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Joshua Emeka Chizoma: For When the Road Gets Lonely



I don’t do well with uncertainties. It is one of the reasons I do not like manually graded examinations. During the period of waiting for the results, worrying usually becomes my default response. In between twiddling my toes and sitting on my hands, I always manage to imagine hundreds of scenarios. Sometimes I would pick on the little things so much that I would whip myself into a near state of hysteria. Thus, except for examinations I absolutely cannot get out of, I try as much as possible not to put myself in a situation where I can’t control the outcome.

That is why the beginning of every year always has me flustered. I know that with each year, there are 365 days of uncertainties. 365 days that could go either way. 365 scary days. For me, it isn’t the fact that there is the possibility of a bad outcome that gets me agitated, it is the fact that whatever outcome there can be, there is no way I can have control over whatever would happen, how it would happen and to what extent it would happen.Placing my faith in God helps, but I have come to realize that for me, worrying (read this as over-thinking) would always be a coping mechanism. So trusting God is often insufficient.

As we stand in the threshold of this new year, I have made peace with the fact that there are probably days of tears and worrying for me packed in it; that’s an inevitability I have come to accept. And of course I realize that worrying itself is a vice, and unhealthy. This is why I have decided that, while I work on getting to the stage when I am completely free from worrying, I am going to allow myself be a bunch of other things this new year.

In 2019, I make a pledge to be kind – to myself first. I will push myself only to the boundaries of myself. I will be my standard. I will make concessions for myself and make room to blossom and fail. I will allow myself the pleasure of laughter, and the cleansing power of tears. I will listen when my back is on the brink of snapping. I will heed. I will give as much praise as I can. I will take it wherever I can find it. I will take care of my health. I will de-clutter my mental space; make sure that the only people in my head are the ones healthy for me. I will prioritize inner peace above every other thing. I will laugh at my mistakes; indulge myself to a packet of chicken suya while watching, in 3D, how outrageous my errors are.

I will be patient. I will wait. For my turn at the gas station. For my turn at the ATM stand. For acceptance emails from literary magazines and internship firms. I will nurture the seed of patience, the virtue of staying still, doing nothing, being blessedly quiet. I will be comfortable knowing that what the future holds may be miracles or not. I will simply wait. I will worry and cry and weep during this period, but I will wait. I will let the process run its full course. Because with all my worrying, I know that there are things that cannot be rushed, so I will not let anxiety ruin the process. When the waiting seems interminable, I will plug in my headphones and walk the lonely roads till I find some semblance of peace.

This year I will be compassionate. I will help anyone as far as I can. I will be deliberate about doling out kindness. I will disregard if the other person deserves it. I will disregard if he/she feels entitled. I will help as long as I can. I will be the fountain of kindness, it will spring from me, the external conditions notwithstanding. I will say no to hate in any form. I will look for love. I will deliberately search in out in the little acts of others. I will receive it when it is offered and I will not search for any catch. I will applaud when others find love, I will grieve when another loses love, all the while holding on steadfastly to the knowledge that there is plenty left for me on this earth. Much more than I could ever effectively exhaust.
This year I will fail, and start again. This year I will win.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Joshua Chizoma loves the Lord, fried plantains and his three sisters – exactly in that order. He is an alumnus of the 2019 Purple Hibiscus Writing Workshop taught by Chimamanda Adichie. He currently reads law at the University of Nigeria.

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