The Urge to Shalaye
The Urge to Shalaye
#TUTS17: Navigating Failure and Grief.

#TUTS17: Navigating Failure and Grief.

In my first issue of the year, I talk about my biggest failure, and how I have been dealing (or rather, living) with it.


Me about to leave home, blissfully unaware that I’ll be back soon.

When I finally left home for school on the 10th of January, I didn't know I'll be back again so soon. While I came home for a particular reason that had to do with my sister, me still being home 48 hours later is because of a factor that's completely beyond me.

And I am hopeless, helpless and close to tears about it.

Last year, sigh, sorry 2019, I wrote an exam in school and fell short of the cut-off mark. Like I said in this issue, I had to retake the exam upon resumption. Unfortunately for me, I failed the resit as well. And yeah, it was Paediatrics.

To say I was shocked on getting the result would be the understatement of the year. I remember being shocked into silence, transfixed on a spot underneath a tree, staring into the night on the 11th of February when my friend broke the news to me.

I have gone through all the stages of grief - well except for anger sha. I am constantly oscillating between depression and acceptance, and sometimes I just feel numb. I am lucky to have a great support system filling me up with food, random affirmative messages, and my friends. I remember putting the single sentence ‘I failed Paeds’ on my girls’ group chat, the ensuing silence, and the arrival of my friends barely 20 mins later. The memory of it comes to me as knights blazing in on a chariot, the lights from an oncoming car almost blinding me where I still sat under the tree, the vague thought of who could be coming to the hostel that late, and then the familiar faces in the car windows. It always seems like a scene out of a movie lol. They stayed with me until about 1 am while I was struggling to use humor to dampen the gravity of the situation.

One of the overbearing aspects of failure is the shame and disappointment that comes with it. I struggled on the best way to break the news to my parents and I put it off until I could no longer. Their responses were typical to either of them, with my father admonishing me not to think much of it lest I fall into depression again (the shade in his ‘again’, lol), and my mother telling me there’s nothing that can’t be solved or eased through with prayers. 

Their words and support eased a great weight off my shoulders, which was further accentuated by a dear friend appearing at my door and dragging me out for comfort food. 

However, one thing about failure (and even success) is no matter how great your support system is, there are certain things and feelings that are absolutely personal and you have to go through on your own. I allowed myself approx two weeks to go through the searing painfulness of it, and I do believe I am over the worst of it now after multiple crying sessions in front of my mirror, the middle of meals or movies, sometimes both.

I have been home since Sunday, and there is something about this place - home - that lowers your guard, that causes you to unspool and unravel in a way you didn't know you needed. You cry into your sister's laps at inordinate times, pretend to your parents your swollen eyes were because of oversleeping, but you know they know you cried yourself to sleep and are just giving you a little grace and space.

Passing that exam was the first thing on my academic goals for 2021, and I seem to have fumbled that bag. I feel like I have disappointed myself. I've never failed at anything like this before, and I really am having a tough time dealing with it. It’s probably the combination of being home, my hormonal changes (apparently high levels of stress do that to you) and mercury is in Pisces😂.  Last night, I saw tweets of people being matched into residency programs and I realized how the timeline for how I envisioned mine has just increased by 1+ x years because now I’ll have to retake this four-month-long course.

I figure I'm more concerned about the little things. My best friend and I were supposed to graduate together and I've finally convinced him I've got what it takes for us to do a dance duet together at our final year dinner. I had planned my induction ceremonies with my parents during the lockdown, right down to the number of dresses and shoes I'll be needing for the whole shenanigans, damn, I even have an induction playlist already. Everything is now skewed. I do not know where to start from, and I am in over my head rn. I’ll have to join a new rotation, make new friends and I am so scared of that too.  Also, I am scared of the fact that the joy of graduation has permanently been stolen from me.

I wish I could say I’m looking forward to what this would mean for me, but honestly, I’m still having a hard time letting go of how I envisioned things to be. One thing I'm sure of, I will find a way to be fine. I keep telling myself not to define myself by it, to quit the negative self-talk. I mean, yeah, I failed but I'm not a failure. yes? yes. and that's on Mary had a little lamb.

Lol, I sound like a whiny whiny girl, I mean people are dyinggggggg. and no, I'm not using this to distract from the fact that I haven't written you this year. I am so sorry. And I am so thankful for you checking up on me, really means a lot. 

Happy New Year, genggggg!

Remember the travels I said I was going to make in early January, yeah? yeah, I did. And then I came home with a mild case of Covid-19. Upon recovery, I had to prep for school and subsequently the exams I subsequently failed. So it's really been a hectic year for me.

but...... I turned 24!

About to start adulting in the clueless fashion most adults go about it.

On Thursday.

I think I'm feeling 24 lol because I really do feel like a big girl now. I'm not even joking. I mean, I could get married tomorrow and no one would bat an eyelid. I feel like I've finally been given the pass to do adult-y stuff, and do it I shall😉.

I've had a couple of good news too. I am doing brunch with a few friends in Ibadan tomorrow, and I’m really looking forward to it. I made my hair today, so this peng babe is now pengierrrrr. I am now a staff writer at Meeting of Minds. I got published on Popula. And one of my fiction pieces just got accepted in a paying journal to be published later next quarter so skrrrr. I had an editor at Aljazeera in my mailbox requesting to pitch an article, which was amazingggg because lol, it meant I’m being seen, doing something right, or something like that. We eventually did not go through with the project sha so another skrrrrr. 

But writing has been harder for me of late. And reading. But enough of me.

How are you doing? How’s your health, studies, work, relationships? Your goals for the year, if you had any? We are close to wrapping off the first quarter, perhaps it’s a good time for reflection? Also,  I hope you are keeping safe from COVID-19. Oh, about that, this is an infographic I stumbled on regarding the various vaccine types available right now. I mean, as a Nigerian in Nigeria, you are not exactly spoiled for choice since it’s only the AstraZeneca available, but it’s good to know or something like that. 

One particular CNF I enjoyed reading is this one: These Precious Days by Ann Patchett. It’s kinda long, but you might like it as well.

I may not be able to write you as often I promised to, but I hope whenever I pop into your inbox you accept me with an open heart and a likkle smile.

Write me if you can, Beloved.

Laters, love


The Urge to Shalaye
The Urge to Shalaye
Maryam Adetona
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