Don’t worry, be happy.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. 

-Matthew 6:34 New International Version (NIV)

I found myself relying on this verse a lot recently. These days I am constantly stressed and anxious, and I have touched on it here.  It is interesting how much about myself I am realising the older I get. Everything I am experiencing now I was experiencing years back but did not realise at the time. For one, it took me a while to realise I was dealing with loneliness, or indeed that loneliness was something that one could “suffer” from. Now my new revelation is anxiety. A few years ago, while I understood being anxious, I did not truly understand anxiety as a disorder, and I might even have chuckled at the suggestion that anxiety was a real serious condition. I had moments back at university when I would wake up in the middle of the night, worried about an exam I had. But I never thought that it was a disorder, same way I never thought too deeply about loneliness.

I have just come off a couple months of intense stress and pressure which tested me to the max and led me to think this was more than just being anxious.  I googled anxiety symptoms and there is in fact a generalised anxiety disorder with symptoms that completely fit my profile. The heart palpitations, constant restlessness, fatigue, trouble sleeping for more than 6 hours (even on the weekends!) and the persistent feeling of unease as though there is something I have forgotten to do. As usual I just attributed these to stress, and perhaps cancer (everything is a carcinogen) but not anxiety because that is not a real thing. A friend of mine had gotten a doctor’s note for anxiety which gave her extra time in our exams, and suggested I do the same. I was going to but ended up not going, partly due to laziness, but mostly due to me feeling like a fraud-I don’t really have anxiety and the doctor will know that I am just doing it to get extra time in my exams. Then one day I woke up yet again at 4am, my heart thumping hard, unable to fall back asleep and riddled with worry over the forthcoming exams, I realised “damn it, I really do have an anxiety disorder”.

I still haven’t seen a doctor, mainly because I cannot get an appointment on the NHS, and also because I have been trying to manage myself.  To be honest, I am not sure what the doctor can do for me, especially as I won’t take any drugs. The first step is realising there is a problem, and I do feel better knowing there is a name for it.

The stress is drastically reduced for now,  which has greatly improved my mental and physical state. I may have to revisit the stress briefly in a few weeks when exams results come out, but for now I am taking it slow and not letting life get to me. If there is one thing I have learned, it’s that things are rarely as deep as they seem. Relax, take it easy.

I am a big fan of quotes; I love finding words that relate to my situation. They help greatly in soothing me and making me feel better. This is a common theme of this blog, and I often post my favourite quotes. During these past exams, rather than looking at quotes from writers, I decided to turn to the bible (I always get more religious in exam season). As with most people with dormant religiosity, I only call on God in times of stress. Even though I feel guilty about it (are you agnostic or not?), I have come to realise it is not the worst thing. People turn to different coping mechanisms; be it drugs, cigarettes, sex, alcohol, food, religion etc. In the aftermath of the exams, I turned to prayer and worship which made me feel incredibly better. I really should have done that sooner, and maybe that would have helped me manage my stress better. Full time religious people may not look too kindly on flip flop Christians who only remember God in bad times, and rightly so. However for people who have been raised in religious homes, it is difficult to fully discard of it even when we no longer truly believe. I do believe it is possible to have doubts about religion (and even God) and still get a lot of comfort from religion (and God). This probably deserves its own post, but I have experienced a seismic shift and I am thankful for it.

The bible is chock-full of inspiring quotes that I often overlook in favour of quotes from prose and poetry. Chapter 6 of the book of Mathew covers worry, and I found it quite helpful. In addition to the verse above, other bible verses that helped are:

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Mathew 6:27

“The pain you are feeling does not compare to the joy that is coming” Romans 8:18

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”- Mathew 11:28

“When you have done everything you can do, that’s when God will step in and do what you can’t do”.- 2 Corinthians 12:10

“For I know the plans I have for you declares the lord; plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”- Jeremiah 29:11


You like me, you really like me!

As her prestige mounted its maintenance became more trying. She became more sensitive to criticism and would go to any lengths to avoid it.  The women adored her. The men were awestruck before her. She was becoming something of a phenomenon. But she alone knew her internal struggles. She knew she was not better than anyone  else. She thought her virtues were the products of chance. As the days went by she began to loathe her so called good manners. She became less delighted when people praised her. It was as if they were confining her to an ever narrowing prison.

The moment I read the above passage in Elechi Amadi’s The Concubine, I knew I would never forget it.  The protagonist Ihuoma is a beautiful widow who is well liked in her community for her affable nature. She doesn’t mind at first, but at time goes on she finds herself trapped by her good manners as people expect her to be good all the damn time.

I have often felt that being well liked, especially because of one’s good behaviour, is a burden, a prison of sorts. People mostly like others on a conditional basis- We like you because you are nice/pretty/funny/a good singer/a good actress/great athlete etc. So while it is nice to be well liked, it is often predicated on something that could so easily be taken away. To be liked because you are a nice person is to be forever condemned to be nice, and you are done for the moment you do one not so nice thing. Being liked for being bad and wild may be better, but even that brings its own pressures as you have to constantly reinvent your wild image lest people go off you. The truth is that even as people are uplifting you, they are also slyly watching for flaws, waiting for a misstep so they can drag you down.

The worst thing is to be put on a pedestal and used as a means of judging other people: “why be a Kim Kardashian when you can be a blah?” You may enjoy the compliments, but the second you put the wrong foot forward, the claws come out and you are thrown off the pedestal. So you have to live your life always considering how your actions will be perceived by the masses, driving yourself mad to ensure you do not run afoul of your well-wishers, crying yourself to sleep whenever your supporters say “oh she would never do this classless thing” because that is the exact thing you really want to do.

On this subject, one thing I find interesting is the concept of moral absolutism in relation to humans. A person is either bad or good; bad people only do bad things and good people only do good things. People are often surprised to hear that evil people had moments of kindness- I once saw a tweet from a person who was conflicted about Hitler because s/he had just found out Hitler was an animal lover. I have also seen people decide MLK jr couldn’t have been that good a person because he was an adulterer.

So when a person who is liked because we have deemed them to be good does something wrong, it is not uncommon for people to think “oh it seems this person had been bad all along and was just pretending to be good. Finally s/he has been exposed!” This is especially visible via social media with the rabid cancel culture. While it is fun to watch Liberals devour each other, it is strange that everyone is just one misstep away from being cancelled. Today’s rabid cancellors are tomorrows cancellees. So once you position yourself as one of the good guys, you must always be good or risk being revealed as a fraud. Never mind that even the saints have flaws. It is also interesting that we never apply this to ourselves, only to others. We judge others by their actions but judge ourselves by our intentions, so we can say “well I did not mean to do bad/I meant well therefore I am not a bad person”, but rarely afford this privilege to others who are instead declared bad and promptly written off.

Therefore I sometimes think it must be so liberating to be hated or at least not extremely popular. People already hate you so might as well be yourself and not worry about what people think. Of course this is easier said than done as it is normal to want to be liked. For most people, the feeling of being hated is understandably vile and uncomfortable.  But it is important to not be carried away by the opinions of others- surely if your family and friends like you then it shouldn’t matter as much . If no one likes you then check yourself mate.

I will end this with two quotes to live by. I don’t remember where I heard the quotes but I always have them in my head:

I would rather be despised for who I am than liked for someone I am pretending to be.  (According to google, the original quote by Kurt Cobain is “I would rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I am not).

What other people think of me is none of my business.




Tonight, I am jealous of everyone who does not have exams in two days. I am jealous of everyone who is loved and in love; of everyone who is currently snuggled in bed watching a film or reading a book. I am overwhelmed with envy thinking of people who are surrounded by family and friends, swapping mundane stories and laughing real belly aching laughter.

Tonight I am also grateful for my life, as dull and uneventful it is. I am grateful for my problems and thankful that this is all there is to it. I am thankful that I have a place to sleep and I don’t have to worry about where my next meal is coming from. I am thankful that my troubles are temporary and not the end.

I so desperately want to pass all my exams and be done with them, but I am thankful that even if I fail the exams I can do them again.

Tonight I am exhausted and overwhelmed. Tomorrow I hope to be happier.