I used to live on the Lagos Mainland while working on the Island. I left for work at 7am then 6am and finally 5am as the traffic situation got worse each year.
A friend reminded me that I was addicted to Red Bull and coffee in those days. I rarely saw daylight. I would leave home before daybreak and return after sunset. I needed something to keep me awake during the day.
At 27 years old, I had a character meltdown. I’m not sure if I was exposed to power too early (I was already an Executive Director) or if I was surrounded by the wrong people. I made some terrible decisions. The main reason was loneliness. My mentor at the time, was going through some terrible things and I felt I couldn’t burden him with my own ish. I didn’t really have anyone else to call me to order. So I did what I liked.
People respond to loneliness in different ways. Some turn to alcohol, food, sex or drugs to fill the empty spaces. Some become more spiritual. Some like me, malfunction. Some get busier – they’re constantly on the move as they seek to distract themselves from themselves.
I think the turning point came when I admitted my loneliness and unhappiness. I told myself I was unhappy. It didn’t matter what anyone thought – that I was lucky to be who I was; that I had a great job and good health. People don’t know your life story and it’s presumptuous of them to do a comparative analysis of their pain and yours.
I was unhappy and that was that.
Once I admitted it, I began to carefully think about what made me happy and what was taking away from it. I discovered the things I was doing were not making me happy contrary to the world’s promise.
I realised I wasn’t a corporate person. I hated meetings and corporate culture and had been killing myself at my job in consulting. So I pivoted to focus on and develop a new social media practice.
I was no longer understanding church and all its activity, so I just stopped. I resigned from working in church and began attending as a regular member. It was so restful. Following my furlough, I now serve in the social media unit where there are no meetings and no politics.
I began to repair my personal relationship with God. I was taking him for granted. Now I’m trying to make him front and centre. It’s hard but I will stick to it. I really like him.
I craved deep free flowing conversation. A relationship would have helped but as one cannot buy boyfriends in the market, I did the next best thing. I started writing more on social media and enjoying the banter on my timeline.
Music makes me happy so I subscribed to Deezer so I could continually discover new music. I’ll be spending more time listening to music. I remember years ago, I would lie on my bed with my headphones and do nothing else but listen for hours. I’m going to bring back those days. I’ll also attend more live concerts.
Travelling will continue to make me happy, although, I think I’ll be doing less adventurous things and more restful things on my trips. Okay, maybe one more – jumping out of a plane. But after that, that’s it. I’m planning an American Road Trip this year in case anyone’s feeling like enjoying wide open spaces with me. I already have 2 people signed up.
I’m reading more. I bought 4 new books in the first week of the year and plan to buy more. I’ve also received one. Let’s see, I’ve got a book on philosophy, one on science, one on politics and two romance novels. That’s a good start.
I’ve taken up social drinking. I have one rule – if I’m with someone who doesn’t drink, neither will I out of respect for you. I no longer worry about eating the same thing every day. It gives me one less thing to plan. I’ve accepted that I don’t have an aptitude for fashion. I love flats not heels and gladly allow my sisters to plan my wardrobe for me. They’re good at what they do.
Fulfilling my purpose and happiness are mutually exclusive for me. Yes, I’m weird that way. The things that make me happy are completely different from the things that define my purpose, except giving. Giving bestrides both.
I have accepted myself and it’s such a wonderful feeling. Vulnerability and frailty are beautiful. They keep me humble. I have no pedestal from which anyone can knock me off. I warn those who look up to me that they are on their own. I don’t live with them in mind. I’m most comfortable being called by my first name or nickname.
I’m an introvert who no longer feels the need to manufacture energy to please people. The best way to keep me talking in person is to ply me with caffeine. I don’t follow the news. I rarely watch TV and don’t collect things. Sometimes I do nothing for hours but read and write.
When I grow up, I’m going to have a retinue of staff who allow me to be the lazy person I know I really am. The only thing I’ll cook is my peppery stew that no one else seems to cook well, and the only thing I’ll clean is my glasses. One day, I’m going to buy a private island or farm in a country that works and only allow people I like on it. For me, these things are happiness.
I admitted my unhappiness and am now taking steps to change it. What about you? Find your own happiness before it’s too late.
Credit: Subomi plumptre