A Present for Myself

April 12, 2024
A passionate wordsmith and mental health advocate dedicated to using the power of storytelling to inspire and uplift others.
This story took place in Nigeria

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I turned twenty-four years old not long ago. Others, I suppose, would agree with me and claim they rejoiced. My birthday has been sorely neglected for quite some time. In recent years, it has served as a sobering reminder that, year after year, I remain a disaster.

After a year, I still haven’t improved. There has been no miraculous alleviation of my despair. My anxiousness has intensified. After four years of sobriety, I am once again struggling with thoughts of self-harm. Sometimes, I choose to drink instead of asking for assistance. Just another year of disappointing the people I care about—that is what every birthday is all about. My birthday rolled around again, however, and I couldn’t stop the clock from ticking.

Everyone was very kind and celebrated me that day, which is hard for me to get my head around since I don’t think I deserve it.

Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about my 23rd year. Both the places it succeeded and the ones it failed? What obstacles did I manage to overcome? How much progress have I made towards personal development? What are the happy recollections I have? I was wondering who the major players were that year in my life. This introspection made me excited for the new year. I was thinking about what I can do to make my next birthday less of a bummer, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll have to treat myself to a few items. Presents for my birthday, if you will. The virtues of tolerance, perseverance, bravery, and mercy are these four gifts.

My identity is what it is, and I must embrace it. Mental illness is a constant battle for me. An intense emotion wells up inside me. My sport is wrestling. I shed tears. When I win, I win big. And that’s just OK. Yes, I am a person. Why shouldn’t I accept myself just as much as I do other people and their problems?

Stay calm and collected
I tend to lose my patience really fast. I promise to be kind to myself this year when I trip and fall again. Or when I find that I am unable to expel distracting ideas from my mind. When I’m back where I don’t want to be or when I’m just sick of fighting for my recovery, I need to have patience.

As a present to myself, I will make the courageous choice as often as I can. Recovering from a setback requires bravery. Keeping going ahead requires bravery. It takes guts to open yourself and allow others in so they can support you on your journey. By giving myself the strength to do so, I can keep reaching out to supportive people—mentors, friends, and counselors—for guidance and healing. This doesn’t imply that I won’t or can’t feel scared; it just means that I will push through my fears and continue to recover.

I consider this to be significant. For far too long, my decisions in the past have engulfed me in feelings of shame and remorse. I resolve to release myself from the things that hold me back this year by forgiving myself and accepting it (with all the kindness I can summon). We all make mistakes and have regrets. I want to go ahead, and if I can’t forgive, I won’t be able to.

Despite my gratitude for all four of these things, the greatest present I can offer to myself is love. I will give myself a chance to enjoy all of these benefits by loving myself—flaws and all—including my faults, both future and past. My anxiety, despair, and history don’t change the fact that I am very worthy.

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