For many, 2020 has been a year of ups, downs, and many in-betweens. We know you have a lot to tell us and have asked that, as one big family, we all share our joy, pain, wins, losses, and successes through the year.
For Jessica Ireju, 2020 came with a lot of gbas gbos, but she is glad to have survived this. year.
At the beginning of the year, I was excited. Probably because it was the start of a new decade or that I would be celebrating a milestone birthday this year, either way, this was going to be “my most fulfilling year yet.” I intended to tell stories by blogging or hosting a podcast; I believed it and confessed it. I didn’t get to do either but I got to tell new stories. This has been my most consistent year journaling. With 300 journal entries later, I can tell you for free that 2020 gave out a lot of gbas gbos but we move.
The harmattan arriving unexpectedly in January after failing to show up in December should have been a pointer to me that this was the year of the unexpected. For me, it was a year of gaining weight, leaving comfort zones, and falling in love with Chike’s music. I flunked my first job interview in January. Somehow, walking into the meeting with my grey pants, heels, and armour of confidence was not enough to get me the job. I told myself that there are still 300+ days left in the year, surely I can land another job. There’s no need to hold your breath; I didn’t land another 9-5 gig this year.
Between eating my sister’s homemade samosas, falling in love with web series and short films (my favorites were During Ever After, The Men’s Club, 12 seasons, and I’m currently waiting on episode 3 of Unveiled), not paying attention to my natural hair, and writing essays on BN, February was a blur. In March, I was featured on BellaNaija for International Women’s Day, it was a surreal moment especially when my friends and family started reposting it on social media. All I could think of was, ”hope these people know I don’t know what I’m doing with my life most days?” But 2020 was determined to make me laugh a lot with unqualified opportunities – maybe as compensation for the losses ahead. I got to teach two virtual content writing classes. When I got the invitation for the first, I almost fell off my bed laughing, I mean, I’m the girl who is always in T-shirt and shorts at home, writing. It was one of the most fulfilling moments of my year, I was glad to pay it forward. When I received an email from someone asking if I could read something she wrote, I had a full-circle moment.
I started April on a high note by attending a dear friend’s wedding. Terms like isolation, social distancing, and lockdown also became part of my vocabulary. The lockdown afforded me the opportunity to finally start an online consignment store on Instagram with my sister, maybe it was the realisation that tomorrow isn’t promised but it sure gave us a sense of confidence to start before we were ready. To be honest, some days I don’t know what I’m doing, it’s been a learning curve but it’s one of my highlights of 2020; not a lot of people can brag about starting a business with zero capital!
The thing they don’t tell you about adulthood is this: people you love die, and you get to say a lot of painful goodbyes. In May, I lost a dear family member whose death blindsided me. I don’t dread birthdays as I used to in the past but when you’re in your twenties, it seems like birthdays are reminders of all the goals you didn’t reach, so June mercifully delivered its message that I had spent a quarter of a century on planet earth.
In July, I got considered for a role on the editorial team of a digital media company. I was shocked that writing a #BNEpilogue 2 years ago had been the catalyst for what is now my writing career. I paid a lot more attention to my social media this year, LinkedIn – I finally made my first post on LinkedIn – connected me with some really amazing people, and I learned a lot (LinkedIn is a goldmine of information).
In August, I volunteered on the social media team for an NGO for women helping with organising virtual classes, meetings, strategy because I’d learned this year, from listening to the women in my life, that it’s important that women have a safe space to vent, find support and grow. September reminded me that friendships evolve, that you can love people, pray for them but you’re not called to do life with them in certain seasons and that’s okay.
I spent some time in October taking classes, gaining new knowledge in a field that interested me, and earning a certification. The #EndSARS protests swept through the country in October and, more than ever, I was convinced to do something with my influence even with less than 300 followers on Instagram; leaning into Tolu Michaels’ teachings this year had taught me everyone has a story to tell. Even when it’s one that’s been told a million times, the world still needs to hear it in your voice. I created content on my personal social media accounts to support the #EndSARS protests, wrote a post on BellaNaija, took to the streets for a prayer walk because as a Christian, my saviour didn’t die for me to sit on the sidelines while others decided if I lived or died based on what colour my hair was.
When life threatened to overwhelm me in November, I packed up my bags, thanks to the goodwill of friends, and spent 8 days in a different city. I spent it watching Netflix and chilling (I highly recommend you watch Oloture and Citation), I put my phone on airplane mode for most of those days so that I could declutter my spirit. I gained a few pounds, came back with clearer skin and new worries.
My relationships this year have been on the extreme – really good or really bad. That means I’ve made great friends, had lots of questions for God, listened to Ravi Zacharias messages because I can’t see what God’s doing most days but the summary of my faith journey this year is that if I trust God, I don’t always need to understand! I’m still learning, and growing. Some days, I think I’m never going to cut it at being a Christian but I keep walking. When I try to run, God’s love wraps me in His arms and grace whispers, “there’s a no return policy on you.” My friends and family have had a lot of highs and lows, I wish I could share but these are their stories to tell.
As the year wraps, I’ve been stuck in dress fittings for weddings as once again I’m on asoebi duties, trying to close out sales for the store, and looking at my blank goal sheet for 2021 because I don’t have any desire to write anything on it because the year never goes as planned. I really debated on whether or not I should send in a BN Epilogue. This is my third consecutive year writing one, and I wanted to have an earth-shattering win to share with the BN community but I only have stories of living. I wrote this post because when I started writing, I promised to share authentic stories by inviting people into my green room – no filters, no fluff. I hope to share a lot more stories next year. I’m working on having a blog (a little bit late, I know, but I believe everyone’s stories have timeless truths), and hosting a podcast with a friend. I’m writing this here because I know, in 2021, I need people to hold me accountable on starting these projects. Most importantly, I want to hear your own stories in the comments we’ll receive. I know I complained a lot this year, was stuck in the comparison trap but I’m glad to be alive. Maybe writing this epilogue has given me an opportunity to reminisce on my blessings this year, or it’s the news I received today that a classmate passed on, but I’m so glad to have survived 2020.
Have a story to share? We’ll love to hear it. Send in your essay to features(at)bellanaija(dot)com with the subject: 2020 Epilogues. Let us know all the twists, turns and successes 2020 came with.