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.
Ayodeji’s year has been an interesting one; he chose himself, to love himself and more importantly, he made specific choices to live intentionally.
This year, I learnt to fall in love. To note, I didn’t just fall, I learnt to – with myself, with my friends. This year, I decided to be intentional with my relationships. To plan for them, invest in them, with the same rigour as I do just about everything else. I entered checking up on my friends into my calendar. I measured the amount of time I wanted to spend with them in a list of goals. I considered those I wanted to speak to every other day. Those that it was okay to check in on, every two weeks. I wanted to be deliberate about being present, about being a friend, about giving myself. It has taught me a lot about my friends and it has taught me a lot about myself. I learnt to be vulnerable. I learnt to not apologise for it. I learnt sometimes the people you have chosen to love the most cannot always meet you halfway. I learnt to make room for a little disappointment. I learnt to forgive. I learnt that amongst friends, doubt is a stranger. You should never be unsure about how your friends feel about your grammatical error over texts, or about a word they have chosen to use that you don’t like. I’ve learnt to leave the table when love is no longer being served. Friends for a long time, not a good time, is not a hill I will die on anymore.
This year, I also learnt that the ones that are supposed to love you the most, can perform the act so closely, it can suffocate. That love can be a thing around your neck, that refuses to let go. This year, I moved out of my family home.
This year, I sought pleasure and peace guiltlessly. In sunsets. In hotel rooms when my neighbour’s generator got too loud. In a plane ticket to a place that filled me with joy but depressed my pockets. In the company of strangers. In an overpriced platter of Vietnamese food. This year, I walked for six hours across Prague by myself – unbelieving of this incredible gift of travel, of being lost.
At night, I marched confidently – in my mind anyway – down into dingy basements, bars by myself, something I would typically never do. When someone followed me into a toilet and paid me a compliment about my looks, I smiled, turned to look them in the eye and said thank you and left. My tongue did not freeze; I did not feel myself undeserving. I did not feel the need to even the score by saying something nice back. When people stare at me now, I don’t look away. I may even smile back coyly.
This year, I embraced my flaws. I decided to do better at them, but made peace with some that mean I am simply wired that way. I have been called a diva, dramatic, difficult to please. I demand a lot of myself. I can see why doing the exact same of others might be unfair but I have decided that, indeed, I cannot satisfy everyone. I have also surmised that what is read as dramatic can also easily be a refusal to bend, accept status quo, likely mediocre. This year, I wrote vicious reviews for Uber and Taxify drivers. I do not give them the benefit of my patience when they missed directions. I called out waiters more for bringing meals past the time they had promised they would. I reported Spectranet to the Consumers Protection Council; got an email back from CPC and laughed while Spectranet scrambled to see to a request they had been ignoring for weeks. I tap my foot after 10 minutes of waiting in the bank and remind them loudly to move urgently.
It is a constant state of aggression one has to be set in, but since Lagos has decided to be mad…this year, I decided I would be madder.
This year I let go – of the burden of expectation. Of what I am supposed to be or do; given my work, my religion, my income bracket, beliefs, position in the family. Now I just simply do. I imagine some of my actions this year and I may have had regrets. I don’t know. I don’t remember anything. I don’t think too deeply about saying something I feel, when I feel it (of course within reason and tact). Leaving a thirsty comment on Instagram? Standard, now.
I choose me a lot now. I make love to selfishness daily. I demand what I believe is fair at work. I negotiate hard. I challenge my parents for some of their possibly toxic views. I guard myself against it. Or simply, I leave the room or don’t pick up the phone for a few weeks.
Most importantly, on the last day of last year, I did something that I believe is partly responsible for how my year has turned out. I wrote down what I wanted. Every single thing. Nothing was too big. None of what I have described above is necessarily anything I specifically asked for. How could I even know? But they are derivatives of them. Knock-on effects. This year, the juice tasted as good as the berries looked; if not better.
It is not all self-care and roses though. Sure bad things have happened. I have cried more than once, but I am still standing, stronger than I have ever been. Looking like a true survivor. Feeling like a little king. OK, these are song lyrics but you get the drift.
Ultimately, I have come to realise in 2018, more than any other year that I will only live this life once. Instead of passing time, thinking of when I will live it better, I’ve decided to live it best today.
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.”