I remember the first time I met Timehin – ok maybe I don’t really remember because I’m not sure if it was this year or last year – but it was after one of Glory Edozien’s events. Glory has a dialogue series where women come together to talk about issues from finance to beauty to self-esteem, was such a joy to attend that one on beauty. Anyway so a few of us chatted for a bit when it was over, Wana Udobang, Francesca Uriri, Glory, Timehin, and I, and we went from reflecting on life in secondary school, to the pressures of being a woman today (size, marriage, accomplishments, etc.) and it was so much fun!
On the drive home (I remember we had such a laugh even though Fran kept ‘threatening me all over the place’) and Timehin said we were crazy. Good crazy of course (adjusts halo). I saw a tweet from her later, something about looking for friends in Lagos (took me a while to place it was the same person) and so I sent a DM and we’ve been ‘cool’ ever since!
Timehin is a brilliant writer. Full stop. Even though I don’t agree with her stand on some things sometimes (which is alright because we’re not Siamese twins), the brilliance with which she expresses her thoughts is not up for discussion. She’s very frank in this entry, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
I don’t know if I’ve ever written one of these year-in-review things, or ever had any desire to. Time as we understand it, broken up into well-defined blocks, only gives me anxiety. The urge to compare myself to others, to look back at the vast expanses of ‘waste’ where I didn’t do things to advance me on whatever course I’ve chosen (or been thrust into), the desperate attempts to do better ‘next year’… Anxiety.
2015 was a strange year for me. I haven’t been an adult very long — I’m 24 — and 2012-14 were so full of almost back-to-back upheavals that the relative stability of this year felt unreal. I coasted into a new job and a new flat. My daughter started school. My boyfriend and I celebrated two years together. I employed live-in help. I was living like a ‘real’ adult, and the entire time I felt like an impostor in my own life; like I wasn’t doing enough, like I had been set so far back in previous years that I’d never ‘catch up’, like I was still a lost little girl hoping to be taken in hand by a kind person who knew the way. I worried all the time, and my mental and emotional health suffered.
I spent a lot of days in a black hole, and on one of them, it occurred to me that I must figure out a way to take things one day at a time. Weeks of waking up crushed by the weight of something that felt too much like failure forced me to go easier on myself. I learned that I don’t have a handle on things, and that’s okay. I’m winging it, groping in the dark for what feels right, hoping for the best. I’m grateful for the chance to be somewhat kind to myself.
I forget too often that nothing is permanent, and very little is as disastrous as I think it will be, and most importantly, that time does nothing but pass. I worry too much. I regret spending energy and time being afraid, instead of just taking the steps I knew I needed to take. I regret kicking myself when I was down, allowing other people’s misunderstanding of my inability to put one foot in front of the other to define me. I wish I had sat with my sadness more, instead of escaping it as quickly and for as long as I could. I apologise to myself.
I didn’t happen on any big answers this year. I eased into discoveries; that I have depression, that I’m actually quite funny, that no one will look after me better than me, that I am responsible for defining the boundaries of my life. I learned to let my daughter climb in bed with me and talk about all sorts first thing in the morning, even when I’m working, because she won’t be three forever. I learned I deserve to be looked at with awe and love; that the person in her eyes is indeed me, and I am as wonderful as she thinks me. I learned that it is okay to ask to be loved the way I know I need to, and it is okay to refuse anything less. In this moment, I am closer to my centre than ever before, and the feeling that I am getting to know my own self, and to love her wholly, is more wonderful than anything else. It is wonderful enough that I am perfectly content to give the process as much time as it needs.
My name is Timehin, I’m a Nigerian living in Lagos, and I’m a writer.
Gorgeous girl! Of course you’re a writer! Here’s to greater progress on your journey in 2016, and happier, less unpleasant days! Mwah!