Take it or not, we all need pretence to survive 

One particular sunday at church, the minister addressed the issue of clothing. ‘A woman mustn’t  wear men’s clothing’. I was there, seated like the C.E.O  of heavenly affairs nodding my head in agreement like a soon-to-be pastor’s wife, not forgetting the next day was Monday and of course, I’d always go on trousers to work. Not because I was too addicted to disobeying God or I had  treasures to dig  in hell but because I loved to wear trousers especially to work. It was my perfect definition of a smart/elegant  look. 

Somehow, I thought I could keep that sunday holy and not wear  men’s outfit but the moment I got home from church, I changed from  my attire of long gown,  head tie and shoes  to  comfy jeans and singlet. It was barely 2hrs I heard that gospel but that part of me I couldn’t carry to church, embraced me at home.

Now if that minister was asked to  say something about me. Judging from how he saw me that sunday, he would most likely  begin with ‘she is a very decent young lady’. Decent isn’t because he knows me or all my ancestors. I’m decent to him because I wore a long dress which literally swept the church floor and had tied my head scarf so tight that no strand of hair escaped to get any air. Decent because I had complied with his accepted standard of morality. Decent because he didn’t know I would wear trousers every other day and long skirts/gowns were just church/sunday tradition. He would call me decent but I knew deep down, it was pretence. 

pretence is an attempt to make something that is not the case appear true. 

 decency is a behaviour that conforms to/complies with accepted standards of morality or respectability.

It is only wise to conclude there’s a thin line between these two words. Everyone pretends to be decent. We all want  to meet up to society’s standard, and  inorder for us to feel accepted, we feign decency but when society isn’t watching, we fall back to being our real selves.
If only I wasn’t expected to meet up to ‘church decency  standard’, I would have worn my comfortable pair of jeans  to church to show them who I really was but hey,  I was  only doing  things required of me as a ‘Christian’. My church doesn’t permit ladies to wear trousers and if I did, I would  be an outcast. The church wouldn’t accept me. When they are casting out demons,  all eyes would be on me to see how many evil spirits I was accommodating  because of my outfit. Whether or not I was pretending to be their definition of  ‘decent’,  all  that mattered to me  was acceptance. I wanted to be accepted. I didn’t need a sermon to change me from who I originally was, not when I could do an abrupt about-face on my outfit. 

I remember when I was younger. I didn’t know if it was something on my face or the way I talked or walked that made society forget i was growing and should be aware of certain things. My family didn’t want me to know boys liked girls. I wasn’t supposed to know I had a vagina. I wasn’t supposed to know its use. I wasn’t supposed to be interested in movie scenes where a man and a woman undressed. If my mom asked me the reason they were undressing, she expected me to say ‘they are preparing to pray mom’. They didn’t expect me to know what condom was or the fact that all men had balls. It was an abomination for me to know all of these but I had known a long time that sex was euphoric and awesome. don’t ask me how I knew! Everyone expected me  to play dumb and because I could pass for an actress, I acted really dumb to everything. They would look at me and tag me a decent young girl  because I had complied and met up to their standard of morality but deep down inside of me, it was pretence! An unapologetic pretence!

I went to the chemist to get a drug at age 10 and this man walked in and demanded 4 gold circles(condoms). In my mind I screamed ‘a whole 4’? and laughed out loud.  The chemist who was more like a family friend then said ‘why are you laughing, do you know what gold circle is’? 

Me: No  ooo! Gold circle ke? do circles have colours?  

The society didn’t  permit me to know these things at that time. Should I have said I knew what it was so they would  bundle me to the hospital for a virginity test? Or tag me to the list of kid prostitutes?  No way! 

What about you who has been nicknamed chimney, fela, the Piper, because you can smoke anything. You can drag 10 cigarettes at a time and  smoke weed till thy kingdom come amidst  folks who are not interested in reminding you how Jesus Christ died on the cross to save you but when you are home with family and that anti-smokers T. V programme  comes on, you feign innocence and join the community of those who believe smokers are liable to die young.  It’s not  your fault you  pretending  to be in enmity with smoke. You wish to tell your family  about that side of you but you aren’t  sure they will not  judge you.  They will not want to hear your nickname ‘the piper’.  you know if you show them that side of you, there will be  little or no acceptance at all. You need that acceptance. You don’t need any sermon. That’s why you pretending to be their definition of  decent. And truly, they see you as decent  because  you have complied with their standard of morality even though inside of you,  you know it was pretence. 

What about you whose entire lecture hours are spent in one club or the other. Your father is an A list member of the church but you are an A list member in all clubs around you. You know every worldly  artiste and song  lyrics Infact, you are a snake on the  stripper pole but when you go out to a party with your parents and despacito comes on, you drop all your stripper moves and embrace atilogwu. What are you supposed to do? Show them you are a stripper behind closed doors?  Ask the MC to give you the microphone so you address a speech to your parents titled ‘Fuck church and morals, I want  to be a stripper’?  you know that shocking revelation can send an unaged father to an early grave so the best option is to show them that part of you they want to see. When you are far away  with people who accept you for who you are, you embrace your original self or Am I wrong? 

What about you who is a staunch lesbian within the four walls of your room. You find girls attractive. You don’t want to know the usefulness of a penis, not when you can use cucumbers and vibrators  but when  you go out and hear people crtiticizing a lesbian whose act was recorded and shared on social media, you join them to judge her. You can’t choose to support her because that group of society will judge you. What is easier is to be an angel and monster when the need arises. 
Truth is, without pretence, society cannot fully accept us for who we are. They will try to judge us, preach to us(and do we really have that time?) , criticize us until we fit into their own definition of Decency, which is the password to acceptance. Pretence not decency, is the reason a stripper cannot come unclad to church. We all want to be accepted. There are tons of characters we cannot advertise amidst some group of people. We tuck those characters in and behave the way we are expected to behave. When all critics are gone and it’s just us, we become our real selves.  There are things we do in secret  we cannot show to the world. We can only show to few people who are like us in that aspect.  There are particular ways we would want to live our lives if given the chance and nothing is at stake. There are lots of things we are decent about because society wants it that way. It is in pursuit of society’s acceptance that we adopt their standard for a while then, go back to our real being  when coast is clear. There are things I have done that my parents, friends,lovers don’t know and would never know unless on judgment day. I can’t tell them  because I want to feel accepted with no one looking at me like I’m  an indecent freak. There are things you are doing  that  society isn’t aware of and would never be aware of because you know how to camouflage. We know how to pretend and since we get  accepted for whom we have deceived them to be, what’s the point in too much story?

If you are a thief and one day you walking down the streets and see people beating and taking out jungle justice on a fellow thief, what do you do?  Do you tell them you are also a thief and face the consequences or feign innocence and start quoting that verse of the Bible that says ‘thou shall not steal’?  

38 Replies to “Take it or not, we all need pretence to survive ”

  1. My dear u no go blame us o
    Anyways! I wear trouser to my church if I want to..But if u going to my parent’s and u wear trouser that is wen dey will tll u u v 10spiritual husbands and 5children.. Its annoying
    My God is the only Judge..
    Nice writeup babe..Maybe u should send this link to your pastor..lol

  2. This is really deep, life has taught us all to pretend, and that’s the reason we have problems all around us, society and family members will always tell you to be yourself, and when you do, who comes back to judge you…? And plus if we were to all express our true selves no one will be safe anymore because there are wolves out there waiting to devour you if you let your guard down. Nice work Ami, this is yet another mind blowing message, keep it up

  3. To be honest, Blame our parents generation for making us feel all these are wrong. Its a normal way of life. You can do all of these and still be prosperous. Check your pastor, Is he decent?

    1. Check him?
      We all believe those kind of ppl dont need to be checked and accessed Bcos they are already heavenly candidates.
      Their right is right…their wrong is right.

  4. I couldn’t agree with you more!
    Pretence is an essential quality of being a GOOD member of my family.

    Everyone always says “be yourself” but if you even remotely try to be yourself they say “no, not like that”.

    I can’t wear trousers to church cus when my pastor preaches with a solemn voice and open arms saying “come as you are to the lord” he doesn’t mean you should come as you are with your trousers, mohawk hair style without a headscarf and tattoos. He doesn’t mean you that dresses or acts like your village people are using your picture to fan themselves.
    He doesn’t mean you the walking chimney…. but by all means, come as you are to the lord.

    1. The God that gave u sense will keep blessing you with more Bcos you are definitely making good use of the one he gave you.
      You just completed the article for me!
      They say come as you are… But come as you are doesn’t mean commeee aass youu areee…
      God bless you❤❤

  5. Wow.. this a great real stuff. Cudnt be more true, well it’s the society we find ourselves. Like they say when you in Rome you act like the Romans…
    But for me l would say we all be our real self regardless of what society think and feel … as acceptance will b sure with time….I know it won’t b easy but ‘ real recognizes real’

    1. Haha… You want to be your real self? Where? Who asked you?

      No body will accept you.. With time they may learn to ignore you. When you die, they say ‘well he was never part of us’…

  6. Being mildly autistic, I have gotten into more trouble, over the years, for not being pretentious. It has only made me feel driven from many people, who otherwise would have been friends.

  7. It’s the crime in society that makes the society to develop.. Most of those things that we use to see as taboo are no longer taboo in this twenty first century.. I guess it will continue like this till all the taboos become part of the norms of the society.. Nice one dear.

  8. To me, not wearing trouser to Church may not actually be pretence. Every occasion has its attire. When you go to the house of God, u need to wear what would accord HIM respect. That u can’t wear tie or dress corporate to swim doesn’t mean u re pretending. Give to Ceaser what belongs to him. Some ppl hate corporate wears. But when they are going for a job interview, they might want to dress corporate. It is just playing by the rules. Thats the game of survival. am not a virgin, I can’t deny sex is sweet but that doesn’t mean if I advise a young gal on the dangers of premarital sex, that am pretending.pretence is always on the negative. Like you said someone would dance as striper and come church the next morning to lead praises on her Mary amaka wear. Lol.

  9. Society, standards, environmental moulding…. This piece, my dear, is the harsh reality of life. We all need to “fit in” or be filed out as that evil/weird being. It’s not easy being yourself especially in Nigeria.
    Kudos to you. This is away from the tonic you usually serve us, this is really conscience-striking, a piece to make us think deeply. Well done!

  10. Lol..
    Pretence everywhere even in the writeup..
    Why won’t you say how you got to know about sex being euphoric and awesome even before age 9? #mouth closed #
    Beautiful write up dear..thumbs up!

  11. my dear you’ve said it all.. Pretence is everything.
    I remember my mum telling me to tell her if I have a boyfriend back in 100l that I can confide in her and she will advice me on how to go about it. I believed her and said yes…kai if only I knew I would have kept my mouth shut. This woman quoted the Qur’an and Bible for me. How it is a sin to date someone. How I should focus on my book blah blah. Since then before she ask I would have said NO like 5 times. Now that am done with school and all and she is asking for son in law..there is nobody,she’s busy casting out every spirit of being single in my life. Don’t even get me started on dressing and other stuff. It is so bad that I am patiently waiting to move out so I can dye my hair.

    1. Hahaha… I remember my elder sister asking me if I had a bf…my dear I remembered that part of the 10 commandment that said we shouldn’t lie, So I told her the truth. After that day, I didn’t hear word. If she asks me to clean her shoes and I say I’m tired, she would Say ‘I don’t blame u naw, you naw have a boyfriend’ Lool..
      I’m tired of this society ppl.
      Until now I can never admit to her if I’m in a relationship or not. On my wedding day, I will still tell her I’m single
      Mschew

      1. 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂 your elder sister and my mum should be friends…any small thing they will refer back to what you’ve done 10yrs ago or what you told them as a secret.

    2. Please dye your hair if that’s what u want to do… It doesn’t make u a bad person
      I’d love to pierce my ears
      My family ppl said its only prostitutes that double pierce. Ok

      1. 😂😂😂😂 they won’t let me rest in peace if I dye it. I once told my dad I want to learn how to apply make-up, he told me that job is for prostitutes. I remember when I came back from Ghana, I’d pierced my ears there. from the airport I didn’t hear one word. “is one piercing that we gave you from when you were a child not enough” “you are now keeping bad friends” “the devil is living in you abi”. If it was possible to grow back ear, I would have cut off my ears just so I can live in peace.

        1. 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂….later they will say I’m the hilarious one… This cracked me up so hard…kuku kill me ooo @ the devil is living in you abi😂😂…. How many rooms and parlour? Lool… African parents ehn
          I hope they all make heaven o

          1. 😂😂😂😂 you need to be there when my parents are talking, you will just be laughing inside because the things they say are ridiculous. I hope so too

          2. 😂😂😂😂….dear when they say those very ridiculous things Ehn I just burst out in laughter… What I will hear next is. ‘if you are laughing at me, you children will laugh at you’ 😂😂

  12. We pretend to keep the peace. The world would be almost perfect if we could just be our true selves & not cared. I kind of envy those who are so carefree about how they live their lives even with the constant whispers & sneers that follow them.

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