With the end of a challenging but interesting year, 2019, and the beginning of a new decade; I thought to share with you all the gains and losses; laughter and tears I experienced in the year 2019.
2019 started with me almost getting kicked out of my apartment. I had lived alone for over three (3) years; in a one bedroom in Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria. I started living alone when I was working as an employee for a Finance company that paid me enough to cover my rent and take good care of myself. Then, in June 2017, I lost my job and that was when I thought to give blogging a chance.
After I lost the job, I had a leading not to look for another job but focus on building an online community through my blog. I had saved up enough money to cover my rent for the next year and I expected to start earning money from Google AdSense, with my Blog, soon enough. So, this felt like the perfect deal and I took it.
By February 2018, when my rent was due, I had eaten far deep into the rent as my hope for Google AdSense pay never came through and all I was left with to feed was my rent.
Thank God that before then, I had never defaulted with paying my bills and so my Landlord could trust my word, when I gave him half the rent and promised to pay the balance later. From then, any money I got was spent on paying up my rent.
I had never been one to beg and I am most grateful for this friend of mine. God must have sent him to my life for this season because; Just at points when I was about to blurt out words like, ‘I am tired of life!’; he would suddenly send me something, anything – money, food… Anything!
This was how I lived my life until January 2019. I was in Abuja for the Christmas holiday more like running away from my landlord because I was owing him estate due from as far back as 2017 and the house rent for the new year.
I reasoned ways to make money to pay him but nothing came through. At this time, I had stopped writing on my blog and focused all my energy on creating videos for my YouTube channel.
One fine morning, in the city of Abuja, there I was, on my boyfriend bed thinking about a way out for my life. My Instagram account of 8500 followers was reducing by the day and so going on the platform had become a sad thing for me. But this morning, I was on the platform, searching for the next thing to do, when I saw the call for AUDITION FOR BIG BROTHER NAIJA 2019!
Before now, I had never imagined myself going for the show but today it seemed like the best idea because once I went for the audition and got picked, I would not have to go back to Lagos to face my landlord, instead; I would go to Big brother’s house and the next time my landlord sees me, would be on his Television screen, so I thought. And so, I picked myself up and went for the audition.
After a series of pushing, surviving tear gas spray and bribing the bouncers, I got into the audition hall and I was not picked. IT WAS OVER FOR ME!
As that was not bad enough, I had foolishly posted a video of my time at the audition on Instagram page and now the whole world would know that I was a failure.
You see the moment I saw just 8500 people as the whole world and my not getting picked as a failure, I slowly developed a phobia for Instagram and gradually, I stopped posting on the platform.
By February, I realized that I could not spend the rest of my life running from my reality and so I packed my things and went back to Lagos.
My second day in Lagos, I had gone for a church program that ran till late, so I did not get back home until 9:30pm. The moment I stepped into my estate; the fear was back! I had not seen my landlord since I returned and I was not ready to see him still. So, I sat on a car outside my compound and raised my head to the sky in order to converse with God and ask Him why He had left me in this situation.
Half way into this ritual, I felt a tap on my legs; it was my landlord.
“Hmmm”, I heaved.
“Merry Christmas and happy new year.”, My landlord said, looking at me intently.
“Same to you sir,’ I replied and rushed on to say, “I know I have bills that I am owing you but I have tried everything possible to make money this year. I even joined Atiku’s campaign rally but still, I have not been able to make money.”
I said this in anticipation of his pity and very generous bill cancellation. But I was met with the disappointment of my life time when he said,
“My dear, you have not done everything you can do o. There is money in Nigeria plus I need you to pay up your outstanding bills and pack your things out because I will not be retaining this apartment.”
“What?! You are moving?”, I asked in shock.
“Yes, I am.” He responded and went on to say that the owner of the house wanted to renovate the house and needed all occupants to evacuate.
“Okay, send me my total outstanding balance on WhatsApp so I can pay up.”, I responded.
He nodded and went in.
I was sure I was owing him over N100,000 because; if I had been owing my estate due for as far back as 2017 and with the way he had been pursuing me for the money; surely the bill must have amounted to more than N100,000.
The next day, I got the WhatsApp message saying that I was owing him N40,000.
WHAT! I was literally dying over a N40,000 bill?! Not that I had the money to pay but if I had known that that was what I was owing, I would have found a way to sort it out a long time ago.
The next day, I got a call from my brother, who was staying at my family house at the time. Just when I was about to tell him about the bill, he cut me short to say that I had a delivery.
“A delivery?” I asked in confusion because I knew nobody anywhere that was going to deliver anything to me.
“Yes, a delivery from YouTube. I think it says your Google AdSense pin.” He responded and that was all I needed to know.
I wrote down the pin and filled it in online. 3 days later, I received MY FIRST YOUTUBE PAYMENT! And it was just enough to cover the money I was owing my landlord.
This had to be a miracle. God was finally listening to me, I thought to myself! Then, foolishly, I remembered that I still had to deal with moving out of my apartment and the sadness came rushing all over again.
You see, I was living in this cool estate in Lekki, where we had a very tight security, beautiful environment but a very shitty power system. There was almost never light and I did not have a generator set. However, this was still way better than moving back to my mother’s house on the mainland, where I had moved out from years back and barely even had a room in.
I mean, how will my now 8,200 Instagram followers see me, like a failure who now lives in her mother’s house. And instantly I went into depression.
I would not go to the gym, would not think of working; rather, I’d wake up in the morning thinking about my predicament, spend the whole day still thinking about my life and struggles and fall asleep at night on my thoughts.
I continued this cycle until the first week of May when I did not have any more time; my landlord had moved almost all his belongs and I had to move as well. So, I reached out to that God sent friend of mine for help to move my things to my Mum’s. By the end of the week, I was back home.
Oh, I stopped going to church, stopped praying, stopped talking, just existing.
A few days later, it was the 24th of May, my birthday. My boyfriend had come into Lagos some days back to visit his family and so he was available to take me out on my birthday. Let’s just say that that was a breath of fresh air. And then my life was back to its tastelessness.
No church, no prayer, no gisting; just periodic strolling down my street and thinking about my life until the middle of June. I was randomly on YouTube, when I found the blessing in the name of ‘Sarah Jakes Robert’.
Sarah Jakes is daughter of TD Jakes, an American preacher I used to listen to a lot back in the days. Now when I saw that his daughter was now a preacher, I was curious to know what she had to say.
After watching the first video, I was searching for all her preaching and downloading them one after the other.
It felt like she was sent by God to me because her message was directed to people who have a gift and are willing to give up everything to harness their gift but felt like God had abandoned them along the line… I mean, that was me. So, I kept on listening.
The more I listened to Sarah Jakes, I started to feel this sudden strength from within. I felt like I still had a chance in life and it was possible that I could still amount to something. I soon figured that she preached in her church twice a week, Thursdays and Sundays and I became a member of her church via YouTube. Then all of a sudden, I began to consume the word of the Lord again.
Now, what had caused my resentment for God and going to church?
Back in 2016, I had watched a movie, “War Room” and at the end of the movie, the old woman prayed for young ladies, as I watched her pray, I started crying. I was confused at why I was crying and at some point, I was weirdly compelled to kneel and pray along with her. The more she prayed, the more I cried. Suddenly, I felt a presence in my room. I was not sure what this presence was but somehow, the presence made me say things I was surprised I was saying. Things like,
“I have done life by myself for this long and now I am willing to try You God. God come and take control of my life. Take the wheel. I will no longer put my trust on man but I will put my trust on You. If You are all that the Bible and preachers say that You are then I trust that You are able to help me live the best version of my life, so help me, please.”
The next Sunday, I went to Harvesters International Christian Centre in Lekki for the first time. After the service, I enrolled in their Bible study classes and the next thing I knew, I was a fervent member of a house fellowship group, called Sanctitea.
The next Sunday, I learnt that we were to observe a 40-day fast and the church drew up a plan to help us read all the books of the new testament of the Bible.
Before now, I had never read the Bible; I felt it was boring but this time, I was willing to try. And I read It judiciously.
Then my life literally turned around for good.
In my employment, I was a salesman for a loan company who had never reached up to 50% of my target but; after I heard my pastor preach about confessions and declarations. Every morning on my way to work, I’d decree that I would do up to 100% of my target; that I am the most sort after sales person in my office and when I get to work, I would go about my usual business.
Just like magic, it came to pass.
That same month, I did 100% of my target for the first time and months after that, 120 -150%. I became sort after. My colleagues would come to me, every month, to borrow loans from me to help them meet 70% of their target. I did not even know that this was possible but this became my life.
The more this happened, the more I intensified my time with God. Everything happened this way until I got my first blow.
I wrote an exam, a very expensive one and I failed. Next, I resigned from my job to start an internship role with an Investment bank with the hope of gaining full-time employment with the bank after 6 months. At this time, I had intensified my participation in my house fellowship group so much that I was made the leader of the group. I was leading close to 20 people a week.
6 Months later, I failed my internship with the investment bank, so no employment.
I did not know how to face these 20 people I was leading in my house fellowship and tell them that I failed at something that we gathered together to pray about; and so, I ran away.
I went to my boyfriend’s house for a month and from there, my mother’s house for a week. All through this time, I did not open the house fellow’s group chat, would not pick up any member’s call and slowly, I felt unworthy of leading the group.
Well, now that we are talking about God; You know when I told you that I felt it in my spirit not to apply for any job but to focus on building my blog and online community, let’s just say I heard the Holy Spirit tell me to do this. And so, I did not understand how I followed the Sprit’s leading and still would be facing all these misfortunes.
Anyway, let’s get back on track; In June 2019, I was back to the word of God. And then on the 30th of June 2019, Big brother Naija started.
I would watch Big Brother the whole day and turn on my camera, in my mother’s room, to explain to my YouTube subscribers what had happened in the house that day. And then I will share bits of this on my Instagram page.
Slowly, my followership on both platforms started to grow. Life was beginning to have ‘meaning’ again until this day when I had a crazy argument with my brother.
He had come into my room to meet me telling my nephew some Bible stories, then he looked at me and said,
“Instead of you to take the little boy to church, you are here telling him Bible story on a Sunday morning.”
I replied, “If I wouldn’t take him, you take him, you are his uncle as well and I am in a bad place spiritually.”
In my house, that was rude. I am the last born and should never be found talking back at my elder ones in such a manner and so my brother gave me the shout of my life.
At the end of the day, I was on my mother’s car, my head facing the sky and just looking at God, too weak to say anything to Him. The next night, I had a dream –
I was with some people in my hostel, in University, when an old woman came to me from behind. She tapped my shoulder and I turned to her, then she said,
“You know you should be going to your former church, right?”
“Yes.”, I responded, “I have been thinking about a church to attend, how did I not remember my former church.”
That was when I woke up.
The next Sunday, I was in Harvesters, Gbagada branch and as God will have it, the topic for the month was prayer.
When the pastor was done telling us why we should be praying and not sleeping, I was back home praying every night at 12am.
The next month, we began fasting and all of a sudden, I was back to my prayer life again. Next thing, I pushed myself even further to go back to my church in Lekki. I told God, if He wanted me to start going to church again, it had to be the Lekki branch and that I believed that He would always provide me money to be able to go to Lekki from the mainland every Sunday. And it happened just like that! Since that day till now, I have never missed a service.
I was getting better, my work was getting better; okay, my work was fantastic, I started to get paid every month.
Half way into Big Brother, I asked my followers if they would buy my branded shirt if I produced them and they were excited about the idea and agreed to buy.
My dear, from nowhere, I produced my own clothing line and my followers bought so much so that some of them even sponsored me to give away some shirts to people who could not afford it.
Suddenly, I had enough money to construct an office in my mother’s house, buy a ring light, buy a proper office table and chair and create a pleasant background for my videos. I don’t know how God brought angels as subscribers to my channel but He did. They watched, they supported and they suggested ways for me to improve my content. They said they loved it when I told them stories and so when BBNaija was over, I should tell them stories about what was happening in the entertainment space.
And that, my honey, was how I built a tremendous family of 45,000 people on both Instagram and YouTube as at today.
So how was the year 2019 for me? It was a very challenging but yet, an inspiring and interesting year. I lost, I learnt, I grew and I became better.
And if there is one thing that the year taught me, it would be to trust God, no matter how bleak, dark and uncertain the future looks. He is God and He always has a plan for His children.
Now, I have just completed my vision board for 2020 and some of the things I wrote on it feels almost impossible for me to achieve but, I will trust God and I believe that He will always come through for me.
Thank you for reading and please feel free to share with me how your 2019 was.