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2006 was a turning point in my life; I had to mature almost overnight. Each of the past 6 years passed in sorrow, and each year worse than the last. When this year started, I had great hopes for it. In my mind any other thing could be better than the pain I went through in 2011. I don’t think I have been more wrong about anything in my life. This year was so bloody hard; I just want to thank God for seeing me through. I don’t even know where to start.

In January I was just getting ready for my finals. It was my first semester in Uni and even though, I knew I wasn’t pulling my weight. I didn’t think it would be that bad. I was wrong again. Words cannot describe how I felt when I checked my grade sheet and I had only earned 8 out of the 12 credit hours I attempted. Needless to say I had to redo a course and was put on academic probation. I also got rejected for a grant; I mean can you really blame them? February rolled in and with it came my parents for a visit. Thoroughly disappointed in myself, I looked for the best way to break the news to them. My siblings advised me to just tell them the truth. It took a lot of courage but I eventually told them; this was of course when they had gone back to Nigeria. I wasn’t taking any chances, knowing my parents if I had told them earlier I would have been with them on the return flight back to Nigeria. However, I did neglect to mention to them that I was on probation. 

Little did I know that was just the beginning. My parents didn’t know about my probation fee so I had to foot the bill myself. Also unknown to my parents, my sister lost her scholarship. We did everything possible to make sure we paid the balance so that my parents wouldn’t find out. We went through hell and back multiple times over. As soon as our allowance came in it went straight to the school’s account. Both of us were living on the equivalent of N4,500 or less a month. I searched and searched for a job, to no avail. Because of my academic status, I could not work on campus, and because of my age there were limited jobs off-campus for me. When I thought I had the perfect job, I found out that it would take more money from me than I had. Each day seemed bleaker than the next. 

Sometime during the spring semester, I found out that the mammogram my Mum had during her visit here in December revealed that she had a cancerous lump. She was already in England receiving treatment, and the whole while, I thought she’d had a fight with my Dad.  I was shattered. I couldn’t eat or sleep. I couldn’t even talk to anyone about it because of my trust issues. It felt like the whole world was crashing on my shoulders. The whole semester was a blur for me. At the end of the academic year, I was still on probation, in danger of being kicked out of school, and we still hadn’t paid my sister’s school fees in full.

Once again, I had messed up. This time I decided not to tell my parents about it. What did I do? I exercised editorial liberty on my results. I don’t feel guilty about it; some might say this makes me a useless child. All I know is that I don’t want them to feel the disappointment I felt in myself. Summer came and went without much ado. My mum’s treatments worked and the cancer was in remission. I am forever thankful to Almighty Allah for his grace in that woman’s life. I was able to forget my troubles for a while, but I had to go back to reality.

The fall semester started, and I decided to change my major. I had repeated and failed a course twice, and even though I was allowed to take it for a third time, I decided not to. The fear of failure is real. The week before the semester started, I found out that we had to pay the equivalent of N400,000 as the balance for my sister’s fees. Where could we find that kind of money? We were still unable to find jobs due to our ages. Our saving grace was the gold set my mother had gifted to my sister; we were able to sell it. And we added our allowance for that month and, the receipts from the sales of our laptops.  It was then I knew the real meaning of hustle. We still had to face this semester’s fees, but we eventually paid off everything about 3 weeks ago. 

I just think about this year and everything I’ve been through, and I thank God for his mercies. I was able to forget large parts of the horror and turmoil that was 2011, but I know I will not forget 2012. My troubles are far from over, I still have to ace this semester if I’m to stay in school, and something else came up today. Nevertheless, I’m still praying and I know the God that saw me through the last 6 years will let me end this year with peace of mind, and show me joy in the coming years.

Next year, I turn 18 and I’ve started a journey of self-improvement and discovery, and Insha Allah I’ll live to see success in all aspects of my life in 2013 and beyond. They say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, so thank you 2012 for giving me a spine of steel.

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So many of us take education for granted. I was shocked to see 18 in the last paragraph. Our prayers are with you dear, that next year you will be able to read what you wrote here with a smile of victory.

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