I struggle with the right words to begin this year’s review because there isn’t one word that would perfectly embody everything that this year was, or if it exists, I haven’t found it. This year was my hardest to deal with and yet it did not quite feel that way all the time. Many times this year, I was on the greatest high possible.
This year, I lost a lot of “stuff” but I gained so many people”
This year has been the greatest lesson in unpredictability and boy, has it been humbling. You see, I’m that girl, with the planner, making to-do lists, planning my day down to the hour. I make some plans three months ahead, some six months ahead, like vacations and that type of thing. Basically, I like to know what’s up all the time. When I don’t have what I deem proper control of situation, it becomes slightly obsessive, like trying to solve a Rubik’s cube and I honestly cannot stop obsessing till all my plans are perfectly laid out. That’s how I am. Can you believe that this girl had no idea she’d be bowing out of this year from *gasp* another continent? If anyone had told me at the beginning of this year as I trudged to class in below -20 degrees Celscius weather that by December, I wouldn’t be enduring another bitter winter, or drinking tea in a Ukrainian cafe with my friends, I might have laughed in their face. But, I’m here, in a country where in December afternoons, it’s literally +30 degrees, so hot I cannot function without an artificial cooling system.
Everyone knows that the country of Ukraine where I used to live has had a rough year and they’re barely picking up the pieces. When I left in May, there was just tension, however the weekend after I left things went slightly crazier; the airport was vandalized, there was a city curfew, buses were virtually non-functional in the city of Donetsk and I was just really thankful to be out because I don’t think my parents could have dealt with that level of worrying. I left Ukraine with one suitcase which had most of my favorite things, (I don’t play like that) and let me tell you that for a person who had so much stuff, it was a struggle to choose what stayed and what went home with me and to be completely honest, I imagined I was never going back and I just packed the things I would never want to lose. I took cards and photos and clothes and shoes (about one-quarter of my entire shoe collection) and it was okay. It did not feel as much like a tragedy as I thought it would. It was stuff.
I was in Nigeria for a little over three months. I spent time shadowing a doctor in his hospital, brushed up on my driving skills and actually got a learner’s permit, then there was the terror of ebola in Nigeria. Meanwhile, it was becoming apparent that I wouldn’t be returning to Ukraine. I really did not want to have to move to another school that was not my school for reasons. I started applying to other schools, especially in the Caribbean and after I was accepted at my current school, it took so long to get all the requirements together and sent off to the school but when it was all done, I left for the UK. I hung out with my friend in Wales while I waited for a visa.
My visa was delayed for a little over a month because the government thought I was flying in from a country with ebola. It was the longest wait, because here I was, new school, new country, switch from European to American style curriculum and I was going to be late. I who am the queen of plans and readiness, joining the class a month after? I was petrified. I did spend my time in the UK well though and that tiny city of Swansea will always have my heart. It was adventurous and my freinds Dami and Oroma are the greatest. While I was there, I also attended a convention of Jehovah’s witnesses that has probably changed my life forever and I still remember the closing words of the last talk
stop being anxious about “stuff“
What is “stuff” anyway? Stuff is material possessions. It’s so easy to forget what’s important when you have so much stuff! Or when all you want is to acquire more stuff. You want the newest model of everything when what you have works great, you value “stuff” more than people, more than friendships and the thought of not having surplus makes you break out in a sweat. There is such a thing as being content with the present and being content with enough. If you have surplus, that’s great, but keep your eyes open so that your surplus does not become your crutch, because possessions are the most unstable things in the world. They’re here one minute and gone the next and it’s so easy to say “oh I know what’s important” but do you really? Life is so much simpler when you have just what you need.
I did get the visa and I’m here after a long semester. It’s all done. I made it. I struggled in the beginning so I was glad to get such great scores at the end of the day and I’m feeling so incredibly proud of myself and thankful to God for rewarding all my efforts.
At the risk of this post becoming over 2000 words long, I shall now proceed to share:
- The most important thing I have learned this year is that the sun will always shine. Even after months of deep dark winter, years even, the sun will shine. So keep walking in that tunnel, it eventually has to end. The sun will shine. You will see the sun.
- I probably spent two-thirds of this year worrying. BRUH. BRUH. BRUH. Just sitting and worrying and you know what it changed? Nothing. I prayed so many times, apologized a thousand times to God for the insult that my worrying was to him. I remember saying
it’s really not that I don’t trust You
I do trust him, humanity is just overpowering sometimes.
- I have learned or have become aware that I need people. I need my people. Even when I’m not confiding, or complaining, I need them, like every good movie needs a great sound track. I need them to give my life a little colour, a little more life. I have learned to need, to reach out, rather than let my issues drown me. I am thankful for my people, my family, my friends from Ukraine who try to stay in touch even though life is pulling us in so many directions, my friends here who make me feel like I’m home even if I’m oceans away and my sister-friends- Esther, Tiwa, Chioma, Ulo, Okaima who teach me kindness, grace, passion, patience and resilience. I am thankful for you.
- I am thankful for the gift of honesty, the peace it brings when you say your piece and how much lighter you feel when everything is laid out and when you can put masks away.
- This year, I am grateful for good health. I never had to go to a hospital this year. My parents and brother are alive and well and my friends are leaving this year better than they were when it started.
- This year, I learned the importance of resilience, perseverance, the value of hard work and just never quitting. Many days, I really wanted to just lay in bed and feel sorry for myself and I am thankful that I did not. You can lay in bed for an hour and feel sorry for yourself but don’t do it for a whole day, it just makes you sadder.
- This year, I learned so much about myself and what I want in a partner and generally what I want in life. It’s all not perfectly clear still, but I’m learning to be patient and be okay with that.
- My most understanding companion this year has been my writing. It stayed, even after months of ZERO writing, I would still put pen to paper and create and I cannot express how thankful I am for that. I am thankful for photography; that pictures are there for when my words are not enough and again I can thank Oroma for teaching me how to shoot manual, use my camera settings to achieve good quality photos without even editing!
- This year, I learned BALANCE. I learned to go out with friends on weekends and still do school work and balance, ever delicate balance kept me sane.
- This year I’m grateful for Sia, Ingrid Michaelson, M.I, Sam Smith and ColdPlay for their wonderful music, for all the feels they gave me.
- I live in a country where I see the ocean on my way home from school and I see the most beautiful sunsets every single evening. Jehovah could not have sent me to a better place. Here, my jollof rice tastes the way it should. Here, people laugh like they couldn’t live if they didn’t. Here, people are honest and happy and friendly and at the bank, people talk to strangers about ex-girlfriends and people at travel agencies tell you about the cruise ships they work on and you see life through everyone’s eyes. It’s no Europe. It will never be, but there’s really nowhere I’d rather be.
After years away from home, I found it, again, in 2014.