Women and the Power of Expectation

Sometimes I look around my lab, and think to myself, “Damn, so many intelligent women here are kicking ass!” This was particularly noticeable on Tuesday when NBC came into the lab to film my PI. In the tissue culture room, I noticed along with my Vietnamese and Mexican lab mates, that we embodied quite a bit of diversity. It almost looked contrived. And, we are all women.

Women teaching each other.

Women giving talks, laughing and listening.

It breaks my heart to think that some people actually believe we are incapable of doing these things just because of the chromosomes we were dealt.

Expectation is a very powerful thing.

I know that I am where I am precisely because it was expected of me.

Growing up, I was presented with a particular brand of Nigerian femininity embodied in my mother. She is a Christian, a physician, a wife, and a mother. Although, I do not think my parents would ever describe themselves as feminists, the way they raised me and my sisters was with the expectation that we could be every bit as smart as my brother. Being female was no reason to not get straight As, or not be a good athlete.

In fact, when I watched my mother work hard in the clinic, come home and cook, and clean up after us, make sure we got to school alright, had our poster board for science fairs, or the right edition of the Great Gatsby  and then saw that my father’s noticeably lesser domestic commitments, it made me wonder what men were actually there for! Women can clearly do everything. Why do I need a man again?


Oh right, I remember…

So yes, the best thing you can do for your daughter is to expect greatness from her.


It’s been a long while since I’ve written. What’s happened? Lab work has definitely picked up, and it’s been a struggle trying to fly solo, and planning experiments. ALSO USING THE FLOW CYTOMETER!!! Things are smoothing out bit by bit, but it’s challenging to not know what I am doing. In medical school, you are so keenly aware of what you know and what you don’t. And, you can just look it up in a text book, or you report into someone, they ask you a question, you don’t know the answer? Better go study that. You are constantly reminded of how clueless you are, but I understand that type of struggling. This, this struggle is different. The research mindset is more creative, and it’s hard to be innovative after you’ve been taught to memorize things for years. And, I have to be proactive/persistent in asking for help. That isn’t the most fun.


I said bye to a science bestie! This guy and I have so much in common, and it’s special to meet someone who has also been personally impacted by sickle cell anemia.
Reunited with HANA, a true and dear friend I hadn’t seen SINCE 2013! Love that we are picking up right where we left off.
I saw Southside With You with these ladies and it was amazing! I’m obsessed with the Obamas and was quite pleased.
Went to Seattle to be a bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding! It was such a great time!
Selfie I sent to my brother the day I stayed in lab until 11:45 PM. IT was not a happy time.
Visited Maine for the FIRST TIME! This is Cape Elizabeth. Came here with my housemate, Snowy and new friend, Lily.
On an old train in Portland, Maine
When in Maine, have some lobster!
TOLANI CAME TO BOSTON. Here we have Tolani and Charis in the North End of Boston.
Properly explored Boston for the first time. Here is a man singing some opera in the park. It was so lovely and felt like I was in a movie! Certainly restored some opera fever.
Visited the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum! This painting is the cover of the Barnes & Noble Edition of Jane Eyre, my FAVORITE book. I was so excited to see it in person!


The FIRST edition of the Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Such an enchanting space. Isabella Stewart Gardner museum

It’s been about 2 months since I’ve come to Boston, and so much has happened. Yet, it very much feels like the beginning of something still. The nights are cooler, and there’s a promise of more changes to come.


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