The Year of Pause

I think we can all agree 2020 has been a weird year. I bet everyone’s year-end review will make reference to the covid-19 pandemic and how it shaped their year. 2020 has been a year of cancelled plans and having to make peace with the new normal. A year of chaos, anxiety, calm and surrender. The year facemasks and face shields became a necessity.

At first there was so much hope that in few months the pandemic would end and life would be back to normal, but as the months went on, everyone had to adjust their lives and stopped fighting the change. The feeling of apprehension mixed with hope, slowly faded into one of acceptance and readjustments.

Personally, 2020 has been quite a rollercoaster. If I’m to capture this year in one word, it will be ‘omo!’ Just when I’m was getting over one L, the year would hit me with another.

A huge part of my life went dormant this year. I’m an avid traveller and this is the first time in three years I didn’t get to leave the shores of Nigeria. I had grand plans to tour at least five countries in Europe and take the number of countries I have been to from 11 to 18. But covid-19 made sure I didn’t have to bring out my passport all year round.

I had planned to start a graduate program at one of the Federal Universities this year, but 2020 was the year the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) went on strike for a record 9 months period. It’s been ten years I got my first degree. I had healed and rested enough from the rigors of my undergraduate days and was ready to get back in the game but 2020 happened.

The strike has led to loss of one year off of my short term goals. I’m not going to bother about it, I’ll trust the process as usual and see where life leads me. So I’m chilled and waiting for school to resume.

I remember starting the year frustrated because my finances were not looking great. I had set the largest personal savings target ever for myself, next thing interest rates on investment instruments started plummeting. I didn’t get a dime of performance bonus paid out half year and full year at the office. Usually, the bonus helps me meet my saving targets before the year runs out, but this year I was just looking as my colleagues were all getting credit alerts around me.

There was a time I had to ignore my financial excel sheet for weeks. At a time, I thought for once, I won’t be able to meet my savings target for the year. Falling interest rates from NGN Treasury bills was having adverse ripple effect on various investment instruments. I had to pray that God provides an alternative investments, and He did. My year was saved by alternative investments, and one prayer God also answered for me, was that none of my investments will go south. Thankfully, despite my two almost near misses, I didn’t lose a kobo.

Thankfully, despite sacrifices made to be there for friends and also without my go to investments options and productivity bonus, I was still able to surpass my savings target. Though this was also partly due to no travels this year. I also decided to practice delayed gratification. The only things I spent money on, outside my usual monthly expenses were asoebi for the numerous weddings that came with the year and a jacket to support my friend’s tailoring business.

My favourite part of the year funny enough has to be the start of the lockdown period. I loved the stillness that came with it. My life felt stable and peaceful. Sadly this was disrupted by anxiety from following the Black Lives Matter movement on the news. But in all, I had a good level of personal growth during the lockdown period as I was able to dig deep within, have conversations with myself I had long been running from and found clarity. I read lots of self-help articles online, and went through two hard copy books as well.

Towards the end of the year, I started perfecting my unbothered skills. It’s always been my desire to grow to that level where my initial reaction to things is that of calm. For someone managing anxiety, this is quite a journey. But I think I made good progress this year mostly regarding not stressing about work, or stuff that needs fixing or expenses to be sorted out. I learnt to push them aside mentally till resources were available or I had the mental space to deal.

I have learnt to sleep on decisions same way I learnt to defer expenses. I used to be this as e dey hot kinda guy. I used to take decisions hastily, sort out issues and clear out my to-do-list ASAP. But truth is, all that was adding more pressure to an already difficult adulthood. I think subconsciously, the stillness that came with this year has led me on a path of ease, of taking things in its stride and not hurting myself in the process.

Life is easy when you take it one day at a time, breath after breath. No pressure, no rush (this doesn’t make an excuse for laziness or procrastination. I still hold myself accountable in meeting deadlines and not flaking on commitments).

On love, this year I decided to start identifying as avoidant after my rough February experience that left me with PTSD from being walked out on, coupled with a friendship that felt overwhelming and all so consuming at the time (I don’t think I handled this well though). I felt broken by both experiences, only way to survive was to push them away. Thankfully we are all good and things have balanced out now.

As for being an avoidant, deep down I acknowledge it’s not who I truly am. Yes, I hate the work that comes with relationships but truth is, I do want companionship and I’ll gladly do an easy relationship than be alone. But let’s face facts, relationships require hard work. I’m all for ease, so being an avoidant is the less expensive option for my heart.

Have you ever felt such pain that made you seclude into self? Shut the world out, lose trust for people and always fear no one will stay? That they will always walk away and leave you shattered? That’s what I went through and I’m still recovering from. So yes, being alone is difficult but I choose this cross over reliving that kind of pain. I’m choosing the lesser burden of being alone. It’s what I have made peace with.

In all, I’m thankful for the ‘weird’ year 2020 has been. I’m thankful for all that went down and all the gbas gbos that came with the year. What matters is that we made it, and that we are still here. Here’s to those we lost along the way. Every soul lost to the pandemic means something, each individual is more than a statistic. Also here’s to all the heroes lost during the fight for social justice, especially during the Endsars protest period. We will never forget.

I’m thankful for clarity that came with this year, for stillness, for the path I’m on and here’s hoping that the coming year helps me consolidate on the progress I have made this year in all spheres of life.

Here’s to a better 2021, hoping it brings an end to the covid-19 menace as its now apparent December 31, 2020 is not going to be the expiry date for the pandemic as we all bullishly thought.

 

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Welcome to the blog Sayi! I’m positive you have great things ahead of you despite the pause this year gave you and all of us. Thank you so much for sharing.

 

 

Sayi

Just a guy navigating his way through this thing called life, focusing on the little things and beauty of shared humanity.

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