FIRST HALF: JANUARY–JUNE.
At the start of 2020, all I wanted to do was write and pass my MBBS exams. I was in a study group with five weirdos (haha) and I felt very inadequate to say the least.
My life was falling apart. And everyone—especially my roommate—could tell that it was. Barely getting any sleep, I read my notebooks like my life depended on it. My bed was always littered with open textbooks. Flow charts taped on my walls. Diagrams. Pages of my slides. I read like a maniac. Read while I went about daily activities–while I walked, ate, used the toilet, bathed. My conversations with friends became revisions of what I had read. Whatever I was doing at the time, there was sure to be a tutorial video by Armando Hasudungan/Dr Najeeb or an audio of me reciting an essay playing in the background.
And God! was it a terrible time to be around me. My hygiene suffered. I would pile up dirty clothes. Dirty plates would gather at my sink begging to be washed. I barely cooked because I wanted to save time for reading. Ditched my Wednesday Literary club meetings (despite it being just one hour-o) to save time for reading. Wore a low cut and did not do my hair for all of three months to save downtime for… you guessed it… more reading. I did near everything but sell my own soul just to save time for reading. My roommate was very accommodating during this period (thank God). Every night, I would stare at the ceiling with knots in my stomach, wondering if I would even pass the stupid exam. I would say prayers.
“God. Please. Abeg. Abeg. I know it’s very unlikely that I will pass Biochem. But abeg, if you can just give me Anat and Physio. Above Fifty. Please. God. Just do me this one, please. Let’s keep our differences aside and make it happen. Abeg. Make a way. Amen.”~ Sample Prayer from March 2020.
There was nothing about writing fiction at the start of 2020. I was far too deep in school work and materials to even consider it.
And at the time, I was also very sick. I battled with insomnia and a host of other ummm… issues. I almost got hospitalized at the medical centre because of them, but when I explained to the doc that I was in MBBS class, he gave me my prescriptions and sent me straight on my way. You would think with all of these problems, our lecturers would go easy on us. Hahahahhahahahaahahhahahhahahhahahahahhahaaahahah. Bruh. These guys were fixing classes everywhere. Morning classes. Afternoon classes. Evening classes. Night classes/Osteology tutorials. They weren’t expecting us to sleep. Sleeping meant you would miss something. And who knows how important that thing you miss might be?
To say I hated my life at that point in time would be an understatement. I loathed it. I was very suicidal. I would beg for a car to run into me, a plane to crash into my bedroom. Would pray for something, anything at all, to happen so I wouldn’t have to write the exams. I knew if I wrote them, I would fail. Perhaps not all three, but I was sure to fail something (*cough* Biochem *cough*).
I barely had someone to talk to about my problems because we were all in the same sinking boat. I felt lost. Hopeless. And asking someone in class to save me seemed so selfish. Sometimes, I would just have mental breakdowns and cry my eyes out. I wished to be anything but myself. I wished to be a machine that did not sleep or fall sick, a machine that remembered. I wished someone would just grab me by the shoulders and shake me violently until my spirit calmed and my body healed itself. All around me it seemed like everyone was moving at lightening speed and I was stuck in slo-mo.
The worst part was, for some reason, there were a select few people who were legit *shining* during this period. They were looking well kept, groomed, unbothered. Not an eye bag in sight. They weren’t looking as though they were pulling all-nighters like I was. As a matter of fact, some of them (the girls yeah) had HOURS of time to sit and do long ass bumbum braids and nails and lashes. The guys too seemed like they had ample time. Would wait in the refectory, gisting, chatting, laughing. Cat walked to classes. Spent practicals taking selfies and doing more gisting.
Sight of them made my blood boil. I envied them. I mean, to be so reassured in your retention that you don’t spend every waking second trying to internalize the same thing? Kudos to you guys-o. As for me, I’m known to have trust issues. Shit, I’ve never trusted my own brain to remember shit.
So, yeah. I felt very alone and lost. And I think God knew that.J (who is luckily not a medical student) was fortunately in town at the time. We spent about a week in each other’s company and we did everything from hopping eateries to watching movies. It felt good while it lasted. But the minute he left, I was back to looking like my dishevelled self. Bugged by my anxiety. Reading. Reading. Reading. Begging that there be a glitch in the simulation on the 23rd of March (intended exam date).
Which prayer did I not pray that period? All my prayers were just clashing. The angels must’ve been so confused filing them away.
Anyway, that last prayer did get answered. But in the worst. way. possible. Pandemic hit. ASUU on strike. Lockdowns imposed. In a sane society, the news of a deadly virus wreaking havoc on the world and causing all academic activities to stop should not warrant celebrations. But I genuinely felt like I had been drowning all three months into 2020, and news of the break was somewhat like being drawn up for air. Every MBBS student I knew personally celebrated it and in no time, school was a desert.
I took advantage of the free time to study and become consistent. I developed this blog you are reading right now as well as my medium page (which was a hit for a moment *humble brag*). I finally had time to read and write fiction, and it felt good to go back to that. At the back of my mind though, I feared that at any point in time, the strike could be called off and I would be back to university studying all three devils (Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry). I tried my best during the first half not stray too far from school work or relent in that regard.
SECOND HALF (JULY–DECEMBER).
By July, I started relenting.It started around my birthday. For someone who was barely out of lockdown, a lot was going on in my personal life. J and I cut ties. Dealt with family drama. Dealt with same feelings of inadequacy because everyone seemed to be doing shit, starting businesses and all of that. And there I was, sitting at home all day listening to Taylor Swift and not having purpose. Useless. Eventually, I had to pick myself up and get organized. And organized, I did get.
I found comfort in following a daily routine. It consisted of TV time, exercise time (did a lot of Chloe Tinging) as well as reading time.
The blog was doing relatively okay in terms of views and I was making progress on my reading list. I tried new things whenever I could during this period (Aug/Sept). I took a few Hausa lessons. I learned copywriting/SEO content writing. I tried weed. Soon realized alcohol was more my thing. Did a lot of eating out. Dominoes. Yogoberry. SFC. Chicken Rep. Got thick. Lost it. Fell sick. So sick I had to have an ultrasound. So sick I got my own medicine bag filled with pills I had to take daily. Sick sick.I procrastinated (a lot, actually). And despite being so engaged, I still felt lonely. I was looking for a kicker, some surge of adrenaline to remind me that I’m alive. That’s what I was hoping for. Then, October happened.
#EndSARS It was truly the most incredible thing to ever come of the youth in this country. I was so inspired by everyone’s activism, the camaraderie, the patriotism. Words cannot describe what it felt like. My happiness. Ah. I was over the moon.
But then, 2020. The massacre. The riots. The curfews. Sinking. We kept sinking. Trump. US elections. No signs of ASUU quitting. Dropping out and pursuing my education elsewhere never seemed more appealing. I tried. Got all my documents together. Looked up schools abroad. Looked up private unis available. Tried. No hope. Tried.
And then I sank. It might’ve been withdrawal from the high of EndSARS or something else, but I just did. I sank. Started drinking. Slow progression towards a meltdown.
November was the pit but it was all the reassurance I needed to know that I’m not alone. It was a month of reflection. I had to do some soul searching, figure out what is truly important in life, what I should be prioritizing. I had my own reality check after coming face-to-face with grief. Had to cut off so many people because I just couldn’t imagine giving them any more of my energy/inviting them into my personal space. I had to be real with my friends, confront ghosts from my past.
And now, December. A deep exhale. The strike is over but the fear of returning back to the human I was at the start of 2020 is ever present. Something tells me that I’ll be okay this time around though.
So, that’s my 2020 in summary. I have no regrets. Truly, I came, saw, and conquered. All of the disaster won’t stop when the clock strikes midnight on January 1, but there’s no harm in hoping.
Here’s to 2021! 🥂