2014 has been a very interesting year. As it comes to an end, BellaNaija seeks to showcase a human interest segment, dedicated to looking back at the year. We’ve teamed up with a diverse group of individuals and asked them to share how their year has been. The brief was ‘a personal look back at the journey thus travelled. The idea is to use 2014 as a focal point. The honest and heartfelt piece should talk about your ups and downs / victories and failures – a general self assessment. It should be a raw piece which shows you as a person – the human angle is important.
Each of the participants has graciously sent us amazing pieces about themselves. As you read these pieces, and take stock of the year you’ve had, we encourage you to get inspiration from our 2014 Epilogues.
The 2014 Epilogues gemstones will be dropped at 2pm everyday till the end of the year!
I remember it like it was yesterday. The damp air and lingering smell of stale sweat.
I remember the igbo choruses
E mela e mela….
I remember the high pitched, off key voice of the woman standing beside me. Her voice rising to a soprano at the start of the song only to drop to an almost tenor towards the end. I remember wondering how the child seating infront of me could sleep through the ruckus of our singing and shaking of shekere. I remember how the tears flowed easily as the congregation screamed happy New Year, and my father and I embraced. That was the first midnight mass I had attended in Asaba in years. You could taste the expectation in the air. 2014 was going to be the year of success, marriages, new businesses, prosperity, new babies, renewed families…the prayers from the priest echoed these wishes and the congregation shouted several amens in unison.
It is difficult to quantify a year where no major ‘obvious’ achievement was recorded. I didn’t get married. I didn’t get a new job or get promoted. I didn’t buy a new car or make any major financial breakthrough. In fact one could argue that many of the prayers made at midnight mass were left unanswered. But if 2014 has taught me anything, it is the need to look beyond the obvious. I decided to call 2014 my year of personal learning and transition. Not because I was looking for an excuse to justify perceived failings, but because I know that true success only starts on a foundation of personal strength and understanding.
It was in 2014 that I made peace with my body. I shook hands with her and decided to stop torturing her with fad diets, burst of unsustainable exercise regimes and uncomfortable clothes and just let her live. We went for long decadent lunches and ate obscene amounts of cake and ice cream. We binged on DVDs, and spent quiet alone times together just talking. It was in these carbohydrate-drenched Shonda Rhimes overload that I found who she was, what she wanted and the strength to pursue it. Amidst many uncertainties and no external funding, I started the Inspire Series and allowed myself the freedom to birth this new part of me.
I learnt the importance of friends and family in 2014. This wasn’t an entirely new lesson, but a new perspective of an old lesson. I’ve always seen friends and family from the perspective of how much they mean to me, but never from the perspective of how much I mean to them. This new perspective made me want to be a better friend. Less of a talker and more of listener. The one who would be there whenever they needed me, and who would go without… because someone needed what I had more than I did. It made me want to be a giver instead of a taker. It also allowed me to see the friendships which required nurturing and those which didn’t. And by far the most important relationship severed was my friendship with perfection. I realized no matter how I tried nothing I did would be perfect and that was ok. It was okay to make a mistake and learn from that mistake. I will never be perfect and I will never please everyone but you know what, that’s completely ok.
My most special achievement was my redefinition of success. To me success had always been synonymous with Bill Gates and Aliko Dangote. Success was about having money and people acknowledging my wealth and achievement. But in the learning class of 2014, I learned an altogether different definition of success, which is doing what you set out to do. Success has nothing to do with money, awards or Social media likes. It is knowing what you want, why you want it and doing it the best you can.
2014 gave me new perspectives and renewed faith in myself and the woman I will one day become. It showed me new possibilities and made me appreciate life, love and family. So, even without the concrete answers to my prayers at midnight mass, I am confident that the future holds more than I asked for or imagined.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Yolanda Van Niekerk