Hello, Dear reader,
*pause* who am I kidding?
What’s up, people, how have you been? Me? I have been fighting for my life and sanity. I wrote about Suicide in my last post and immediately fell into a deep funk that lasted almost six weeks.
But I am feeling better now, so what do we do? We meuve!
I haven’t been able to write since then. Whenever I picked up my device to jot down a thought, it felt like words could not be formed. If I managed to find the right words, it felt like they weren’t woven quite right.
A friend texted me to check in, saying they had not seen my essays in a while. Then it hit me: some people care what I write — they are interested and want to read. But like I said earlier, I have been trying to hold it all down and keep it together, so I have been uninspired. You wouldn’t want me writing about my tales of woe, would you? Let’s keep it light, please.
Although, I am not sure how light today’s topic will be, nor am I sure where to start. But I must start, right?
Forgive me; I have sinned, not against any deity but against myself. I have done the very thing I swore not to do. My sin? I have approached writing from writing for anyone other than myself.
Before I started writing this piece, I had planned to write about feminism. However, the more I wrote, the more I hated it. I may write about it again and publish it sometime before the year's end, but today is not the day.
Oh, I struggled with what to write. You have no idea. I feared that it had finally happened. I had peaked and reached the point where there was nothing more to give. My waters had dried up; it was fun while it lasted (Gosh, I am such a drama queen).
This year, I have consistently published at least one essay a month. At the beginning of the year, when I wrote my 2022 review essay, I promised myself I would write more. So far, I have published fourteen of them.
Some people noticed the consistency over the last few months and messaged me to ask how I do it. People have commented, applauded, argued, resonated and much more. Some way, somehow, I let that get to me. I let the people's will get the better of me, and I began feeling pressured.
In the same vein, I began to read the works of the people. I saw the emotions it evoked in others(myself included), the kind of response and praise they got, and I thought, if only I could write like this, then surely I would attain a certain height and recognition.
cue in the narrator : *it was at the moment she knew she don fucked up*
My work is not supreme but art in its basest form. Maybe not to you, but to me, it is, and this creator must return to the genuineness of her creation. I always strive for excellence, so I feel assured in myself, knowing that whatever I put out there is the best I could afford at that time.
Like Howard Roark, I write for the audience of one — Me. Everything I do is essentially for myself and my ego in the end. Fountainhead by Ayn Rand is one of my favourite books of all time, and this is an excerpt from one of my favourite monologues in the book.
“The creator lives for his work. He needs no other men. His primary goal is within himself. The parasite lives second-hand. He needs others. Others become his prime motive. The basic need of the creator is independence. The reasoning mind cannot work under any form of compulsion. It cannot be curbed, sacrificed or subordinated to any consideration whatsoever. It demands total independence in function and in motive. To a creator, all relations with men are secondary.”
A few days ago, one of my closest friends invited me to an event for creatives. I responded emphatically that I wasn’t one and that such a gathering wasn’t meant for me. I realise now that I was wrong. I am a creator, and everything I do is simply a medium of expression, whether it is writing essays, amateur painting & photography, poetry (yeah, I write poetry too, I just don’t publish them) or curating videos online. It is art, my art, my story, for ME.
I have confessed my sin, and I will now repent.
The Nigerian Dream
Forgive me, I have sinned, My sin? It is giving up
Earlier, I mentioned how I got into a funk. My anxiety was at an all-time high, and I was drowning in depression. By the way, the sea of depression is constantly there in my life; it doesn’t go away, but I have become adept at riding the waves. Or so I thought?
I couldn't figure out the trigger for the longest time. Nothing out of the ordinary had happened. I kept to my routine, did my job and lived as I always did. Granted, I had to say goodbye to a couple of friends and my favourite cousin as they left the country, but this was normal, and I didn’t think it mattered. Considering that it is a widely spoken truth that the Nigerian dream is to Japa (to migrate to another country).
I often listened to Lana Del Ray’s Radio during this time, and the line “…American dreams came true somehow I swore I’d chase until I was dead” kept ringing in my head. I tried to think about the Nigerian dream, and all that came to mind was to leave and never look back.
It is sad, but it is the reality.
I used to be pro-Nigeria, pro-In-Africa-for-Africa. Now? I couldn’t give a rat's ass. I want out, and I want out as soon as possible. I told you before that I am not strong nor a fighter; when push comes to shove, I will tap out and give up.
Then, Mohbad happened and compounded my anxiety. McCoy once wrote about the Nigerian death, and when I think about it, it fills me with dread. I don’t fear death, not necessarily. But when I die, I don’t want it to be from a mistake that could have been avoided if someone had done the right thing. I don’t want my death to be unnecessary and just another statistic.
I began to realise that this was the trigger for my funk. The thought that I was stuck here was taking its toll on me. The injustice I kept seeing around me made things worse. Every day, I see stories of atrocities being committed, and all I can think is, “When does it end?” And even though I am insulated from some of them by certain privileges, I recognise that this could have easily been me. For all the suffering I see, all I have is sympathy; I can’t even truly empathise.
Which leads me to digress into one of my thoughts or opinions.
I don’t think empathy is all we make it out to be. I believe it is impossible to place oneself in another’s position, to actually “feel with” them. We can imagine what it is like to be in a similar position, but it is not the same as putting yourself in their shoes.
Sympathy and empathy refer to a caring response to another person's emotional state. Still, a distinction between them is typically made. While sympathy is a feeling of sincere concern for someone experiencing something difficult or painful, empathy involves actively sharing the other person's emotional experience.
I understand sympathy, recognising someone else’s suffering, and feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune, but not more than that.
To me, empathising would require that you feel the pain as they feel it, like Lauren in Parables of the Sower by Octavia Butler — they were called sharers. But as far as I know, such people don’t exist; the closest we have to this are empaths. And even empaths are not scientifically proven as of today. Sure, there is the concept of mirror neurons and psychosomatic responses, but these are still speculative at best.
So here is what I think, except one feels the pain precisely as they feel it, in the same circumstances that they feel it, what we mostly do is sympathise. We might get close, but there will always be a gap because each person’s experiences, background, and perceptions are unique.
Am I saying I am not empathetic? I am not sure, but I know that I can muster sympathy, which is great because, a lot of times, it is enough to get me to understand (to a certain degree) and help someone in need.
Am I saying we should stop striving for empathy? No, not necessarily, but I am just acutely aware that attaining complete empathy is almost impossible.
As for my sin of giving up, I have no repentance. I have decided that there is nothing for me here. I am merely bidding my time working, planning and persevering as I reach my Nigerian dream.
Forgive me, I have been conflict-avoidant
Forgive me, I have been disingenuous. I have lied to myself and invalidated my feelings because I have always thought that is the easier way.
I have always known I have a very low emotional bandwidth. One of my brothers says that he wonders If I am genuinely desensitised to emotions or if I use it as a coping mechanism or survival skill.
A few weeks ago, a friend said that they think I am deliberately oblivious and see and understand more than I let on. That I choose not to acknowledge it because it is easier for me to pretend I do not see it.
So I asked one of my closest friends if what these people said was true, and they said, “Yes and no. For the most part, I think you don’t let yourself feel everything. And you do that as a way of coping because you know “feeling” doesn’t solve anything. On the other hand, I think you’re very selective and measured in how you express emotions, respond to most situations, and talk about them.”
In the past year, people have hurt me in different ways, and I have had a cool, calm demeanour or response to it because I thought that was the best way to handle it. But in my heart, I have put them at arm's length and decided how to handle my interactions with them going forward. Now I wonder if I should let them know of their transgressions or let sleeping dogs lie and fade into the background as I have always done.
I have sinned, but on this, I am not sure how to repent. I don't know if repentance is necessary, but I also know something is not quite right.
Forgive me, I have been unkind.
Forgive me; I have been unkind, not to others but to myself. In the past few weeks, I have put myself under pressure and constantly berated myself for underperforming.
At work, I recently transitioned to a new department and have been on a mission to prove myself. That I am worthy and I deserve what I have been given. I began to work outside my strict 9–5 hours (Anyone who knows me personally knows how much I frown against this). My mantra is, “You work to live, not live to work”. But for the last few months, I have been living for work.
I began losing touch with the things that gave me joy and grounded me. I lived, breathed and ate work until I felt soulless. I constantly worried about doing enough and giving it my best. I was stressed, anxious and overworking. It wasn’t until I started feeling a mental breakdown coming that I realised what was wrong.
I decided to take a break from work for a few weeks and recalibrate.
During my self-reflection, I realised my new role wasn’t a gift but that I earned it. I got it because I was assessed and thought competent enough to handle it. I didn’t need to prove anything; I just needed to do what I always did- my best. I care about my work and my company, and as such, I would always put my best foot forward, which is enough.
The thing is, our brains are hard-wired to focus on the negative and losses. It is a survival mechanism built into human nature. Without it, we probably would not have survived this long. But it is also a recipe for constant dissatisfaction and ungratefulness.
I was taking an advanced course recently, and it hit me how much I have grown. A year ago, listening to the instructor would have felt like watching someone teach advanced mathematics in ancient Latin. But today, I can follow everything he says like it is native to me.
I have been constantly oscillating between wondering if I am being too hard or indulging myself, and my conclusion is that I have been unkind to myself, and now I will repent. I will be kinder and not coddle myself, but I will be kind.
But here is the thing. The problem with sin is that repentance takes a while. Change is an arduous process, and it often takes time to make it happen. I am humble enough to recognise that I will sin again. But when I do, I will come back to read this. To remind myself of my promise to abandon such wretched and harmful traits and to live in a way that gives me peace. So I will repent until I am above it(if ever I overcome it).
Know this if you struggle like me: You will be okay, Guapa, I know you will.
All my love,