start). Also i reflect on the past year and realize that I might not have gotten or achieved all i wanted to, but i am certainly a better person than the previous birthday. Celebrate it as it only 1 day out of 365/366 days in a year. Peace, Love and CUPCAKES

  4. Fashionista

    October 27, 2014 at 9:39 am

    Awww its Atoke’s birthday. Happy birthday to you and may your heart be filled with love, peace and joy now and always. Now, who is that person that was telling you birthdays are not achievements, ahn ahn?! They definitely are; you celebrate the progress you’ve made, goodness in your life and great interactions/relations you’ve had in the past year. You also reflect on things you could have done differently and how to improve.
    And for me, I ABSOLUTELY ALWAYS have to get myself a birthday, it is imperative and I love cake too.

  5. Fashionista

    October 27, 2014 at 9:40 am

    *birthday present

  6. Tinuola

    October 27, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Happy birthday Atoke. God bless ur new age. Have loads of fun

  7. Berry Dakara

    October 27, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Happy Birthday! Peace, love and cupcake bouquets from moi!

    P.S. I love birthdays!!! I think everyone should get the day off work on their birthdays – well, I’m lucky cos mine’s a national holiday 😀

  8. Personal Assistant

    October 27, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Sorry Atoke, didnt realise today is 27th. I thought it was yesterday. The way i dey countdown to receive salary alert sha. Happy birthday

  9. wale

    October 27, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Nice to know I have a birthday mate on twitter. Wishing u all I wish myself today our special day. Cheers

  10. Stalker of atoke

    October 27, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Happy born day Atoke….where the turn up ???

    Oh almost forgot…4th to comment woohooo

    • The K

      October 27, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      Not quite! 🙂

    • Stalker of atoke

      October 27, 2014 at 6:33 pm

      I was 4th !! Honest ….I blame the moderator jare

  11. Bisola

    October 27, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Happy birthday Atoke! Many more years of joy & plenty money, Amin Jesu!!

  12. Africhic

    October 27, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Happy birthday Atoke!

  13. Jo!

    October 27, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Happy Birthday Dearest Atoke. I just LOVED this.
    and YAY for cabbage strips, those, I can take


    October 27, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Happy birthday Atoke dearest. May God bless you, today and always. Please celebrate your day unapologetically. Not everyone that was here last 27th of October is still here today and that alone is reason enough to be thankful and celebrate. *Big Hug*.

  15. Tincan

    October 27, 2014 at 10:20 am

    Awwwww, happy birthday Atoke. You are amazing. I identify with so much of what you’ve written, you have no idea. Keep trucking, you’ll be great. I am sure of it.

  16. Lola

    October 27, 2014 at 10:24 am

    Happy Birthday Toke! I will be 30 on 30th of October. Life is good. It is the Lord’s doing. Have a blessed day.

    • whisper123

      October 28, 2014 at 7:07 pm

      I will be 33 on the 30th..whoohoo big up to us.

  17. Barny

    October 27, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Happy birthday atoke !! Jah bless u ! Much love *kiss*

  18. Que

    October 27, 2014 at 10:31 am

    First ly, I’ll take d cabbage strips, thank you!

    Happy Birthday babe, wish u a whole lot more of you as you navigate the years ahead….pray you live truly well and fulfiled…xoxo.

    Now to bdays….. hmmm, literally just now on this topic with a friend who’s your bday mate…. even though i’m very lazy with planning any kind of party…. I still celebrate myself o. I turn 30 in a few days….and each year I reflect on what has been d high points of the year, what major changes/experiences I’ve had, especially the unplanned ones, with lasting impact on me…
    Each year since 26 I’ve become more conscious about living on purpose and embracing my spiritual self, and the learning has been nothing like I ever imagined…..To the people who believe old habits cant change with age, I say you simply havent got your methodology sorted! … I look forward knowing that there’s little I miss about my younger self, cos at each stage…I lived fuuullly!

    I’ll miss d 20s, only for d number 2 in front of d other digits, but thats it…..I am anticipating my full and rich life ahead! It kinda helps when I look at my bucketlist and realise, I have gotten a few things off at this point… may not have happened as I hoped or wanted, but its done, and I’m very grateful…. #ontothenext.

    Ooo I also remind myself not to take the occassional harships too personal, it happens to even the best of us!….

    Cheers yo…happy monday!

    • Que

      October 27, 2014 at 10:33 am

      Not sure why my avatar is always changing….BN can we go back to d days when we didnt have to type name and email adds every single time…. reduce the room for errors.

  19. Bookieyomi

    October 27, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Happy birthday Atoke!

  20. tbaby

    October 27, 2014 at 10:33 am

    Happy birthday Atoke! Wishing you the very best!
    There is always a reason to celebrate life! Always!
    I love my birthday but every year I find it hard to make it about myself. Regardless I prefer heartfelt messages from loved ones than “HBD” “GGMUB” “LLNP”, it hurts how impersonal they sound.

  21. Ms Ceecee

    October 27, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Happy Belated Birthday Atoke. You don’t know how close to home this article hit. My birthday isn’t here yet but its close so naturally I’ve started a mental calculation of what i have achieved so far Lol. Have a wonderful week. Oh and i noticed we are trying to eat healthy now. Peace, love and carrot sticks 🙂

  22. CrystalWhite

    October 27, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Happy Birthday Atoke….everyone deserves a cake on their birthdays……at least have a bite and have a blast….Enjoy your day

  23. chique

    October 27, 2014 at 10:38 am

    ok just saw the cabbage strips. thanks that will do but with a frown

  24. Flames

    October 27, 2014 at 10:39 am

    Happy bday, Atoke, Wish u long life n happiness. Som1 told me wen I clocked 20 dat I should try 2 make @ least 1 pesin smile everyday. By d tym I’m 50, I would have made @ least 10,950 pple happy. So I’m tellling u n everybody else celebrating dia bday 2day, kip trying 2 make @ least 1 pesin smile everyday single day 😀

    Happy bday y’all. Enjoy 😀

  25. mamalet

    October 27, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Happy birthday! love your write ups.

  26. dup

    October 27, 2014 at 10:43 am took the words out of my mouth, Birthdays are worth celebrating and being thankful for the chance of another better year (hopefully) cos there are no guarantees in life…. Had a friend who died of cancer and b4 her death, she said on her birthday that year she felt what had she achieved and was angry but she didn’t live to see the next birthday. Everyday was a struggle till she went to be with the Lord. Today I quote her “be grateful for every year of your life, everyday in fact (but ur birthday signifies the addition of another year) cos you are not guaranteed 2mro.

    Once again, Happy birthday Atoke, God’s great blessings today and forever more, have a fab one even if it is with carrots and cabbage *smiles*.

  27. miss max

    October 27, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Happy birthday Atoke, enjoy, do whatever is fun for you. whether you contributed in your being here or not, you don come be you don come.

  28. TANTRA

    October 27, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Happy Birthday, Atoke baby. I love my birthdays. It is not the day i take stock. It is the day i thank my parents for their sexual encounter which brought about me and the day i thank God for bringing me to this world and keeping me. I celebrate ME and bask in all the good things about me. It is a day i choose never to worry about anything. Nothing upsets me on my birthdays.

  29. MissW

    October 27, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Happy birthday Atoke! Usually don’t celebrate mine but i’ve come to realized that its a time bask in the euphoria of YOU, so my dear do have a blast!! and be grateful to God for another opportunity to be YOU.

  30. Monisola

    October 27, 2014 at 11:07 am

    Happy Birthday Atoke….. 🙂

    Birthday to me as an adult is more personal and spiritual, growing up, my family celebrate my birthday every year, cakes and mini parties. Hence the lack of interest in birthday celebration parties when I became an adult. Birthday is a day of reflection, meditation and gratitude to God.

    Just curious, what’s with the suitcases, are we heading on mini vacation for the birthday? Keep us posted.
    Anyways. .. You are on the right path to succeed, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
    Have a wonderful birthday.

    • Tincan aka noseybagga!

      October 27, 2014 at 11:29 am

      Hmmmmmn, she talked about one phase being over so I am guessing she’s done with her post-grad studies, leaving the cold UK, perhaps heading home? If it’s a vacay, can’t imagine she’d have 3 suitcases… 🙂 My name is Tincan, Tincan Nosey-Bagga.

  31. Thatgidigirl

    October 27, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Happy birthday to us Atoke, scorpios rock. I’m not taking stock of anything today, i’m just going to relax and be extremely grateful to God. Truly its a privilege and not an achievement. I began to see life differently last week after my childhood friend’s burial……she was my mate.

  32. laide

    October 27, 2014 at 11:56 am

    happy birthday stoke..i wish u a very happy make my mondays!

  33. Teejay

    October 27, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Happy birthday Atoke, many more years filled with God’s blessing and favour. When I was younger, I used to get so excited in anticipation of my birthday, but now am much older (in my thirties), I dont really celebrate birthdays. I wake up and thank God for how far he has brought me, my caring friends and loving family. As I crossed 30 brooding thoughts would usually fill my head (thoughts of things yet to be achieved) but now my thoughts are more on things that I have achieved and the fact that I’m alive and healthy. I know that life is not a competition, so I bother less with what others have achieved cos I have the assurance that my achievements will one day manifest!
    Love, Peace and CUPCAKES!!! (some of us need a lil flesh in the right places *wink*, cucumber and cabbage strips don’t cut it at all.
    (phew!!!!, quite an epistle for a read and laugh only non-commenter)

  34. Oluwabusola Adedire

    October 27, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Happy Birthday Atoke, you have a beautiful mind. I wish you a peaceful and fulfilled life ahead.

  35. Derin

    October 27, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    Happy Birthday Atoke!! You make Mondays worth getting up for, even if it’s just to read your banter.


    October 27, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Atoke, today, a lot of people (like all before me and after) are going to think of you, call you, pray for you, wish you well and many happy years ahead. Just wanted you to know that I’m one of them. Happy birthday, Atoke dear; here’s to another phenomenal year of being the best of you!

  37. Ada Nnewi

    October 27, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Happy Birthday Atoke!!!

  38. peace

    October 27, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    Happy New year of life Atoke, wishing U Greatness & lots of Happiness even as U begin a phrase of life. D skies is your starting point. Go girl!!!
    For birthdays, necessarily don’t do d party thing, its a day I thank God for another new year & bask in wishes & prayers of family & loved ones.

    Enjoy your Day. CHEERS!!!

  39. D

    October 27, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    Happy Birthday Atoke 🙂

  40. chinco

    October 27, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Happy birthday Atoke ….you always write about things that I relate with…love you for that. Many more blessings. Like you I mostly dwell on my achievements or where I should be so my birthdays are always an emotional drama for me, sans frivolities. I really don’t care about a long life, just long enough to do great things that impact lives positively, enough to transcend my own lifetime ( just as u said). Have a Fab week

  41. Flow

    October 27, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Happy birthday Atoks! I wish u every good thing you wish for yourself! Pls do take sometime out and celebrate yourself, u r worth it!

  42. thatshychic

    October 27, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    Happy Birthday, Atoke. Cheers to another 365 days of making me look forward to Mondays! Enjoy your day.

  43. Chydee

    October 27, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Happy birthday Atoke! Pls… Just one cupcake 🙂

  44. happychick

    October 27, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    happy birthday Atoke! God bless you darling…always look forward to ur right ups….even if its to laugh at the funny comments from people…and yes I love celebrating my birthdays o, infact I actually look forward to each birthday cos am always Thankful to my Creator for keeping and blessing me.

  45. DOO

    October 27, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    Happy Birthday Atoke!!

  46. Anike

    October 27, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Happy Birthday Atoke!
    Wishing you all you wish yourself and much more

  47. Eve P

    October 27, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    Happy Birthday Atoke…Love reading your write up. My birthday was 0n the 24th. You are right, you are allowed to be happy and self centered on your birthday, its allowed. Wishing you many more glorious years in good health. Have the best of today and enjoy yourself. On my birthdays, i thank an praise God for his the especial gift of life, for His good works in my life, for family and for friends. Try to surprise someone today and put a smile on their face. Cheers!

  48. Bobosteke & Lara Bian

    October 27, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Happy born day, Atoke.

  49. Grown Woman

    October 27, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    HBD Atoke may all your dreams and wishes come true 🙂

  50. Mz Socially Awkward...

    October 27, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    Happy Birthday, luv and with a massive e-hug from moi!!! Celebrate yourself in every way because I’m currently celebrating you with this rice and chicken that I packed for my lunch… 🙂

    Be filled with hope for a more awesome year ahead (regardless of whatever the current landscape is) and I pray that God blesses you with increased wisdom and a greater measure of peace, joy & beauty. Plus, of course, more ink to flow from your ever-instightful pen! Enjoy every part of your day to the max!!xxxx

  51. mrs.O

    October 27, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Happy Birthday Atoke!!! Many more years and many more articles from you.. Have a beautiful day.. Peace, Love, Cupcakes, Icecream and Pizza!:p

  52. The K

    October 27, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    Happy birthday Atoke! I always knew it…I always knew there had to be something coincidental about you and my sister. To be specific, I have always thought of you as the internet version of my older sister. Your write-ups and “mouth expressions”, and especially how your messages come across, occur to me exactly like my sister’s does. If we (my family) were Nigerian, I would have thought my sister was the one actually submitting the Monday banter to BN weekly. My sister turned 33 as well this year, a few months ago. Can’t believe you and her were born in the same year! I have several mental pictures of you which are in sync with my sister’s personality in so may ways. I never fail to read your banter though I never comment. The comments always crack me up and by the time I’m done reading them, I usually have no energy left to comment. I just wish you a wonderful life ahead and may the good Lord continue to empower you to make your years count in the ways you desire! #PopsChampagne #CheersToLLnPForAtoke

  53. efe

    October 27, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY Atoke baby. l pray that the Lord grant you all your desires according to His will,it can only get BETTER, Hip! Hip!1 Hip!! HURRAY!!!!!!!! Blow out the candle and make a WISH

  54. Changing Faces

    October 27, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Happy birthday Atoke… Many reasons to be thankful and excited about what the future holds. Enjoy

  55. Corper Shaun

    October 27, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Happy Birthday Atoke
    About having any reason to celebrate, i’d say you have more than enough, you are richly blessed, more like a granny with lots and lots of kids at her feet lurking around to get some treats…see the way we all come up, no scrap that, run to BN on mondays solely for you.

    I was particularly glad you kept your promise, reading through your post today i remembered some of your readers complained about the timing of your posts last week- that the morning in the monday morning banter was missing, so i went back to the caption and i caught sight of the time, was just all smiles you would think it was my birthday and i got a really big teddy. Don’t mind me, there’s just something that bonds me with people who TRY to keep to their words. I admire that trait in you. Enjoy the day!

  56. Emma

    October 27, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Happy Birthday Atoke!!!
    Igba odun, odun kan in good health of mind & body.
    love you…

  57. Ninii

    October 27, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Happy birthday Atoks

  58. Koffie

    October 27, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    Happy birthday Atoke, you’re a birthday mate to one of my friends. I wish you all the best in life and my prayers are with you. You deserve a cupcake at the very least today naw, not cucumber strips! Loool
    I wasn’t always thrilled about birthdays in the past but this year, my friends threw a surprise birthday party for me and it was lovely and touching. The turnout was surprising as well considering I was in the state where I was serving. It was nice that they travelled down to throw me a party. Generally, my outlook on things are evolving and my birthdays are a reminder that I deserve to be pampered for a change and I deserve a little fun.
    Happy birthday once again. Love your beautiful mind

  59. Frances Okoro

    October 27, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Happy Birthday Atoke!
    You’ve been a big part of my blessings on monday’s 🙂
    May your light continually shine…

  60. serene

    October 27, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    Happy birthday Atoke, good to know u r a Scorpio. Ma birthday is on Friday. I’ll be 25 and I’ve been pondering a lot. You deserve to indulge yourself all u want on ur 1day. God bless you

  61. Abla

    October 27, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    Happy birthday boo! You are so awesome!

  62. beverly

    October 27, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    Happy birthday Atoke.I wish u more years of celebration.

  63. Lizzie

    October 27, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Happy Birthday Lady!!! Have a great year ahead..

  64. DIG

    October 28, 2014 at 12:12 am

    Happy Birthday Atoke! I admire your writing skills. I like also that you hardly ever run out of stuff to write about. I believe you’re great already, and more greatness lies ahead. God bless you!

    P.S: Abeg, try to celebrate small, even if its a nice meal for the day. I’m a great fan of birthdays.

  65. Ijebu Boy

    October 28, 2014 at 3:27 am

    back when i was single, i used to forget my birthday and loved that. now i am married and my wife will sing song it till the day comes, no way to forget. i do believe that it is just another day and does not mean much. However, i understand those who think birthdays are big deals (my wife) and like to make a big big to-do about it. i send messages out to friends and family on their birthdays but i prefer not to get any on mine. hold on, i am beginning to get a feeling, i might be a weirdo!!! *shrug* lol

  66. Joshua

    October 29, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Happy Birthday Atoke. I had to say this even though it 2 days late. I’ve enjoyed most of your writeups on BN. You will find even more meaning and fulfillment in Jesus name Amen. And oh yes, you’ll be verrrryyyyyy old, yet strong…***funnyfacewiththemosthilariouslaughter***

  67. Bunmi Lawal

    October 31, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    Happy belated Birthday Atoke.
    Hope you had a great day.
    Wishing you long life and prosperity.

  68. Bisqo

    November 11, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    Happy Birthday Atoke… I love your write ups! I hope you had a blast even though you don’t celebrate on your special day!

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