I had already written my end of the year review and was about to edit it in preparation for me emailing it but then I stopped. I was in the backseat of a minibus, cramped with my legs almost reaching my shoulders with 3 other guys in a space made to fit only 2 people. Slowly I scrolled through my Google Doc and deleted all of it. There were no nitty-gritty details, I refused to name names and only vaguely touched upon a lot of suffering I had gone through in 2017. No, no it simply would not do. So now I begin the proper 2017 end of the year review.
2017 is… the year of #MeToo
In 2017 women and more women came out demanding their stories of sexual abuse, harassment, and rape be heard. Anywhere you looked women were sharing their stories and the ones who simply could not find the courage to speak were acknowledging that they too were one of them.
I no longer wanted to remain silent while I let the pain and fury bury themselves deeper within me as the years flew by and so I spoke. Not on social media, but for the first time since both rapes had happened, I told my siblings and mother. I told them all of it in a voice note as my voice shook and sent it to the family Whatsapp group. They were stunned but supportive and I’m thankful I told them.
2017 is… for family reunions
For 4 years my mother and I had not spoken or seen since the day she left my father. A lot of days I have found I am still mad at her or resent her never trying to find out how the rest of the children she had left behind fared. But most days I am just pleased to have her be a part of my life again.
Sometime early September I reached out to her and texted her on WhatsApp. I told her I had questions and needed answers, she, on the other hand, did not believe she could give me “the right answers”. I asked them all anyway. I asked about her marriage to my father, about her childhood, about what she wanted from life and a ton of questions that threatened to suffocate me if they were not finally answered.
She answered them all, every single one of them and they helped me make sense of a lot of things that had up until then been hazy. We are still in touch and although we barely had a great relationship, we’re both making an effort to start to have one now.
2017 is… a year full of constant new cities
In 2017 I moved city and state, twice within the space of 11 months to places I had no roots or family. In January I came to Abeokuta where I was deployed from Adamawa for NYSC. It was a really big change coming from the heart of South-South Nigeria and for at least 2 months I complained endlessly about the city. It wasn’t so bad when I got used to it and it was a great city to start afresh in, where no one knew me and I knew no one.
Over the course of the NYSC year, I was regularly in Lagos for weekends. Lagos isn’t a city I was too familiar with before I started visiting but with the frequent visits and a few mishaps, I learned how to move around easily. After I got my job in November, I full time had to be in Lagos and I still love it despite its hardship. So yes, I was the new girl in town this year.
2017 is… a year of love happening and unhappening
In my first end of the year review I was going to brush over this and sweep it under the rug, but why should I? I think it is an important part of my year. Sometime in May, I began dating Segun. We had been friends for years and found it easy to transition to a relationship. It was the first time in 3 years I had let anyone in completely and allowed myself be vulnerable. But with time everything began to hit the rocks slowly but gradually.
Then one day I hit rock bottom and became severely suicidal which was only stopped last-minute because of Femi and Deborah. He didn’t bother to reach out for days and was too caught up in how he felt rather than my extreme episode of depression. Yet I tried and tried until I was forced to beg him to break up with me if he was no longer interested. I was met with silence over and over again. It’s December now and my heart has long ago laid our love to rest and I no longer ponder over his silence.
I should have learned my lesson but I went from putting myself in a bad situation to putting myself in a worse one. The night Segun texted me to say he “needed a break” I called Uzoma and cried for at least an hour. Uzoma and I had an interesting friendship which bloomed into a quiet, hesitant love. Before long we began a long distance relationship but we didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things. I found myself constantly begging, apologizing and tiptoeing around him which left me exhausted. The deal breaker for him was when he realized that his vision of getting married in a years time did not align with mine. So he promptly broke up with me, returned to Nigeria for the holiday and cut off contact with me. Interesting times I tell you.
2017 is… the start of the labor market…
For me. I had my discharge certificate handed to me on the 2nd of November and on Monday, 6th I had turned up at my new office in Lekki. Yup, I had been hired as an intern to join the Pulse Nigeria Editorial team. I almost didn’t end up here but that is a story for another time as is my journey of applying for at least 80 jobs.
During my interview, I can still remember Osagie asking me twice why I wanted to work with Pulse. There were a dozen reasons why but I said the one that I knew to be true, “Because I’ll fit in here”. I think Osagie and HR thought I meant this to be perhaps about age, or gender but I meant this in a different way. Most people are familiar with Pulse quality content but only a few are familiar with the team behind the magic. It’s the largest assortment of diverse people put together to make magic you will ever meet and I’ve been given an opportunity to learn a lot of things by being a part of it. I finally felt for the first time in 2017 like I had come home.
2017 is… a bad year for my mental health and finances
It has been terrible I tell you. I didn’t want to go into any of this but I think it’s important to be open because there are way too many people out there pretending like life is not hitting them hard. I was hungry, a lot this year and most days passed with just a meal in my stomach because that was all I could afford.
I lived off of just my NYSC allowance of N19,800 which is about £45 a month. With the Nigerian economy crashing, it was terribly difficult living off of barely anything and I’m grateful for all the help I received along the way, really I am. I doubt I could have made it through without them.
Being constantly poor didn’t help my mental state at all. I was already worried about getting a job, accommodation in Lagos, my dad’s reaction to my move and dealing with a heartbreak. I was exhausted and every time someone genuinely asked me how I was I said: “tired”. I really was and at some point, my depression resurfaced with a vengeance. I gave it and let myself drown for at least a week while in isolation the entire time. I did nothing, just lay there in bed and let the pain paralyze me.
I saw a therapist for as long as I could afford it and was on antidepressants too. A lot of things have fallen into place since then and I’m glad I didn’t commit suicide. Although I’m still poor and homeless as I write, with no known solution to my homelessness looking to appear yet, I have a lot of faith in myself and what I’m building. I am building a life that I was not privileged to be handed but that’s okay. It’s even okay that my dad has thrown me out of his house. In a few years from now, I hope to end my year review with “see? Look at me now!” because I have made something of myself.
That is all you really need, hard work and a ton of belief in your own abilities to survive along with people who are willing to supply you with bottles of water as you run the race.
Gosh. Hands you a bottle of water.