I will be starting Nigeria’s National Youth Service Corps in Abuja soon. It’s important to me because for a long period of time, I was uncertain as to my next steps. I went through a long process of waiting. During the waiting process, I was trying to get a work visa. Then, I was later preparing to travel from New York to Nigeria. The period of uncertainty was for seven months. It filled me with a multitude of emotions. I was frustrated, embarrassed, sad and angry. I would later feel pensive, joyous, liberated and connected. During that time, I had to go through a lot of self-reflection. This helped me understand myself and my life more. I want to share what the waiting taught me.
My Identity is Not Defined by One Thing
I’ve often associated myself solely with institutions. When in school, you’re a student. When I graduated college, I no longer had the identity of a student. I started working and then I was an employee. But when I wasn’t an employee, I wasn’t quite sure of myself. In the past, I didn’t spend enough time considering and honoring the other parts of myself that brought me life. I was therefore lost after I wasn’t a student nor an employee. So I began to consume more books that would wake me up to my life. This led me to do more things that were authentic to me. I wrote more and engaged with those in a creative writing community through workshops. I spent more time in nature. I learned to revel in the simplicity of observing. I learned that the less I cling and the more I embrace all the different parts of me, the happier I am.
Wherever I Am is Enough
The waiting led to moments of silence and sadness. I cried as I could hear myself speak about what I need. My thoughts and dreams would drift back to past experiences and I reflected on my fears, patterns and needs. Because of reflection, I became more self-aware. I see how much time I wasted rushing. I understand that I had a spirit of lack. This meant nothing was ever good enough. I didn’t fully appreciate where I was at any moment because I told myself it wasn’t enough. I had my sights so set on a future that would be exactly as I expected which is impossible. That way of being would deprive me of joy. But it was a habit. It was a habit that would make me complain rather than making the most of where I am. I’ve learned that I need to constantly check myself to make sure that I am present. I’ve learned that I need to constantly remind myself to let go off expectations of how my life should be. I still look forward to and plan for my future but I’ve learned to appreciate my present state. This matters because it makes me value my life.
I’m Not Alone
I always enjoy reading, writing and having conversations that challenge and enlighten me. I read books by Gloria Steinem to Mark Nepo and by the Buddha. It filled me with a sense of peace and calm from knowing how connected we all are. The calm from knowing that we aren’t alone in our difficulties. That life shakes us all up. This would comfort me when facing the reality that I stumbled and was lost.
Also, through conversations with friends and family, I felt a sense of gratitude in knowing that in spite of my challenges, there was still joy and love around me.
Has a period of waiting had an impact on you? How?