For many, 2019 has been a year of ups, downs and many stories. We know you have a lot to tell us and we have asked that, as one big family, we all share our stories, joy, pain, wins, losses and successes through the year.
This year, Orode learned 6 amazing lessons and she’s sharing them with us.
I saw a meme on Instagram a few days ago that said “the first half of 2019 and the second half felt like two different years” and that’s exactly what 2019 was like for me.
If you read my 2018 reflection on BN, then you would know that 2018 didn’t end well; I faced personal tragedy and dealt with some emotional upheaval, but I went into 2019 a little hopeful.
2019 started off rocky; I was still trying to cope with loss, finishing my graduate degree and I was dealing with some level of depression and anxiety. I was pulling away from friends and family and stuffing my face (as I am prone to do when I am stressed). It was difficult to really be excited about anything, even my own birthday – which I insisted on not celebrating. Thank God for the type of friends I have who insisted on buying me a cake and some wine (love you guys!). I continued under this dark cloud for a few months until late March/mid-April and when it lifted, I realized that I had neglected friends and myself (I put on at least 10 pounds, American food is the worst when you’re emotionally eating).
By mid-2019, I didn’t really have time to process my situation because I had important exams to write, but I was still trying to figure out what I wanted in life. Social media slammed me with photos of friends and family reaching milestones in their own lives: marriage, child(ren), professional accolades. Meanwhile, I felt like I was only just starting out with my life and I was way behind my peers. But I was no longer depressed. I was hopeful instead because prior to mid-2019, I worked on myself; being more optimistic, building my confidence, loving myself first and actually deciding on what I want.
I’ve learned these few things through my 2019 journey:
It’s okay to be vulnerable
As someone who had always seen expressing emotions as a sign of weakness, I’ve always kept things in. However, I became a walking ball of stress and I felt like I could explode at any moment. Being unable to be vulnerable can lead to depression and anxiety which is not what we want, going into 2020.
Vulnerability also helps you connect with your loved ones more. I was discussing astrology with a friend and I complained about Pisces being overly sensitive and escapist. But I was shocked when she told me that she thought I wasn’t the sensitive type. I had to explain that although I was extremely sensitive, I just wasn’t the type to be so open about my emotions.
It is also alright to ask for help
This is connected to the first one. Being vulnerable also means knowing when to ask for help and seeking out the best people who can help us. One thing I like about Nigerians and Americans is their openness about the advantages of networking. I believe that it is a practice that demonstrates the need to ask for help when you need it. The only caveat I would add is that one must find a balance between being a leech and asking for help when necessary.
Do anything you damn want even if you look bad doing it – as long as you’re not harming anyone
I am an introvert and quite shy; I hate dancing in public or being the center of attention. But I decided to not be so self-conscious and be more outgoing. I also stopped second-guessing myself and made a note to go for everything that I want which includes jobs, hobbies, trying out new things and going to events by myself. I believe that it is the key to self-discovery and fulfillment. As long as no one gets hurt, ignore the naysayers.
Place yourself out of your comfort zone
The best way to come out of your comfort zone is to place yourself in an environment that challenges you daily. Make it long term if possible. When I started my graduate program, I found myself in an environment with people who had a lot of life experience and were very good at expressing themselves. That kept me on my toes, made me take stock of my own life and acknowledge the potential I was letting go to waste. I started going out on my own, watching documentaries and reading more. I even applied to jobs I felt I wasn’t 100% qualified for. That way, I was not resting on my laurels and I was forced to keep up or get left behind.
Focus/sense of self is one of the most important traits a person can have – that way nothing can deviate you from your path
This was a bittersweet revelation for me, I realized I let lack of direction and confidence take me on an unnecessary journey, academically and professionally. Though I do not regret my experience because it has made me very qualified, I wish I had listened to myself sooner and focused wholeheartedly on what I knew I wanted, instead of letting little failures dissuade me from my goal.
Despite the negative image and challenges that come with being Nigerian, I am extremely proud to be Nigerian
Nigerians are very enterprising and hardworking and we must realize our potential in order to succeed and rise up as the powerful people that we are meant to be.
As we approach 2020, I see myself as a phoenix. Though I didn’t burn, I will definitely rise out of the ashes of 2019, fulfill my potential and reach significant milestones. I’ll end this reflection with my personal mantra:
Be kind, be strong and do not be afraid.
Have a story to share? We’ll love to hear it. Send in your essay to submissions(at)bellanaija(dot)com with the subject: 2019 Epilogues. Let us know all the twists and turns and successes 2019 came with.