“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair“… Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
When I think back on 2011, with its many vicissitudes, my mind always strays inevitably to the opening lines of Charles Dickens’ classic novel. 2011 was a year of many contradictions for me and truth be told, the greatest contradiction I found was within myself.
I have always been something of a hodge-podge of characteristics, none of which is truly me and yet I am greater than the sum of my constituent disjointed, contradicting parts. In no year has this been more obvious than 2011, for I leave this year even more disjointed than before but somehow at peace with myself for I have come to terms with what I am. But that is, as they say, not really why we are here.
Seeing as how 2010 was such a dismal year for me, I am extremely glad that 2011 did not even nearly meet the poor standard set by its predecessor. However, it did make several attempts. On the other hand the year was full of blessings for me and I would be the worst sort of fool not to count them. 2011…
It was the best of times.
I fell in love this year… and I had quite a number of lovely people fall in love with me. There were lots of great moments many of which I will never forget.
It was the worst of times.
The person I fell in love with did not feel the same way about me… and I did not feel the same about the others that loved me. Sadly. Sometimes I wish I did. There was an emotional pipeline spill for a while.
It was the age of wisdom
I learned a lot of new things in a very short time and collected another certificate. A Distinction from Imperial College London to match my First class degree from Ife. The two certificates will look good next to each other I suppose. Some more pieces of paper to tell me how smart I am supposed to be.
It was the age of foolishness
My poor memory is gradually becoming more and more of an issue. But I’m glad my ability to reason remained undiminished. Also, I finally realized that I will never know as much as I am expected to. Or want to. This is something no piece of paper can tell me but I have learned to accept as fact.
It was the epoch of belief
I realized that I do believe in God more than I would care to admit. I am very reluctant to talk about faith because I like to pretend to be a man of strict logic. But when the chips were down, I know whom I call to for help.
It was the epoch of incredulity
I can count on my fingers, the number of times I went to church this year. I am constantly amazed at the ability of people to twist religion for their own agendas. Sadly, I have no faith left in most of the religious structures of the world as they currently exist. I chose instead to focus on charity.
It was the season of Light
I made many new friends, learned many new things, travelled to many new places, had several new experiences, opened my self up more than I ever had. Made many new friends, the light that helped me navigate my way through the year.
It was the season of Darkness
I realized that my brothers are probably the only real family I can trust completely. The rest of my family is an emotional minefield of love and hidden agendas that I am not eager to navigate.
It was the spring of hope
I spent many days this year hoping for many things, some of which I eventually received and I am extremely grateful for. Some of which I am still waiting for…
It was the winter of despair
Was it really? No it wasn’t. No it fucking wasn’t. Because I never really lost hope. I felt overwhelmed. Sad. Angry. Frustrated. Stressed. But I never sank into despair and I doubt I ever will. You see, 2011 tried to break me. Where Death and Desolation tried and failed the previous year, Stress and Uncertainty tried their hand. The troubles at home (my elder brother is an unbelievably strong young man who had to deal with issues that would have broken men double his age) combined with the cruel, constant and consistent stress of labors imposed on me by Imperial college combined with the ups and downs of my emotions all conspired to break me. But they failed. And I’m not just writing this to make this seem like a story with a happy ending… those that know me, know what I mean. I’ve gotten most of what I wanted out of the year and set myself up perfectly for 2012, and even though I will spend most of the year working my ass off, it will be worth it. For that, I am glad.
Perhaps you will allow me to share something of a testimony (God has done a lot of things for me in my life and I’ve developed a habit of taking them for granted, I should stop. Since I wont be giving this testimony within the four walls of any church any time soon, I will do that here)
I applied for an Internship with a Fortune 500 company over the summer for my MSc project, submitted my CV and after all was said and done, I didn’t get selected. Disappointment. However, they sent emails to everyone that was not selected informing them that they would be processed for any open job opportunities. I didn’t get that email. Disappointment. I decided to be decisive and send my CV again with a hope and a prayer, requesting to be considered. I was. I got an email back informing me that the email address I had on my original CV was wrong and that was the reason I had been excluded from everything so far. Stupid. Lord knows how many companies I applied to with the wrong email address. Sigh. I eventually got called for a series of interviews and at the end of the process, not only did I get the job, I was the only one from my university that they hired which in itself was something of a wonder. And oh, the lady that spotted the email inconsistency will be my direct boss when I resume work and is also good friends with my former project supervisor. I see you, God. I see you. Thank you.
I’m glad for the life I have and the people that were part of it this year. I would mention your names if I were any less of a secretive person. But the truth is you already know yourselves. You especially. I thank God for you guys even though I cannot for the life of me understand what manner of madness makes you want to be friends with me. I’m glad for the music, the words, the equations, my brothers, the fortran codes, the stories, the movies, the breasts, the vodka, the friends, the suffering and the sun.
So out with the old and in with the new, for, to paraphrase the closing lines of the same classic book by Charles Dickens’
“It is a far, far better thing that I will do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better year that I go to than I have ever known”
I didn’t think this challenge would be this emotional, spiritual and heart-wrenching when it started as a flash idea on December 2. But here we are. 🙂
Moyin amazed me with her heartfelt post on Day 1 drafted within an hour of this idea being born. From then on we have cried, laughed, hugged and prayed for every single writer on here. We have loved them as though they were family. The openness, vulnerability, boldness, strength, weakness and realness of each post have reminded us of what we share as humans.
Thank you all for writing, for reading for sharing, for commenting and for becoming friends this year. I personally would christen 2011 The Year of Friendship.
*takes a bow, exits stage left*