The world is in a state of flux. The sweeping feeling is that of anxiety and confusion. And this time around, the apprehension is not an exclusive lot of a few or some far-flung corner of the universe. No. COVID-19 has distributed and ensconced itself in a way that has continued to confound even the sceptics. One day we were living our lives, going about our businesses with gusto or indifference or lethargy, oblivious of what was around the corner. The next, a strange disease showed up and chucked all our best-laid plans in the bin.
Back in school, I had friends who always had to be in a romantic relationship. Once their lover broke up with them or they had to do the same thing for some reason, they didn’t know what else to do with themselves, so they said “yes” to the next guy who showed interest. Sometimes, it was because they were wary of appearing undesirable to the opposite sex in an environment where it was the fashionable thing to be coupled up. The pressure to be seen as wanted was real and not everyone could withstand it. Most of the time, however, it was the fear of being alone.
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.
If it were a football match, it’d be regarded as a haul. A return of four statuettes in any awards ceremony is a remarkable feat anywhere in the world. Like a sudden storm on a sunny day, Teni’s sweep of many coveted categories at The Headies came as a surprise. She has had a good year, but not even the bookies envisaged her outstanding success at the event. For someone who chose to jettison the script for female artistes, her wins and continued rise to becoming a force to acknowledge in an ultra competitive industry holds a few lessons for the discerning mind.
If there’s a category of people who know a thing or two about rejection, self-doubt and uncertainty, it is writers. One time a police officer asked what I did what for a living and when I simply said “Writer”, I could see the quizzical look on his face. A look that asked, “Is that even a job?”. Toeing a path where you are never sure of the outcome of your efforts can be mind-crippling. For the creative, there’s the constant pressure to create; and not just create, but surpass the success of previous work.
It’s the six-letter word everyone aspires to. The evidence that we are not where we used to be. Proof of our progress. The desire for growth is embedded in the human psyche; there’s hardly anyone who, for instance, would not have it listed as a new year resolution—either overtly—or covertly. The quintessential human aspires to…
He had tweeted, “Your boyfriend is an Uber driver”, and to be sure the mockery was not lost on his audience, he posted “laughing in tears emojis” along with his tweet. In his opinion, Uber driving was not a profession to be proud of and a girl whose boyfriend drove an Uber should hide her face in shame.
It’s the zeitgeist of our time: the derision of those we perceive as unimportant or lacking material possessions.
Success…to be deemed successful—the story we all want—that earnest yearning to be looked upon as one of the few who knows exactly what they are doing. The admiration, the fandom even that we fantasise about when we put our plough to work. We are positive that we can make a career out of our hobby or passion and so we pursue it for love, for joy, for self-gratification; and in the hope that someone else, maybe two, will connect with our conviction. Sometimes, our hunch is right; we get all the plaudits and everyone wonders why we did not start off earlier. At other times, however, they give the damning verdict—”You are not nearly as good as you thought.”
Recently, a cab driver hit on me. It wasn’t a shy, can-we-be-friends-first-and-then-you-know-maybe-something-can-happen-from-there kind of hitting on. It was a full-blown, I-really-like you-and-would-like-to-date-you-and possibly-marry-you kind of hitting on. It was cute. A tad annoying, but cute. He had been sent to pick me up for an appointment of sorts, and I had every right to be upset by his utterances. He was being unprofessional and if I had reported him to his employers, he may have been heavily reprimanded or even lost his job. But aside the slight the irritation I initially felt, I admired his courage. I was impressed with his guts and it got me thinking…