I am scared of you - Atilola Moronfolu

When you meet someone for the first time, two things happen. It’s either they are interested in having a deeper relationship with you or they are not

Once they have determined that they are interested in you, they try to define you. This is not necessarily for any bad intentions, but their ability to define you helps them know how to relate with you

Many times, I’m engrossed in a conversation with people and their interest about me is heightened due to the trajectory or depth of the conversation and they cut it short and say “Wow, what state are you from?” Are you a Christian or a Muslim? Where did you school? What church do you attend?” 

While these questions may seem innocent, they are not harmless

What is happening is that people are trying to define and label you so they can understand you better. However, due to the stereotypical nature of these questions, it is a very lazy way to try to understand people

When you answer such types of questions, it makes it easier for people to put a label on you and say “You schooled outside the country. No wonder you are so smart. You are Benin, no wonder you reason this way. You are Igbo, no wonder you like money.”

They are more comfortable looking at you from the perspective they have of people in your “category” before they met you. And this is dangerous because they rob themselves of getting to really know you.

Once you allow them define you within their own terms, every conversation you have with them henceforth will always be viewed through coloured lenses, and not by who truly are

You lose, they lose, because relationship becomes coloured, and there’s no unfiltered exchange of personalities

Whenever I encounter these situations, and people cut me short to find out what state I’m from, I immediately disarm them by saying “I’m Nigerian. I don’t do State of Origins” and no amount of persistent will make me budge

I call it a war on stereotypical labels. You bring your weapon, and I draw my shield out. You persist, by trying to penetrate my walls of defence, but I guard them with all I have. If I should ever let it down, I lose the battle. Once you get tired of penetrating, you back down and I win

After this battle, the only way this relationship can continue is for you to do the hard work to know who I really am.

However, it has been said that people fear what they do not understand. Once people are not able to define you, they are disarmed and get scared of you because they are at loss as to how to relate with you

At this point, you have two choices, to draw back from the relationship or invest time in knowing me for who I really am, no stereotypes no lenses. This is the only way you can correctly define me and have a win-win relationship with me.