Please accept this message as my heartfelt outpour, as I am a writer, this is my medium to communicate with you:
No disrespect, but you belong to me.
By now, you hopefully recognize me (this is not our first correspondence). In fact, I’ve spent many days dreaming of your potential and referring to you by name. We Africans, Nigerians in particular, put a lot of stock into names and their meanings. And you, 2020, may have one of the most powerful names I have come across (outside of Y2K, no shade). The implication being the name donned for those with perfect vision, for those that see clearly. Let me remind you who I am and why I may look so familiar, like one of those relatives that insist you remember them from that one time they carried you when you were 9 months old.
Let me introduce myself…
In a 2015 commencement speech to the graduating class of UMD engineering students, I announced I would be finishing my PhD at Stanford University in Mechanical Engineering in 2020. I declared you as the year where my life would change dramatically, my vision becoming clearer as my goals draw nearer. With elation, I can say that I couldn’t be any happier with the excitement and enthusiasm I have for my research. I’ve got tickets to see Oprah, dreams of slamming on a national stage, flights purchased for trips across 3 continents, and an internal journey of self-love that is only just beginning.
Look ’20 (can I call you that for short?), I cannot contain my excitement and gratitude for the way that you are about to change my life. You are the first year that I have started preparing for so far in advance, with events scheduled through July that take my breath away. I cannot remember ever feeling more confident, wise, and whole. I cannot recall feeling more unstoppable than I do now, on the eve of your emergence. 2019, what a transformative year in my life! A year filled with jet setting across Jamaica, Honolulu, Ghana, Boston, Morocco, Miami, Baltimore, Anaheim, Nigeria…Trips that tested me and my relationships and brought me to my knees in tears and prayer. Brought me to a new level of understanding all that is within me.
A 2019 Love Letter
See, in 2019 I learned how to wake up with a smile, have my first words be those of thanks, to journal daily nuggets of gratitude, and to capture key remnants of how every day I’m growing into the fullness of my highest self. In 2019, I spent more money than I had ever been able to save in all my other years combined. More than 80% of it went towards helping someone I love who really needed it. What’s more miraculous, is that within a matter of months, I had recouped all of the money without the person needing to even pay me back. Oprah has said that one of the great forces behind her amassed wealth is her abundant giving. I now know this to be true for myself. When I give intentionally and with grace, it will always come back to me and be multiplied.
2019 taught me that God can and will do anything in my life if I am bold enough to ask, compassionate enough to love, and reverent enough to display genuine gratitude—even if I don’t see what I expected. In 2019, I learned how to cultivate better, stronger, and healthier relationships with some of the most incredible human beings I have come to know. I learned (and keep relearning) how to let go of holding onto the past and abstain from the spiritually violent act of comparing other people’s outsides to my insides. In 2019, I truly learned that everyone has something their heart breaks for and that we also each have the force within us to lift one another up. I learned that no one has the power to give me bad news—what others deem as bad news is a disguised lesson, a way for God to show up in my life and turn it into a way to bless me and display infinite control and compassion—I now know “bad news” is only information. Only I get to decide what to do with it and how to feel about it. I know for sure, that no one can tell me how I feel about something or someone unless I give them the power to. It is up to me to know my truths, speak them, and confirm them as quietly or flagrantly as I may please—only God and I know my heart.
2019 brought me my three favorite life lessons thus far:
1) that I am powerful beyond comprehension and the words I speak are truths that come to pass in my life. Thus, I must speak wisely; for whatever words follows the phrase “I am,” will surely come to find me (thank you for that lesson Oprah and Joel Osteen).
2) I am immeasurably strong-willed and unbreakable, that I may lose the things that make me feel comfortable but I will never lack or realize what I’ve lost. That even with only one carry-on bag, no clothes or toiletries, cancelled and rebooked flights across 3 continents, and having to give a research talk after staring down the barrel of a gun, I am undeniably the flyest person in the room. That nothing real can ever be threatened, and my spirit is real. That God gives the toughest lessons to his best students. That to struggle through something and fight my way out is an honor and a privilege. It is an acknowledgement that I never walk alone and that I have been given this challenge because God believed I could make it through, and if I can remember that, then I always will (thank you for that lesson Beyoncé and Iyanla Vanzant).
And my absolute favorite lesson, the one I came to learn in the last few weeks of a remarkable year, is that 3) the energy associated with a grand gesture of love is enough to produce light (an ultralight beam, if you will, cause why not). In a letter (controversially) attributed to Albert Einstein, he told his daughter that love is the highest energy in the universe. And I know for sure that grand gestures of love given to me by some of my most cherished friends and family members radiates through me. A wonderful trait of light is that it is difficult to say where it truly ends. It reaches further than the eye can see and stretches through the dimension of time. Light reveals what is done in the dark and turns it into information to be processed by us into knowledge. In these moments, I have seen how it can reveal a person’s character and true motives. I have seen how grand gestures of love, and ultimately its light, extend beyond its initial offering and reverberate through my interactions to produce forces of gravity and profound grounding (thank you for that lesson Prisca, Vanessa, and Albert Einstein).
What started out as a welcome letter to you, 2020, is actually a love letter to 2019. I cannot celebrate your entrance without this public grand gesture of love to the year that prepared me for you in the first place. And to all the years prior, thank you for keeping me, for teaching me, for the opportunity to turn trials into lessons and derive joy from my blessings (yes, even you, 2016). Thank you for breaking me open and allowing me to be vulnerable enough to experience as much as I have in my life.
See, 2020, it’s not that I look forward to you as much I know that I am ready for you. I have the team of a lifetime on my side, a heart that is as full and open as it has ever been or thought it could ever be, and the calm knowing that I am getting closer and closer to discerning my purpose on this Earth. In 2019, I started a personal tradition to pick words that frame and outline the year that is to unfold. For 2019, I chose the words: “exceedingly and abundantly, above and beyond, and flying high.” 2020, you know what you will bring. You know that I cannot be stopped or broken. You know that I will write you a letter as the days wind down and thank you for all 366 of your days, no matter what. I am not asking you for my itinerary or even the CliffsNotes version of what’s about to happen in my life. Instead, I am telling you, that Abisola Coretta Kusimo is ready for you. One day at a time, that’s all you can give me, and my presence, gratitude, grace, and wisdom I promise to bring in return.
2020, you are the year where my life will become unrecognizable because of all the miracles and magic. You are the year when I will turn #TwentyGreat after a glorious year of being #TwentyHeaven. Whatever I thought my life was before, x10. However great I think my life is now, x10. Whomever thought I had already glowed up, x10. 2020, now that we have been more formally introduced, let’s show everyone else what this year is really about.
Abisola (x10) Kusimo