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Lessons learned as sickle cell warrior living in lagos

I’m sure anyone living in Lagos or have lived in Lagos would agree with me that the Lagos is super stressful and you have to really street smart to live in certain areas of Lagos.

There is even a popular saying that if you no fit wise for Lagos, you no fit wise for anywhere. Meaning if you cannot wise up in Lagos, you cannot wise up anywhere.

Lagos being the most populous state in Nigeria with over 14 million people living in Lagos, you can be sure to find different set of people with different mission in Life.

As someone living with a chronic illness like sickle cell, living in a stressful, populous and hustle-driven state like Lagos can be challenging.

I am the third of three kids and I was born with sickle cell in Lagos. I’ve been living in Lagos since I was born. In fact my parents lived their whole life in Lagos so it is safe to say Lagos is my state.

I think it is important for your to read more about sickle cell, here’s an article to help you learn, sickle cell disease.

As someone living with avascular necrosis caused by sickle cell in Lagos, there are lot of challenges that come my way everyday but one that always hurt and break me is being taken advantage of.

Maybe you do not know but majority (not all) of people living with sickle cell usually tend to look younger and weaker than our peers especially at a young age.

This makes people want to exploit that weakness. With the population of Lagos, there are people like this .

I have unfortunately been a victim of multiple abuse from people but the most recent one inspired this post.

living in Lagos as someone living with sickle cell disorder
Photo credit: Joshua Oluwagbemiga

Lessons I learned in one day as someone with sickle cell disorder living in Lagos

You might be wondering what happened to me in one day. Well, here’s a short, very short story of what happened.

It was a Thursday evening and I decided to get myself a shirt. Walking into the boutique, I met two boys who were bargaining price with the owner of the boutique.

I got my thing and as I was leaving, one of the boys followed me into the street. He and the other guy looked like cultist but I had no problem with them so I kept walking until one the boys started harassing me.

In a nutshell, I lost my phone to them and almost lost my money. That experience made me realize some things and in this post, I’m sharing five lessons I learned.

1. Never talk to strangers

I don’t know if it was me responding to them that made me even more vulnerable but I am sure if I didn’t respond, things might be different.

It is not always safe to respond to strangers especially in the public.

You don’t know their mission, some of them approach you acting nice and some just come off straight as a threat. Either ways, do not respond. Just keep moving until you get to a safer place.

Although I am still open to approaching strangers in a safe place and safe situations and with caution.

Talking to people who want to exploit your weakness is the number way to let them win, I learnt that the hard way.

2. Always look and act tough

Oh dear, this is a lesson I need to take seriously.

My face looks so calm and harmless maybe that is a disadvantage in such situations. I wonder if I had looked tougher, maybe it won’t happen. It’s hard to decide.

I think the proper lesson here should be act tough and know when to drop that Lagos big boy vibe and lose home training.

You know what I mean?

There are times you need to change it for people. That’s a tough one for one but I’ve learnt how important it is.

3. Never trust anyone especially strangers 

See, people would say anything to get whatever they want.

It is important to not trust anyone especially when your gut is telling you to not trust them.

It hurts more when trust is betrayed.

4. Avoid walking alone

Oh, did I tell you about having avascular necrosis?

Avascular necrosis affects the bone joints and makes the bone start to degenerate. If this happens in the hip joint like mine, you might have to limp in pain like me.

A young, calm and harmless looking guy limping on the road. That might be a perfect and easy prey for predators.

I have learned to walk with someone whenever I can.

Whenever you are going to areas that are not safe, you might want to go with someone. If you walk alone, you become more vulnerable.

5. Think and act fast in dangerous situations

Fear is real and when you are scared, you might act out of fear. I acted out of fear which was a bad choice.

I know it is easy to say now (or write) but I could have relaxed a bit and thought of a better choice.

It is a conscious decision to think in dangerous situations. It is hard too but it safe. I had other better options than to drop my phone that evening but I acted out of fear.

Further read

Conclusion

First, let me say that the intent of this post is not to pain Lagos bad. It is to share an experience.

Lagos is a wonderful place to live in, the diversity in culture gives opportunity to learn. There are also more career opportunities than any other state and that is why more people are migrating to Lagos on a daily.

Second, you should know that with over-population comes some challenges and Lagos have her own challenges.

Some of the challenges of living in Lagos with sickle cell disorder have taught me life lessons that would last me the rest of my life. I hope these lessons help you too in life.

As there any challenge(s) you face because of where you live? Please share with me in the comment.

Abayomi

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