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Onosen Mike-Ifeta: You Must Never Crave Acceptance From People Who Won’t Give it To You



dreamstime_m_6929767-3Without a doubt, we are usually the products of our childhood experiences which in turn influences our choices. As a grown woman who believes in the practice of self-reflection and analysis, I often find myself wondering why I am the way I am.

There is a joke between some of my closest friends and I, that I tend to kill an ant with a grenade. The strangest thing about that is I often wonder why other people don’t do the same. I am blessed to be married to a man who is the complete opposite of me, who to my shock and utter amazement, would rather ignore the ant than kill it. We couldn’t be more different in the way we handle things.

Back to what I said earlier about self-reflection and analysis, especially in respect of some of, my childhood experiences, I often wonder how they have affected me positively and negatively. Thankfully the gift of writing serves as a major therapeutic exercise for me.

I have written snippets of my family circumstances in bits here and there. If I am honest, a lot of my personality traits seem to have developed as a result of those experiences. For instance, I grew up knowing that my family was wonky, because of the history of adultery and polygamy and the subsequent rejection of my siblings and I – by my father’s other family. I do believe that this made me develop a strong resistance against rejection or the need to desperately seek acceptance.

For me, rejection in relations to matters of the heart is a big NO NO. I do not see the reason why any self-respecting individual should put themselves in a position where another person has to choose if they will accept them or not. I mean, what if they don’t choose you? Would you plead and grovel in sand, bruising your knees until you are accepted?

No one should give another individual that right.

I would rather be lonely than be rejected. I know that may sound corny, but the way I see it, humans are too fickle. Therefore, no one should put their right of choice in another person’s hands…period.

A person must determine in their mind that they are worth more than a million rubies, and they must carry themselves that way.

Let me share a story, that flickered into my memory trail today and caused me to smile – because I was able to link it up with my inherent resistance of rejection.

In 2003 I was on a flight from Lagos to Benin. I had just returned from my trip to the UK to start my year at the Nigerian law school, Lagos. I was super frustrated by the delay in catching the flight to Benin. I must have waited at the airport for close to three hours. When it was finally time to board the plane, I was exhausted from the long day and made my way slowly to board the aircraft. As I was walking towards the plane, I thought I saw someone that I recognized and immediately adrenaline pumped right into my blood stream. Was she who I thought she was? If she is, what should I say? Should I say anything? Smile or frown? Will she respond? A million what-ifs raced through my mind like a volcanic eruption.
As the adrenaline pumped into my blood stream, I could feel my heart pounding, not out of fear but out of shock. I turned to take a closer look to see if she was indeed the one but she had disappeared. The crew member’s shout of “next” jolted me back into reality as I boarded the plane. As I began to walk down the aisle to my seat, I saw her again, closer this time and boom! I knew for sure that she was the one. I was looking in her direction hoping to catch her gaze. I wasn’t sure if I should say her name or just wait until I was close enough. I could hear my heart beating faster.

Eventually, I was close enough to her, and I blurted out her name with a smile on my face and told her it was me. She stared at me, with a blank look as though she didn’t know who I was. At that moment I knew once again that rejection was about to be served, so I squared my shoulder, ran my hand through my dreadlocks, swayed to the beat of my favorite loud music and sashayed to my seat.

I thought to myself “what nerve she has, who cares, ain’t nobody got time for that.” All through the rest of the flight she completely avoided me. I didn’t want any mid-flight snacks; my stomach was filled with adrenaline instead. When we got to Benin, I noticed that she carefully avoided me. So, I didn’t get to see her as I alighted from the plane. I remember wondering why anyone would have such intense resentment towards another person for over twenty years. Then again if you don’t wear the shoes, you don’t know how tight it pinches.

Now that I think about that incident, it certainly gives more credence to the saying that it takes two people to decide to have a relationship but only one person to forgive. You can never force anyone to accept you. Let’s rephrase that and say: you MUST never crave acceptance from people who will not give it to you. If you do, you damage your self-esteem.

That girl I saw on the plane was my half-sister.

Photo Credit: Curaphotography |

Onosen Mike-Ifeta writes from North America where she lives with her husband and two very boisterous boys. In 2013 Onosen decided to become a stay at home mom; she still questions the wisdom behind that decision, especially when the boys are screaming the house down and there’s no where to hide. Onosen is the face behind


  1. 'Diddie

    September 20, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    hmmmm,,,that’s serious.Forgiveness is like setting a prisoner free in all cases you and not the other person. I can relate to your story and like how you reacted. Some of us would have allowed the other person control our emotions….

  2. Mug

    September 20, 2016 at 7:05 pm

    One of the greatest lesson I learned in life is to never force association with people. The people that reject you will never be of help to you now and in the future. If anything, they are actually more damaging to you. This is for anyone seeking validation and association with people that don’t matter. Leave the difficult associations alone. Go with the easy flowing ones. The less-stress associations are the most beneficial to you. Trust me, I had to learn the hard way

    • Lacey

      September 21, 2016 at 1:47 am

      @Mug this is very deep and profound! Some people just love to hangout with people that out rightly do not want them around!

    • aj

      September 21, 2016 at 3:40 am

      yes ooo are so right. Learned this the hard way. Like some young black preacher on twitter said move away from people that are not of help to you because they would soon be a problem to you. Idk why but some of the recent bella naija articles have been speaking to me!

    • Reign

      January 2, 2017 at 9:01 pm

      What if these people are your immediate family members?? Do you just cut them off?

  3. Tosin

    September 20, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    I hear you. Very important message.


    September 20, 2016 at 8:12 pm


    • aj

      September 21, 2016 at 3:41 am

      so true!

  5. Weezy

    September 20, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Your half sister. Did not see that coming.

  6. Kate

    September 20, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    I’ve been there before. I’m not bothered by other people’s issues anymore. If you don’t want me, I don’t want you. I’ve learnt to forgive and I always tell my friends to do same.

  7. Growing up

    September 20, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    Being rejected by family is the worst. I have learnt the path to lead is that of forgiveness. Forgive them, and forgive yourself, for relying on their approval to boost your self validation

  8. vavavavoom

    September 20, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    Very true. I have lived my life as a people pleaser, always wanting to make others comfortable while neglecting myself. More often than not, the sentiment was never reciprocated, in fact those people took advantage or me, and made me feel less than worthy. I spent a lot of years wondering if I looked strange, or if there was something about me that repelled some people. I finally learned that was indeed not the case, and it was more about those people and their insecurities as opposed to anything having to do with me. I often questioned why it was that the bitches around me got the most respect. I quickly discovered that you teach people how to treat you, if you create boundaries, and don’t waste your time on pleasing others, you will better off.

  9. Atreides

    September 20, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    You should have attached safety warnings before totally blindsiding me with that last paragraph.

  10. @_zuggy

    September 21, 2016 at 2:18 am

    @mug that was very deep.

  11. onosen

    September 21, 2016 at 2:59 am

    I did not see the last line coming. From all your writings you were deeply hurt by them, their rejection especially as it was no fault of yours. Glad writing is therapeutic for you. You are a gracious girl and keep that smile on your face

  12. Sippingtea

    September 21, 2016 at 7:29 am

    Hmmm… this was an interesting read. About the half sister, things are not as black and white as they seem. Did you have any relationship with your half-sister before? Did you grow up with her? Share any moments of closeness with her? If not, she is just like any other stranger, you shouldn’t be expecting anything from her. Also, I don’t know the back story but have you considered that maybe family drama has made her associate you with pain, loss, drama, etc? It could be that she couldn’t acknowledge you because of these things. You have to think about the role that parents play in shaping the perception of their children. I have half siblings and while I am not a vindictive person, I find it hard to be close to them because my whole life, they have spent it in low-key “competition”. If I travelled to China, my father must send them there (even though I went with my own money and for research purposes)… their Mom has been very vicious to my Mom over the last three decades and I always feel like that negativity must surely have rubbed off on her children (because they are her children after all). My mother raised us basically alone because my Dad left us for their mother. He takes care of their every whim but never took financial responsibility for me and my siblings. As a result, am I checking for them? Not really. I’d rather focus on my Mom and my siblings. On the other hand, they also have perceptions of us that shape their relationship with us. My Dad shares all our plans, failures and information with them but we don’t know anything about them…. they have a patronizing attitude towards us because they know all these details about our lives that we didn’t choose to share with them. What I am trying to say is that when it comes to half siblings, things are a bit more complicated. I personally don’t think I would be looking for validation or acceptance from people who aren’t close to me, people who aren’t by default on my side, people who aren’t actively involved in my life. And no one is obligated to accept me, love me or relate with me. I have a responsibility to love and accept myself, that’s where it ends. Expectations always lead to heartbreak and disappointment, it is best to have none.

  13. John

    September 21, 2016 at 7:46 am

    Wow, what a big reveal at the end, u would make a good film writer

  14. Mojereola

    September 21, 2016 at 10:29 am

    you MUST never crave acceptance from people who will not give it to you. If you do, you damage your self-esteem.

    I rarely visit this site but am glad I did today. Your writing made it so.

    My fascination for human behaviour/relationships led me into a deep research for human behaviour and communication (one I am committed to till another life).

    I found out that people who are unable to accept others stem from never having accepted themselves through a genuine relationship of love with the self. More than you would ever know; your half sister’s reaction was borne out of the fact that she’s always known rejection, accepted it as the way of life and that is what is inside her to give out. Unless corrected with “a healthy doze of love for the self”, she would always wallow in the very thing she desperately wants to avoid- self rejection and she would always act towards others from that place.

    I bet you’ve heard, “What you don’t have, you can’t give.” Fill the world with much love. Next time you see her, don’t cut short the flow of goodness from you. Give it to her. You get a happier, better feeling from it.

    All the best! I shall be visiting your site often.

  15. ACE

    September 21, 2016 at 10:38 am

    This speaks to me.

  16. Bee

    September 21, 2016 at 11:00 am

    Wow, This speaks to me in many more ways than one. My dad came from an extremely polygamous home, which turned very sour after my granddad passed over 3 decades ago. Now I have so many uncles aunts and cousins who share the same unique surname but I’ve never met. One of my cousins tried reaching out via facebook some years back but I didn’t respond due to the ‘bad blood’ still existing between my dad and his siblings. Now we’re all grown with kids of our own, and most times I just wonder how things would’ve been different between us if our generaton just squashed the beef and allowed our families to interact….

  17. you canall go to hell

    September 21, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. I am married into a family that I wish I never married into. They have the gall to complain that I don’t make effort, yet they are stuck up and think life begins and ends with them are rude and nasty to me, the aunt gives me death stares each time I go see them. I have decided to ignore the whole lot of them. I refuse to go where I am tolerated. I am good thanks. Useless bunch of people.

    • you canall go to hell

      September 22, 2016 at 5:59 pm

      @bellanaija can you please delete my comment above, (the first comment I made) thanks.

  18. mz_danielz

    September 21, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    Nice article and all.

    BUT….. your mum was a side-chick who eventually went on to have kids and you’re confused how much your step siblings ignore you. While I understand that you shouldn’t seek their validation, you should have not told the whole world making your half sister look like the devil.

    My mother grew up in a polygamous home and she has a hatred for 2nd wives that even rubbed off on me, you don’t know how much they ruin family dynamics. It took me time to be friends with children of second wives/mistresses; the 3rd and other wives can be forgiven because they just came to join the party but the 2nd wife, wetin she dey find abeg.

    Your half sister has probably heard the worst of you guys and she MAY or MAY NOT be hurting (just warned never to interact with y’all by mama).

    I get the point of your article but please have some respect for your step family. Their mother was your mother’s ‘Senior’ anyway.

  19. Ever Green

    September 21, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    You wrote this article for me Onosen,

    I had my first taste of rejection that got to me so hard even if I try to pretend it does not hurt me then from my ex boyfriend’s mum and I must confess it can damage you if you don’t make effort to get that pain out of your system and I find myself crying in the middle of the night .

    I have not offended her in any way and to her she believes I am not good enough for her son but we love each other so much we were always praying for a miracle for her to change her mind towards me and I became obsess with wanting acceptance from her, my boyfriend and I did deliverance upon deliverance but her opinion did not change. I later discover in my research about rejection and self-help books that it is not always about me but she was the one that has the problem no matter who he is dating she will always find a fault. That gave me the closure I needed to move on with my life, thinking about it still bring tears to my eyes but I just have to accept that no matter what you do or who you are some people will always find fault, just do your best to have a good and positive impact on people (including strangers and people you know) you don’t know who can be of help to you in future and nobody knows tomorrow.

    I have forgiven her but the scar is still there and now I am a work in progress, I take each day at a time and I just want the tears to stop.

  20. nwanyi na aga aga

    September 21, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    Onosen what a beautiful write up. I had to go read your blog for me to understand why your half sister will ignore you just like that. Your blog made it clearer. You see from the way you wrote of your dad in his final days one will deduce that those days were spent with your family meaning he stayed more with you guys than them. You are a married woman now, so as you understand your mum’s reason, I hope you will also understand their mum. The anger, the bitterness, the resentment.
    As a married woman imagine how you will feel, years down the line after you have established with your husband,-the toils, the sweat, the sacrifices then another woman swoops in, your husband makes a home with her, neglecting you and your children- the drama, the ignored pleas, the tears, the betrayal, the lies, the deceit even sometimes violence.
    This your half sister might have been a spectator to tragic drama of how her father left her mom for another woman. The neglect, the bitter silent tears their mother shed, the struggle of their mum to replace the father who rejected them, the ugly words flung around, believe me the scene will not have been beautiful. We see the stories of the abandoned wives & children on BN. The anger in their words, the fiery venom in their curses when the issue of side chick comes up. It is a history that scares the lives of people in ways you may or may not understand unless you experience it.
    To that lady you represent an era, a period when her family split. A time when her father chose another woman over her mother. A season when their father rejected them for your mum. To her you represent the reason she lost her family. Your mum was the chosen woman so you may not understand how it feels for kids to see their mother abandoned. She may not necessarily hate you, but relating with you might bring back memories, thoughts she rather not rehash, images she really would not want to revisit. I hope you see it in this light.
    She may not have rejected you, she avoided you meaning it was better for her not to see you. As a human she is wounded too and you can not know the depth of her injury unless she tells you, it will take time for her scars to heal. Don’t take it as rejection cos I do not see it that way at all. I see it as her own way of coping with her pain, of subduing it and moving on in her life. Maybe when next you see her wave, stop and introduce yourself, she might be curt and off-Standish but there is also a chance that sun will through you shine on her, and maybe the hurt she sees through you will be dimmed.

  21. mia

    September 22, 2016 at 9:18 am

    @Nwanyi na ga aga, you just spoke my mind. It is easy to condemn people, but take a step back, flip the script and see how if feels.

    • mz_danielz

      September 22, 2016 at 11:39 am

      Asin, Nwanyi, you explained it nicely.

      The entitlement in the writer’s tone but here and on her blog rubs me the wrong way.

      Your mum took a man from his family and you’re surprised there was anger and resentment; they should have send a bouquet of roses thanking your mum for ruining the family dynamics. Imagine the flippant way you talk about your half sister’s pain, it reeks of selfishness and entitlement. Of course, your father was a good man to you. He left the wife of his youth and married your mother.

      If you have been so healed as you claim, try praying for your half-siblings, asking God to bless them and lead them into purpose, nothing brings a family closer than praying for them.

      Btw, you guys not being close at all, says more about your mother and her family than your half family. Your mother was the visitor, the favored one, yet she couldn’t bring the siblings together, probably a divisive woman, silently gloating that she had hubby’s mumu button.

      Even as bad as my mum’s polygamous family was, she and her step-siblings are close. I was even the bridesmaid at the last one’s wedding.

      If you want to write an article, write but please stop trivializing your step-siblings pain and acting all holy and hurt.

  22. Dem....

    September 22, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    Onosen, you got the writer garb and crafted this piece like a true pro. However, I’d rather you emphatise with your half-sister rather than chastise her. I went through your blog and it seems your mum came to upset the apple-cart in your dad’s marriage. Your Dad obviously loved your mum and you all but there was another family hurting somewhere,. I am quite impressed with how your Dad seemed to have held it all together. It’s hard to reconcile parties in this sort of situations, my Dad really has no relationship with his half-siblings considering, in his own words, how his own father treated his mum. He also wants us to maintain such a stance even though his half brothers have tried to reach us, his sons, at varying times.

    More importantly, we also have the consider the impact of our decisions on our off-springs. I had issues with my wife a while and was basically falling headlong into an affair with a known friend (single mom) whose kids were friend to our own kids. I enjoyed their company and did think of a life as their pseudo dad. I really did care for them and showed it in more ways than one. Two things (primarily) happened that allowed me to put the brakes (1) my Dad got wind and told me his story all-over again while reiterating that the consequences of my action is not about me alone but our children too (2) my son going on a temper tantrum and accusing me of not loving him and only loving the daugther of this other lady (he was 7 yrs old). At one time when I didn’t accede to his request, he stated that he’s sure that if the son of the other lady asked, i would have obliged. The little man was building resentment.

    So, please empathise with your half-sister and do pray that you establish some sort of relationship. You both came out of the same loins.

  23. Gold

    October 13, 2016 at 5:19 am

    There’s nothing more important than telling stories.
    Thank you for being strong enough to share.

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