I call 2019 the mixed bag year. It was a year ladened with a lot of twist and turns; a roller coaster run of days–one minute I would be leading my normal life and minding my business–the next, I would be swooning from yet another dart life throws at me. With the happenings this year, I have become further convinced that life never really gets easier, we just get tougher. And so in that spirit, and in the spirit of my yearly tradition, I’ll be sharing five lessons 2019 taught me. I hope it’s helpful to someone out there.
Always temper expectations
It’s okay to be optimistic and to have a few trusted friends, family members or colleagues. However, regardless of how close a person is to you or how well they have proven to be reliable over the years, you need to remember to temper your expectations of them. Not because they would set out to disappoint you or fail to come through for you when you need them, but for the fact that they are human. They have frailties just like you. They get distracted, they have stuff going on in their life that overwhelms them. They fall sick; they experience hard times. Again, the human factor cannot be ignored. Remind yourself of this reality whenever you are inclined to believe the whole world is against you or oblivious to your pain and you’ll be in better stead to handle disappointment.
Let things go
There’s much ado about forgiveness; the need to let go of hurt and refrain from detesting people for the wrong they have done us. If you imagined I was about to suggest anything to the contrary, you’re wrong. I am about to reiterate the advice. I’d tweak by saying, “Forgive at your own pace”, however, and not because society is railroading you into pseudo-forgiveness. This year more than ever before, I witnessed firsthand the destructive effect of hate. It’s unarguable that people are going to offend us. Again and again, we will be wronged by others, especially those closest to us. Nonetheless, it’s in our best interest to let things slide after a while. Spewing vitriol and marinating self in bile because some jerk is unapologetic about their misdemeanor will only drive us further into the murky waters of resentment.
Never lose your dignity/Keep your head up
In Nigeria, eroded dignity is a common phenomenon. There’s hunger in the land; people are trading truth for a few wads of naira. Everyone tries to make you feel less than you are because your value is tied to how much you earn or your family background. It has become permissible to look the other way when injustice is done; reason: everyone is hustling for their daily bread. It’s why we now have a preponderance of internet beggars; people who have jettisoned every fabric of respect (if ever they had any) on the altar of survival. For the love of all things good, you should never see yourself in those shoes. By all means, be poor or broke or down, but do not lose the essence of who you are. Refuse to be talked down at; you deserve respect. And yes, it’s infinitely possible to be cash-strapped, yet retain one’s dignity. Do menial jobs rather than beg. Life doesn’t promise anything, in fact, more often than not, it has us dealing with more bad than good. Keep your head up.
Those who won’t appreciate your value won’t
One of the things you must come to terms with if you will have peace of mind is that some people will never appreciate who you are or the value you bring to the table no matter how much you try. You’ll exhaust yourself if you go into overdrive trying to constantly prove your worth to this kind of people. It can be demoralising, but you must appreciate your own intrinsic value as well as the value of the skills you possess enough to call anyone’s bluff when they attempt to downplay your efforts.
With loss, you cannot relate, you can only imagine until it happens to you
The singular most devastating thing happened to me this year–I lost my dad. I still grapple with the reality of the loss; the finality of it all. That I’ll never see my dad again in flesh wells up the kind of pain I cannot adequately describe. When the same thing happened to other people, I could only imagine how they felt, I couldn’t relate, particularly to those who lost their parent(s) when they were kids. Now I know…I can relate because I have experienced it. So the next time someone tells you about the pain of miscarrying a baby or losing a job or going through heartbreak, understand that you are incapable of feeling the depth of what they feel because you can only imagine, you cannot relate.
These are some of the key lessons I learnt in the course of 2019, care to share yours?