Why I Sleep Unsatisfied

The world has its own way of establishing balance in so many areas of life. It’s only right to apply those to my own.

***

Since finishing university, I have had many days where I go to bed feeling unaccomplished because there hasn’t been much for me to plan and achieve.

So to give my days purpose, I started writing to-do lists. I knew that such structure would direct my days and steer me towards productivity. But over time they’ve become debilitating.

It seems that I’ve created new pressures in my life that eventually make me feel like I haven’t achieved much if my list isn’t complete by the end of the day. I go to bed feeling unproductive and like I have failed – I take structure too far.

I have embraced the idea of obligation-free living more than I have actually lived it. It’s like looking out of the window and never going outside.

I’m still saving shows and YouTube videos to indulge in when I feel like I’ve done enough work to deserve it and I’m starting to see the danger in this.

What doesn’t help is the fact that being obligation-free means that my life is largely in my hands now, and I need to make moves that will help my future – more freelance writing, improving my online presence, and applying for schemes that will help me in whatever way they can.

There is a necessary balance to find between self-given obligations such as this and relaxing. It’s about time that I start searching.

Balance – that’s what life is all about, and that’s what I have boiled many thoughts down to lately. I’ve written before that the grass is only greener on the other side for a season. Good times come and go – so do periods of obligation. The world has its own way of establishing balance in so many areas of life. It’s only right to apply those to my own.

There’s a lot I want to do and I know I can achieve it. But it won’t be achieved if it’s all I think about – I’ll get tired of myself and question the point of it all.

I’m not sure how close I am to finding balance in my life but I believe that accepting the fact that I need it is a step in the right direction.

TL;DR: Diary entry from 08/06/2020

“I have been bad at not pressuring myself while in lockdown. I still feel pressing needs and I am creating obligations because I struggle to feel productive without them. But in the end, it cripples me and makes me wonder what I’ve achieved, if anything.

I don’t know. The need to do better has dictated my life and I’ve been cool with it. I guess it’s not always good though.”

Exhuming My Bookworm

… there is a divine being involved, who knows the true intentions of every unknowing action we make.

***

After three years of denial and excuses, I found my inner bookworm again.

I’d been waiting for a desire to get back into reading and it appeared unexpectedly. Though I started and stopped the novel months ago, I finished it in under a week!

My degree meant that I was reading books all the time, so reading for pleasure took a back seat (until it fell out of the car) because I always had something else that I was obligated to read for the sake of my grades.

I pushed the genuine enjoyment of novels that I wanted to read into the far future. This tells me that we often look forward to a time where we can experience something that pleasures us, guilt-free. And oftentimes we hold back on such indulgence because it never feels like the right time.

BUT HELLO, NEWSFLASH! IT WILL NEVER FEEL LIKE THE “RIGHT TIME”!

 

Because, sometimes you just do things or make random decisions that take you to unimaginable places. This can’t even be premeditated.

Last week I learnt that there are no bodies I can’t exhume and no passions that I must lie to rest completely. As long as I apply myself correctly once things happen to be going in a desirable direction, I will be able to get back into whatever my younger self was interested in, regardless of my age.

And you can take that argument as far as you like – that’s your business!

This isn’t even to say that you should just stop overthinking and just start what you want to do. Because I could’ve simply decided to pick up the novel and force myself to finish reading it, but that failed countless times in the past.

It wasn’t motivation, determination or the desire to prove something to myself that led me to reading and finishing the novel. I just picked it up because I couldn’t sleep and expected it to send me to sleep. But life took me in a completely different direction.

Sometimes, you pull yourself together so unexpectedly, and it inspires you more than the other things you have planned to help you achieve just that.

Trust every process and take nothing for granted. Be kind to yourself (something I definitely need to work on) and accept that life is scarcely planned – there is a divine being involved, who knows the true intentions of every unknowing action we make.

*

The book I read was Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. 10/10. Would recommend.

I believe that if you can’t think of a way to improve something, then it deserves full ratings. After all, how much life will you live until you give something full marks?

It’s good to feel like any experience was the best and totally unbeatable. If anything, it deepens your appreciation for anything else that you see as perfect in the aftermath.

 

Whew, this week (and the future)

“The UK will no longer be permitted to distract me from its own sins with a bloodied, rotting finger that points at the USA’s injustice.”
***
It’s been a long time coming, and it’s not over yet. This post is a lengthy summary of my thoughts this week in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement: Responsibility & Sacrifice, Silence, Performatism, Education, Revolution and of course, Racism.

 

Responsibility & Sacrifice

I’ve felt this overwhelming sense of responsibility, particularly on the front of social media – regardless of condition, to sacrifice my comfort of retweeting funny things and instead fill the TL with news and facts. To sacrifice my comfort of sharing aesthetic Instagram stories and direct people to petitions and learning resources. In other words, there has been a loud sense of “I don’t care if you don’t feel like posting. Post because you need to spread awareness and fight. And if you don’t post, I’ll assume that you don’t care.”

I understand the approach and in many contexts I agree. However, some people aren’t posting or being visibly active because they’re spending time learning and processing. But, for some that’s not good enough. It’s a sliding scale.

The cards that we have been dealt as black people currently require us to teach ourselves and inform others. We can take rightful breaks but after a while we need to “show that we care again”. The process is tiring but true – we have equal shares in victimhood and activism.

 

Silence

Silence is complicity at times. But for many Black people, silence is complicated. We are “silent” because we are overwhelmed. We are “silent” because we are protecting our mental health. We are “silent” because we don’t know what to say anymore. We are “silent” because we are in mourning. We are “silent”, but only online – offline, we are doing what we are able to to change things and will keep doing so once everyone else moves on. – Yomi Adegoke.

Silence is complex and no true indicator of someone’s mental state. Especially the cohort of victims themselves.

There is a (often self-imposed) pressure to show that the visible part of your existence gives a damn about racism. However, not everybody is keen on, or fond of displaying their outrage or desire for change online. Perhaps less people are looking at you than you believe, but you don’t want to be called out for no action.

Speaking to a friend earlier this week, we agreed on the question of “but who is actually checking for you?” i.e., you may feel like you need to post because you don’t want to be called out, but who is calling you out anyway?

Now, I won’t deny that I did see people calling out others (non-Black people, colourists, coons…). However, if you know that you are genuinely feeling something about this, sometimes having a conversation is enough. If you feel like that’s not enough and you still need to post, I could say ‘you do you.’

But, I could also say that your actions are performative because your self-assurance with your concern for the issue isn’t enough for you.

 

Performatism

This week marks the most I have ever heard this word in any given timeframe. Here are some short thoughts I’d been writing:

  • I need to police my potential performatism. I want to continue learning organically in a time where no one has the patience for that, myself included. I begin to wonder if I knew enough in the first place.
  • I want to do my part with learning about Black British history. The UK is no longer permitted to distract me from its own sins with a bloodied, rotting finger that points at the USA’s injustice.
  • Sharing things on social media has led me to question if I am sharing because I genuinely want people to know things, or because it is required of me and I’ll look bad otherwise. Am I proving myself to others, or to myself? Perhaps the need to ‘prove’ is the main issue.
  • You’re right and wrong to everyone and to no one.
  • In awareness and awakening, we make mistakes. Have mercy on such people because no one is totally righteous.
  • I have a strong desire to learn all that my brain can take, remember it, and inject it into trains of thought and conversations where necessary. But I fear the tiredness and anger that comes with learning about Black history.

A post I saw this week was titled, “Performative Allyship is Triggering”.                                                        No further comments – welcome to 2020.

 

Education

On Wednesday, someone responded to my anger with claims that their anger for Nigeria’s corruptive downfall is three times mine concerning current social justice. It frustrated me as I felt like I hadn’t learnt enough to justify my argument.

I wished I did. And that’s what’s important – the self-driven desire to learn.

However, there is a danger with learning so much during this social climate. It is the chance of a repetition of a traumatic school experience; learning under pressure in order to perform.

In this case, performance isn’t necessarily performative, but rather baby activism and doing your part; informing yourself and contributing to the conversation with knowledge rather than ignorance. Not feeling dumb.

This process of learning should not feel forceful. I was educating myself organically in the past and this sudden rush of education has been a lot to handle. Nonetheless, I’ve still learnt a lot. I just want to return to the self-imposed methods of learning that I was using before.

Note to myself and to you: Do not be angry with yourself for not knowing much about Black (British) History. Do not be frustrated if you understand the why of systematic racism more than the how. Do not be frustrated if you stutter in an argument and have gaps in your knowledge. You may not remember everything you teach yourself and that is fine. The reason for your self-education is a result of un- and miseducation. Therefore you need to be patient with yourself as you smooth over these cracks.

As pressing and revolutionary as everything feels right now, this type of learning is non-linear, so remove the pressure to know and remember everything instantly.

 

Revolution

We must be sure to not romanticise anything that is going on now.

Black people standing together is a sign of unity. Unity is beautiful but the source of pain is not – it’s ugly. Do not romanticise the revolution because it is not pretty. Do not synonymise the revolution with beauty because that is a separate term.

The revolution is a definer, not something to be defined. It is a separate entity. People don’t know a revolution when they see one but they need to be more perceptive now.

Do not be frustrated when the hashtag stops trending. Change doesn’t occur overnight. The revolution did not just begin, neither is it near the end. This is a just a part of it.

Simultaneously, privileged groups need to be knocked at the knees and brought to the same level as the underprivileged in order to hear their stories and primarily experience the same revolution in their minds that will manifest itself in the flesh.

Gil Scott-Heron said it best in his explanation of his poem and song, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised:

 

 

Racism

One problem is that white people are looking for concrete proof of racism: facts, receipts, evidence… when really society has evolved past that now. Racism has its ear to the ground and is aware of how to get to Black people in such a way that allows denial.

As vulgar as it is, calling a Black person a nigger nowadays will spark rage but not rallies. Rather, killing a Black person as a police officer will spark a rally because it is proof of systematic racism. That’s the bigger monster we face today. Receipts of prejudice and discrimination cannot always be given to the privileged groups asking for it because a lot of the time, the racism is coded.

To be racist is to also be apathetic, to close your eyes to the systems that make it difficult for Black people to exist freely without a target on their backs. If you’re waiting for a white person to scream ‘nigger’ as the only receipt of racism, you need to wake up and realise there is a greater depth than that now.

Until you acknowledge that, you’ll be living as if the world is prejudice-free while a white police officer kneels on a Black man’s neck until he kills him.

 

“Not all (insert cohort) are bad!”

Fury arises at the sight of sweeping generalisations and assumptions but such behaviour is what caused the current condition of the Black man; the assumption that all are criminals, savage, rapists, illiterate, etc, and the assumption that Africa itself was a Tabula Rasa.

No batch is free of bad apples, but racists, colonisers and imperialists didn’t key into that knowledge when constructing their damaging systems. They made sweeping assumptions. E.g.: all Black people are bad. So let’s make it harder for them to get jobs.

Assumption and its aftershocks systematically chip away at the livelihood of Africa and its diaspora to this day.

So don’t be furious when people make sweeping generalisations about the police and white people. Without such, no one will pay attention to the batch, talk less of the bad apples.

FACTS: No Justice, no Peace. Speak Truth to Power. I will never stop supporting and perpetuating these phrases. They are timelessly relevant.

I’m new to this

I will also never stop believing that my living right now is a testament for my future

***

I made this blog in 2016 and the home page has had the same message since the day I wrote it, which tells me that my intentions for this platform remain true to 16-year-old Adefela.

However, lately I have been inconsistent because I am trying to figure out how to run a blog in the way that I believe it should be run. I aim to be consistent and honest with myself, as I sort out my current fixations.

This post is categorised as ‘Weekly posts’ because that’s what I’ve planned to do; whether I have nobody reading the posts or I receive 100 views per post, it’s important to stick to what I have decided to do.

Last week I posted nothing because I didn’t make it a priority and I already felt like there was nothing to say. That’s also how I’ve felt this week, hence the post up to this point being a load of waffle.

Despite this, there is one thing I am learning (and have been learning for some time now):

Discipline trumps motivation.

It always has and it always will. I need to get into the habit of training myself to do what is best for me even when I don’t feel like it. Yes, I must be careful to not turn myself into a machine. But I must also be sure to add value to myself on the days when all I feel like doing is nothing.

I want to exercise because it’s good for me, not because I feel like it. I want to read my Bible daily because it strengthens my relationship with God, not because Religion has told me to do so. I want to contribute to a good future because that’s the only certainty I have right now, not because I have a fear of failure.

I am new to self-induced schedules like publishing a blog post and a picture every week. But my life needs structure and I don’t have an education system to give that to me anymore. It’s tough having to do things like that in the midst of a pandemic but that’s something I’m going to have to get over and make small in my eyes.

I will never stop believing that it’s okay to have off days, weeks, months…

But at the same time, I will also never stop believing that my living right now is a testament for my future, and I need to utilise my living breath to make the most of the idea of reaping every single thing that I sow.  

I don’t know! I don’t know what I’m doing!

You can’t always see the bigger picture when you’re standing on the canvas and painting what’s in front of you.

***

I don’t know! I don’t know what I’m doing!

I accept this with a light heart but I mean every word that I write.

I do not know, and I have no idea what I am doing. Perhaps it’s hard to believe that I’m purely existing right now, but it’s closer to the truth than anything else I have to say.

I started nursery at the age of 3, then headed to reception, primary school, secondary school and sixth form, then university. Now I am here. Back in my house in Dagenham, after 17 years of education and obligation.

I have learnt and gained a lot and now it’s time for me to put it all into practice. However my desire to do nothing is far more compelling than that to show the world the skills have developed during my time in education, where I followed the rules and did what I was told because children and teenagers can’t think for themselves, not really.

And deep down I always knew that I’d reach a point where I lacked clarity and had little to say when people asked me what my next step is. Sometimes I’m okay with that being my reality and sometimes I am not. That’s the overall tone of life – “sometimes I’m _____ and sometimes I’m not”.

Last week I wrote down all of my names and what I want to be called in the future. For the first time I was able to really distil what I have always been (my names) and what I would like to be (career-wise). It’s the closest those words have ever been to each other and it was a wakeup call that perhaps, I am more decided than I presumed.

I’ll do it again here:

Adefela, Eniola, Ifeoluwasimi, Lois, Eyidayomi, Olowoselu.

Journalist, poet, screenwriter, author.

That’s who I’ve been, who I am trying to be and who I will be in the future.

In light of not knowing what I am doing with my life right now, these names and words act as an anchor and provide me with the security that there is still a purpose for my life. You can’t always see the bigger picture when you’re standing on the canvas and painting what’s in front of you.

I have no problem with not knowing what I am up to, and being unsettled in the fact that a lot of my future seems to rely on me having good ideas and recognising if and when they come.

As it stands, I am currently living life as an individual in society. That sounds jobless and abstract and I’m not ashamed to say that perhaps it’s just that. Obligation-free, I have faith that my future is just something I don’t have the full blueprint for just yet, and that’s okay with me.