2018: Her Year in Review

By : LeAmbivert

‘Do the people think they will be left to say ‘we believe’ and not be tested?’

This year started out badly. If you read my 2017 review, I mentioned that I wanted to commence my MSc in 2018 which also had to be fully funded. The first quarter of the year was filled with rejections from certain programmes and funding opportunities. It appeared that the deity of scholarships did not smile at me after all because all I had was admissions without money to attend. It was honestly easier to give up but somehow, I stuck with the more difficult choice. Did it pay off? Well, there is only one way to find out.

‘No soul will be burdened beyond its scope’

This is not the city I hoped to be writing this review from but I took so many giant strides this year which I am grateful to God for. I completed my compulsory national service in April and took a long overdue trip to the United States. America provided a sense of clarity and a break from the struggles of the first part of 2018. I was having so much fun until my trip was cut short by another commitment in Nigeria. Another loss. It seemed like my year could not get any worse.

road

Be wary of roads that do not lead home

‘So be patient. Verily, the promise of Allah is true’

Many people thought I was crazy for wanting to pick further studies over a job but at this time in my life, some things are greater than others. I still tried to apply for graduate jobs in Nigeria and had really interesting interviews including two where the recruiters told me not to accept the job because they did not want me to limit myself. I eventually got a job I could have managed. A job whose starting salary would have some people call me deranged for picking a Masters over; but as I said earlier, some things are greater than others.

‘Verily, with every hardship, there is ease’

‘…It may happen that you hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that you love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows, you know not’

My 2018 ‘behind the scenes’ almost drove me crazy. I dined with worry and wined with tears. So many things happened this year whose explanation will significantly lengthen this piece so I will condense the story and go straight to the point. Things started working out in my favour after my trip. It was like God knew I had been starved of good news because I began to be overwhelmed by them. This year, I applied to over 52 graduate programs and scholarships combined, got accepted into 90% of the programs, and won half a dozen scholarships. It felt unreal going from nothing to winning 6 scholarships of which 3 were fully funded (including 2 prestigious British Commonwealth scholarships) all totalling about 200,000 US Dollars. I also got admitted into the University of Cambridge for a highly selective course I thought I could only get into in my wildest dreams. 2018 showed me that wild dreams do come through. Unfortunately, I could not accept my Cambridge offer due to lack of finances. Cambridge is the city I hoped to be writing this review from but God knows best.

‘Read: And thy Lord is the Most Bounteous’

I got bigger on investing in 2018 and while I cannot put my figures out here, I implore everyone who reads this and can afford to invest to do so. Just so you know, it is okay to start small. I also perfected my driving and occasionally hit 100km/h on Third Mainland Bridge (don’t tell my mother). I did not write my regular mainstream things this year for the same reason I did not do so in 2017. However, I wrote about 50 things or more this year relating to graduate admissions and funding and I am glad to have done so because it presented a steep learning curve for me. Up until September, I was able to read 50 books and it went downhill from there because of my severe academic commitments. I also read about 300 articles that Pocket equates to 19 books. These numbers will, unfortunately, dwindle further in the coming year.

ebookssss

New books exist to keep us from re-reading the old ones

‘And we have created you in pairs’

In my previous reviews, I have never made mention of nuptials because my friends had not quite reached that stage yet. 2018 was a spectacular year because four of my friends got married! I attended only 50% of those but it was a truly rewarding and beautiful experience. I got to see people I have known for years take the next big steps in their lives to co-habit with other humans. This has even started paying off because I now get marriage advice for free. Who knew having married friends is a wise investment? Me neither. I am looking forward to the 2019 weddings, most of which I think I will attend via Instagram.

Is 2019 the year I get married? I honestly cannot answer that question at this time due to factors beyond my control. I am truly scared of taking this next step which explains why I have been pushing it for years now. I feel like there is so much I should do before tying the knot. Marriage seems like the pathway to children and that makes it even more frightening. I have no problems with who I have decided to take this long walk with because he is highly supportive and at the risk of sounding cliché, he pushes me to be a better version of myself. This is why I took a huge step on the relationship front this year as my parents and I met our prospective in-laws and as you guessed, they are nothing short of amazing.

‘What is coming is better than what has gone’

As human beings must continue to want and toil, I have begun applying to more opportunities and putting concisely, the end of the tunnel still looks pitch dark. As ever, I am counting on God to come through in infinite proportions. I have not even had a  total of 100 rejections this year, I said 100 because that is the point where I say ‘wheew’ but still go again. Now that I am approaching 60, I have no right to be tired. We move.

‘Which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?’

I am currently looking outside my window awaiting the snow and at least thankful that this review is being written far away from a city in the tropics where I have called home for the last decade. In my short time here, I have found and made this place my second home because I truly feel at peace here. With my Master’s degree in progress and friendships with people from places I did not know were places, I am glad to look back with nostalgia and say 2018 was a very rewarding year. There were a lot of losses and lessons but there were much more wins. I’d normally mention my plans for the following year but this time around, I do not want to jinx it. I just hope to secure the bag in 2019.

 

windowww

Part the blinds; see through the window

My 2018 review being no exception, below are the lessons I learnt this year:

  • God is sufficient
  • Your dreams are valid. Even the wild ones
  • Always go again. Fall down twice, rise up thrice
  • Everyone needs older friends who have walked in their path to show them the ropes
  • Representation is so important
  • In all aspects of your life, always show up

 

I cannot bring myself to end this review without acknowledging certain people.

A heartfelt gratitude to God for infinite mercies and miracles this year. Alhamdulillah rabbil alameen.

Mum and dad, I am glad that more than ever, all the sacrifices you made for my education paid off this year. Thank you for giving me a gift that keeps on giving.

Jibola, Temilade, and Bisola, you outdid yourselves this year. Keep the torch aloft.

Raheemah and Salamah, I consider you to be my sisters from other mothers. God knows where it hurts us all. I hope he sends healing.

Ladi Williams, numbers can’t quantify neither can words qualify how grateful I am for giving me more than 24 hours.

Brother Sulayman, you are still the elder brother we all never had. I am glad you found peace in the US.

Amina Oke, every unmarried (Muslim) woman needs a slice of you in their lives. Thank you for never mincing words.

Umm Nabilah, I have always wished I had an elder sister. Thank you for showing me what that feels like.

Bettye, you are so kind and you have an amazing heart. I hope you keep winning.

Aisha and Samiat, may Allah ease your affairs.

Temi Kalejaiye, you have the most inspiring stories. May your light never dim.

Quadri Adewale, thank you for pushing me to send that email. It changed everything. May Allah grant you goodness.

To everyone else who was part of my year, I wish you love and light.

2018, thank you for the losses, lessons, and wins. 2019, we go again.

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2017: Her year in review

By:  Leambivert

‘Which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?’

‘2017, I have a very terrible feeling about you but I still hope you go as planned’ was the last sentence in my 2016 review. 365 days after, I wonder what I was scared of. I was able to effectively convert all the lemons the year threw at me into lemonade and I feel like I succeeded in bending 2017 to my will because so far, it has gone as planned. With an Electrical & Electronic Engineering Bachelor’s degree in the bag, relieved is how I rode into 2017. I took a vacation to England where I met friends I made off Twitter,

old trafford

That fellow symmetrically placed between the exit doors and underneath Sir Alex Ferguson. Yeah, that’s me.

visited places I had read about, shopped impulsively, and ate junk to my heart’s content. I also appeased the god of graduate admissions by visiting a couple of universities including one of my dream schools. I made the most of my 21 day holiday which made up for all the stress I went through planning my trip.

‘Endure patiently with beautiful patience’

I got mobilized this year to obey Nigeria’s clarion call and the period during which I was in NYSC camp is easily the worst 21 days of my life. I often reflect on how I made it out alive and disease free. I always give myself credit for being very adaptable but I do not know which was worst among the smell of humanity, the horrible routines, the soldiers, or the male humans who though could not communicate properly attempted to strike conversations with me.

nysc

The floor is ‘NYSC camp is fun’

I kept to myself a lot and maintained very minimal human interaction. People did seem to enjoy camp and someone even hoped our stay would be extended to 3 months. If that had happened, I may have been taken out on the 25th day in a body bag.

 ‘Do people think they’ll be left to say they believe and not be tested?’

Verily, with every difficulty, there is relief.’

2017 decided I did not suffer enough in camp and decide to throw me bags of distress during my search for a place of primary assignment (PPA). I redeployed to Lagos immediately after camp and although, I had 2 offers, I just was not satisfied with them. After about a month, some sprinkles of worry, a handful of sadness, a dash of compromise, I finally got settled in my current place of work. So far, excluding the stress at the weekly Community Development Scheme (CDS) it has been a great experience, I have had a chance to meet and interact with really amazing humans.

‘…increase me in knowledge’

2017 travelled with the speed of light and it did not leave room for me to write anything. I blame it on the fact that unlike other years, I was very emotionally stable this year. If you however let me regard my graduate studies application and funding essays, then I wrote about 30 things this year. For all the things I did not write, I made up for by reading.

2017 books

E-books because they have no weight but occupy space

 

The book club I joined last year did not make it past the first quarter of this year and so, I had to latch onto self-motivation. As at the time of writing this essay, I had read 54 books in 2017. I know 2018 will be pale compared to 2017 in this regard because I envisage a busy year ahead.

 ‘Be patient over what befalls you’

I hit new levels of low in 2017 when I struggled with my weight and my skin. This will sound funny to those who know me because in the real sense of it, I am slim and I don’t understand why I felt so insecure. After tubs of salad, series of jogs, intense portion control, NYSC camp, Ramadan fast, and gross reduction of carbohydrates, I went down 6kg to 59kg (to put it in perspective, my height is about 5ft 8”). Due to the intense exposure to the sun at NYSC camp, my face got ruined. It got so dark and rough which made me look like I had a charcoal bath while scrubbing my face with stones. I became a product junkie and spent regrettable amount of resources on skin care products. It is now way better than it was and I am just here hoping the lord of glo up deems my face worthy of a visit in 2018.

 ‘And whoever puts his trust in God, He will be enough for him’

The last quarter of this year was a mentally and emotionally tortuous one. I had so much to do and it just felt like deadlines were taking turns to laugh at me. When I wasn’t freaking out, I was either worried, or editing essays. All these happened because I was applying for graduate studies and funding. A lot of times during this process, I cried and wondered why I am not from a more privileged background. I was weary and sick of trying because I was struggling to get what some others get on a diamond platter but somehow, I found peace and rolled along. In retrospect, I learnt a lot from the whole process and so far, I have celebrated little wins and little victories. I am writing this paragraph with the hope that the god of rejection mails does not locate me in the coming year.

And we have created you in pairs’

Things got a little serious on the relationship front this year. I finally met my ‘internet’ crush from 2016 when I went to England and it has been long distance for almost a year. If I were to take the long walk now, I would choose to walk with this human who has been supportive in unbelievable proportions and is easily the best thing that happened to me this year. Together, we have celebrated little wins and grieved over losses and I find it amazing that we recognize we are best friends before anything else. If this person was not in the picture, I honestly do not know who would have been at the receiving end of catching flaks and listening to my everyday rants. In my yearly reviews, this is the part where I hint about finding the loml. Concisely put, for now, that search has been put on hold because I have found an almost perfect fit.

We plan, God also plans but God is the best of planners.

Adulting hit me a little hard this year. I moved out of my parent’s house just so I could be close to work and let’s just say I have not quite explored the full range of the freedom I now possess. As planned, I started off this year trying to meet more people off Twitter but that did not go past March because social interactions truly stress me out. Also in line with my plans, I started voluntarily teaching Mathematics to young girls in public secondary schools to kick-start my long-term goal of increasing the number of women in STEM. So far, it has been a great experience and has made me reflect on the depth of rot in our education sector and if Nigeria can ever get to Canaan. 2017 is not nearly as eventful as 2016, I had a quiet year and which I achieved almost all I planned to.

‘Indeed, what is to come is better than what has gone by’

Hopefully, 2018 is the year where I kick some more ass by completing my NYSC, getting a job, taking my coding and Qur’an memorization more seriously, starting my Master’s degree (hopefully in my dream school) and following through with all the other plans I have rolled out in my head.

Here are a few lessons I picked up over the last 365 days:

 

  • Sometimes, revenge is more effective than forgiveness
  • I can achieve anything as long as I put my mind to it
  • It is okay to stand your ground sometimes even with all the odds against you
  • Usually, something has to give
  • Acknowledge your privilege and be grateful for it

Will it not be rather wrong of me to end this review without some form of acknowledgement?

Unadulterated thanks to God for the little wins, victories and mercies this year.

Grateful to my family for solicited and unsolicited support.

Raheemah and Salamah, we have evolved from being friends to sisters. I hope the bond strengthens with time and 2018 is kind to you both. Sending you love and light.

Gabriella, Idu, and Ope, thank you for lighting up lunch time with amazing conversations.

Ladi Williams, you are my favourite person of 2017. Thank you for coming through on days I was too scared to live. For all you’ve been, all you are, and all you will be, words cannot do justice.

Uncle Suleiman, you are the elder brother we all never had. I am rooting for you and hoping America treats you well. Greatness awaits.

Jibola, I owe you one for all the support and words of encouragement.

Nazira, Kosi, Loveth, Blessing, Chinenye, and Wole, thank you for helping me stay sane in NYSC camp.

Lape Arojo, you went out of your way to be nice to me though you barely know me. May you always find help whenever you seek.

Abdulrahman, Aisha, Toun, and Muqhtar, I hope you all win.

Quora, thank you for been there all these years.

 

2017, it has been quite a ride. 2018, bring it on.

 

 

Cover Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

 

 

Time and Time again

We used to journey down the stairs
To what looked like a garage
Found a little crevice in the cemented ground
And sowed two seeds of beans
The daily shower of love
And the helplessness that contorted our faces
the moment its green began to yellow
Triple our initial investment, it did give
Mother could not have been prouder

Etched into my memory
Are the days of fetching water two blocks away
How horribly we tied our ‘osukas’
The struggle for hydro-equilibrium
And how we got home with half the amount
No matter how hard we tried

Recall the time we had tuberculosis
Or whooping cough
Or a strain of both
How injections brought no relief
And ‘alabukun’ felt like bants
The combined disappointment on our faces
knowing that the elixir we so fiercely sought
lay in the urethra of a cow

In what has been two decades
you have been a constant
a stubborn constant
that puts the derivative to shame
Time and time again

To you, my first friend

_aJibola

 

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Jigsawed Origins

Truth Rating : 76.63%

Every fibre of her feeble being echoed songs of debilitation but she was utterly indifferent to their call. Her tired body was the least of her worries as she had just descended a flight of poorly-constructed steps and had been walking on a reddish-brown path for what seemed close to an hour. Her body was screaming “stop” but it seemed only her mind was with her on this; this in turn aggravated the deposition of lactic acid to her muscles.

It was February and the chilly dust-laden winds from the Sahara formed dense fogs on the road and blocked out visibility almost completely. The rustle of the leaves never failed to break the dying silence she needed to think. She just had an appointment with her doctor in effect to the issue with her husband whose last wish as at the time was another child. From his perspective, the timing of such an event was absolutely wrong because he just got retrenched from his workplace for a crime he knew nothing about. He depended solely on his meager savings and his wife’s paltry income to sustain the family.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Myriads of thought raced through her mind as she moved slowly to the bus stop. To further worsen the situation, she already had a child who was only a few months old and still relied heavily on breast milk. They must have allowed the exuberance of nascent marital life lead them to such dead end. Left to her, she would have succumbed to abortion as clearly exuded by her husband’s actions; but it took the re-assuring words of the doctor to talk her out of such heinous crime. “I am going to have this baby” she said to herself.

Amidst the confusion, the chaos, and the pain, his estimated time of arrival was the last day of August but the reason he delayed for close to 48 hours still posed an enigma to most people. His birth wasn’t greeted with so much celebration like that of his elder sibling. In fact, the name given him by his parents further bolstered the fact that he wasn’t planned for and only God’s will was done

With his father’s seemingly large nuclear family and the burden of numerous dependent relatives, the pressure to secure another job intensified by the minute; but it appeared as though his cloud had no silver lining and his tunnel of hope had anything but light at its end. His wife never for once relented in supporting the family. She took to part-time teaching as a way to increase cash flow; but it takes more than one wing for an eagle to soar. Moreover, her position in her work place had been reeking in absolute stagnation for close to 5 years. All her contemporaries were way ahead of her in office rank; She instantly became an object of ridicule and an example in a prayer point people prayed against.

Then, his parents dreaded holidays because it reminded them of the school fees they were to pay in a couple of weeks to come. Most times, the minuscule fees were paid in installments and help had to be sought from supportive family friends and his mother’s colleagues at work. But in spite of being cocooned in the sticky webs of apparent hardship, the seed of contentment was sown in the hearts of these children for they seemed to understand the situation perfectly; they weren’t too overbearing.

Another thing which brought respite to their parents was the exceptional intellectual gift displayed by these children; Some owed it to the genetic transfer of intelligence from parents while others ascribed it as a way of consolation adopted by the children to their parents. They beamed like stars wherever they went. In fact, on some occasions, their parents had to change their schools to ascertain the children’s consistency upon hearing a lot of sinister words from jealous parents. Despite this, their positions in their respective classes never experienced an increase in ordinality; it was ever-constant like the density of mercury.

The family’s ship eventually made it to the calm shores of the turbulent waters of life’s vicissitudes after 4 years of battle with the raging tides. His father got a job and alleviated the burden his wife had been shouldering for the better part of half a decade.

But as he grew up, he noticed that his elder sibling was his father’s favourite and almost similar action put up by them generated different reactions from his father. Perhaps, the circumstances around his birth, the father-daughter bond, his striking resemblance with his mother or his inability to spontaneously read his books were the most probable causes. He usually got scolded and compared to his sister occasionally and most times it served as an impregnable barrier between him and things he needed from his father. All these pained him to the very marrow of his bones but he usually found consolation in his mother. Then, his family got divided into 2 distinct teams. And as the obvious underdog, his mother had no choice than to root for him against the strong family opposition.

He didn’t only inherit superficial looks from his doting mother, he also made sure he got some resilience and determination from her. These were either lacking or not prioritized in his sister’s repertoire of virtues; these virtues gave him the fighting chance that enabled him narrow the gap despite his sister’s academic giant strides.

Meanwhile, the massive concrete wall that dammed his mother’s river of promotion had been fractured at the base and the river flowed almost without restraint. She got series of double promotions to compensate for the acrimonious years of stagnation. Some years later, the family relocated to its permanent residence in Lagos which took close to 5 years to build due to incessant financial hiccups. Everything was finding its place just like pieces in a giant jigsaw puzzle. Also worth mentioning is the fact that some being later came in not only to increase the family size but also to swim in the tranquil lake of relative luxury.

Time had a profound effect on his resilience as well as his determination; he not only mastered effectively the spontaneous reading culture, he also smashed most of his sibling’s academic record. Upon seeing the numerous achievements of Team Underdog, his father had no choice than to completely obliterate the family division and encourage the children equally. With assiduous studying by both the children, they made landmark achievements and unalloyed success in national competitions; nothing pleased their father more. This invariably made the already large shoes even more colossal for the last child who is also doing fine at her own pace.

Being someone who relishes nocturnal solitude, one chilly Thursday night, he took time to playback the memories of long gone days. He sure had a story to tell now that things were as normal as snow in December. There was so much to be thankful for. He muttered a silent ‘Thank you Lord’ and instantly obeyed his drowsy eyes into the dark confines of dreamland.