my new year resolution is to lose my fear of cringe.

2023: a year in review.

4 min readDec 31, 2023

Standing between my grandparents graves, I am pulled down by the weight of history, of family.

“We wouldn’t be here if not for Papa.”

Even though I never met him, my grandfather has loomed large over my life. I have heard countless stories of his strength of character, his greatness, his goodness, his kindness and generosity. I am pulled down by the weight of legacy.

My Aunty tells me that till the day my grandmother died, she kept a picture of me in her Bible and would occasionally pull it out, touch it and say to herself “Opara-ukwu, Opara-ukwu.” I am pulled down by the weight of love.

The same Aunty asks me why I left my hair to grow out. I say it’s because I want to loc it. She says it’s not good. I counter that it’s pretty and I like how I look when I have my hair in twists or cornrows. She says it’s not about looks for me, but impressions.

Around me, some elderly women stoop a little in greeting. Their faces are smiling as they say “Ndewo, Dede” “Ndewo, Opara.”

For a second, I am confused, these are terms of endearment and respect for my uncle. But he’s not here, and they are looking at me. Then I realise they are terms of endearment and respect for first sons, a class I belong to.

All through my life, I’ve had to act a certain way. As the first son, as a Pastor’s son – I am a beacon, a manual, a thing for people to look at and learn how to behave – there is a code of conduct for me. I am pulled down by the weight of responsibility.

If I was to sum up 2023 in one word, I wouldn’t be able to. It was not the kind of year that can be captured in one word – in one exact feeling.

I struggled; with myself, with others, with expectations. My family demand the best for me, but what they do not understand is that nobody has higher expectations for me than myself.

When I said that I didn’t want to go to Law School, they said why? When I said I wanted to dye my hair and loc it, they said why? When I said I didn’t feel like going to church anymore, and I didn’t really believe in God anymore they said why?

I don’t know. Nobody knows. But like I told my friend Timilehin, when you’ve been underwater your whole life, the moment you come up for air is your greediest. You want it in your nose, your mouth, your ears. When you taste freedom, you never want to be anything other than that.

In the midst of all the turmoil – internal and external – that this caused, I have decided to follow my heart and remain true to myself at all times. I have accepted the possibility of failure, the sheer embarrassment of being wrong. I am an adult, which means I am responsible for my actions and should be able to deal with the consequences.

In all of this, I am held up by love. When I explained the reasons for the above, my family listened and said they support me. When I got the arthritis diagnosis, they let me know that they were praying for me.

Despite the worrying look she gives me, I know my mother loves me. No matter what they think about my choices, my Uncles and Aunts have shown me what is possible and always push me to imagine. When my father apologised after I opened up about some childhood trauma, I felt validated – and in that moment, we made more progress than the past half-decade.

On the days I felt depressed and less than enough, Elishama stood beside me and held my hand, and let me know I was worthy of love.

My friends have showed up for me in ways that I can’t explain. I have felt their love in shared laughter and texts and tiktoks and texts about tiktoks and drinks and video games and surprise birthday parties.

While mentally preparing myself to write this, I read a lot of end of the year reviews, some by my friends, others by strangers, and I was amazed by how central “work” and “careers” are to our lives.

Okay, to be honest – I don’t really think it’s amazing, I hate it – although I realise that this is mostly an ideological thing as our dire economic situation means that a lot of time is spent in the pursuit of salaries and money.

What I will say about work though, is that no matter what you do, as long as you challenge yourself to provide value, there will always be space for you.

My new year resolution is to lose my fear of cringe. The fear of embarrassment and being weird has stopped me from being honest with myself and others a lot of times. I don’t want to care anymore. I just want to be human and sensitive and present.

For me, it is imperative that I feel honest and comfortable at all times. From the way I speak, to how I dress and act – I will not let what other people think about me be important. I hope you don’t too.

In the incoming year, I hope you bask in abundant love, I hope you find courage to tell yourself hard truths, and set boundaries to protect yourself from this evil world. I hope you pause from time to time to appreciate the beauty of our lives and appreciate your existence at this particular moment in time. I hope you show up for your loved ones and are strong enough to apologise whenever you falter. Always remember you are worthy and deserving of love.

Happy New Year.




i was born in aba, so all my life i've felt like a spare part.