Getting analytical about the real reason I’ve struggled with friendships…

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…and realising that that also flows over into why I struggle to find a husband.

For the first time ever it occurs to me that this might also resonate with my future husband.

My name is Tosin Ojumu and I struggle with friendships, and I always have done. There are many things that are very different about me from what they used to be. I used to be super shy and deeply insecure with a huge inferiority complex. On looking back this inferiority complex was deliberately sown by certain people around me into my young impressionable mind. Now I am far more confident and secure in myself and ever since I realised that I am made in the image of God just as much as anyone else, I’ve also understood that my inherent worth is exactly the same as everyone else’s. If anyone is metaphorically “worth” more than me, it is not because of inherent things, but rather superficial things, which I can work on (I am not talking about financial net worth, if that is not obvious!) So thankfully, that has killed my inferiority complex. Some people might think that I have now gone the other way into a superiority complex. However the only people I feel superior to are insincere and/or prayerless Christians, whom unfortunately I have criticised at length. Also people who act in ways that I consider overly irrational, like people who are racist. We are human beings, so we are all capable of being irrational. However, I can’t help thinking that there are acceptable expressions of irrationality, and then they are things which are just ludicrous. Perhaps in practice this would be irrationality paired with unacceptably poor character. The truth is that I also tend to despise people who let their ego drive them to pettiness. Which unfortunately can be most people. It is definitely not good to look down on anyone and it demonstrates a sense of self-righteousness within me. Other recent posts go into detail about how I am working to rid my heart of this and other negative traits. However that is currently where I am at. So these things are now different in my life. And yet it remains a constant that I struggle with friendships. (I originally wrote this post, and then added a few extra types of people that I look down on. Considering that I look down on so many types of people, then clearly it cannot be surprising that I find it hard to find enough people to be friends with! And yet if someone does truly have aggressively poor character, while I still need to remove self-righteousness from my heart, it still would not be a wise idea to pursue friendship with them, or so a litany of bitter experiences seems to suggest to me.)

Way back in my life, it is true that I did not know how to interact graciously with people. Now I understand better how to be gracious, but I just do not have many close friends at all, although I would love to have some!

Something happened quite recently that made me start thinking about friendships. And those reflections led me to write this post.

In short, the reason I don’t really have many close friends, if any at all, is because the person that I am just does not align with established tribes. For a long time I thought that there was something wrong with me. But as I have grown to accept myself, I have also grown to stop blaming myself.

I am going to make a few assertions in this post. Apologies if these assertions seem like generalisations. Apologies too if anyone finds the generalisations offensive. I am always open to have my viewpoints sharpened by other people’s opinions, which is why I spend a very long time every day reading comments on other people’s posts and videos. Please feel free to write a comment.

I was literally only just realising a few hours ago that most people I meet or interact with tend to fit into distinct tribes.
I will just give a few here, and this is where things might get offensive, so I apologise in advance:

[I seem to have been born without the ability to convincingly fit in, which many people possess. Many times this lack has turned out to be an advantage for me, but it can also be a disadvantage.]

Church folk:
Because I am a Christian, and very much into my faith, I tend to hang out a lot with people who share my faith. However, it was only while thinking about this post that the following occurred to me:
Most people I meet in the churches that I go to are concerned first and foremost with financial stability (I might need to clean up this sentence to make it more tightly precise).
Among highly educated Nigerian people I know, or people of Nigerian descent, that translates as wanting to visibly live a prosperous life.
Among highly educated Caucasian people I know, of British descent, that translates as wanting to live a middle class lifestyle. The thing about being Middle Class is that technically it might be about income, or that is how it seems to be perceived in the US. However, in the UK, it is more than income, it is also about class, and being seen to speak the correct language to fit in. So it is not just about having a big house, it is about having a big house in the correct area, it is not just about having academically successful children, it is about sending your children to the correct schools, and then to the correct universities, to study acceptable courses (like, erm, Classics!) and then go on to acceptable careers. It is about shopping in the correct supermarkets, going on holiday to the correct parts of fashionable countries. Even when you try to inhabit this world, people always seem to be judging you to see whether you truly fit into their world. My experience of middle class British churches is that this is front and centre of their thinking. It is like class consciousness is a proxy for righteousness which is so unbiblical that I can’t even…

So then what I realised is that middle class people can easily choose mates between one another to marry because these are literally their values. Someone is essentially a “good” choice of spouse if they are sufficiently middle class, and on their way to a sufficiently high-earning career or a “poor” choice of spouse if they are not. Then they only need to think too about someone having sufficiently good character and someone that that they could be attracted to and – boom – next thing you know wedding bells are ringing! It consumes so much time and energy to always be concerned about the next correct, acceptable thing to focus on that they don’t have time to think of anything else. I am not being facetious by the way. This is why these people can so easily pair up in university, because the path that they are following has already been well trodden for generations, each person knows what they have to do, and additionally they are not actually looking for that much. My big issue with pairing up at university was that “Well, I don’t know who I want to be yet!” However, I would say that they certainly knew what they wanted to be: they wanted to be middle class, like their parents, and they wanted to perpetuate the middle-class consciousness for a further generation. The specifics within that might vary from person to person, but as long as someone roughly fit into that world, then they would be an acceptable mate. When I was watching everyone pair up at university, I thought to myself that they were all mad. Now I understand why they were not. To be fair I also did have my own big crush at university. However my issue is that the crush felt so compelling that I wondered whether it could be from God. If the crush had not been so compelling, then I would not have felt the slightest compulsion to get together with anyone.

By the same token, in Nigerian churches people might talk about righteousness and holiness. However, once again their real values are financial success. The difference with Nigerian churches is that Nigerians are more status-conscious than class conscious in the British sense. In Nigerian churches, that often translates to “the more expensive or lavish, the better!”, while I would say British class consciousness is more about things which are good quality, and possibly expensive by virtue of that. In Nigerian churches, it seems to be that the more expensive and lavish your car, the more expensive your clothes, the more elaborate your hairstyle, the bigger and more elaborate your house, the better. So in a way the Nigerian system is easier to understand, to fit in and win you just have to buy the biggest, visibly best thing, whereas with class sometimes you have to be in the know about what might be acceptable.

This is why I can’t really be friends with people in either of these sets. People in these groups might be lovely people, however their values are about being middle class, or being financially prosperous, and being seen to be such, being accepted in the correct social circles.

Talking about myself: I need to have deep friendships where I can pour out my heart about stuff. This is why I spend so much time pouring out my heart on this blog, because it is an emotional need. Even if people from the groups above are kind I enough to sit and listen to me pouring out my heart, they can’t truly contribute to the sorts of deep conversations that I crave, because they simply do not think this way themselves. I need the kind of people who like me are constantly feeding their minds with new ideas. I spend so many hours online every day, reading things, watching videos. They manifestly do not. So ultimately even if and when I tried to form deep friendships with these people, I would and I have grown bored very quickly. I need the kind of friendships where we are constantly bouncing ideas off one another, where we talk for hours. Many times though, when I bring up deep issues, which I always do, very quickly, because this is simply my unavoidable nature, people will often smile a fake polite smile at me, as if I am “weird”.

So this is why, thus far, I have not really made any close friendships from Christian circles.

Non-Christians?
There are a few people online who seem to demonstrate the kind of big thinking that feeds my mind. And yet, this is the reason why I would often struggle to form friendships with such people in real life. In a word: “character”. In more words “lack of Christ-like Character”. Many times, these people are not Christians. Many people, especially people who are left-leaning as I am, reject Christianity as an oppressive structure. I know that sincere Bible teaching is very empowering to everyone, and actually, formed the basis for many social justice movements, even those which have since morphed to denounce Christianity. And yet I also know that the construct of “religion” has indeed been used countless times as a structure to oppress people especially women, the poor, and people of ethnic minorities, as in transatlantic slavery. Even where I to try to form friendships with these radical thinkers, I can’t deal with the constant faith-bashing. I keep saying “the Bible, the Bible the Bible…” It often surprises me that people who claim to be intellectually sophisticated struggle to distinguish between what the authentic faith says, and how it has predictably been manipulated to serve the desires of the powerful. That is like saying all science is bad because someone exploited science to create the atomic bomb, and then throwing out all the beneficial applications of science because of that. The difference is that the atomic bomb is true science, whereas exploiting other people is NEVER true Biblical faith. Even if I could after all overlook that, if people are not Christians, then what do they base their character on? What gives them standards to live by? Experience has taught me that I need to avoid even nice people, even nice Christians, and insist rather on people who are aggressively striving after being like Jesus. All these non-Christian people might genuinely believe in behaving ethically. However, are they aggressively striving after any standards of behaviour for themselves? If so, which ones? Even among people who are changing the world, I have sometimes come across a kind of petty attitude, or competitiveness. Considering that there is so much at stake, and the world is literally burning around our ears, I simply don’t have time for that.

So I cannot realistically be friends with them either.
So the kind of people who would be a good friendship fit for me do not appear to readily exist.
I believe I need friends who are:
– Thinking beyond materially prosperous and/or middle class lifestyles for themselves
– Constantly reading about stuff, ideas, thinking things through,
– Lovers of big deep conversations. This might often include using big, intellectual words, but not pretentiously. The point of all this is not to simply throw around big words and to look intelligent. Rather, it is to effect genuine change.
– People who are genuinely Christian and who strive relentlessly after Christlike character for themselves

For a spouse
For a spouse, I would need everything I need for a friend. However the interaction between us also has to truly work as a marriage. So we need to be genuinely attracted to one another. We need to genuinely respect one another and we need to also be genuinely compatible.

So erm, Mr potential Huggie-Wuggie, does all this resonate?!

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