By Ndukwu Chibundom Kaosisochukwu - September 03, 2023

I’ve come to realise that certain seasons in my life are marked with emotional turbulence. And this particularly happens when I cross certain thresholds, certain essential markers of life.

Like birthdays.

I approach birthdays with a mixture of joy and despondency. It’s terrible, I know, and I should work towards it, but currently, my birthdays are always ladled with fears of impending doom. Like a precursor to midlife crises, my late teens and now twenties are choked with fears that each year that passes is a wasted year; that each season paints a picture of the nothingness that I am made of, that each year draws me closer to the mediocrity I so desperately detest.

Birthdays remind me of all the times when I have, both intentionally and unintentionally, worked against myself. Times that I have spent scrolling on social media when I should have been studying. Times that I have spent posting memes when I should have been carving a future for myself. Times that I have spent sleeping and lazing away, slagging at chores and feeling undeservedly overwhelmed and exhausted whilst my mates toiled away, making themselves relevant. Seasons that I misunderstood, opportunities that I missed, the ever-existing concept of the mortality of man, of the fact that one day, I’ll be a forty-year-old woman, looking back at her twenty-year-old self.

During birthdays, I fear that my forty-year-old self would cringe and slap her forehead at the thought of how she wasted her life in her twenties, and shake her head in dismay and disappointment. Maybe even cry.

I’ll be turning 21 soon, or would have turned by the time you see this post, and once again, the all too familiar fears are coming with a vengeance. My mind has pointed me to the reasons why the period between my past birthday and my current one has not really been the best of years. It has come close to convincing me that I have wasted the entire period of time that I was twenty. My mind desperately tries to make me believe that I have achieved nothing and even the little that I have achieved means nothing. And, in the opinion of the plaguing thoughts I have, all the checkers for the sort of woman I want to be, remain, for the most part, unchecked.

And it sucks. So I feel terrible.

Just recently, I found myself thinking of taking a studio picture to celebrate my birthday, of smiling in a way that seems almost deceptive. I saw a TikTok video that I might like to post. I mentally scrolled through my gallery looking for pictures where I appear happy and satisfied, the accomplished girl a lot of people see me as. And then, just as I was about to get excited, my brain made up a convoluted reason as to how stupid all that was. The post of how I am becoming the woman I want to be that I might make, the birthday wishes I’d reply, the baseless remarks about a joy it tells me that I should not feel, ecstasy that I do not deserve to experience. So now, I feel hollow. And I have whipped up my laptop and decided that I am going to talk about this. About the negative thoughts that continue to war against my sanity, and of the resolution I have taken against it.

Maybe I am doing so in a futile attempt in hopes that I might find that I am not the only one who feels this way, that my mates do not all have the perfect lives that I view them as having. That, just like I am, many of them have very vague career plans, are experiencing many new highs and new lows, new discoveries, new wins and new failures. That just like me, my mates all have dreams of success, but none have a very clear and direct blueprint on how to achieve this, just hopes and a very indistinct pathway to a very clear goal.

Maybe I’ll feel better, then. And all the negative thoughts will disappear.

Or maybe not. After all, I know that as long as you are a Christian working towards your purpose, negative thoughts are always going to be a way the devil gets to shoot at you, weigh you down, and put you in that particular mental state that serves as one of the hindrances to the goals and dreams that you have in mind. It’ll take more than just an affirmation, a validation of your thoughts and feelings for them to fade away. And I do want them to fade away, because, I had a premonition in between the rivers of self-pity that I had dived into and realised that negative thoughts really do nothing for me, or anyone for that matter.

What on earth does anyone gain by feeling bad for the time wasted, for the mistakes made? For all in the world, it robs one of the time one could have used correcting that mistake. And what does anyone gain by spending their time wallowing in fear of the unknown? In fear of failure? What role does that play in making anyone successful?

Don’t get me wrong. I know that there is a part that feeling bad about one’s actions plays in terms of making the person a better person in the end. I know that it’s only when a person hates the situation that he is in that he truly can begin to take steps to change it. It’s only when a person feels sick of his state of being that he can begin to alter it. But I also know that most of the time, we let the devil use these thoughts to achieve the exact opposite, creating a scenario wherein the more we feel terrible about ourselves, the more we do things that will make us feel even more terrible about ourselves in the future, and then it turns into a never-ending cycle of feeling like a terrible person until we die, truly the useless and mediocre person we feared that we were becoming.

That’s the part that terrifies me. Therefore, I have resolved to take a conscious step daily with the help of the Holy Spirit to war against this mind that often works in equal parts against me as the rest of my body does at certain times. I refuse to give in to the negative thoughts, make them weigh me down and make me even more unproductive, just like the devil intends. I refuse to let myself become so consumed with fears that I begin to manifest the very fears that consume me. I refuse to let the devil win this battle against my mind.

Because, in the end, amidst the dark nights of the soul, I know that no matter how many times we fall, no matter how many stupid mistakes we make, no matter how much time we have wasted and might waste in the future, God’s hands remain ever stretched, ready to pick us up so that we might continue the race. And his hands never get tired. So, I have faith that no matter my failures and mistakes, God still has a great plan for my life, and as long as I am willing to work with Him, He will guide me to my expected end.

So, if you can relate to this post, if you perhaps have it even worse than I do, I hope you will take this resolution, just as I have, not to let the negative thoughts win. 

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  1. Very beautiful and insightful 😘

  2. This is inspirational, thank you for this wonderful piece of encouragement.

    1. Thank you. I'm glad to have encouraged you in my little way😁.

  3. I hope we all break free.
    Thanks for this, it's a nice read.

  4. I refuse to permit the devil to limit me with my fears, present/past failures and mistakes in life.

  5. This is an insightful piece that every young person ought to read.

    I got so much value from this, thanks for putting it out.❤

  6. Thanks so much for this Mama ND!!

  7. Thank You so much ma... yes I will also take conscious steps daily to fight all negative thoughts that have sought to prevail against me. Thank You ma once again