Like play like play, 2021 don waka go. Its surreal how the days go by so fast. I used to be one of those who would beat themselves up with self-ridicule and criticism for under achieving or not achieved half of set out goals at the beginning of the year. Even though I have repented from that self-delusion, I was so full of dreams and goals to achieve, not to talk of over-hyped self confidence in my ability to achieve them at the beginning of 2021.
I have lost the zeal, enthusiasm, and excitement of ‘new plans, resolutions and ambitions’ at the beginning of every year because over the years, I realized that plans and resolutions are easier to make than achieved no matter how much one holds themselves accountable. Hence every year, my enthusiasm wanes a little and with each year, the ambitions and resolutions shrinks in size, but not significance.
Having survived a lot in the past 5 years and emerged with my sanity intact, I understand that the greatest achievement yet is to have the ability to emerge stronger after every life challenge; and not necessarily in achieving greater goals. My stock taking now at the end of every year is not in how much of my set goals I have achieved, but in those I did not even envisage much less plan, and in what I have overcome in the year. Like most years, I had so many dreams and ambitions for 2021, but according to my report card, some would say the score is not that impressive (but according to whom anyway?)
In the past, I agree with them, and would be all up in arms telling myself how I failed and what I must do different next year, without acknowledging the wins, gains, and accomplishments I have had.
Well, not this time. I must say I recorded impressive accomplishments in 2021; after having returned to Nigeria after 2 years educational sojourn full of hopes and aspirations to ‘give back’.
‘Give back’ is the attempt to create impact and positive change in your society/community after benefiting from an opportunity that has improved your life, capacity, and skills. So, I came back home with excitement and the enthusiasm to give back, drafting memos and proposals on the ‘give back ideas and projects I wish to execute both within my place of work and outside of it. Alas! I guess I got carried away and forgot how difficult it is to get anything done in Nigeria especially within the civil service system, hence most of my memos were DOA. Allergies got full blown, weather change, and culture shock left me immobilised for weeks leaving me completely incapable of functioning optimally. I had to eventually rearrange my priorities and put me first.
I had to put ME first, and began to really listen to myself, my needs, wants, desires, expectations and how to balance them with workable realities. I used to be a YES person, stuck up in trying to please and be there for everyone. But I had to learn put me first by learning to focus on myself, what matters to me and most importantly, my health. This year, I learnt to pause, take time out and care for my health wholly. I guess youthful age and being intentional about health do not go in the same sentence, because I don’t remember being concerned and deliberate about my health in the past as I got in 2021. I got proper diagnosis and treatment for the gut infection (H-pylori) I have carried for over 3 decades, and I gave my body all the time it needed to heal. What I assumed to be a one- or 2-weeks process stretched beyond a month of intense anti-biotics administration accompanied with gut cleansing leaving me with intense stomach pains, and frequent bathroom visits up to 5 or 6 times daily for over 3 weeks. It was a draining and trying period, I lost so energy, strength, and motivation and had to drop out of about 3 important online courses I signed up for. I simply couldn’t cope, and I did not push myself to. I guess of all the things that 2021 has taught me is the ability to listen to myself and body. I have spent my entire life living on an autopilot dragging my body all over the place, being everywhere and doing everything hence my body and my health have rarely ever been in alignment. I reflect to the past two decades of my life and wonder how I did it, because it seemed pretty much like I have achieved the impossible.
2021 was the year I learnt to say NO. I learnt to say NO to my friends, family, loved ones and opportunities that are not meant for me. It is the year I truly began to understand what resonates with me and what doesn’t, what aligns with my soul and what doesn’t, what I should concern myself with and what I shouldn’t. And that alone is great achievement.
Dear you, I would like to tell you that sometimes growth and progress is not measured by the amount of money you have made, projects you have executed, ventures you have established or how far you have gone in your career. Growth, can be you understanding yourself better, spending time and living with yourself; all of you the good the bad and the ugly. Growth and success can be you finally realising that you are walking the wrong path or that what you have always wanted is not important after all and finding what is, growth can be you finally listening to your body and begin to take care of it, it can be you understanding your mental health and paying more attention to it, it can be finding and doing what your heart truly desires. Sometimes, the biggest of growth is in all these little things. So, if all you accomplished in 2021 was survive covid19, the ravaging insecurity in Nigeria and accomplish even just one of these little things, I wish to tell you that you have done well.
Best believe if you can survive 2021, rest assured you can achieve anything. Therefore just remember to be thankful.