before I turn 20

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The irony isn’t lost on me that I’d written the second piece on the 19th day of March.

19.

A prime number with little room for flexibility. The only way to multiply and get 19 is to do nothing. In the world of arithmetic, multiplying by 1 does nothing.

Tragic, right?

But if you break 19 apart into 1 and 9, the possibilities are endless increase in number.

1 + 9 = 10

9 is a perfect square, so you could break it down into little 3s.

Or, you could build it up into a big 81, and 8 + 1 = 9, plus the 1 you had leftover, that’s 10 again!

Satisfying, right?

It all depends on how you look at it.

I’ve had to look long and hard at my 19.

There was no “Vessel in the Valley” back when I was 18. That flame started 7 days after I turned 19, and it took 7 weeks to become an inferno. Those were weeks that I spent scouring the ground for solace and solutions; even food wasn’t helping my heartbreak. Those were weeks that I spent writing. Some of it I’ve shared, but some of it might have to wait for that book I wanted to write, back when I was 18.

Sometimes, I have dreams.

Not REM cycle, counting sheep dreams.

Aspirations.

At 18, I was dreaming big.

At 19, I wasn’t so sure.

19 meant a lot of heartbreak. From betrayal. From failure. From confusion. From grief, from mourning. 19 meant preparation and confirmation to make sure I’d be ready to leave my teen years behind. 19 meant a lot of time in the Valley. The Psalm 23 Valley, the darkness of Death’s shadow.

At times, that shadow was inviting. If I squinted and turned my head 19°, I thought I could see my solutions in that shadow, and as I drew nearer and nearer, it’s suffocation began to feel like solace. I was ready to let 19 be 19 and never anything more. But to quote Olayinka Obasanya, “I found Life in the valley, I’m not afraid of that place anymore”.

Psalm 119:105 says,

Your word is a lamp to my feet

And a light to my path.

Yes, your eyes can adjust to darkness, but is that where you’re meant to be? I needed God’s Word to see where I really was. Who I really was. Am. His Light reminded me that my feet stand on my faith, not on my good intentions or best efforts. Time and time again, I’ve let myself down, but He is the Redeemer, the Healer, the Good Shepherd, and so much more.

A lot of my upcoming posts will focus on these aspects of God’s character, but I’ll also be sharing the Light that guided me when I felt hopelessly lost. I am no stranger to the feeling that there’s no point pushing forward. I have been tired in every way possible. I know what it’s like to only have 19, to only be 19, and it breaks my heart every time I see someone lost where I was.

To all of my loved ones who’ve been 19, literally or not, this post is for you. If you’re reading this post as a friend, a follower, or just a visitor, my social media inboxes will always be open, and you can contact me anonymously through this page. The recent refocus on mental health and suicide awareness has pushed many people to encourage those who are hurting to reach out, but I know how hard it can be to do that. I always feared being a burden, but in Galatians it says to “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ”. If you’re willing to help, show it, with your words and your actions. Be vocal and transparent, share your testimony! And if you have burdens: people are here to help you bear them. Again, I know what it’s like to be let down and left behind, but it pales in comparison to the love and support that’s always been there for me when I’d given up on myself.

be blessed bbys ✨

Author: Iyaniwura Olarewaju

† | naija | nj | Cornell

2 thoughts on “before I turn 20”

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