Someday I’ll love Agnes Ajadi

Agnes Ajadi
8 min readJan 20, 2024

After Frank O’Hara / After Roger Reeves / After Ocean Vuong.

"How long has it been, / two years or twenty? / Since you used / the only words you know / on yourself: / I love you." - Nneka Julia.

The need to be needy.

I think each of us has a bag of moments. A bag of pivotal moments that look unassuming and unmemorable to the outside world but, to us, they are everything. They are the moments that grew us up or humbled us down to earth. They are the moments we decided to fight or the moment we encountered an extra layer of strength when we least expected it but we knew, deep down, we needed it the most.

I had one of those moments some time last year. I remember my roommate coming up to me while I worked late at night in my old room.

“You know,” she said to me. “I wonder about you.”

“Really?” I asked. “What do you wonder about?”

I expected her to say something flattering. But instead, her answer took me off guard.

“I just wonder if you ever ask for help. That’s all.”

I don't think she knew the gravity of the statement she was making. How I could hear the statement’s large “thud” as she said it. How this was the one thing I was hoping to avoid, the one conversation I didn’t want to have with anyone.

That was the moment where it felt like the mask was being ripped off of me. I was exposed and vulnerable. This girl could see that I was doing everything possible to avoid letting people into my life. She knew I was struggling with some things. She knew it would be a stretch for me, a really big act of humility to ask someone to please show up for me in the face of inconvenience.

It’s tender and hard to write about relationships because first, I have to face the truth that holds me back: I am afraid to let people in. I am afraid to be fully known. I am afraid to not be accepted and loved as I am. I am afraid that, if I were to ask someone to show up for me, they would say no or they would simply be too busy to make room for me.

I think she was asking me if I ever allowed myself to need others. She could see the fear in my eyes that if I came across as in need of other people then I suddenly opened myself up to rejection, to being let down, to failure.

That was when I realized I have to be needy. That’s part of being human. That is part of building a relationship. A friendship. A community. A real community gets layers deeper when we admit we need one another, when we ask each other to show up for the hard stuff and when we open the door to let other people in.

I tell people all the time that there is a difference between honesty and vulnerability. Honesty is being willing to open the door for others. We practice honesty all the time as we share deep parts of our hearts. But vulnerability is something different. It’s deeper. It’s not just opening the door for someone to see your mess, it’s inviting them inside when you’ve got nothing to offer them. It’s allowing them to get down on their knees beside you to scrub away the mess. It’s being willing to be helped, when there is nothing shiny or worthwhile to offer them in return. That kind of vulnerability requires you to take off the mask. That kind of vulnerability is only special, only kept sacred, when you keep it reserved for a few people. The whole world doesn’t need to come to your rescue— it only takes one person to show up for you.

I think real friendship flourishes when we take off the masks and we allow ourselves to be seen. And I hope someday I’ll love myself enough to be willing to let myself be known by others. I hope I’ll ask for help if I need it. I hope I’ll respond to someone else asking for that same help.

Did you let love in?

All the love I find, I write about. I write about everyone and everything that makes me feel. But for the one that should hold more space, myself, I didn’t let love in.

I want to love myself. Not vainly, but in a way that seeks an answer to this - "who am I if I don't love myself?" A self-love that gently asks, "who am I without it?"

“I think love / is a creation. I think maybe you shape it / with your hands, I think maybe you find it stuck in your molars.”

From the movie, "Before Sunrise."

For years, I asked myself the question: Can I have it all? The culture roared yes and I hustled hard up the mountain to have it all. To be all to everyone. Now I ask myself the question: Do I even want it all? Do I really want to be all things to everyone at the expense of myself?

No. I don’t.

I’ve had to give a lot of “nos” over the last few weeks and I feel lighter. I’ve had to take off my “I am a yes machine” sash and take off the crown. I’ve had to realize that my “no” to one thing is my “yes” to something else, something better.

We grow up and we realize we’re juggling a lot more than before. Faster and faster our arms move. It seemed impressive at first. But some balls are plastic and some balls are glass. And now, it might be time to figure out which balls I can’t afford to drop before something truly precious shatters.

More than I long to belong to someone, I want to belong to myself . I don't want to wonder if this is my life, or if I'm only a spectator. I don't want to worry if I'm pleasing someone enough. I don't want to spend my energy thinking about how I will or will not fit. I mean, who wants a standard wine, when you can have a taste that stands out?

You already have permission.

Systems.

I like a good system.

I want a system for writing. A system for emails. A system for reading. I spent years thinking that systems were the key to every broken, fractured thing. But, as it turns out, there is no system for when your world falls apart. For when you get rejected. For when the world feels like it’s on fire.

No, systems will keep you good and organized but they won’t keep hearts unbroken or life from throwing her curve balls in your direction.

My heart was broken for the first time when I was 18 years old. That was the first time I’d ever loved somebody and stood to lose parts of myself because of it. It was the first time I realized that you can give your whole self to a person and not get all the pieces back when things don’t work out. That person will always have parts of you rattling inside of them— secrets you told them, conversations you had, moments that defined you and little things that wrecked you and brought you to this place.

We were young but we’d built homes out of one another.

I knew exactly what I was losing in the conversation as I sat on my bed and texted him. And then I went to my best friend’s place.

I remember sitting across from her with a bottle of Cola between us, wringing my hands in my lap, as I reasoned out loud, "I can fix this. I can definitely fix this. Or I can do this thing on my own and make a system of sorts. A system to make me better and stronger and wiser because of this."

"Or you could just be sad," she said quietly. "You could maybe just drink your Cola and cry, if you need to."

She nudged the bottle closer towards me.

You could maybe just drink your Cola and cry, if you need to.

I still carry those words inside of me years later.

I remember it felt like she was giving me a permission slip I didn't know how to give myself. Permission to grieve. Permission to not be okay and feel all of that not okay-ness. Permission to laugh and to cry in the same minute. Permission to give no explanations or give a deadline to my sadness. Permission to just be.

But in the real sense, I shouldn't have to wait on a single being to hand me the slip. I already have permission.

Permission to feel all my big feelings. Permission to cry the ugly tears and release all that is building up inside of me. Permission to not know where to go next. Permission to just stand still, clutching whatever tiny mustard seeds I have in my hand. Permission to grieve the shambles, grieve what is and what used to be. Permission to drink Cola and cry, if I need to.

The most beautiful part of your body / is where it’s headed.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had something new to say, and I’d like to have something new to say again. I have stopped having words and I don’t know how to get them back. That was a wall I hit - I don’t remember how to write. Somewhere along the way, I stopped writing, and when I returned to it, I found something vacant.

I no longer know where I'm headed and I try not to worry about it. It appears sometimes, this sense that I don't know what the future holds, and I never will. And now, when I look around at my life and wonder if I feel fulfilled or not, when I question everything I supposedly should have done, I'm reminded of the little days when I had goals and big dreams.

I cannot say with total clarity or conviction how I feel about this, but I try to be grateful for where I am, and how I'm really growing into myself. This life that I live is not stagnant. It's a cycle, constantly evolving, walking new paths, learning new things.

I know I won't stay rooted forever. I know I'll return. I'll be like gold, flowing.

The new story.

I am but dust and I have much to finish before returning to dust. I have much to give to the ones I love and myself. Instead of watching everyone else, I’ll pour my energy into honing my gift, into discovering my talent and into sharing my gift with others who might not even know they need what I have yet.

I’ll be one who shares her gifts and talents (and herself) far and wide. I’ll be one who sees needs and immediately goes to meet them. I’ll be one who knows the truth: there is more than enough to go around. I’ll give what I have and hold nothing back.

I understand now that this new space in my life is really an invitation. An acceptance. Nice things can happen and I can feel them coming. Life is about to be good again. Hope is filling fast and a new life is waiting.

I am remembering again.
My color's green. I am spring.

Source: Pinterest.

15:49
Thursday, 4th January, '24.

--

--