Birthday Post: Joy in Fortitude

Ayọ̀délé Ìbíyẹmí
6 min readOct 12, 2019

i. joy



a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.

ii. fortitude



courage in pain or adversity.

only decent + recent thing I found. man does not take many pictures, sadly.

4 days before this birthday, a respected friend sent me a message. He said “Shall we expect a birthday post this year, Sir?” I thought about it before answering and I said ‘Yes.’ I did not know the import of my annual posts and was considering dropping it until I was prodded by the honourable gentleman. I had the thoughts in my head because it is usually a summary of how the last year went and how hopeful I am for the coming year. I was quick to also warn my friend that this post will be a dark one. This is a dark and disjointed post; it pales in quality compared to some of my old birthday posts. While this may reflect the severity of my experiences, it does not in any way reflect the quality of my writing or thinking. The annual ritual is to expose a side of me that might not be known to other people. I am a complex being, a tapestry of experiences and I am glad for the complexities. It is these complexities, these contradictions that first confused me about myself but I have embraced them now and I am thriving in them.


In embracing my contradictions, I have also accepted my vulnerabilities. I try all I can to stay covered and get a grip on myself but I get tired sometimes. I have learnt to take breaks whenever I feel tired. In the past year, I committed myself to investing in my securing myself financially, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically, With all these, I try not to put a barricade so I can live a free life. Despite this, I know that I am still vulnerable because I am human.


Because I have sacrificed for several people and I have served people and organizations diligently, a lot of people have also taken advantage of me. The culmination of it was the amount of emotional blackmail and coercing I went through in the past year. Certain people just think I am an easy target and will do anything for them. I used to but not anymore. At a point, I turned against everything that would displease me even when they will please others and since then, my life has been easier and better. Now, I put myself first, at the risk of losing the good boy tag. The virtues I hold dear remain dear but if being a good boy is going to affect me, I do not want to be a good boy. So contrary to what people think, my life is not squeaky clean, and I am not a good boy. I do not even aspire to be one. I just want to be live free.


The enemies are not necessarily those on the other side, the enemies are those within the space, those who are either scared of your success or are just envious.

Until some 16 months ago, I believed a man could be safe by just living his own life and being good to all. First, being good to all is a myth. No man can please everyone. I tried it and I failed at it. I realized that there are people who would just hate you either because they are used to hating good things or because they are envious of you. Of all the turbulence experienced, most notable is the case of someone who confronted me for no reason and created a scene, accusing me falsely. I kept asking what my offence was but I got no answer. In alliance with another unfortunate fellow, this fellow peddled rumours about me and it was sad at first. Eventually, I turned to face them and I was free. I confronted them both, resisted every attempt at blackmail and cut ties with them. These people were in my circle!

The attempt to deride people from the hinterland by accusing them of beinr the source of troubles is not entirely correct. Some city people are worse than village people.

The enemies most times are not outside, they are inside and the best thing to do is to face them. Do not fight people but when fights come, fight back with all that you have. I did that and I have no regrets. I WILL DO IT AGAIN. Do not sulk, FIGHT. One defiant sentence that guided my battles: kà̀kà̀ kí́ n má́ dunbẹ̣̀̀, t’apá́ t’itan wọ̣n ni á́ lọ̣ sí́i, (Rather than me not sweetening the soup, their hands and thighs will be used as condiments) Harsh but it was fitting for me.


This came to me while working one day and the challenges of the past year drew me closer to God. Those who know me know I am a church boy. (un)fortunately, I am no more a church boy as of old. I am a Christian still, a better Christian but I changed. I am now closer to God than I was. Now, God comes before other things that make us Christians. I took this decision because I realized that in the end, only the Lord is my Confidant (Olúwa l’alábàárò mi).


2 birthdays ago, I tagged the year a year of thanks. I have now concluded that God blesses us afresh without pulling the former blessings. I am thankful for the lessons in the past year and because of them, I have grown. Finally, I think I now have something I am passionate about. All my interests are aligning and professionally, I am growing exponentially. In May, during the Goethe Institute sponsored Wawa Young Literary Critics Fellowship Workshop, one of the mentors who came engaged me and asked what I would do if I had all the money in the world. Immediately, an idea came and we both assessed the viability of it. I have not touched the idea or the jotter since but the answer helped me put all my interests together. I am now more daring and I am dreaming new dreams, learning new skills. I now keep my circle small but impactful and I ensure that I invest a lot in my relationships. I am blessed with great friends and family, I do not hesitate to reduce interactions with toxic people now. I hope for the best because that is exactly what I deserve.


…But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. — Nelson Mandela

Last year, I said that the word for the New Year is “Forward” and although I looked back a few times, I stayed with the word and moved forward, with the help of God and the support of friends. I hit a few milestones in life but I now know that forward is a journey. It is a journey that never stops until a man drops dead. So in addition to living the forward life, I have decided to add courage. I am now more courageous because I am in a constant battle to conquer the fears I have. Courage, I learnt makes us confront life headlong, it empowers and strengthens. As I said last year:

“Rest assured that He guides me and reflecting on his promises for me, I am assured tomorrow. I just have to keep going forward. I also know that I can rest when I need to but I should never quit.”

Year Guide: Kafka

“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”

I am on a journey, following my intense obsessions mercilessly. I am unstoppable.