2021 so far… (The happenings)

iyosayi14 Reflections

Plans.

/plan/

noun

plural noun: plans

  1. an intention or decision about what one is going to do.

verb

3rd person present: plans

  1. decide on and make arrangements for in advance

I make plans for almost everything. If I don’t, it’s going to be chaos in my head, which will inevitably culminate in me breaking down. I’m the guy who draws up daily to-do lists, monthly expense lists and ticks them off as they are settled. I make plans mostly to keep myself sane, to sort of have control, stay centered, and not entirely about keeping me focused on my goals.

How do I feel when plans go off course? I feel like screaming and breaking things.

This is how I felt all through January.

Mostly I felt tired; more mentally tired than physically.

If anyone should ask me how 2021 has been so far, I’ll pause for a minute, sigh, and say – “off-course”.

This is not how I planned or hoped my 2021 will start. I thought I’ll ease into the year, take each day as it came; one breath at a time. But as always, life has a way of making a mockery of one’s plans.
It’s less than 60 days into 2021 and it feels like a continuation of 2020. People are still dying, the pandemic is still raging, the world is still going to shit and Twitter is still a madhouse.

I’m writing this post because I need to gain clarity and restart my 2021, the same way I did last year. This is the first official restart, and I hope I don’t have to do this several times before 2021 will start making sense.

If only I have the luxury of taking the first two weeks of every year for myself – Seclude myself, sit with my thoughts and design a clear plan for the year without getting distracted by life’s needs.

At the beginning of the year, I wanted to embrace solitude and bask in the quiet embrace of my own company.

I tried to create this space for myself over the yuletide season, but life came at me so quickly.
I started the year ill. After treating malaria, I had ulcer issues and had to be placed on medication for a month plus. A side effect of one of the drugs was dizziness. This caused me to sleep off while driving on my way back from work, damaging the car I had just spent a lot of money reworking. The same week I got the car back, was the same week I had the accident. Thankfully no one was hurt.

After the accident, I struggled with PTSD. The first time I drove past the accident spot, I froze on the steering. I kept looking at the spot, trying to replay how it went down, viewing the imagery from a third person’s view. It took a car honking for me to get back to myself and drive off.

I’m intentionally refusing to let my mind draw a pattern. I had an accident the same month (January) last year. Once in a while, the irrational fear pops up that next January another accident will happen.

****

January felt like 60days.

Sixty days of me barely existing, trying to find my way through life even though nothing appealed to me. I aimed to survive each day and showed up where I was needed.

I was barely able to stay afloat. Though I moved taking my daily dosage of the drugs to late evenings, I still suffered light-headedness while driving. Work wasn’t pleasant. I was physically present but my soul wasn’t. Things were happening around me but not registering. I was on auto mode. Taking deep breaths every morning helped most times. The world kept spinning around me, leaving me out of breath. It always felt like I was racing time, but never able to catch up.

I needed to breathe, but I couldn’t seem to get the chance off work to that.

Then, I crashed.

I tried my best to be healthy. I tried to distract myself with social media, I binged online articles, I let go of hope, did lazy exercises, took deep breaths, and slept early. I went back to reading Ore Fakorede’s Talking to myself at 21 post, hoping it would somehow miraculously calm me down. Still, each day suffocated me the more. I felt lost most of the time.

“I needed shelter
Shelter from the rain
I’m cold and I’m weary
I’ve lost my way
Gotta find my way home
Can I find my way home?”
– My way home (AG & GoldFord)

I had a lapse in judgment and chose self-destructive ways to ease my troubled mind.

I had last year planned to get some new shoes and clothes this year, tied to a specific budget. I felt I deserved it after staying off getting shopping in 2020. When everything hit hard, I turned to shopping for relief. I kept telling myself life is short, that what if I had died in the accident? The money I’m saving, of what use will it be? I ended up exceeding my initial budget by over 250%.

I knew I was headed the wrong path when I ordered eleven pairs of shoes online in one night. This was after ordering over seven pairs previously. People say don’t go out, so you don’t spend but apparently, this doesn’t apply to people with online shopping addictions.

I turned to drinking to make the nights bearable. It was a toxic, yet welcome companion. Each time I drank, I went to bed with my head floating, legs staggering to my bed like I was walking on air. Once I hit the bed, sleep always took over, saving me the torture of emptiness.

I have put a lid on it before I turn into an alcoholic. I had to consciously choose to heal in a healthy way. Special thanks to the folks that reached out to me on Instagram via DM – Margaret, Bayo, and Chidi especially. They gave me an avenue to rant and spill out the shit going on in my head.

****

Entering February, I longed for ease. I can’t remember how I found this song but it’s been very helpful in calming me down –

“Darling, you gotta keep breathing
Lose yourself in the feeling
Just be slow, just be slow
Take it back to that moment
Before you start to feel broken
Just be slow, just be slow”
– Be Slow (Harrison Storm)

Just as plans help to keep me centered, routines also play a major role in helping me feel grounded. In my search for a fuller and more balanced life, I have altered my perfect weekend routine which usually kept me relaxed and refreshed.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has called off their strike, and Graduate school has resumed. After almost a year of gaining admission, I have finally gone back to school.

I have in the past written why I decided to go back to school ten years after my first degree. Initially, I felt ready and missed preparing for exams. I also longed for new knowledge. These still hold, but I won’t say they are the main reasons why I’m currently thrilled about graduate school. It’s not particularly a search for purpose or meaning, more of the need for a change. I mean, 2021 has since been feeling like 2020. I needed something different from my usual life routine, something to excite me.

My classes are on Saturdays (thankful Fridays are not included) but this has altered my routine. I’m trying to find a new routine and hopefully find balance soon. The experience so far, being in a classroom has been refreshing. The energy and doing something different gives me so much life. Funny, on the first day of resumption, my competitive part showed up. I looked around, trying to size the room and see who will drag the top of the class with me (lol, some things don’t change).

I got hold of myself on time and reminded myself I wasn’t here to win any prizes. This is me doing school all over again to enjoy the experience. I permit myself to have fun, to fail tests (but not exams sha), to miss classes, and not take things too seriously. I’m allowed to take breaks if I feel school work is making me slip over the edge.

Though I’m majorly back in school to learn, I’m also here to create an alternative life and find an escape, something productive to spice up my life. This is more or less a lifeline. There is still no travel for now and God knows, if I hadn’t found something out of my usual to cling to, I would have imploded by now.

2020 was super basic for me. The year nothing exciting happened. I lived an average life trying to survive the Covid-19 plagued year. It’s fine, I mean it was a trying year for everyone but to have 2021 go the same way? God forbid! I honestly don’t want that for myself this year, I’m not sure I can stand such a bleh life again.

However, I don’t feel balanced yet. I haven’t found comfort in my new routine, though I think it fits perfectly even though I barely have a full day for rest anymore. Saturdays used to be my rest days, but that’s for school now. Chores have been pushed to Sundays which now also doubles as my rest days after church. With time though, I think my body will get used to the new arrangement. First thing though, I need to stop telling myself that I have bitten more than I can chew and start accepting this is now my reality.

Sincerely, I don’t like stress. I won’t pretend mixing weekend graduate school classes with work isn’t going to be stressful. Weekends for rest will now be for classes and studying, so when do I rest? Anyway, if I can’t cope, dropping out is an option. 

****

One thing that keeps me going, asides from the excitement of the new life I seem to have created with Graduate School, is my looking forward to a gap year – my version of Eat Pray Love. 

Sometimes I let my mind wander and bask in the thought of me living my dream life. While searching for ease through the smog that was January, I re-watched the movie to water my soul. I found it comforting, watching her grasp the freedom to breathe, to be, and blossom.  

I strongly desire a similar experience – To be able to bask in the sweetness of doing nothing, of doing things because I want to and not because I have to…to chill and enjoy ease. Have the luxury of taking life in my stride. Experience things, take it all in, savoring every experience while not running against time.

Hopefully, my gap year will be what I hope it will be, and even much more. An opportunity to enjoy the little moments of life, discover myself, and most importantly, explore my creative side. An opportunity to taste life and breathe fresh energy into my soul, where life won’t be in fast forward and I will experience every second to the fullest. 

“Times get tough, but I don’t give up
‘Cause I know I’m not alone
‘Cause we’re all reaching for something
We’re all craving change
Hoping tomorrow is better than today
We’re all searching for some way
Trying to find a way
Hoping tomorrow is better than today”
– Better than Today (Ryhs Lewis)

****

I’m thankful February was a lot lighter than January, hopefully, the coming month gets even better. I miss the feeling of true happiness I felt in December. Funny, how then I said I didn’t trust the feeling, that soon it will be over. Well, I miss that state of mind I was in. I want it back, so I’ll try to hold on to happiness and work towards getting to that point where I felt so much possibility about life.

2021 might seem to have started in fast-forward for me, but I think to a considerable extent, the storm has calmed. Right now at this very moment, writing this post I feel whole, stable, and centered. I hope this feeling lasts…

“So try to your dying breath to hold on to happiness
‘Cause life is just a moment and one day it’s over
And it’s cruel how the time can pass, the deepest rivers move so fast
And life’s just a moment, so know when it’s golden
Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on to happiness
Hold on, hold on, hold on”
– Hold on to Happiness (Rhys Lewis)