Learning, Unlearning

Photo 30-01-2016, 21 08 47

January was a tough month for me.

It could have been worse- actually, some pretty good things came through for me this last week but, it wasn’t smooth sailing for the most part.

On January 2, I nearly had an accident. My right tyre’s ball joints gave out, so the tire dislocated. I had just begun to ascend a small flyover bridge, so thankfully, I wasn’t speeding. I was alone, it was kind of late, 8:30pm, and my night would have turned into a horrible story if it weren’t for one man, and a lovely couple that stopped to help me. My mom keeps telling me that Lagos is dangerous. She once said, “The day Lagos will show you ehnnn…” That night, Lagos nearly showed me. I was alone, and I had barely hopped into my deliverers’ car, when a good number of area boys surrounded my vehicle. Before we came back with a tow truck, more had joined. It was the makings of a crazy night. How would I have handled that on my own?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I had no doubt that God saved me that night. I had driven quite a long way, and half that distance was driven in pitch darkness (no street lighting), and the other half at super high speed because I was on the express. What if my tire had misbehaved on the dark road? Or when I was going on 100, 120? What were the odds that this nice couple saw me and instinctively, within seconds stopped to help me? I was super grateful, but that night, I was pretty shaken. I could not talk till the next day, lol.

It was discovered that the car had other issues, apart from the ball joints, but by Tuesday I had it patched up and was at least able to drive it home. Then, my tires expired and I started managing that problem too. The main upset of the car issue was that, after the cost of repairs, I wasn’t able to meet my savings goal for the beginning of the year.

That really upset me because:

I’m a planner. I love to plan. I can’t not plan. I’ve tried winging it, doing that spontaneous life thing, but it’s not me. That’s not how I get things done. Goals are unreal until I write them down. The downside to planning is, it really sucks when life happens and your plans are affected.

When Life Happens.

See. I’m a very highly strung individual. Super-duper Type A. It irritates me when I’m making plans by myself, or with others, and people are already giving reasons why we may need more time and they aren’t speaking specifically. Ehnnnn I’m busy so I don’t know if I can do this in a week, etc etc. I hate it so much. That you did not deliver because X, Y, Z happened should be the apology. What you say after you didn’t deliver- not you telling me to expect you to disappoint.

I know, I sound pretty annoying, but that’s me. And Life doesn’t care who you are.

It happened, it happens… And, there’s also that other thing about me and life happening.

It’s almost like I’m superstitious.

If I have a big day, and “life happens”- e.g. my zip pops, or my skirt burns, I somehow feel like it’s a bad omen. Like it’s a sign for how the rest of the day will go. I know, this is crazy but when I’m in the moment, that’s how I feel. My first day at my job, I was brushed in traffic. Not a major brush, but I was practically hyperventilating. Plus, there was a bad accident on 3rd Mainland Bridge that morning which caused a lot of traffic- I left my house at 5:30, and the fear of not arriving way before 8am threatened to kill me.

MeeMee was in Nigeria very briefly for Christmas. We had been meaning to get our photos taken, so we squeezed in a mini photo-shoot. The story of that is for another day (I’ll tell you about it) but let me just say- almost everything that could go wrong actually went wrong. I was somewhere between pensive, and simmering.

Everything was wrong. And, I couldn’t not focus on that. From the first thing- our location being unexpectedly closed that day, I just *knew* in my head, that it was over.

But, what if I didn’t? Maybe it was over because I believed it was?

What if I approached everything falling apart with positivity? Maybe that day could have been different? Maybe my life could be different?

It’s interesting. Many people think I’m Little Miss Sunshine. This is only half true. Where others are concerned, yes. But to myself, I do not let in this sunshine enough. I worry a lot. I stress too much. I overthink things more than most people do. Though little things make me happy, the littlest things also throw me off. I’m often very anxious, and if it weren’t for some special grace, I think I’d be highly susceptible to depression. The other day, I apologised to MeeMee for all the negativity she has to deal with on the regs- I know I’ve been pretty extra in the last few months.

I go through the highs and lows, just like everyone else, but I realise that with learning to adult, and taking on more responsibility, I cannot go on the way I always have.

Even though I did not go on vacation, the first work week of the year was especially tough for me. I was extra tired, I could not be productive, I was freaking out at the slightest, I felt extra extra pressed. By week 2, I had begun to feel physically ill, in fact, two times or three, I was so dizzy. I felt very ‘off’, I had no desire to move myself, and so I asked my mom if her driver could take me to the hospital. I felt that unwell.

He did, and my blood was taken, tests run. They returned, all clean. Nothing was wrong with me. Not a damn thing. So, I looked at myself. I had to. Physically okay, but mentally a mess. This was in fact, what was weighing on me so heavily that I felt like crap, and other people could see it too. I had to think about it.

Sure, being a type A person is who I am. It’s how I bluddy function. It’s how Beyoncé runs the world. It’s just the way I am. But do I really have to be this way? Like ALL of it?

So I told myself. It’s no longer a joke. “I’m such a stress queen, lol” is no longer funny.

Why am I always stressed? Why is my default mode stress?

Can’t find a file? Stress (Being frantic is the reason why I won’t find it anyway)

New task? Stress.

I don’t want to be a stress queen anymore. I don’t want to feel stressed. I hate it. It affects me. It is distracting. At my office, I am introduced to new things. I get this thing I haven’t done before, so I take it on, but lowkey worry about it. I spend more time fussing over the parts that don’t matter before I can finally think clearly and do the thing I had always been capable of.

So. Even though all the optimism I felt on December 31 was knocked out of me by January 2, I’m happy that somehow, I’ve been able to draw it back in.

I started out the next day (after I had the talk with myself) with positive affirmations. They may sound silly, but I realised I had one of my best days. The affirmations started out like this:

“I will have a good day. I will not be stressed today. I will not freak out. I will make progress today…”

I went on from that, to the things I wanted for others. The whole drive I went in silence, just me and the sound of my voice, and it was a day better than most.

Since then, I’ve been practising speaking to myself positively. Learning to let go. It’s the only way I’ll survive. I plan the predictable bits ahead- like what to wear, and I strive to be asleep by 10pm. I’m developing my own routine or action plan for my tasks, I’ll probably write that down and paste it somewhere- for the times my brain is too anxious, or so busy freaking out that it can’t do simple things.

I’ve been reminded of something I once learnt: Quiet Time is important. I no longer start the day with Traffic Radio (same old, same old everyday anyway). I say my prayers, or tell God how I want my day to be, about the things I want to achieve. It often starts out like a traditional prayer with song, and ends up with gist. Even when I can’t pray, the silence helps me.

I no longer listen to party music in the morning. I love me my pangolo but I need to gather myself in the mornings. I drive to work without music, or if the traffic is a lot, I listen to something: lately, Asa. Note to self: I need to make a playlist for the bad days.

On life in general, this quote from Kitchen Butterfly sums it up really, the approach I’m trying to build, to not be overwhelmed.

“There’s no making time, there’s just doing because I’ve discovered that the art of making time is the mother of procrastination.”

Make of that, what you may.

February, I see you. And you will be better. 


34 thoughts on “Learning, Unlearning

  1. I am glad I am not alone – Asa is my go to calming music. This post looks to me to be from someone who has their act together in spite of everything… Very well done IMO. God keep you safe.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This post made me so sad, i can only imagine how scary your accident was and I’m thankful that God didn’t it to go another way

    And your tips on how to deal with stress – affirmations, prayer, uplifting playlists – are definitely what i need to start doing to reboot from this month of constant worry

    I’m glad you shared and I hope you continue to let us know what else works for you 🙂 February shall be another (brighter) story

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Ekene,

    I couldn’t help but smile while reading through your post. Your personality definitely describes me.
    At some point, I thought I was reading about myself.

    Strangely, I had a similar health condition as yours in November,2015.
    I was dizzy often, light headed, and sometimes I could almost blank out literally.

    I ran some blood test cause I was positive I was ill. To my surprise, there was No-thing!

    The consultant whom I spoke with gave an assessment of a “chronic Stress Disorder”.
    He told me to take a chill pill on life and just accept certain things the way they were.

    He even almost suggested a referral to a psychiatrist/psychologist if I didn’t feel better after one week ( you won’t blame him. my symptoms from clerkship were Very MUCH “in keeping” with that of Depression- I wish I could tell you more 🙂

    Of course, I don’t ever want to battle with the stigma of a mental illness (depression) so I had to do some self talking.

    I even embarked on a #projectHappy scheme for myself. I started saying and thinking positive things. I’ve been meditating a lot. Eating Healthy, and Exercising. I’ve taken my Quiet and personal time more seriously- churning on God’s word.

    Believe me, it’s helped a whole lot.
    At the end of the year 2015, my Resolution for 2016 was to #stayHappyAlways.

    My bible verses for the year are-
    *Philippians 4: 4- 8
    *Ecclesiastes 11:10

    I hope you find this helpful darling. We have no right to stay unhappy or allow the pressures of life wear or stress us out for a second -if we think about Brevity of life.

    So to you darling, #StayHappyAlways Let nothing affect that or take that away.



    Liked by 2 people

  4. I realized a long time ago that overthinking and over worrying may be the cause of most of my problems and suspended dreams.
    Hasn’t stopped me from overthinking and over worrying but I sure am trying.
    I really hope you have a stress-free February and beyond. X

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Girl, thank God you had rescuers on the day of your accident o! OMG I would have been scared out of my pants!

    On the other points, everyone has those days, some more than others. But at least you’re doing something about it with the affirmations and praying to start your day. Not everyone can be expected to be happy-go-lucky all the time. But knowing that “this too shall pass” is something to always remember during the down times.

    I’m sure you’ll have a better February.

    Berry Dakara Blog

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank God!!! He showed who’s boss!

    But did you notice something about that situation?
    A. I’m pretty sure you did everything right with your car which was why you felt confident taking it out.
    Life: You make plans to make sure things go smoothly.

    B. Out of the blues, your tires pulled
    Life: You can’t control every situation.

    C. Some people you didn’t know came out of the blues to help you out. It could have gone any other way.
    Life: Just trust the God’s got your back always and it’ll always turn out for the best.

    D. You went to have it repaired and noticed other problems that had to be treated.
    Life: Sometimes that bad start may just help you avoid the worst situations.
    Had the story ended any other way, your savings would have been the least of your problems!

    I’m glad that you’re taking the right steps to be calmer.
    I’m also a stress queen!

    One thing that’s helping me is writing a general list of what I want to do for the day/month/year but not being so strict on the particular order of accomplishing them.
    I’ll pray on it, start my day and make a game of finding the opportunities on that day that helps me tick stuff off my list. Looks like God was looking at my list too because when I get back, at least one thing is ticked off….sometimes for something I planned months in advance.

    Also, have you also tried listening to classical music too?
    For some reason “Flight of the bumblebees” seem to calm me down when I’m stressed out.

    Wishing you the best of February! 😘

    Liked by 1 person

    • True! It definitely helped avoid the worst. The mechanic observed that my brake pads were quarter to gone. That would definitely have made for a bigger bigger problem! Thanks Hadassah! I’ll YouTube Flight of the Bumblebees x


  7. I’m definitely with you on the stress, and it seems these days I have become mother procastinator. I will definitely do more to integrate that quote into my life. I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions but if there’s one thing I am striving for from this point on in life (as I ‘adult’ lol), is to stop planning what I need to do and start doing what I need to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Driving in Lagos is always scary for me,so I dare not imagine myself in your shoes. Since I started my natural hair journey, I have began to set target for myself and achieve them and I pray a lot towards those targets too.
    You have engaged the spirit of positive confession, every other thing will fall into place.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank God for His Infinite mercy and His sufficient grace for us,it’s God all the way. I also pray that this Feb.which happens to be my birth month,that I will work on my stress issues and procrastination attitude,and also apply most of your ideas in my life by just doing those things that I really need to do and not just plan and plan and never do any at the end of the day. One day at a time so help me God,Amen.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I’m so glad you had people to help you during the car issues. God is looking out for you 🙂 This post echoes many things I went through last year. Like you, I tend to worry, stress, and over plan. It got so bad that I wasn’t taking care of myself and my hair started falling out. 😯 I promised myself that I would take better care of myself and focus on things I can handle. It’s working so far and my hair is coming back.

    It seems like you have a pretty good plan to help with the stress. Just take it moment by moment. I want you to win. I’m not part of the ‘they’ that DJ Khaled talks about on his snaps. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. First of all,I really love hat pic at the top there!.Thank God you had people to help you when your care broke down,it’s not a funny tin to be in a situation like that in the night.I definitely have a “sad days” playlist and Asa is on it.Hope february brings blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. stress queen! So true. Had to start listening to Joyce Meyer on a daily basis. Best idea to start the day with God and positive affirmations.

    Had a major sad bout last year, but with God’s help I was able to come out the other side. Trusting God is the best thing we can do.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Awww AB ({})
    God was definitely rescuing you with a quickness that night.
    As for the stress, the best thing is you’ve recognised it and you’re working to lower it.
    Prayer is amazing. Even before you get what you’re asking for, you get “the peace of God that excels all thought”.
    Buzz me if you ever need to vent guilt-free or have a stress-busting girl time out.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I love this post, and I am sure many of us can relate to this. We appreciate your transparency!

    Sounds like you have a great plan to remain stress free!

    I challenge you in 2016 to up your goals #StayHappyAlways to #ChooseJoyAlways.

    Happiness is a temporary feeling we seek to feel a void but Joy is a feeling you have through your life “storms”, because you know God is with you always!

    It is okay to feel sadness and pain, and when I feel down and depress, I fall on my knees and cry out to the Lord giving Him Praise and ask Him for help through your situation.

    “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”- Duet. 31:6

    I pray that Lord provides you with comfort and you find joy in Christ Jesus!

    Love you : )


    Liked by 1 person

  15. aww Ekene, this post resonated so closely with me. I can relate so much to how you feel and the way you navigate through life. It’s been such a struggle for me and I went through a period where I couldn’t do the whole music thing. Now, i’m slowly getting lazy again but I think I’m more mindful to how life is going. Like you said, you are more than capable to do whatever life throws at you and even if you fail at some, you will learn and get back up. Keep up the prayers. Also, i know you like reading.maybe try reading “feel the fear and do it anyway”. it’s a book based on positive thinking and it did help me somewhat 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m glad you are well and I am really really grateful to God for how those strangers helped you, I can relate to the overthinking and stress, it got to a point my BP was rising, literally! I just want you to know you’re not alone and I know and pray Feburary will be a better month for you xx


You say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s