I’m 23. Here’s what I know for sure

SOME NOTES TO SELF, AND TO YOU…

***

  1. My heart never stopped beating for me. I thank it and I thank God
  2. Remember to focus on what truly matters. It will calm you down when you feel overwhelmed
  3. There’s no need to be intimidated by façades. No one is worth being intimidated by; we’re all putting up fronts, somehow
  4. Love is a spell
  5. Trying is the least and the most you can do in any situation. To really live is to try
  6. The fact that I am still alive means that there is still a chance, for anything
  7. I am beautiful and amazing
  8. Hard work + self belief = greater proximity to self-assurance, satisfaction, success. It’s the only way to chase my goals and obtain them fearlessly
  9. All my answers are inside of me. I just need to ask ‘why’ until I locate them. I can unearth solutions from within
  10. God is eternally gracious
  11. I should not let people’s opinions hinder me. I must allow myself to do what I want
  12. It’s okay to be ‘unremarkable’. It’s a wasted fear, because we’re still alive
  13. I’m still quite introverted and that’s great because it is a piece of my younger self that I have held on to
  14. Paying attention to what moves you (big or small) is a guidance towards your passions
  15. I have survived everything I have ever gone through and I will survive all the more
  16. Just because something is free/paid for, doesn’t mean you need it
  17. I don’t have to ask so many people for advice. It confuses me and keeps me in indecision, and the final decision I make may not even feel like my own
  18. Work with the bones if that’s all you have. Or the tiniest thoughts – work with those. There is always something on your heart and in your mind. Work with it. Its existence is proof of its workability, so do it. Work with insignificant ideas until they evolve, transform or stop being so
  19. Self-honesty is a step towards personal freedom
  20. The conviction of winning is tentative. Celebrate it the moment you realise it. All too often we discredit ourselves and feel like we’ve achieved nothing
  21. Lessons aren’t confined to the tail-end of mistakes. you can learn anything, anywhere, for any reason

What do you know for sure?

Considering God

DON’T TELL ME IM OVERTHINKING THIS…

***

In every decision, I wonder if he would approve. I try to wrap my head around accepting God for who he is rather than questioning the things I don’t like or understand about him. I should not want to change God. In fact, I should want to be just like him. But I don’t like him sometimes, and telling myself that he is outside of my understanding doesn’t pull the wool over my eyes like it used to. Trying to unlearn that inclination feels like a dangerous game, like I’m throwing knives into the air and watching them shoot down towards my face. I could lose my eyes.

I’ve been warned against questioning too much because it killed the cat, and I’ve been encouraged towards resting in the unknown. Who vetoed the assumption that that approach to life would satisfy us all? Individuality makes no space for such a set-up.

Some of us are really trying to grasp who God is and there is little love shown towards that wondering.

I default to telling myself it’s my flesh causing me to question and that I should only embrace it so much. I’m no longer aware of who I can talk to about it because I don’t want to pull anyone down with me.

In an Uber today I didn’t put on my seatbelt. I briefly thought to myself that if I died in a crash for that reason in that moment, I would be okay with it. I feel trapped in God and I don’t know how to get out. The paradox lies in the fact that there’s still nothing better than him. But perhaps that’s a default conclusion for me too. I am lost.

An answer that has been proposed to me includes speaking to God about it and spending more time in the Word. But I don’t want to read it, it feels like my head is being pushed into the ground to ignore the chaos all around. It feels like avoidance. Though I am still scared of my head being chopped off if I stretch my neck out into the chaos for too long.

Another resolution is to do what I want and see where it gets me. Oh how dangerous that would be – I have a bright future.

I feel pain when I think of people who are like me, getting closer to God, while I am just slipping away. My hands are losing the ability to hold on to anything, they are apprehensive, they have lost all trust. The last prayer in my lungs is for it to make sense to me for the first time. Authentically. 

Would you like an update?

I’VE BEEN WONDERING WHAT I CAN HOLD ON TO…

***

Everything in life is coming and going so quickly, as if nothing has meaning. Meanwhile, I know that everything does. Mostly. Fleeting, is stability, love and hope. Happiness, clarity, and contentment. So the secret to life is balance. You can apply it to any situation when you feel like you’re doing too much or too little of something. That’s what I tell myself.

Lately I have experienced lessons in self-compassion. If you think you lack it, you should read Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristin Neff. I am reading it very slowly but it is changing my mindset for the better.

Pushing myself had turned into punishing myself and I didn’t like that. So over the past months I have learnt to be kinder to myself, speak kinder words to myself, and practise patience with myself. I learnt that I don’t have to be harsh to be successful. Success can derive from love as well. It’s an approach I prefer.

Every night, I put down my phone and lie on my stomach. One leg is bent at 90 degrees and I have one or both arms on my silk pillowcase. I think to myself, I hope my mind doesn’t go where it’s been going every night for the past few months. But just like that, thoughts plague me. People, habits, worries, regrets. Wonderings – if I could just go back and change something… where would we be now if it never ended… look how much changed in a year… I wonder what next year will be like… will things slow down soon… will I be in the same place for 7 years, accompanied by memories that fail to radically change with time? My childhood wasn’t like that.

Seasons are changing again; I can feel it. That’s why peace is hard to find every night. There’s so much I realise I haven’t let go of when I lay my head. Heartbreak is the most excruciating thing I have ever experienced. And none of it even lasted that long. But I have carried hurt for months upon months now. This feels different because it was placed on me. This pain isn’t a result of my inner-turmoil, but rather a result of opening myself up to the possibility of love. I was unlucky.

The craziest thing about this season changing, is the fact that I hardly dwelled in it. I’ve spent the whole time feeling unadjusted, getting to grips with a new environment, and now it’s changing again. That’s why I’ve been wondering what I can hold on to.

I fall asleep eventually.

And then I wake up.

My birthday is soon. I’m not particularly excited about it. But I’m excited about the month of July because it is the month of my birth. I tell myself that only good things happen in July. It makes sense to me.

I think I still have joy, deep down. I may presently be at the depth of a rollercoaster but I am never without hope. Joy continues to trump happiness. I guess that’s what I’m holding on to.

I’m in the water

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO MAKE SENSE. THE PHYSICAL WILL ALWAYS REFLECT THE MENTAL – THE SEEN WILL EXPOSE THE UNSEEN.

***

So this is what it means to be figuring things out…

Still lost

I wish I had more to say because I haven’t written since December. I made it clear enough in Peace in my mess, that I don’t have an assuring grip on life anymore. I have been floating around ever since. Sometimes I feel very free because of it. My book really helped me with that. Other times I’m fixated on the fact that there’s more freedom to possess. But it leads me to thoughts of whether any freedom I attain will be enough. It’s in my/our nature to crave an impossible satisfaction.

A plan

People always advise having a plan; one that you don’t necessarily have to stick beside, but an idea of your future nonetheless. I would like to implement that advice into my own life because I listen to clichés. But I can no longer see past a few months at a time. Up until a month ago, I couldn’t see past February 23rd. But I started an internship this month that I could only dream of. It’s for 6 months. So, I know what I’ll be doing until September. But that’s it. I don’t have a 1-year plan talk less of a 5-year one.

I was meant to make a vision board this year, I just remembered. But I am afraid that there will be nothing on it. I don’t know what I want anymore. I left 2021 so deflated that my only aspirations were my book, a new job, and happiness. I am almost there. Now I’m hesitant to ask life for more in the upcoming 9 months. What if I am disappointed? I know there’s no telling really. Now that I’ve achieved something big, I strangely wonder if I am strong enough for anything bigger. I’m paralysed by this new fear and I have never been scared of dreaming big before.

Lazy?

I have dimmed my light a bit, to come across unknowing of how much I could achieve. Then I get lost in my mind wondering if it’s faux humility, delusion, laziness, or nothing at all. There are people so close to me that I didn’t tell about my book because felt like I was being self-concerned – bragging or asking for money. I have regrets from some brave behaviour in the past. Bravery is another fear of mine.

Novelty

Sometimes I think very far ahead. And I see novelty eventually wearing off everything – myself included. Pure dissatisfaction. I worry that I will get bored of my career and hobbies, a husband and children, travelling, my faith, living…

Because novelty can wear off anything. So I don’t really want any of it. All of that makes the present very bleak and that makes me existential. I wonder what the point is of anything. So, befittingly, my biggest goal is contentment.

In the water

Somehow I am still happy – I achieved that goal.

I know happiness is a tide. But for now it’s here, and I’m in the water.

Whenever I reach this conclusion, I calm down a bit. “Well, at least you’re okay now.” Perhaps that’s why I don’t like long term plans anymore – I know that not being okay is on its way.

I have made choices lately that probably aren’t the best for me. But I’m hiding behind my youth concerning it all. Maybe I’ll learn something from this. Maybe I’m just 22 and figuring life out. I get what that means now.

But no matter what, I always hope that I will reach my truth in the end.

This is not a movie.

TO CONTINUE TREATING MY LIFE LIKE IT’S SOMETHING FROM A SCREEN IS TO EXPERIENCE IT IN INCOMPLETION. SO NOW I TELL MYSELF; THIS IS NOT A TV SHOW – THIS IS REAL AND IT IS HAPPENING. THIS IS NOT A MOVIE – THIS IS YOUR LIFE.

***

I can put this simply. But I will journey first, because that is what I like to do, and background is important.

University life was cut short in March 2020. Then I was locked up for four months because I was immunocompromised! In the Summer I was finally allowed to go outside and enjoy the sun, but with extreme caution. I fought pessimism throughout Autumn and Winter, and I was obsessed with love as a spectacle. Someone (for lack of the better word, according to them) described me as a female incel (LOL), but I believe I was reacting to the love I was seeing, rather than responding to an absence of love in my life. I regret nothing about the conclusions I came to, I stick beside them!

I started a course in March 2021, which ended in August – it was challenging. I’d also moved out in April and I felt so free. Some of the things I’ve experienced since moving out have felt like a movie – so surreal and ideal at the same time. So dreamlike.

Autumn began beautifully but became not so beautiful as I started going in circles about my career, self-perception, love life, faith, and future. It took a huge toll on my mental health. Habits I developed during the pandemic had more control over me than I would like to admit and I felt hopeless. Sometimes I still do. Apathy towards my faith was unhelpful in all of this because I didn’t care to pray about any of it. Music is all that kept me going.

But one thing I have picked up on is the phenomenon of speed in my life since 2020.

Life was moving at an expected pace during university; I had no complaints other than busyness here and there. Then from March 2020 – March 2021, everything was on pause. I found joy in my creative endeavours but sometimes I had no motivation to carry them out. Also in February 2021 I carried out a fast from secular music, social media and TV, and it showed me just how empty I was without distractions. But life pressed play in March 2021 and it has been like diarrhoea since. Non-stop, and painful (yes).

The weight lies in the way everything has played out. So many situations feel extremely symbolic, down to body language and my physical positioning in relation to others. Different people are saying the same words to me at different times as if they all agreed to do so. The convenience of some situations is perfectly orchestrated, and some curveballs feel like they are spitefully placed just to see me suffer. The lessons I am learning feel like something I’d hear a wise man say and so many songs speak my exact situation. I feel better just as fast as I feel awful, as if yesterday didn’t even happen.

At one point I thought to myself, “This feels like a script. It’s so eventful and tumultuous.” So I began holding my life at arm’s length, and during Autumn I decided to view it like a TV show. Was this a bad idea?

“January to March was season one,” I said. “March to August season two, and September to now is season three.” I told people about it – it was in line with my year after all.

I may rain on a parade here.

Though it was fun to see new people in my life (there were many of them) as new characters and romantic interactions as mere love interests, it soon felt tiring, because this fictional character that I made myself into was dealing with real, non-fictional emotion. There was a disconnect.

I was in disbelief when crazy or symbolic things happened to me because I had been distancing myself from the ownership of my experiences. Yet the truth is that these experiences were not ‘plot-twists’ – they were real! My life was not emulating cinema, because in fact, cinema emulates life. I just hadn’t experienced anything like it before.

What we see on our screens is a perfected version of real-life experiences. In most cases, writers write from a place of truth and identity; they just exaggerate or downplay what they choose.

To continue treating my life like it’s something from a screen is to experience it in incompletion. So now I tell myself; this is not a TV show – this is real and it is happening. This is not a movie – this is your life.

This year, hearing ‘you only have one life’ resonated more than ever before. I think this is what it means. I am not a spectator, I am real, so will be real! I realised that I need to stop being passive, and to instead, actively participate in my life. Sometimes I need to be more serious about these things.

Yes, life can feel unexpected and surreal, but that’s what makes art so beautiful, as art itself imitates life.

Maybe it is just personal. But I am teaching myself to say it feels like a movie less. Now I would like to say, it is beautiful. It is my experience and it is exclusive to me, I won’t give credit to a non-existent writer’s room.

So, when I am walking down the street feeling any type of way while listening to a song that fits my mood perfectly and it ‘feels like movie’, I remind myself that life really is just like that.

Beauty starts with me, not on screen. I will participate in that wonder, not spectate it from afar. That is a blessing.

I think it should have always been that way. But at the same time, I don’t mind learning this now.

Be it tragic or beautiful, I’m playing the fullest part in my life now.

Peace in my mess. (Untangling the earphones of life)

Wow! Life is so complicated.

***

I am about to contradict my whole blog. If that’s what it takes to find the necessary life-balance that I’ve been so ignorant of, then so be it. I won’t hesitate.

I started journaling on August 20th 2011. I was 12 years old. I didn’t know that I was equipping myself with a survival tool at the time – a day when I was going to a wedding with my mum and sister, and my mum was taking ages to get ready. To this day I can’t say why my response to this delay was writing about it in a diary. At first I wrote general recounts of my days, and noted how people made me feel, and what I thought of them. It was funny, and eventful in my own context. I wrote about my friends, family, my crushes, my stresses… They all mattered to me then, but now I see that I had a big storm coming.

As I grew up (I’m still growing) I became disillusioned with life. I developed base feelings of emptiness, loneliness, and sadness (Malibu & Lemonade). I was going through so much emotional turmoil and it was all inside me. Today I realise just how traumatic it was. I cried so much when I was alone, and no one knew because I kept it to myself. There were only a few times that I cried in front of people after being in my head about my sadness for days. I only let those tears out to them when they asked or when felt like I was about to snap.

Through it all, my diary was my refuge. I didn’t have as much energy to address ‘small dramas’ in my life because my mental state became my drama. I was living with a broken and despaired state of mind and my diary transformed from a place where I collected daily experiences to a home for my extreme emotion. I would (and still do) pour my heart out there in an effort to do something with the overwhelm of feelings I had.

Soon enough, I started doing something with this. Rather than just pouring out my heart, I began asking myself why I felt this way. Even if the answer was that I didn’t know, I would still ask. I started to look back and see if I could find reason, for anything. I became more honest with how I felt about myself and others. I kept on writing until I accepted that my answers had always been inside of me. It gave me freedom and a life-perspective that I found comforting. I learnt how to make myself feel better through writing and figuring myself out.

Two big answers I found when I was roughly 19, were that I did not believe in myself and I was not working as hard as I needed to get to where I aspired in life. The only reason I came to these conclusions is because I had been asking myself why for all these years – it had finally led up to something. I realised that I had to work hard at my craft, whatever it would be at any given point, in order to make myself worth believing in, for myself, not for others – but myself, most importantly. I could not keep hoping that one day I would feel worth something. I just had to make myself worth it, and that philosophy worked for me.

From this sprouts everything I’ve done over the past 5-6 years. My blog, YouTube channel, poetry, journalism, my style, podcast – everything. It’s all been in an effort to be fearless and believe that I can truly do what I want. The only way to know was to do it… to try. Hence, The Art of Trying.

All my posts up to this point have been one long conversation with myself. My tagline, So you can relate, is just a side effect of that. I knew that you would be able to relate to the things I write, so I share it with you.

That’s why realisations mean so much to me. Every post I publish comes from a new realisation, and I can’t express how much freedom it gives me. I erase lies about not being good enough, giving up, having a distorted self-perception, being self-conscious, etc, in all of these posts. It’s all in an effort to be free because truly, I just want to be myself with no fear. This is why somevariables.org means so much to me.

But now I am scared.

Because recent events have shown me the downside to everything I’ve just explained. There is an imbalance in my approach to life. I question myself too much – not necessarily my decisions, but my thoughts. I ask why without any prompting nowadays and it’s driving me out of my own mind.

Now I must teach myself how to relax and let go. I’ve been told to perceive life’s chaos as my order and I don’t know how to do that. I plan and plan and plan and now I can’t deal with life going its own way. Meanwhile I thought I made these plans impartially.

It’s difficult because many realisations about myself are linked to my emotional trauma. And they came about in an effort to reduce the pain I had at the time. As I said, I found so many answers, and they cleaned up for me. But those years that I spent trying to understand myself took place when I was very impressionable, and now they are making it hard for me to be okay with my mess.

I have spent so long doing things to make me look put together, that people actually believe the lie that I am put together! People who don’t know me, anyway. It’s scary when you are completely jaded by life and your current experiences, and someone pierces that bubble of truth with an assumption that you are “put together”. Is that my own fault? I speak about the façades of others from behind the façade I have developed for myself. Now I am scared of myself.

Keeping this post to myself would be the maintenance of my facade. People don’t need to know my business but this feels like a freedom path.

I say I am trying to untangle these earphones of life. I have to pay attention, stop walking, and use both hands to figure this mess out. And I must find peace in it.

But really, I must find ultimate peace in the fact that I will never fully untangle them.

I will not invalidate my past experiences, but figuring them out was so much simpler and easier than what I am faced with today. Life is so complicated and I must come to the terms with the fact that I can’t fix things anymore – no longer can I question until I find out my truth. Sometimes there is no truth to find.

Currently I’m dealing with apathy towards my faith and everything it pertains to. I am so worried that I will stop believing in God. I am dealing with broken heartedness and hurt. I am experiencing endings and aloneness (not loneliness) which is an enigma in itself. But I am also dealing with overwhelming gratitude (yet, guilt) for the good things happening in my life. These earphones are truly tangled and I don’t know what to do. For the first time in forever I have to be okay with that. Here, I don’t have a solution.

Thinking has become circular. Lately there has been no way out and I’m certain I don’t even need to be in a maze of thought all the time. I am trying to leave the maze. That’s what I mean by letting go. To stop trying to do the right thing as a result of my conclusions and ‘solutions’. Trying to do the right thing and avoid further emotional trauma has just led me to a new kind of pain, a kind that I have no cure for. Perhaps that explains why I feel so hurt by life. I knew it was spiteful but this is a sinister spite.

I began this post with saying I will contradict my blog because it is all about self-actualisation and self-belief etc – to some degree minimising the mess that life is and seeing clearer. But now, I am letting go. I don’t care about much anymore because I am slowing down my sprint away from the mess that I am. Denial is on its way out the door, and I can’t believe it was here for so long.

I pray to God (all I have left) that this leads to the balance that I need. I thought so hard in one direction and now I need to make my way to the middle. I just need to release and truly go where the wind blows me. For a long time I’ve been claiming that that’s what I am doing but now it’s time to mean it. For haven’t I grown tired?

My Care Playlist

ONE THING ABOUT ME… IMMA LISTEN TO MUSIC.

***

I want to get as close as I can to understanding why I’m endlessly touched by some things I hear. So here is my care playlist, and why I love the songs so much.


Deeper – Israel Houghton

Lord I reach for you, lead me to Your heart // Close enough to feel the cadence of Your heart // Break my heart with the things that break Your heart.

Most mornings, I wake up with the first line in my head. Sometimes I reach my arms up, as if I’m about to be lifted out of bed. I feel peace when I hear the instruments at the beginning. To feel the cadence of God’s heart represents closeness to me.

I often lose sight of what is important and must remind myself of the importance of focusing on God. I pray to see things the way He sees them – to have an undoubtedly better perspective of life; one that causes little harm and leaves as much space for grace and love as possible. This song is spirit-filled. When I feel frantic, the intro is enough to calm me and bring me peace. It was on my On Repeat playlist for seven months!


Be Still – Travis Greene

Chasing your ambition, try your best to be the next star. But if it’s the attention that you really want, then I already know who you are, and I love you that way.

I would be in denial if I said I don’t seek validation from people. I like hearing that I’m doing well, especially if I already believed that about myself. But sometimes I end up chasing perceptions of myself rather than being content in who really am. And adhering to these perceptions often feels like a form of attention-seeking, for I believe it’s possible to focus on my race in an effort to have people notice this focus and admire me, even from afar. This is something I would like to grow out of.

This song reminds me that the only thing I should aspire towards is God – trusting in and loving him, as to chase my ambitions is often to lose sight of the beauty of my present – which is full of things that I prayed for. I end up asking myself where my gratitude is.

While trying my best to be the next ‘star’, God is by my side, where He has always been, telling me that He already knows who I am! If I have that validation, I shouldn’t be seeking any more anywhere else. God is all I need. I remind myself that I am enough, no matter what stage I am in life.

Sometimes I need to be still and appreciate now, with God, who loves my good and bad, rather than carving out a life that exists only to please others and be a star in their eyes.


Alright – Ledisi

It’s alright.

I have to say to myself; calm down Adefela, it’s alright! You may notice that as a running theme in my posts. Aside from reassuring anyone reading, I am reassuring myself. I always forget that things will be okay. This song reminds me. Its magic lies in the fact that every time I play it, the words feel brand new. That’s what I need to hear.

Most of the lines in the verses end with ‘…but it’s alright.’ and I feel to apply that to my own life. After airing out my fears and frustrations, I pray to end with ‘but it’s alright’. Because that is true.

As I always say, it was fine, it is fine, and it will always be fine. I strive to caveat my assessments of life with the fact that it’s alright.


Babe Truth – Gaby Duran

I’d be damned if I let these nerves get the best of me // All timing is divinely in alignment and all I could do is my best // Those nerves can’t get to you, unless you let them in, babe don’t let it outweigh. Don’t wait for the remedy, you got everything, you don’t need anything… don’t overcomplicate it.

There’s a balance for me to find between relying on God and showing up for/relying on myself. The Horse, The Man & The Son by Chief Ebenezer Obey says: do your best and leave the rest. What I focus on here is doing my best. It’s my responsibility to work to the max, pushing as hard as I can and leaving the rest to powers above me. But I have to do my best. I just have to.

This song gives me strength when I am anxious about something that’s requiring a lot of me. When I question whether I’ll be strong enough to get through something, I remember that I shouldn’t let those nerves in, and I shouldn’t let them control me. I have everything I need inside of me; my own abilities and God. That will always be enough.

I misheard babe don’t let it outweigh and for a while thought it said they don’t light our way. I like both versions. Don’t let the nerves outweigh the peace, and don’t let them light your path. Instead, l should let hope light my way, not anxiety. For if it were anxiety, I would be scared to move forward. If it were hope, all I’d want to do is move forward. So, I will move forward.


The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill – Ms. Lauryn Hill

Deep in my heart, the answer it was in me. And I made up my mind to define my own destiny.

I try to focus on the value of what’s inside of me. This includes what I was born with, and what I learn and nurture daily. My love for this song is self-explanatory; perhaps I shouldn’t rely on anyone but myself and God, who lives inside of me, (hence my answer being inside) to define my destiny. I shouldn’t let blame take over my mind, shifting responsibility to everything but myself.

My biggest battle with this is to not be overly self-dependent, and to ask for help when need it. That’s a balance I am still finding.

Regardless, strength builds up inside me when listen to this song. When I was unsure of who I was and what I wanted, the answer was inside of me. When I was low and confused and lost, my answers were inside of me. And they still are. All I ever had to do was pay attention to myself and listen to what my heart identified as my truths, both ugly and beautiful. As I wake these answers up, I define my own destiny because I’m learning about who I am and using that knowledge to steer me down the path that was always meant for me. Now I’m understanding what’s mine!

I spoke about this more in a podcast episode, have a listen: https://anchor.fm/soyoucanrelate/episodes/13–Deep-in-my-heart–the-answer-it-was-in-me-er2oks


Strength, Courage and Wisdom – India Arie

It’s time to step out on faith, I gotta show my face // Strength, courage, and wisdom, it’s been inside of me all along.

Intelligence is one of my biggest insecurities. I don’t want people to think I’m dumb. At some point I realised this was more of a projection if anything; I simply didn’t believe that I was smart. Any achievement I had didn’t mean anything to me, nor did affirmations from others. When I had exams this year, my battle with intelligence was tougher than it had ever been. It was close to a certain exam when this song came on shuffle and just like The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, it revealed to me that strength, courage and wisdom are inside of me and have always been. Wisdom has always been inside of me.

The battle to genuinely believe this is scary, and for too long I’ve let this battle tell me that I’m not smart. But instead of cowering away as I have always done, I had faith that I could feel as intelligent as I have always desired, and I showed my face, because it mattered to me. I turned up, I tried, and I fought against the thoughts telling me that what I knew wasn’t enough. I kept listening to this song until I finally believed it. My answers are inside, and so is my wisdom. I got an A in that exam.


God Morning – Natalie Lauren

Today I will show up for myself.

This links to Strength, Courage and Wisdom. Simply put, no one can be relied on to constantly show up for me. But as long as I am living, I have a chance to show up for myself. If I gave someone the responsibility to do something for me and they didn’t do it, I would be sad that they didn’t show up for me. They had one job, why couldn’t they just do it? I realised that if I had the right to be mad at them, I had the responsibility to not do it to myself. Why should I tolerate letting myself down when I don’t tolerate others letting me down? Do I not care about myself and my dreams?

I say, the least you could do is show up for yourself, Adefela. So now, I do. Sometimes doing this is hard because I am human, but it’s still at the back of my mind. Get out of bed when I don’t feel like it: show up. Self-care when I feel sad and need a refresh: show up. Pray when I feel like no one is listening to me: show up. Reply that email because it’s for my own good: show up. Chase my dreams because other people are chasing theirs and it’s not their responsibility to look out for mine: show up.


Victory – Janelle Monae

Today I feel so troubled deep inside, I wish the tears would roll back in my eyes. Will I rise? I’ll keep singing songs until the pain goes.

Expression is special with this song as on this occasion, I was unable to express what I was feeling. But I realised that my heart was singing when I pressed play. This song played out of it, as if each beat was a note. It’s an experience I’d never had before, and I’m glad that I now have access to it. This poem explains it better: When will I cry.


That’s it! My care playlist.

  • Deeper – Israel Houghton
  • Be Still – Travis Greene
  • Alright – Ledisi
  • Babe Truth – Gaby Duran
  • The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill – Ms. Lauryn Hill
  • Strength, Courage and Wisdom – India Arie
  • God Morning – Natalie Lauren
  • Victory – Janelle Monae

If I’m listening to these songs I’m probably in my feelings, which is most of the time. But that’s okay! These songs bring peace, clarity, solution, stillness, joy and assurance. Of course I listen to them all the time ❤ .

What retrospective thoughts lead to

“Good. As much as life is unpredictable, it can be predicable too. And I predict that you will be okay, LIKE YOU HAVE ALWAYS BEEN.”

***

To say I never want to look back and regret is ambitious. I know I will. However, that is expected. Regret is no longer a surprise to me, neither is disappointment, (perceived) failure, or any anti-climax I experience.

I can’t figure out if that is making me more intuitive, or simply numb to the storms of life. But whatever.

Looking back is special to me because it has brought me calm, clarity and acceptance.

I’ve written about it countless times before; at this point it’s a regurgitation of a well-known fact to me. But I keep on saying it because it means everything.

Hindsight is important because it presents this truth to you:

Everything will be okay, it always has been, it is, and it always will be. Your past present and future are covered, because you have survived everything you have ever been through, and you will continue to do so. You have to believe this.

In light of this truth, you should allow yourself to feel peace.

But, I am not naïve. I accept the fact that life sometimes disappoints.  Yet that is the least of my worries nowadays, and I thank God for that.

It goes beyond the scope of learning from my mistakes. It’s the simple acceptance that life will do what it wants. Sometimes that’s what we want, and other times it isn’t. I just believe we should accept whatever happens.

Afterall, for something to “happen” is what is expected. “Happening” is neutral, it’s just a fact. How we interact with this fact is what’s most important.

Life happens and happens and happens – it’s been happening, yet it’s been fine.

Dare I say that in retrospect, I didn’t need to worry as much as I ever did? Nerves and anxiety are normal of course, but the fact that things turn out fine in the long run (no matter how long the run is) is a bit more of a reason to relax now, when current “happenings” are worrying and plaguing my mind.

“Wasn’t everything okay last time Adefela?” I ask myself. To which I answer yes, it was.

“Good. As much as life is unpredictable, it can be predicable too. And I predict that you will be okay, like you always have been.”

Put your name there.

That’s the conversation I should have with myself now. The blessing of hindsight is in my possession. I will use whatever it takes to remind myself of that, and to calm myself when I feel like this “happening” may just kill me. It probably won’t.

I nod my head thinking, good, I’ll keep on trying. And I thank God for the reassurance of everything being fine.

Postponing my pleasures

GIVE IN TO A GOOD THING WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE IT, BECAUSE NOW IS HERE.

***

I have a list of things I want to write about. It’s been piling up for a while. This is at the top, it should be something close to this:

I don’t want to get into my issues too much. Although I like to explore a lot on my blog, I have a diary for a reason – for the deeper issues that must be dealt with behind closed doors.

But this one can slide. I’m trying to move past cycles of self-deprivation. I wonder if other people postpone their pleasure until they have achieved or received something; until they feel like they’re there, wherever there is.

Put simply, I keep on waiting for things to become complete before I give myself any gratification. Extreme? I don’t do it for everything all the time, but I do it enough to notice. Perhaps this is difficult to write because I haven’t thought of a way around it, other than to stop doing it. Or at least, do it less.

It’s funny how often the solution to something is to simply stop, or start.

Note to self: Give in to rewards and self-commendation while the situation is ongoing, rather than waiting for it to be complete. It’s probably an indication that I don’t see myself as worthy of some pleasures I have access to, not believing that I deserve them. Neither do I know how to handle them.

Or maybe it’s because I have no self-control and I know I’ll lose my mind if my rewards are not controlled in some way.

But I won’t get lost in thinking about that, because it may turn into a trap of overthinking that stops me from doing anything at all. Sometimes I don’t want to process so much.

I understand that this is a surface-level exploration but as I said, it isn’t my diary.

Yet, perhaps this is identifiable to you.

Stopping and starting are easier than you think. There’s no need to rewrite mental patterns. No call for affirmations and no self-convincing. Just simply giving in to a good thing when you feel like it, because now is here.

I don’t need to reiterate how important balance is despite it all.

But yes, just give in. Sometimes that’s fine.

Here I am

In truth there is no clearer way for me to express how lost I feel sometimes, than describing my current situation with a metaphor that doesn’t pin down a single understanding of what I am going through.

***

I write this under stress and pressure.

My last blog post, On half-developed thoughts, was a struggle to write. Unsurprisingly, it’s hard to focus on non-academic things in the middle of academics. Growing up, education was everything to me, and anything that I perceived as a threat to my grades was hastily avoided.

Over time, I’ve learnt how to balance it all. But this course has made me regress in a way I did not expect. However I am aware that what I label as regression in this moment may eventually turn out to be adjacent to growth, somehow.

In On half-developed thoughts, I was recording the beginning of a mental unravel. Since then I have been building new systems for productivity, and developing avenues of thought to help me adjust to what life currently requires (things that I have never experienced before).

I was concerned with not fully developing thoughts because developing them is what anchors me. I am obsessed with figuring out and understanding myself, so when I was robbed of the time I needed to do that, I felt like I was falling apart.

Now I am telling myself that that was not me falling apart, but in fact old parts of myself falling away.

New clay is being added in their place and a new self is being moulded in the process.

It has become easier to describe my life with metaphors and that’s because I don’t know what is going on. I like metaphors because they are vagueness and uncertainty disguised as the beautiful and abstract. In truth there is no clearer way for me to express how lost I feel sometimes, than describing my current situation with a metaphor that doesn’t pin down a single understanding of what I am going through.

I’m filming content for a YouTube video that I’d like to upload when my course is over. Hopefully, it well-documents the past six months. In the video, I hope to insert readings of the blog posts I will be writing in the upcoming weeks.

Some will say that I am back and some would not have noticed at all. But here I am.

Stay tuned for Postponing my pleasures.

Me at the White Cube on my birthday