Happy New Year!!!
It’s the second month of the year but what does it matter?! January was really just a test run and I was more excited for February.
I remember how I felt on New Year’s Day…totally down in the mouth.
Early in the morning that day, my lovely lovely cousin came to the kitchen as we were preparing new year’s food—by the way, what’s a new year without pounded yam and egusi soup?
Ha! Seun focus! Who’s Seun, you wonder?
You probably guessed it. Me!
So, he came to the kitchen and wished us a happy new year. Now, If you think I replied appropriately with a smile on my face, you are wrong. I totally put my foot in my mouth and asked ‘what’s happy about the new year?’.
Lovelies, that was how I rained on their parade and shot myself in the foot. I wasn’t happy, yes, but this was a moment covered in shame. It was a teachable moment.
Some background, just for context
I graduated in January 2020. I came to Nigeria to write the qualifying exam to practice medicine in the country and then Covid-19 happened. The exam was scheduled and rescheduled and was finally set for November. This made me spend almost the whole year preparing for the exam and nothing else…now you can imagine how it felt when the pass list was released and there it was, Oluwaseun Esther, candidate number M026, PASS! It felt like everything in that moment. All my worries, cares seemingly evaporated.
Of course, I was thrilled for a day or two after I got the result and that was it. I spiraled into sadness.
Why?! I had just passed an exam I spent almost a year preparing for…! I should have been elated for at least a month! It should still have mattered after three days! I was sure it would but reality hit differently.
You probably started reading this thinking I have a reasonable conclusion. Again, you are wrong, but let’s get into it.
There’s this podcast I listened to- Everyday Ubuntu (The brand is female) featuring Cuppy. Yes! DJ Cuppy.
She said, ‘The most important thing I’ve learnt about myself is probably ermm, I’ve learnt that I am responsible for my own happiness. You know I used to think ooouuuuhh…’
Okay, I’m tired of quoting.
She went on to talk about the things she thought would make her happy like getting a certain number of followers, getting signed, doing her demo with apple, getting a job and so on…but after getting them, the feeling was always just lukewarm because she always wanted more, wanted to do more!
I related so hard! Passing that qualifying exam wasn’t just enough after I passed. I wanted something, I wanted more!
If you are anything like DJ Cuppy and I—The clown emoji comes to mind but I thoroughly vibe with that phrase… Cuppy and I on the same line! Scrims!!!
Yeah! Perhaps you can relate too.You’ve probably wanted something so bad you thought you’d be walking on air when you achieved it and everything will be fine with your world.
Here we are: Got that money, got that dream job, passed that exam, got the gig and that foineee man you think looks like the Duke of Hastings in Bridgerton ( in your dreams Ha!)
In Mark Manson’s book, ‘The subtle art of not giving a f*ck’…He wrote, ‘ There is a premise that underlines a lot of our assumptions and beliefs. The premise is that happiness is algorithmic, that it can be worked for and earned and achieved as if it were getting accepted to law school or building a really complicated Lego set. If I achieve X, then I can be happy. If I look like Y, then I can be happy. If I can be with a person like Z, then I can be happy. This premise, though, is the problem. Happiness is not a solvable equation. Dissatisfaction and unease are inherent parts of human nature…’
How then can we be happy? As you must know by now, I don’t really have the answer as I’m still a work in progress but I’d recommend this Mark Manson’s book.
Anyway, I was quite disconsolate two days after a friend told me I passed till the new year. It’s one of many reasons I couldn’t fake a smile and just say ‘Happy New Year to you too!’
So, what do you think? Is happiness too subjective a matter to discuss like this? Is it a ‘do-you-I’ll-do-me’ matter, or is there a path, a rubber-stamped formula for tasting its exclusive nectar, similar to the Pythagorean theorem we were taught in school as a sure way of solving for X? Is happiness algebra?