2021: The Year I Tried.
I finished my End of the Year Review yesterday, but I couldn’t post it, because for some reason it felt cold: like a scientific recollection of everything I had felt about 2021. I hated it even more when I read the review I wrote for 2020, which came from a more vulnerable, excited place. And I had a hard time trying to figure out whether my lack of vulnerability in the 2021 review was a product of maturity or fear. I never want to hide the way I really feel, but lately, I have felt the need to curate myself into someone that doesn’t have butterflies living in the cave of her stomach. I don’t know why, and since I can’t figure it out, I have decided to try again.
This is what 2021 felt like.
2021 felt like noise.
Like there were tabs constantly open in my head.
Responsibilities, reminders, deadlines, ideas.
I wanted it to stop.
This was the year I battled with my health the most. I made my body perform feats that were above her, and she broke down into tears. Tackling two jobs along with school, and participating in extracurricular projects that demanded my energy and time, took so much from me. Insomnia became a problem, and I remember crying because I was so tired, yet I couldn’t sleep.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I think I got scared that if I wasn’t always working, then I was failing. I guess, and this is shameful to admit, that I began to feel a sense of pride from my ability to do so much within ridiculous time constraints. If I took a break, I would feel like I was not being productive and it made me sad. It was a really toxic mindset to develop, one that I am still trying to kill.
My mother would use God working for six days and resting on the seventh as an analogy to get me to rest. “If God can rest, then who are you?” she would say. It is funny, but it is true. I have had to let go of some of my responsibilities, and actively prevent myself from taking on new ones because I am tired. Next year, I want to give my body all the rest it needs, because my worth isn’t tied to how much I am able to achieve. It is intrinsic, a product of my mere existence; and rest is the best way to recharge and allow new ideas to flow through me.
I entered 2021 with very little experience on so many of the things I ended up doing during the year, which was exciting. I modelled for several initiatives, including a tech startup and an NFT project. I directed my first shoot and got to work on set for a TV show: Trophy Extra Special Band Season 2, where I met so many amazing people. I wrote so much this year, too. I published every month on Medium, ran The Oracle Africa, an online publication, took up some freelance writing jobs and wrote scripts I saw come to life. In school, I was part of the editing team for two publications and got assigned leadership roles that aligned with the vision I have for my life, all of which I am happy about.
With all this, I learned that while money is really important, it is not the most important thing to look out for when taking a job. Discretion matters too because sometimes, opportunities that don’t look like they will cough up much financially, end up giving birth to greater opportunities. I did several projects this year for free that opened doors for me to work, earn more, and meet more talent.
But work came with Ls, too. I got a job mid-April that felt like the best thing in the world. Until I learned that my colleagues in the company were earning a lot more than I was. It really hurt me to know that my work was being undervalued and underpaid, so I had to leave eventually. From this, I learned that organizational culture is something that every job-seeker should look into before employment, and you should never let anyone undervalue your skills, ever.
I entered 400-level of my undergraduate Law program at the end of this year, and to be honest, I am over school, mentally. 300 level took so much from me. The Nigerian public school system is messed up; it doesn’t care about your mental health or your progress as an individual. I got some grades this year that scared the living hell out of me, because they made me think: “na me be dis?” Omo. School is not for the fainthearted, and if you have a family member that wants to study Law in a public university, tell them to run.
The exam periods were terrible. We didn’t have enough time between papers, and on two occasions I wrote two papers on the same day. My mind was all over the place and I had really bad panic attacks, and I hate to say this, but at least I survived.
400 level looks like fatigue. It is everywhere. My coursemates that once had light in their eyes seem exhausted, and you can always tell who a fresher is by the excitement they carry in their voices and their inflated sense of preoccupation. But even with this tiredness comes hidden strength, because people are still reading, still trying. I marvel at this. More grease to their elbows, sha.
I really put in the effort in developing myself through my extracurriculars this year. I joined AIESEC in Lagos, became a staff for the Lagos Model United Nations (LMUN), became a member of the executive board of the Unilag Law Review and worked with the Youth Sustainable Development Network (YSDN). I think extracurriculars are important because apart from providing you with an avenue to develop yourself and your skillset, they are really valuable in the job market. Companies are no longer simply interested in how good your grades are. They want to know who you are as a person, and what moves you. Through my extracurriculars, I was able to cement my love for sustainability, women’s rights and leadership. I also learned more about myself and fostered meaningful relationships with the people I worked with.
This year, I learned so much about relationships.
I learned the importance of setting boundaries and being firm with them. On several occasions, I had to say no to people even though it killed me on the inside. It was necessary. Sometimes people only know how to take, and you have to teach them how to treat you. Not because they are bad people, but because human beings are ego-driven by nature, we tend to put ourselves first.
I learned to be more discerning of the people I allowed into my space, and the amount of energy I gave them. It’s really easy for me to carry other people’s burdens on my head, but I am slowly learning to allow people to be individuals and make their own mistakes, otherwise, they might never learn.
I learned how to communicate better, and I learned that being emotionally expressive doesn’t necessarily mean you’re right. Yep. Speaking of which, I learned that niceness is overrated, and kindness is the real deal. Some of the best people in my life are not necessarily the nicest people I know, but they are extremely kind. I think that was a valuable lesson.
We don’t talk enough about how being busy affects your relationships negatively, and this year, I didn’t get to spend enough time with the people I love. It left me feeling a strange form of guilt because I knew there was nothing I could do about it. But this doesn’t mean I didn’t try. I created a checkup list using Notion, so I could remember my friends and text them from time to time. I was intentional about creating time to go out with my friends, too, most of which happened in December, my designated “selfish” month. I used every avenue I could to remind my people that I loved them and I was there for them. Luckily, most of my friends understood and many of them were working too, so they knew how it felt.
Relationships really stressed me this year, not gonna lie. I felt like I was giving so much and getting little in return at certain points, but the end of the year came with so much clarity and I am thankful for that. Going forward I would be very intentional about who (and what) I allow to stress me. In all this, I am thankful for the people in my life. They are beautiful, they are amazing, they are electric and they give my life more meaning. I am thankful for all the growth in my relationships this year. I felt more love than I had ever felt before and I experienced so much of the goodness of humanity. Human beings are beautiful, God’s masterpiece indeed.
This year I decided not to enter a romantic relationship. I know you’re thinking, “but Treasure, you cannot plan these things, what if you met the man of your dreams and he told you that he was in love with you?” First of all, I can and I did. Secondly, the man of my dreams is Kim Taehyung from BTS and as you can see, he still doesn’t know I exist. So this was my singu pringu year. My getting to know myself year. I needed this, because I was trying to heal from hurt from previous relationships and I wanted to understand myself better, and I am glad I was able to succeed. I met several wonderful men, but I didn’t allow any to lock my heart with key, because my heart belongs to Jesus. #Yessirrrrskiii. 2022, I would like to enter a loving, committed relationship, but that’s 50% desire and 50% wishful thinking because the bag remains a priority. Amen? Amen.
This year I learned that I don’t know how to take care of myself.
I mean, I did things that felt like self-care.
I read a lot more books than I had read in the past five years. The aim was to read 45 books, and I read 37. Next year, I will read more, but I will prioritize the quality of reading over the number of books read because the reading is only as valuable as the knowledge acquired.
I started to experiment with makeup this year, a byproduct of the modelling gigs I took. I realized that I really enjoy looking good, so I began to make some of my clothes instead of buying them because finding dresses that fit me perfectly is a challenge. This was a very good decision!
In the month of December. I took out time to experience things I wanted to. I ate out with my friends, attended several concerts, and fed my desire for enjoyment in other ways. I had the best time!
But this wasn’t enough.
I often forgot to eat while working, during the year, and when I did, I ate so little. I also ate late, which was bad because I usually did not have the energy to carry out the tasks demanded of me. I constantly felt lightheaded and out of breath. Spending on myself was difficult because I always felt like I was being wasteful; an after-effect of being the first daughter in a middle-class Nigerian household. It’s funny because the money ended up disappearing into other responsibilities and taking care of other people, which is not bad, but could have been distributed better.
I adopted terrible coping mechanisms to avoid my feelings and I didn’t rest or take care of my mind as well as I should have.
I was always tired.
In 2022, I will be my first priority, buying things I need and want first before catering for the needs and wants of others. I will sleep when it is time to sleep, and eat when it is time to eat, taking care of myself like a mother would a newborn baby. When we discuss the negative effects of social media, we usually focus on the content aspect, how taking in so much information breeds envy and feelings of depression and discontentment, and while this is true, we fail to consider smaller but equally potent evils, like overstimulation. How constantly taking in all this data makes it difficult for us to think, to be mindful, and to focus on our own lives. Next year, I will cut down on time spent on social media for this reason.
I grew so much this year. From being unsure in 2020 about who I was and my role in the world, to feeling more capable and confident in 2021, extremely sure of who I am, but still quite unsure of my role in the world. I was intentional about it too, choosing only to do and experience things I knew were meant for me.
I made a list of areas of my life I felt needed improvement and took out specific months to work on them, and boy did I see progress! I also demonstrated confidence by sticking up for myself. I became more in tune with who I was, and what I felt the things holding me back were. By speaking to people I trusted, and reading the right books, I was able to receive clarity on some areas of my life and chart systems to address them. I even took online therapy sessions because I knew that I couldn’t navigate my problems alone.
I grew stronger this year. Things that would normally crush me were unable to. I became more dexterous with handling several assignments at once and grew less insecure about my appearance. I laughed a lot this year and danced a lot, I told the people in my life that I loved them as often as I could.
I made a lot of mistakes too. I said things I shouldn’t have said to the right people, and sometimes to the wrong ones too. I couldn’t navigate my feelings properly in several instances and it affected my relationship with myself and others. Sometimes I was lazy and relapsed into old habits and thought patterns. I got distracted easily and was always running behind deadlines. Being very independent means that I kept my problems to myself most of the time because I was scared of bothering others with them, which is not very healthy. Overthinking, worry and guilt were familiars in my household.
But I tried my best, and It is my desire that 2022 will provide me with more avenues to be a better person to myself and to others. The aim is growth, not perfection, and as long as I am growing, I will be alright.
In conclusion, 2021 came with so much expansion for me. I stretched myself to great limits and achieved many of my goals. These achievements did not come without costs, and I suffered so much mentally and physically.
In 2022, I don’t want to suffer. I want to be soft, always. I don’t want stress, I want enjoyment all the time. This means that I will have to take care of myself with intention, work on my time management so I can finish tasks on time and have enough time to rest, cut down on social media and other distractions, focus on loving the people I love and build my career. I’m not even going to lie, I am excited about the future. I am excited about the new year, and everything I will achieve. I am thankful to God because I know he is real and I know he really took care of me this year. I couldn’t have done it myself.
So without further ado,
Treasure 2022 Pro Max, is here.
Sit tight, and enjoy the ride!