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Toyosi Phillips: Do Not Hold Doors

Toyosi Phillips



TCD_0159I’ve always believed that signs and messages have more meanings than the obvious one. I believe in reading what is not written and hearing what’s not being said. I know people do well with innuendos i.e. finding sexual meanings for the least sexual of statements but besides innuendos, several signs (for example, warning signs) hold multiple meanings to me. I tend to apply them to life in general. Take the “Do Not Hold Doors” sign on the NYC subway for instance. I’ve ridden these trains for years and recently it occurred to me that it was so applicable to life. This sign is on every door in every car of every running train in New York City and it’s simply telling passengers not to hold doors open when they’re being shut.

Common sense right? Everyone should know that. I mean you could get stuck, you could get hurt. I want to say you could even die from injuries sustained while struggling with those doors. And it’s not even just about you; you delay the passengers on the train! Those extra 30 seconds you delay the train from being on its journey could cause a student to be late for class, or a young woman to be late for her job interview or even cause a man to miss his wife delivering the beautiful daughter they’ve been waiting for for six years… (I definitely ran with my imagination for that last one but you get the point) do not hold doors! Let the doors close and let the train leave. The next train is usually not too far behind.

Applying it to life: Isn’t life a journey from birth to death with all types of doors opening and closing? Doors of relationships, doors of friendships, doors of opportunities… If we were all very perceptive, we would see on every single door in our lives that same bold sign, “Do Not Hold Doors”. In life and living terms, do not disrupt the doors’ activities. When they’re closing, let them close. When they’re opening, let them open. Do not force them open, do not force them close and please, do not break them down!

A lot of times we further complicate life by not letting doors be. I know friends who complicated their lives tremendously in the past by refusing to walk away from relationships that were over; choosing and telling anyone who cared to listen that they will “die there”. When a Nigerian woman tells you that she will “die there”, you know she’s not walking away from that situation any time soon. I say this jokingly but people have in actual fact lost their lives because they held doors that should have been shut, open.

I’m typing here like I have all my ducks in a row; but the truth is I still have trouble leaving the doors in my life well alone. I shut a door recently on a beautiful friendship and received a message from the person saying, “how can you shut a friend who wants to be there for you with no holds barred out? How can you deny yourself of the joys? I don’t get it”. Let’s just say that that second sentence played over and over again in my head and made me realize that forcing certain doors shut causes both parties pain. What Asa sang about the jailer being in chains just like the prisoner couldn’t have been any more accurate. We’re friends again.


I’d say these three things come in very handy with regards to letting doors be. They let you see which ones are closed and which are wide open. They let you know when to be concerned and when to be unbothered. They make life pretty less complex.

I wish I’d always had the wisdom to prevent me from having my own moments of standing between doors. Yes, I’ve had my own “die there” experiences. You know an experience made an impact on your life when years later, it’s still a point of reference.
You know when one friend emotionally checks out of a friendship but the other is still in it whole-heartedly, laboring and fighting for “normalcy” to be restored? I was that other friend. The laborer, and it drained me to say the least. I talked to mutual friends, her family and even her then boyfriend. I refused to accept that the friendship as I knew it was over. What messed me up and I’d say made me hesitant to see the situation for what it really was, was that every time I shared my concerns with her and asked what was going on, her reply was, “It’s in your head”. So I stood between the doors, enduring being squashed till I got tired. I wish I could say I got tired in days or even weeks but my tenacity kept me sweltering for months till I quite painfully stepped away from the doors.

I’ve shared two personal stories: One of me shutting a door that was perfectly fine open and one of me preventing and sweating between closing doors. No one needs to repeat any other person’s known mistakes. Let the doors in your life be. Do Not Hold Doors.

Toyosi Phillips is a Lagos-based producer, presenter and writer. She produced and hosted “The Gist with Toyosi Phillips”, an entertainment show on SaharaTV New York for two seasons and co-hosted Sahara FM's weekly radio show from 2014 to 2015. She guest-writes for different publications including Bellanaija and Genevieve Magazine and is quick to mention to everyone that she saw Oprah at the 2016 Essence Festival in New Orleans. Her vlog turned talk show, "As Toyo Sees" will be airing on networks world wide soon. For more news and updates, - Subscribe to her YouTube channel (Toyosi Phillips) - Check out her website - Follow and interact with her on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn @toyosiphillips


  1. Tkum

    November 24, 2015 at 11:42 am


    • Surely

      November 29, 2015 at 12:33 pm

      Wonderful! Coming from the woman who openly advised Toke to hold the doors when Maje had a baby outside…
      I hoe this article is coming because you’ve learned… oshico

  2. onome

    November 24, 2015 at 11:58 am

    very beautiful picture

  3. ElessarisEllendil

    November 24, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    You’ve just been diagnosed with Cancer, you can choose to ‘not hold the door’ i.e prepare to die or you can hold that damn door open with all your strength by doing everything to survive.

    Your wife wants to take custody of the daughter you’ve been waiting six years for, you can chose not to hold the door open by not fighting for shared custody and watch your daughter slip away or you can make a fight of it.

    Lecturer gives you a ‘D’ when you’re sure you got an ‘A’, you can let it be or demand to see your scripts.

    In my opinion, live’s not worth living the moment you give up on fighting for the things that matter.

    • larz

      November 25, 2015 at 11:35 am

      You have just been diagnosed with cancer. You choose to shut the door by automatically not taking your meds and dying earlier than you need to. Leaving the door b means taking your meds, reevaluating your life and ensuring you spend adequate time.

      About someone wanting to take custody of your child, fighting it legally is operating within the confines of the door. However, if the judge declares you unfit and you went in to kidnap your child that is forcing that door open.

      The key is to respond in a normal rational way to the situation in front of you. One of the best ways to decide what is rational is ask yourself. If someone who you really love came to you for your advice, what will your response be.

    • Melissa

      November 25, 2015 at 4:16 pm

      This is where WISDOM and PERCEPTION come in.

  4. Oluwatoyin

    November 24, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    You write very well.
    You have also passed a vital message to me. Thank you.

  5. Oboku.H

    November 24, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    Hey Toyosi, super proud of you! I can so relate to your story by the way of holding on to doors, which are clearly closing and believe me, letting go of somone is one of the toughest things to do. I’ve been there twice in my life, first in a relationship and second, with my one time best friend, it literally killed me to let go and forget about the ‘normalcy’ we once enjoyed. But your eventually faced with the decision of letting the person go or letting yourself go and usually and happily, your self preservation mode takes over.

    But thanks for this article, truly relatable and more grease to your elbows, God bless!

  6. oluchi

    November 24, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    Yes, fight with all you,ve got for the things that trully matter, but know when to walk away…

  7. Adeshina

    November 24, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    2 years ago, I held open an already shut door of friendship. I almost lost my mind cos she meant the World to me. It served me right though, cos I shut the door on someone else just to be with her.

  8. iyke

    November 24, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    The more you resist a closed door, the greater magnified the pain and suffering becomes. Holding onto the door breeds resistance which ultimately leads to resentment……fueled by anger, turmoil and fear. When the door closes it provides us with the energy to propel ourselves to a much higher level. We must embrace the closure as it becomes the driving force of change. Rather than holding onto the door that has closed or is about to close, let us embrace and accept it as a marvelous learning tool that creates an opportunity to transform turmoil, disappointment, and suffering into understanding, insight, and resolve.

  9. beauty

    November 24, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Yh, I tried holding on to a friendship, I was the “laborer”. But yesterday, I told myself that I was completely letting go! I have tried enough. If it was meant to be, it would have all worked out by now…

  10. Cynosure

    November 24, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    What I’ve learnt about close friendship/relationships, “‘When one door closes sometimes you should get a hammer and nails to make sure the darn stays shut!

  11. Suwa

    November 24, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    Plenty hugs Toyosi.. My hand sef dey pain me, time to let go. Thanks a lot.

  12. Personal Signature

    November 24, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    From the day of john the baptist till now, the kingdom of God suffereth violence, and the violent taketh it by force!

    Life is not ABC and not all principles apply to every facet of life. To be more candid, i have heard many ladies say “Whatever will be will be” especially in relationships. I will say that only kids and shallow minded people say that. The more a person grows and develops, the more the understanding he/she has about this life

    God has given you the Canaan land, but the giants are on the land. What do you do? Let the door be? Not hold the doors? Not chase them away from your land of inheritance?

    That leads me to tell you that your job, man, wealth can be in the hands of a wrong person right now, If you dont take the right steps, you may never take hold of them. Your partner may be in the hands of one Jezebel now, who haunts for people’s husbands. If you sit down and look, i am afraid you may never have it back.

    Paul said i have fought the good fight, i have finished my course, and now a crown is laid up unto me. What does that tell you? If Paul never fought, he wouldn’t have finished his course and he wouldn’t have been able to get his reward or crown.

    My dear, the world is evil! Many things would have stayed on his path to hinder him/prevent him from succeeding. Evil people, wicked friends, jealous friends, carriers of evil spirit like ISIS & Boko haram members, killing people before their time….

    In actual fact, in the course of my little stay on earth, i have realized those who don’t persist, never lay hold of the prize/reward. If you don’t persist or keep at it, it won’t be yours. They told Lazarus he can’t see Jesus. Everything was a disadvantage to him, but he persisted. Climbed the tree, shouted and he got what he wanted! Read about all those who got their miracles, they persisted!

    Toyosi, please hold the door o!
    btwn, you are so fine. Married? 😉

    • Icey

      November 24, 2015 at 10:10 pm

      You mean Zacchaeus

  13. The real D

    November 24, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    There is a time and season for everything, a time to fight and a time to let go. I personally relate with this both from a relationship (girlfriend) stand point and from a career point of view but since I have no problem hanging on and fighting for what I perceive is best for me the aspect I struggle with is letting go and as such making this article particularly resonate with me.
    I had an ok paying job in my 3rd year in college, I was a corporate travel agent, it was easy money and paid well and after graduation although i majored in the sciences I was not tempted to seek a job in my area of study (I was lazy) but more and more i knew i needed to let the easy money job go and pursue what i had gone to school for but I was just scared to step out into the “unknown” then came 2008, the recession hit and my office closed down and then the door was closed to me and I had no choice this time around. I have a few more instances but one thing I have learned is if a door is meant to be shut no matter how hard you try eventually, God, fate or whatever steps in and takes the choice from you usually in an unpleasant way so it is easier to just let go when it still appears you have a choice. You’d think I would have learned this by now but I am still a work in progress.

  14. alwayshappy

    November 24, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    All we need to recognize and discern “do not hold the door “, ” may the door slam you in the face on your way out and all that jazz is really crystal when you take it to God in prayer. Sorry if its too cliche nowadays but Prayer works, it is the key to lock, unlock, change locks on any door, relationship or friendship. 10/10 for writer for drawing us into her thoughts.

  15. damilola

    November 24, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    Nicely written Toyosi. I have stopped holding the door for a childhood best friend who ‘dumped’ our friendship cos she locally acquired a british accent and now teaches in a school in lekki. I noticed the change during my sister’s wedding in in 2014. This was someone who we ate, slept and did most things together. My family practically saw her through high school. I was hurt cuz she practically closed the door on our friendship. I tried holding the door but I stopped. She aint worth it. She’s living a fake life right now I hope she realises that she has abandoned her real self for a more instagram life style. Sometimes it is better to let go.

  16. Tru

    November 25, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    Nne your makeup is on Point.

  17. Tosin

    November 25, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    Omo, this is some seriously good writing o!
    I’m here witnessing Bella become Oprah! Loving it.

    I’m a lover, not a fighter – Tinie Tempah

  18. vera chidimma

    December 1, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    Nice writeup I must commend.
    But then, there are some doors that ought to be held onto even after its been shut or trying to shut. The task here is to discern which to hold on to and not to hold.
    Because if we keep leaving doors to shut before us we may have little or nothing to achieve… most people got to where they are today cos they didn’t give up..because they held on the door.

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