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2020, 28,

How do you know to quit?

I’ve never learnt how or when to stop, I just keep going. ‘Where am I going?’ you may ask. I will attempt to explain. 

I start the day looking over my To-Do list from the previous day and filling the new day’s list with items that didn’t get checked off. With each meeting, with each conversation, the list grows and it is never done by the end of each day. 

I have tried multiple techniques with the list; I space the items out to reflect close-out urgency and priority, I unbundle the items so one item on the list doesn’t in reality represent 20 things, but things always overlap and it feels like a never-ending cycle. 

I keep following the cycle, I keep going everyday till I lose the battle with my eyelids and they shut on their own. 

What eventually happens is my body starts to shutdown by itself because it wasn’t built to work in this manner. It goes into hibernation, demands rest and does not take ‘no’ for an answer. 

I ask myself why I always have to get to this point before I listen to my body’s needs. I ask if I have the right approach to work and why I am willing to kill my body over my to-do list. 

I don’t have any answers. All I know is my eyelids are heavy again and are about to win our constant battle. 

29, Her Version of Events,

On Shakespeare

I remember Mr Apata teaching me Literature-in-English for the first few weeks of my 5th year in secondary school. 

He made us memorise Hamlet’s soliloquy in Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet. The soliloquy is made up of thirteen lines and I have carried the first four lines with me till this day. I am sure if I reread the soliloquy, the rest with come back to me.

I liked how the soliloquy captures the play’s plot, shows Hamlet’s inner struggles and foreshadows the play’s tragic end. I remember wondering at what point in the writing process Shakespeare wrote the soliloquy. Was it at the end of writing the play or the beginning? Did it serve as a guide to how the play progressed or serve to tie the story up neatly? Or maybe it wasn’t meant to be important and it is just another part of the play he wrote that has gained significance over the years of studying it. 

That is the beauty of studying Literature: the questions it poses, the ability to take apart a body of work and rebuild it to find meaning. 

My mum taught Literature-in-English for many, many years and when I was struggling with identifying which characters said what in Shakespeare texts, I went to her for advice. She taught me a technique that her father, my grandfather, had taught her when he helped her study for exams.

You see, both my mum and my grandpa studied English Language at both undergraduate and graduate levels. I find myself wishing I had followed in their footsteps; it would make it easy to explain my love of words, my desire to create with them and study what is created with them. Maybe I will get another life to do it, but I will keep crunching numbers until then. 

Here is what my mum said to me: “Ore, it is embedded in characterisation, each character has their mannerisms that filters into how they speak and carry themselves throughout the play. Understand each character, you learn what they say.“

So I went back and studied the characters, and discussed the characters with my mum and Grandpa. It gave new life to the plays, the characters became real people with emotions and feelings, and I could predict their actions and next steps and, more importantly, identify who said what for my exams and tests. 

I haven’t read a Shakespeare text since my grandpa left and, around the same time he left, my mum stopped teaching Literature as she transitioned from working at a secondary school to lecturing at a university, and gone was my ready-made Shakespeare reading group.  

But I have had “To be or not to be“ floating in my head in the last few months, and I think it is a sign to pick up a text again. 

29, Her Version of Events,

On Reading Habits

I was not born a reader. I believe some people are born with the love of written words in their bones. One such person is my brother, Dimeji; no one taught him to read. When I was 6, and he was 5, he said to my mum one afternoon, “Mummy, I can read now…” My mum was sceptical so she went ahead to test him, giving him different materials to read. When he successfully read them to her, she was both shocked and proud. 

How I started reading isn’t what I want to share today, but I have left the paragraph in because I like how it reads. 

Enid Blyton’s St Clare’s book series is what turned me into a reader; there are nine books in the series, six written by Enid Blyton, and the last three written by Pamela Cox. The books are equal parts preteen and teenage drama, and life lessons wrapped in one. Because it is a book series, I remember the urgency that consumed me, to know what happened to each of the characters, and the wonder of how a person created this whole other world that I could easily lose myself in. 

It’s the wonder of what each book offers that keeps me reading. This wonder presents differently with each book. Some books leave you with a sense of urgency, and you find you stay up through the night to finish reading it. Others cause you to think deeply and reflect on the world we live in and you take pauses to journal or read a section over again until you find meaning in the words presented. And there are books that you struggle to get lost in, and eventually, it is worth it when you do. The final category is the books that make it to the DNFR list – ‘Did not finish reading’ list – books that are simply not for you, and this is perfectly fine. 

I find that each book has its season, and sometimes you meet a book at the wrong time, so let it sit on the shelf till you are ready. In the same vein, not all books will be fast reads; some take longer to get through and that is okay.

Maybe this is about reading habits, but I am not entirely sure; just stay with me till the end, will you?

I love to read in motion, this is why I don’t mind Lagos traffic too much once I am not driving. My favourite place to read is the London Underground, earbuds in a seat near a car exit because my brain already knows people will walk past me at every stop and I just sit and read. When I am not in a hurry, I will take the longest route home, so I have more time on the train. Sometimes I pace, book in hand, pencil in my hair to mark lines I don’t want to forget or highlight sections I want to revisit. I am not sure why I do this, maybe the desire for motion is linked to my restless mind. 

Maybe what I am trying to say is that reading looks different for everyone; how we become readers and what keeps us reading. 

I learnt my first lessons on empathy from reading. My friend Derin explained to me once that “writing involves creating characters, placing them in situations and allowing the characters interact in these situations.” Through these interactions, I learnt that only a few things are black and white and even the ‘best’ of us are capable of doing despicable things. I’ve developed an appreciation of the different situations individuals are faced with and the subsequent decisions that are made. I find that I am less judgemental and tread with caution when dealing with people. 

I am always excited when I meet someone who has read Ayobami Adebayo’s Stay with Me. I have ready questions for the person about Yejide and Akin, the protagonists in the story: questions about their reaction to the discoveries made, what they would do if they were faced with the same situation. I still wonder if Akin really loved Yejide and if his version of love is desirable

Yejide Kilanko’s Daughters who walk this path started an important conversation between my mum, sister and I. My mum was saddened by the themes in the book and she asked if she had done a good job of protecting my sister and I. We talked about the failings of our society in protecting victims of sexual abuse and how it seems the only thing we have mastered is victim shaming. 

My views and opinions are constantly challenged by the conversations that follow the completion of a story, either internal conversations with my own thoughts or external conversations with others. 

Maybe this is about the benefits of reading but who knows at this point. 

The only thing I am sure of is that I enjoy reading, talking about books and sharing stories with people. 

Quick question, when last did you pick up a book? 

29, Her Version of Events,

On Working

I recently took a work placement test that examines your personality and identifies potential challenges that might occur on the job because of your personality and how you view life and work. 

“While Oreoluwa’s high drive for achievement may have led too many successes, they may be particularly uncomfortable with potential failure. This discomfort may drive them to overwork themselves or be overly perfectionistic at times, leaving them vulnerable to burnout.”

The extract above is from my result. I read this back to my friend, and she laughed at the accuracy of the statement.

Here is the thing, I suffered burnout for the first time at the start of 2019. I was tired, my mind was foggy and I became easily irritable; these were the first symptoms I experienced. I chucked it up to stress and promised myself that I would eventually find time to rest. 

What followed quickly is something I like to call ‘energy outages’: I’d be out of breath, then my legs would give way and I would have to sit still for about 30 – 45 minutes before I’d be able to get up or do anything again. 

On my lowest day, I called my mum to pick me from work because I couldn’t will myself to get up, and there was no way I could make the drive home. She came, drove me to my Uncle Niyi’s workshop, and they both took me to the hospital. 

The doctor ordered many tests. I spent the next two days getting pricked and probed; none of the tests gave definite answers to all my symptoms. The only clear thing was that my immune system was compromised, but ‘why’ remained the mystery question. After the doctor asked questions about my lifestyle, he declared I was stressed, and stress had compromised my immune system. 

It all felt bizarre to me. My body was simply giving up on me.

The course of treatment was two weeks of bed rest, drugs I was supposed to take every day for three months. However, because I was underweight, my doses were halved, and a three-month adult dose became a six-month regime for me. 


Your body heals, treating it is easy: you feed it right, exercise and rest; it is happy and on the mend. 

But your mind is another story, and I started to question myself. If I couldn’t take care of my body, then what could I care for? I questioned purpose. I wondered how and why I became this person, ‘a perfectionist’, afraid of failure.’

I didn’t find answers to all my questions. 

By the end of 2020, I was back where I was at the start of 2019, but I’d like to pat myself on the back because I spotted the signs early. I identified that it was within my capacity to take myself out of situations that encouraged and rewarded me for overworking myself. 

I outlined the following steps for myself:

Learn to rest: I find that I can’t shut my mind off from thinking about what I should be doing either for work or a personal project. When I take time off to rest, I beat myself up because I believe I should be doing something productive instead.

Understand why I approach work the way I do: By June of 2019, I was feeling better, and I promised myself that I wouldn’t let myself go again, but I let myself down. I realised that I couldn’t figure out why I am the way I am about working. I needed someone to help me understand myself and give me healthy tools for handling work better. 


The result from the test showed me my approach to work is still flawed, and there is still work to be done, things to unlearn, new habits to pick up, and the journey ahead of me is a long one but one I am committed to going on it. 

So, if you made it to the end, here are two questions:

1. Have you ever suffered burnout? 

2. Does your work bring you joy?

Her Version of Events, Lifestyle,

On Christianity

I have struggled with my faith over the last few years, not necessarily with believing in the existence of God but more around the day-to-day practice of my faith. 

There was this nagging question about whether or not I was a good Christian, which eventually made me stop going through the motions. 

I stopped going to church (this was easy because I had classes for professional exams on the weekends). I read the YouVersion verse for the day and nothing extra because I needed to understand why something that I had practised all my life left me feeling anxious and unhappy. 


The culture of questioning and digging into the scriptures to find answers as an individual isn’t promoted. Yes, we are encouraged to have devotions, but carefully printed outlines guide them; this serves a  purpose but doesn’t substitute for actually sitting and freely studying the Bible. 

So I started to do just that, study. I wanted to understand David’s story, not the abridged version I was taught in Sunday school because, for a man after God’s heart,  he engaged in practices the church would condemn him for today. I read books in the New Testament repeatedly, explored Isaiah and didn’t understand many chapters, but I read on anyway. 

The more I studied, the more the words came alive in my heart in a way they hadn’t ever before. I started to see connections for myself, like Psalms written by David that I could find the corresponding stories for in the books of Samuel, Kings or Chronicles. It helped me appreciate the Psalms and I started journaling my prayers, writing exactly how I felt to the Lord and laying it bare. 

I think I understand why David was a man after God’ heart; he simply went into God’s presence as he was, he didn’t attempt to sugarcoat his feelings or what his experiences were in the moment and simply let it all out at God’s feet. 

In my unravelling, I realised where my problem stemmed from; my introduction to Christ-focused on what I should and shouldn’t do. Sin was lifted higher than God’s love, leading to a vicious circle of guilt and no real transformation. Instead, there was anger in place of peace and kindness, judgement in place of compassion, and measuring others by the yardstick of what sins I have sufficiently stayed away from. 

It is cliche but you will never enjoy being a Christian till you understand God’s love, until you understand the simplicity of coming just as you are.


This is an evolving idea, I have twenty-odd years to organise religion to unpack, but if you read to the end, can you answer the simple question of why you practice the faith you do. 

28, Her Version of Events,

One Year Later: Thoughts on Life and The Pandemic

Living currently feels like a dream; the kind where when you wake, you realise you are waking from a dream within a dream with endless opportunities of landing back in reality. 

Back in March of 2020, when countries in the world began shutting down, from retail stores to restaurants to all modes of transportation, we believed it would be a quick fix, a month at best, and life was going to return to normal.  One month has turned quickly into 12 and as we approach the first ‘lockdown’ anniversary, a word that has found a home in our vocabulary, we are burdened with the question of whether we will ever return to ‘normal’, whether we will ever have the freedom of living as we once did. 

Before we address the possibilities of returning to normal, I learned a number of things in the past year that I will like to share. 

On People and Relationships

For starters, a wedding ceremony requires only the presence of the bride and groom. All other parties are important but mostly sentimental and don’t have the power to hinder the ceremony. I feel very much in love with the intimacy of ’quarantine weddings’, another staple in our vocabulary. The joy that you can see on the couples’ faces, they just seem happy to be together in the moment and celebrate their love. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have minded a ‘quarantine wedding’.  

I learnt that everyone gets lonely. We all require a degree of human interaction to keep our wheels turning. Without experiencing a complete lack of human contact, I don’t think I would have realised its importance and it has made me value the people I have in my life. 

I don’t think I would have survived the past year without friendship; from long video calls to online surprise parties, and the comfort I found in having different ‘virtual’ homes to land, places where I could truthfully answer the question, “are you fine?” I learnt the importance of coming open into my friendships, of allowing myself to let loose, allowing myself be loved and loving in return. I’ll summarise my lesson on friendships with this statement, “You owe the gift of vulnerability in friendship. It is important you come open with your scars, your joys, your wins and failures. Only in vulnerability are you truly seen, heard and loved.”

I learnt to say “I love you” and “I miss you.” I’ve always believed these are doing words; you show a person you love them, you show up when they need you, when you miss a person you visit them or give them a call. But in a world where seeing wasn’t possible and without ‘seeing’, ‘showing’ is almost impossible, I was left with nothing else but to resort to using my words; to typing, “Hey. You know I love you, right?” Or closing out a call with, “I miss you.” These are things I will be keeping in my vocabulary because it is important you let people know how much you value them. 

On Rest and Honouring my body 

The world going on a pause didn’t mean I learnt how to rest. In fact, I did the opposite. I pushed myself and explored the limits of body by taking on more projects because there was the illusion of ‘more time.’ Going remote meant I could easily work across time zones and roll out of bed for that 8 a.m call. In return my body revolted and it has ordered me to rest. 

This is hard for me because all my life I have kept going. There is always the next thing; the next exam to write, the next person that needs help making sense of a financial spreadsheet. By pushing the limits of myself and grappling with the consequences, I learnt to say “No” and live at a pace that my body will be grateful for, to evaluate all opportunities carefully before saying “Yes”. 

In learning to rest, I remembered things that I love, things that bring my heart joy. It became necessary to do an audit of my life and say goodbye to things that no longer served me. This wasn’t an easy process but as I laid in bed for the second night in a row in mid-December with my legs shaking and head pounding, I knew something had to change. It has been a learning curve, but it is important I am gentle with myself and conscious of how I choose to spend my time. 

On Death 

I re-learnt about death from losing my grandma and one a close friend. My lesson is summed up in this statement; “Death scars us; it drags us through the mud. To come out on the other side of death standing, we need all the people we have left. In its own twisted way, it binds us together.”

On taking a stand 

In life, it is important to take a stand, to state your beliefs, so people know who you are. In the spirit of this, I went to my first protest. If someone had told me that I would be chanting in front of the Nigerian embassy on a cold Sunday morning, I wouldn’t have believed them but it is one of the things I am very proud I did. It is an experience I will always carry with me. 

In peaceful protest I learnt to be proud of Nigeria, not in her leaders but in the people; in our capacity to band together and fight a self-serving government, to stand for our right to live our right to a better life. More importantly, I was proud to be a woman, proud of the Feminist Coalition and the work they did in organising and supporting the EndSars peaceful protests. In those few days, I saw a vision of what Nigeria could become and it restored my hope in the country. 

In the same capacity, I was broken by the Lekki Massacre on the 20th of October 2020. It still feels like a dream that a country would turn on its own citizens and kill them without repercussion. Nigeria is led by obsessive people; leaders that pass policies and regulations that ensure their pockets are lined and as a result, have created a country where dreams are stifled and whose people only have the capacity to focus on the next meal/paycheque because to protest against police brutality is to be met with a gun. 

I am keeping with me the hope that swelled in my heart and the pain of those that lost their lives, and I’m letting these drive me to keep fighting for a better Nigeria. 


The year felt long and short at the same time; long in the amount of time I spent by myself, navigating my emotions, alone with my thoughts, and short in the amount of living that seems to have happened, all these experiences crammed into one year, so ‘short and long.’

I don’t think we are going back to ‘normal’. For starters, we are different people and the world we live in is different. I believe we should look forward to what comes after, challenge ourselves to rebuild, to do away with things that no longer serve us, to do away with things that harm us, and build a path to better. 

I would be naive to think this will happen, but a girl is allowed to dream. 


I am over the pandemic at this point, and it hard to see a silver lining on many days; I just want to visit my family, have brunch plans and maybe plan a dinner party.