5 Things I’m Grateful for at 32

This will probably be one of those long ass articles I’m prone to write once in 5 months. So you know the drill

Introvert. I spend a lot of time thinking, reflecting, having conversations with myself and replaying conversations with others. During my trips down memory lane, I rarely venture beyond a few weeks out.

It’s my birthday in a few hours though. And so, the “reflect on the past 5-10 years of your life” elves have been visiting.

This year, I looked back and saw so many reasons to be grateful. I crossed the big 3-0 a while ago and since I’m not in the “Have I achieved all I set out to achieve by 30?” camp because let’s face it, all I thought about before age 30 were comic books, videogames, Jesus and girls. Come to think of it, not much has changed. Anyways…

So this week, I made a few trips back in time. I recalled a lot of conversations I had with myself that were inspired by articles I had read. These were the years before I became a writer.

Let me give that some context.

It was 2011, and yours truly was studying web design and AutoCAD at NIIT in Ikeja. I was pretty enamored with the writing life as at then and would stalk my favorite authors online – reading not just their books but their op-eds, their blogs, their interviews, everything. I guess I was looking for the secret to the successful writing life (there’s none, stop believing those bullshit articles cos many of us worked hard and got lucky).

Anyways, so I spend an inordinate amount of time, especially on my trips to and from NIIT, reading tons of materials online. Then I came across an article by Stephen King, a particular statement in it would touch my heart till today.

Talent is getting published and getting paid. Did you write something for someone? Did they send you a check? If you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.

I wrote that quote straight from memory (I think it’s 90% accurate). The statement meant the world to me back then. It still does. Here’s the most recent version of the article I could find, if you’re interested.

I’m grateful today that, despite being told repeatedly by a former boss to abandon my desire to be a writer cos I’d starve, despite several false starts, after years of doing pro bono work for NGOs, today, I’m a writer who pays the light bill.

Second thing I’m grateful for. I recently discovered a truth about myself. A sad one.

Somehow I’d come under the illusion that everyone else’s happiness supercedes mine.  I’m grateful for my good friend, Chi, who confronted me and helped me realise this.I don’t know how it got there but there it was, staring me in the face.

Some symptoms were: When people are horrible to me, I rarely confront them. I’d prefer to just withdraw and simmer in pain. Pain passes, wounds heal, better not to cause a fuss over hurt feelings or bruised egos. On the off-chance I do confront the perpetrator, I end up feeling guilty when they apologise. I feel bad I’ve made someone feel bad for something they did so I end up making an excuse right there for them and telling them it was all my fault. Toxic, I know.

I dont share my personal issues with the important people in my life. I can write an epistle about sweet nothings but when it comes to sharing the important stuffs – struggles, fears, hopes, desires, pains – nah, lock up! This has been a problem in many of my relationships and friendships. The reason is the same, guilt follows talking about that kind of stuff. In my head somehow, to rant is to be weak. And to be weak is to be a crappy partner or friend.

I could go on, but I’ll stop here.

So, I’m grateful for the opportunity to be finally self aware about these things and to begin the journey to recovery. Having been stuck in the horrible loop for three decades, it’s not going to be easy to fix but it will be done.

Which brings me to my next point. It’s 2-in-1.

I haven’t talked or written about my depression for a long time, either on the blog or in real life. For good reason, I’ve been doing really well, especially with avoiding triggers and embracing routines that curb the loop. But late last year, something happened that nearly dragged me back under.

Prior to this, my last bout of depression was in 2014. Since then, life’s been pretty awesome, (cos let’s face it, a day without depressive clouds is an awesome day, for those who know). But last year, a shitty boss and a broken heart nearly brought the clouds back in my life. I’m glad to say they never fully formed. I, Ibukun, looked the dragon in the face, flipped it the finger and walked away.

No more depression!

And so, I’m grateful for my support system. My amazing family – supportive, patient, my number one cheerleading squad, every win for me is celebrated with dancing and prayers and lots of food. They’re the best support system every writer should have (seriously fam, I’m considering packaging you and putting you up on Amazon :)).

Also grateful for my friends  – Gosh! I have the weirdest, nerdiest, craziest, funniest and loving collection of friends ever. They call, they visit, some actually write letters (imagine that!), they send memes, tweet random silly things at me, or even randomly plan mini vacations with me.

Honestly, God blessed me with friends and I know it.

Finally, I’m grateful to be punching in another year on the calendar tomorrow. There might be no party, but there will definitely be dancing and cake. Loads of it.

Here’s a random picture of me looking (and being) happy. That’s Olumo Rock in the background

Before you go, remember to send cake.

Thanks for reading!

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A Writer’s Life is so so Depressing

writer depression

Let’s talk about writer’s depression (yep, if writer’s block is a thing, then writer’s depression gets to be a thing).

Writing Life can be so depressing.

I suffer from depression and most of it is from writing.

The thing is, I get depressed when I don’t write. Writing is a channel through which I bleed out some toxic emotions. It offers me some release. When real life gets too real, it’s time to write. Boss is getting on my nerves and I cant say anything cos I’ll get fired? It’s time to write an annoying character (who coincidentally bears my boss’ name) and kill him/her off in the worst way possible.

Seriously though, writing is an important part of my life.

The problem is that writing fills me with dread. I’m telling you, there are only a few things as scary as a blank page.

So I sweat and I fret and I write and I cancel what I’ve written and start over (and repeat process obsessively) just to fill the page with the right words while the blank page screams at my face  – you’re not that good a writer! See? If you were, how come I’m still here?

Anyways, I get through the writing part, and then comes the next depressing stage. The things I’ve written on the page looks like nothing I had in my head a while before. What’s on the page sounds awful. Downright awful. If I felt bad before writing, I feel worse after having written.

Naturally, I felt something was terribly wrong with me. But after doing some reading and talking to other writers, I’ve realized that it’s perfectly normal. I found this TED talk particularly interesting (and encouraging) as well.

My personality doesn’t seem to make things any easier. According to Myers Briggs, INFPs suffer from bouts of depression the most.

Then the next thing to be depressed about is the number of people who actually read (or like) my work. Ugh, don’t get me started on the ‘building your platform’ stuff.

And that’s the writer’s life succinctly.

A vicious cycle of fights, one battle after another – we fight the reluctance to approach the blank page, we fight to get the right words down on the page, we fight to get readers’ attention, we fight feelings of inadequacy; fight fight fight.

If writing life looks gloomy, it is. It’s downright depressing. So the question I’m asking myself is why? Why in the name of good things would anyone want to be a writer? I’ll tell you the only answer my mind can dredge up this early in the morning.

All writers have a subtle and perverse affinity for pain. It’s the only logical reason why anyone would do this for a living. By the way, there should be a word for that. I’m too bummed right now to google for it.

This could be the depression right now, seeping through my mind onto the page, so don’t take this post too seriously. Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go binge watch Friends.