#Note 65: Smart people ≠ great teachers

Squid, struggle, small town, stories

What’s up?

This week had all the things!

I had my second of three professional psychiatry exams (a bit more nervous about this than the first), joined small group at a new church (which was really good!) and am in the middle of moving (which is always super stressful). Also had at least one emotionally heavy day this week. But overall, it’s been a good week!

I’ve seen Squid Game too—and loved it. It’s my kind of show: using low-key horror vibes to explore the dark side of what it means to be human. And it doesn’t pull any punches on both fronts. Any wonder I was super into it? You start the show thinking it’s going to be about who survives, but that’s not what it’s about at all. It’s about who get to hold on to their humanity in the face of overwhelming odds. (I think it’s also an indictment on reality TV, though.)

(And yes, I realise I’m spoiling it mildly but if you haven’t seen it by now, you probably need a bit more of a push to check it out. That said, it does get quite graphic, and I realise we all stomach that differently.)

Here’s a couple tweets I shared after seeing it that sum up my thoughts:

Errata: in a previous email, talking about the #EndSARS protests against police brutality in Nigeria, I’d said the government had shot unarmed youth protesters on 10 October 2020. The actual date was 20 October, and I’m mortified by the mistake!

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Teaching love (essay)

In this week’s essay I reflect on teaching and teachers. I haven’t had a lot that made a big difference, but the few who were had outsized impact on me. For me that was a French teacher in junior secondary, a math teacher in senior and my home tutor, who I’ve talked about in another essay. What teachers were like that for you?

I love teaching.

That moment when the student’s eyes light up as the ideas fall into place? I live for it. Or when they are glowing with the new realisation of what is now within their grasp? Sign me up. It’s what I first fell in love with when I first discovered my love for it while teaching my brother maths when he was about to enter uni. And it’s what has kept me finding ways to teach everywhere I’ve gone and in every job I’ve done, from medical students and junior doctors to volunteer mentorship with young people. It’s why I love being a Write of Passage mentor.

I love it all because it’s by teaching that we learn to be human.

You can read the rest of the essay here: Those who struggle teach best

This week’s essay

I sometimes make fun of how small a town Ipswich is compared to the larger cities I’ve lived and felt at home in: Lagos, Edinburgh, London. But there’s something quaint about small towns, and Ipswich isn’t even that small, really. It’s has its charms though. I thought this night photo captured some of that charm.

What do you like best about where you live?

History (proverb)

The child born after historical events, is at least old enough for the stories.

We can only experience so much, but we can learn as much as we want. If we want.

Talk soon,

Doc Ayomide

PS. The Being Human website and the weekly Notes on Being Human are both completely free, but if you’d like to buy me a coffee—or more!—you can use the button below.

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Note #64: Following paths, chasing destinations

Police, people, profit, pepper

What’s up?

Nigeria’s independence was yesterday, y’all. (Speaking of y’all, it’s one of the banes of English that it has the same word for second person singular and plural—unlike, say, French, or my native Yoruba and many other languages. Y’all—or youse, like they say in Scotland—deserves to be formalised.)

Anyway, it was maybe the drabbest Independence Day we’ve had—and even for us, that’s saying something. It’s worse because just a year ago, on October 10, we saw one of the worst moments of this century, when the government opened fire on young Nigerians who were protesting police brutality. Then we had a Twitter ban, a crashing currency and increasing signals of government insensitivity. And things were already bad before all that. And yet we continue to hope, against every real reason to.

This is why I often say Nigeria doesn’t deserve Nigerians.

Meanwhile, in more police brutality, a Met police officer got life (which is rare in the UK) for killing a woman and it’s come out that before then been known for behaviours questionable enough to have merited at least an investigation. And of course it’s hard to shake the feeling that if the woman hadn’t been white, this case wouldn’t have got the kind of attention it has.

And yet, in times like this, when I’m tempted to feel like everything might be meaningless after all, I remember what I wrote about in my essay on the Significant 1%: it’s true there’s very little we’re in control of, but that little matters.

Today I hope you remember your significant 1%. It matters. You matter.

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Are you destination-driven? (essay)

Or are you path-pursuing?

For this week’s prompt from the Write of Passage course I’m mentoring for, we were asked to coin a term and write an essay about that. This probably isn’t my best work, but I came up with two: destination drivers and path pursuers. (Sorry I never saw an alliteration I didn’t like!) It came out of reflecting on how I take decisions and the way I interact with people who come at them differently. You might find it interesting to think about which you are, yourself.

Some people are all about where they want to go, others are more into the way they’re taking.

I call the first kind of people destination drivers, and the second kind path pursuers. I got to thinking about this from looking at the shape of my life. People who I assume know me fairly well often think of me as this very focused person: they think I live with a clarity they wish they had. But I don’t. It just looks that way. The reality is every time I’ve had to make a big life decision I’ve struggled with being clear what I want to do or where I want to go.

And the way I’ve moved forward from my crossroads is by following the path that’s felt most compelling to me.

You can read the rest of the essay here: Destination drivers and path pursuers

This week’s essay

Catastrophic profit (quote)

Speaking of people acting terribly in leadership, here’s a quote from Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance that struck me when I read it:

Even in an apocalypse people will try to profit. When I first read that COVID hadn’t happened and it still felt a little far out.

Not anymore, tragically.

Pepper (proverb)

I close this note as I began, with an example of a significant 1%

Even a little pepper is too much for the eyes.

I realise today’s note is rather more solemn than usual, partly because that’s how I’m feeling. I considered trying to lighten it, but you know, it’s okay to be sombre sometimes. It’s part of what it means to be human, after all: we shouldn’t feel the need to be excited, or even happy, all the time. Our emotions ebb and flow and that’s okay.

Talk soon, and I hope you have a really good week,

Doc Ayomide

PS. The Being Human website and the weekly Notes on Being Human are both completely free, but if you’d like to buy me a coffee—or more!—you can use the button below.

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Note #63: “Allow yourself morning”

Drama, dogma, danger, death

What’s up?

I’ve had some website drama.

My web-hosting provider was doing an update and I hadn’t realised it until too late. My usual writing app, Ulysses, which supports publish directly to Wordpress and Medium—but yesterday it just kept returning an error message every time I hit “Publish”. Then I tried logging into Wordpress directly, which was fine but when I hit “New Post” I was back in an error screen!

I finally figured out what was going on: my provider had sent a message about upgrading their DNS backend and I’d seen that but failed to clock that it was yesterday. And here we are!

I was worried for a bit there, but although it turned out to be no big deal, it was a reminder of how much this means to me that I get to send you these emails, and that you read and reply to them. That means so very much!

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Strong versus hard (essay)

This week, I wrote about being how we handle being unable to perform at top form. It’s funny, isn’t it, how often we don’t want to admit it, and we act like we have to be “strong” which in practice often means something along the lines of refusing to accept that we need help. Sound familiar?

Then have I got an essay for you, and here’s the opening:

What do you do when you’re unable to do enough?

This question came up recently on one of my WhatsApp groups. We were talking recently about Apple Watch goals and how to handle them when you fell sick, and I shared a tweet of someone saying they would reduce their goals. Someone responded that it would feel like cheating to do that, which initially surprised me. Then I remembered it was just another example of a phenomenon I see every week at work, and very often in some of my favourite people.

Too often, we demand the most of ourselves right when we’re at our worst.

You can read the rest of the essay here: In sickness and in health

This week’s essay

Dogma and danger (quote)

Apple TV is releasing a TV adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation and I’m super excited because Asimov has meant a lot to me since I first read his books in secondary school. I haven’t seen it yet (saving it for this weekend), but I’ve already heard high praise from those who have. In honour of the release, this week’s quote comes from that book.

Sick (Yoruba proverb)

If we fussed as much over the sick as we did when they died, they might have lived.

The proverb speaks to sickness, but it applies just as much to systems: when things go catastrophically wrong there’s often a lot of furore by the same people who choose to ignore the early warning signs. We’re seeing a lot of that in our world today, aren’t we?

Talk soon,

Doc Ayomide

PS. The Being Human website and the weekly Notes on Being Human are both completely free, but if you’d like to buy me a coffee—or more!—you can use the button below.

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Note #62: Facing your fears

Hot sauce and dead dragons, core values and jam

What’s up?

So it’s been a few crazy weeks recently, and I’m loving it!

Because, guess who’s prepping for MRCPsych and also being a writing mentor in the seventh cohort of Write of Passage on top of everyday work? Yep. This guy right here. I mean, it’s a lot, but I also really wanted to do both things, and I figured I could make it work. So far, so good.

Meanwhile, in unrelated news, I’ve been really enjoying adding hot sauce to my lunches at work when I eat at the canteen. And like I note in the tweet below, it’s also a reminder of my dear dear grandmother, to whom I owe my taste for pepper.

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This week, I wrote about how I faced a longstanding fear to get started writing. It’s in the spirit of my current mentoring with Write of Passage, but I hope you find it a helpful reminder of how much it means to face any fear at all—and which of us hasn’t had to?

Enjoy the opening paragraphs:

The first story I remember writing was about children who had spent all their lives in a castle, hemmed in not by the walls, but by the terrible knowledge that on the other side waited a deadly dragon.

The story was my first serious attempt at writing and it only took me until my first year in university. It was, of course, a thinly-veiled metaphor for my longstanding fear of writing: something I’d wanted to do since starting secondary school. A couple other friends and I had got caught up in the idea of working on a novel together, but we never got as far as planning out a story.

But I always thought about it…

You can read the rest of the essay here: Fear is a dead dragon

This week’s essay


Speaking of fear, I love this framing of what our core values are: what are we willing to face consequences for?

You know what really matters to people, and to yourself, when you see what they (or you) are prepared to put take consequences for rather than compromise. It’s not a lack of fear, but a prioritisation of something else even more.

Spreading jam (French proverb)

Today, we’re switching from Yoruba proverbs to a French one I got from a friend:

Like jam the less we have the more we spread it.

Talk soon,

Doc Ayomide

PS. The Being Human website and the weekly Notes on Being Human are both completely free, but if you’d like to buy me a coffee—or more!—you can use the button below.

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Note #61: Are you getting the best deal?

(Plus, why having friends at work is a special gift)

What’s up?

I was talking to my brother this week about work and he was asking me what I like about this job compared to my last. You know how you hear something come out of your mouth and you realise that first time you’re hearing it is also the first time you’ve thought about it?

That’s what happened.

I heard myself say, “I have something in this job I didn’t get to have in my former job: friends.” And I meant it. In my old job, I was alone, literally—I was in an office by myself, in a location that away from the main hospital, which meant limited contact with other doctors and nurses. In this job I’ve made friends among the doctors and nurses that I’m actually happy to see and I get to see them everyday.

We spend so much of our time at work, it’d be a crying shame for that time to be a terrible experience. I’ve had my fair share of that, and I’m grateful for this and do not take it for granted.

Do you enjoy being where you work? If you do, what do you enjoy about it?

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Trading smart (essay)

This week’s essay is kind of about medication side effects, but it’s really about trade-offs and a way to think about the decisions we make as we engage with reality all our lives.

Here’s an excerpt:

Most people don’t particularly like having to take medicine—doctors included.

People not taking their meds regularly is one of the biggest issues any doctor has to deal with. And there are all kinds of reasons why. For many, it’s the very act of taking medicine at all: having to add a new routine to their days. For others, it’s that medication makes them feel somehow weaker, like they need some stupid tablets just to do what others do without thinking. If you’re in a country like Nigeria, it might be that it costs too much to keep taking it.

But perhaps the biggest reason of them all is side effects.

You can read the rest of the essay here: What are you willing to trade?

This week’s essay

Practical ethics (quote)

This week’s quote is also from favourite author Nassim Taleb and it’s related to how we decide in perhaps the most important trade-off we make regularly: the choice between doing the right thing and doing something else.

Basically, abstract ethics might be interesting to think and talk about, but in practice, we have to make decisions and trade-offs, and we have to do it every day. It’s easy to think that abstracting it would make it simpler, but that can easily lead us to wrong answers—or worse, as I discuss in the essay—to taking the wrong deal without even realising it.

From Jesus to hardbacks

This tweet (and the thread that follows it) might have been my favourite all week. Check it out, it’s fun. And like some of my favourite things to read, it connects a bunch of things you wouldn’t have imagined had anything in common: in this case, drawing a line from hardback books back to cheese and Jesus. Go on, check the whole thing out.

By the way, speaking of Readwise, they just dropped the hottest new update this week and I’m as hype for it as I am for the new Matrix: Resurrections trailer! And the title is just as cool: The next chapter of Readwise. Basically they’re making their own read-it-later app—think apps Pocket or Instapaper that let you save articles to read later (and offline!) but with the amazing highlights integration Readwise offers. Check it out at the link earlier, and if you want to Readwise, you can sign up for an extra free month with my link.

Don’t lose (proverb)

And to close out this week’s note:

You can’t engage in two trades without losing one.

Look, I don’t make the rules.

Talk soon,

Doc Ayomide

PS. The Being Human website and the weekly Notes on Being Human are both completely free, but if you’d like to buy me a coffee—or more!—you can use the button below.

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