Back to Uni
Blaqbonez, what did you do?
Hello my lovely friends, how are you doing? How was your week?
Earlier this week, I got a message from an acquaintance urging me to write a piece for students returning to school following the cancellation of the ASUU strike. In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, congratulations. The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is a Nigerian union of higher education academic staff. They're well-known for their infamous government-strike actions. These strikes include demands for payment, better infrastructure, and the suspension of all academic activities until the government responds to their petition. Normally, strikes last a couple of months, but this time the strike lasted eight months.
Eight months is an extremely long time. You could have a baby in eight months. You might meet the love of your life, get pregnant, and marry. You could forge a new career path and advance significantly. Eight months is also plenty of time to reconsider your course of study, religion, ideology, and so on. I tweeted that I don't remember who I was before the strike because a lot has changed in eight months. The idea of dialling back and returning to my education now feels strange.
I was curious about how other people felt, so I posted a question box on my Instagram story, and the responses were a jumble of emotions - confusion, tiredness, indifference, fear. So many people have discovered what they want to do with their lives, have jobs that they enjoy, or have helped them maintain their standard of living during this period. People have married or relocated out of the country. People are afraid because they know their course of study will lead them down the wrong career path. They can't remember anything they learned before the strike, and they are worried that they have forgotten how to cope in high-stress environments, which Nigerian public universities tend to be.
If you’re currently feeling any of these, I can relate. I don’t really know how I am going to balance building a career with getting a degree. I have considered dropping out, but I am not 100% confident in what that decision would entail for me. As for you, I don’t know what resolutions you have made. However, I think it’s important to note a few things:
Whatever you’re feeling is valid: Don’t feel guilty for not wanting school to resume. If you feel relief, anger, confusion, pain, whatever it may be, that’s okay.
Decide on your next course of action: Determine how you want to approach this event and what it means for your life. Do this as soon as possible. Take the next week to think about it carefully. If you have a job, consider how you will balance school and work activities or whether you want to quit. If you decide to drop out, make sure you have given it careful thought and that it is not simply an emotional reaction to the news. Have a plan A, B and C. If you have decided to stay in school, you must decide how you will approach your studies. Would you take a more laid-back approach while focusing on your job? Or will you try to give them both equal time and attention? Think about what each facet of this decision might mean for you.
Create Systems: Whatever decisions you make must be supported by actions that will make your life easier. If your school environment isn’t ideal, eg. you stay in a hostel with so many people and so much noise, what are the things you can do that will make reading and working better for you? You could decide to sleep early and wake up at night to read. One of my favourite writers, Ocean Vuong, shared that his first novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, was written in a closet. A closet! For a gay man, the irony wasn’t lost on him, but he was able to reclaim that space as a place of power and wrote probably the most beautiful novel I have ever read. If feeding is a challenge, how can you make the decision-making process less stressful? Will cooking stew once a week help you not think about food? Would you stock up on cereals? Come up with a meal plan with friends? Think about all these things.
Take Care of Yourself: As I am telling you guys this, I am telling myself too. Try not to skip meals, no matter how appealing it may be. This means you might have to up your time management game. Try not to do things that will jeopardize your health. Reading every day will be healthier than waiting till the last minute and relying on energy drinks to stay awake (again, I’m shouting at myself). Remove unnecessary stress from your life. This period is critical because you will be rushing through the academic calendar, and your lecturers may not be sympathetic, so treat yourself like an egg as much as possible. Buy sunscreen, wear comfortable shoes, and keep a water bottle in your tote bag.
Believe the best: I've been reading a lot about the mind and how it influences every aspect of our lives. Although it may sound corny, it is true. Return to school with the mindset that everything will work out beautifully for you, and watch it happen.
Wishing you the best as you return to school. Everything will be alright.
Kudos if you get the title reference. ♥
Media I consumed this week:
Entergalactic: I watched this animation, and I absolutely loved it. It’s about black love and black joy, and the colours are amazing.
Big Bang Theory: I watched episodes 1 and 2 of this sitcom, and I thought it was okay. I don’t think it is not favourite sitcom potential, but it’s funny, and the conversations are interesting and clever.
I listened to:
San Siro by YKB: This is my new obsession. I love the tune, I love the story, the music video is gorgeous, and it makes me want to fall in love.
All about Love by Bell Hooks: It’s a book that discusses aspects of love in modern relationships filled with personal anecdotes from the author. I just started reading it, and I am excited.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott: It’s a book about writing that will help beginner writers navigate all aspects of writing. The author does this with humour and really amazing metaphors. I finished reading this book, and I really loved it.
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