Your 20’s are your “selfish” years. It’s a decade to immerse yourself in every single thing possible. Be selfish with your time and all aspects of you. Tinker with shit, travel and explore, love a lot, love a little, and never touch the ground. – Kyoko Escamilla.
I have always loved birthdays. The special feeling you get, the love, the ATTENTION.
I went to this wonderful primary school where everyone’s father was a millionaire – except for my daddy. Lol. Birthdays were a big deal, people didn’t just bring sweets and biscuits, they did real things, food, solid gifts – really solid. And every arm had A – L e.g (Primary 1 A, 1B…1L), most parents shared gifts to all classes. For a seven year old child, that was really intimidating. And so you can imagine how I felt when my parents said I wasn’t going to celebrate my 7th Birthday! I didn’t argue with them. On the 27th of March 2001, I wore the first thing I saw and ran into the car, my parents were so weak they had no choice but to come to school with my birthday packages.
Forty-four days after I turned 21, I was a mess. Depressed and Insomniac. Facing a new day became difficult. I was barely living. It took a lot of hard work, pain and tears to gather up the pieces of what was left of my fragile self.
Books saved me. They made me whole. I would grab one and get lost. Let my soul travel to shores and lands I never knew existed.
Books I read as a Twenty-one’ier :
Ghana Must Go by TAIYE SELASI
A. D. 30 by TED DEKKER
Keeping Faith by JODI PICCOULT
Satan and Shaitan by OBINNA UDENWE
Sarah House by IFEANYI AJAEGBO
Lottery Winner by MARY HIGGINS-CLARK
So Long A Letter by Mariama Ba (Second Reading)
Paper Town by JOHN GREEN
And The Mountains Echoed by KHALED HOSSEINI.
Say You’re One Of Them by FR. UWEM AKPAN.
It was a longing. A craving. A thirst. Books saved me.
Things I learnt in 21. Books can save you.
My short stories sucked but that didn’t stop me from trying.
Of course I want to write short stories even though I’m scared of rejection, but 21 taught me to TRY.
Meanwhile, I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in every human situation.
21 made me strip my self emotionally in front of Chinelo and Chiamaka Nwangwu. They deserve a special mention here. With these girls I could be whoever I wanted to be. To think there were people who shared my same views. Except when Chinelo comes up with her “over-morality”. Like why people shouldn’t take money for things they do, she would ask “Why does it have to be about the money?” or “Why can’t I marry someone who is AS when I’m AS”, or “Why should I contour my face in the name of make-up”, “Where is there a need for me to draw my brows”…Most of the times, my views are always different. Example : I can’t get married to someone who is AS when I know I’m AS (I’m actually AA). Think about the kids you’re going to bring into this world? Subjecting them to pain and torture in the name of “Your love”?! Mba. No.
These girls would teach me that it’s okay to tell your stories and to be flawed. I’ll cry and not mind if they saw my tears flowing like the rivers or if they heard the shattering noise of my fragile heart.
It is Chiamaka who most amazes me, older than her with three years but I would come to love her like my blood sister and care for her like a friend, I would see my self panic when I ask her “Chiamaka, have you eaten? Oya get up and grab something to eat. Who takes udara for supper?”
21 taught me that friendship has splendours that love knows not. It grows stronger when crossed, whereas obstacles kill love, friendship resists time, which wearies and severes couple. It has heights unknown to love.
For a long time, before I turned 21 and before the Forty-four days after I turned 21, I would wait for the validation of others. But I realized that I needed no validation from ANYONE. NO ONE.
I learnt how to “Forget about likability”. The Queen-Lover Adichie said :
“I think that what our society teaches young girls and I think it’s also something that’s quite difficult for even older women, self-confessed feminists to shrug off is that idea that likability is an essential part of the space that you occupy in the world,” she went on. “That you’re supposed to twist yourself into shapes and make yourself likable, that you’re supposed to kind of hold back sometimes, pull back, don’t quite say, don’t be too pushy because you have to be likable. And I say that is bullshit.”
I stopped twisting. Bending. I’m at the point in my life where I don’t give a damn about “Likability”.
These words would guide my path. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who has stayed with me since I was 10, it is she who would lead me to feminism and save my soul – after JESUS CHRIST!
21 taught me that the notion that I am not enough is a lie. I learnt that I am everything I need to be and so much more. I learnt to react, go out, give myself a reason for living. Take courage. 21 taught me that I could overcome slowly.
And slowly, I’ve been doing that.
And so after how many years of contemplating, I cut my hair.
21 was a year of learning. Growing. Crying. Oh My! I cried. It was a year of finding, searching, seeking. I found my self.
I realized at 21, that sometimes God breaks our heart so he can blow our mind. He did blow mine. I can boldly say, I’ll be 22 in two days and I’m not the person I was at the beginning of 21 – clueless, scared, terrified.
I’m mourning 21, with all of its life lessons, especially the terrible ones. I’m mourning the pain and the terrible experiences and the sadness. I’m happy for them nonetheless, for what I thought was my destruction, my end was just my birth.
This is me, Onwukwe Chimdinma Adriel Ozioma Precious, a 22 year old Feminist and soon to-be Law (L. L. B) graduate. This is me saying, you’ve not been buried, you’ve been planted to grow into this beautiful flower that would bring forth fruits in its season.
For a star to be born, there’s one thing that must happen : a gaseous nebula must collapse.
So collapse. Crumble. Break. Shatter. This is not your destruction. This is your birth.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!