There are life tests that I have always known I would take, and some have come unexpectedly. The latter remind me of when my lecturers in Ife would shake up a dull ECN class with a spur of the moment quiz to check who was in attendance. While scribbling for our lives on foolscap sheets, we would try to text absentee friends (or they us) to quickly come to class to take ‘attendance’. My 2018 has had some of these surprise tests, blended in with some expected ones.
1. Kick off
The year started off with me traveling from Seattle to Lagos for the West African Faith Believers’ Convention (WAFBEC). This conference and I have a long and mutually beneficial relationship, so I always try to make room for it in my schedule. WAFBEC 2018 was filled with dust and loving reunions, transportation struggles and comforting worship sessions. The stress however took a toll on my body, and I fell ill with what I later realized was a case of misdiagnosed and mistreated allergies.
I also went through a mini spot test. I had taken the opportunity of being at home to get my H-1B visa stamp. Thanks to what I eventually discovered was an error on the part of the consulate officer, I ended up spending almost two extra weeks in Lagos, waiting to be re-interviewed at the US Embassy and not knowing why. The day I decided to stop acting on my feelings of frustration, and to instead journal out the things I was grateful for – including extra quality time with my Lagos favorites, and a great job I was excited to be returning to any day now – I got notified to pick up my visa.
2018 is the year I turned 30, and I was mentally prepared. I grit my teeth. I forged ahead in determined excitement and careful anticipation of the crossover from young adulthood into full fledged-now I’m in control of my life-my parents actually stop to listen when I’m speaking-adulthood. I wasn’t anxious about turning 30… till about a month out.
As d-day inched closer, all my carefully built barriers started to shake and the voice of disappointment and torment became an unshakable nag. It wouldn’t stop telling me how I was lagging. Crazy. I’m a self sustaining adult building a life more beautiful than I ever dreamed. Teri Joseph, my childhood tv hero, would be proud. All my shit is not together (and neither was Teri’s), but it will be. Still, I freaked out. I only started to leave the ledge when my uncle, a north star and voice of reason, told me he’s proud of me, and that I would be fine. My uncle is one I can always count on for the uncoated truth, so if he thought I was doing okay, then I was.
3. Many Men
2018 brought many men into my life – literally multiples of my annual ‘man average’, surprisingly and amusingly. Is there something about becoming a full fledged-now in control of my life-adult that’s more attractive? Or maybe I’m more open now that I’m feeling stable and not so focused on smashing my baseline goals. Whatever the case, it was great… Mostly. I’ll tell of the two who stood out this year, SF & the L.
One Monday early in the year, my aunt did an out of the blue WhatsApp connect of all time and introduced me to SF, a friend of her friend. Quite an awkward intro, but we powered through. Hopes were high. And then things got weird. He was looking for a mentee slash spiritual daughter in a partner. And I’m good on mentors and spiritual fathers. So it was not a fit. But the going was good when it was.
b) The L
Special mention to my mother. I have gotten through this year in part because of her ride or die commitment to my good. She got excited with me and in turn toned it down when we realized SF was not the one. She held me with wisdom and comfort as I fell apart during and after the L.
Late in the year, I was back in Nigeria for the aforementioned favorite uncle’s birthday. We were celebrating in Lagos when I got the call from my mom that she had to go into surgery immediately. I was shocked but grateful to be so close to home that I could hop on the next ride to Ibadan and stay by her side for most of her recuperation. Her surgery and stay in the hospital went largely hitch free and her recovery was quick. The whole thing though trying, restored my faith in Nigerian doctors. I however have no faith in the medical infrastructure supporting these doctors, which makes the work they do all the more heroic.
While we’re on the topic, I have to give a special mention to a friend who mothered me this year. She held my hand and was (and is) there for me multiple times every week and in that one month, almost all day, every day. Thank you, Adetoun. You know I could not have made it through 2018 without you.
Every year looks like a one-page calendar in my mind. So to me, we are now at the very bottom of the calendar. I look up into 2018 and see myself having been tested, stretched, and turned out. I have been emptied and then smashed into pieces. I have never been abandoned, though. I’ve been wrapped with love, put back together with understanding, and soothed with the balm of prophecies. In spite of an eventful 11.5 months, my experience with a close friend who is known for a distinct lack of variableness and shadow of turning, tells me that 2018 still holds one more test. And then I will release.
I hope 2018 has treated you well. If not, join me in clutching what’s left with bloody fingers, because it’s not over until the 31st.