2020 in Review — Life is Bittersweet

Memories, even bittersweet ones, are better than nothing, I guess.

As 2019 came to an end, I asked God what my running word was for 2020 and he gave me a phrase. He said, “take action and persist in prayers” I wondered why God would ask me to persist in prayers when He is God and He can give me these things without having to struggle in prayers. Little did I know I was about to have an unforgettable year.

While I may have wanted to write a review of 2020, I have been running from the memory joggle I would experience. I had to put myself together to document 2020 so when I’m in a better place and reflecting, I can come here to have a good read.

In trying to find a word to describe 2020, I thought about bittersweet. It was a ride similar to none and I struggled with the wheels severally.

If you ever run into me and ask me what my next plan is, I have an answer. I plan almost everything. Even if things may not go as planned, I’ll still have a backup plan because, at every step of the way, I want to be accountable to myself and know it is in line with something for the future.

I was working with She Leads Africa when the year started, simultaneously rounding off my final semester and university project work. By February, I rounded off all university work and also my internship with SLA. I felt so relieved like I could finally catch a breath. Whew! I remember the heavy sigh on that day and the PTSD of my Slack notification days after.

In March, I resumed a Content Marketing job at Kudi, no chill right? Well, I quite dislike not having a job except if I intentionally do not want to take up one. I also had a goal to transition fully into Product Design, however, I wanted to have Content Marketing on luck. I quickly realized there’s nothing like having anything on luck.

While I did my Content marketing job during the day, my night was for perfecting my product design skills. By July, I was ready to commit fully to Product Design and I resigned from my Content Marketing role. While I did not have a job I was moving to, God had told me it was time to move. I knew getting one was not going to be an impossible task for me; I had honed my skills really well and I knew how to sell them too. Eventually, I secured a Product Design job in October.

It wasn’t until June that this statement became clear.

When I was about to leave my Content Marketing Job, I was a bit worried. While I persisted in prayer, God had told me it was time to commit to the next thing but I was doubting and uncomfortable. I was worried because I’ll be living on my savings which also meant I’ll have to be a little more prudent in my spending. In as much as I knew I would adjust to managing, I also wanted to be as comfortable as I could be per time. The tiny thought of discomfort brought fear but God encouraged me. I eventually yielded and took action, I committed to learning and becoming a better Product Designer.

I was having a fairly good year. Little waves of sadness here and there but mostly good times. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, my home was filled with joy in abundance.

October started with bliss.

I had gotten this nice braids done and was close to securing a job. I could say I was happy then the #EndSARS protest happened.

This protest grew by the day and quickly gained international recognition and backing. We, the youths of Nigeria, had had enough and we were desperate to put an end to Police Brutality and the killing of the youths across the country. This one time, we thought we had a shot at winning but the protest got hijacked by hoodlums and angry mobs. Before we could turn an eye, the government had declared a curfew and angry mobs took over the streets, looting stores, killing people and burning down places.

On October 18th/19th, God had revealed to me that something was about to happen but I could barely place it. October 19th/20th, I got another similar revelation but I still couldn’t place it. I asked a few people to join me in prayers because it seemed something was going on but I could not figure it out.

On October 21st, I lost my boyfriend, Oke, to death. He was stabbed by angry mobs in his house.

Oke was a beautiful soul. We loved each other dearly. We both worked so hard and encouraged each other daily. He was my best friend, my partner, my love and my baby. I could say our hearts were intertwined because these feelings were like no other for both of us. We strongly complemented each other and shared a friendship so deep. I was the love of his life and him, mine. This love was healthy. It was calm. We had a perfect life together and actively envisioned a beautiful future together.

He lived, loved and cared deeply for everyone dear to him. He was the biggest empath I had ever met in my life, extremely selfless. He was the best and most passionate designer I had ever met. He lived a full life.

He died a hero. A great hero.

I’ll never forget him.

“You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death with the pain of it.”

As a first-timer with grief, it shook me. I was helpless and hopeless. I cried as I had never done in my life. I broke down. I was shaken, terrified, angry, sad and alone. I wondered what was left of life for me. I wondered if I’ll ever wake up from this dream. I wondered if life was still worth living. I fell into a mild depression and looked at life from a hazy view.

Slowly, I crawled back to God.

Every day in November, I woke up at 3 am to join True Christianity Prayers with Ezinne Zara.

We organized Oke’s service of songs and it felt surreal. Was he really gone? I wondered.

To be fair, I still wonder.

“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.”

December

In December, we organized Oke’s funeral and it was as if the string of hope I had been holding on to was about to be taken from me. My baby is really not waking up? After the funeral, I broke down. I struggled with the sea of life and was afraid of capsizing. This reality was new to me. My baby is gone and buried. JUST LIKE THAT!

“The darker the night, the brighter the stars, the deeper the grief, the closer is God!”

I had many questions and I went to Him with them. I went to him with my disappointments, with my anger, with my frustration, with my brokenness, with my hopelessness, with my utter sadness. I needed answers. I needed to know what was left of life and if indeed, I had a reason to move forward from this unexpected occurrence. You know what God did? He gave me answers. He comforted me.

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” — Psalm 34:18

He reminded me of how mindful He is of me. He recalled how this might have been unexpected but promised me glorious latter days. He gave me scriptures.

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” — Isaiah 40:29

He gave me revelations. He drew me closer. He comforted me every time. He gave me peace and strength. He began to renew my joy.

2021

While I ended 2020 with a heavy heart, I came into 2021 light. I had transferred my heavy burden of grief to Abba and took his which is light. I asked him for my running word and he said — “Peace, Derin”.

As I enjoy the peace of God this year, I look forward to pursuing purpose, living a more fulfilling life, breaking limits in my career, inspiring many more souls and building my baby, Be Iconique.

In conclusion, here are my thoughts in Maya Angelou’s words —

When I think of death, and of late the idea has come with alarming frequency, I seem at peace with the idea that a day will dawn when I will no longer be among those living in this valley of strange humour. I can accept the idea of my own demise, but I am unable to accept the death of anyone else. I find it impossible to let a friend or relative go into that country of no return. Disbelief becomes my close companion and anger follows in its wake. I answer the heroic question, ‘Death, where is thy sting?’ with ‘it is here in my heart and mind and memories.’

In the end, we are nothing but shadows, fading away trying to hold on to this bittersweet life that we call our own.

Product Designer with core skills in Content, Marketing and Design. Other Interests include tech, faith, mindfulness, intentional living and wholeness🌱.

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