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Jessica Ireju: Majoring in the Minors

I’ve made the decision to be fully immersed in soaking up new experiences. I decided that I will no longer let life pass me by because I’m waiting for my ‘big break’, waiting for my finances to be perfect before I give, waiting for an apology before I forgive, waiting to get my life together before I check up on my friend or waiting to be perfect before I serve in church. I want to arrive my 30s with lessons learned, a better sense of me, a full understanding of my purpose and not with regrets of what could have been.

Jessica Ireju

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This year I attended my first Igbo traditional wedding ceremony and visited Anambra state for the first time too. For someone who usually dodges aso-ebi responsibilities like a pro, I couldn’t sit this one out. My dear friend was tying the knot and this meant it was going to be a mini-reunion with my girls from the university. I didn’t just get to eat ofe onugbu and take pictures in formation with my squad, but I also learned a valuable lesson from the events of that day that I want to share, as I am currently making adjustments to my life in that regard.

Nigerian traditional wedding ceremonies are beautiful – the outfits, music and the rich display of culture. But they can also get stressful with parental requests and extended families whose demands may sometimes distract you from the fact that you’re celebrating the beginning of a new life with someone who will hopefully be a lifetime partner. As most weddings go, we’d already experienced some drama; wardrobe malfunctions, the ceremony was running behind schedule, and the bride – who was trying to get everything to run smoothly – was getting frantic and worried with each delayed minute. My other friend ‘N’ had to ask her to calm down and sit still because, at the end of the day, the important thing was that she was marrying the love of her life – which for most people is a once in a lifetime event.  So it didn’t matter if the ceremony was starting late!

Just like some of us do with our lives, she was majoring in the minor.

‘Majoring in the minors’ is an expression that refers to paying attention to or focusing (majoring) on the unimportant things (minors) and giving it priority over the more important things. For most people, they cannot enjoy the present because there is something not going according to plan for them. The photo is not perfect yet because someone is missing. The idea that the future is absent of troubles is our belief and we are always in a hurry to leave our current moment behind. But moments are in motion and you must live in the moment to get to your desired future.

I’ve noticed that every new season comes with its own challenge. But there are always new blessings, laughter and happy spots – even if I have to squint harder to find them. I’m always waiting for another event, anxious for the next big thing and hoping that when I get my prayer answered in one area of my life, I would be free to enjoy another area that is flourishing. However, in doing so, I have missed out on enjoying lots of great moments in my life. I’ve not been celebrating my achievements because I’m waiting not to ever fail; I’ve not been thankful for my blessings because it’s not the one I wanted first or it didn’t come packaged how I asked for it. I’ve not been happy because I’m waiting for one more thing to complete the puzzle of my life – graduation, dream job, six figures, etc. But nothing should hold that much power over how happy you are.

Inasmuch as life is in seasons, there is no season of life where we do not bear fruits. There’s no wasted time when God is the one writing the story. But while He writes, we must live. Don’t put a pause on your life while you wait. The absence of a blessing you desire is not the absence of God in your life, no matter what your feelings may tell you.

I was speaking to a friend recently who mentioned that whenever we had the opportunity to keep each other in the loop on life changes, I would only talk about career stuff, writing or personal projects I was working on. My friend theorized that the reason I wasn’t married yet was because I was so focused on the other parts of my life and I was neglecting getting married (don’t worry, this is not a feature on the over flogged topic of how once you’re in your 20s, Nigerian and still single, everyone decides you should be married. Or how my aunty reminds me every time she visits that the year 2020 is my deadline to score a handbag – that’s what she calls husbands!). It struck me, but not in the way my friend intended.

I have a habit of focusing all my attention on one area of my life. If it’s a job, my whole life will revolve around it for that season. This means that my phone will probably be on airplane mode and I’ll end up neglecting friendships. Nothing should consume you to the point where you forget to live without fears, worries or responsibilities.

I’m one of those people that wanted to grow up. The young and wild phase didn’t really appeal to me – I wanted to be an adult. Adulthood represented control to make decisions for myself without answering to anyone. It also meant I got to wear stilettos! But adulthood has shocked me! The freedom to make decisions comes with the responsibility to choose rightly. I also found out that stilettos were always pinching my toes and had me craving the comfort of my teenage sandals. I should have enjoyed wearing them then.

My early twenties have been a whirlwind of events; from graduating from the university, dealing with death and grief, trying to figure out this adulting thing, to relationships, career and me barely catching my breath, it’s all been a blur. I had not been experiencing life in full and stocking up on good memories because I had been waiting to arrive at my destination. Worrying doesn’t shorten the journey, it will only leave you weary. That’s why I’ve made the decision to be fully immersed in soaking up new experiences. I decided that I will no longer let life pass me by because I’m waiting for my ‘big break’, waiting for my finances to be perfect before I give, waiting for an apology before I forgive, waiting to get my life together before I check up on my friend or waiting to be perfect before I serve in church. I want to arrive my 30s with lessons learned, a better sense of me, a full understanding of my purpose and not with regrets of what could have been.

This year, I’ve experienced some of my lowest lows but I’ve also been incredibly blessed to celebrate some outstanding highs not just for me, but for my loved ones too. As the curtain draws on 2019, I don’t want to have only memories of me still failing at drawing the perfect eyebrows; I want to look at my pictures and love my smile. I’ve learned from my past experiences that the things you worry about won’t matter in five years – your CGPA, relationship, current job or lack of one. That’s because there’ll always be new challenges.

So, make new friends in the university, volunteer while job hunting and enjoy singleness. Being in the moment is what should be your major.

I was looking for something in my drafts folder recently and found my bucket list with twenty items on it (I have a milestone birthday to celebrate next year) and realized only two items had been done on the list. Usually, this would have had me wallowing in regret over how much was yet to be achieved, but instead, I saw growth. I haven’t landed the dream job yet but I’m forging my path and saying no to opportunities that don’t allow me to define my career on my own terms. The vacation trip hasn’t happened yet, but I’ve curated new memories in unplanned travels. I haven’t done most of the things on that list, but I have done things I couldn’t dream about years ago. I haven’t become who I thought I would be, but I have unbecome my fears and insecurities.

At the end of the day, ‘this life na once’. Enjoy every moment; we don’t get to repeat days. Even the best-laid plans don’t often come together. Smile; even when the sound from the DJ cuts off in the middle of you dancing with your husband, focus on enjoying your wedding.  You’ll never have that dance again or be 21, as Angeloh says in his song ‘we go dey OK’.

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]

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