2020 Birthday Post: The year that asked questions.

Ayọ̀délé Ìbíyẹmí
6 min readOct 12, 2020
February 2020

There are years that ask questions and years that answer. — Zora Neale Hurston

As I do every year, I am writing this to reflect on my year, plan for the next, and document my life publicly. I also do this to share part of my life with the world. So the year I just concluded asked questions, hard questions. When the COVID-19 pandemic started, the world changed. It was like everything was going to change forever and the world had never seen anything like it. The virus asked questions and answers had to be provided. I hope that we get the final answer (vaccine) soon because the virus is still here. However, questions were demanded of me long before it was demanded of the world. I had to answer hard questions and make hard decisions.

Life would always ask questions, some you can avoid, some you can’t. Most questions are personal and private and I think it is important for us to answer our questions and face our futures. Unlike many world leaders, I did not gloss over my questions. I am answering them.


So another thing that happened to me in the past year is that I was demystified. I was stripped and I had to lay bare on my own. It started with me realizing that nothing is automatic and that I cannot afford complacency. Everything I thought could never happen to me happened, well, many, not every. It was like someone went into my ‘could never be me’ folder and started activating them. I shocked myself at some things that I did but it is life, it is growth and I am not afraid of it. Now I know that nothing is certain and I cannot afford to put my life on autopilot. I must always put in the work, in all things. Now I know that nothing is absolute and we can never really know the full story except it’s ours. I cannot even believe that I was setting standards. I don’t know much, I know only what I know now. I only know how I will react to what I have reacted to before. I don’t know how I will respond to a situation I have never faced before.

Extend Grace

I did a YouVersion Bible Plan written by Lecrae and he talked about how we must always extend grace to others. Also, one of my favourite people in the whole world right now, E would say that we ask God for forgiveness every other day, why can’t we forgive others as God forgives us? One day, I felt like ‘no, I am not God’ but well, I am a child of God and the Bible enjoins us to forgive endlessly. I try to forgive people easily now and just see it as part of life. I embrace my own imperfections and hope to get forgiven of my own indiscretions too. Like I said earlier, I am becoming more tolerant now and more forgiving of older people now as I grow older.

Àràgbé L’ayé — Yoruba Saying

Àràgbé L’ayé, Currency ló yàtọ̀ — Ayodele

Literally, this means that ‘one must buy life.’ It seems like a simple thing to say but I find it extremely important. Everyone must make effort to stay alive. I think that we all must transact to survive. I also think that individuals have specific things that they do to stay alive, to fulfill purpose, and perpetuate themselves. For want of space, this idea cannot be well explicated here but I hope to get back to it someday. I think it is worth examining.

We must try again

Some things will work, some won't, we must always try again. I imagine that my bitter days have led me to turn on everyone; I’d be suffering now because I would have denied myself the many amazing relationships I now have. That one thing does not work doesn’t mean another won't. We must always try and try. We should also not be too stubborn to quit things that are no longer viable and take time off to refresh.

Find joy everywhere and in everything. Curate memories, mine joy. At first it was running that gave me joy, then dancing. I dance a lot now, mostly to Nina Simone who I love so much. I dance alone, no cameras, no audience. It gives me joy and I mine it.

Beware of destination addiction: The idea that happiness is in the next place, the next job, or even with the next partner.

Until you give up the idea that happiness is somewhere else, it will never be where you are. — Anon

· Not all relationships will work. Know that and know peace.

· ‘The stress is permanent; don’t let the stress become your identity. Stress is part of the routine. Every day, try and solve something and move on’ — Mr. JG, an adult who has seen it all

· You don’t stop being a man. You always have to step up.

· The more I learn, the more insufficient I feel.

· No one really has it all together absolutely, we are all fronting. Front your own and move. Life is designed that way.

Hope is all we have

“Remember, red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. I will be hoping that this letter finds you, and finds you well” — The Shawshank Redemption.

Hope does not mean one should not do. By all means, do. Don’t run, don’t be in a hurry, don’t wait. Be on the move always.

I am more hopeful now as hope is all I have. At a time this year, I was stripped of almost all that I held dear but I held on to hope. We all hope that things would get better so we mostly trade in hope. Hope is all we have and we must not give it up. Hope is why we are alive. I am a trader and a believer in hope. That quote about art being the highest form of hope is correct, maybe that is why art comforts me so much.

A pragmatic friend of mine would say that hope is not a strategy and it is the bane of the third world but well, I believe it is all we have and we must hold on to it.

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” — Romans 5:5

We must save ourselves

Nobody will save us, we are all we have. For us who are of the same tribe, we must run it all as if we do not have help from outside. I use tribe as a word to connote community, not necessarily any particular arbitrary group. Jobs, offers, opportunities often just flow within circles and communities. Expand your circles but keep it impactful. And again, only you can save yourself so arm yourself. The ongoing #EndSARS struggle is one of the reasons I am delighted. It reassures me that we can actually change things if we all come together and that we can all come together. It is a birthday gift from Nigerian youths for me. I love my generation.

“Let others praise ancient times, I am glad I was born in these” — Ovid

Finally, I realized also that the more I know, the more I know I need to know. I know the man I want to be and I am becoming him. I am far from it but I will attain it. It is difficult to achieve but it is not impossible. I have set a very high standard for myself, I falter sometimes but I will not lower it.