This is 22

Starting from the bottom…

I am going to start this essay with my most memorable birthdays- 8, 10, 16, 18 and 20.

8 because it was the first time I experienced the beauty of being surprised. The beauty of being so important to someone that they carefully tuck their boxes of kindness in crevices, where I can find them when I try to lean on the wall.

My mother organized a living room surpise birthday party for me. Till date, I don’t know why or how she did it. However, on some lonely days when it feel like I have nobody, I close my eyes and replay that scene on the balcony, when I turned to the surprising sound of my friends singing the birthday song with gifts in their hands and a wide grin on their faces.

I don’t speak to 95% of them anymore. (Blame adulthood please)

10! Ohhhh, my 10th birthday was the bomb. I had a big party. When I say big, I mean big. Canopies, customized gift packs, a change of outfit, state of the art decoration and an actual DJ and MC. I remember being called to dance. I was asked my favourite song. I said it was ‘Yori Yori’ (or something in that line, just think of the hot songs in 2009). I remember crying becase the wristwatch I planned to wear got broken that morning and it felt like everything was falling apart. Thank God for my grandma who lent me hers.

16, my dad surpised me with my first NEW android phone after I sent a text that I would be really happy to get one and he replied ‘I don’t really have the funds, perhaps later in the week’(Parapharsed abeg, I’m becoming an elder, I’m forgetting things). Only to walk into the living room with my Tecno Y6 held behind his back. I only cried tears of joy this time.

18, because it was my first birthday in the university. My friends surprised me with two cakes and it was the first time I was away from home on my birthday. Even with how fun it was, I still cried that night because Instagram didn’t let me post my annual birthday post. (Dark times, I tell you) That was the last time I tried doing the ritual Instagram birthday post. (Until this year)

20. I was already neck deep in the medical school pool of toture. I had neuroanatomy exam. Which was an absolute mess. It was so terrible that I never checked my result. After crying all day , I went home to a surpise cake and a truckload of gifts my friends donated to get for me on an actual Whatsapp group. Was such a great way to start my 20s.

Now we are here…

A few days ago, I turned 22. I don’t feel 22. I’m not ready to be 22. I have a long list of things I expected to have achieved at 22 that are unticked and not close to being ticked.

I still bite my nails and cry for the seemingly little things(Insert lyrics from Ava Max’s ‘Everytime I cry I get a little bit stronger’). I still can’t walk by dogs without muttering prayers under my breath. I’m still afraid of confrontations.

But I’m turned 22 regardless. Time did not wait for me to be ready. The world did not stop for me to catch up.

I know they say ‘This life na turn by turn’ but I can’t help thinking about the possibility of it never being my turn.

What if I never get close to the heights I set for myself?

What if that big thing never happens?

Will I spend the rest of my life Joy deprived because somehow and somewhere in my life I strongly tied together my happiness and the trophies I get from Life?

If we are being honest, most of us never get out of life exactly what we want. Because life is a lying bitch that drags you into the rabbit hole of the never ending search for fulfilment.

A thirst that can never be quenched. With every gulp of fluid, the thirst widens. And at the end of your life, when you no longer have strength to lift gallons, you discover you never actually lived. (Ewwww)

Side note 1- Life is a pot of beans, fall neck deep into it at your own peril.

Talking about living, one of my greatest discovery in this last year is how much love and grace I hold from myself. How I constantly underestimate the very few things I’ve achieved. I’m on everyone’s side but never there for myself.

I think this is also linked to that rabbit hole. I can’t tell. But it has to stop because the older I get, the more legitimately preoccupied everyone is with their lives and if I don’t learn to be there for myself, I will keep searching for a kind of love I should be giving myself.

So, I’m on a personal mission to carry myself on my head as often as possible. And to stop waiting for permission to applaud myself.

Side note 2- Never find yourself unworthy of a reckless and unconditional love from yourself.

Back to my favourite birthdays, if you notice, one thing was constant. People! People I felt loved around. People who knew me, saw me and held me. I’ll be embracing a self destructive form of independence to underestimate the uplifting that comes with feeling loved. By friends and family.

Yes, you can be surrounded by love and not feel loved. (Don’t ask me how because I honestly don’t know)

It’s a terrible feeling- the feeling of being unloved and alone. It is heart wrenching. But it will come. Sometimes like a silent wave or a storm or like someone you owe money.

Do I know how to get this feeling to leave? No. I do know struggling is a wrong option. It will only leave you exhausted.

But, I’ve learnt to let this feeling wash over me. Cry if I must. Hold my hands. Breath. Cry again. Remind myself of this disconnection between the existence of love and its imprints on your heart. Sometimes it goes after a while. Sometimes it lingers longer. But in all of this, I’m learning to remain still and let it pass, completely.

Side Note 3- Build and Value relationships where your existence is enough. But remember, people will not always be there for you. No, you don’t have a problem. Neither do they. It’s just a chance to learn the rhythm of your own heart.

So, this is 22.

A reminder of all that I am

The different colours
The diverse expressions

A reminder of the beauty in them all

A reminder to embrace joy
Everyday

A reminder to live
Fully

A reminder to love
Loudly

Side note 4- Hate speech against Semo is bad vibes. Stop it.💜

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