Chioma, my friend, called me at 9 pm one cold Thursday in June. Almost immediately, she asked ‘what are your problems?’ She asked coldly, yet her tone gave off the urgency and seriousness of the question.
I started with the usual ‘lack of money’ problem, and right as I was saying that, she cut me off with ‘except money and material things.’ That just streamlined the search down to two things — unhappiness and dissatisfaction. As I mentioned it to her, she seemed very excited, almost like that was the exact answer she was expecting. Her prolonged ‘hmmm’ made me repeat myself again, for dramatics I suppose. ‘My problems are that I am unhappy and I feel totally dissatisfied with what I am doing’. At the end of the 15 minutes conversation, she told me to find myself and what will give me joy.
I know I must have heard this saying a million times from motivational speakers, self-help books, radio shows, movies and probably even from my parents. But none of them struck me and stuck within me like the way Chioma had said it to me. After the call, I pulled up my life sheet on excel (will talk about this in another post hopefully) and started looking at what I planned for myself in five years. It was the same old routine habits I hoped would have helped me become happier, but, I was wrong. So, I deleted the sheet and started over and that was when I found that my happiness would be in letting myself, and my creativity run free.
I had to finally ask myself — Stephanie, what gives you joy?
Being myself: This means being loud, crazy, explicit. Being able to shout and laugh out loud without covering my mouth. Being able to dance my favorite Beyonce routine. Basically, to be the girl who was awarded ‘most fun to be with’ by her university graduating class.
Being free: Not thinking about the explanation I’ll give to my dad on why I wore this particular dress or having to argue with my misogynistic church members as to why their opinions are sexist—such is the freedom I seek. Freedom from my mother constantly asking me when next I’m coming to visit her or from my youngest brother nudging me to get them the hottest and ridiculously expensive shoes. Freedom from my inner self wondering why I have no literary awards yet, even after 14 years of writing.
Being creative: I sometimes dream about the kind of joy I’ll get from the creative juice my brain will secrete when I begin writing full time about feminism, social development, education, and productivity. Oh, I cannot wait for a time where I am not anxiously trying to put out daily content in a niche I totally do not enjoy.
I also realized that the social media fast/detox period I took, was such a starting point for me because I let go of pressures. Pressures from writers, readers, potential clients and what not. Honestly, the pressure of social media, as well as the real world, was stifling my growth. It was making me feel less of myself and almost like I had not been doing a lot. Pressures of my day job and my colleagues were also something huge that made me start questioning if I work best alone or with others. The unhappiness stemmed from a lot of things but the moment I could answer the above question, I knew that I would find my peace.
Since that day, I have been making plans for the future to come. A future where I wake up by 6.30am and meditate and pray until 7.00am. Then proceed to work out from 7 am until 8 am. Which is then followed by eating breakfast and dressing up until 9 am. From 9 am until bedtime by 11 pm, I’ll go in whatever direction my freelance and carefree spirit drives me.
It might be too soon to say, but I have this feeling that my best life — consisting of freelancing, being a free spirit and finding my creativity — might just be around the corner. I hope it is the same for you too.