I haven’t been able to write since October, and before I “couldn’t write”, I stopped sharing anything I had written in August. And so, when Uncle Efe sent me a message on Christmas day, asking if I was interested in doing a review, I told him, “Not really.” There are multiple reasons. I can’t write. I only sat on my arse all year round. I don’t think have anything to say. Really.
2020 was a dud. The collective review for future leisure time travellers is probably “Pretty traumatising; won’t recommend it.” I’ve personally decided till I live through a year worse than this (on a global scale), 2020 is my new synonym for horrifying or terrible. For some people, it was a grand year. I mean, there were so many weddings, so many new jobs, and so many promotions. And I guess those are the people I expect to talk about their year. Because for them, things worked and that’s incredible to see. Sure, I’m pretty salty since nothing worked for me, but vicarious happiness is an adequate supplement.
Uncle Efe told me to write 500 words. I read it as, “Even though not a lot happened, surely, you can write 500 words from everything.” I didn’t tell him my issue wasn’t the word length, but me being afraid to talk about the year, to write about it. I told him I would try, woke up the next day and quaked in my t-shirt and shorts thinking “Why did I say that?” and a couple days later, decided I wouldn’t after all. But look who is here.
I had this 20-item to-do list for the year (because 20 goes with 2020; please don’t hate me ^_^). I wrote it on a notebook page in different coloured ink and uploaded a picture of it on my blog in an upbeat “New year, better me” post. I can only tick two things off on the list. I can’t say everything falling apart on the list was caused by the external chaos of this year, because the chaos was a lot more internalised.
I originally thought ASUU and Covid-19 trapping me at home would be one of the best things to happen. I would be able to study ahead (haqhaq), I could finally finish an extensive writing project, I could draw, I could develop a productive hobby, and I’d have time for self-reflection, to improve my mental state and be a lot more upbeat. None of that happened. I can’t write, I have developed no hobbies, studying alone, with no lecturer or classmate to offer help is harrowing, and I am certain I’m in a worse mental state than I was at the start of the year. I don’t go around moping, on the verge of tears because everything stays buried, but the moment someone asks me a question, I begin to spiral.
To me, the worst part of everything is how much I feel in limbo. Suspended and anxious and unsure of everything. Because I struggled with the one novel-length writing project I took on, writing anything else feels like chewing concrete and swallowing it. And that drives my self-esteem down: “That project wasn’t even big; how are you unable to complete it?” I can’t reread the project, so I can’t continue it, and whenever someone asks me if I have anything for them to read, I tremble all over. But, I’m writing this. Even though it’s difficult, I’m writing this. And I’m pretty happy I am.
I didn’t accomplish anything this year, but, as one of my friends told me, “It’s a pandemic—not a productivity contest”. I can’t keep bitching about unproductivity, because despite how bleak everything was, the year was sprinkled with good things. I discovered new music. I read and completed over 50 books and reading so much reminds me why I want to continue writing. I found that I have an appetite for Korean dramas (this was like unearthing treasure, to be honest). Though late, I’ve made a lot of progress in my Spanish learning (perhaps by the end of next year, I’d be able to watch Spanish series without subtitles?) I spent a lot of time with my parents and that counts for so much, because if things work out as I want them to, I probably won’t spend this much time with them again. I was reminded, over and over again, how amazing my friends are.
And definitely, the best part is the fact that everyone I know is safe and healthy is something to be incredibly thankful for.
2021 is a blank slate to me. I don’t have any goals or plans or a lot of desires, at this point. I think I might try to go out more and I do hope school resumes, because I want to leave home and I want to graduate and I want to escape from Nigeria when I’m done. But mostly, I just hope that in the way I struggled to write this, despite all the fear and anxiety weighing on me, I will struggle to face other challenges. If it fails, it does and if not…
To everyone reading, I hope the New Year is less chaotic, less traumatic. I hope our situations improve and we are kinder and more empathetic to one another. I hope the world heals and 31st of December, 2021 doesn’t find us collectively beaten down.
Happy New Year
I’m almost envious at the opportunity to look at life in slow motion as it zooms past. Thank you for giving us this snapshot for 2020, the year we all had time on our hands and still found it wasn’t time that was the problem.
I’m rooting for you to evade this writer’s block, coz. I’m here for your novel whenever you finish it.
Happy new year!