Hippie In A Suit

Episode 8: It Wasn’t All Innocent

Hey hey Hippies!!!

Hope we are all well and keeping safe? So, I see you guys taking Kobe’s side after Hippie In A Suit posted our chats, saying that I was trying to be smooth with him…lol (I’ll still deal with them later…lol). You guys ain’t seen nothing yet o ;). And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, read up on last week’s episode.

Anyway, so whilst we’re on the topic of microaggressions that Kobe so bravely raised last week, I have had my fair share of arrant nonsenses and jagbajantis in my 30-odd years on this earth ehn. But what I find most intriguing is that microaggressions don’t always make sense, as they are not limited to any one prejudice, but whichever intolerance an individual’s mind can think up. In other words, they can be as unique as the person projecting it. Let me explain what I mean by sharing a short story.

You see, back in 2015, I had been working at my firm for about 3 years. I had made a few work friends, behaved appropriately and professionally, refrained from talking about my love for dancing, not to talk of pole dancing/pole. In other words, I was the model colleague and Investment Analyst. I had a female boss (KT) that I thought the sun shone from her a**, because she was everything I thought I wanted to be when I got to her age. She is hella intelligent, driven, accomplished, a cutthroat negotiator, key decision maker and above all, she is kind (or so I thought).

One bright Monday morning, KT must have overheard me talking to one of my friends at work (IJ) about my weekend pole class. I did not think we were speaking too loudly, and I sure did not even want the men knowing that part of my life. You know nau? At that point, I was sick and tired of having to explain the difference between pole dancing and stripping. So IJ and I were done chatting when I heard KT say “LB (as I am called at work), please come into my office”.

I practically ran in, honoured to have one-on-one time with her. “Hi KT, you wanted to see me?”. She took one look at me, sighed and said “LB, I’ve always thought you showed so much promise. I could see my younger self in you. But with the industry being so tough as it is already, you’re not doing yourself any favours by flaunting your lifestyle. You don’t want people to see you as one of those kinds of girls, do you?”

I was so shook, because I never expected this. Not only because I thought we were here to talk about an innovative new debt product just launched in the financial market, but because she suddenly appeared more closeminded than I could have ever thought. Not to talk of a deep gbeborun (busybody or gossip in Yoruba). I took a respectful breath (trust me, God had to “take the wheel” here…lol) and said, “Hmm KT. I don’t think my lifestyle represents my image or brand wrongly. I don’t know what you heard, but I’m a dancer and I love all forms of dancing. That doesn’t mean I use it for anything else”.

This woman looked at me, shook her head and said “Toh! It seems you’re either more naïve than I thought or just reckless. Anyway, I’ve said my piece. You can go now, but later make sure you circulate the draft IM (information memorandum) and fix a meeting between our DCM (debt capital markets) team and KPMG,”. Guys, that’s how the meeting ended o! I said “okay” and walked out of there gob smacked and insulted!

That day marked the beginning of her snide and passive aggressive remarks. She’d say things like “Young ladies these days don’t know their worth. Focusing more on seeking validation from lifestyle choices that wouldn’t make any parent proud” or my personal favorite; when we were talking about the movie Burlesque, she said “Laraba, isn’t that the sort of thing you do. Is that where you got the inspiration from?” Kai! That one had my close colleagues gaping in shock and the clueless ones shaking with laughter. If the ground could open up and swallow me, I’d have prayed the Heavens to let that happen. It went on for 2 years before she left. I’d love to write and tell you that I gave her a piece of my mind, but sadly this crushed me. It made me close up in the office about anything personal. I withdrew from forming strong bonds with colleagues, and essentially became less outspoken, because I feared that if I spoke up about anything work-related, she could use that opportunity to bring up my PRIVATE lifestyle choices.

It was not the best of times to be honest. However, one lesson I learned was not to hold people to such high esteem that when they turn on you or fall short of your expectations, it breaks you. Looking back, I see that the regard I had for her prevented me from speaking my mind or standing up for myself. If I could go back in time, I would have politely told that dinosaur to mind her own business and focus on my work output.

I mean Hippies, I love pole not just because it gives me an opportunity to escape my daily work pressures and helps boost my mental and physical health, but i truly believe it is an art form. In fact, I’m flirting with the thought of opening up a pole studio ;).

Just because your interests do not conform with traditional conceptions does not invalidate it.

Anyways my lovelies, I’m reminded that not all advice comes from a place of purity and innocence. Some people use any opening to push their closeminded beliefs on you and it is up to you to know when to ignore it or speak up. Even innocent advices could reveal deep-rooted prejudices; and sometimes people project their fears and insecurities onto you. As I always say, “not everyone that wants what’s best for you, knows what’s best for you”.

On this note, have a fabulous weekend and be mindful of any kind of intolerance or prejudice masked as “legitimate concern”. Do not fall victim to the mental warfare and please DM us if you need someone to talk to or share your concerns with. You can be assured of our confidentiality. I cannot appreciate Kobe enough for raising this topic… My guy! 😀

PS: Did you know that Hippie In A Suit made a t-shirt for me? If you haven’t seen it, send us a DM for details and please buy it to represent Team Laraba. I hear Kobe Tees are selling fast so we have some catching up to do! 😀 <3

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