Here is what my day typically looks like,
7:00 am – Wake Up, shower, get ready for class
8:00 am – Cell Biology (I usually squeeze breakfast into the 10 minutes before class)
9:45 am – Differential Psychology
11:30 am – Speed walk to change for class (Eat lunch somewhere here)
12:00 pm – Meet at The Circle for Philosophy
12:10 pm – Carpool to London Correctional
4:00 pm – Return to campus
4:30 – 6:00 pm – Take a nap #bless
6:45 pm – Check in for work (Dinner at KD or order food or squad rolls up with Chipotle)
12:30 am – Last round of the night
1:00 am – Bedtime
It’s your typical college student schedule. On the contrary, I’ve had it pretty easy this semester, considering that I don’t have classes on MWF. As you can imagine I don’t have a lot going on. I am still involved on campus, I go to meetings a few nights during the week, I study and work on homework following a schedule I made at the beginning of the semester and I set aside time for my quiet time and meals. My weekends are pretty much the same. I wake up at 11 am, hang out with friends, maybe go out to eat and then stay up way too late binge watching Netflix. Pretty boring if I do say so myself.
The next day, the cycle starts over again.
Many of you reading this might agree with me and say that this is the perfect set up, you might even be asking, “How dare she complain when she has the majority of her week free?”. Some others might be scrunching up their noses thinking, “Wow this girl is lame”. “How old is she again? Only 19? Why doesn’t she go live her life? Does she have friends?”.
I belonged to the second school of thought at the beginning of the year. My unease with my lifestyle had been brewing for a while but for some reason, it surfaced this year. Before we dive into it let me tell you that I thrive on pressure. I love having things back to back, overlapping projects and over-committing myself to things. I take multi-tasking to a whole new level. Once upon a time, this was the only way I knew how to be a successful student. Two weeks into the semester back in January, I hated what I had done to myself. My days never seemed to end and when they did, the next day came all too fast. I wasn’t eating properly, I was over-sleeping and I looked forward to the weekend because it was the change of pace I needed.
I actively sought out parties because I needed something to make me feeling like I was accomplishing anything. I would spend almost two hours putting on makeup alone in my room then meet up with friends, spend an hour or two tops at whatever house we were going to, then head home since I didn’t want to have to pay for the bar. Walking back home alone most of the time I felt ashamed. I would ask myself why I wore that low-cut crop top, why didn’t I say something when I saw that girl was too drunk to be leaving alone, how could I only talk to two people, why didn’t I flirt back with that boy I danced with? My nights out rarely ever gave me the satisfaction I sought. I would tell myself, maybe next week I’ll pre-game harder, or I’ll talk to more people. I needed to let loose more, I was so uptight. Everyone around me was doing the same thing, they’re Christians too, how bad could it be?
That was exactly the problem wasn’t it? I was trying so hard to fit in with the people around me. I craved everyone yelling my name in what I believed was joy because they barely ever saw me out but my joy was transient because they would do the same for the next person that walked through the doors. I was welcomed, I had found my people and this is what my people did so it only made sense for me to do it too. It’s funny how when you tell yourself something so often you start to believe it. I was on the path of believing myself but every so often, with every sip of ‘punch’, or dip of my hips as I danced I heard that nagging voice. You know the one I’m talking about don’t you? The one that stops you from taking that money you see hanging out of your mum’s purse even though you swear you’ll put it back before she notices. For me it wasn’t just a voice, it was a churning in the pit of my stomach. The one you only get when you’re uncomfortable. I felt it every time I looked at my reflection in the mirror before leaving, my eyes would skim past my face, my hair, my chest, my legs, and dare I forget the booty. I had to make sure it was popping. I felt it as I neared the house of the night, I felt it in every hug I gave to my ‘friends’, friends whose favorite colors I couldn’t tell you, whose stories I barely knew because we hadn’t had a conversation where alcohol wasn’t flowing. I felt it more strongly on my walk back home, every shadow hid unknown danger, I would pray under my breath, “Angel of God|My Guardian Dear|To whom God’s love|Commits me here|Ever this day|Be at my side| To light and guard|To rule and guide| Amen”, over and over again until I reached my doorstep. Then I would let out a breath I had no idea I had been holding and the churning in my stomach would be gone.
“For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:32-33
I knew what I needed, I was looking for love, friendship, popularity, contentment and a sense of belonging but I was looking for it in all the wrong places.
One weekend I was a little too sick to participate in the usual festivities so I stayed home and watched Friends all night. Let me tell you, I hadn’t felt that at peace in a long time. I was saving my expensive makeup, I was staying hydrated, my knees wouldn’t be hurting after a long night of gyrating but most importantly I felt like myself again. I did it again the next weekend, and then the next. I committed my time to taking care of myself and my body and soul thanked me. As you can imagine awon owambe (party) friends stopped hitting me up on the weekends. I wasn’t getting invited to parties anymore, it was like I had disappeared off the social map. For the first time in a while, I was content. I wasn’t seeking validation from a room full of strangers. I definitely didn’t need an audience to tell me how good of a dancer I was, I could see it in my full-length mirror. I put makeup on because I wanted to and it stayed on point all night, and my clothes didn’t smell from people spilling the contents of their cups on me. Most importantly I wasn’t looking for these ‘chewing gum boys’, as my mum refers to them, to make me feel like I was worth something.
Somewhere along the line this year I got lost. I became my biggest critic and a life of serving the Lord became less appealing to me. I continued to go to church, my quiet time was spent asking Him to do this and that, rather than lifting him up and yet I questioned why I felt so empty all the time.
“That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil- this is the gift of God” Ecclesiastes 3:13
I was trying to join ‘bad gang’ but He who knows all helped me do an about-face. Slowly but surely I began to remember my home training. It was a battle between desire and intention. My desire for instant gratification and approval led me to corners I knew better than to take myself. I began to do things with intention, I redirected my search for satisfaction into those everyday tasks that I thought were so meaningless. You may be wondering what I mean by intention, to me, it means being present, body, mind, and soul in whatever task I am performing. Be it walking to class at 7:45 in the morning or staying up till 3 am to finish an incident report. At first, I would make myself acknowledge the tulips blooming and be grateful for the fact that I was helping one more resident be safe because if I tell you it came easy I would be lying. With practice, I have found myself appreciating what I have been blessed with more often. If you ask me boring is seriously over-rated. I think our affluence has gotten us to this level where we need to continuously put ourselves at risk to gain fleeting moments of joy. It truly is a gift of God to be able to be content with your daily schedule and like many things we cannot do it ourselves. Call on Him and He shall give you rest.
The most important thing my boring life has given me is time to reflect. I don’t know that I have ever had this much time to myself. It hasn’t always been put to the best use (side eyes Netflix and IrokoTV) but when I do use my time wisely, I shower myself with self-love. This has led to an awareness about myself and what makes me tick. At this point, I believe that I have found my calling in life and I will make sure to share it with you when the time is right.
If it sounds like I’ve figured out the formula to achieving contentment or I’ve suddenly turned into a saint then I apologize because that is absolutely not true. I will, however, tell you that the secret to starting is taking it day by day. Sure I had fun during that owambe (party) phase but returning to my room feeling like a child just scolded quickly took away whatever cursory joy I had. Why continue to punish myself that way when it definitely isn’t worth all the “ayeeeeee’s ” in the world. Nowadays I keep my fun PG rated. I go out occasionally but I refrain from drinking, I try to dress modestly because God forbid someone takes a picture that ends up in my parent’s hands, and I make out time for those I care about. I absolutely cannot stress the importance of that last point. Your parents, your siblings, your friends, and your extended family matter more than your popularity. If you have any beef with anyone of them squash it right now, it isn’t worth it.
My schedule is still monotonous but every day is unique and challenging in its special way, I hold on to those moments. I still have moments of insecurity and days when I don’t want to talk to anyone. On those days I try to put on my best smile and seek out my friends. Nothing in my life has shifted dramatically, I made changes internally. Again the point I made about intention comes up. Now I am more than content with my amazingly boring life. In fact, nothing makes me happier than waking up knowing for sure that all my faculties are in check and I have a whole day ahead of me.
I urge you to take the time to look within yourself and learn everything you can about who you are and what you need to live your best life. If you find like I did that you need healing in any way make sure you seek it out. I will say that you cannot cure an aching heart with outward satisfaction. You need to nourish your soul in whatever way works for you be it through prayer, spending time with those you love, mending broken relationships or learning to forgive yourself. I hope and pray that at whatever stage you are in your life you find joy and contentment.