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Ireju Ireju: A Letter to Myself on my Birthday

Look back on your life, your wins, no matter how insignificant they are. How you’ve overcome your challenges in the past.

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I’m probably the one person I know who doesn’t like birthdays. When June 8 arrives every year, I take it as confirmation that I have failed at achieving my goals for the year. It probably doesn’t help that I’m not one who really loves cake, like my sister (I know, weird right?). My birthday falls on the sixth month of the year – the way I see it, half of the year is gone already, and I haven’t learned to swim or landed my dream job, and I coast on for the remainder of the year.

But this year, I need motivation. I see old patterns creeping up, wanting to close shop on the year 2019. What can I say, this adulting thing is … phew! no words. Someone recommended me writing this note to myself, as an exercise to help me, after I broke down in tears on the 1st of June, talking myself into believing I was a failure.

If you’re adulting like me, and you have a challenge that is stealing your joy, or you’re feeling like you’re behind on your schedule (self imposed pressure by the way), I recommend you write a note to yourself. If you’re a talker you may record a voice note. Look back on your life, your wins, no matter how insignificant they are. How you’ve overcome your challenges in the past. Maybe you’ll see how how far you’ve come, where you are on your journey. Affirm yourself by pointing out your positives, so you can push for the journey ahead. Trust me, it’s therapy – it’s not a fix, but it’s a step in the right direction. When you feel overwhelmed, read it out to yourself. Listen to it on the go when you need to pump yourself up. Bonus points for me is that it’s my birthday gift to myself.

Below is the one I wrote to myself. It doesn’t have to be as long or short, it just has to be you.

Dear Ireju,

I just want to let you know that I am immensely proud of you for the things you’ve done, the things you haven’t done, the things you’re yet to do. You are an extraordinary woman. It is in the ring of your laughter, in the way you hug your friends after they share their struggles with you. It is in the strength of your walk in showing up for a commitment even when you don’t feel like. You know how you wear makeup to hide your eye bags gotten from crying, when you’d rather curl up in a ball and sleep. That is who you are.

Always remind yourself when those thoughts creep in to tell you how unworthy, undeserving, imperfect you are that you are loved by God. Nothing will ever change that, even when you mess up every single time. He’s the one holding onto you, even when your hands are tired, not the other way round. So rest. Guilt is a worthless emotion that will weigh you down. Stop negotiating your grace; it isn’t earned.

Your teenage years were a mishmash of insecurities and imperfections, telling you that you’re shy, invisible and unpretty. When you look in the mirror now, when you speak in public, when you wear your smaller-sized jeans, you wish your teenage self could see the woman you are now, that tells you the best version of you is on her way, not behind you.

You have this ongoing situationship with worry, but it is one that you need to end. It seems routine, trying to figure out if you’ll graduate, get a job, or ever get a response to that email. It is a re-ocurring soundtrack to your life, but you need to change the beat, and fast! Look at you, you did not fail your final year project work in school, you actually got a response to that email, and it’s birthed other opportunities. I know you’re worried about the future, but the best way to honour the gift of life that you have is not looking forward, not looking behind, but being in the moment and soaking it all in. Every season of your life, you are bearing fruit, even the ones that don’t make sense. Your roots are digging deeper in life, making you unshakeable even when a new storm tries to take you out.

I know this isn’t the life you imagined you would have. For one thing, you’re not an OAP on a radio station. But your scribbling mindlessly for years on paper is beginning to come together in recognisable form. It doesn’t matter if your purpose doesn’t look like anyone else. It is yours! No matter how imperfect your life is, it is yours to live. Remember this is the only life you will get, so live authentically. Dee always says you have a martyr syndrome, meaning you like to save others. You like to be there for others, you like to give in friendships. But you should also learn to take – a superwoman needs help wearing her cape some days. Forgive yourself when you make mistakes, as you’re kind to forgive others when they fail. You deserve it. Your past should always be a place to take lessons and memories from, not one to return to by reminding yourself of regrets.

Finally, every day you’re one step closer to becoming the woman God intended you to be. So wake up, get out of bed, write that post, don’t procrastinate or agree with your excuses. Apply for that position. Don’t let your fear tell you the rooms you’re welcome in. Girl, you’re phenomenal.

Love, Ireju.

Jessica Ireju is a writer crafting words together on her thoughts, dreams and experiences either on the pages of her diary or online to serve as a compass to her and hopefully others on navigating life, love and faith. She has a degree in Archaeology and Tourism from the university of Nigeria, Nsukka. She's an avid reader, a lover of home made pancakes and on the days when she's not having conversations with herself she can be found on instagram @jessicaireju and can be reached for conversations, content creation and freelance writing by email on [email protected]

2 Comments

  1. Gloria

    June 8, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    Great write-up. I think those born in June are alike, I did the same to myself on my birthday which was on the 6th.

    • Ireju A.

      June 9, 2019 at 5:26 pm

      Awesome write up, Irejus’ are outstanding people.I would definitely write to myself in July

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