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Vanessa Willie: On Becoming – The Hidden Message

Vanessa Willie

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toke-makinwa2So I was privileged to read Toke Makinwa’s memoir, On Becoming. Believe me, it takes a lot of courage to make the kind of revelations I read in her memoir. And for that, I duff my hat for her.

Toke’s story resonates with a lot of women probably because almost one in three women has had a similar tale. The downside is this: social media has focused on applauding her courage and neglected other vital aspects of her story. Social media tended to dwell on her vulnerability and how her mess was transformed into a message. These are worthy themes highlighted by reviewers of On Becoming.

However, I’m more interested in the essence (and core) of her message. Sadly, most people seem to have missed it. Just as much as it is good to tell an intriguing story, it is also important to ensure that fewer people end up in these situations at all.

From my experience and many years of counselling, one thing has remained constant with the single and married women I’ve counselled. There is always that primal need to love and be loved in return. That is what they think, but what I often see is a low self-esteem and a void they’re dying to fill. These women try to fill the emptiness with the illusion of The Right Man. Desperation impairs their judgment. They’re quick to think they are in love. Things further worsen when the man remotely mentions the M-word or something along the lines of future commitment. Some neurons snap in the woman’s brain, and she convinces herself that finally, security has found her! Before long, it becomes clear that even marriage is incapable of solving one hundredth of their problems. The emptiness occasionally stirs in their hearts, announcing itself. Soon they blame their woes on the man’s inadequacies. (Obviously, by now, their unrealistic expectations have peaked.)

Every woman ought to learn that there is one anti-dote for this emptiness and low self-esteem. This antidote is called Finding Your Purpose. And who knows your life’s purpose more than your Creator? No one. Need I say more?
In all certainty, Toke’s story made her much more famous but don’t think it will be the same for every other person who leaps out of their closet, armed with a chest full of sad tales and a willingness to share their gory experiences. Different strokes for different folks. Another storyteller would probably be devoured and misjudged by the angry bullies of social media.

Emptiness and low self-esteem cannot be remedied by riches and/or fame; else suicide won’t be common amongst celebrities. Being a celeb these days is no longer an uphill task, just show enough skin, feature in a porn movie, or pretend to be gay or transgender and voila! You’ll be the talk of the town. But I digress!
Do you remember Julia Roberts in the movie ‘Pretty Woman’? Most of you secretly wished Pretty Woman was your story. Remember the adrenaline rush you got when you watch an RMD and Genevieve movie. RMD is probably the rich guy who falls in love with the village girl or underprivileged Genevieve. I know people who sometimes wish they were right in the movie living out their fantasies.

When a woman meets a guy she feels unworthy of, insecurity is capable of creeping in. She is elated to be the chosen one. This very feeling, if not properly managed can ruin the woman. I used the word managed advisedly, because it’s difficult not to feel lucky in these circumstances, despite your confidence level. I mean, if you know me well and know my husband, you’ll understand that I’m speaking from experience. Handling these feelings require a lot of expertise. Toke’ story clearly reflects the importance of wisdom in this regard.

This is what I want you to take out of this article. Love is a beautiful thing but it doesn’t guarantee happiness and it isn’t a substitute. In fact the person you love the most is the person who has the most power to hurt you and vice versa. You can find strength to forgive them. On the other hand, if your essence for living and happiness is not dependent on them. I mean that is too much responsibility to give any human being. Just because a good marriage is a beauty to behold doesn’t mean it can complete you. You should be complete in yourself before you take the vow. Believe it or not, marriage is a union of two whole people coming together in agreement of fulfilled destiny. It demands that each party helps the other achieve their life’s purpose. It’s possible to have a good marriage and not know it. Try not to be blinded by your fairytale expectations. Don’t be deceived by social media. A good marriage doesn’t just happen. It takes hard work. Love is the grease that makes the engine run smoothly.
In other to date successfully, you need a sound mind. Don’t date with the hopes that the new person will heal the wounds from your past relationships. Deal with your low self-esteem issues if you have any. One of my favourite’s quotes says ‘to thy own self be true’.

To be ready for a relationship, you have to come to a point where you can be genuinely happy in your own company. Groom yourself until you reach a point where you acknowledge that you don’t need a man to be happy. Love often knocks while you’re too busy developing yourself. When you have established your purpose in this world, that’s when you’re ready. Don’t let society pressure you into a union. When the chips are down, you alone will nurse the wounds of a broken heart. Bloggers will gather around the ruins to scavenge your story for money.
Watch out for my next article: ‘On signs that you have low self-esteem’. You need to know this so that you can address what makes you unnecessarily vulnerable and easy prey.

VANESSA WILLIE She is a certified Marriage and Relationship Coach from The Institute for Marriage and Family Affairs, USA. with more than 6 years’ experience. She is the founder of Janessa Foundation International and host of the radio talk show; TheTalk with Vanessa on Dream 92.5fm.

36 Comments

  1. julietogbo

    December 7, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    Mackinaw aha aunty u can spell oooo

    • Nitomeya

      December 8, 2016 at 9:13 am

      ” It’s possible to have a good marriage and not know it. Try not to be blinded by your fairytale expectations. Don’t be deceived by social media. A good marriage doesn’t just happen. It takes hard work. Love is the grease that makes the engine run smoothly.”

      Is it truly possible to have a good marriage without knowing? Please let people with life experience share their stories, I will like to learn.

    • LemmeRant

      December 8, 2016 at 9:56 am

      @bellanaija

      I also want to submit a review of the “On becoming” book o, even though I’ve never read it.

    • EC

      December 8, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      ???. Now hidden message what next

    • steff

      December 23, 2016 at 12:37 am

      Aunty calm down,thats just a simple mistake

  2. A Real Nigerian

    December 7, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    “Being a celeb these days is no longer an uphill task, just show enough skin, feature in a porn movie, or pretend to be gay or transgender and voila! You’ll be the talk of the town.”

    You just had to, didn’t you? A soon as I saw the word “creator”, I knew it wouldn’t be long before some subliminal bigotry complimented it.
    Pathetic.

    • Prince Charming

      December 7, 2016 at 9:12 pm

      I learnt a great deal. @Fake Nigerian, why don’t you go to bed? It’s past your bed time. Pathetic mumu.k

    • Sherlie Holmes

      December 8, 2016 at 3:48 pm

      Your comments always tickle me…

    • Me Fullground

      December 9, 2016 at 3:47 pm

      @A Real Nigerian, the Chief Defender of Tokstarr.
      Your bigotry when it comes to Toke’s matter is so blinded that you can’t even see any sense in an objective analysis that makes sense for people to learn from. Do you think Toke is fooling anyone by seeking public sympathy to make money? The chicken will come home to roost soon if you and your fellow Toke’s supporter’s club do not allow her and others to learn serious lessons.

  3. Peace

    December 7, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    Well said. Don’t go on a mission or take a task that God did not send or OK. Here the results of being obedient. The book is out and great lessons.
    What gave me comfort was that Toke shared on IG everything she heard from God during the storm. God is your refuge. I could imagine the pain she was going through and it’s a pain only the comforter can heal. So when I saw and she shared her revelations gave me peace
    She’s open up about her flaws shown the open doors and solution to restoration God.

  4. alwayshappy

    December 7, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    Though Vanessa’s article is not gender neutral , the underlying message she touched on applies to male and female, vice versa. No man or woman has the right to take another human on a journey of futility , simply put hurt people hurt people, and yes it is double wahala like Fela sang.

  5. Rukky

    December 7, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    Hmm life is a mystery, started reading the book earlier today, and the first pages made my eyes moist.. the death of her parents and her early days with Maje, May we all learn from this both men and women alike. We can’t live long enough to make all the mistakes in life so we need to learn from the mistakes of others. Women please learn to love yourselfs, mothers plss teach your sons to treat women well. Hmm Toke is a strong woman.

  6. OA

    December 7, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    I’m telling you and I repeat, hmmm after what I went through with the “weyrey” (my bellanaija word) that I dated years ago, it took years to come out of that bondage I tell you. We didn’t even date for that long. Maybe two years tops, but I tell you, after the relationship was over, I just couldn’t get over the fact that I was such an “ode” in the relationship — me who had sharp mouth and was usually so strong in all things!

    The most important message that God sent me was “I had to forgive myself and let go of the pain.” I was like, “God, I didn’t do anything…what am I forgiving myself for?” It was soon that I realized that I was blaming myself for being caught up with such a person all in the name of finding happiness. It was a case of how could I have been so stupid? To God be the glory, after God gave me the power to surrender totally and to realize that I could move on, did things start changing in my life. After that, doors and opportunities started opening and my life changed. I started living for me, I started traveling a lot and and self-professed to be worth a million dollars (metaphorically of course…who dash OA). Even till now, I hold God as number one in my life/marriage, followed by me, and then my husband. And yes, I have told him to his face. If you ta fele fele, you is gone abi maybe is me that is gone de ni! Somebody will be sha be going!

    • MRA

      December 8, 2016 at 9:00 am

      Thank you for this comment. It has resonated deeply with me. I recently fell in love with a man with ‘baggage’. I had no intentions of settling with him permanently (or so I thought) but I never expected that when he decided to walk out I will be shattered. So shattered and humiliated!
      In your own words: ‘It was soon that I realized that I was blaming myself for being caught up with such a person all in the name of finding happiness. It was a case of how could I have been so stupid?’
      That has being exactly how I have been feeling. Really stupid!
      But God is merciful and He is helping me slowly, gradually.
      And seeing that I am not the only one going through this; seeing that someone else went through this and survived; I am encouraged. God bless you!

  7. Caramel chic

    December 7, 2016 at 11:30 pm

    One of the conversations missing from the popularity of Toke’s book is ….how are we raising our Nigeria children? Beyond education and the desire for them to succeed. At the heart of a Nigerian girl, what are the origins and ideologies being cultivated in her heart? That sentence “love yourself” is suggested like it’s an orange juice in a bottle. One just drinks it and ‘wa la’ We must fight to raise our girls with the same validation and intentional grooming that we five our boys. This goes beyond telling your daughter she is beautiful. It’s about telling your daughter about her character, asking her to look into the mirror and reflect on what she sees. It’s about investing time in our daughters at a young age. We can’t continue with excuses. We must do better for our girls. That girl will one day become a woman and she will need the strength that she was taught as young girl to fly as a woman.

    • John

      December 7, 2016 at 11:34 pm

      men please learn to love yourselfs, fathers plss teach your daughters to treat men well.. ..how does that sound ? .how it sounds is how your comment truly sounds.

    • nene

      December 7, 2016 at 11:52 pm

      well said

    • wenn

      December 9, 2016 at 4:47 am

      Errmmmm..our boysaren’t left out too.there is a lot that also needs to be corrected in that department (of raising them).

  8. www.ckjacob.com

    December 7, 2016 at 11:58 pm

    Toke Makinwa will soon become a case study.
    God bless her!

  9. Ms.b

    December 8, 2016 at 3:42 am

    All of you lying on God. God told you NOTHING ! Religious bigots

  10. Adeyemi Zainab

    December 8, 2016 at 6:40 am

    Nice one. It seems the writer is talking to me. God 1st and always, then ur own fulfilment and happiness matters.

  11. Emphasis

    December 8, 2016 at 9:10 am

    You should be complete in yourself before you take the vow. Believe it or not, marriage is a union of two whole people coming together in agreement of fulfilled destiny. It demands that each party helps the other achieve their life’s purpose. It’s possible to have a good marriage and not know it. Try not to be blinded by your fairytale expectations. Don’t be deceived by social media. A good marriage doesn’t just happen. It takes hard work. Love is the grease that makes the engine run smoothly.
    In other to date successfully, you need a sound mind. Don’t date with the hopes that the new person will heal the wounds from your past relationships.(Rebound situationship most times ends badly) Deal with your low self-esteem issues if you have any. One of my favourite’s quotes says ‘to thy own self be true’.

    I love this write up, I always look for the salient points in any write up and the paragraphs above is it.

    You can have a good life/marriage/job/child/achievement without knowing it. If you constantly compare yourself with others and not truly appreciate what you have got then this can easily happen.

  12. MiDe

    December 8, 2016 at 9:49 am

    Lovely article.

  13. Ej

    December 8, 2016 at 10:19 am

    Dear Vanessa I recently started to love my self, and put God first, my faith has increased up to the extent of open doors and answered prayers, but I still can’t find my purpose, I don’t know how to pls could u help pls Vanessa thank u and God bless

    • chioma

      December 8, 2016 at 2:40 pm

      she is on air on Dream92.5fm Enugu, or u can screen live online, listen to her every Saturday from 8pm-10pm.

    • Olly

      December 11, 2016 at 6:22 pm

      Look for this book. SHAPE by Erik Rees. It will answer your questions about your purpose on this earth

  14. That-I-May-Fly

    December 8, 2016 at 11:39 am

    I wonder how many of the traits the average Nigerian women exhibits is swept under the banner of ‘low self esteem’ when it’s actually cultural disadvantages that makes them the way they. I have noticed how we Nigerians just tend to follow the same narrative without probing further to see if there’s more. And what da heck is the life purpose business that seems to be the magic wand of curing everyone’s problems? When you turn to A, they will say find your purpose, turn to B, they will ask what’s your life purpose. And then you throw the creator into the mix to further confuse everything. I just dont know if there’s something in this article for me, but I can see why some people will take something from this…it panders to the same narrative! Be complete by yourself! As if!

    • Emphasis

      December 8, 2016 at 2:45 pm

      This articles bring to light Esteem issues, which for a long time has not been talked about in society.
      If one has Esteem issues it can hinder them from moving forward. Yes there is cultural disadvantage, which should be talked about, however with or without cultural disadvantages a person with low self esteem and a lack of purpose is more likely to find it hard to succeed.

      Ps. This article offers something fresh, it says take responsibility for your self and not pass on the blame, be true to your self. Evaluate and appreciate what you have and not compare your self with others constantly, it talks about healing properly before getting into a new relationship. Lots of fresh things being talked about in this article.

  15. Chioma

    December 8, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    “The person you love the most is the person who has the most power to hurt and vice versa. You can find strength to forgive them. On the other hand ,if your essence of happiness is not dependent on them. I mean that is too much responsibility to give any human being.”

    Exactly what I was taught yesterday, we should always forgive like God. I believe the essence of my happiness depends on nobody but me. We should expect hurt in any relationship and always be ready to forgive.
    Thank you Vanessa for this wonderful piece.

  16. Nonny Daniel

    December 8, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    Is this on becoming volume 2? Speech too long jare. #justsaying

  17. beecruising

    December 8, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    The only panacea to abuse is self love and self esteem. With these, damn any man or woman that wants to take you for granted. Vanessa Willie, I totally agree with your line of thought.

  18. chioma

    December 8, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Beautiful piece!

  19. Nneoma Albert-Benson

    December 8, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    Nice piece Vanessa!

  20. Esse

    December 8, 2016 at 10:58 pm

    Beautiful piece Vanessa! Well done.

  21. wenn

    December 9, 2016 at 4:53 am

    #Thumbsup Janey baby!! Nice one.

  22. Mo'Diva

    December 9, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Thank you God! Yes forgiveness is the key. I just imbibed that and the result is pretty turning out well

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