Meenah: Strength in numbers

Dear 2018,

What do you have in store for me? We really need to sit down and talk about these things because honestly, I don’t exactly want a 2017 kind of year.

2017 was that ‘almost there’ year. Did he tell you about it? Did he tell you how everything was looking beautiful for a while? Did he tell you that I somehow got to see three African places that are not Ife and Ibadan and even though I really just passed through Togo and Benin Republic, I chose to add them to Ghana as ‘the countries I’ve been in’? Don’t judge me. It’s too early to start that nonsense.

I wonder though, did 2017 tell you the story of how I almost loved but even that was ripped away because ‘genotype and we can’t afford to go down that road’? The good thing, though, is I did feel a little something finally. One whose after effect should last a while because really, not all of us would get to live happily ever after in love at the end of the day. Happily ever after is just some nonsense these writers have coined so we can still be hopeful.

These writers. Haha. I’m supposed to be one of ‘these writers’. But somehow between procrastination and the feeling of not being good enough, I’m still not quite there yet. Missed deadlines. Unfinished work. Unsubmittted pieces. These are only some of the blankets I wrapped myself in to hide one truth; I don’t think I’m good enough.

Oh and how could I not ask if 2017 gave you the gist of that last stunt it pulled two days before mum’s memorial? That hard, tiny little lump I felt in my breast that reminded me of what took mum. And my aunt. And my grandma. That tiny lump I still haven’t figured what to do about because what’s the use, really?

Listen to me 2018, if you have unwanted bad surprises lying in wait for me, you better fix up. These eyes have cried all they can and I doubt there’s still a tear left. And no matter what it is you plan to throw at me, be rest assured I will rise.

2018, you know what they say about collaborations? How they work to make achieving things easier? That’s what I’m throwing at you. I’m using the strength in numbers to fine tune you, sir.

I want to help my friends with their goals this year. It might not be much but even if it’s just collating these goals and constantly reminding them to push for them, then by all means I will. At least I’d know I’ve help someone do something useful with you, 2018. And maybe in helping them, I’d be helping myself achieve my own goals, however little.

2018, you will be the year of actual self-development, not pretend self-development. That means volunteering more, learning French, learning everything. Work might interfere. Cash flow might want to disrupt our plan but by the time you are packing your bags to leave I will be able to say more than ‘C’est le moment. Le moment du faire La fete’ I want to have read at least 80 books this year. The Read Club helped out with reading last year as well as meeting amazing people. So 2018, get ready for more with TRC.

When you rolled your bags in, Femi asked if I knew what I was going to do first quarter of this year. And then like he knew I’d say something silly, he added,“You will get another job. The kind that you deserve right?” That’s all the wake-up call I need. So yeah, we’re doing that too. Getting the job I deserve, which is really one of three things; a book editor job, a writing job that allows me more creative freedom and/or a radio gig.

So here’s the plan;

  • Find a job as an editorial assistant in a book publishing company and start from there.
  • Get training in radio presenting and voice over artistry and start looking for internships at least.
  • Continue recording audiobooks

Please, 2018, let’s write more. Let’s enter for these writing contests. It doesn’t really matter if we win right now. All that would matter is that we took the first step in submitting. We can battle winning later. Because I know we might drag each other behind a little, I’m engaging friends in this thing. Friends I’ll write with. Friends that will push me to write. Friends that will fight me if I don’t enter for contests. Oh and we’re creating a Medium account, sir.

I’m moving to a 10 dress-size whether you like it or not. I’m starting a weight loss challenge this month. Here’s how it works; interested people holla at me (for free of course), we start motivating each to lose the holiday weight (and some), we keep doing this at regular intervals throughout the year. United we get shredded.

And finally, 2018, I will go out more. With people. Without people. To parties. To exhibitions. To whatever. My social life is non-existent. We need to fix that. And we need to live a more YOLO life.

Ready to go on this journey with me? Hey, it’s not like either of us has got that much of a choice. We’re kicking it together.

Aminat

Yours,

Captain of her soul.

p.s. If you’re interested in figuring out this weight loss thing together, holla at me badaraaminat@gmail.com or @09_Eleven on twitter.

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Day 1: Lade

I’m trying to write this and I’m wondering who sent me to choose the first day. I guess I am very excited about the new year. I feel like this is going to be an amazing year. The year I slay on all ends and in every way.

https://twitter.com/deaduramilade/status/815344788463620096

In my hopes for 2016 post, I said 2016 would be the year the stars aligned. And, it was great. Yesterday or so, I looked at that post and realised I achieved almost everything I wanted to achieve. I was going to leave out some things I want this year, but I have decided to write out everything I want to achieve and do in 2017 here. So, here I am asking and saying with boldness that God has given me – that he is able to provide beyond what I can ask for or imagine.

I am starting my final year this year. I am very excited about this. My goal for this year is to have straight As and graduate valedictorian. I also want to have papers published in [international] journals, and present a research paper.

I didn’t do too well with saving last year, I want to do a lot better this year. I’m doing ajo, so I think that would help.

I started writing again late last year. I want to write more and write better this year. I want to challenge myself to be better. I want to write at least a hundred stories/poems/articles/essays this year. If I do a one or two 30 day writing challenges, I think it’s possible. I also hope I get the courage to submit these things to publications and I get published.

My friend, Denike, and I kicked off BookBarterNG [properly] last year. My goal for BookBarter this year is to build a strong community of readers and for BookBarter to become profitable. We’re going to have more offline events for sure – we just need to find a semi-permanant place.

I attended Ake Festival for the first time last year, but I only went for the last day. This year, I want to attend the whole festival. Maybe even attend the writing workshops. I also want to travel to at least one state in Nigeria this year. Maybe a road trip.

On the spiritual/faith end, I found a great church last year. This year, I want to take foundation of faith classes, get baptized and become more active in the church. I am going to pray more – for myself and for other people. I am going to talk to God more.

Last year’s TEDxUnilag didn’t go exactly the way I wanted it to. But this year’s own will be awesome. [Plug: We’re looking for organisations and people to partner with to make it happen, please email partners@tedxunilag.com]. Also, I want to attend a TED event this year.

I started a new job last year and I really love it. My goal with my job is to make a little difference in that area and improve myself.

My fitness goal for 2017 is to run a marathon [with Denike].

My first and only relationship so far ended early last year. For some reason, I’m not too concerned about this part of my life. I don’t have any goals for it. Many of my friends are getting married this year and I am very excited about it.

I want to meet lots of people in 2017. So, I’m going to be doing a monthly or bimonthly pizza [or something] hangout. Probably on Sunday. I don’t know. I tweeted about this last year and people seem to be interested, so let’s see how it goes.

I want to have a banging 21st birthday. I want to be even more carefree. I got a diary for 2017, so I can start journaling. I want to allow myself experience all my emotions fully – cry more, laugh more, and love more. I want to do more for other people. Help in any way that I can. I want to apply for fellowships, enter competitions, win awards, and generally just flourish.

God made me to be big, and I intend to take up my space in 2017. I want to let myself be felt.

Here’s to an amazing 2017. As always, you can send me a DM or an email [Ltawaq@gmail.com] if you want to talk.

Day 19: Shirley

2015 was the worst year of my life. My father died, unexpectedly. It was the 19th of May, 4 days after my birthday. I was abroad. I remember waking up intending to call him, I received a call from my brother instead. The rest of year went by in a blur of rage, mostly, guilt and confusion. I fought depression, despair, the weight of everyone’s expectations… I was so angry.

The thing about anger is, it blocks out everything. An angry person cannot be hopeful.

Fast forward 12 days into 2016. Unable to sleep, I sat up in bed. I didn’t want to watch tv so I decided to write (depending on how I’m feeling, stories come to me. Some make better movie scripts than others) and then it dawned on me that I was happy. That 2 years ago I was praying for the things that are now the norm for me. That somehow, in spite of all my screw ups, I had found my way to contentment and peace of mind. So I started to pray. Praying has been hard for me since my dad’s passing so whenever I get the urge, I embrace it. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t find the words to express everything I was feeling. I prayed with every cell in my body, thanked Him with every fibre of my being because I finally understood. No anger. No confusion. Just gratitude.

What had changed?

I am not a “New year, New me” person, but there is something about ritual.  It’s the repetition I think, it serves as reinforcement. And at the beginning of every year, we all partake in a universal ritual, even without meaning to – we plan. Earlier in the day, I had a number of conversations with friends. We talked about what we were doing this year, about projects and executions. We talked timelines. We made plans. That’s hope. Somehow, without meaning to, I had found my way back to hope. And I didn’t have to do anything or lift a finger. Grace. As shitty as my year had been, looking back I can see all the ways it could have been so much worse. I remember the weight of the despair I carried around with me, the dark cloud surrounding me, preventing me from seeing ahead.

I didn’t plan on doing a post this year. If I had been asked earlier, I definitely would have said ‘NO’. There is a reason Toxic sent me that DM yesterday and not last week. I entered this year thinking ‘Fuck it! I was hella hopeful in 2015 and what did I get?’ but it’s so much nicer to have a reason to get out of bed in the mornings. A few days ago my mother told me I looked happy. This was hilarious to me because my account balance does not support that statement. Grace isn’t governed by any laws though. I hadn’t been able to pray because I never knew what to say; I felt undeserving. But that’s the whole point of Grace. Immediately I understood that, I was free.

If it’s hard to Hope, reach for Grace.

I don’t have a list this year, I don’t need one. I know that whatever this year holds I will find my place and my purpose.

I confess Grace into my 2016 and yours. May all our expectations be exceeded this year, Happy New Year!

Shirley


Now I’m really glad I reached out to Shirley. There were folk who hadn’t signed up this year who I had to guess hadn’t because they’d somehow missed the call when it was sent out. Who would have known that that would work out for the best here? Who could have possibly known?

Day 18: Olumide

I’m old today.

That’s ok though. What’s not ok is how I really don’t have my shit together. I want to blame 2015 for being so amazingly shit, but nah. That’s the past.

This isn’t going to be a long post.

I am depressive, I think. I’m also an optimist. Don’t ask me how that works – I really don’t know. How do I explain buzzing and messaging almost everyone in my contact list as we crossed into the new year, and then spending the rest of the day pretending, and failing, to be happy. But that’s by the way.

I said this wouldn’t be a long post.
So here I am, hoping again. I’m not going to relay plans and goals for the year ahead. I’m just going to say this. When you’ve been through a storm and you decide to keep on living even though suicide is a tempting option, you have to give yourself a reason to keep doing this life thing.

It’s not going to suddenly get easier or happier because we’ve changed the last digit of the year. Life is not going to look at you and go “Hey! It’s that awesome person! I’m going to be awesome to you this year – just because it’s all fresh and new and stuff.” Nah. Life will keep on being cloudy with equal chances of awesome and dreadful. It’s funny how awe and dread are both synonyms and antonyms. I digress.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this. I’m not going into 2016 expecting the world to suddenly become a better place for me. I’m not full of vacuous dreams and capricious ideas. I’m ready to knuckle down and work for the things I want. I’m aware I’ll probably lose friends and alienate people. I’ll probably make some new ones too – and maybe they’ll push me over the obstacles in my way. I’m ready to be buffeted and battered by this rubbish thing called life. But, in the midst of all the turmoil, all the trouble, there’s a glimmer of hope, a tiny bit of light, a voice, quiet but distinct, telling me that maybe, just maybe, this will all work out.

I’m holding on to that hope. I’m following that light. I’m listening to that voice.

So bring it on, 2016. You may not be the ultimate victory I’m looking for, but I sure as hell won’t let you pass me by without pushing for the win.


I’ve always marveled at the way Olumide writes and this piece is no exception. He’s one of those few people whose outward demeanor makes it hard to see the turmoil he’s dealing with inside and I’m glad he’ll be vulnerable like this on here. I just pray 2016 blesses him with precious moments that leave as much of a perpetual smile on his face as is possible.

 

Day 12: Temitayo

I am not a writer but will try my best to put my thoughts/hope into words.

2015 was a really great year for me, I achieved 80% of what I set to do at the beginning of the year, started a new job, HRBP certifications, car, financially, made new friends, etc. I did lose a dear cousin and her twins towards the end of the year but God knows best.
 
2016 shall be a greater year for me. I really don’t have hopes for the year, just the things my heart desires. Hoping makes it all look good if I don’t get my heart desires at the end of the year.
 
By God’s grace, all I desire for this year: permanent position at the work place, another HR certification, better saving plan, a more positive attitude towards everything in general, no deaths, travel to at least 2 countries, join the workforce in church, make meaningful friends and fall in love and be loved unconditionally. 
 
For everyone who has used this platform to put out their hopes for the year, I pray God grants them, and by the end of 2016, we will all have reasons to give God all the Glory He deserves.
 

“Yes indeed, it won’t be long now.” God’s Decree.

“Things are going to happen so fast your head will swim, one thing fast on the heels of the other. You won’t be able to keep up. Everything will be happening at once—and everywhere you look, blessings! Blessings like wine pouring off the mountains and hills. I’ll make everything right again for my people Israel”


I met Temitayo last year and she’s turning out to be one of the fastest friends a brother can ask for. I know she’s going to meet more than 80% of her goals this year. How do I know? I just know these things. 

Day 11: Ope

My version of Hope

It’s my first day at work in 2016, I am glad for the holiday I did not have (No two-week break here), and to be very honest, I am glad to be back at work. Before I decided to write this I had asked Olatoxic if it was necessary to be all hopeful and expectant; it is a remarkable thing to express hope, no doubt, but I am not sure I will be able to successfully inspire anyone to be hopeful with this write up, so forgive me in advance.

Here’s the thing, I have had a tough time keeping hope alive. Before now, I began each new year fervently hoping that something will change, great things will happen and I’d be a brand new person, but the truth is, nothing really ever changed for good. I have watched things go from good, to bad, to the absolute worst for the people I love. In my attempts to save us, I have sunk deeper into the abyss of despair; hope became a luxury.  In my opinion, ‘Hope’ comes from a certain level of emotional/financial/spiritual/convictional security. To be hopeful is to have a sort of safe haven from whence you can draw courage when things do not go as you have planned them in your head. If I am being honest with myself, I have had no safe haven.  Up in my head, even spiritual security is not there because all I have done is be expectant, hopeful, over the years and that part of me died year after year as things really never worked out as planned. All that is left is the sheer will to live and not be a disappointment to those who actually have placed their own hope in me.

I slid into 2016 not hoping for anything at all. Instead of relying on hope and what I’d like to call “forced optimism”, here’s what I have decided I will put more effort into doing this year.

I want to hone skills I picked up at the tail end of 2015. One of the reasons why my hope has died a slow death is really the lack of Money. I won’t even sugarcoat it, I need MONEY (yea like everyone else). I have realized that my dreams will have to be placed on the backburner for a couple of years (depending on when the Nigerian economy decides to pick up) to be able to focus on making the most of what I have before me at the moment.

I want to work on myself.  Believe me, I know I sound like I dwell in negativity, so I want to create that atmosphere around myself that will help faith and hope grow. To achieve this, I want to make genuine efforts to get back to God and to learn to trust in only my creator for everything.  I know God is all in all, but for a couple of years there has been a disconnect stemming from what I have perceived as the commercialization of blessings and happiness a la “God’s servants”. I want to work hard to love God in ways to peculiar to me.

I want to be a better daughter to my parents and a better sister to my siblings. I have grown resentful having to financially support my family for the few years I have been in the labor market. At most times it seemed like I was only working because of them. But then I have come to realize that service to family (and indeed anyone) is a service to God. Sacrificing most of what I have to more or less preserve the integrity of my parents has come to mean a lot. My last brother is in the University now, I want to work towards earning more so that I will not keep reflecting on all I have missed out on, but focus on helping everyone get to the point of financial independence.

Lastly, I want to love and be loved.

I pray 2016 is kind to me and everyone else who might read this and feel “ah, yea, I feel this way too”. Maybe somehow, I might be able to have faith and begin to hope again.


Ope managed to somehow put forward her hopes for 2016, despite stating that she had none. Lol. Hope shines through. Always.

Ope, don’t stop believing. A time of peace and contentment will come that will leave you wondering why you were fretting. But until then, hold on. It will all be well.

Day 30: Nathalie

Day 30 of 30. It’s been a long beautiful journey. I’ll be back later to round the series up but for now, please read Nathalie (with her very lovely name)…

________________________________

2012 was a year that gave me a fresh start and a new perspective on an astounding amount of things.  I took the time to discover many things about myself which prior to the year I would never have known… *crumples page, starts over*

***

Every second in our lives is filled with opportunities to learn, grow and become whatever we want to make out of our lives.  Mine was quite eventful. I got to take a year off university (not counting the ICP entrance exams in December ’11, the French Grammar exams in May or the ICP stint in the first few months of ‘12),travel, see new things and discover that I love textile and dress design as well as influencing the finished product that is a work of art -thanks to becoming a muse for Nike Art Gallery’s Rotimi Gbadebo’s Art. We love you ‘Timi! #Tangent.

I realised how important God’s will is in all that I do and that love is not the only reason for life but is the reason to hold on when things break you.  Also, I learnt to understand that the reason you like or respect people must not affect your ability to assess character; as character defines who they are without that thing that you like.

2013! *now singing Trybe Records transformer song*

As at 29/01 I’m in the library staring out of a glass window into a dark night…

Why am I telling you this?  Well I’m just realising that inasmuch as I chose day 30 so that I would have lived out most of January, I still am unaware of what the future holds.

However, I have the following goals.

1.    Trust And Obey. Not just trust and try to compromise on some issues that are iffy for me but obey His Word in spite of how hard this must be for me.
2.     Work hard and graduate this year with a result that makes me happy. Not people, but me. Why? In the end, if you are not happy with it, their opinion does not count.
3.    Write more. My blog has suffered from my neglect enough.
4.    Read more- Academic and literary.
5.    Keep in touch.
6.    Love with all my heart.
7.    Ask all those who can’t just be happy with my success…

To “Show some love to a neighbourhood transformer today”.

To as many of us as still wonder how to set out goals in our own lives, try what I do. Work to beat a realistic set or assigned deadline. As many of them as you can beat this year will count towards one or more of the beautiful things that the gift of life has enabled us all to achieve come this time next year.

And to all, I wish joy and peace as we await the morning that is the future.

Bises (kisses),

@da_sweetthin