2020 In Retrospect: A Year Embracing Forced Stillness

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A portrait image of Grace Chimezie

When the bells rang to usher in 2020, and to signal the entry into a New Decade, no one could have anticipated the unexpected plot in this year’s events- It started with Kobe Bryan’s death in January.

I remember vividly, where I was when the news of Kobe’s death broke and the overwhelming emotions that trickled down my brain when I registered my grief. There are people we perceive to be immortal, and Kobe was one of those for me. But the year was not finished with its series of unfortunate events, late in August Chadwick will pass and leave me in deep sadness.

But first, my birthday came in February, and it was quaint, beautiful and remarkable. I had a small event with my friends and family unprepared for what was to come.

Then in March, the US and the rest of the world went into a total lockdown to control the spread of Covid-19. That threw us all into a state of uncertainty as lockdowns were enforced to curtail the global health crisis- a situation more than any we’ve witnessed in the last century. The Pandemic forced us into stillness and novel ways to live. Zoom became a new normal, baking banana bread was trendy, face mask became mandatory, large gatherings were a mirage and video challenges our means of escape.

At the start of the Pandemic, I was unemployed and seeking new ways to thrive amidst change, to navigate a contested world and equip myself to manage uncertainty. So I did what most professional peers did during the Pandemic- I began a rigorous 5-weeks research online course(s) that were relevant to my career growth- It turned out to be the best decision I made this year.

But protests followed shortly, after the death of George Floyed. In the United States, the death of George Floyed sparked protests which spread globally demanding for racial justice and end to police brutality. In Nigeria peaceful protest spread across the country to put an end to harassment by rogue police officers.

However, the Lekki massacre which marred the #EndSars peaceful protest, was a breaking point for me mentally and forced a change in my view of religion. Currently, I do not identify under any religious tag with an open mind to understanding, “where do light and darkness come from?”

Below are highlight reels of my year in retrospect.

Career

As with most people, this year was the most challenging for me, career-wise. I was not investing much in my creative journey and needed to make drastic changes to my non-profit portfolio. In June, I decided to pursue a behavioural research collaboration in Public Health, facilitated through Acumen Academy, that led me to work with brilliant people from diverse backgrounds.

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Our work focused on gender-based issues like improving maternal healthcare in Kebbi State, Nigeria and addressing menstrual struggles for adolescent girls and young women in rural/slum settlements.

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I also worked on a personal project, which sought novel methods to improve public health surveillance for sexual minorities within Africa. My research focused on ways biodata can be used to address infectious diseases within LGBT communities in Africa, through convenient access to health services without fear or intimidation.

I had the opportunity to interview with Johns Hopkins and got to the final stages. Through the experience, I connected with other brilliant professionals who transitioned from communication to public health and are excelling.

In December, I accepted a full-time role at the International Research and Exchange Board (IREX). My work will lie at the intersection of my experiences to promote a just, prosperous and inclusive world.

Writing

I did a lot of writing this year, thanks to the stillness forced on me by the Pandemic. I started this Medium blog in April, to share and document my thoughts on cultural phenomenons. My zeal extended beyond Medium, and in May, I began to write for a tech blog with a focus on Nigeria’s communications and technology policy.

Did I mention that I wrote a 70-page e-book, and I have sold more copies than I anticipated? Also, I got consistent with sending out monthly Newsletters and increased my subscribers.

Business

I took time to reflect on the growth of my footwear brand this year. The brand had been struggling to maintain the goodwill it had while I was still in Nigeria. So I went back to the drawing board to redesign a way forward, and these were the few steps I took:

  • During the lockdown, I improved our Instagram aesthetic to reflect our brand ideology and attract our target audience.

Speaking

I had a brief conversation on ‘non-conformist art’ with Daniel Obasi. He is the creative director of Daniel Obasi studios and juxtaposes as a stylist, and has styled infamous music videos this year including Beyonce’s Black is King. I also had a mobile photography event organized by Women Will Lekki, which had over 80-people in attendance.

Reading

I found refuge and solace in books this year. Amongst my favorite reads was Chinelo Okparanta’s ‘Under the Udala trees,’ Dennis Benn ‘Here Comes the Sun’ and Toni Morrisson’s ‘The Bluest Eye.’ These books shaped my cultural view on love and faith, which were important questions I had going into 2020.

Also, the Paris Review, Catapult and the New York Book Review had articles that kept my mind nourished this year, each word read like balm, soothing and exhilarating. See my reviews here.

Friendships

I found more ways to be useful to my friends, which made me not to loose any friends to banter or bickering this year. My Friends are the backbone of my success, and alongside my family, my friends contribute immensely to my success stories.

Accomplishments

Against all odds, I completed 6-online courses and read 10-books this year. I improved my writing, by writing more, which I have and continue to struggle with. Although this year came with its grip to grieve, I survived 2020, and that in itself is a testament to my tenacity.

The New Year (2021).

I want to remember the coming year as the year I conquered everything, leaving no stone unturned with the conviction that I deserve every good thing. Pursuing each interest with purpose and clarity, while standing on the side of justice.

Written by

I am on a quest, to find my magic, and I’ll share my dreams here, as they come. Also, a Comms strategist, working in tech & policy spaces, to bring about change

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