Remember when we asked you to send in essays discussing how 2018 was for you? Because, you know, writing can be the best therapy. And sharing your joy and pain and all the emotions you’ve felt through the year can only be a good thing.
Just like life is, it’s difficult to say if 2018 was a good or bad year for Ifeoma. All she can say is that she had a mix of both, and is enthusiastic for 2019.
As I read through the other epilogues, I paused for about 5 minutes to think about my own story for 2018. It’s impossible for me to just describe it as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ I guess when you think about it, that’s life. Things don’t always simultaneously go the same direction; sometimes an aspect is flourishing while the other aspect is failing woefully. I’m writing this with the hope that it’ll be cathartic and up until now, I didn’t realize how desperate I was for an outlet.
Spiritually, I grew. Not just the praying, going to church constantly, singing worship songs kind of growth, but the kind where everything about my life changed. From the biggest things like honesty and integrity and having a vision for my life, to the little things like how I treat the most horrible people, and even my personal thoughts; I’ve never been a better person.
It’s funny because this is one of the things on my list every year and the plan is always to start out with the beginning of the annual RCCG fast. Looking back now, the reason I looked forward to it so much was less because of the spiritual benefits and more because it was a trusted, tested and proven way to lose all the weight I gained over Christmas. I actually lost like 10kg (I made sure I broke my fast in a fitfam way to make it more effective).
Back to how I actually grew, a friend sent me a video of a pastor called Todd Michael, preaching on Facebook or so, and after one video I was hooked. Each message was basically heart surgery, and I can say I’m better because of it. P.S: I’ll still do my fast in 2019, but for the right reasons, even though I’ll still lose weight – I can’t help it and a girl has to look good.
The flip side of growing, though, is I’ve never felt more alone. I’ve always believed in communal advancement, and so in growing, I was desperate for everyone I love to come along with me. Maybe I overdid it, because one day my friend told me the only reason she didn’t come to volunteer at a shelter was because of me. Because I’m always trying to get people to do what I’m doing. Imagine my confusion when I heard it. My first thought was ‘If it’s a good thing then why not?’
I’ve learned now though that everyone has their own journey at their own pace (which isn’t necessarily better or worse, just different) and that’s okay. I just really wish I would meet at least one person who is on the same wavelength as I am, so it would simply be a case of iron sharpening iron. It’s so exhausting to constantly encourage myself. I have amazing friends, but at the same time, I don’t exactly feel like I’m doing life with anyone that shares the same visions as I do (pretty much a Luvvie Ajayi and Yvonne Orji type situation).
Relationships and Anxiety
Before 2018, I couldn’t relate when people talked about crying themselves to sleep, anxiety, or depression. Then it hit me. I was in a relationship for almost four years and it was always long distance, but for some reason, all through 2018, it felt like stress. It was more like an obligation than anything else, and in September we decided to part ways. We had been friends for forever, so we still spoke on a daily basis and everyone felt like it was a matter of time before we got back together.
Early October I had a missed call from him and a text saying ‘Call me as soon as you see this.’ I called him and he said, “Hi. Just so you know, I cheated on you when we were together, and I was with one of your closest friends before we got together, but we decided it was best not to tell you.”
Even typing this now it still feels unreal. He says he told me because he didn’t think it was fair that he lied to me all that while, plus he was on this journey to being a person of integrity. I personally don’t see how this helped me, since we weren’t together anymore. All my life, trust has always been key. I tell everyone who cares to listen that I would forgive almost anything… as long as you’re honest with me. I just need to know who people in my life really are and what they’re capable of. Cheating is bad but that’s not what gets me, it’s the lying. Before we were a couple, we were friends. Call me stupid and naive, but I never in a million years would have seen this happening. If I’m being completely honest… the cheating, maybe, but the lying, no. It was a long distance relationship, so we had these conversations often. For me, it was always, If he said he didn’t do anything then he didn’t.”
What hurts me the most is the fact that I feel like I’ve been robbed of my ability to fully trust; also the fact that this is what four years of my life has come down to. So many good memories were made and he was literally the most amazing person, but now every time I try to think about our relationship, I never manage to get past that phone conversation.
Like a month after, anxiety set in. I’m in final year of medical school, so you know water don pass garri when exams are staring you in the face and you can’t study. It started as a constant feeling of fear and then it became palpitations. Probably PTSD combined with school stress. I’m still dealing with it and I’m yet to find a way out. It’s better on some days and worse on others; and I’ve never been one to share, so it’s so hard for me to talk about it.
I’m so grateful for all I’ve learnt about God in the past year and for my friend Toyin. For some reason, it’s a lot easier to talk to her and she has become my personal 911. I have lots of friends that I genuinely love, but it’s ridiculous how hard it is to talk about these things, especially with people I see on a daily basis, because it’s hard for me to be dependent. Even though I’m still struggling I know I’ll be fine. I’ll probably start seeing someone if this continues though.
Money and Giving
I secured the bag this year. I worked part-time and kind of got promoted mid-2018 (a whole other testimony on its own), and I got money from my university for good grades, so I went on vacations I could have only dreamed of. I also saved more money than I thought possible at this point in my life, and *drumroll* I decided to give out all my savings. Split it amongst a couple of people who I thought needed it more than I did, and to a few churches that had visions for 2019 that resonated with me, and it’s the best decision I’ve made. I did it all anonymously and one of the people I gave money to gave 30% to someone else who was in need without the person asking her. The third party was a mutual friend and she just sent her a message saying ‘Someone I don’t know blessed me and I wanted to be a blessing to you to.o My heart was so full and it was all the confirmation I needed to know I did the right thing. With all the negative flack giving has been getting in recent times, it’s funny, but I’m almost embarrassed to tell anyone about it, so I’ve kept this a secret. I’m not going to front though, I’m waiting for something big to happen to me.
The funny thing is I have no idea what, because I didn’t give out expecting to get anything in particular in return. God has been faithful and all my needs have been met, but I can’t help but think subconsciously that God saw my sacrifice and maybe he’s going to bless me in some way. Then again, maybe just being able to give is my blessing so who knows? I guess time will tell.
I have the most amazing family in the world. God blessed me with them. They are not normal people at all, but I love them the way they are. They have been my rock and we have a new addition, my lovely niece. I FaceTime just to speak to her when I’m having a bad day and in all honesty, this has been one constant source of happiness in my life all year. The highlight of it all is my parents, really. They had the most tumultuous relationship when we were growing up and we heard the “I’m just staying for you people” line one too many times. It’s a blessing to see my parents finally find happiness and joy in themselves, and I guess, in the end, some things are really worth fighting for.
Fortunately or unfortunately, it has taken me getting to the 6th year of medical school to realize I don’t want to be a doctor. Or at least, I don’t want to practice clinical medicine. I’m extremely passionate about health care in Africa and public health is definitely the dream. Now I know I could have definitely taking the shorter, less difficult route and just studied public health, but on the other hand, I guess it has taken me becoming a doctor (well, almost) to realize we have so much work to do in our medical system in Nigeria and Africa generally, and we need people like me who would go any length to see the healthcare system work.
I don’t know if 2018 was a good or a bad year, but I know it’s one of those years that will be a reference point in my life, and I’ll remember it forever. My word for 2019 is trust. I’m trusting that God will do His thing which will be exceedingly abundantly more than I could ever ask or imagine. I’m trusting I’ll overcome anxiety, become a doctor, give more than I did in 2018, and that it will be my best year yet.
Read up on previous editions of BN 2018 Epilogues here and send in your essays to features(at)bellanaija(dot)com. Let us know all the twists and turns and successes 2018 came with. Send your mail with the title “2018 Epilogues.”