#TUTS16: Au revoir, 2020

Really glad to be ending this year, and writing my last piece to you, Beloved.

Happy new year, Beloved❤️

This newsletter is listening to Bring it on Home to Me by Sam Cooke.

(this is probably going to be my headshot for the rest of 2021)


SIDE A:

As you’ve probably guessed, this is an attempt at reviewing my 2020. Ordinarily, I do my 'reviews' on the eve of my birthday, and I do not often share them publicly but I think we can all admit that 2020 is the year that exempts normalcy. 

The last paragraph of my last year in review reads, “At 23, my greatest wish is to be able to exist without the many adjectives and be content in it. It is going to be the search for happiness, love, and contentment. I know it won’t be easy, 2020 is always giving me gbasgbos but armed with my gracious smile, and the need to be less bothered about perfection than getting things done and grace and the gift of friendship, it will be okay, and I will be present and pleased with this journey”

My birthday was in March and that was when I wrote the review. Even that early into the year, 2020 had already dealt me a few bad hands.

I came into 2020 with a lot of baggage. Neck deep in the preparation of an exam, I was juggling it with the preparation for TEDxUnilorin, and also struggling with the guilt of having my friend's father die while he was with me. It was the first time we were seeing in six years, and I had practically forced him into dropping everything to make sure he was available to see when I was in his city.

Thankfully, early 2020 was not without its joys as well. I was in love, I had just had the most successful event of my book club and it was still running smoothly, I had just made new friends and I sincerely believed I had found my tribe. That all gave me a steady dose of serotonin and I believed myself fine - even though I knew the other shoe was going to drop soon.

It didn't take long. I failed a paper in my exams, I encountered some other personal problems and I fell back into the dangerous habit of cutting myself and taking self-prescribed sedatives, and was generally in a bad place. And then corona happened. 

Side B:

The first few weeks of being home were really relaxing for me and just what the doctor ordered. The whole routine of breakfast in bed, early morning light streaming in my windows, being surrounded by family, and free days of little responsibilities did wonders for my wellbeing.

However, after being home for a couple of weeks, I decided to make the most of it. The Internet was buzzing with ‘it's okay if you don't do anything’ as well as ‘Shakespeare wrote King Lear in Lockdown, there's little you can't do if you set your heart to it’. I didn't like either of the advice, I don't want to do nothing neither did I want to be browbeaten into doing something. I signed up for a few classes. Met new people online. And made a resolve to see if I could catch up on my goals for the year, one of which included writing.

My first official freelance job was a recommendation from a dear friend. It was freelance medical content for Reliance HMO. I took on a couple of courses, got into freelance editing, and started this newsletter (in a bid to have accountability and reinforce consistency). I have gone on to edit several manuscripts since then, written for a number of high-brow places I couldn't have imagined at the beginning of the year including Al Jazeera and Meetings of Mind. I have been longlisted for a literary prize, been invited to judge an essay competition, and earned six figures multiple times from writing. In fact, I just got my last paycheck for the year while writing this, and I am grateful for the ability to earn money doing what I love. 

I have been able to this and more in a sane, comfortable environment, and I feel so blessed about the kind of home my parents have built. All in all, I have had both the good and the bad (read: very bad, as in panic attacks - inducing badness) this year. But, Alhamdulillah, I am in a much better place. 

My new year goals at the beginning of the year before the Lockdown dictated a modification were centered around my

  • Finances - I surpassed my set goals for finances this year, and while this is in a large part due to the fact that I earned more, it was also helped by the fact that I am living at home and I do not have many expenses. Fam, I earned in three different currencies that are not naira and I never cease to be amazed by how shitty the naira is. I also started investing this year. Still have lots of learning and discipline to do in this aspect, but I’ll really give myself a 9 out of ten.

  • Academics: Sigh. As I said, I failed a course earlier this year, plus school has been locked down since March. I don’t even think it makes sense to grade myself on this.

  • Writing: 8/10. I had a list of places I wanted to be published in 2020, and the amazing thing is I was published on bigger platforms. My writing has been read by so many people and on continents I haven’t even been in. A major win for me. Also, I attended writing classes and workshops, but there are some things listed in my goal book that I didn’t do at all. So, 8.

  • Interpersonal Relationships: A 5. I was supposed to be more comfortable with calls, and check up on people regularly in 2020, but mehhh, I didn’t crush that. Yes, I went on dates and hangouts, but not social events. The crowd overwhelms me so I try to shy away from anything that’s not an intimate gathering. Still didn’t crush that.

  • Spirituality: I was making major wins with this early during the lockdown, but now, not so much. Would probably grade a 5 as well.

  • Health: Lmao, I’ve put on a bit more weight and I feel myself getting heavier. I have been living a ultra-sedentary life and I haven’t been exercising. I also have an increased appetite and I tire easily these days. When called out on it, I excused myself saying I was bulking up. In my heart, I know I have been slacking baje baje, so a 4

  • I have two other categories; Travel and Volunteering. I’ll take these together. My dear, I have not stepped out of Ibadan in nine months. I feel like I am in a large cage and I want to burst out. Thankfully, I’m starting my new year with travels so yayyyyy. Volunteering has been almost nonexistent for me. I have had no extra energy to expend on tasks and would not want to be a liability anywhere so I just stayed put. zero, my dear. zero.

Overall, there are so many things I learned about myself in 2020, and there is a clarity of sorts I have gained from this year, and I am so grateful for that. I do not have my plans for 2021 written down right now but I have a rough overview of what I'll like to be and do this year, God willing. I am particularly interested in having goals that emphasize being than doing. I hope I am able to. 

Like the year before, the best gift is the friendships I have cultivated. The lockdown and reduced social interactions stressed some friendships, and there are others that I am glad to be rid of. But this lockdown saw the rekindling of a couple of relationships and I feel blessed about that.

A friend asked me last year what my plans were and I said 'I really just want to write and read voraciously'. That I did, and I am glad and grateful for you being here to read the stuff I share. However, I fell short of my reading goal for 2020. For 2021, rather than just writing, storytelling is one of my goals. In whatever form it might take. Be it in writing, visual storytelling and whatnots. Do I know how I’ll do that? No. But this is one of the things I am striving towards, In Shaa Allah. 

In the spirit of gratitude, I am grateful for:

  • My mother’s happiness.

  • My father’s forehead kisses (I now know my parents’ favorite love languages).

  • My sister’s joy after making a new dress.

  • Food: I honestly have no idea where this came from. I have always been a picky eater, but over the past couple of weeks, I have been looking forward to food, and even planning elaborately for it and gorging on it.

  • Friendships: Honestly don’t know how I’d have gone through this lockdown without my friends.

In the spirit of gisting you, I have been out almost every day this week and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It doesn't seem like it would let up soon especially as we have a family function today. I need you to know that the Maryam who said she'll be having her Detty December indoors is a detty little liar. I'm reborn now, and what better way to spend the end of the year and the beginning of a new one surrounded by some of your favorite people in the world.

(another picture i will use the hell out of)

So there you have it, my attempt at recounting this year. With the way this year was set up, this barely covered everything that happened but we meeeuuuve.

I want to hear your story, Beloved. Write me soon xx

Have a beautiful new year, Beloved. 

Maryam.