I used to be plagued by unhappiness. I lived on the Lagos Mainland while working on the Island. My departure time was 7am, then I started leaving at 6am and finally 5am, as the traffic situation worsened each year.
A friend reminded me that at the time, I was addicted to Red Bull and coffee. I rarely saw daylight and would leave home before daybreak to return after sunset. So, I needed something to keep me awake during the day.
At 27 years old, I had a character meltdown. I’m not sure if I was exposed to power too early (I was already an Executive Director) or if I was surrounded by the wrong people. But I made some terrible decisions. The main reason was loneliness. My mentor at the time, was going through some terrible things and I felt I couldn’t burden him with my own ish. As I didn’t really have anyone else to call me to order, I did what I liked.
People respond to loneliness in different ways. Some turn to alcohol, food, sex or drugs to fill the empty spaces. A few become more spiritual. Others like me, malfunction or become busier. They’re constantly on the move to distract themselves from unhappiness.
My Turning Point
I think the turning point came when I admitted my loneliness and unhappiness. See, I told myself I was not in a good space. It didn’t matter what anyone thought – that I was lucky to be who I was; that I had a great job or good health. People don’t know your life story and it’s presumptuous of them to compare their situations with yours.
I was dealing with unhappiness and that was that. Once I admitted it, I began to carefully think about what made me happy and what was taking me away from it.
I realised I wasn’t a formal person. Meetings and the whole corporate culture weren’t really me, so I was killing myself at my job in consulting. I pivoted to focus on and develop a new social media practice for my company.
I no longer understood church and all its activity, so I just stopped. I resigned from church leadership and began attending as a regular member. It was so restful. Following my furlough, I resumed service, but in the social media unit, where there were no meetings or politics.
I began to repair my personal relationship with God as I was taking him for granted. Now I’m trying to make him front and centre. It’s hard but I will stick to it. I really like him.
I craved deep free-flowing conversation. A relationship would have helped, but as one cannot buy a boyfriend in the market, I did the next best thing. I started writing more on social media and enjoying the banter on my timeline.
Music makes me happy so I subscribed to a streaming service to continually discover new music. I now spend more time with music, lying in bed with headphones and listening for hours. I also attend more live concerts.
Travelling continues to make me happy, although, I do less adventurous things and more restful activities on my trips. Okay, maybe I will still jump out of a plane someday. I did take an American Road Trip and enjoyed the wide open spaces.
I’m reading more. I bought new books in the first week of the year and plan to buy more. Let’s see, I’ve got a book on philosophy, one on science, one on politics and two romance novels. That’s a good start.
I’ve taken up social drinking, though I have a rule – if I’m with someone who doesn’t drink, neither will I out of respect. No longer do I worry about eating the same thing every day. It gives me one less thing to plan. I’ve accepted that I don’t have an aptitude for fashion. I love flats not heels and I gladly allow my sisters to plan my wardrobe for me. They’re good at it.
Fulfilling purpose and happiness are mutually exclusive for me. Yes, I’m weird that way. The things that make me happy are mostly different from the things that define my purpose, except giving. Giving bestrides both.
I have accepted who I am and it’s such a wonderful feeling. Vulnerability and frailty are beautiful. They keep me humble. I have no pedestal from which anyone can knock me off and I warn those who look up to me that they are on their own. I don’t live with them in mind. My preference is to be called by my first name or nicknames, Sho and SP. (Note to all those people calling me Ma.)
I’m an introvert who no longer feels the need to manufacture energy to please people. The best way to keep me talking in person, is to ply me with caffeine. I don’t follow the news and I rarely watch TV. Sometimes I do nothing for hours but read and write. When I grow up, I’m going to have a retinue of staff who allow me to be the lazy person I know I really am. The only thing I’ll cook is my peppery stew that no one else seems to cook well, and the only thing I’ll clean is my glasses. One day, I might even buy a private island or a farm in a country that works, and then only allow people I like in. For me, these things are happiness.
I admitted my unhappiness and I am now taking steps to change things. What about you? Please find your own happiness before it’s too late.
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