More Than a Bad Hair Day

I just had an experience that I have to share with you. It’s really not a big deal in itself, but it has taught me a profound lesson and I hope you will sift it off me. It’s actually about my hair. (What???? Are you kidding me? Did this joker say hair?). Calm yourself, I’ll get to the bit about you soon, but yea, I said hair, and if you don’t exit the page I’ll get to the point.

A little background information, I’m one of those guys that like looking my best, also I’m one of those people that can’t stay with the same look for a very long time. Right from my

college days, I could not wear one look for too long (I think psychologist have a name for it, they believe it’s a disorder, how sad.). So today I’m wearing a beard, tomorrow I’m clean shaven, today I’m wearing a very low cut, tomorrow I’m keeping a bit of hair. (Don’t worry, it’s not that bad, I just like to spice up life) 

It happened that recently I got quite busy with work, and could not visit with my barber, (I like keeping to one service person per time), and luckily I shave my beard myself, so I didn't have to look like Moses picking up the Ten Commandments. Little by little, my hair grew as I neglected my pristine looks, something that seldom happens and it began to turn into a mini Afro, that’s when all hell broke loose! 

It started when I walked into the office on one of those mornings, and a familiar face who had come for some business stopped me in my tracks with “oh my gosh sir, you are growing your hair, I love it” my first instinct was “what does she want?, it must be mammoth, if she has to use flattering my unkept hair as an opening line” but just as I was thinking it, another bystander joined her, “yea, it’s cool, gives you a different look”. Now my mind is whispering; are these jokers serious? Are they high on something”, but since nobody ever rejected compliments yet, I was not about to be the first. They loved ooh’d and aah’d to their heart’s content while I basked in the euphoria of my new found glory. This trend kept gathering momentum till late evening; by that time I was convinced that I was the new face of ‘trends’. I was still basking in the aura of this euphoria when my friend and business partner walks up to me and goes “what’s up with the unkept look?” I assumed he was either jealous or not just ‘in with the times’ but my secretary who was present also chipped in, “yes, I've been trying to hold my tongue, but you look ridiculous and rough, sir”. Imagine my surprise, as my short lived shimmering high took a nose dive into a dreary low. Deflated, I left work that day hoping that by the next day, the veil will drop from their eyes, and they will hug the idea of my pet project, because ‘project Afro’ was underway. 

Much to my consternation, which is the essence of my sharing the experience, the past two months have been profoundly interesting. I've had an equal number of camps as there were opinions concerning the ongoing project, the most interesting being an argument between two very respectable elderly women on ‘project Afro . One was of the opinion that it made me look untidy and unserious, while the other insisted I looked dandy and youthful. The first said I should shave it, the other threatened to kill me if I do. I have heard all manner of opinions in the past two months it’s totally amazing. From “it makes you look old” to “it makes you look young”, some said “it makes you look fat” others go “are you losing weight? Oh it must be the hair, makes you look trim”. The opinions I have received are almost as many as the number of people that have given them. I got totally and completely bemused, and I realized that I had gotten to the point where I couldn't say whether I liked the hair or not, or whether I looked good in it or not. That’s when it struck me, “the world is crazy, and if you let it, it’ll drive you nuts too.” 

I don’t know if you have felt this way before, you dress up for a wedding and can swear you are looking like the ‘dog’s bow wow and the cat’s meow’. All your room mates confirm it. You can see the envy in their eyes. You are sure of it, this is not to make you feel good, it’s the real thing. So you step out of your apartment and you would not have been surprised if, like it happens in the adverts, guys start walking into telephone poles and waiters start pouring hot coffee on the customer’s laps because they are all staring at you. But what you get regrettably is Susan, who takes one look at you and goes “that dress makes you look fat and old fashioned, who made it?” Bam! Right between the eyes. Throughout the wedding you keep getting conflicting opinions, Gill likes it, Tim thinks it’s just OK, Duni is wowed and Bekky is appalled. Your emotions and feelings keep undulating like a yo-yo along with every voiced opinion of others concerning things about you. 

Pushing further, we must answer a question if we must move ahead; how much of who we presently claim to be is a function of our need to please someone else; a parent, a group of friends, a perceived trend, a social conception or a complete stranger? What percentage of who we are is because we are comfortable with it and it is what we truly want? Starting with our major life choices like course of study, place of work, choice of marriage partner, where to live… to the mundane matters like what to wear, where to eat, how to talk. How many things do we do because we really like doing them and how much of us is about seeking somebody’s approval so we can feel good about ourselves. (I see young men walking the street in pants two or three sizes too small, and I say to myself, “There is no way on earth that guy is comfortable in those things”). We see daily, people living under the burden of discomfort, eye lashes so heavy the lids can’t carry them, make-up so heavy our dogs can’t recognize us, struggling to retain an accent we can’t express ourselves by, and all sorts of craziness in the bid to either please someone or to be accepted by others. 

The antithesis to this rather unfortunate arrangement is this sad reality, it does not matter how much you try to adjust yourself to please or be accepted by one person, there is another person by the side who would be displeased by your back-breaking efforts. That is the reality of life. You studied architecture to please your parents, meanwhile your wife thinks you should be a public speaker. You wear your hair long to please the girl next door, and the girl you have a crush on in school thinks you look dumb. There is always a climax and an anticlimax, a thesis and an antithesis to everything concerning us, and if you must keep from not ending up schizophrenic, you must learn early in life the principle of not trying to please everyone. Unfortunately, the idea that we are acting out roles to please others is foreign to us. It is a fact lost on us, because we think to ourselves “come on, this is me, I don’t play by anyone’s rules, I do what I want, how I want it, that is me!” Well congratulations for being the only one who does not, but if you will think well you’ll realize there’s an outfit you loved when you bought, but you don’t wear anymore because someone innocently made a negative comment about it. Sit back and ask yourself before you stuff yourself into that hideously tight jeans that you can barely walk in, but you must wear cause its cool, who is worth that amount of pain and discomfort? 

My submission is thus and I’ll love to hear yours if you don’t mind. There is one important person you have to please and you see that person when you look in the mirror. You owe yourself the responsibility to be comfortable in your own skin. I have already established you would never get to please everyone, so I suggest you stop trying. Start a new program today. Tell yourself what you think about you first before trying to weigh in other peoples opinion. Try pleasing yourself for once, and see how better you would feel about yourself. 

And by the way, ‘operation afro’ is progressing smoothly.

Kanayo Aniegboka

Kani is a writer, entrepreneur, blogger, public speaker and an all-round knowledge junkie who likes to view life from different angles.


  1. Nice one! It is called, urself!!!

  2. Ifeoma Ik- Obi6 July 2013 at 22:51

    Hmmm, if we had to listen to what people thot of us, what a confused life we would have. I would say, if it works for you, then I guess you better rock it. By the way afro looks good on you.

  3. Were you on project afro the last time i visited sir? Cos i didn't see it.infact i just would have to look at your dp to see what it looks like.

    But i had a good time reading this and i am encouraged once more to continue being 'my not sending' self.

    Thanks for this interesting piece

  4. This is awesome. Thank you so much for the wonderful speech.

  5. Wow some depth here! My moma always says no man is an Island and we need other people,so basically the african child is groomed with a craving for validation. We all crave acceptance at different levels. For some, this craving protrays us as being NEEDY, for some the craving shows its self as a SUPERIORITY complex. As I move into the next stage of my life, I'm about to become a parent and raise kids;pray tell dear sir, How do I raise Kids that won't constantly seek other people's validation and opinions and appear desperate and needy?

  6. I agree trying to please everyone can be confusing and frustrating and lead to indecision in making choices and life decisions about marriage,career,etc I have been going through that crisis lately and thinking and regretting living my life to please everyone but mom always complained I was too quick to listen to everyone and do as they said.I have always wondered why I have been indecisive about my career choices and confused..anyway thanks for this very ...interesting and I noticed the hair and thought you looked happier...and content.but don't mind me or yourself and be happy..pleasing God is the most important ...

  7. It is funny celebs dress to get attention and build a public image to enhance their brand and make money...they have stylists and nutritionists and a whole bunch of people in their team paid to tell them what to do ...and they do it to better their career..they have to dress a certain way and do certain things..but why do we stress ourselves tying to please people?for what anyway?what will we get from doing that?not millions like is funny

  8. mom says I am a failure in life because of trying to please everyone....and caring too much what people think...well I know it is not over till it is can always make a change before it is too late..who says a fool at 40 is a fool forever?life begins at 40...I am not 40 yet still a couple of year to go before the big 40..I can start now to stop listening to everyone but myself and start listening to me and living to please God and being happier..not just trying to be fashionable and trendy and ruin my life being a people pleaser with no mind of my own!It is better to try and fail than not to try at all...I do not know how many more years God will let me live on this earth but by His grace I will make the change now and be happier

  9. It started out as 'unkempt'. you considered keeping it after you got compliments. that was what made you consider it in the first place, right? 'people' helped you define what you wanted to be. one minute you looked yourself in the mirror and thought 'i've got to visit my barber', the next you thought 'hmmmm... the afro looks good on me' 'people' helped you with that transition. it formed your definition of looking good with the afro. it doesn't matter what any other person say, the opinion is formed. it's the same with people who wear skinny jeans, short dresses etc. somebody helped them think they looked good, it's not gonna matter what anybody says.
    my point, people's opinion matter. it is people's opinion most times that helps you figure out yours. if no one ever complimented, you wouldn't have a strand of hair on your head right now. you would never have thought you would look good on afro. sounds to me like we do need people's opinion. most times it's these opinions that lead us to discover ourselves. most people would just be barmaids but for someone who saw the events planner in them. people's opinion do count sometimes over yours.

  10. at the end of it all if you are ok with yourself what others say and think anout you should not always matter.