I’m convinced that in the future when I talk about the story of my life, 2015 will be a significant point in the story. It will be the point in the story where everything changed. I decided quite early that I was going to find myself this year. I admit this sounds like some ‘eat, pray, love’ stuff, but I knew coming into this year that there were a few things (or a lot, if you’re my friend) about me I didn’t quite understand. And I decided that I was going to spend the year delving into them.
So I made a couple of personal decisions to focus on myself. I’m not going to act like they’ve been easy to stick to, they’ve been worthwhile. I took an active break from dating this year to figure out what I wanted from life and from a partner. I went back to counselling/ therapy. I found a mentor. I signed up to a development course that costs a lot (especially time). At the time I was making these decisions, they were hard but looking back, they were good decisions. Mostly good.
Here are a couple of things I learned along the way.
I have everything I need to do everything I need to do.
I have a confidence problem.
Almost 2 years into this Ph.D and I still don’t feel like I should be here like I’m smart enough to be here. ‘People like me don’t do Ph.Ds’. ‘That presentation went well, but it was a one-off’. You know the drill. These are the voices that play up in my head from time to time. But this year they were louder. I would wake up in the morning and feel unable to go to uni. What if today was the day I was showed out as the imposter I really was?
And the voices began to pervade other areas of my life too. ‘Why’s she my friend?’ ‘Why does he even like me?’ ‘What have I got to offer?’ ‘I’m too quiet, too shy, not bold enough, too weak, a woman.’ All that stuff, you know?
I think it all came to a head when I had a massive panic attack the day before I gave a big presentation. It clicked. I couldn’t go on living this way. So most of this year has been spent fighting this notion that there is something wrong with the way I am. I am not not enough for anything. I am not too much for anything. I have everything I need to achieve all the big stuff I want to achieve.
Know yourself, know your limits. Exceed them.
I am a perfectionist introvert that is driven by the need to succeed and gain approval for succeeding at my work.
That might have read like a mundane sentence to anyone reading this. But this year I actually realised these about myself. And I mean realised both in my head and heart. And it’s changed everything. The way I do my work, the way I talk about my work, my relationships, my priorities, everything.
But the thing that surprised me about knowing all this stuff about myself is that I’ve also surpassed some of the things they say I can’t do. ‘Introverts are not good at public speaking’– those presentations prove you wrong. ‘People like you don’t know how to have fun’ – my holidays this year prove you wrong.
Take care of your mental health.
This one was a hard one to learn this year. I had to become proactive about my health all round but especially my mental health. I am one of those people who a lot of people think are too sensitive. I feel things deeply and take a lot of time to get over seemingly harmless things. This year has been a journey in drawing boundaries and building mental resilience. I have an hour a week when I chat to my therapist about stuff, anything. I leave Twitter when hard things are being discussed. I don’t argue with people about things that matter to me. I’m trying not to be too hard on myself, give myself grace and forgive myself when I screw up. I am learning.
Fight for your tribe.
Every year when I write one of these, I talk about the gift of friendship. About how I’m not sure what I did to deserve these amazing people who are in my life. One thing that has been ingrained in me this year is the value of your tribe and the work involved in keeping your tribe. The people you would choose to move to a new planet with.
People who have sat with me through the hard times and tears. Have prayed for and with me and danced with me in the good times. Have called out my bullshit and cheered me on. People who have let me do the same for them.
People who keep choosing to be in my life and give me the incredible privilege of being in their lives- Moyin, Kovie, ‘Pemi, Tokunbo, Bule, Qama, Wole, Nugwa, Sab, Tobystic, Jael, Oluchi. You give me the courage to keep going. Thank you.
Find your own God. Keep chasing Him.
If there’s one thing 2015 has been consistent with, it’s the questions. Especially the questions about religion, God and life. We all have them, those doubts that plague us those things that don’t seem to make sense about whatever religion we have decided to practice. Over the months, I had to learn to strip away some of the layers of religion and question what exactly I believe. And I found God at the core. God and his love.
And this is the thing that keeps me going on the hard days. The God who holds the universe in the palm of his hand loves me enough to want an intimate relationship with me. The hard days and times pale in comparison to this unfailing, unshaken love.
I think in every one of these things I’ve written, I’ve said- without meaning – that it’s God’s love that has kept me. But this year, I mean it. I really mean it. I’ve been to some dark places and can say, without a doubt that it’s been that indescribable love that has brought me out of them.
You know, I’m not quite sure what 2016 will bring, I’m not even sure what resolutions I’ll make. But I love the promise of a new year, the promise of a new beginning, the promise of fixing the broken things in our lives, the promise of moving on from whatever it is that the past year(s) have represented, the promise of healing. The promise of change.
Give it time Moyin, give it time, dear friends. Thank you very much for opening the stage for us again this year for a 5th year in a row. God bless you and keep you Moyin.
See you at 6 pm for Osisiye’s year-end review, people.