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He has made my flesh and my skin waste away;

He has broken my bones.

Lamentations 3: 4 (ESV)

I apologize in advance, if my thoughts seem scattered. More often than not, they are exactly that way.

I won’t say I learned any new life lessons this year. If I did, I forgot to write them down.

However, some of the things I already knew, things I seemed to have begun to forget over the years, came back to me.

I was sad a lot of the time. I felt like decisions had been made for me, and I was thrust out into the world, with no options except to “make things happen”. In truth, no one made any decisions for me. It was always in my power to say yes, or no. I may not have anticipated the full scope of my decisions, but I walked onto every path completely aware that I was making a decision whose result could go one way or another.

I was angry at Nigeria a lot of the time too. That righteous anger that leaving Nigeria and seeing how badly we lack at home stirs in a formerly complacent person. As old as you are, and with all that you have, why can’t you be like your mates? (LOL) Why isn’t the “average person” clamoring to get into you, instead of away from you? Why isn’t my Nigeria-issued drivers’ license valid here? I complained a lot (shout out to you precious ones who endured my whining). I still do. But I’m not ungrateful, far from it. I whine. It’s just one of the ways I express my frustration.

Getting a Master’s degree wasn’t entirely my idea. In fact, it wasn’t something I considered in detail until my folks raised it. Who says no to an opportunity like that, right? I’m not a huge fan of “school”. Honestly, I think it’s largely a waste of my time. I would rather pay my tuition to a real organization and learn from them on the job, than sit in a class and be sentenced to death by PowerPoint presentations. The classes I enjoyed the most, were those ones that had me “getting my hands dirty”, building actual stuff I could see, use and appreciate.

Most of the skills I have today, the ones that I feel are worth mentioning, the ones the recruiters want to hear more about, were not learned in a classroom.

I was scared a lot of the time too. For the most part, I felt overwhelmed by everything that was happening to and around me. I felt like I was suffocating from all the expectations, responsibility and the thought that I owed it to every stakeholder in my life to survive, thrive, and make something out of what I had been given. To whom much is given, a lot more is expected. Abi, no be so?

At some point however, I began to realize that a lot of what I was afraid of, was in my head. Nobody expected me to save the world. I was my own judge, jury and executioner. The minute this became clear to me, I was free.

I am poured out like water.

All my bones have fallen apart.

My heart is like wax;

It melts inside me.

Psalm 22:14 (CEB)

This year, I worked hard. Boy, did I work hard. I also slacked a couple of times. And the results showed exactly that. How else, does one go from getting 107 (out of 100) in a midterm exam, and making near perfect scores in all assignments given, to getting an 89 (B) in the final result of the same course? I slacked on my final project. And maybe if I had paid more attention to getting really good with front-end development before interviewing for that User Experience Design position, maybe I might have stood a better chance.

One thing that almost never went away was this feeling that I wasn’t doing enough, the feeling of inadequacy. I got countless pep talks. Hardly anything changed. I knew that what had to bring the change, had to come from the inside of me.

I was confused. A LOT. Should I sign up for a masters’ thesis or a masters’ project or neither, and at least avoid the stress? I chose the project. I chose stress, but it paid off. Should I focus on data analytics or graphics design or software development? I leaned towards the third option, but this isn’t to say that I have completely forgone the other two.

I still don’t have it all neatly sorted out. What job offer should I accept? Am I going back home soon, later or never?

However, I also got clarity on so many other issues. Issues such as what kind of things I want to spend the better part of my working years doing.

One thing I am certain of is this – I can adapt (quite easily) to change, no matter how much I do not like it. If it is necessary, then it must be done. This is how I intend to face the uncertainties of the future.

I lost a friend. He died. It was so sudden. The last time I saw him, I was about to get on a plane leaving home for the US. We had run into each other, and before then, it had been years since we last spoke. After then, we never spoke again. Then well over a year later, someone mentioned to me (in passing) that he had died. How fickle life is. Yet another thing I was painfully reminded of.

I think what hurt me most, was the fact that I pretty much stumbled on the news. So I could have actually continued with my life without hearing news of his death, until maybe much later, when everyone else had mourned and moved on. There, then, I made up my mind to do better with respect to staying in touch.

So I made new friends and did my best to be there for them. I attempted to reconnect with old ones, too. I went out a little more. I learned new skills that I’m really excited about. My self-confidence grew. I moved past my regrets. I took risks (something I hardly ever do), and they paid off. I accomplished quite a bit of my goals.

I got slapped left, right and center with a lot of responsibility. Things I didn’t even plan for, or see coming. But I think I’m handling them quite well. The stakeholders are impressed.

I too, am proud of myself.

God has been amazing. (Why am I tearing up now, ehn? sniff). I don’t know why I get so emotional when it comes to God.

Mercy; this has been the thing for me all year. He has been merciful, is all I can say. I feel like there is a center, a core that never changes, irrespective of every other thing that happens. And so, when you remember the fact that, no matter what happens, you have an anchor that holds, your perspective on life, if previously tampered with, corrects itself.

I am grateful for family, for friends, and for chicken salad. Life wouldn’t be the same without them.

This piece is inconclusive, I feel. This year ends with some uncertainty and a lot of questions (they usually all do). I don’t have all the answers I seek… yet. But I think I’ll have them soon enough. And if I don’t, so be it. No one ever died of unanswered questions.

I waited patiently for The Lord;

He inclined to me and heard my cry.

He drew me up from the pit of destruction,

Out of the miry bog,

And set my feet upon a rock,

Making my steps secure.

He put a new song in my mouth,

A song of praise to our God.

Psalm 40:1-3 (ESV)

 

Etana.

 

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Hello Ada! Meeting you was one of the highlights of my 2014. I feel like I can see the building blocks of a really impressive building being fitted together from the ground up. Find your anchor, like you said, and never let it go. Thank you for sharing.

 

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