Being Nigerian-Canadian, I typically greet Canadians differently compared to how I greet African peoples. When speaking to Canadians, I resist the urge to ask them how their mothers, fathers, children, and spouses are doing. Even though I really want to, it might sound unfamiliar.
While in Africa or speaking to African peoples, I get the opportunity to genuinely ask them about their loved ones and request they give them my regards. There’s an older pop song in Nigeria called Greetings in Africa by Igbo musician Bright Chimezie. In the song, Chimezie sings:
In Africa, greeting is a special thing
We don’t just say good morning, and walk away
When we greet in Africa, we show respect
When we greet in Africa we show we care
We ask about your wife, we ask about husband
We ask about your children, we ask about your family
We ask about your mama, we ask about your papa
The difference in cultures makes sense. Canada is an individualistic society while many African peoples come from collectivist communities.
It is not just the differences in greeting practices I find striking but also, one commonality among African and Western cultures as well as other cultures of the world. For most people, it is second nature to inquire about the wellbeing of someone other than themselves, but it is not a common practice for them to inquire the same about themselves.
How am I doing today?
Checking in with yourself, using this powerful question may feel very foreign, but it is valuable. Of course, you can reframe it in a way that feels comfortable.
I encourage you to ask yourself this question at the start of the day or at whichever times work best for you. I encourage you to check in with yourself.
You can also use a scale of 1-10 in answering the question (1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest on the scale).
If you put yourself on the lower end of the scale, you can do some digging to find out why. Have you implemented self-care? Have you been establishing and enforcing healthy boundaries in your life? Have you tapped into your strengths and your support systems?
If you are on the higher end of the scale, what are some positives that have been keeping you there? This is an excellent exercise to ensure that you remain in the present and give some thought as to what works and what does not work in your life.
It is important to check in with yourself, just as you do your friends, family, loved ones, partners and co-workers.