Ibukunoluwa Ajayi: Finding Strength In Adversity

Ibukunoluwa Ajayi: Finding Strength In Adversity

The idea for this article came a few weeks ago. I was sitting at my balcony and I wanted to go into the house. To do that, I had to carry my laptop, wrapper, the stool I sat on, and the bottle of water I was drinking. There was no one to help me because I was home alone on sick leave. I didn’t want to make the trip into the house twice, so I found a way to carry it all. While walking into the sitting room with everything, the thought “Strength in Weakness” came to my mind. Years and years of having to help myself while in the hospital or stuck at home had prepared and strengthened me for days when I had no one around to help me.

The title sounds impractical, right? It seems unlikely that you can find strength and resolve when faced with life’s issues, when they come in numbers. At that moment, when you’re swimming in crisis, you probably want to give up. Your thoughts center on the question, why me?

Growing up to learn that I had sickle cell, and then having to live with it as my reality, was very difficult for me. Not only did I have this life-threatening disease, but it additionally meant that I was at risk for loads of other illnesses. I had to manage my health, school, peer pressure, self-esteem, and a host of other things. It was a lot for a young girl to handle.

I remember a time I had to be in the hospital. The doctors needed to set a line through my vein, using a cannula so I would receive fluids and blood, because my blood level was low. The doctors and nurses couldn’t find any vein to use in my arms; this was a regular occurrence whenever I fell ill. But in this case, time wasn’t on my side, so they had to look at other parts of my body they could find a vein to use.

They found one on the foot of my right leg and asked to use it, but I wasn’t in agreement at all. The options were that I either let them use my leg to save my life, or the illness deteriorated. I knew I didn’t have a choice. But it was hard to find the strength to let the doctors put a cannula on my leg; if you know what a cannula is, you’d understand my reluctance. The nurses and my uncles that were present had to restrain me so that the doctor could use the vein in my leg. I cried and screamed throughout the whole ordeal, but after it was over, I knew I had unlocked another level of strength.

You know how when you play mobile phone games like Temple Run and Candy Crush, and you need to survive one level of difficulty before you can advance to the next level? That’s how it is when you face an issue or a mountain of issues and you come out with a greater level of strength.

During that same hospitalization, I was in bed and my mum had gone to speak to her friend’s help, who wanted to run away. My mum was across the street from the hospital and I felt the urge to vomit. The bell button to call the nurse’s attention was on the wall, far away from my bed. I had to either vomit on my bed and sit in it until someone found me, or get up and walk to the bell, carrying the drip stand with the cannula in my leg. I made the tough choice and walked to the bell. Remember I was weak. The choice to walk to the bell came from the strength I had gained previously.

We celebrate Easter soon, thanks to a man who found strength in the face of adversity to do the impossible. His strength in time of weakness gives us strength today to carry on. They say God never sends us that which he hasn’t equipped us to handle. So whenever you’re faced with loads of problems and you feel like a drowning man, remember the former and find the strength within you to overcome.

At the moment, I am juggling work, my health, an MBA program, personal commitments, and a host of other things; trust me it hasn’t been easy. Here are a few tips that have helped me:

Tackle one problem at a time
Don’t take on too much at once, it will only compound the situation. Instead, tackle the issues as they come, and don’t focus on what ifs. I read somewhere that anxiety is literally just conspiracy theories about yourself.

Come up for air
When it all seems too much, take a break. Distract yourself by doing something fun that’ll take your mind off the problems at hand.

Ask for help
Enlist the help of those around you. It’s okay to be tired sometimes. There’s nothing wrong in asking for help. It doesn’t mean you are weak. Rather, there’s strength in admitting that you need help.

Always remember that every adversity unlocks a new level of strength inside you.

Happy Easter!

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