Solomon asked me to do a candid review of 2018. After reading his own review on Medium, I finally understand what a review is supposed to resemble and I realize that my initial objections were unnecessary.
Fears. Process. Uncertainty. Win. Seems simple enough. However, I do not want to do that because I fear that it would be unavoidably identical to my other narratives where I am consistently the defying hero. Instead, I intend to tell you the things that made me, the indefatigable David McCoy, most vulnerable.
2018 was an eventful year. It is easy to list my many tangible achievements at the expense of other less satisfying highlights. In 2018, I was able to confront my fears on a number of fronts. A lot, I felt like I too could be hurt, I too could lose, I too could be vulnerable. Here are a few of my triggers.
- The Tax Club
The Tax Club bothers me. And the extent of my devotion in turn bothers me. Is it okay to care this much?
Especially, I care about how I am seen. What kind of leader am I? It troubled me – how to force the tough exterior that made my colleagues obey me while being secretly terrified of being perceived as a callous, insensitive person. It bothered me that someone, anyone would see the club as a one-man show and me as some dictatorial overlord. It was my second tenure after all. It bothered me that I micro-managed people so I determinedly devolved responsibilities. There were many things I refused to do because nor be only me dey there.
It bothered me how my junior colleagues saw me. When they looked, what did they see? An inspiration? Or some narcissistic talkative. I wanted to be correct, honorable, exemplary . The future of the club bothered me. I wondered if the next set of members knew or cared as much. It made me panic. Whenever there was widespread indifference to some opportunity I suffered to secure, I would be worried sick.
Every October, I reconsider my stance on dating. Do I have a stance? I don’t know. It comes with the many looming anxieties of my birthday. If I like to feel like I can conquer anything, why not relationships? With my singleness, I am consistently caught between the re-assertion that it is my choice and the suspicion that I am excruciatingly inadequate. The following entry in my diary captures this predicament with satisfying precision –
Dear Diary, I think I am disappointing. There is a masculine doggedness I lack – a certain consistency and focus this wooing game requires. I am not up to par. My indiscriminate indifference is not as rewarding as it is indulging. They’re calling me cold, slow. They’re saying I’ll die alone.
Indeed, I need to remember to text my crush, without setting reminders. I need to pick up the phone. Maybe I need to make the moves.
They’re telling me I’ll erupt when I find “the one”. I suspect that that my phlegm is no respecter. Now when they come for my single, I defend myself with automated speeches about youth priorities. They’re saying my grateful reticence is utter muliebrity! They’re asking – how will you get a wife if you act like one?
Last year, I would consciously imitate Korie’s kindness and Solomon’s openness just so I would seem more accessible to females. After all, it wasn’t that I did not have admirers, it was that they would not speak to me. Perhaps, something in the way I walked told them that any revelations would not go down well. LOL. In the end, these pretentions sickened me, so I quit. I am not keen. I am not even proud of it.
I am hardly intimidated by other males. Never by their money, power or intelligence. It is their desire that “emasculates” me – that fervent wanting for a certain female, that conviction that she is worth disrupting their schedules for. It beats, impresses and shames me at the same time. When she says “yes”, they are not terrified. They are adequate, available, reassuring, devoting. Why do I not feel like this? Does it make me less of a man?
When I occasionally summon the bravery to announce these fears, my friends would summarily respond with a “You haven’t found the one. That’s why!” I hope that this is indeed the problem, that I have high standards and one day when they are met by some God-sent, I would be swept off my feet into obsessive delirium. I hope that someday I call someone at least every week, that I am willing to take responsibility for the prosperity of WhatsApp conversations.
I do not like to hear too many opinions. I deleted my Twitter for that reason.
The first scene in my 2018 vulnerability drama had to be my sudden interest in people’s opinions of me. It never used to matter. This year, feedback began to mean everything and every time a friend spoke about me, I would respond with desperate attention. Something about seeing myself from the eyes of others began to gain importance. The resulting discovery clogged my throat.
Guy, people don’t like you (that much).
- The Family
I love my family. My brother and sister are my favorite people. It is written.
I flout my mother’s instructions all the time, in front of my siblings and I wonder if I am anything close to a good brother. I wonder if I am good to my brother. I wonder if the many wrong decisions he has made have been my fault. I am older, I should have known better.
There is a certain distance between my sister and I. Perhaps, it is the age-difference, perhaps I have been too busy. I am desperate about bridging this distance but unsure about what to do. I want to tell her about university and studying the law, about boys and their destructive insincerity. I want to instruct her that besides asking for anything, she can tell me everything. I can be her confidant. She would be needing one. Instead, I ask when food will be ready or if she liked Aquaman.
Conversations between my Dad and I have been reduced to stern negotiations. We only talk about money. He complains about it and I know I should do better. But I have to be in Lagos on Sunday so I need my pocket money already!
He always asks about schoolwork though. He wants to know if I have met “Professor Alayinde” and if my extra-curricular has not gotten in the way of our goal – my first class. “You must try your best. A first class will change your life. It will make me proud. You are my retirement plan.”
After, I would bury my face in my hands and cry. In a bid to convince the universe that his concurrent labor is worth it, I would quietly vow to attend all my classes.
I never attend all my classes.
- Law of Evidence
When I got a C in my first semester, I was shocked. I would open the e-portal at midnight to confirm, as if the newness of the day would remove scales from my eyes. I mourned for weeks before I resolved to ask for a faculty confirmation.
When my second semester result was released, I drew solace from the conviction that the worst had happened. After all, I had never scored a C. It was like cancer, meant for others. When I saw a D, I was disheveled. I covered my mouth in horror as tears streamed down my eyes. “My GPA!”
The error with this result has been confirmed and is being fixed. I have been on the tiresome process for months now. A lecturer forgot to mark a question. He will mark it. He is on strike even though the school is not. They will change the D to a C. Maybe.
Now, I know I am going to have regrets. I care about my results. Whatever they become, I know they could have been better. How I scored a C in my Law of Evidence remains a mystery. Ghoulish. Next to Who killed Dele Giwa?
I fear that I do not understand emotions in the way that most people do. Now, I think I know why. Always, I crave precision. I want to say exactly what happened, employing adjectives that describe as effectively as possible. However, when we speak about emotions, we cannot be precise. Affection, for instance, does not enjoy “ascertain-ability”, it is often either exaggerated or understated. We say a person is our moon or we say we are dating.
This impreciseness frustrates me. Often, the people around me crave overt assurances, that I care, that they matter. (This of course rests on a fault that is entirely mine.) I look them in the eye and attempt something honest and precise. But I predictably fail.
I want to tell you how much you mean to me but I do not want to exaggerate as much as I do not want to mock it. So, I hold you and longingly kiss you because I want to communicate. But everyone wants to hold you and kiss you so it is seemingly ordinary, bland. Perverse even. Somewhere in my head I am wishing there was some objective means of quantifying these feelings, a scale of 1 to 10 perhaps.
In the first place, you are looking for words because my actions suck. I think I am doing great but the rest of the world disagrees. And what you call love, I curiously consider as a worrisome obsession.
Solomon, my make-shift therapist, often visits my pitiful inability to comprehend anything not logical. Admittedly, I speak pragmatism. I want to know if it makes sense, if it is reasonable in the circumstances, if it is effective. I speak of emotions like they are some epidemic disease that weakens vision and clouds reasoning. I am often wrong. I get into trouble all the time. It hurts.
I fear that I am not very available to my few friends. Patient. Understanding. Supportive. Sometimes, I wonder what they keep me around for.
Tolu and I hardly spoke this year and it hurt. It hurt because I wasn’t as hurt as I was humanly supposed to be. I just kept living, occasionally craving something I knew I used to have. We were the greatest – Tolu, Zainab and I. We could have done better. Whatever that happened is predictably my fault.
I fear that I don’t understand what conventional friendship looks like. The other day, Amara asked “You’ve worked with all your friends? You don’t have friends outside your many projects.”
“Yes!” I beamed, proudly relishing the incoming lecture about utility and mutual support. I still think about that question and every time, a new layer of the sureness I felt peels away.
Shhh… I need to ask after people even when I don’t need shit!
The other day, one of my friends went on about how she was battling depression to the extent that she was suicidal. I didn’t know. I had been missing her calls. I sat in my room and cried. I cried until I fell asleep.
I am constantly haunted by the thought that I am doing less than my abilities, less than my opportunities. It is too late. I know too much now (or do I know anything at all?) I have met too many people (or has my networking being enough?) Anything less than resounding success, ubiquitous impressiveness is failure.
I look at my Linkedin and sigh. This is not the best excellent-student-wannabe-commercial- lawyer version of myself. Do I want to be a lawyer though? Just that? I could be writing a book, I could be hosting bigger events. I could be arranging the next chart topper. I know I can do it. Why am I not doing it? Why is this life holding me back?
The following entry in my diary explains –
Dear Diary, my ignorance shames me. The voice in my head has taunts for every moment. In the mornings – “You know nothing, McCoy.” Afternoon – “You’re just a boy, you don’t understand.”
And if I have learnt anything new by evening, it points to my brown jotter and convinces me that I am underachieving. I sleep late because I am drawing new to-dos. I wake up and I know nothing again.
- The future
I sat up until late last night to draw up my plans for the year and immediately faced difficulty. Once again, I was suffering from imprecision. Here is an excerpt from Solomon’s review that is as profound as it is relatable –
It feels weird to be in final year after waiting so long for this moment. School has a certain sense of security. I have always known the next event to plan, the next association to focus on, leadership and coursework (to) make priorities. These days, people keep asking me what my plan for after school is and all I can think about is how I will miss the certainty that school brings.
In the end, I consider it self-evident that life is about the good things. “Living” is prima facie a positive word. So, I count my blessings. I make lemonade. That is why everything seems fine. It must. There is a lot I am grateful for.
I am imperfect. So is everyone else. I am religiously committed to getting better!
Thank you for reading!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!