I seriously considered skipping this year’s letter because I do not believe the things I have to say are important. But if there’s something I have learnt over the years, it’s that I do not get to decide the worth or value of my words (and thoughts) to the reader. All I can do is write them. The rest will take care of itself.
For the first time since I started writing birthday letters to myself, I am out of uni. Life feels different now, it feels real. And 24 is a big boy age. In the past week, the birthday blues caught up to me and I did a lot of thinking. The feeling of stagnation — of being stuck in mud was the general theme. I feel behind. Behind what? I actually don’t know. All I do know is that my present state in life is unsatisfactory.
This is typically the part where my friends go “Oh, but that’s okay. Your life is in stages and you should go through all of them blah blah blah.” Thankfully, they are not here, so I can complain without hearing the platitudes. It’s just me and this laptop — and by the time it gets to you, dear reader, all my feelings of guilt about complaining will be unimportant.
I told Treasure and Wunmi that I was going to give my best to my internship because in my entire life, I have never really given anything my best shot and I wanted to know what that felt like. I do now: the reward for good work is more work. But I have been able to push through because I feel valuable, responsible, and useful. I really like being useful.
Last year, I cried to you guys about how I felt a deep lack of self. You’d be pleased to know that I still haven’t figured it out but it does not bother me as much anymore. You are what you are at any given moment and what I am right now is a person that just typed absolute rubbish that sounds deep. E dey happen.
My friends threw me a surprise pre-birthday party and it was cool. We played games and laughed and sang and ate and danced. I felt loved and cared for. But today, the day, is so different.
I have been on LinkedIn more times in the past week than the first three years of the 2020s combined. I am saddened by the amount of posturing necessary to succeed in corporate life today. Applying for jobs is a soul sucking endeavour that has eaten me up in the past month.
I said “please pick me, Mr Recruiter/HR Guy/whoever’s hiring. I’ll be good for you, I promise. Look at my qualifications — this list of things that I have done and are now a measure of my worth and value.”
And all I got in return for offering myself at the window like a prostitute in select parts of Amsterdam was a NO. A “Sorry, but you’re not a good fit right now.” A “we will keep your qualifications in our database even though we will never look at them again.”
For the sake of my mental health, I had to take a break from applying. We’ll resume in august. I’m a writer, I’m sensitive!
In case you have not noticed, there is no theme to this letter. This isn’t even a letter. It is a piece of writing conjured up by a man who’s having a very underwhelming day. He doesn’t know what he expected but he thought his birthday this year would be different. But it’s not. He just feels old and tired and in need of a walking cane.
In birthday tradition, my friends all posted several pictures of me on their various statuses and I noticed that I looked different in every one. In one picture I had cornrows, in one my afro was really curly, in yet another one, the afro was straight. Black hair, brown hair, with a hat etc.
Some part of me says that this is due to my absence of self — a desire to be something that leads me to be many things. It says that this is the root of all my problems — lack of a recognisable identity and all that yada yada.
Another part says i need to shut up with the psychoanalysis and eat jollof rice. It says that maybe being a chameleon isn’t such a bad thing and maybe getting comfortable with myself in all its forms and feelings isn’t a bad thing.
It says that instead of staring into space thinking about all the reasons I hate myself, I need to stop viewing myself as a thing to hate, I need to stop holding on to the knife’s wrong end, cutting myself with each grip. It says that for once, I need to shut up and write. Then kiss my girlfriend’s forehead immediately I am done.
I say okay.
Happy birthday Oluchukwu, you’ll survive. You always do.